Definition of a Bum

QUESTION: Now here is the real deal Hollyfield on EX.... and yes I amembarrassed to be dealing with this.

EX is broke. Not kinda broke. Not something like a broke. Negro is BROKE. He hasn't had a job since I met him. And I dealt with that. Heis not a citizen and he lost his green card so I can understand that.BUT IT HAS BEEN A YEAR. We go out EVERY WEEKEND...a hundred here...twohundred there...five hundred here and there. And it is all coming outof my bank account. *No I don't make that much* He is always depressedabout not having money and I always try to be supportive by spendingmine... foolishness.

I got a cell phone in my name for him...he ran the bill up 500.00 amonth to where I owed freaking Verizon 2000.00. Didn't pay bill one,but always talking. He would have these get quick rich schemes where Iwould put up money and then they would fail. I have given him money totake care of his folks and all that. Did I mention he lives with hisparents? I am having a fit.... Anyway, why his parents don't let himborrow money I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE...yes the cussing is coming out.

Every time I bring up money it becomes my fault. He hates that he everborrowed it BLAH BLAH BLAH. Hell I hate it too.

Granted on all accounts, EX used to make big dough. He used to do"dirt" for a long time and now is too damn old and didn't saveanything. I truly believe that he can do better...I just don'tunderstand why he won't.

He goes on these freaking "trips" where he drives around to differentjobsites around the country with his friend. He says it's to makemoney SO WHY IS HE ALWAYS BROKE? He spends more money with take outand hotels than he makes. He can be broke at home. Then he asks me formoney.....

I AM LIKE NEGRO YOU JUST CAME OFF A TRIP WHERE IS YOURMONEY? But do I say that? No. Why? Because I don't want to be abitch...but damn this shit is getting old. *Sorry more cursing tocome*. I am tired of being a standup woman. I am tired of meeting nice guysand not being able to give them my full attention because I am stuckon stupid.

Case in point. A friend of his has him getting hooked up for a job. SOWHY IS HE ON THE ROAD TO TAMPA? He needs to stay his ass home and sitby the phone. I don't understand what the hell he is thinking. If hethinks I am going to pay for his fucking green card replacement he cankiss my black ass....

Relax Relax Relax. Yes I know you miss your kids. Yes I know that both of your parentsare dying. But is that reason to give up, or to get it together? I gowith GET IT TOGETHER! I am 24 he is 39...what kind of man is coolwith being in a situation where I am basically taking care of him? Iam sure that I will speak to him later and smooth things over. I amsure that I will regret putting all of his business on here. But rightnow I don't and right now I need this.


GARLAND: This is both one of the easiest and one of the hardest questions I've seen in a long time doing this blog with my man, Chuck.

This is the easy part:
What kind of man is cool with being in a situation where you [his woman] are taking care of him? A bum.

Your "boy" [because I refuse to call the piece of crap you described a 'man'] is a bum. He is a worthless, lazy, lying, good for nothing, drug dealing bum. That's it. Nothing more, nothing fancy, nothing earth shattering... your boy is a bum. But let's be 100% up front here. You knew he wasn't about shit when you met him. Come on... don't pretend... you knew from the second you gave him the digits that he was a loser!

This is the hard part:
You might get mad at me for the harshness in what I'm about to say. But I tell folks on this blog that I speak in my writing the same way I'd speak to my very own sister. So here goes.

You knew this guy was a piece of crap when you met him. You even say he used to make "big bucks doing dirt". So you knew he was a drug dealer. Why would you even mess with a drug dealer?

Lets keep it real here. For you to give a man all your damn money and your time and let him lie to you in your face is absolutely insane! And please don't call yourself a standup woman. You were a fool, straight up, and you know it - [Thats what is pissin me off! YOU KNEW IT! You and so many other women sometimes KNOW you are being your own worst enemy! Yet, for some reason, you continue to allow yourself to be abused.]. You played yourself over some bum that ain't worth the change in the cushions on your sofa! You let him constantly lie to you and mooch your cash, YOUR finances, YOUR future, YOUR capital... and I'm gonna tell you what else... you let him mooch your welfare. No, not Government 'welfare' - I'm talking about your pesonal mental and health 'welfare.' If you are riding around and partying and clubbin' and hangin' out with a low down, lying, triflin', drug dealer then you are running the risk of being arrested, or even murdered by being in his company. And, please don't think I'm exaggerating, because I'm not.

And just incase you are telling your computer screen, "He's not a drug dealer anymore!" WAKE UP, your boy is NOT going around looking for jobs and visiting job sites. He is what law enforcement calls, 'pushing weight.' He is moving and/or escorting large drug transactions. Don't lie to yourself - you know what time it is. Your boy probably has a fat stash of cash tucked away in mom and dads crib and YOU are helping to keep it fat by supporting his criminal ass!

I'm asking you here to stop lying to yourself. How can you honestly think this boy is any good for you? YOU are playing yourself worse than he is playing you. That's just the truth here. I mean, what kind of man can TRULY make a woman feel guilty for giving him money and then expecting him to appreciate it. A bum can. A bum with a woman that has no self esteem and is willing to HELP a man to treat her like shit. Let me say that part again... A woman that has no self esteem and is willing to HELP a man to treat her... treat her... treat her like shit.

YOU are helping him to screw you over.
YOU are enabling a worthless bum to play you for a fool.
YOU are throwing thousands of dollars into a flaming bottomless pit.
YOU are declaring yourself worthless and undeserving of decency.
YOU have deemed a bum, more important than yourself.
And please don't say, "I love him." Because I refuse to allow people to use their misconception of what "love" is as an excuse to allow others to crap on them.

So there we have it. You have a guy that you give most of your money to. He hits you with the guilt trip when you discuss giving your money to him. He's a drug dealer who cries poor-mouth and you foolishly buy into it. He travels but has 'no job.' You fund his weekends AND his get rich schemes. You've given him +$2000 in cellphone use. And last but not least, his parents are smart enough to not give him money, THE PEOPLE THAT BROUGHT HIS ASS INTO THE WORLD ARE SMART ENOUGH NOT TO GIVE HIM MONEY, but for some reason YOU think that YOU are so worthless that you can't find a better way to spend your hard earned money on yourself. I bet you'd have a fat "ING Direct" account right now if you had been honest with yourself when you first met him and took all the money you'd foolishly invested in his sinking ship of an ass, and opened an account. Lord, it would probably be five figures right this very second, and I'd be thinking that you were a saavy and 'holdin' it down' kinda' Sista. But instead, I'm wondering when you and your drug dealer boyfriend are gonna' get caught in the line of fire.

And, you are talking about smoothing things over. What freakin' planet are you from? What is there to smooth over with a bum that has taken thousands of dollars in cash from you, has lied to you, used you and is putting your life in danger by just having your number in his cellphone? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, go look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Do I deserve to be treated like shit?" Do it, and then answer truthfully. If the answer is no, then burn ALL bridges with your boy. If the answer is yes, then go call him and smooth things over. But please remember that I'm telling you now, right here, right now, that all the grief and all of the foolishness that comes into your life from your boy, from this moment on... you bring on yourself. Please remember that. You can stop this madness right here. Lose this guy, please. I don't know who you are, but it saddens me knowing that you are going to ruin [and possibly lose] your life over a boy that is telling you in bold faced letters that you aren't worth a damn, your trust isn't worth a damn, your character isn't worth a damn, and your very soul isn't worth a damn.

I hope your E-Mail to us was a deep down cry for someone to slap your face and tell you to stop bullshittin' yourself and get your shit together. Because THAT is what I hope I did!

CHUCK: Wow. What can I say? Ditto?


Do I need a boyfriend?

I want a man's opinion and I want it now!
I got into a fight with a guy in my office today and I've been thinking about it ever since. Not a fight, fight but an argument.

I was in the hallway near my office talking to two of my girlfriends and a guy named DeShawn. I was telling them that I was spending the week at my parents house, which is something I like to do every few months. DeShawn asked was my house being painted or was something wrong with it. I told him no, and that I just like hanging out at home with my parents, so every few weeks I'll pack a suitcase and just chill out in my old my old room for a few nights. He knows that my parents live in the same city as I do, and he says "You've got to get a boyfriend or a goldfish." and he walked away laughing. I didn't think it was funny so I went after him and asked him what he meant. I wasn't trying to start a fight but I wanted know why he said that.

He told me that I spend too much time with my parents and my sisters and I need a boyfriend or a pet to help occupy my time. He was very mean about it and don't agree with him at all. I love my parents and I like to spend time with them. I take trips with them and I stay with them when we travel on vacation and I don't think being 38 means I should spend less time with my parents and sisters. I have two sisters and three nieces that I spend as much time as I can with as well. I love my family, and no, I don't have a man, but one has nothing to do with the other. I date a few times a month but I haen't dated seriously in three years. I didn't like what DeShawn said so I made it clear to him. So is this what other people are thinking about me? Am I in some kind of denial or DeShawn the asshole I think he is?

CHUCK: DeShawn may, in fact, be an asshole, but that doesn't make him wrong. It sounds to me as though you spend a great deal of time with your parents for someone your age. That doesn't make you wrong, either, but it's something you may want to think about.

I have never been a daughter, so I don't claim to have a great view on the special relationship between a woman and her parents. And I'm sure that your parents enjoy the times you spend with them. But is it really fulfilling for an adult to spend so much time with their parents? A lot of parents don't mind smothering their kids. They see it as their job. And they don't see their doting as something that will make you anything less than a fully functioning adult. But, as they say, all things should be done in moderation.

You seem to be torn between what you are comfortable with, and how these things are perceived. If you feel comfortable, as a 38-year-old woman, going on vacation with your parents, okay. But don't expect others to feel the same way about it. And some of those others, tactless as they are, may verbalize those feelings. How you handle those comments is up to you.

Do I think that you're wearing out your welcome with your family? Possibly. They might not be telling you to spare your feelings. Myself, I believe that ideally everyone should be a rounded individual. Maybe you reacted so strongly to DeShawn's ribbing because you wonder if you are a rounded person. Give it some thought. As for DeShawn, hide his stapler or something.

GARLAND: Thank you for your question. I think this is a very interesting issue because Chuck and I and others we know have brushed across this issue a few times in the past.

Let's see, okay - DeShawn may not necessarily be the asshole you make him out to be. An insensitive jerk - maybe, but not quite an asshole. In my opinion he was probably trying to get a laugh at your expense while giving you a bit of advice that most people are too scared to give you. I've found that most often with people, it is the sly joke that reveals the true feelings. I think this is what he was doing.

First - I can't tell you how old is too old to still be "hanging out" with your parents. But again, 99% of people I know don't use the words "hanging out" and "parents" in the same breath. Also, I've noticed this type of "single daughter" / "parent" relationship trend before and I think it's a little uh, 'interesting' to me. Son's don't typically find comfort and joy in "hanging out" with mom and dad like daughters do. Before I got married I would have never even thought about just going to mom and dads to spend a few days, or if they were going on vacation, there is no way I was going to tag along just for the sake of tagging along. That old saying "two's company - three's a crowd" is still true in my book.

Why I think DeShawn isn't an asshole is this. He probably thinks that you spend so much time with your parents and sisters is because you may be lonely and bored. Since I don't know you, I don't really have to sugarcoat it. He was trying to get a laugh I'm sure, but he figures that if you had a boyfriend, a pet, a hobby, some tight-girlfriends, or a really good set of rollerblades - you could fill up your developing second childhood with other stuff. Okay - Okay - the second childhood thing may have been harsh... my bad. But I say that because I had a very similar discussion with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and I heard that phrase and part of me wonders if it is applicable here.

Let me make myself clear: I'm glad you have a good relationship with your parents, but for any adult, regardless of being 28, 38 or 48 to spend large blocks of time spending the night, or travelling or vacationing regularly or just "hanging out" with their parents - in my book, that isn't the healthiest of things to do. I think for some [not all] people that do this, they are avoiding something or trying to replace something in their lives. At some point, the children have to cleave away from the emotional protection of their mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters and forge their own life and own identity. This is probably what DeShawn wanted, but couldn't say to you. He's a little rude, I'll give you that, but I think saying what he did may have been better than saying, "Get a life!" In the same vein, your parents and sisters AREN'T going to say, "Uh, Susie - we want to go to Miami alone this year so you find something else to do, okay."

I may be going out on a limb here, but I'll say push away from mom and dad a bit try some new stuff that isn't so tried and true. And, go buy a goldfish and drop it on DeShawn's desk and tell him, "Now all YOU need is a girlfriend."

Security Issues

Chuck and Garland-

I have another question for you concerning a friend. My friend,who I'll call Cissy, works as a contractor at a government agency. Although her job isn't really top secret, the agency she works for is really security-oriented, and she has to maintain a high level security clearance to keep her job.

The problem arises from the guy Cissy's been seeing. Let's call him Curtis. As plain as I can put it, he's a thieving crackhead. Don't ask me how she hooked up with this guy. I have no idea. He's stolen from Cissy and lied to her so many times, I can't believe it. She stuck by him and defended him, while he's stolen her car, her money, even gifts from her!

The agency Cissy works for, during some period when she thought she might actually marry him, has looked into Curtis, and found him undesirable. They have advised Cissy to limit her contact with Curtis because of his criminal record. She told them she would, but she's still seeing him. And she does this knowing that continuing to see him could cost her her security clearance, and her job.

I never thought of Cissy as stupid, but what else would make her risk her livliehood like this? She'd been by herself for a while before Curtis, but so what? Is there anything I can say to her to get her to drop this bum?

CHUCK: Please indulge me for a minute while I lay out some theory. It's really nothing new, but I need to put it out there. Human beings, having free will as we do, are often drawn to persons and things that, despite the momentary pleasure that they offer us, are really no good for us in the long term. But still, people continue to do detrimental things like smoke cigarettes, take drugs, or watch Flavor of Love.

Curtis is probably serving the same purpose for Cissy. She's playing at some real daredevil, Evel Knievel stuff. She's just not using motor vehicles. She may be thinking she can change this bad person. She may be thinking that "love will conquer." She may be doing the female equivalent of "thinking with the little head."

For too many people, the idea of being alone is just so terrible to them that they will accept anything resembling a relationship. No drug addict is capable of having a relationship, because they are incapable of putting anyone in front of themselves. And Curtis' behavior has shown it. There's no way that he could steal from Cissy and endanger her financial well-being if he cared for her.

Talk to Cissy if you'd like, but I wouldn't expect too much. If you say that her job has put her on notice, I don't know what else you can say that will change her mind. And, let's face it, the loss of this job, no matter how good it may be, is beside the point. Cissy has shown the willingness to damage her career and livliehood for this clown. Whether her job is high security or fast food is irrelevant. I hope your friend comes to her senses before she does herself too much damage, but we'll see.

GARLAND: Um... Cissy isn't stupid? Okay - if you say so.

Let's suppose Cissy isn't stupid. Now this is a BIG suppose, alright, but let's just do it. Then she must not either like or want her job. Maybe she just doesn't care about her job. Maybe the pay sucks. Maybe she really wants to get fired so she won't have to hassle with quitting. Or maybe she's one of these insane women that loves to have a roughneck thug to smack her around and treat her like shit to show her how much he loves her.

But Cissy's not stupid, right?

Then again, Cissy may be the kind of woman that foolishly believes 'she can change him.' She has a man that - from your description - sounds like a drugged-out, burned-out, abusive criminal asshole. What a feather in her cap if SHE could turn that kinda' bum around. If she could drown him in defenseless, self sacrificing, self punishing love and have him suddenly bloom into a successful, intelligent, generous, loving, upstanding man - imagine how proud she could walk around her family and friends with this shining gem of a man on her arm! She would probably be giddy as a school girl as she boasts, "I made him everything that he is!"

That's what I think is going on. I think, she thinks - that maybe this guy can be turned around and made into something special and the longer she suffers in her love for him, the bigger saint she'll be in the long run. Either that or she's just so lonely that she feels that no one better will ever come along in her life. I'm not even going to use the word "love" in the things that could be going on with her, because LOVE has nothing to do with letting someone steal from you, threaten your career, or treat you like crap.

What should you tell her? Tell her to read this blog or sign up at Monster.com - because she'll be needing a job VERY soon.


It Is What It Is

Okay, here's one for you. A few weeks ago I met a guy at his house to hang out and catch up. Now, I didn't know this guy very well - he'd worked in the same company as me (although in a different office), and we knew of each other, but hadn't really ever socialised before. When he left the company, we kept in touch via email, and saw each other at mutual friend's gigs once in a while - and had a couple of very entertaining talks. Anyway, one night I called him on the offchance of catching up for a beer. Now, I didn't have any intentions as I was under the impression he had a girlfriend. Somewhere into the conversation, I found out that he'd actually been single for some time. Anyway, a 6 hour marathon conversation about life, the universe and everything ended with him jumping me, and we had extraordinary, passionate sex. Now, I'm a very open woman who is able to separate sex from love, and I'm well used to having guys as sexual partners only.! With this in mind, I got in touch with him a few days later and suggested that we meet up again for another session of talking, having a few beers and some great sex. I couched this suggestion in honesty, which was that my suggestion was probably a bit too fast and forward, but that life was too short to send mixed messages (and I know how guys get frustrated at womens' roundabout way of saying things). He got back to me saying that fast and forward was just fine with him, and that he'd love to take me up on my suggestion....but that he was going out on a date!! I actually laughed at this response in a positive way, because it was so honest - I guess in reaction to what I'd been saying. Anyway, shortly after that I went on vacation, but before I did, sent him a message thanking him "for what I deservë" - yes, a mixed message, but for me, meaning that I was pleased someone was being honest with me. When I got back from vacation a couple of weeks later, I got in contact wit! h him, again suggesting very casually, but very directly, that we meet up for a few drinks and sex. He got back to me and agreed that that was a great idea - and asked me when I was around. And this is where it gets wierd. Over 2 weeks, I sent him a couple of emails letting him know when I was around for that week (which was only on specific evenings). No response.
Confused by this, I decided to write this guy off as he obviously wasn't interested. And then out of the blue, he contacted me at 4am in the morning, and invited me round to his place for sex. As I've said before, I'm very open and relaxed about that kind of thing, so I went along with it. He knew full well that he was making a booty call and said as much, thanking me for going along with it.During the er,proceedings, however, I realised that I actually wanted more than just a F*** buddy relationship out of this guy, so the next morning, I suggested that the next time we meet be for something a bit more civilised - like dinner. He seemed open to this and said he'd be in touch. But at home that night, I got horny and sent him a message letting him know, and that he should do something about it. No response. A couple of days later, again, got horny and let him know, also asking if I was allowed to make a booty call on him (the implication being that it was okay for him! to do it, so why couldn't I?). Again, no response. Now, I've read "He's Just Not That Into You" and I know what the warning signs are in this kind of situation. My question is - there seems to be a double standard here where men can booty call and not follow up on a promise, but when a woman does it is she ""pushing too hard?". And given the background to this situation, is that dinner date going to come about now that Í've booty called him twice?
I understand how the messages I'm sending could be confusing - one minute sexual, the other asking for a proper date - but really I just wanna know if I should even bother. What do you think?

CHUCK: Oh. My. God. I have a headache. All the back and forth here has left my brain spinning. Let me get this straight: You two can't even sustain a booty call relationship, but you expect to start DATING this guy? I'm not gonna say it'll never happen, but the likelihood? Just not there.

I'm reluctant to give that Greg Behrendt guy any more recognition than he's already gotten (did you seen the crappy TV show this guy made?), but this guy isn't that into you. And he hasn't even made a half-hearted effort to show you he is. He has only shown interest in you as a f*ckbuddy, and not consistent interest at that.

Do some men have a double standard about who gets to make the sexual advances, and when? Absolutely. Some guys feel that it's the job of the Man to make the booty call. Others, let's face it, will feel a pressure to perform. Guys talk about being sexually ready at a moments' notice, but sometimes that's not the case. But just as likely, he could have been entertaining another female at the time, and understanding the admittedly trivial nature of your relationship, blew your call off.

Your friend has, I think, already categorized you, and I don't think it is as girlfriend material. He may ask you to make a movie before he asks you out to one. Sorry. At least he's been honest with you, though. The mixed messages between you have confused me, so I can imagine how the two of you must feel. You two need to go your separate ways right now. Maybe somewhere down the line you will be more aligned in terms of what you're looking for in a partner.

GARLAND: Thanks for your question! We appreciate everyone that takes the time to ask our opinions on things.

Okay, let me get my ducks in a row. You go to a guy's house to hang out and catch up, yet you say you didn't know him and he worked in a different office...

Then you call him to go out and have a beer, yet you say you thought he had a girlfriend...

Then six hours later, uh six hours and ONE MINUTE later, the boots are knockin'...

Then you say you are a woman who "is able to separate sex from love.."

Then you try to get the hook up again, but old boy brushes you off for more booty because he has a date. He strings you along for two weeks - knowing the sex is his for the taking and then at 4AM (!!!) He calls you for sex, you get out of your warm and cozy bed and drive to his place to give him the good stuff and then your nose gets opened up and you now want to be The Girlfriend.

I think I got all of that right.

As you read what I'm about to say, keep in mind that I am always frank and brutally honest when my female friends and family ask me about men.

Please either leave this dude alone or accept the role of Jenny B. Readybooty. Right now, you are Jenny B. Readybooty! This guy is doing nothing more than what you claimed to be able to do yourself. He's keepin' it Strickly Dickly. But anyway - he just wants you when HE wants YOU, nothing less and certainly nothing MORE. By telling you that he had a date and didn't have time to get busy with you, he laid the rules out in your face. YOU chose to ignore them! Sadly, I think you THINK you can keep sex and love separated but at least with this dude you can't. I'm not knocking you because being human is being human! But, don't lie to yourself about that! If you are honest about that, the next time you need a hookup, just do it and walk away - no numbers exchanged, no e-Mail addresses, just do what you have to do and walk away.

You can't change the rules in the 8th inning. If homeboy kept you dangling on the hook, which is what he did - FOR WEEKS, you can't suddenly say, look I want dinner and dancing, I want movies and concerts, I want to meet your mom... you can't do that switch around. ONE - it's not realistic and TWO - it's NEVER gonna be what you want it to be. Leave dude alone. All he is good for is using YOU to get his sheets wet, and he doesn't even seem to want to do that much. He's not worth the time and energy, Sis.

And one more thing! GIRL, if I EVER hear about you getting out of YOUR bed at 4AM to go to some dudes house to give him sex, I'm gonna'...!!!! Look - the rules are bootycalls up to 2AM, after 2:01 AM folks are interfering with the next work day!!! Don't you EVER get out of your bed and go to some dude that calls you for sex. Shit, Honey - YOU HAVE THE MAIN EVENT!!! Make them come to your crib!!!


Scrub Detector and Thug Magnet

QUESTION: Hi, C&G. I'm a single black female in my mid-20s and I have the hardest time meeting men. I have morals similar to the woman who recently posted a question---I don't smoke, haven't touched alcohol in a few years (never succumbing to peer pressure again), never did drugs, and am still a virgin. Though I went through a nerdy and awkward phase in high school, I grew out of that and I feel more attractive and I walk taller. I'm intelligent, have a college degree and goals in life, and I recently started taking martial arts. So how come the only guys who approach me are THUGGISH, ignorant and just plain ghetto?! I cannot walk down the street without hearing "boo, can I talk to you?" or "Shorty, got a man?" and it is irritating as hell. Lord forbid I say "Not interested," because that turns into "fuck you, bitch." I hate also getting whistled at or hit on by dirty old men...it makes me sick. (I don't dress hoochie...so lord knows what turns them on to me.) A recent instance of a "no-account thug" trying to talk to me was at the airport...this fool was talking about being held back in school and watching bootleg copies of movies, while I was on my way to a Star Trek convention. What would a Trekkie have in common with someone who has no goals and purpose in life?! Don't get me wrong, I've tried to approach guys myself. I will compliment a guy I find interesting with "nice shirt" or "nice eyes" and it turns into "thanks. My girlfriend thinks so, too." GAME OVER. I've also tried to start a conversation with someone who was reading an interesting book, and nothing came out of that. I also go to community events, bookstores, cafes, movies and the theater...and still, nothing out of that. I've also been on blind dates (one was with a creepy nerd who, out of the blue, tells me that his mother was an alcoholic and that he used to fantasize about having sex with dogs), tried the personals (the guys would act nice over the phone but turn into creeps in person), and speed dating (a horrible experience). I've come to the conclusion that I will never find a nice and normal guy to date. Sure, I have male friends, but there's never any romantic connection. It's not fair. My younger sisters were popular and always had boyfriends with no effort whatsoever. I haven't even had that! What is wrong with me that only thugs and dirty old men find me attractive? Help!

GARLAND: Thanks for your question. Right off the bat, I want to let you know that there's "nothing wrong with you." I just wanted to say that up front in case I forget to say it later!

Meeting men, in my opinion, is probably the hardest thing for a lot of women to do these days. Wait - wait - let me qualify that... meeting QUALITY men, is probably the hardest thing for a lot of women to do.

Reading your question, you seem to really be in touch with yourself and the things around you, so that's a big plus for you.

So, lets see - "Thugs, scrubs and bums - all tryin' to holler at you."
The first thing that comes to mind is trying walkin' and hangin' in better neighborhoods. Admittedly, I say that tongue-in-cheek. But, sometimes the biggest thing a person can do is just change their patterns and places of choice. There may be a whole new crop of men in new grocery stores, new book stores, new restaurants, new cafe's, new parts of town. So that may be part of what you may want to try.

I think a lot of guys know that there are sometimes a lot of women looking for a man. Sadly a number of these women don't demand much more than breathing and a penis from their men. So you'll find a lot of guys that have this amazing confidence and swagger, and they'll walk up to almost any woman and say "I ain't got no job, I'm 38 and live with my mama, I make $6.05 an hour when I feel like working, I ain't got no car and I'm late for a meeting with my probation officer. So, are we gonna' hookup this weekend?" And some women will say, "Sure, Boo. Here's my cell number." Unfortunately, decent, intelligent women such as yourself catch the residual foolishness from these lower standards of other women.

In my opinion, those decent guys you're looking for are out there. When walking down the street, you tend to find more dandelions than roses, but there are roses to be found. I'm not sure where you're writing from, but judging by the high volume of bums trying to "get at 'cha" I think a change in scenery will help you a lot. No, don't go pack your bags and leave town! Just try to bring new places into your 'theater of operations' - the places you do your thing in. Continue to be observant of the men around you, the ones that are reading what you like, listening to what you like, banking where you bank, checking out the sci-fi that you like. I think you are on point for the most part, subtle compliments and conversation will yield you the results you desire.

I'm going to stop with two points I really want to share with you:
1. Please read our Q&A called "Off the Shelf" I believe there are some good "How to meet a man" tips there!
2. This is the most important point I want to make to you. I fully understand the desire to want a companion, and you should have what you want. But, you mention that you are in your 20's and I am a firm believer in people (men & women) spending their 20's getting to know themselves. Finding out who they are, finding out what they like and just plain doing their THING! I think a lot of young women really want A GOOD MAN in their lives so they can get married and have kids and all this stuff when they are like 23 or 24. But that is the time when they need to do their own thing and focus on themselves NOT some boyfriend, or husband or baby-daddy. So, to you I say - don't spend too much time stressing over that good man that is yet to enter your life. I'm VERY glad to hear you're doing karate, and Star Trek conventions and that stuff, I really am. Thanks for your question, read our previous posts and I hope I was helpful to you.

"Kirk, out."

CHUCK: Like Garland said, the problems you're experiencing in finding a worthwhile man are not your fault. There are going to be rude, aggressive, cat-calling buffoons roaming the streets of even your "nicer" neighborhoods. What I think may be your fault is your response to these men. There are women who face the same taunts in the street of "Say, boo," "Hey, ho," whatever, but they do not let them break their stride. These guys expect to be ignored. Ignore them. Let their advances roll off of you like water off of a duck's back.

I do think that the thing that makes it difficult for you to dismiss unwanted male attention seems to be that you are lacking desirable male attention from a guy you want to be with. There's no easy answer for that. You've apparently been experiencing a lot of bad breaks and bad timing. I don't think that there's that many guys in sci-fi/Star Trek fandom that have girlfriends. Or are creepy psychopaths.

If I could offer my quick, admittedly uneducated view of some of the tactics you've taken thus far, they sound to me like an expressway to depression. Blind dates? Hardly ever work out. Personals? Lying bastards, all of 'em. Speed dating? The joke they make it out to be.

Don't give up, though. Focus on being positive, and something positive is going to happen for you. Keep going to community events, bookstores, movies, theatre, etc. Enjoy yourself, approach people if you want, be approachable. Be on the lookout for someone that shares your interests, not just a boyfriend. You're going to get through this patch of bad luck and worse men.

Thanks for bringing your question to us.


What's on the Menu?

QUESTION: Hi, guys, I just started waiting tables about a month ago and already two men have left their phone numbers for me.

One guy was nice looking but not really my type. The other was great looking and friendly. But I can't help but wonder is it worth is to call him?

Should I suspect that he does this frequently? Do men do this often?

Signed, Waiting to Call-

CHUCK: You, my dear, whether you were aware of it or not, have entered into a profession that is in the Top Ten of Most Macked-On. Others include Retail Clerk, Receptionist, and, um, Stripper?

Anyway, when a guy goes out to eat, whether he's with his boys or not, and he's confronted with an attractive young lady showing him attention, he may decide to take his game out for a walk and hit on his server. This may be done out of sincere attraction, or boredom, or to play the percentages. Either way, if you're going to be waiting tables for a while, you should get used to being hit on. It should all be harmless.

As to whether you should call either of these guys, it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a companion for the short-term, someone to go to movies and have a few laughs with, you'll probably be lucky. If you're looking for the father of your future children, you're less likely to be successful.

I don't want to generalize too much, but either one or both of these gentlemen may be looking for nothing more than a booty call. So I would exercise caution if you choose to entertain these potential suitors. Because if you should encounter some nut, you might not know where to find him, but he'll know where to find you.

So, relax, have fun, and be careful. And if Garland and I ever swing by, maybe you could hook us up with a meal. Whaddaya think?

GARLAND: Hello, and thanks for the question! Let's see - NO, all guys don't do the number drop off. But a lot do.

Assuming that you are an attractive and friendly woman, it's safe to say that you might as well get a glass jar to keep the phone numbers of many of your male customers. Waitresses are unique people - if a guy likes to go to the same spot over and over for dinner or lunch, it might not hurt to get friendly with your server. So, there might be a tiny bit of alterior motive there - so approach this situation carefully.

Personally, I think the phone number drop off is a soft and safe approach. Chances are, the guys didn't have to say too much to you, beyond a "Holler at me sometime..." or a "Gimme' a shout this weekend..." Nine times out of ten, the best you can probably expect with this approach is a few trips to the movies, a few trips to the club, maybe a dinner or two and probably some 'lights out' action if you are down for it. I think Chuck called it playing the percentages, that's a safe bet - a guy gives his number to 8 or 10 women a week, it stands to reason that at least 1 or 2 will call him back.

So, if you are cool with a few dates and a little hanging out, I say call him [or them] back and see what's what. Now, if you're looking for a REAL relationship, something long term and loving, I think you may want to hold off on calling these guys back. If they're really feeling you and wanting to set a good example, they'll be back at your job. They'll give you a better presentation of who they are, and you'll know what's what.

By the way, I recommend you use *(star) 67 when you call them. Just incase they're nuts, they won't have YOUR NUMBER. Be safe and maybe drop us a line and let us know what you decide.

Breakin' Balls (so to speak...)

QUESTION: You guys kind of touched this subject previously. I currently live with my boyfriend and we have a 5 month old daughter. We have been together a little over two years. In the past, my boyfriend would go out and hang out a lot with his friends (almost everyday.) Now it has come to a point where he hangs out with this one friend once a week, usually on Saturdays. He either hangs out at his friends house or they play pool at the local bar. How much is too much?

Personally I feel like once a week is too much---HE SAYS, that he understood that he hung out too much in the past and has changed and limited this to just once a week. He also says that he doesn't mind me going out every once in a while, but not every week---- so there is a double standard.

I'm really trying to understand this.

GARLAND: Hey - Thank you very much for your question!

Well, I actually think "hanging out with the boys" is a big issue with a lot of folks! But, for your boyfriend to drop his hanging out from 7 days a week down to 1 day a week - I have to give him some real props. That is something that A LOT of guys have problems with! So, my hat is off to him.

As I was reading your question, I was thinking, well SHE needs to have at least one day a week to herself... then you mention that he feels you can go out "once in a while." This is where I have a problem. Frankly - fair is fair, if he can leave you with the baby for X amount of hours every Saturday, then YOU need to have X amount of hours to yourself each week. For him to think or act any other way is insane and selfish. I suggest you put that on the table for him. NOW PLEASE - DO NOT TRY TO TAKE AWAY HIS SATURDAYS AND MAKE THEM EXCLUSIVELY YOUR DAYS. Maybe if you all want to take very other Saturday and every other Sunday and have your own time, that may work and the two of you just switch the day you each take for your own.

But, back to him and his one day a week. Personally, I don't think many guys get one day a week to himself, but it's not an impossible thing to understand. Now, I don't know what he does for a living - but he may really need a day to just chill and decompress. {But, so do you - don't get me wrong} I think hangin' out [probably playing X-Box] and shootin' pool and knockin' off a few brews, is far far far from the worst thing a guy could be doing.

I strongly recommend though, that you let him know that you BOTH deserve a day to yourselves... and don't let him force you to take Wednesday nights... nothing in the world goes on, on Wednesday nights!!!

Keep in touch, let us know how it works out-

CHUCK: I think that, unlike a lot of guys that we get questions about, your guy is trying to do better. And I think that you recognize it, but you may not appreciate it. He has gone from hanging out every night to just pool and whatnot on Saturdays. He's heading in the right direction. A lot of guys go from one night to multiple nights.

But I sort of understand your issue. Without knowing what your work schedule entails, for most people, Saturday is the weekend, and you might be feeling constrained knowing that you will be spending every Saturday alone with your baby. I know you love your child, but everybody needs a break.

Tell him that he should maybe mix up the days that he goes out, to be more fair to you. And also, if you've got no problem with his weekly excursions, he should not have any problem with yours. He's totally wrong there. Also, if you haven't already, take the time and cultivate some interests of your own. Take a class. Develop a hobby. Take up pool yourself. And not for any vindictive, "I can do it, too" reason. But because it's the right thing to do. When both people in a couple are well-rounded, these complaints crop up less often.

Trust me, if this is the only problem you have with your boyfriend, you're doing okay. Am I right, ladies?


Flattery Will Get You Everywhere

QUESTION: This is probably a stupid question, but what harm could it do? I'm a black woman, early forties, single, educated and all that good stuff. I've come to some harsh realities lately and I need a sanity check.

First - I'd like a good man in my life, my arms, and my bed. But I don't date a lot because I don't trust my own judgement. After a brief string of good dates and bad choices, I've come to face the fact that when a man says what I want to hear, everything else goes out the window and suddenly I'm thinking this is it - HE LOVES ME! Next thing we'll be engaged and I'll be walking down the isle and we'll be having kids and life is perfect. Two days later he's not calling, or he's not responding to my E-Mails or pages and I'm left feeling the fool. The last guy made a fool of me six months ago and I've given up.

Sort of.

I just don't want to give up on my dreams of meeting that special man. I just have to keep my head right. I can't just jump at the first sign of something special, yet thats what I keep doing. What can I do to stop myself from being played and hurt by the men I meet?

CHUCK: Thanks a lot for visiting the site. And don't worry. Like my grandma used to say, "There's no such thing as a stupid question."

In response to your question, I could just say, "Work on your self-esteem." But if solving problems were as easy as that, Garland and I would just post that message and take the rest of the site down. So many questions we answer are relateable to self-esteem.

I don't know what type of romantic experiences you've had, and if they've all been bad. I hope not. But there must be a reason that you fly to the moon on the slightest positive remark or action from a guy you're dating. Let me tell you something about guys: When we're dating, especially in the early stages, we try to be as complimentary and positive towards you women as we can. IT'S OUR WAY OF GETTING WHAT WE WANT. Never forget that.

So while, in a pefect world, I would encourage you to be trusting and keep your heart open, I need to suggest you do the exact opposite, at least a little, for your own well-being. Until you can learn to tell the difference between an honest compliment and some bullshit smooth talk, you need to take your time with any man you date. When "That's a nice blouse," no longer sounds like "Live with me, and be my wife," then you'll know you've made some progress.

And please, work on your self-esteem. These guys didn't make you. And they can't break you.

GARLAND: I also want to thank you for checking our blog out!

I think you are working waaaay to hard at putting the cart before your horse, and I think you know that. To me, that is the very first thing you can do to stop letting yourself get played. Stop thinking about getting The Ring and running down the isle for at least the first 12 dates!

12 is a good number, so I'm going to push it on you! Give yourself at least 12 dates with a guy before you even think that he could be The One. One or two great dates does not a solid relationship make. Like Chuck said - most of us guys are "compliment" and "smooth game" heavy early on. It's not that we're bad or anything, but we want to see what is what with you and we'd prefer to see it sooner than later. What you need to do weed out the fly by night guys and see who's the real deal.

The key is PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE and looking deeply at what you have before you. And, by patience I don't mean wait some crazy amount of time - what I mean is give a guy a dozen or so dates and see where his head is at before you start thinking about serious relationships. If you don't make him stick around and show sort of dedication, you're going to continue to find men walking in and out of your heart.

The key is setting a "period of performance" for the guys you meet and date. You set a fixed number of dates [or weeks, etc.] where you will except nothing short of full respect and entertaining encounters before you will allow yourself to think of anything close to a long term relationship.

Step away from the phone and put your hands in the air...

QUESTION: I met this man a few weeks ago and we began to hook up pretty regularly. He was always talking about how he wanted nothing serious, but the fact that he seemed to feel a lot for me kept creeping out in conversation... he admits that if we were to spend a lot of time together he knows where it would go, and that to him is the evil relationship. I broke it off for a while, saying I needed to get my stuff together, but a few days later realized I could do it with him in my life in an intimate way. Then he stopped returning my calls. A few days later I got a hold of him and he was such an ass - he was rude and hurful and if felt like he was just pushing me away. I had been thinking about ending it anyway because it just wasnt what I wanted, but the manner in which he did it was so incredily hurtful, and he said we was only distancing himself not to hurt ME! Now its been a week, and I was fine a few days ago. But then I was talking to a mutual friend who said he thought this guy was just so into me and scared of how he felt about me. And I cant help thinking its true. I just want to talk to him and sort this out so I can get over it and we can be friends, but he wont talk to me. What is going on? And more over, what do I do?!

GARLAND: Thank you very much for your question! Chuck and I are always appreciative to check our Hotmail and find another one! And, we certainly hope we can make a positive difference with our questioners AND our readers!

So, what do you do?

First - find this "mutual friend" and paint a bright red X on their forehead so you'll know to never, never, never ask their opinion again about this man or any other. They think this guy is "so into you that he decides to treat you like sh*t because he is so in Luv' with you" - say that ten times out loud to yourself.

I'll wait.


Okay - any man that is so scared of caring about a woman that he feels the need to be mean, and rude and hurtful towards her to "protect" her from him and oddly, him from her. He has some deep rooted issues - and you, your life, your heart and your time are better spent looking elsewhere. That's just the plain old truth, sorry.

Let me share something with you - I've liked one or two women so much in my life that I thought I might be willing to put up with stupid sh*t to be with them. And at the very moment I realized that I might be willing to bring foolishness and non-sense into my life, because I thought their love MIGHT be worth it. I woke the hell up! And that is just what this guy is going to bring to you! Everytime he can't handle some good vibes and good emotions because HE has issues, with trust or women or monogamy or whatever - he's gonna play the punk role and flip out on you! You will spend all of your time trying to convince him that you are "his girl" and "he can trust you" and "you deserve him" and "you need him"!

Simply put, if he ain't grown enough and man enough and ready enough for a legitimate, intimate relationship with a mature woman - please don't bother with him. If he deals with, what should be a positive opportunity - by straight dissin' you, he is a boy inside and you will be best served to move on. And when I say move on, I don't mean... oh it's cool to hook up on your birthday or at the cookout his mama is throwing next weekend or because you saw him at the car wash - because feelings are gonna' be involved and all the typing I just did will be in vain. MOVE ON means no phone calls, no E-Mails, no accidentally on purpose driving by his job or his apartment 10 or 20 times. It means, just leave him alone.

And one last thing... the whole "I just want to talk to him and sort this out so I can get over it and we can be friends..." (Chuck is REALLY gonna' get you for that line!) But let me start - This is probably the biggest reason women get dogged by losers!!! Listen carefully - Every man that you meet and catch a wiff of emotion for DOES NOT HAVE TO BE YOUR FRIEND!!! Calling guys that you have a "thing" for YOUR FRIENDS after a few hot weeks is an absolute insult to the people that are YOUR REAL FRIENDS and have been for years! A lot of you ladies think that all you have to do with a guy is TALK and everything will be sweet and honey coated and you'll have a new FRIEND. You feel like there is "something to get over" [something to get past; something to resolve] I can't say it any plainer - PLEASE STOP THIS BULLSHIT. Don't try to TALK anything over, don't try to make him explain anything, don't bend over backwards for him, don't try to be his new best friend, don't try to get him to cry in your arms - just say this - "I gave him a chance, he acted like a dick. The hell with him."

I know I'm comin' off kinda' blunt here, but I'm talking to you the EXACT same way I have talked to my family and friends! You thought enough of me and Chuck's blog to drop us a line, and I think enough of you to try and protect you and your heart! Please don't take it personal - just take it to heart!

CHUCK: Garland is referring to a complaint I made in an earlier post that women frequently seek closure with men past any reasonable expectation of a successful outcome. Closure is not always possible in relationships, and I question whether it's even desirable. What response from this guy would you like to get? "I love you, but you scare me?" If something so corny came out of his lips, you should slap it back in. "I want us to still be friends?" People say this all the time. They may even mean it. But does it ever happen? Not so much, I think.

To be fair, let me backtrack. Your friend may, in fact, be into you and be scared of his feelings. Okay. Is it too much to ask for him to get himself together and deal with his feelings like a grown-ass man? It's not like you're asking him to do a 15-month tour in Baghdad, after all. Men trip me out sometimes with emotional childishness like this. "I'm afraid to be in a relationship right now," they say. But what they mean is: "I don't want to get with you as long as I think there's someone better out there."

As for friendship, I don't know about you, but I know enough rude, hurtful people who won't return my phone calls. I can do with one less. Maybe you can, too. Forgive me, but your guy doesn't appear to be such a great prize to lose. He's already shown you what a poor friend he's going to be.

So if you should get the urge to call this guy, hit yourself in the head with the phone until the urge passes. Whether he intended to or not, he's really doing you a favor.


Not Feeling You

QUESTION: Okay, so I've been reading your blog for a while...and now, I actually have a question for you guys. I met a guy about a month or so ago via an online ad. After corresponding by e-mail for about a week, he asked me out. We went out about 3 weeks ago, nothing elaborate, just dinner and a movie, and I had a good time-it seemed he did as well. I did notice he was yawning towards the end of the movie we saw (it was after midnight when it ended and he had worked that day) but didn't think a whole lot about it-I merely chalked it up to the fact he was tired after having worked that day. Anywhoo, I sent him an e-mail the next day thanking him and letting him know that I had a nice time and looked forward to seeing him again. He actually didn't respond for a couple of days, so I then assumed that he perhaps was no longer interested, and sent him another e-mail saying that I supposed he wasn't, and wishing him the best-very cordial. He responded back saying I'd "written him off too soon" and he'd been "working like a Hebrew slave" (he just started his own business several months ago)...but that he did have a nice time and I'd done nothing to not make him want to do it again.
My question-as it has been three weeks and he hasn't asked me out again (we have corresponded via e-mail off and on during this time), should I assume that he ISN'T interested?
Thanks for any insight you can provide, guys!

GARLAND: Hello! Thanks for your question!

I think it's safe to say he's not interested. I wish my instincts didn't point to that conclussion because you said you had a good time with him. But after three weeks, if he hasn't set up another date, then he's not going to.

As a man, if I meet a woman and I'm feelin' her - I'm going to snatch her up before someone else does. Even if it doesn't mean a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship right away, I want to make it plain and clear that I like her and I want to get to know her. There wouldn't be a whole lot of non-face-time back and forth.

Several thing about his behavior reinforce this to me: FIRST - The yawn. If I had yawned on a first date I would have made a big deal out of it and I would have made 100% sure that my date knew that I was tired, but NOT bored! SECOND - As a man, I think it is a big sign of respect to be proactive in reaching out the next day. Personally, I've always worked hard to be the first to make contact the next day. THIRD - The whole "you wrote me off too soon" line, if he was interested, he should have and would have made it clear to you. FOURTH - If he's working like a "Hebrew Slave" then he didn't have the time to be doing online dating in the first place.

I think he's not feeling you and he probably doesn't want to hurt your feelings. I don't want to hurt them either, but let this one go. Don't chase after a guy that's dragging his feet. If a guy is starting weakly, he'll probably finish weakly. You may want to stop the E-Mail traffic with him too, there's no need of dangling at the end of his line. Get back in the water and make another catch!!!

CHUCK: Should you assume he isn't interested? In a word: YES. There are any number of ways that a man can show a woman that he is sincerely attracted to her. He has shown you exactly none. Waste no more time trying to stay in contact with him.

That whole business about him working too hard to contact you I don't really buy. People will make time for the things they want to make time for. Even Hebrew slaves. I mean, where did the little Hebrew slaves come from?

However, I think it would be helpful to at least cursorily examine this guy's behavior. Because there may be a simple explanation for it. Some guys have women that they want to date, or would like to engage as, um, sexual partners, but they are unwilling or maybe unable to expend the effort necessary to achieve their objective. They remain in contact with these women, just in case, but they are not going out of their way for them. They're certainly not spending money on them. That sounds like what you're dealing with here.

So forget this guy and don't even bother to send him one last email for "closure." That is SO MUCH a woman thing to do, by the way. If he wants to get back in touch with you, he will. But don't hold your breath waiting.


On the Shelf

QUESTION: Hello Chuck and Garland.

I found out about your blog via Evia's blogsite.


I must say, I love your stance on wanting to see black women happy, and I especially love your comment of "throwing a glass of cold water" into the faces of black women to wake them up.

But, here's the deal.

First off, I am 52 years old, never been married, no children, and I have been celibate for the last 30 years. Since the last time I was in a "dating" situation was 15 years ago, I must say that I have become quite a bit rusty in the singles/social scene/dating department.The person I was involved with did not care too much for the celibacy position I took, so as you can see, I am still single. I am not too crazy about the internet dating scene (and maybe I am being too hard on it and should give it a try), but, I still am having cold feet about it, and might try it sometime soon. I have taken some nice pictures of myself and if I get the courage to do so, I might post them at a dating site that I have looked into and only if it meets muster with me. And by muster, I mean that I may spend six months or more lurking to see how people behave themselves at this (or any other dating site) before I sign myself in. (Wouldn't want to rush into anything too quick.)

I am also a very shy and retiring type of woman.The very thought of going up to a man and striking up a conversation with him, no matter what his race, is very terrifying to me. I said the same thing to Evia, and she suggested that I need to start out with a man as a friend to talk to, and I heartily agree with her. But, since I do not know what most men are thinking today, here is my question:

Do both of you think that because of my age, stance on celibacy (I will not compromise my principles), lack of sexual experience (I was intimate for the first time with a man August, 1976; and that was the last time I was intimate with a man) will cause men to look the other way in consideration of me? Would my sticking to my guns, and telling a man that I wish to remain celibate until marriage scare him off? If I decide to meet men of other races, where would you suggest as the best places to meet them, and best places please, no beerhalls, no juke joints, no dives or night clubs. I do not care to frequent those places. Are there men out there who would be very much interested in a celibate like myself, or am I just being too afraid and sure that they only want sexually active women instead?

Well, let's cut to the chase: I am afraid of men, but not in a bad way. I just fear that I will be used again and I do not want to go through that again. But, on the other hand, time is running out for me, and I know I must do something before it is too late.

So, given the information that I have given you, do you think I stand a chance out there against the competition of the other women (younger black women, white women, women of other races) in succeeding in putting myself into the minds (and arms) of men, be they black, white or other? (I guess I am looking at the age question more than I am looking at the race question.)

I want to have a chance at happiness, and believe me, I do not want to see anymore young black women do as I have----keep living in fear for so long until they wake up and find that so much time has passed them by.

Time they will never get back.

Thanks ever so much, and thank you for both being kind, considerate and keeping black women's needs at heart.

We need more black men like you.

GARLAND: I'd like to first thank you for the kind words and secondly for submitting one of the most candid and interesting questions that I think we've had since starting this blog. I hope our answers are helpful to you and anyone in a similar situation.

You say you haven't dated in 15 years and you're thinking about the Internet dating scene... I'm a little hesitant about you doing that. I think you may open yourself to some serious vulnerablities there. The whole 'cyber scene' may leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and I'd hate for some 16 year old perv in his mother's basement to trick you into thinking he's a single, 49 year old consultant that listens to Coltrane and enjoys writing poetry, drinking a fine Merlot and playing with his dog Rex at his summer home in Belize. I just don't want to see you put yourself out there like that. Maybe put the Internet dating on the back burner - but keep those photo's!!! You might need them one day.

Evia gave you great advice when she said to take your time and be friends with a man first! That is probably the best dating advice for men and women at both ends of the dating spectrum. I think there is nothing worse than trying to fall in love with someone that you don't even like. It sounds strange, but there are folks that are married to people that they wouldn't even be friends with! Crazy, huh?

You asked about places to meet men, aside from your run-of-the-mill dives and watering holes... so I'd say try these out for size:

  • BEST BUY and CIRCUIT CITY: We men love electronics and TV's and DVD's and all the stuff these stores carry. Stroll through one sometimes, check it out and learn the layout and glance at a few of the labels and try to pick up some odds and ends about what the stores carry. When you see an attractive guy, maybe you can strike up a casual conversation about what he's looking at. Nothing too aggressive, something off the cuff like, "I bet those speakers would work nicely with that Sony Plasma TV I was just looking at..." See, this way, you're not playing the damsil in distress, you are playing the savvy sister! Drop the line, smile and walk away a few feet and start looking at something else. Either he'll follow you and keep talking or he won't - nothing else will happen, only one or the other. See where it goes from there!
  • HOME DEPOT and LOWES: We love tools too - We will be here!!! Do the same thing! Visit a few times, learn where stuff is, pick up a few names and odds and ends and see what the Dating Gods have laid before you. Here you can play either the damsil in distress, or the Toolbelt Diva - but the men will be there.
  • THE SUPER MARKET: This is where you will find one of two kinds of men - those who can and those who can't... COOK. The ones that can will be searching frantically through the green peppers for that perfect one, those that can't will have a cart full of frozen meals. Find the handsomest one without a ring and make your move!

Just a tip about breaking the ice, and if we were in the same room right now - I'd be leaning over and whispering, "Don't look your best when you approach a man. If a 10 is your best, try to look like about a 7. Because when we meet a woman and she's dressed to the 9's and her hair is perfect and her makeup is perfect, and everything is perfect - deep down we worry that she may not be this attractive when she wakes up in the morning, or she may not look this good sitting around the house reading the newspaper! If you go up to a guy and you have on faded jeans, and a MINIMUM of makeup or whatever, and a Philadelphia Eagles baseball cap and you look attractive to us, then we know you will always look good! Morning, noon or night. THAT is very appealing!"

Now, you say you're afraid of being used by a man again. The key word to me is 'AGAIN'! I always tell people, don't make new people pay for old people's screw ups! Locking your heart down because of whatever some jackass did to you years ago has done nothing more than put you at a dating disadvantage! You have to find a way to trust again, even if it is just a little bit at a time. This is where Evia's "friend" advice gets GOLDEN! When you meet a guy that you think you may be interested in - consider suggesting something to him that might cause the two of you to spend time together in a group or public setting for awhile to see how you vibe with him. Maybe try a painting class, or a bicycle group ride, or a home improvement class at Home Depot, or an outdoor movie or concert or even water aerobics - someplace where the one on one pressure is gone and you all can work at being real friends.

As far as your choice of celibacy and whether or not it will scare a guy off, all I can say about that is - DON'T WEAR IT ON YOUR FOREHEAD!!! I know someone who is [or was] celibate and they put it on the table within the first five minutes of meeting a man and usually the results were bad. NEWSFLASH - Every man is NOT waiting to throw you into bed to ravage you sexually. That's what I wanted to tell her AND that is what I'm telling you. Don't throw your celibacy in his face like some wall you are making him climb over. Celibacy is YOUR CHOICE, it is but one aspect of thousands that make up who you are: share with him a few others before you throw that one out. It's not a bad thing, and frankly it WILL be something that many men will have to think about [sorry, but it's true]. But make sure you don't say, "Hello, my name is... I love your suit. I'M CELIBATE! " To some men, this presentation of your celibacy early in the dating can be somewhat insulting. We would probably feel like all you think we want is sex from you. That really may NOT be the deal. Eventually we may look for physical intimacy, but early on - we may be just trying to learn who you are. Make sure you give a man a chance to get to know you! And, the Devil's Advocate in me is curious about something. YOU want a man to respect and live with YOUR choice of celibacy. Okay - What if you meet a great guy and he says to YOU - "I'll respect your choice to be celibate as long as you respect MY choice to never get married." I'm curious as to what your thoughts on THAT would be. Do you know?

And finally, as far as competing with the younger women... I'm like this - people are all visual creatures, and older people competing with younger people sometimes might not fair well for the older people. So, I don't think you should spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not you are hotter than that 30 year old lawyer on the 4th floor - I say, be healthy, eat right, exercise, love yourself and how you look - be the best YOU you can be, and your beauty will blind that Right Guy!!!

CHUCK: I'm tempted to ask what experiences that you have had since 1976 that led you to decide that it was best for you to basically live most of your life by yourself. But they really don't make much difference, now that you've decided to change things. Garland was pretty comprehensive in his answer, and I agree with most of it (Women: embrace Home Depot and Lowe's! You don't just meet men, you meet HANDY men!), so I'm going to run down a few bits of advice of my own. As follows:

1) REALIZE THE DISADVANTAGE YOU'RE OPERATING UNDER, BUT DON'T MAKE TOO MUCH OF IT: You haven't been on the dating scene for decades, so obviously you're at a bit of a disadvantage coming back to it now. This won't be an easy undertaking. Okay. Accept that and move on from there. From your question, you seem to be an intelligent, articulate woman, qualities that only gain value as the years go on. If you don't experience success right away, don't get discouraged. Seek a friend first, and a relationship second.

2) DON'T MAKE YOUR CELIBACY AN OBSTACLE OR A CRUTCH: You are not prepared to compromise your beliefs about pre-marital sex to be in a relationship with a man. That's fine. But again, realize that this does put you at a disadvantage on the "dating market."However, if you are seeking a partner that is your contemporary, your celibacy may be less of an obstacle to finding companionship. Men in (forgive me) your age group are, I believe, less interested in the games they were playing in their younger years. So you're far more liable to find a man in his 40's and 50's for whom abstinence is not a deal-breaker.

I agree with Garland that presentation of this news is key. You don't need to share it too soon. And you shouldn't present the fact that you're not having sex before marriage to a potential suitor as a dare for him to continue spending time with you.

3) MODERN TECHNOLOGY COULD BE YOUR FRIEND: I'm going to sort of take issue with Garland on the whole internet dating thing. As I have no practical experience in this area, I'm not going to tell you to rule it out completely. Evidently, it's working for somebody. I would advise caution, and getting to know anyone you meet on the net really well before you give them personal info or arrange 3D meetings. I don't think you're under any threat of getting punked by 16-year-old boys. Not only can't they spell Coltrane, but they're too busy trolling for porn and bootleg MP3s when they're on the internet. It's the older guys you need to watch for. And finally...

4) US MEN AREN'T THAT BAD: You're "afraid of men, but not in a bad way?!?" It makes me sad to read that. You shouldn't have to be afraid of men and the things they can do, in a bad or a good way. Most of us aren't that bad, and the bad ones? They can only hurt you as much as you let them. Don't let that fear of being hurt deter you from moving forward.

Thanks for your kind words regarding Garland and myself. It's good to feel appreciated. If you move on, and stay positive, I have nothing but good hopes for you. Stay in touch.


Interracial dating

QUESTION: I'm a black woman, 38 years old, professional and well educated. I've been spending late nights reading blogs lately and that's how I found yours. The subject of my blog inquiries has been "black women and white men" and there are a million opinions. I'm having some problems finding a good Black man that is interested in getting married and raising a family, and last week I found myself sitting across from a man named Dale in a very beautiful Italian restaurant. I was having a nice time, laughing and talking and it just felt great to be out with someone who didn't clam up when the "M" word came up. What is my issue? Dale is white. When did this happen to me? When did I, Miss Spellman University, Miss Morgan State University, Miss 12 years of Jet magazine and 8 years of Ebony magazine subscriptions, decide to go out with a white man? What in God's name is going on? Come on and tell me What are men thinking?

CHUCK: I'll go you one better: I'll tell you what YOU'RE thinking. You're thinking, "I'm tired of being by myself, and waiting to find a man with the same background as me who's willing to open himself up to a relationship. I'm willing to give Dale a chance, despite the differences that we may have." And there's nothing wrong with that. Nobody's gonna show up and confiscate your Ebony magazines.

Forgive my generalities (of course, Black women have dated White men before today), but there is a sea change going on in the world of interracial relationships. Or maybe it's been something gradual and we're just noticing the results now. Stated plainly, Sistas Ain't Havin' It No More. For years and years, Black women have watched their men go to jail, go to the grave, just GO. Sometimes go to White women. They toughed it out, raised their kids, waited for that Black Man They Loved to get hisself straight. But rarely did they even consider moving on to a man of a different race, let alone a White man.

Maybe that Tom Jefferson/Sally Hemmings type baggage was too much for them to bear. I understand. But if you decide to continue to see Dale because you like him, and despite whatever barriers society is (still) gonna put in front of you, well, everybody else is going to have to get used to it. It's the 21st Century.

Maybe Garland disagrees with me. Let's see.

GARLAND: N0, I don't disagree with Chuck.

I think you are facing the same issue that a lot of black women are facing when it comes to the dating scene. The brothers are not always making it easy - we've got too many in jail, too many in the graves, too many with rainbow stickers on their cars, too many on the DL and too many just trying to run game. I'm not saying all brothers are like that, and I'm not even saying the majority of brothers are like that - but it's enough to make the black y black dating scene hard for a sister.

I think you're tired of waiting for that handsome brother on the subway to ask you for your number. I think you've given up on that cute brown-skinned fellow you always see at the gym asking you out. I think you've had enough excuses from the guy you went to grad school with as to why you can't call him at home. I think you're simply human and I think you're ready to put yourself first - which is where you should always be.

A lot of people worry about the perceived 'stigma' of dating someone of another race - to me, if someone is sincere and they are treating you with respect and honesty and they are not dating you BECAUSE you are the color of coffee, or tea, or they've always wanted to 'do it with a black girl'... then relax and enjoy yourself with Dale or anybody else you want to be with. All I say is, don't slap a color resrtiction on your heart - don't run to the brothers because they're black and don't run to the white guys because they're NOT.

And Chuck is also right when he says, "Nobody is gonna confiscate your Ebony's."


Letting Skinemax Raise Your Son

QUESTION: I'm a 40 year old mother of a 14 year old son. We have cable tv in all of our bedrooms including my son's room. I recently discovered that Cinamax shows porn [my husband calls it soft porn!] after 11PM every night. When I discovered this I wanted to either get rid of the Cinamax all together or at least block it from my son's room. I know he stays up late sometimes watching TV after I've gone to sleep but I don't know what he looks at. I do not want him looking at porn, soft or hard. My husband doesn't think its a big issue, I actually think he hopes our son is looking at it. He thinks its normal for a boy to see naked women and sex. Am I out of my mind or is my husband? One of us is crazy, who do you think it is?

GARLAND - Uh, I think your husband may be the screwball.

I'm sure many fathers think its no big deal for their sons to see naked women. It's kind of like a right of passage thing for some dads. They may even feel like they don't even have to have the "birds and the bees" talk now, since Junior has seen the business going down for himself.

But this is wrong and dangerous. Sex is a powerful thing and if young boys go out into the world thinking all there is to sex is putting a penis into a vagina, then they are heading for trouble with the quickness! Having no guidance to sex will lead to STD's or HIV or unwanted pregnacies or serious emotional and psychological problems - OR all of the above!!!

I think you need to get that Cinemax out of his room and sit down and make him talk to you about what he may have seen. I think there is a good chance that he has either discovered it or his friends have told him about it. And yes, the porn is classified as 'soft,' but there is plenty of nudity to keep your son pitching a tent under the covers for hours. Try to make sure he understands the complexities of sex, before he goes out and ruins his life.

PS. Please go smack your husband for me!

CHUCK: First of all, I want to say that this country is one of the most hung-up, repressed, and hypocritical places on the subject of sex in the entire world. The Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes pornographers, but Fortune 500 companies (like Time/Warner) make a mint on it. Janet Jackson's still wearing a scarlet letter after her (remarkably stupid) Superbowl flashing of a few years ago, but Justin Timberlake was allowed to grovel his way back to respectability. Endless acts of violence are no impediment to a PG-13 rating in the movies, but the merest implication of an adult sexual relationship can get you banned. And furthermore...

Let me get off of this soapbox.

Of course, all of my arguements stated above are voided where children are involved. Children should NOT be exposed to explicit depictions of sexual conduct until they are of legal age. Like Garland, I agree that discussions of sexually transmitted diseases, sexual responsibility, and the emotional/psychological toll of the sex act are subjects that should be confronted by parents as their children mature. Unfortunately, some children will never have these discussions, which brings me back to my initial argument (repression, hypocrisy, etc.).

Anyway, your husband's apparent approach to sex education, passing your son on the way to the bathroom in the morning, and saying, "Enjoy Lord of the Thongs last night, son?" and winking, isn't very responsible. And by irresponsible I mean that he is expecting those cheaply-made, poorly-acted, Eurocentric pieces of drivel to do the work helping him grow up that you should be doing. He's not crazy, just irresponsible. You don't need your husband's permission to block Cinemax on your son's TV. You can do it with a few pushes of a button or a phone call.