Things Not to Do When Online Dating

*** Disclaimer: There is so much wrong going on in the world and my heart aches. I debated not writing a lighter post, because with children being torn from their parents’ arms, political disaster and silliness on all sides, and people dying, it seemed trivial. However, in times like this, it is sometimes good to remember that isn’t all of life. I also think there are plenty of folks who comment on these things better than I can. What I’ve learned is that as these things happen, we still eat, laugh, have heartbreak, go to work, and continue to live. And so today, I’m writing about dating. I just want you to know, we here at “A Tale…” are not oblivious and our hearts go out to the world.***

Dating is hard. Dating is hard when you live in a rural area. Online dating is also hard. Dating is extra hard when apparently no one has given you dos and don’ts of your dating profile and responding to people (in this case hetereosexual men responding to women). But never fear – I’m here to help you. So now you can’t say you were never warned.

1. Please stop taking pictures with your money fanned out on your bed or held literally as a fan. Also, taking the picture with your daughter or son having money fanned out is equally a “no.” I thought we left that on Black Planet in 2001? I can’t believe I have to say this.

2. Stop writing a long list of things you hate. This makes you seem like a terrible person.

3. Proofread. It doesn’t have to be perfect but if I’m scratching my head trying to piece a sentence into something vaguely resembling a complete thought, it’s not slang. It’s just mumble jumble.

4. Dick imprint profile pics are a “no.” Also, yes, it was me. I reported your picture.

5. When you respond, do not talk about lips or any other part of the other’s body touching yours in the first 5 messages. Actually, not in the first few days unless we mutually agreed upon that is happening/happened. But definitely not in the first 5 messages. No, I do not want to envision myself kissing you.

6. Don’t go from “hey” directly to “when am I going to meet you?” The answer is likely never at that point.

7. You should probably not have all 50 pictures in the same pose in different shirts. It’s just weird.

8. Don’t ask someone to immediately send you more pics. You legit have a whole damn catalog of pics. You’ve only said hello, I dont owe you shit.

9. If you spend the first 5 messages describing all of a person’s physical features, they begin to wonder what are your intentions. I’m just saying. Also, creepy.

10. If it is stated someone is looking for something long term, stop pretending you didn’t know that. And if you didn’t, read the profile.

11. If someone doesn’t answer you immediately, it is not ok to go off on them and how they’re ignoring you for a pretty boy, and that they’re missing out because you have a job, car, house, and you go on vacations. You obviously also have high levels of. insecurity, a temper, and crazy. *unmatch*

12. While asking questions is a great way to get to know someone, asking someone back to back to back questions, unrelated to the previous answer, and not following up, commenting, and finding common ground with answers (aka having a conversation) is jarring and feels like I’m under interrogation until you feel you’ve done enough to ask for my number.

13. Which brings me to if you ask for my number or to continue the conversation off the site and I say I’m not yet ready, you dont have the right to angrily rant at me and that doesn’t mean to do #12 in an attempt to appease me.

14. Say “hi” and then ask me “truth or dare.” I hate this with all of my soul and it causes me anxiety. Just ask me how I’m doing, what I do for work, etc.

15. Respond to all of my questions with something about meeting me today. It gets annoying. For example, Me: what was the most exciting thing today?

You: Matching with you.

Me: So sweet of you. What are you doing this holiday?

You: hopefully you are coming to see me

Me: Lol. Hmmm… idk I’d like to get to know you better first, plus I have plans.

You: You wouldn’t drop your plans for me?

Me: No. Hell no. Fuck no. I don’t know you!!!!

Ok, ok, I never say that. I usually unmatch, but you get my drift.

16. Similarly please don’t respond to my statements with completely unrelated statements.

Me: So, that about sums up what I do at work. I told you it was a little complicated.

You: I’m just thinking about how it would be to see those lips in person.

WTF?

17. Send me emojis over and over as responses. Especially looking eyes. 👀 THOSE. I love a good emoji but it is annoying when you use it in this way.

18. “Good morning/evening beautiful” has become synonymous with fuck boy when you barely know me. I didn’t write the rule. It just happened. Usually to follow is violation of several of the above.

To end on a positive note, I thought I’d end with a list of “do’s.”

1. Do put up a wide range of pics and look like you enjoy life. I love smiling pics. You’re still a man if you smile, I promise. And you’re sexier immediately to me.

2. Do fill in a bio area. I read every single one. Make it about you and what you like and not what you hate (see above).

3. I am definitely ok with a “hey, how are you?” I don’t need creative pick up lines. I don’t know when it became a crime to just say that.

4. Ask questions about things I wrote in my bio, follow up on common threads, and share info about you.

5. Write more than one word messages.

6. Compliment other parts of me that aren’t physical, i.e. “I can tell you’re really bright or caring.”

7. Talk about a passion of yours. Passion is the key to opening my heart.

8. Make appropriately placed references about Wakanda. I’ll love that.

9. If we have been going back and forth for awhile, we are both sharing info and it doesn’t seem antagonistic, whether for 20 min or 2 days, ask for my number then.

10. Ask me if it’s too late and should we continue in the morning.

11. Continue in the morning if I say yes.

12. Tell me you’re smiling as we’re talking about something non sexual, but interesting. That will make me think you really are into what I’m saying.

13. Use humor, not sarcasm.

What about you all? Have you encountered these things? Agree or disagree? Love to hear from you!

Dangerous Messages I Have Seen on Facebook

Sometime last week I started paying attention to random things people were posting and how subtle but dangerous the messages were. I started collecting them and then all of a sudden people stopped sharing them! Alas, however, I have gathered enough for a sufficient blog post. None of these messages are inherently bad (well one is). Most are just simple comments or posts that at first glance seem positive in some way but if you take a closer look, not so much. So please enjoy my random commentary as to why these messages should stop being shared…immediately.

The post:

The problem:

This post actually sparked the beginning of this blog post. I saw a few ladies that I love share it and quickly got on them about it! I know what it’s getting at. “Don’t let your feelings get the best of you. Don’t let things get you down.” There is, however, this terrible idea floating around that feelings are a bad thing. Feelings are feelings. They are neither good nor bad. They just are. We subscribe meaning and worth to them. And these posts almost always refer to feelings such as Love and connection to others. And no one can survive without connection with others. And there is almost always someone who cares. Even if it’s not someone you want to care. So posting things like this is like a slap in the face to those who do care. By all means be a boss! But don’t deny your feelings. It only leaves you bitter, lonely, sad, and angry which are surprisingly all feelings!

The post:

The problem:

First of all…what is a REAL woman?!?! I hate these posts because it usually implies that only a certain type of woman is “real.” Usually the hard working, hyper-focused, “on her shit” woman. And that’s all well and good. But the woman dealing with depression who hasn’t gotten out of bed in a week is also a real woman. The woman who doesn’t have time to exercise and meal prep and work a full time job and raise five kids under the age of three, is also a real woman. The homeless drug addicted woman having sex for money…is also a real woman. And trying to live up to people’s definition of a “real woman” usually causes way more stress and anxiety than any “real woman” should ever have to deal with. ALSO…all my friends are bad ass and they are my friends so clearly this is a lie. As mentioned earlier, no one can survive without connection, friends, a tribe of some sort. Humans naturally crave it. This message that we don’t need people is 100% false.

The post:

The problem:

This was a share by my fellow blogger (thanks Malcolm!). Here’s the thing…sometimes people just suck. Sometimes people are just terrible. Sometimes they are rude, nasty, conceited, full of them selves, evil, hateful, abusive, and dangerous. And while hate is a strong word, sometimes people hate you for those reasons. This post should have a fourth option…sometimes people hate you because you suck as a human being and have a lot of work to do!

The post:

The problem:

I have literally never done this. If I ask someone what they do it is because I actually want to know what they do. If you are someone who determines the level of respect you provide someone with based on their occupation… then you would fall into the fourth category that I mentioned in the previous section. Don’t be that person.

The post:

The problem:

Again, I get where this one was headed but it is just so dangerous a message for many reasons. What about people searching for a reason to live who are unable to have children but want them? Does God not care about them and their life? What about people who have children but don’t want them? What about people who have children but still feel suicidal? Posting things like this can be very harmful/hurtful for others who read them and may have a different experience. Just be careful.

The post:

The problem:

This is just stupid. Stop.

The post:

The problem:

This is one of those post that unknowingly shows support for terribly toxic relationships. Also, am I a basic bitch if I’m not “on your ass about everything”? At what point are you, as a grown adult human being, supposed to take responsibility for your own actions and goals in life. I am all for support and encouragement. I’m all for sticking through the tough times. What I’m not here for is raising someone who is already considered an adult. You need to be on your own ass about everything. I’m not your momma. I don’t even do that with my own kid!

The post:

The problem:

I really hope that I don’t have to explain why this post is a problem to anyone who reads this, but incase I do….RAPE IS NOT FUNNY. DO NOT PERPETUATE RAPE CULTURE!!! No means no means no. Don’t means don’t means don’t! Stop means stop means stop! The only time those words mean the opposite is when you put them all together and get “no don’t stop” at which point if you do stop you are a terrible human being and again belong in that fourth category I mentioned earlier. I know that all of this can be very confusing. This is why you should be able to openly and honestly communicate with your partner before, during, and after sex. If you aren’t sure…ask. If you still aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and let’s just say that if you aren’t sure if it’s rape or not…then it’s rape.

Well…that’s all I’ve got for now. Let’s hope people on my timeline stop posting dangerous messages. I’m sure what’s going to happen though is I’m going to hit publish and people are going to start posting the craziness again!!

The Number

***

The number those asterisks represent that had me almost in tears. The number of failure for me this morning. The number I avoid purposely (I’ve thrown out all scales in my home). The number that brought to this page, to my pen. The number that made me feel defeated. The number that isn’t that much different than it was 3 months ago, but enough different that it feels like a knife shearing through my heart. The number that represents my relationship with gravity. The largest relationship I’ve ever had with gravity. The number that I’m not even sure I can share with you all.

Today is a bad body love day. Today may even be a bad self-love day.

I consider myself a body positive advocate. I no longer post pictures about my workouts, runs, weight loss, before and after pics, or dieting plans. I think this is damaging. It makes women, young, old, accomplished, and everything in between, doubt who they are, think themselves less, and wonder why not me. It is also is quite boring to me. I’m tired of talking about diets, exercises, thighs, fat blasters and all in between. If that is your thing, go ahead! I don’t care what you do. Just don’t do it with me please. I also suffer from a history of disordered eating patterns, distorted body image, and likely undiagnosed body dysmorphia and an exercise addiction in the past (and I can diagnose myself because I’m a licensed counselor J). So, participating in those conversations are triggers for me and bring about serious self-doubt and pain. Like you have no ideas how many hours I can spend dedicated to speaking about that. According to my past therapists and researchers on ACES (adverse childhood experiences survey), it is also all likely a symptom of PTSD. Isn’t that bitch? Haunted by things that are not my fault and yet I still try to find it ways to make it my fault – enter all of the distorted images of self. Well, fuck. Either way, because of my experiences and experiences of my clients, I’ve realized that for some people, these images and talk are highly damaging, or at the very least demoralizing. It’s made me feel like a personal failure many times (me: why can he/she/they lose so much weight, and I can’t? brain: Must be a person defect.) So, I usually don’t any more.

Today is different. I took this picture below of me because I was disgusted and disgusted I was disgusted and needed evidence for this blog. I needed everyone to see an unflattering picture of me. I needed you to see some of the blooper reels. And then I needed to post it because I needed proof that I’m still human and loveable and all those things. And that fat people work out too, to be perfectly honest.

20180425_063057

And after that picture here is a running reel of things going on in my head as I worked out:

  • Your belly, do you see and feel how full it is? That’s probably why he disappeared after making out with you; he was probably disgusted.
  • Your doctor is going to poke at you on Monday and you’re going to feel awful.
  • Speaking of which, no need to bring in the concerns of your digestive system or any other ailments – it’s all your fault anyway.
  • You look awful in that t-shirt. Remember when it was loose?
  • When you go home, everyone will notice your weight and realize what a failure you are.
  • Two months ago, things were fitting looser. You’ve failed.
  • You are not pretty
  • You will never find love.
  • Some people are larger when they are younger, they are allowed to occupy bodies and look amazing in whatever size; You are not allowed that, because this isn’t your body type.
  • Why can everyone else lose weight so much easily? Did you see all those summer bodies online last night? HA, not you.
  • Why are you reading this book on radical self-love? Do you really think you are allowed that?
  • Your walks around the park aren’t enough twice a week. You know better. You know you need multiple days of intense exercise for 2 hours to lose weight. We have been here before.
  • The wine. It’s the wine. Also, the birthday fun. Nope.
  • You’re not worthy.
  • You’re not sexy.
  • You will be alone forever.
  • You should be embarrassed.
  • You are not enough.

As, I listen to India Arie as the soundtrack to this blog post, and reflect on the words and thoughts I had today, I feel even more ashamed but then it moves to sadness. Timely, she is is currently singing “Just let it go. Set yourself free. Healing is in your hands.” If I reflect on the past few months, this has been the first time in maybe 3-4 months that these voices have been this strong. I suppose that’s progress, although they have transformed into other lies about my incompetence (my work, friendship abilities, partnership abilities, and my intelligence). Even so it demonstrates that I have the capability to heal, I just need to create the capacity.

Speaking of capacity, I haven’t had much of that lately. I have been traveling a lot for work for a few months now, spending the majority of most weeks out of town. In fact, I am writing this from a hotel room in Lansing, MI. I can’t say that it has been fun. It’s been difficult to find food that makes me feel nourished and is nutritious. Workouts are hard to come by. I’m exhausted and not sleeping well. And I’m so very bloated all the time or gastritis is flaring up all over the place. I have had little time for reflection, painting my nails, a social life, or just play. I don’t feel like myself. I’m moody, my patience is low, and I miss my “me time.” On top of this, I’m making some major life changes right now and managing feelings of inadequacy and incompetence isn’t easy. But it’s familiar. It’s my limbic system’s way of dealing with threatening or stressful situations. I’ve started drinking more ginger tea (stomach issues) and my favorite is the Yogi teas. The Yogi teas come with inspirational messages on them, and every single one has been about compassion. Reflecting now, I think that this is the universe’s way of telling me that the person who needs my compassion most right now, is myself.

“I am not the voices in my head. I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside. I am light.” –India Arie, I Am Light

Rain, Rain go Away…Or Stay. That’s Fine Too.

The weather out here in North Carolina has been all over the place the last week or two, but that’s pretty normal. I have literally experienced a tornado, sunshine, heat, and rain in the last two weeks. I also saw some left over snow while traveling for work. Currently we are on hour 10473729202840727 of steady rain. Ok that’s an exaggeration but we are approaching 48 hours. There is currently flooding in parts of the city.

I really enjoy a good storm. It’s soothing and I get some really good sleep. But after a while, I start to wonder if it’s ever going to stop and if I’ll survive. I also despise driving in the rain so there’s that reason why I get a little antsy when it just keeps raining

Today, while driving in the rain funnily enough, I started making a list of reasons why we need a good storm every now and then. Some literal. Some metaphorical. Most are both. Enjoy.

1. Growth. Everything needs water to grow. Part of me is really sad my garden isn’t planted yet because this would be the most amazing watering ever. I really hate dragging the hose across the yard and back again so I am always thankful for a good rain to water things for me. Every once in a while a good storm comes along and while it may be scary while your in the midst of it, afterwards you can definitely see how the downpour helped creat abundance, beauty and growth. (That’s the metaphor part if you didn’t catch it)

2. Cleansing: have you bathed lately? Not just your physical being but other areas as well. A good soul cleansing scrub is sometimes needed. A good soak in a tub is good for the soul and one of my favorite forms of self care. When was the last time you just stood in the rain? One day in grad school I was so stressed and overwhelmed and I had parked my car on the opposite side of campus and it was raining. I walked to my car with my umbrella but when I got there I closed it and put it in the car. I stayed outside and just let the rain wash over me a little bit. A tear or two may have mixed in with the rain drops. I don’t know. But I do know it was cathartic. If I hadn’t just spend $90 on my hair I would consider going outside right now for a few minutes.

3. Healing: A good storm can be therapeutic I think. Healing for the heart, mind and soul. And for one instance for me, the body. I used to have really bad TMJ issues. For 10 years my jaw popped out of place every time I opened my mouth wide. It hurt constantly and was made worse by a lot of talking or excessive smiling. I couldn’t chew gum. The only good thing that ever came out of my TMJ issues is that I learned the joys of medium cooked steaks as anything above that irritated my jaw. I went to the doctor, I took ibuprofen for pain, I had a $200 mouth guard made by the dentist, I had a $5 bite guard from Walmart. I even had a chiropractor punch me in the jaw repeatedly with some tool. Nothing helped. One day, after a few days of rain, and some pretty serious thunder and lightening, I came home in serious pain, took some ibuprofen and put in the $5 mouth guard. I went to sleep so as not to feel anything. I woke up the next day and immediately knew something was different. My jaw has only popped when I yawn unexpectedly or open my mouth funny since then. I WAS HEALED!! I will never be angry about rainy days ever again because one literally healed my body.

(In case you were wondering how your jaw works)

4. Rest: I think a good storm causes us all to slow down a little bit. Whether it’s slowing down while driving or just choosing to stay in for the day, rest is needed. Also, waterbeds weren’t all the rage back in the day for no reason! Water is soothing to the soul. No matter what anyone says, sleep is not the cousin of death. You have to sleep to live. If anything, if you don’t sleep you will die sooner! So if you too are experiencing a stormy day (of any kind) consider using it to take a good nap.

So there you have it. I know it’s a much shorter list than I normally make but I hope you have enjoyed it all the same. I also hope, if you are currently experiencing any sort of storm in your life, literal or otherwise, that you take a few moments to find and appreciate just a little of the beauty that there may be in the midst of it.

Crossroads

But why not me?

I stand at the crossroad

Of uncertainty and rejection

Far too often

To be asking the road to answer

Such a silly question.

She doesn’t know.

If so, I’m not sure how she could explain away

The aching of feet

Tired of a repetitive journey

That leads nowhere

But back to hours of standing

At this crossroad.

The road thinks I’m hopeless.

But why NOT me?

I wonder aloud to the crow

Always circling this crossroad

Waiting for me

To rip my heart out and leave it

For death and his dinner.

He thinks I’m foolish

To carry it around,

Alive

Beating

Hungry.

But WHY not me?

I ask the couple in the

Old beat up Chevy.

Always passing by to their home –

On the other side of the cross road

Of course.

They flash me looks of endearing pity

They could not know.

They wonder how I got here

Get here

Every time.

They think me broken

And never stop to wonder,

As to not be

Cursed in my presence.

But why not ME?

The sun hears me

And my pain is the only thing

Strong enough

To shy her away.

She will not know,

Disappears and sends

Rain.

But even rain isn’t enough to wash away

The dirty traces of shame.

BUT WHY NOT ME?

Thunder roars

He can keep up.

But he cannot settle down

To answer me.

He thinks I’m weak.

but why not me?

This time barely a whisper.

And she stirs within me.

Because.

You are the universe

That cannot be contained.

It will always be you

And yet, never you.

She thinks I’m strong.

I choose my road.

Afraid.

You wrap me in your arms, stroke my cheek,

I feel weak

Safe

Beautfiul

Afraid.

You kiss me softly with your lips,

But also with your gentle words,

Touch

Patience

Quirks

Wisdom

And a smile that always feels

Exactly right

Safe

And bright.

It frightens me.

You feel like home,

Safe and comforting,

Yet easy and familiar,

But also like an undiscovered adventure.

Is this a mountain, ready to fling me down as soon as I climb up

Or a smooth river, ready to gently carry me to safety?

I can’t take the mountain anymore.

You disarm me,

I put down walls willingly,

Lay down my weapons of mass protection,

Hang up my armor.

I am raw,

Pure clay from the earth,

Soft and malleable

Yet strong and buildable

For you.

I don’t have the energy left in me

To be putty for an evil crafts maker or solider.

Please don’t be from enemy lines.

I am knowingly

Intentionally

Choosing

To

Melt.

It’s been a long time

Since I’ve decided to lose form

And be the soft, flowing, mess

That I am

For another

In attempt to find love.

You make me want to try.

I am afraid.

But also so damn ecstatic.

Capitalize on the ecstasy,

But please don’t exploit my fears.

Make me believe.

 

Just “Regular” Black

Often, the first things people notice about me are my  face full of freckles (that seem to take over my body the older I get) and my greenish eyes. It’s particularly jarring an noticeable to people because I’m just “regular” Black. 100% Black, nothing else and 100% proud.

Growing up, people constantly asked me “what was I?” Or complimented me on how I looked like a “white woman” or at the very least mixed. As I got older, redbone was the compliment of choice by men, who were always fascinated by my “exoticism” and wanted to know if my mother or father was white. Family members also often told me that I looked mixed, if only my hair was a silkier (My hair is the give away. In its natural state, it is a beautiful kinky, jet black, ball of wool – nothing European about it.). And as I got into weaves and wigs, this was even further solidified. I grew up thinking being Black wasn’t good enough, that it was a good thing to be lighter skinned, asked “what are you?” and to be mistaken as only half negro. Although I didn’t necessarily see it as better to me, I realized that it was compliment in the world I grew up in. And so I allowed it to happen, smiling sheepishly as I responded (gross).

After constantly being asked this question though, I began to get annoyed, quickly. I became confused every time someone’s face fell when they learned I was just “regular” Black. As I learned more about paper bag tests, and doll experiments, and well, colorism in general, I grew angry. When I realized my fellow sister friends with beautiful skin were often disregarded, felt inferior, and men trashed them, I was disgusted. And when my own siblings told me about hatred for their  darker skin and wishing they had mine, I felt incredibly sad and heartbroken. And then I realized that in a very complicated world of color and race, in some ways, I have privilege. And in other ways, I’m very much the victim of racism. And that either way, I had to shift my thinking and what I allowed others to say or do around me.

And so began my bitchy remarks to those who questioned my ethnicity. “I’m Black mixed with Black,” I replied before it was a popular t-shirt. “Redbone isn’t a compliment to me, and I’m actually offended that you would insult my fellow sisters like that,”  I replied every single time a man would send me a message complimenting me on my light skin and how he prefers that.  I try my best to affirm others about their beauty and advocating when I can for others when I can. I intentionally use a rainbow of shades in my presentations. I remind people that being multiracial is wonderful, but simply being Black is wonderful too.  Most importantly for my own self, I will not accept any compliment that is about how exotic or “other” someone finds me.

I’ve also learned that my skin color comes with down sides too. Many people think I’m a “safer” type of Black, and are surprised and annoyed that I’m afrocentric and speak about racism often. Men expect me to be a little less opinionated. I’m “pretty for a Black girl” in some white spaces. I’m sometimes stereotyped as stuck up, not down, or self-centered. I work hard to disprove these things, but I try to not get caught up in that, because I know for every time those annoyances happen, a darker skinned woman is denied a job, a relationship (you don’t need him or her though honey, you too good for that), stereotyped,  “pretty for a dark skinned woman” or humiliated. I’m so sorry you go through that. I’m so sorry if I have ever been part of that problem. Please know that I stand by your side and am an ally today.

I cannot change the color of my skin or eyes. I love my freckles.  However, what I can do is claim my Blackness, never back down or allow slick shit  people say to slide, and be an active participant in dismantling colorism in our community.

So to answer your question,  I’m 100% Black queen goddess mixed with Black strength. That’s it. Just you know, “regular” Black.