Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Domestic Abuse: When Harm Goes Both Ways

Every 15 seconds, a woman is severely assaulted by her male partner, according to research compiled by Yale University. And every 14.6 seconds, a man is assaulted by his female partner.

Does the statistic on assaults on men by women surprise you?

That was the subject of a recent episode of the Tyra show. Two women featured on the show regularly become so hostile that they hit their boyfriends upside the head or even push them down the stairs out of anger.

The men, wisely in my opinion, announced on the show that they could no longer take the abuse. (In one case, the man had long ago exited the relationship, while the other guy just mustered up the courage to leave his child's mother.)

Tyra pointed out that men who are the victims of domestic abuse are not that different from abused women. They stay despite the continuing abuse and make up stories for the inevitable bruises and scars that draw attention from coworkers, family and friends. Some tell the truth about how they were injured; others make up fictional stories about their wounds. ("I broke up a fight between my cousins," one guy said he told coworkers.)

What Tyra said about abused men behaving similarly as abused women rang so true to me. I have seen an episode--thankfully just one episode--of domestic violence firsthand. It wasn't a clear-cut case of female-male abuse or male-female abuse -- Instead, I'd say it involved a bit of both.

At the time, I lived in a condo building and had made friends with a neighbor who lived with her boyfriend in the same building. On the night in question, that girlfriend picked a fight with her boyfriend. It clearly wasn't the first time they'd had a physical fight--after all, she was way too comfortable calling him a bitch and other names that I won't mention here.

And for his part, her boyfriend seemed to snap very quickly into hostile mode, and he knocked her to the ground in our parking lot several times.  I tried (all 5'2 of me) numerous times to get him to stop hitting and rough handling her. But he just pushed me out of the way. And every time she had a chance to get away from him, she just went right back again, cursing, yelling, even hitting him back.

I call this an episode of abuse that went both ways because while her boyfriend, at approximately 6'4, clearly had the upper hand over her petite, slim frame, she was every bit the instigator. I hate to say it, but it was almost like she enjoyed it, cursing at him over and over again, hitting him, knowing that it would fuel his anger. (She would later tell me that the episode I observed was the first time they fought that way. Yeah, right.)

But when it got to the point where he was straddling her on the ground, his fist raised to begin punching her, I yelled at her boyfriend's friend--who up until that point had just been sitting in his car, engine idling, watching as his friend beat my friend up--to please stop him. And he did.

Later that evening, my friend went to stay with family, claiming she was never going back to her boyfriend.

That lasted about a day. Her boyfriend bought her roses, told her he loved her and that he was sorry, and a few months later, she was pregnant with his child.

This all happened about two years ago. My friend and I had only known each other a few months when the beatdown occurred in the parking lot. I kept in touch with her while she was pregnant but have since moved away from the building that she and her boyfriend live in, and honestly, I've distanced myself from her. That situation was just too intense. 

And to be honest, I don't know that I'd put myself out to help if I observed a similar situation again. That night, I knew I wouldn't have felt right about walking away. But in a case where both partners seem to enjoy abusing each other, I have to question whether it's worth it to intervene.

TALK BACK: Would you intervene if a friend and his or her partner were physically fighting in front of you? Why or why not?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Love Him But You Hate Him: Houston, We Have A Pattern

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

One of the greatest philosophers of modern time once asked, "Do we date the same man over and over again?"

And damn it, Carrie Bradshaw was correct. We do. (Question her cultural significance if you want to. Her laptop is behind glass at the Smithsonian.)

Seriously, though, for some reason, the things that turn us on about the people we choose to get romantically involved with are probably linked hand-in-hand with the things that we can't stand about them.

I have something that I call, "Nina's Theory of Traits We Love and Hate." For each personality trait, there's two sides to the coin.

For instance, there were some recurring character traits that about 90 percent of the men I've dated and/or actually claimed as my man had. I'm going to give you my top two:

Confidence/Arrogance. Every man I've seriously attached myself to had a ridiculous air of confidence and swagger that either gained the admiration of others, or just turned folks off completely. In some cases, people just misunderstood the man, yet in others, they were dead on.

Some guys I dated were indeed jerks. Period.

Usually the men that I dated had something about them that gave them a reason to feel confident or arrogant. They were all very smart. They were all quick witted, and spoke well but could switch to slang with ease. They traveled, were well-read, had interesting jobs and were attractive. In some cases, maybe it washateration on other people's part, but in other cases, maybe my men were showing off just a little bit.

But when confidence curdles like old milk, it turns to arrogance, and that's usually that's tinged with the self belief that you are indeed better and smarter than everyone else. And that, my friends, is not attractive. But it can lurk on the other side of the confidence coin.

Back to confidence, confident men are happy for you when you are doing well, even if he's not at the moment. Confident men don't have to know where you are and who you are with all the time (but they'd like to know every now and then, only to make sure you got home safely). Confident men don't even mind if other men respectfully admire their women (they kind of think it's cool). 

Creativity. A dear friend once told me, if a man has a talent, I am on him like white on rice. So, OK, yes, I tend to have a thing for writers, painters, musicians (that actually play instruments, not making beats or raps, FYI), and guys with a sharp sense of humor.

Boy are these men passionate, and when you watch them do their thing, it almost makes you want to quit your job and pursue your dreams deferred, like being a dolphin-watching tour guide or something. And when they are flourishing, they are on top of the world. Nothing can stop them, and you both are enjoying the ride.

Unfortunately, these creative types are often broke in pursuit of these dreams, and oftentimes they lose touch with reality (i.e. student loans, steady employment). Sometimes they get so wrapped up in their dream, and the fact that they are so talented that they tend to get particularly moody when others "with far less talent" are all up in what should be their spotlight. Hence, they take their crap out on you. It's even worse if you are successful.

So here are some other examples of when good traits go bad. Let it marinate:

Good: He loves his mamma.
Bad: He's a mamma's boy.

Good: He has drive/goals and works hard.
Bad: He doesn't make time for a personal life, and that includes you. He also thinks the only thing better than having money is having more money.

Good: He is honest.
Bad: He lacks tact (can't tell the difference between being honest and being rude or mean).

Good: He "ain't no punk."
Bad: He picks fights and is unnecessarily confrontational.

TALK BACK: What is on your list of "dimmer" characteristics (things that simultaneously turn you "on" and "off" in the people you date)? What are the good/bad common threads among the people you've dated in the past?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Why I Decided to Try Online Dating

I've been known to say I'd never try online dating. Too many crazies in the world, I said, and if I start finding dates online, I'm bound to run into trouble. Plus, why would I pay a monthly fee to find dates?

But recently I realized that I attract crazy people, jerks, and losers anyway--in real life, just by going about my daily business. I'm not hurting for dates, but crazies and married/engaged/taken men seem to like me. So what do I have to lose by trying online dating?

Probably not much.

And given my track record, I guess I could use a little help.

So on Saturday, I created an eHarmony account. I chose eHarmony because they claim to match you with people who they think you're most likely to be compatible with, based on how you respond to a long list of questions you must answer when you sign up for the site.

eHarmony seems to gradually match you up with people. It matched me with five people the first day, another five or six on Sunday, and another five or six people today. The site allows users to go through each person's profile, view their descriptions, their answers to a pre-set list of questions, and their photos. If you don't like that person's profile, you can "close" the match out--another way of saying, "I'm just not that into you."

But if you are interested, you can opt to send an "icebreaker"--chosen from a list of cute sayings such as, "I like your smile," or "Hey, I enjoyed your profile. Let's chat!" Or, you can choose to start the communication process using either "guided" communication (a tedious process that involves sending two short lists of questions to your potential mate, as well as a list of likes/dislikes), or if you're really feeling the person, you can ask to "fast track" the process, which takes you straight to being able to send "open" messages through eHarmony's in-house e-mail system. That way, you're communicating with the person, but they don't actually have your personal contact information.

And that's as far as I've gotten so far. I am "communicating" with five potential matches--three of those conversations are still in the "guided" process, where we're exchanging information via our answers to each other's pre-selected questions. One conversation has finished the guided process and progressed into "open" communication on eHarmony's website, but that guy is kind of boring me, to be honest. And the fifth guy (who has a very nice smile) sent me a request to "fast track" our conversation today, skipping the guided process altogether. After I accepted his request, he sent me one nice note this morning. I just responded, so I'm awaiting his reply.

I also have 13 other guys with whom I've been matched by eHarmony but who I haven't contacted yet, and they haven't reached out to me yet, either. (And there are a few guys who I "closed" out for various reasons upon seeing their profiles.)

I'm trying to be open during this process. I don't expect a guy to look like LL Cool J, Maxwell, or Tyson Beckford. But he does have to include a photo on his profile in order for me not to "close" communication with him. After all, if you know what I look like, why shouldn't I know what you look like?

One guy in particular appears to be adorable. Tall, handsome--a dog lover who doesn't appear to take himself too seriously. (I have a small toy poodle, and I like being around people who enjoy life, despite its pitfalls.) Of course, now that I said that, he'll probably prove to be disappointing. Ha.

But even if that one doesn't work out, I'll stick with eHarmony for the next month or two to see what happens.  If nothing else, I figure it'll be good fodder for the FabFem blog. I'll keep you posted. 

TALK BACK: Have you ever tried online dating? Why or why not? And if so, did you meet a good match?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Hair: 5 Tips for Weave Wearers and Those Who Love Them

I spend roughly $300 every 6-8 weeks on my hair, and I used to think I was paying too much. That is, until I saw Good Hair at the movies this weekend and learned that many normal, everyday women--not celebrities or people making tons of money--are paying $1,000 just to get one weave installed.


But the thing is, I really wasn't all that impressed with how that $1,000 weave looked in the movie. It just looked fake to me, like not even halfway believable. Why would I ever pay $1,000 for that?

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against weaves. Since I was a teenager, I've worn my hair all sorts of ways--in microbraids, lacing (invisible braids), box braids, tree braids, and weaves. In fact, I've tried most things except for wigs. My natural hair is soft, barely holds a curl, and breaks off easily, so wearing these styles protects it and keeps it healthy. And I really just have one requirement: Whatever style I choose has to look as natural as possible. I want people to wonder if it's my hair, not automatically assume it's a weave.

I'm no hair stylist, but I've learned quite a few things from regularly wearing my hair in braids and weaves over the years. Here are 5 pieces of advice for weave wearers and their friends and loved ones:

1. Leave weave maintenance to the professionals. Whether you're getting your hair relaxed using the so-called "creamy crack" or getting it straightened with a pressing comb, the key is to make sure your real hair--even if just a little bit of it is left out--blends well with the weave hair. So schedule follow-up appointments with your hair stylist--and do not get a weave if you do not have time or money to go back to the salon because your hair will start looking a hot mess after a few weeks. Most of us simply don't have the tools (or the necessary skills) at home to get the weave hair to look as good as the stylist can. (A tip: In my opinion, buying a Bed Head TIGI Stick helps out a lot with blending the natural/weave hair at home in between salon appointments.)

2. If you like my hair, thanks, but please keep it classy. It's rude to start a conversation by asking, "Is that your hair?"--as a pharmacist at my local pharmacy did recently, right before telling me how cute she thought my hair was. Instead, try saying, "I like your hair. Where did you get it done?" That's complimentary, simple and to the point.

3. If you see a style you love but know other people who already have it, try to put your own spin on it. If you're like me and like to look different from the crowd, there are plenty of ways to make yourself stand out. So visit the beauty supply store and take a spin through the hair aisle to see what you can do to create a style that fits what you want but also gives you some individuality. 

4. Co-workers and friends, please don't ask how our hair grew so fast. As someone so appropriately noted in Good Hair, our hair does not grow 10 inches overnight. If it appears that way, yes, it's probably a weave or braids with extensions, and no, we don't want to talk about it with you.

5. Brothas, please follow Chris Rock's advice and do NOT touch our hair. We understand you're hip to the game and know that the hair hanging down our backs is probably not ours--and perhaps you even paid to get it done--but that doesn't mean we want you to touch it. And a final word of advice: Never, ever, ever ask your lady if she is wearing a weave. Just be happy that it looks good and keep it moving.

TALK BACK: Do you think Good Hair did a good job of portraying the issues black women face in styling their hair? Was anything missing that you'd like to see covered in a future documentary?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why You Should Facebook the Guy You Just Met

There is an opinion piece on Black and Married With Kids today about whether you should Facebook a guy you've just recently met. The writer suggests that you should never Facebook on a first date. My response? You absolutely should.

Now, my opinion on this topic comes from personal experience. I've learned the hard way that men--when they're interested in a new woman--aren't always totally honest about their current relationship status. Just recently I met a man who told me that he was single. I believed him--that is, until we became Facebook friends. That's when I saw that his page listed him as "in a relationship" and that he'd posted a photo of himself with his girlfriend.

When I asked him about this, he told me it was a "new" relationship, which made absolutely no difference to me because the end result was the same: He had a girlfriend. We had a date scheduled for the very day that I found this information on Facebook, so it really came just in the nick of time. I immediately canceled the date and informed him that his Facebook page had told on him.

But that's the beauty of Facebook--many people mindlessly post their relationship statuses without giving much thought to how this could affect them in the future. So for the man who is trying to be slick and meet women outside of his relationship or marriage, Facebook can serve as a warning to women to stay far, far away.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

You see, it's hard enough being a single woman and having to weed out the crazies, the jerks, the guys who are just trying to get in your pants. So I'm thankful for any resource that gives me the pertinent information--such as true relationship status--with the click of a mouse.

As for the BMWK writer's concern that Facebook provides too much information for potential dates, the answer is simple: Use Facebook privacy settings. You have total control over how much information people see on your page. Your closest friends might be able to see all of your photos, wall posts, status updates and links, for example, but you can restrict people you don't know that well so that they can't see your wall posts or status updates or even your photos.

And as for tagging a guy you've just met--as the BMWK writer did--in a photo? I'd advise against it. I recently could've done the same--after a birthday party where I met a new guy who I dubbed my Prince Charming for the evening--but I did not tag him in the many photos in which he was captured in the album of 60-plus pictures that I posted on Facebook afterwards. Why? Because I simply don't know him like that. He's aware of the album and can tag himself if he'd like, but I'm not going to do it for him.

While I believe in being Facebook friends with new guys (though I reserve the right to delete them later if things don't work out), I won't send the guy a friend request unless Facebook comes up during conversation and he tells me he has a page. That doesn't mean I won't do a quick search beforehand to see if I can find his page on my own--because some people leave their pages public and you can see their information without having to friend them. But he doesn't have to know that I've searched for him.

Still, not everyone lists a relationship status on Facebook. And in that case, you're just going to have to rely on good, old womanly instincts (and FabFem's list of 7 Ways to Tell if a Man is Married, Engaged or Otherwise Taken).

[For more on the dilemma Facebook poses for budding relationships, please read yesterday's post by Guest Blogger Nina Lovehall.]

TALK BACK:  Do you "friend" people you're dating on Facebook? Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In a Relationship? It's None of Facebook's Business

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

I recently read a great blog from Black and Married With Kids in which the writer talks about how he won't friend his wife on Facebook. I totally agree with his theory.

The blogger said that in the beginning, being on FB with wifey was kind of cute. But it stopped being cute when old classmates from second grade started chiming in on his wife's comments or trying to get in on their inside jokes. He also wasn't a fan when his wife would sometimes hijack his account and change his statuses to stuff like, "My wife is the best."

I've noticed that people who are not even married are having to deal with how to handle their relationship status on Facebook. I actually know people who started off budding relationships on a bad foot because they had arguments about why one person wants to put down he or she is in a relationship, while the other person wants to keep his or her status as single. The offended party took this as the new beau not wanting to acknowledge their relationship publicly, and having something to hide-- not wanting to tell his female friends (one of which included his ex) that he was off the market.

But sometimes, the significant other really doesn't have anything to hide. They'd just rather not deal with hundreds of unimportant people all up in their business, especially when it comes to someone special. I've seen people purposely write ridiculous stuff to folks who are in relationships just to see if they will get a rise out of the new boyfriend or girlfriend. And I've been surprised quite a few times at people I'm not that cool with commenting on random, unimportant stuff anyway because that means that they actually paid attention.

I've also seen people in relationships change their status to single just to piss their loved one off during a private spat, which has now officially become public and ugly. In a matter of seconds, hundreds, maybe even thousands of people have seen the "Nina Lovehall is no longer in a relationship" with that cracked heart icon in the news feed, and now you are getting blown up on your wall with posts like, "girl you didn't need him anyway." Or "Nina, call me, it's Rodney. I will console you girl." This type of game-playing further infuriates your loved one, putting your relationship in very real danger off of something that Jerry Springer guests often say "could have been handled at home." 

I've also seen male friends have to tell female Facebook friends they may have went on one or two dates with to stop harassing them about every comment or photo they had posted involving other women. It's gotten that ugly. One friend even had to tell a girl not to put a photo of them together as her profile pic or actually refer to him as her man, boo or anything else in her statuses. That may be a real extreme case, but you are bound to see just about everything on Facebook.

When it comes to Facebook, I take the Beyonce Carter approach. I don't discuss it. Am I in a relationship? Hmmm. Wouldn't you like to know?

But here's my history with relationship statuses: After a difficult breakup where my ex and I had many mutual and professional friends on Facebook, I was able to slink away unscathed with not so much as a question after removing "in a relationship" to not having a relationship status posted in my profile at all. I was terrified that if I changed it to "single" it would show up on the news feeds, and the questions and condolences would come flying in. At the time, I just wanted the comfort of my solitude with only small doses from my closest, closest friends. Not someone I met during an internship years ago.

Personally, for the sake of argument, IF I am with someone, I wouldn't mind being friends with him, but I don't need to say I'm in a relationship in a status including his name, and I don't need him to shout me out, either. It keeps the riff raff out of our relationship, and it keeps folks from trying to start some mess (i.e. obvious flirtatious wall posts, etc). I wouldn't even wax on and on about how I can't wait to see my boo later either in a status update. You'd be surprised at how petty people are. I've even seen folks get real nasty during a divorce on Facebook too. Just ugly.

My suggestion: As retarded as I think the whole Facebook-change-your-status-if-you-really-love-me fight is, it's a valid concern for some folks in this age of social networking. It's necessary to have the, "Wow, do we do Facebook?" conversation with someone you're seeing, just as if you are asking about their allergies or religion.

People have different theories. Some prefer the Bey/Jay kind of Facebook relationship, where it's no one's business, you don't deny or confirm, but when you see them together in real life, you know what the deal is. Some people like to tell the world and comment on each other's pages ad nauseam and constantly stalk the other person's page to make sure people aren't disrespecting their relationship and maybe even telling offenders to quit it. Some people feel like full public disclosure prevents sneaky behavior and helps them mark their territory.

But whatever you do, you've got to agree on what works for your relationship that makes everyone comfortable and secure. If you go the Heidi and Spencer public route, just be prepared for public comment on almost everything during, and even after, the relationship. (Damn that cracked heart in the news feed!)

As for me, the next time Facebook actually sees my relationship status ever again, it's going to say "married (now mind your business)."

TALK BACK:  Should couples be friends on social networking sites and report their relationship status? And if your significant other doesn't want to announce your relationship online, do you assume that he or she is up to no good and/or unsure about your relationship?

Introducing Guest Blogger Nina Lovehall

By: Guest Blogger NINA LOVEHALL

I'm Nina Lovehall. Yeah, that name sounds vaguely familiar, but not quite right, huh, Love Jones fans?

In the movie that came out in the late 90s, the character's name was actually Nina Mosley (played wonderfully by the fabulous Nia Long), and Nina Lovehall would have been her last name if she actually married the other main character, Darius Lovehall (played by the perpetually young-looking Larenz Tate--he has to be in is what, late 40s by now?).

The end of the movie kind of leaves you hanging, wondering if they got past all of their flaws and hang ups for real and actually tied the knot after all that kissing in the rain in the closing scene.

I named myself that because I, like many of you reading this blog, still believe in the dream of finding a partner who is going to love you unconditionally, be your rock when you need it and help you raise brilliant, beautiful children someday. So even though none of us knows what happened to Nina and Darius, the name is kind of an affirmation that even though none of us know how this love thing is going to turn out, we are going to get our happy ending, and won't mind getting our hair wet because we found the real thing.

So anyway, from time to time, to give my girl FabFem a break, I'm going to put my two cents in about relationships and the pursuit of a good one.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Honey-Do List With No Honey

I'm a girly girl. I don't like manual labor. I don't fix things around the house (or with my car). And I don't like to lift heavy objects. I even once recruited a (very cute) man at Lowe's to put down roach bait in my condo because I was too afraid that a bug would get me if I did it alone.

Yet here I am, stuck with a honey-do list with no honey to complete the tasks. I have a heavy bin full of my summer shoes that needs to be carried up my spiral staircase and taken into my storage room, and a lamp high above my condo's entryway that needs new light bulbs. My closet door is slightly off track and could use a little tweaking. Oh, and my ceiling fan? The chain fell off of that a few weeks ago. So who is going to fix it? Probably not me, that's for sure.

It occurred to me today that it would be really useful to have a guy around right now. But why didn't I think of that before I got rid of the stragglers? Sigh.

But then again, Cutie With Attitude wouldn't have helped me out around the house anyway. He might have broken a sweat, for goodness sake, and Lawd knows he wouldn't want that. And Super Texter? Well, he would've helped, but it wouldn't have been long before he was cursing me out by text message again.

So I guess I'll be lugging the storage bin up the stairs myself one of these days. And I'll take a trip to Lowe's for new light bulbs. Maybe I'll get lucky--as I did with the stop at Lowe's for roach bait--and find a handsome man there who can come handle my honey-do list for me.

Cleaning House: Cutting Stragglers Off & Starting Anew

I'm not looking for perfection. I don't believe such a thing exists. I have my flaws, and I know that every man has his quirks. So I try to weigh the good with the bad and separate quirkiness from crazy, though lately I've been attracting the latter.

In the past two days alone, I've had to cut off two different guys. One was Super Texter. And I didn't cut him off because he was late for a date--That was minor and I was over it as soon as it happened. No, he had to go because of his extreme emotional reactions to benign situations. It was borderline scary. His pattern is to flip out on me about once a month (I've known him three months) and then apologize profusely a week or two later. My friends began joking that I was setting myself up to become the subject of a Lifetime movie. Even my dad--when I told him about Super Texter--said to run, not walk, away.

And then there was another guy, we'll call him Cutie With Attitude, who was probably one of the most attractive men I've ever dated, but his attitude simply sucked. Seriously, what a waste of a fine specimen of a man. You see, Cutie With Attitude believes that women should be happy that he even calls them. So if months (yes, months) go by and you don't see him, you shouldn't trip.

Then there was Cutie With Attitude's total lack of consideration for the most basic things. Now let me be clear: I'm pretty self sufficient, even when I'm sick, so there are no expectations here. But if you're a man who claims to be interested in me, the least you can do is fake the funk. However, Cutie With Attitude couldn't even manage that. If I was sick, which has been more often than usual in the last year or so, he never asked if I needed anything. He barely even called to make sure I was alive.

So there were two different issues with Super Texter and Cutie With Attitude. Super Texter was kind and considerate most of the time, but he turned crazy--like, seemingly mentally unstable--when things didn't go his way. Cutie With Attitude didn't appear to be crazy, but he was arrogant, self absorbed and totally and utterly inconsiderate.

If only there were a machine where you could morph the "good" qualities of two different men into one human being. A girl can dream, can't she?

But as I write this, I feel like I made a good decision on both fronts. I just celebrated a birthday, and it was time to clean house for the year ahead. These two guys have taught me more about what I can tolerate and what I can't when it comes to guys. So I guess it wasn't a total loss.

TALK BACK:  Are there dealbreakers that annoy you so much that you've stopped dating someone because of them?  Holla at me in the comments section or on the FabFem Facebook fan page.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

30 Minutes Late? Sorry, the Date is Canceled

Are there any gentlemen left in the world? The guys who show up on time, come to your door to pick you up, make dinner reservations -- you know, actually put some thought and effort into dating?

I wondered this tonight, as my date for the evening arrived nearly a half hour late and attempted to summon me to his car with a text message that said, "Come down."

I should note that I am a bit of a stickler for being on time. So when it comes to dating, I'm easily annoyed by guys who have no respect for a woman's time. I have a 30-minute limit on how long I'll wait for a guy before canceling a date.

Back to tonight: I had a date scheduled with Super Texter, who promised that this would be the date to make up for him flipping out on me via text message on my birthday two weeks ago.

So you'd think, since he was so sorry for all that happened on my birthday, that he'd bring his "A" Game today, right?


Super Texter told me he'd be picking me up at 7:30 p.m. for dinner. Fine, I said. And I was dressed (and hungry) by 7:30. But soon it was 7:50 and still no word from Super Texter. Then my phone went off with that text message instructing me to come down to his car. So now Super Texter was not only nearly a half hour late, but he was summoning me to his car by text message.

I don't think so.

So I replied: "I'm not going. You're almost a half hour late. And texting me to tell me to come to the car is rude."

It just got uglier from there. You see, Super Texter's M.O. seems to be to insult you when you do something he doesn't like. He "ordered" me a birthday gift--one he still doesn't have in his possession (I repeat: My birthday was two weeks ago)--so I shouldn't have tripped about him being late today, he said. Is he really serious?

Still, I never get a good feeling from having to walk away from a date this way, but I also feel like it's something I need to do out of respect for myself. I once walked out of a restaurant because a guy had me waiting for more than 30 minutes. Even the waiter started looking at me crazy, as if the date I said was coming was all in my head.

In that situation, just as I was pulling out of the parking lot, the guy I was supposed to meet was pulling in. I felt a little bit bad for leaving, but not bad enough to stay. He should've showed up on time or let me know he was running late. And I feel the same way about Super Texter.

TALK BACK: How do you handle it when a date is late? Do you have a cutoff time before you'll cancel? And when a man comes to get you from your home, do you believe he should come to the door to greet you? Let me know in the comments section.

7 Ways to Tell If A Man Is Married, Engaged Or Otherwise Taken

Among my friends, I'm the one who tends to attract men who are married, engaged, or involved in a relationship. If there's a married guy in the room out to cheat on his wife, he's probably going to approach me.

But here's the thing. They never admit that they're married. Or engaged. Or that they have a girlfriend. That is, until they're confronted about it. Somehow, I think they believe that women are stupid and won't see the signs. And while I may have been fooled in the past (more on that to come in a future blog post), I'm older and wiser now and you have to work really hard to fool me. I know that just because the guy isn't wearing a ring doesn't rule out him having a wife at home.

Still, the boldness of some men astonishes me at times. There's the guy who I found out was married via Google because his wife had created a wedding website when they got married. And there was another guy who begged me and a friend to meet him at the bar at a lounge we were at, while his wife was just a few feet away. There was also the guy who became my facebook friend, and then I promptly noticed that he described himself as being "in a relationship" on his page and he had pictures of himself with a woman who he called his "lady" in the photo captions. (He told me he was single when we met. Then, when I confronted him about his facebook relationship status, he admitted he had a girlfriend -- but he still asked me repeatedly to go on a date. No way, I said. I want my own man, not someone else's.)

And those are just a few examples.

So from my experiences, I offer 7 tips for how to tell if a man is married, engaged or committed, even if he won't admit it.

1. He only calls you while he's at work or when he's in transit. Ever met a guy who is only reachable during the hours of 9 to 5, Monday through Friday? Perhaps he might send a text when he's not at work, but talking to him is out of the question outside of business hours? Leave him alone, girl. He's either married or he's in a serious enough relationship that he practically lives with his girlfriend. The same goes for men who only call you when they're driving to/from work but never when they're actually at home.  

2. He is super slow to respond to phone calls and text messages. This suggests that he has to wait until he's away from his woman before he can talk to you. He's making an effort to pull the wool over your eyes by eventually responding, but constant delays mean something fishy is going on.

3. He won't give you his phone number. This is a dead giveaway. While many people have ditched home phones, most people these days at least have a cellphone number that they're willing to give out.

4. He gives you a cellphone number that is usually powered off, so it goes straight to voicemail. This could be a pimp move--Keeping a cellphone that he reserves just for the women he has on the side. But when he's with his main woman, that phone gets powered off. You can bet his main woman has his primary cellphone number, though!

5. When you meet him, he says he will memorize your number rather than write it down or put it in his cellphone. This is the guy who can't put your number in his phone, for fear that one of his wife's friends might see it happening. Believe it or not, this actually happened to me. It was a guy who claimed he was single and took up about an hour of my time at a hot party. At the end of the night, he asked for my number. I asked to see his cellphone so I could plug my number in. He wouldn't give it to me. He said he'd "memorize" my number. I knew at that point he was taken, but I decided to see how it played out. (Meanwhile, I told my girlfriend that I expected to hear from him between the hours of 9-5, per Rule No. 1.) He did indeed call me once *from work,* just as I predicted. I saw him out again recently, and I asked him if he was married. He said yes, and I walked away.

6. He won't spend the night. Come on ladies, if the relationship gets this far and the man will not spend the night, you should be asking yourself where he is going to lay his head at night. Don't allow yourself to be the woman he sleeps with just before going home to his girlfriend or his wife. 

7. You've never been to his house. I believe that part of getting to know someone is seeing how they're living and where they're living. That doesn't mean that you should accept dates that never occur outside of the house. But you should get to the man's home--and soon. If he doesn't invite you to come to his house, and he provides lame excuses for why you can't come by, there could be another lady living there already.

Did I miss anything? If you have additional tips for how to spot men who are married, engaged, or otherwise taken, please post them in the comments section.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

No, You Can't Come to My House

I can't stand a man who invites himself over to my house when we've just met.

There, I said it.

I'm not talking about the guy who's established himself in my life, the one who has the potential to be my man, the one who's earned the right to lay around with me on my couch to watch movies or TV. No, I'm talking about the guy I literally just met who thinks it's OK to not only invite himself over, but cop an attitude if I balk at the suggestion.

There was one guy, we'll call him Bold Boy, who I met while out running errands one afternoon. A few days after we met, he called me. I silently hoped he'd ask me out on a date.

Instead, Bold Boy said, "So, um, you got any movies at your house?"

Me: "Why?"

Bold Boy: "Because I was going to come over so we could watch movies. I don't have my TV set up at my house."

Me: "We just met, so you can't come to my house. Sorry."

You would think that Bold Boy would've taken the hint, but sadly, he did not. Eventually, I asked him to stop calling me when he told me that he was on vacation from work and did not feel like being bothered with taking a woman (read: me) out at all. Period. End of story. It wasn't that finances were an issue, he said, it was just that he simply wanted to "chill." So I asked him to go chill and lose my number.

Bold Boy, like many of the men I've come across, expected me to feel guilty for wanting to be taken on a date outside of my (or his) house. But fortunately for me, my parents taught me better than that.

Let me be clear: A simple date is fine -- a picnic in the park, a bite to eat at a reasonably priced sports bar or restaurant. I am really not hard to please.

I just have one real requirement: We do need to leave the house.

Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Car Needs A Man

I know just enough about cars to get by. I can't change a flat tire. Don't know how to check the oil. I can't even put air in my own tires. When it comes to that stuff, as sad as it sounds, I look for the closest man for help.

And I get it honestly. A conversation with my mom just this week revealed that she, too, is clueless when it comes to many car-related matters. I recently explained to her the importance of getting an oil change every few months and getting your tires balanced and rotated.

But I digress. This is about the big stuff. The big-ticket car repairs that, it seems, end up better when a man handles them.

When something major goes wrong with my car, I don't have that luxury. Being a single woman and having moved away from my hometown more than eight years ago, I'm on my own when it's time to put the car in the shop. So I trust mechanics to fix it, whatever "it" may be. But a few recent mishaps have me wondering if sometimes it really is better to have a masculine touch for such situations. Perhaps it's a macho thing -- Men feel like they can "relate" to one another, so they explain the needed repairs fully and don't cut any corners.

For instance, if I, as a woman, tell the auto repair shop, "I hear the brakes making a squeaking noise every now and then," I can feel the skepticism hanging in the air. Several months ago, I told my auto repair shop just that, and because they didn't hear a similar noise themselves when they took my car for a test drive, they wrote my concerns off.

Well, it turns out--in this case anyway--that the woman (read: ME) was right. Just a couple of months later, I learned that my brakes were indeed failing because they were wearing unevenly. But might this problem have been found earlier--at a much cheaper cost to me--had they taken my concern seriously in the first place? And if I were a man, would they have been less likely to believe that the brake noise that I complained of was all in my head? I think that's a real possibility.

All of that is of little consolation to me, though. For now anyway, I'm still on my own when it comes to car repairs, unless someone comes up with a rent-a-man business just for this sort of situation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Google Yourself

Google yourself. It may sound odd, maybe a bit narcissistic. But don't you want to know what others will find out about you if they type your name into the most popular search engine in the world?

This is even more important, I think, if you believe that you have something to hide. Case in point: A guy who gave me his business card a couple of months ago. He called and texted regularly for several days after we met, and we were making plans for a first date. Then one day as I cleaned out my purse, I came across his business card again. So I decided to Google him.

What came up first wasn't your typical search result -- you know, perhaps a LinkedIn or Facebook page, maybe a blog.

No, what I saw first on the search results page was a link to his -- wait for it -- wedding website (!). Mind you, he told me he was single when we met.

So I texted him since he'd just sent me a text message a few minutes prior to when I made that discovery.

Me: "Are you married?" (I figured I'd give him another chance to give me the correct answer.)

Him: "Why do you ask?"

Me: "Why do I ask? Because there's a wedding website that says you got married on Oct. 15, 2007."

Him: "Oh. I'm separated. Let's talk about this later."

Needless to say, I never heard from him again.

The moral of the story? Always Google yourself so you don't get caught off guard like this guy.

Call Me, Don't Text Me

I'll admit it: I think texting is a great invention. It allows us to communicate quick messages when we can't talk or don't have time for long conversations.

But, I fear, texting has also allowed us to get lazy when it comes to dating and relationships. Don't feel like having an uncomfortable conversation? Just text the message instead. Afraid of how the other person might respond? Just get to typing. And finally, here is a pet peeve of mine: Asking a woman out for a date via text. (Fellas, please don't make a habit of this, especially if it's a first date. It's tacky.)

I recently dated a guy--we'll call him Super Texter--who preferred to communicate via text message. He worked in a facility where he was not allowed to talk on his cellphone. So if he wanted to talk with me, he often texted. He texted me in the morning to say good morning, midday to see how my day was going and at night to wish me sweet dreams. We talked on the phone, too, but not nearly as often as we texted. Then one day, we got into an argument via text -- on my birthday. And rather than pick up the phone and call, Super Texter escalated the argument via text messaging, even when I asked him to stop. I eventually asked him to never contact me again. (Notice I used the word, "contact," because if I'd said, "call," the door would still be open for him to text me.)

Well, not even two weeks later, I received seven back-to-back text messages from Super Texter at 2 a.m. on a work night. I was not happy. This time, he was apologizing for the argument he'd started via text a week and a half earlier, but why did his apology also have to come via text? Why does Super Texter seem to not quite get that actually talking to me would probably be a smarter way to go?

But that's the good thing about texting. As the recipient of such messages, I can choose to reply...or not reply. In this case, I chose the latter. Of course, that means Super Texter is still trying to reach me, but will he ever actually pick up the phone to have a real, live conversation with me?

Only time will tell.

UPDATE 10/15/09: Super Texter did the unthinkable -- He called me this morning to ask me for a date to talk things out!

UPDATE 10/18/09: The date did not go well.

UPDATE 10/20/09: The end of Super Texter.