Monday, December 19, 2011

Know the Signs of Abusive Relationships

Twice in recent years, women close to people I know have been killed by their estranged husbands. 

I did not know either woman, so I cannot know what precipitated such violence. I cannot know whether there were warning signs that either these women or their friends or family could have heeded. 

Photo courtesy of Flickr user @Mike Knapek
What I do know is that this is a frightening issue. These were not just boyfriends. These were husbands who the women clearly loved and trusted enough at one point in their lives to marry. So at what point did that "love" turn to "if I can't have you, no one can"?

As a single woman, it's a question I ponder from time to time. If you've followed my blog, you know I try to steer clear of crazy/deranged suitors

But do I really know what to look out for? I decided to do some research. Here are warning signs of domestic violence in your relationship, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

Does the person you're dating...
* Put you down or embarrass you?
* Make all decisions in your relationship?
* Try to scare you?
* Attempt to control you?
* Keep you from seeing friends, family, or other loved ones?
* Take your money, or make you ask him for money and then refuse to give it to you?
* Say he's going to take away or hurt your children?
* Keep you from going to work or school?
* Blame the abuse on you?
* Destroy your property?
* Threaten to harm or kill your pets?
* Use weapons to intimindate or threaten you?
* Hit, slap, choke or shove you?
* Make you drop criminal charges against him?
* Threaten suicide or threaten to kill you? 

Also, the American Psychiatric Association lists these less obvious warning signs:
* Fast, whirlwind romance.
* Insists on being with you all of the time. Tracks what you're doing and who you are with.
* Jealousy.
* Trying to isolate you, using "loving" language. ("You don’t need to work or go to school; we only need each other.")
* Hypersensitivity when he feels he has been slighted.
* Blames others for abuse.
* Insists you do things you are not comfortable with.

Resources for those in abusive relationships:
National Domestic Violence Hotline 
American Psychiatric Association: Domestic Violence 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Finessing an Awkward Situation

FabFem has a knack for getting herself into uncomfortable/random/weird positions, usually not on purpose.

Fortunately, I recover quickly, or at least I try to.

Courtesy of Dennis Mojado/Creative Commons
Take a recent party I went to. I was meeting someone there, so I arrived alone. I immediately ran into a guy I once went out on a date with and long swooned over (he is fi-iinnn-eee). We ended up on the elevator together, and Fine Guy loudly flirts and makes a comment about my derriere on an elevator full of guys who were strangers...or so I thought.

Until I looked to my left. That's when I saw New Guy. I'd met him about a month ago and was kinda feeling him. I didn't know he'd be at this party.

But did he really just hear Fine Guy talking about my bootie?

The weird smirk on his face told me he did. 

Awkward. Sigh. Only me.

But New Guy took it well. He said he basically shrugged it off as a, "Damn, she got it like that?" kind of deal.

I'm glad he has a sense of humor. In fact, he even seems a little more interested. *Shrug*

The threat of competition perhaps?

Talk back: Tell us about an awkward situation you encountered--and how you handled it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Ultimate Dealbreaker

I've been accused of having a 'bleeding heart.' I am forgiving--almost too forgiving at times.

But there is one guy--we'll call him Mr. Dick Wackington, Esquire (name coined by guest blogger Nina Lovehall, who can't stand his @ss)--who keeps trying. But he will never ever, and I mean ever, get back into my good graces.

Why, you may ask? Let me explain.

Last year, I had surgery. It was fairly serious and definitely a huge disruption to my life and my freedom. It meant I couldn't drive for 2 months, and I spent some of that time on crutches.

I had been seeing Mr. Wackington for a few months at the time. He promised to check in on me frequently to make sure I was OK. I figured with his help, and with that of some great friends, neighbors, cousins and my dad and brothers, I'd be just fine.

I was almost right. 

My family, neighbors and friends were indeed fantastic. I didn't want or need for anything because they took good care of me.

But Mr. Wackington? He didn't show up for four days after I had surgery. My dad, less than thrilled to see him at that point, still believed him when Mr. Wackington told my dad he'd come back to check on his baby girl when my dad returned home (two hours away) a week later.

But he didn't keep his promise. Instead, Mr. Wackington told me he didn't have time to come check on me. He was going to happy hour instead. And even as I hobbled around on crutches, I told him not to bother coming by on any day if happy hour was more important than making sure I was OK.

And so, Mr. Wackington disappeared for a few months, just long enough for me to recover and get back on my feet. I run into him out and about every couple of months, and every time I see him (and I do mean every, single, flippin' time), he tells me how "beautiful" he thinks I look, how he messed up, and how I should just let him make it up to me. One time, he told me I should let him buy me a drink as part of his "penitence" for what he did. Seriously?

I've responded on more than one occasion that Mr. Wackington can kiss my @ss. Yes, I actually said that, and I've actually said worse, depending on how hard he presses me. Like, he really gets all up in my personal space and has a difficult time taking "no" for an answer.

But it's simple--If he didn't want to be around when I was at my worst, he definitely doesn't deserve me at my best. Most recently, he had a friend lobbying me on his behalf, telling me how very sorry Mr. Wackington is for treating me the way he did, how I could've been The One, etc.

Sigh. Gimme a break.

My dad says that men make mistakes, and I get that. But I can't be with someone who I can't trust to have my back when I need it most. That time period was one of the few times in my life where I felt almost totally dependent on other people. And Mr. Wackington gave me his @ss to kiss, and he was downright mean and nasty about it. Not cool.

So it doesn't matter how many times he apologizes or how "beautiful" he thinks I look now that I've recovered from the surgery and lost a few pounds, to boot. It's a wrap.

*Sings* -- He must not know 'bout me...To the left, to the left.

Talk back: What is your ultimate dealbreaker?

Related: Cleaning House: Cutting Stragglers Off & Starting Anew

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why I'll Start Listening to My Gut

There was something about him that I knew just wasn't right.

Yet I still didn't listen to my gut, which said, don't walk, but RUN away.

Maybe it was the fact that his very first question was, "Is that your real hair?"

Or, maybe it was that his second question was, "When are you cooking dinner for me?" To which I responded that he shouldn't expect a woman to cook for him when he first meets her, and if he wanted to get to know me, he'd have to take me out instead. Then, I walked away.

(Photo credit: Flickr user @Sarah_Ackerman)
He grabbed my hand and pulled me back. Against my better judgment, I stayed and talked a while longer. We exchanged numbers, and I'd come to regret that decision at 9 a.m. the next morning--a Sunday, when he sent me the first of four texts and phone calls I'd receive before noon that day.

Among his texts: "So why did you give me your number?"

Me: "Because you asked for it." [Hey, if you ask a stupid question, you get a stupid answer.]

Him: "So you give your number to every guy who asks for it?" 

Me: *blank stare* at my phone, deciding not to validate such foolishness with an answer.

The funny thing is he was a cutie. So, why was he so pressed?

Probably because he's an absolute jerk.

I managed not to talk to him for another day or so. Then we finally had a phone conversation. He told me he couldn't tell me his profession because it was "very important" but assured me he had a "great job." He told me--for the second time (the first being when he bragged when we met)--about the several overseas trips he has planned to various countries next year. I, probably poorly so, feigned interest, while making a mental note that he hadn't bothered to ask me a single thing about myself, but...

...then came the killer question: "So, why are you single?"

Mind you, this was after I very briefly explained that I hadn't traveled much for pleasure recently because of family obligations following the death of my mother. Why on earth would you then ask me why I'm single? Is it not clear I've been a little busy...and um, traumatized? Plus, I told him that generally, women don't like to be asked why they're single. "Well, it's never been a problem for me," he informed me. (Me: thinking to myself--probably because they just never called you again. Sigh.)

The conversation continued to go downhill from there. He asked me my sign. "Libra," I told him. He then told me that he's a Libra, too, and that Libras don't get along. And, by the way, he added, if I want to see him, I should let him know, but otherwise, it was no sweat off of his back.

Really? Seriously?

Yes, he really said that.

I took a deep breath and told him to have a good evening. He hasn't called since. Thank God.

And next time, I'll listen to my gut.

Talk back: Have you ever ignored a gut feeling and found yourself regretting it later? Tell us about it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where should you go to meet men?

I've been having the same conversation, it seems, over and over with my friends.

Where should women go to find nice, attractive, gainfully employed, available men?

At age 30ish, most of us are over the club scene.  I love a nice lounge, but a super crowded, huge club? Not unless I have a really special reason to be in there. And I've met men out at lounges. So have my friends. Sometimes it turns into a relationship that lasts a while, and sometimes it doesn't.

But I also have a habit of meeting men in odd places. Like the guy who last week appeared, seemingly out of thin air, as I was just about to pump gas, to offer to pump it for me, and of course to ask for my phone number.

Lately, I wonder if maybe you should keep an eye out in the most unlikely of places--like while you're out to eat after a night on the town with your friends. After all, good men need to eat, too. So next time you take that late night trip to Waffle House, Denny's or IHOP with your girls, don't be afraid to say hi to the cutie grabbing a bite to eat on his way home. I know of two situations where such meetings worked out well--one resulted in a marriage.

And then there are the usual suspects: the grocery store, church, the gym, the local Lowe's or Home Depot. I have a good friend who met her husband while she was working at a bookstore--one of the options suggested by this article, which also recommends children's sporting events if you have kids, and of course, the Internet (although I have to say, I've given up on online dating).

But is there any surefire option...if your name isn't Chilli and you can't get a reality show to do the job for you

TALK BACK: Where have you had luck meeting good, available men? Single ladies everywhere want to know.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I'm Back

I'm sorry for leaving you all.

But it wasn't personal, I promise.

The last few months have been crazy. First, my mom died in August, then it was time to get my baby brother off to college to start his freshman year, and meanwhile, I got the sprained ankle from hell. Eventually, I found out that I needed surgery to repair that ankle...and as a result, I ended up in a leg cast and have been unable to drive for two months.

But that ordeal is almost over and I'm ready to start blogging again, at least kinda regularly.

I've learned a lot in the past several months, and I am seeing a great guy who has helped make my recovery from surgery easier. I've also learned how wonderfully supportive my family, friends and coworkers are. I couldn't have gotten through the last few months without them. I am blessed, and I hope you all are doing well, too.

More soon as I come up with some new material to blog about. Thanks for sticking with me during my time away. Happy 2011!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Rest In Peace, Mom. I Love You

The biggest fan of this blog died nearly a month ago.

She was my mom.

She had promised to help me turn this blog into a book one day. She, more than anyone else—even me, believed it was good enough to be worthy of putting in print. She was my biggest fan, my biggest supporter, and I miss her more than words on a screen can possibly convey.

You see, it wasn’t just the fact that the blog was mine that made my mom love it. My mom liked that my friends and I took our various dating adventures and turned them into blog posts. But don’t get me wrong, my mom was anxious to marry me off to some nice man. During her last visit to see me in June, she approached a guy’s table while we were out for a drink because I said he was cute. She asked his friend if the cute guy was “taken.” He wasn’t. We went on a few dates after that, all because of my mom.

I treasure that memory…and everything else my mom taught me. She was my best friend, the person who I’d talk to every day even if I hadn’t talked to anyone else. I was her baby girl—the middle child in the midst of an older sister and two younger brothers—yet she spoiled me until the day she died. I learned the day she died that it’s true when they say that no one loves you quite the way your mom does. But that’s okay because I will carry the love we shared with me for the rest of my life.

I have always had this thing where I tell my parents, my grandmom, and my brothers I love them before we hang up the phone, and they always say it back. For some reason, that’s been really comforting because I know my mom knows how much I love her. I don’t doubt that she still knows it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, Thanks, Mom. I won’t get to call to thank you for giving me life on my birthday anymore, so I say it here for you to read from Heaven. I love you, I miss you, and I’ll see you again one day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reality TV Show to Find a Man? Um, Not For Me

Would you ever go on a reality TV show to find a mate?

Omarosa did it.

Bret Michaels did it.

Flavor Flav did it.

Ray J did it.

Hell, even Chilli from TLC did it.

So, if offered the opportunity, would you give it a shot?

Recently, a good friend suggested that I need my own reality dating show. The 'What FabFem Needs Because She Won't Put Up With BS' show.

I don't think I need to go that far. Sure, I've had my fair share of dating mishaps, but I'm still plugging along, although I've given up online dating since being confronted by the creepy eHarmony match at a lounge in DC.

And even my recent experiences haven't soured me completely. There was the cutie who took me on one nice date and then canceled on me at the last minute three times in the following week--and then wondered why I lost interest.

And there was the guy who damn near chased me down at a lounge to get my number--and then he asked me to say my number *out loud* instead of entering it directly into his cellphone. Why, you may ask? I suspected he was taken. So I said, "That's suspicious. Only men who are married, engaged or have girlfriends won't let you put your number in their phone." His response? "I'm not engaged and I don't have a girlfriend." Me: "You're married?!" -- as I walked away. He yelled after me, "Does that mean I should erase your number?" Me: "YES!" *shakes head ferociously*

There is also the guy I met at the gym who doesn't seem quite sure what he does for a living. He told me he does "paperwork" and then, when pressed for more info, came up with a more professional sounding title. Problem is, I think he made it up. Sigh.

But I digress. They can't all be bad, I figure. And I don't believe I have to go on TV to find a man. There are a couple of promising guys in the mix, but it's too early to tell how they'll pan out.

Meanwhile, I have no plans to make a reality TV debut. 

TALK BACK: What about you? Would you consider going on a reality TV show to find a mate?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Clothing "Diet"? I Probably Won't Try It

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL 
The New York Times has a fascinating article about a movement called "Six Items or Less," where folks stick to just six items of clothing for one month.

As someone who loves clothes, loves online shopping, in-store shopping, and window shopping, , it's a tough concept for me to fathom. Nonetheless, I'm very intrigued.

But as I think about it, it would be an awesome challenge. I'd like to think that I'm pretty creative working with the clothes I already have and making them feel new and fresh as I mix and match on lazy weekends or laundry days. On a quarterly basis, I go through my closet, trying on things (to see if they still fit or need to go to Goodwill) and brainstorm ways to breathe new life into my old duds (creative layering, accessories, etc). It's a lot of fun and I often surprise myself. Sometimes I manage to fall in love all over again and old (sometimes forgotten) favorites return to the rotation with a twist. The more I think about it, I may have to rethink this blog's headline. I'd probably do better sticking to the "Six Items or Less" challenge than I would avoiding McDonald's fries or sticking to a concrete, everyday workout plan for an entire month. That's sad, and that's a whole other blog. I digress.

But as we go through these difficult financial times, doing the wardrobe purge may not a bad idea in terms of creatively saving some money. Honestly, it's a pretty cool experiment for those brave enough to participate. In fact, folks that were interviewed in the Times piece learned that in most cases, they didn't need all of the clothes they did have, and the people around them didn't even notice they were interchanging the same six items for that entire month. 

TALK BACK: So, fabulous ones, could you work the hell out of the same six items for an entire month? Or is that just fashion blasphemy? I have to admit it's an awesome challenge for the savviest of fashionistas.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not Every Sideline Chick Can Be Alicia Keys

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

The chance that a sidepiece will actually get the guy to leave his wife/girlfriend to marry her and live happily ever after is kind of like going to a Louis Vuitton store every single day believing that one of these days, there's going to be a sale.

It just ain't gonna happen.

Sure, women can buy a used Louis for a substantially discounted rate on Ebay or at a consignment store (if you are lucky), but even then, the bag is used, and its authenticity is questioned. It may actually be a real Louis, but you've robbed yourself of the joy of walking into the store and them wrapping it up ever so nicely and placing it in that box and walking out of the store with your prize nestled in that shopping bag. It's yours. It's new. It's real. It's got a guarantee. Plain and simple. That back room bargain always seems to taint the exclusivity of having such a luxury item in the first place.

It's the same idea if you're actively and knowingly pursuing a man who isn't your own.

But recently, international superstar Alicia Keys has done the almost impossible. She's made it snow in the desert. She's just sold water to a well. She's done what countless sidepieces over the ages have tried to accomplish but have often failed at.

She managed to get music producer Swizz Beatz to finally divorce his wife, and she's having his baby. It's been reported that they plan to tie the knot in the fall. (The jury is still out, in my opinion, until then. For a man to leave one marriage and jump into another... I don't know, girl, good luck.) But despite being called a homewrecker and having some serious Twitter beef with Swizz Beatz's ex wife, Alicia stuck it out and got the guy.

However, I want to send a message to all the sidepieces who now consider Alicia to be their patron saint and believe that her current good fortune is a sign of things to come in their own situations: Y'all are sadly mistaken and delusional.

I'm not passing judgment on her because I love A. Keys, too. She's an awesome musician and performer, and her humanitarian efforts really set her apart from a lot of other artists. She's beautiful, humble and has talent coming out of every pore. She's a hardworking woman, who like all of us hardworking women, deserves a real shot at love and happiness. She's certainly got that love glow going on these days.

But if you are out there creeping with someone else's man and you aren't Alicia Keys, chances are HE AIN'T LEAVING and when he does commit to someone, it probably won't be you.

I've seen this thing play out a million times. Monica has a great song from one of her older albums called Sideline Ho. She ticks off a list of things that if your "man" isn't doing with or for you, you are indeed the side chick, and he's not going to leave his main chick/wifey.

So sideline chicks, sidepieces, jumpoffs, breezies, shorties, or whatever you are, hold off on the tickertape parade for Alicia, and don't start up your own wedding registries just yet.

I will give Swizz Beatz credit for going ahead and divorcing his ex and giving Alicia that show of faith, but it's always a worrisome thought wondering once you get that man, if he'll do the same thing to you.

That's the other thing about a used bag. There is usually no return policy where you can at least get a store credit to start all over again.

TALK BACK: Have you ever knowingly gone after a man who was unavailable, hoping he would choose you?