- Published on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 02:55
- Written by Tonya Pendleton, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Got a relationship question for Dr. Ian Smith? Text it to "646464" (OHOHOH)
Up until recently, I was among the people who hated reality TV. And there are some shows – like the popular one about a family of attention whores and the other about a group of women who used to be married to or date athletes – that are fairly pointless as anything but guilty, mindless entertainment. But a closer look at some of the shows provides something surprising. On shows like “Love and Hip-Hop” both the New York and the Atlanta version, there are a host of relationships in turmoil. Whether it’s Chrissy Lumpkin infamously vying for a ring from her longtime boyfriend, rapper Jim Jones, or Emily B.’s incomprehensible commitment to a man who doesn’t even claim her, there are cautionary tales to be learned from.
One of the best views of a troubled relationship up close is the one on “Love and Hip Hop Atlanta” which details the triangle between former Bad Boy producer Stevie J., his longtime love Mimi Faust and his mistress/future baby mother Joseline, who he also works with. While it remains unclear just how much these shows are scripted and how much they are true to the lives and relationships of these C-list celebrities, what is clear is how much they reflect the dysfunction of some real-life relationships. If your life has included functional, happy relationships and a family background of educational achievement and financial security, then you may not relate to these shows at all. Or if you’ve overcome a background that was difficult because you were resilient enough to recognize you didn’t want to repeat your parent’s mistakes, then more power to you. But the vast majority of African-Americans who have lived through significant dysfunction in this country are repeating it in the next generation. The daily stories of child abuse and murder, the persistence of drug and alcohol addiction and the broken and dysfunctional families that you see in your own lives are proof of that.
Seeing Mimi and Stevie both admit in therapy that they were abandoned by their mothers – Stevie from 8 months old and Mimi from the age of 13 when her mother’s devotion to Scientology severed their relationship, made sense. When you don’t feel love in your formative years, as their therapist pointed out, you’re apt to seek it out from the wrong people or hurt others in the midst of your own pain. Stevie, as is typical for many men, acknowledged that his mother left but never connected it to his own hurtful behavior or dealt with the pain it has obviously caused him. Mimi, in trying to get love from someone who lacks the capacity to give it, is simply replaying her childhood.
Healthy relationships are only as healthy as the people involved. While we all have our demons, insecurities, issues and challenges, some of us develop tools to deal with them better or learn to be more resilient. Others are constantly repeating childhood hurts or dealing with the depression, sadness and pain those hurts have provided without even realizing it. Once we learn to deal with ourselves and the issues and problems that have shaped us and find a way through pain to love, our relationships both to ourselves and each other can only improve.
If you are in a relationship that is hurtful, you might not be strong enough to leave, but begin by figuring out what it is that you’re lacking that makes it so appealing to you to stay. Then, with therapy if necessary, begin to figure out ways to heal without depending on another person to provide you with the love and nurturing that you missed out on. If you’re the person who is always hurting someone, then you also need to recognize the wounds that cause you to hurt those who are closest to you and that you profess to love. You need to find a way to release the pain and heal the damage that is a result of what you’ve been through.
It may sound like b.s. to some people who’ve been through hell and found a way through without therapy or religion or anything else but true grit. But just as everyone is not hurt the same way, everyone does not heal the same way. Allow others to find the avenue that works best for them. Therapy is just one of those ways. But healing yourself is necessary if you are going to be able to truly love someone else and have the healthy relationships that are the foundation to families and communities.
One day I picked up my wife’s phone and was looking at her pictures and saw some pictures of her nude. I didn't get a copy sent to me. Should I be concerned?
Absolutely. My questions to her would be very simple. Who took these photos? When? Why? And why have I not gotten them? All of these answers need to pass the smell test to lower my suspicions.
How do you fix lack of communication in a relationship when one person can express themselves only when arguing?
Simply tell him that you are not going to accept the level of arguing that's going on. It's okay to disagree and have a spirited difference of opinion, but the arguing has got to stop. Every time he starts doing it, stop the conversation and explain it to him. If he continues, then tell him you're going to leave the room each time he does it. Eventually he should get the point. If not, then maybe it's time to leave him for good.
Would you advise at-work relationships or friendships? And if so, how do you handle interfering co-workers?
At work relationships are EXTREMELY difficult. I'm all for finding your soul mate or having some fun, but you have to ask yourself is it worth it at the end of the day. One other thing to consider is what happens if the relationship doesn't work out and you still work together. Much easier these days finding a relationship than it is a good job.
I went down on my girlfriend and made her have an orgasm and now she won't let me do it again because she didn't like to feel out of control. What should I do?
Do it again. Out of control? It's not like you caused her to drive while drinking or set off fire crackers in a dry forest. This is a good out of control. Her reasoning doesn't exactly sound right to me. Talk to her again and see if there's really something else that she's finding problematic.
My wife has always been against porn movies. I got home one day early and caught her watching one. Is there anything for me to be worried about?
Yes. If she is turning to adult movies, what does that say about your fulfilling her needs? Chapter 5 of my book “The Truth About Men” is called Sex in the Morning. This chapter covers people's desires to be more adventurous in relationships and their way of communicating that they want to be more adventurous. This could be one of the true signs. She may have difficulty or feel embarrassed to tell you that she wants more sizzle in the relationships.
My boyfriend is nine years my senior and has a low sex drive. Should I be concerned health wise? We spend a lot of time together so I don’t suspect someone else is the drainage.
This is more common than you think. There are lots of reasons why he may have a low libido. Find a time when both of you are comfortable and discuss it with him. You might be surprised by his answers. This is an issue best addressed head on and in a non-confrontational manner.
My boyfriend is obese and has bad breath. He lies to me about walking every day and he hasn't seen a dentist in the two years we've dated. Oral care and exercise is a big deal to me. Yes, he was obese when we met but I thought if he saw me exercising, maybe he would do it more. He will go with me sometimes, but he can't keep up. I'm frustrated!
This is one of those rare times when I say that you need to draw the line and tell him. Either he gets himself together or you're hitting the road. A person who has no interest in themselves can't have appropriate levels of interest in someone else. Besides, this is not just about a relationship. This is about his health and ultimately his life.
If you have been with this person for three years and this person hasn't worked at all in those three years and then you break up, should you be able to get at least the living room furniture, your bed, your child’s bed and leave them the rest? Isn't that reasonable?
Depends on who purchased everything. If it's shared property, then you have a right to ask that it be split or that you be reimbursed your half if he wants to keep it. If you bought all of it, then you have a right to take it all with you.
I have been questioning my husband about a phone number. I dialed the number and it belongs to a woman. I have approached him again and all he says, if anything, is it's nothing and it is nobody. This is eating at me and I am losing my balance - no appetite, sleep, and crying. I need help!
The foundation of this question is trust. If you don't trust him, then that says something right there. If you're not satisfied with his answer, then you need to take steps. If you believe that she is someone more than a friend and you really want to know and he won't fess up, then call the number. But be prepared for what you might hear.
My husband keeps giving me STD's. How do I keep myself safe from this continuing? He won't use a condom on me, but I can't stop the man from cheating.
WOW! This is outrageous on all levels. Why are you still with him? Why are you allowing your health and life to be put at risk? The issue is more with you than him. His behavior speaks for itself. But you allowing yourself to be put at risk like this time and time again is your fault. Have more respect for yourself and if he won't stop, then you need to take your own path to safety.
I have been dating my boyfriend for four years and we have two kids together. I have my own place but he doesn't want move in with me. He is 26-years-old and he would rather live with his mother than to live with me. Why does it seem like he is not ready for commitment?
Because he probably isn't. As I say in my book, “The Truth About Men”, Men are willing to commit, but it takes them longer to get there for several reasons. Don't make ultimatums. Give him his space. When you simply can't take it any longer, then you sit down and have the conversation but remember that pressure sometimes doesn't produce the results you want.
How do you know when it’s real love?
Because it's a feeling like you've never had before. It feels good and hurts at the same time. You feel hopelessly vulnerable and the happiness and sadness that comes with love truly makes your heart ache.
My boyfriend cheated on me numerous times. Do you think we have a future?
Not if you don't trust him and not if he thinks it's okay to do it. First find out why he keeps cheating on you. Getting to that answer might say a lot about your relationship and the future.
How does your book differ from Steve Harvey’s book?
My book, “The Truth About Men”, is a book that will help single and married women decode men. It is not a book that says that men are right or wrong or that women are right or wrong. It's a straightforward book that helps you get into the mind of a man by learning some of his most basic instincts. My style is not to preach, but to inform and reveal in a nonjudgmental way. My book also has various exercises, quizzes, and a cheat sheet that give you a easy-to-follow synopsis on each chapter.
I have a good man going through financial difficulties. It's putting pressure on me and it's starting to be too much. How do I have a conversation with him about it? This is new to us.
The key is that he's a good man and he's going through tough times. Abandoning him is not the move right now. Remember his pride is likely hurt. Be non-confrontational and tell him that you are there for total support. Let him know that you don't think anything less of him.
Can a man love two women at the same time?
Depends on your meaning of love. This is an age-old question. Many have claimed they have and others have claimed it not possible. This is truly dependent on how you define your love. Good luck.
My husband moved to Texas in November to open a coffee shop with no money, no plan, and no home. Now he works temporary jobs, still has no home and is not returning to Cleveland. Should we feel abandoned?
If not, then very close to it. Is he trying to find himself? Is he unhappy in the marriage? Does he feel stifled at home? There are some deeper issues going on that you need to get to the bottom of. This is not all about the money.
What about phone sex with your wife? Is it healthy for a marriage?
In my book, "The Truth About Men", I talk about ways to spice of the marriage. This is your wife. Two consenting adults have a lot of options open to them in a relationship to keep the sizzle going. Don't be afraid.
I am changing my expectations of a man because I do want a relationship, but I might be too aggressive. Should I stay being that way? Although I have had bad experiences with men because of me being very aggressive, there must be fine line between being too aggressive and aggressive enough.
In my book, I talk about the desire men have to have women who are willing to initiate. Just make sure you leave some room for him to take the lead sometimes.
I've been married for 13 years. Over the past year or more, if any sexual activity was going to happen, it's because I initiated it. I've voiced my concerns to my spouse, but I never get feedback. What should I do?
Decide for yourself is this is acceptable. If you're fine with it and can live with it, then be patient. If it's really becoming a problem, you need to express how serious this is for you and how this could end up negatively impacting the marriage's outcome. If he simply won't change, maybe it's time for counseling.
I recently found out my wife watches porn, but our sex relationship isn't that good. I asked her why and she said she was trying to get new positions but she hasn't tried any of the positions. Should I be alarmed?
No, at least you know she wants to go there. Watch it with her and then try to initiate what it is that she finds pleasing. Sometimes doing something together can be a relief to both parties. It's about breaking the ice.
Does it make sense or should you give your girlfriend a second chance if she cheated? And does it make a difference if I'm cheating too, but I haven't gotten caught?
You first need to understand why both of you are or have cheated. That is key. This is how you will find out if it's a fixable problem or not.
How do I explain to my woman that I need to be the head of the household?
Why do you need to be head of the household? This is 2012, not 1912. Relationships are partnerships. Not many women out there looking for dictatorships in relationships. Simply the truth. Maybe you want to reconsider.
I have been talking to/dating a guy for about 3 months now. It seems that he will go days without texting or calling once we see each other. It is almost like he pulls back if we spend a few days together or if we have talked about emotional or serious stuff. We both just want to date and not get serious. Is this his way of ensuring that we don't get to close?
Absolutely. This couldn't be more clear. You both have agreed not to get serious and he's making sure it stays that way. Now if you have a problem with not getting serious, then you need to bring this up. In my book, "The Truth About Men", I say that having that difficult conversation can be tough, but being on the same page in a relationship is critical.
Why is it a struggle to encounter eligible successful men? I am 32 and awaiting to meet a grown man to build a relationship.
Chapter 1, "The Subtle Art of Hooking Us." You would benefit from reading that chapter. I've said it all in there. Too hard to recapture in such a short space.
My wife and I sleep in different rooms, have sex once a month, there's no passion, and no conversation. We behave like roommates. Are we are headed for divorce? We have a seven-year-old son.
If it's acceptable to both of you, then you can live like that indefinitely. But if one partner has a problem with it and the other doesn't, then I don't see this ending well. Time for an honest conversation. Life's too short not to be fully engaged with the one you love.
My man is such a sweet guy and I love him, but his penis is so small that I don't want to make love to him! His oral is okay but after that I need that good good! I told him how I feel and he said there's nothing he can do about it and that he's never had this complaint before. Whatever! I'm complaining now!
Anatomy is anatomy. You knew this the first time when you were together. Maybe you thought it was okay and it's not now. This is a tough situation. If it is never going to be okay with you, then you need to be honest with him. If there are things he can do to make up for it, then you need to tell him and give him a chance. This is a case where the truth might hurt, but you must be honest with yourself and him.
Are threesomes bad for relationships? Two women, not two men.
Depends on who wants it. Forcing someone into this situation is dangerous. Also doing this with someone you love can have longstanding implications even after it's over and you're still together. Think seriously about this. Once you go there, you can't take it back. Sometimes things sound like they will be fun, but remember there's always an aftermath.
Why do women think you are cheating even if you are with them every night?
Because you can cheat during the day too and still be with them at night. If you're not cheating, you need to find out why she thinks that you are.
What does a man mean when he says I wants to be your friend, but not your boyfriend, yet, says "I love you" and gets jealous of others?
He needs to make a decision. It sounds like he doesn't know what he wants in your relationship. The question is, what do you really want?
What advice can you give a guy who wants to meet a woman abroad?
Travel and go abroad. The world awaits.
What does it mean that I keep calling my son's new girlfriend by his old girlfriend's name and he smiles every time?
That he might be laughing at your Freudian slip or early signs of dementia (smile). Seriously, it probably doesn't mean anything. He might still like his old girlfriend. There's nothing wrong with that. True love dies hard.
My husband is overweight to the point he and I do not have sex. He used to be in better shape but he allowed his muscles to turn to straight fat! The fat hangs from under his arms, he has a huge gut which makes trying to find a position a nightmare! I read some time ago a distended belly causes shrinkage. Is there truth to this and what does a frustrated wife do as his body is such a turn off?
Tell him that this is not working and if he needs to do something about it now. Not just for you and the marriage, but for himself. If he doesn't' find the need, then you need to think about options for your own satisfaction.
One year ago my girlfriend gave me a book for my birthday. It was a book like Zane but here is the kicker! It had two condoms taped to it. And I asked why the book and why the two condoms taped to it. Her response was "enjoy." How do I deal with this?
WHOA! Was she saying the condoms should be for your relationships with others? This is way loaded. You need a straight answer from her and don't give up until you get it. She could've been saying a thousand things. This is not something to play with. Find out what she meant.
My partner is unhappy because of unemployment but it is having effects on the intimacy in our relationship. What should the male partner do?
Support. Talk it out. Be understanding. Go to counseling together if necessary. Be patient. When people are disappointed in their own situation it might impact their relationship with others.
Is there anything wrong with oral sex?
Not if it's safe, consensual, and enjoyable to both.
I have been a widow for eight years. I am ready to re-enter the dating game. I was married 23 years prior to my husband's death. I am concerned about STD's, practicing safe sex, and adapting to a new relationship. My husband and I had a very active and freaky sex life. I'm a little anxious now that I'm in menopause with dryness issues.
You really need to read my book, "The Truth About Men". The dating game has changed the last 23 years. Brushing up on what's going on out there really can do you some good and prevent disappoint and frustration. I'm happy to hear that you want to get back out there. Life's too short not to have fun and enjoy the company of others.
How do you know if your boyfriend loves you even if he doesn't say the words "I love you"?
It's not about the words, but the actions. Some people say "I love you" and don't even mean it or understand love. Base your feelings on how your boyfriend is treating you and the relationship. In the book, I talk about titles and how men feel about them and why. This is a similar situation.
The guy I've been seeing for over two years is not an affectionate person. Is there some way I can at least get him to hold my hand when we are out walking? He doesn't even like to kiss me, but when we are making love he is out of this world.
Talk to him about this. Some people are simply uncomfortable with PDA. There might be a reason he has for this discomfort. Talk to him and see what it is and if you can work through it together. You need to tell him how much it means to you for him to express a little PDA. That could make a difference.
How can I make up with my ex-boyfriend after I messed up?
Take him to lunch or dinner and ask him for forgiveness and be honest about what you did and why you did it. Coming clean whether he takes you back or not is the right thing to do.
Why do men want as many woman as possible, but then if their woman looks at another man they get so upset?
Not true for all men. Plenty of guys are happy with one woman who they love. Maybe you're looking for love in all the wrong places. Don't paint all men with one broad brush stroke.
Why is sex so important? My husband of 14 months is obsessed with it. He wasn't like that before we got married.
You MUST read my book, "The Truth About Men". Seriously. You are underestimating the value and importance of sex in your relationship. This can be a critical mistake, but it's one you don't have to make. You are his wife and he wants to be faithful to you and you want him to be faithful. Romance and intimacy is something you both signed up for. Do you want him to go elsewhere to be satisfied?
My lover's wife saw a verbal sexual text from me and she has seen the number before. What should he do? Lying isn't working!
Lying seldom works if ever. Be upfront. Does he want to be with you? Is he done with his marriage? He needs to answer some serious questions first. You also need to think about whether you want to stick around or get in the middle of something that could prove messy. Be smart.