GUIDELINES FOR THE TRUTHS
Are you ready to get stripped? It is time to let go of all of the misconceptions you have about black love and move into prosperous relationships that serve to feed your mind, body, and spirit. We are getting ready to call all of the news media, television shows, and women's magazines liars, because there are good black men out there who are still looking for great sisters to call their own. Our challenge is not with our men. The real challenge is reprogramming ourselves so that we can be contributors to our relationships, not detractors. The truths will revolutionize your approach to relationships.
WHY HAVE THE TRUTHS?
The state of relationships between brothers and sisters is on shaky ground. Everywhere you turn there are images of strong single black moms, black men with their nonblack wives, or black women hanging on to the worst possible men ever because they're afraid of being alone. If you tend to believe the media, sitcoms, and water cooler gossip, then you are probably feeling that there is little hope for finding the very best black man out there for you.
Play close attention, ladies: there are many great black men out there. Do not buy into the lies that all the good men are already married or gay. These are lies sold to our community so that we don't forge strong family or personal relationships, which have statistically proven to contribute to long, secure, and prosperous lives. Further, it is my belief that sisters clothe themselves with these lies so that we can justify our inability to select quality men or end bad relationships.
Our ability to have positive relationships is not completely shaped by insecure black men, our relationships with our fathers, socioeconomic conditions, or any other psychobabble that you have been sold in the past through the media and other relationship guides. These arguments do have some merit, but only you can decide to drop the negativity of the past and move forward into a better future. It is time to put the past away and live in the present--a present that is filled with new experiences and great love. The basic idea that I want you to open up your mind to today is that the very best black man is available to you. It is up to you to take the proactive steps to pursue and keep him.
Welcome to the best and most practical relationship advice that you will ever receive--advice that pushes you toward action and will not leave you lying in wait for the dream brother to discover you on that back pew, in the third cubicle from the left, or in the produce aisle. What I am offering is relationship truths that work not through deep psychoanalysis or childhood revelations but through identifying proactive behaviors that make you the master of your relationship destiny. Contrary to popular belief, the very best black men are not just out there somewhere waiting to discover you. You will have to be the aggressor, taking the steps to identify, pursue, and nurture a great relationship.
For all of the benefits that the truths will bring you, it is also important to note what they will not do. The truths will not:
Change a bad brother into a good one
Blame all of your bad relationship choices on Mommy or Daddy
Tell you that there are not enough good black men out there
Increase your net income, get you a Benz, or move you into a new house
If you desire any of the above, then this is not the book for you. We are digging a little deeper here and trying to undo a lot of the relationship behaviors and concepts that we black women have accepted in order to justify not having the love we deserve. In the end, the truths will provide you with ideas that will empower you to consciously decide to have the very best in your life.
A GOOD MAN?
What exactly do I mean when I say that the truths will result in you landing the very best black man? Are we talking about rich and highly educated brothers only? Let me clear this misconception up way ahead of time. We black women have fallen hard for the concept of a good man being a mucho provider and not much else. All of the other intangible characteristics that involve his ability to love and successfully partner and parent are viewed as gravy. We seem to latch on to "ballers" without giving any credence to the key attributes that contribute to successful relationships. Take inventory of those around you whose relationships you admire. I would say that the motivator in these relationships isn't money but friendship. When was the last time that you chose a best friend based on her bank account?
For my purposes the very best black man is one who is able to feed your spirit and body through compassion, understanding, dedication to goals, honesty, wit, and respect. The very best brother for you will be the one who is able to meet all of your needs--not just the superficial ones--even if you don't need him to.
WHERE DID THE TRUTHS
So exactly how did I come up with the truths? Over seven years ago I made the decision to have better men in my life. My dating years up to that point were primarily filled with two types of brothers: the psychos and the bohos. Psychos are pretty self-explanatory. I have done my time with stalkers, criminals, weedheads, and mama's boys gone wild. The second group, the bohos, or misguided bohemians, includes the men who appear good on the outside but are either mind-numbingly boring or closeted sluts. To this day I don't know which group I found to be the most distasteful, but I do know that I decided I wanted and needed a change.
Late one night while doing my regular journal writing, I came up with what I considered the most critical traits for the very best black man for me. My wish list probably looked a lot like yours: loving, compassionate, good father material, goal-oriented, strong, sexy, passionate, and honest. This was my ideal man, and at the time I thought that all I had to do was keep this list in mind as I met brothers and I would automatically be able to identify the weeds and get rid of them. I did start meeting great brothers who were successful and by all accounts good men, but I was failing to forge deep connections. I was getting the first dates but not the long-term interest. Still trying to figure out the relationship game, I turned to those women in my circle who I felt had great black men in their lives. What was their secret? Where was I coming up short?
When I looked closer, it became clear to me that these relationships that I so respected were win-win arrangements. The brothers in these relationships were just as thankful and appreciative of their wives as their wives were of them. There was a balance--neither partner was responsible for the success of the relationship or burdened with its failings. I had been right in identifying what it was that I wanted in an ideal black man, but I was missing the other critical piece of the relationship equation: was I the ideal mate for the man that I was looking for? I began to look at what I could do to make myself the ideal partner for the man I was hoping to meet. What steps could I take to make my relationships work? It was after this thought process that the truths started to take form.
My discovery that night was that there were certain basic ideas governing personal interaction that, if absorbed, would lead women to identify the very best black men every time. Having identified them, sisters would be able to remain with these great men in mutually satisfying relationships. I placed these ideas into practice, and never again did I feel that I always attracted the wrong men or was not good enough to keep them. These ideas gave me the power to actively pursue great men and consistently be their top choice.
Throughout this book I will share stories of how the truths have benefited sisters in identifying, pursuing, and nurturing great relationships with only the very best black men. Each chapter focuses on one particular truth and ends with the lesson behind the truth. It is my hope that you will take both the truth and the lesson and add them to your arsenal of tools for improving your life. At the end of each chapter there is a "bare necessity," a term I chose to use instead of "affirmation." Affirmations, in my opinion, are pleasant thoughts that dwell in the background, while bare necessities call on you to take action today--and it is only through action that change can occur. If a particular truth really hits home, I would suggest that you highlight the bare necessity. For your convenience, at the end of the book I have added a cheat sheet for both the truths and the bare necessities so that you can easily rip them out of the book and carry them with you to reflect on. It is only through examining and thinking about a truth that it can become integrated in your everyday behavior.
It is key that the truths be taken and absorbed as basic ideas for living, not as a check-off list for romantic behavior. These ideas work to improve you--not frazzle you into completing idiotic tasks, challenges, and lists on the road to love. The formula is simple. Use the truths to improve you. An improved sense of self will then lead to a more fulfilling love life.
So sit in your favorite chair or get wrapped up in your thickest throw, relax, and open your mind to the truths. I promise that once you have soaked up the ideas and lessons, you will see that the key to getting the very best black man is you. The truths are here to make sure that you are being the very best you can be as you pursue the very best black man.
LET GO OF THE PAST
Letting go of the idea that all men lie
is hard for me.
I am involved with a great brother who loves me and treats me like a queen. However, I stay in his ass about his seeing other women. Now, he hasn't done anything to deserve this, but every man I have ever been involved with has cheated on me. How can I learn to give this brother a chance? I really do want to be happy.
You are dealing with some heavy baggage wrapped around what brothers have done to you in the past. Why are you holding on to that stuff? You clearly have a brother in your life who is worthy of trust. Stop wasting your energy looking around corners, checking his wallet (I know you are doing it 6), and stressing over when he will leave. While you are doing all this, you are missing out on quality time with a great brother. Let go of all the stuff that other brothers have done to you and focus on what your man is doing right now.
Now, don't turn into a fool. Hold on to the lessons of past loves, but learn to differentiate between a life lesson and baggage. Learn the lesson and apply it to your future decisions, but leave the hurt and regret behind you because they stand in the way of being happy and complete right now.
PUT YOUR BAGS
My name is LaDawn Black, and I have baggage. Unlike most sisters, I can be up front and say that I have had issues with men who lie, have bad teeth, are unmotivated, live with their mommas, cry a whole lot, speak broken English, look better than me, always seem to need a haircut, have any type of body odor, or are over 6 feet and 250 pounds (I have a strong phobia of being crushed). These are the things that I took into consideration when I met a man, even in a casual situation--I'd begin to protect myself immediately. My justification was that life was too short to keep making the same mistakes.
After spending a few years ducking about 60 percent of the available brothers, I decided to lighten my load. I realized that I was greatly limiting the amount of love in my life by judging new brothers on others' mistakes. If I wanted to meet the man of my dreams, I had to let my prior experiences go and be open to new possibilities.
Truth I opened my eyes to how I was standing in my own way when it came to hooking up with a great brother. I made the decision to stop judging and start learning. Just because the food is in a familiar package doesn't mean that it will always taste the same. Drop the baggage from the past and sample a new and exciting flavor!
let go of the past
Holding on to the past will destroy your present situation. Instead of enjoying a new experience and growing, you will be constantly on the lookout for clues to your relationship's imminent demise.
Too many times we quickly sum up new people in our lives based on our prior experiences with people who were similar to them. It is so easy to do, and I will admit that I have done it on many occasions. In making these snap judgments, though, we miss the true essence of the person right in front of us.
How many times have we told ourselves that we will never be that dumb again? To this day I think about some of the relationship situations that I was in and wonder how in the world I survived. So like all the other sisters out there, I sucked up the lesson and stomped through future relationships vowing to never again deal with a liar, cheater, or anyone who made his living as a children's clown (sad but true).
On the surface, this dedication to moving forward appeared to be productive. I did what we are all taught to do: I identified the problem and took positive steps so that it would never occur again--case closed. Well, in an ideal world this would be the end of the matter, but you know as well as I do that the past has a tendency not to stay in the past, and often past relationship hurts play a major role in the current relationship's health.
Excerpted from Stripped Bare by LaDawn Black. Copyright © 2006 by LaDawn Black. Excerpted by permission of One World/Ballantine, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.