Forgiveness Does Not Require Me To Be Your Friend

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promoinsertOne of the toughest parts of adulthood is probably letting go of people who once upon a time we assumed would exist forever – having to make a final decision to cut off a relationship that has begun to create stress, sadness and personal anguish. We sometimes battle with a sense of guilt for ending these friendships, regardless of how miserable or one-sided they’ve become. And its simply because this individual has existed alongside us for so many years. We naively convince ourselves that if someone has acted amongst our circle as a long-term friend, then somehow that’s the role this person is “supposed” to always play in our lives.

Time and time again, we leave from spending time with this person or interacting with them over the phone, and there’s a consistent feeling of frustration. You sense that the two of you are growing apart, but somehow, you can’t pinpoint why the closeness or even comfort level in being in their company has changed. Then, as you begin to replay the past few months or recent years over in your head, things become a bit more clear.

For a little too long now, you’ve been making excuses in order to keep this “friend” in your life. Their time expired quite some time ago, but in order to have them around, you’ve allowed yourself to suffer – to play backseat to their selfish ways, inconsiderate decisions, sneaky behavior and dismissive attitudes.

Over the past few months, your friend has not been physically or emotionally as present for you as you have always been for them. Their go-to reason or explanation continues to be the fact that they are “going through stuff” or don’t feel like being around people and simply need space to think. And that would be understandable if the two of you were merely associates, but you never shut this friend out of your life when you too were going through your own dark moments and personal storms. You’ve never told this friend NO, regardless of how tired you were when unexpectedly they asked you to pick them up from the airport at 2:00am or needed to borrow twenty dollars when you were down to your last few coins.

We try to pretend that it doesn’t bother us when we learn more about our friend from circulating rumors and second hand stories than we’ve actually heard directly from their mouth. The tid-bits of information that we have managed to squeeze from our friend as of lately have been riddled in half-truth and flat out lies. Whenever you’ve tried to have a heart-to-heart conversation simply to make sure they are doing okay or surviving day to day, the invites are blown off and the phone calls go unanswered. The friendship has become nothing more than you holding on to the last few straws that keep the two of you bound.

Your feelings are hurt. You are tired of fighting for someone who not only has given up on the relationship and bond the two of you have established, but they’ve ultimately given up on themselves. While you are forging forward in life and trying to carve a future that mirrors the dreams you’ve always envisioned, they are spending their days sprawled across the living room sofa playing Xbox. Never once do they ask anymore about how you are feeling or inquire about your day-to-day activities. They express little to no interest in your recent accomplishments in school, on your job or even the new happenings that frame your personal life. Things have honestly reached the point where you question whether or not your friend even still loves or cares about you.

So, you’ve made the difficult decision to remove yourself from the situation – because that is what the friendship has become; a difficult, frustrating situation. You’ve been mistreated for so long at this point that you no longer have the energy to even send one of your, “just checking on you” or “we really need to talk” text messages.

And, you’re not mad at your friend necessarily, but you expected to be treated with a bit more respect after all of these years and between all of those memories and above every moment you pushed your personal shit aside to be the light your friend may have needed. So now you’ve moved on, and you’re not going to allow this friend or any other to make you feel unappreciated ever again.

You do not have to still like someone or even desire that the individual remain in your personal life in order to move beyond a situation. In most circumstances, forgiveness is instant. However, trust must be built and restored over time. There is no parallel between forgiving someone for your own sake and being forced to offer them the same level of relationship that existed previously.

Forgiveness simply means that we have accepted the fault or flaw in ones actions and we no longer hold a slate of anger or malice towards them. Our hearts and our spirits are free of the resentment that once dictated our every thought or feeling regarding this other individual. Once we have successfully rid ourselves of the ill feelings we carried as a result of how someone mistreated us, it’s then important to make that person earn your friendship back. You gave them everything the first time and their assumption that you’d always be around resulted in them taking advantage of your friendship and your heart. WELL… NOT THIS TIME.

 

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COMING SOON: “LOVE, DATING & RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MEN“:

The iPhone Group Chat Live (Washington DC) — Sunday, August 16, 2015

to be exclusively released via youtube.com/XemVanAdams, XemSays.com & XemSays.tumblr.com

between 8pm EST — 9pm EST

10 Ways To Impress Your Valentine Without Chasing The Crowd Or Being Cliche’

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Dinner and a movie have been done since the beginning of time. Nothing says, I lack romance more than a last minute dash to TGIFridays and then taking your date to a crowded theater filled with other losers who couldn’t think of anything creative to do. And while opening a box of store bought chocolate may put a temporary smile on your partners face, there’s nothing unique about offering candy or flowers to the one you love on the day they are most expecting to receive them. Sure, the gesture is nice, but you never want to send the silent message that you’re too lazy to put forth real effort.

If you are lucky to spend Valentine’s Day with someone who truly cares about you, that individual is quietly hoping that you’ll invest thought into creating a special memory as opposed to simply making an expensive purchase. February fourteenth is designed for Cupid to shoot his arrow into a sea of hearts – igniting waves of desire, affection and renewed attraction between couples in love. While Valentine’s Day has easily turned into another commercial celebration of giving and spending, intimacy still reigns as the supreme gift. The best way to impress the one who means the most to your life is to create a moment where the two of you are truly enjoying each others company.

Start planning early. Avoid having to rummage through the retail aisles of cheesy, leftover, singing cards or sales bins filled with cheap teddy bears and those nasty candy hearts with the little “I Love You” messages carved at the center.

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CREATE AN IN-HOME GETAWAY – Money may be tight right now and you cannot afford to take your Valentine on an expensive vacation. The two of you have been talking about getting on a plane and flying to some remote, tropical island for months. While it isn’t in the budget to getaway this winter, bring paradise into your living space. Instead of giving your Valentine a cliché’ Hallmark card, have a mock flight ticket sealed in an envelope and taped to the front door. Decorate your house or apartment with little palm trees, bamboo, a plastic children’s pool filled with sand, two beach chairs, a big, crafted sun hanging from the ceiling and maybe a stuffed parrot or two stashed in the corners of the room. Turn the bedroom into a luxury, hotel suite; complete with all white sheets, matching pillowcases, white towels and a room service menu. The room service menu should include all of the specialty food items and drinks that you’ve either prepared yourself or picked up from various cultural restaurants in your city. Do a mix of Caribbean, Jamaican or Hawaiian inspired dishes. Serve the drinks in real or plastic coconuts. The two of you can change into your bathing suits and sip your cocktails inside of the makeshift pool. Fill your bathtub with warm water and add a few drops of blue food coloring. Make the entire night feel like an escape from the mundane of your everyday lives.

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GIVE A HARD COPY PHOTO ALBUM – In this day and time, all of the photos we take, copy or save are digital images. It’s very rare that we can actually place our hands on all of the pictures that we’ve taken over the years. Gather all of the special couple shots that the two of you have saved online or stashed in desktop folders and print them out. Create an album that displays the chronological order of your relationship – from the first time you both posed together for an iphone pic to the most recent capture taken on New Years Eve.

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CREATE AN AT-HOME SPA NIGHT – Sometimes, our Valentine may feel that we only touch them or show physical affection during or immediately following sex. As a result, create a series of treatments that will allow you to physically come in contact with various parts of your Valentine’s body. Purchase an Aveda facial mask, body scrub, foot cream and massage oils. All Aveda products are natural and designed to not irritate or breakout sensitive skin types. Use this spa night to also groom your partner. If they have body hair in areas that you’ve desperately wanted them to get rid of, this presents the perfect opportunity to shave or Nair those crevices while your Valentine lays back and enjoys the pampering. Take your time. As you are applying the facial mask, body scrub or other massage oils, it’s important that each body part is receiving equal attention. Try to not solely focus on the “private” areas. Once you are done massaging your Valentine, cover them in clean, white towels that you’ve heated up in the dryer. Have white tea lights lit and placed in as many obvious places as possible. Simply allow them to relax.

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MAKE DRINKS AND TASTE TEST – Getting tipsy with the love of your life can lead to all types of fun. The two of you can purchase different types of alcohol, fruit and flavorings. With two different blenders, each of you creates 2 or 3 specialty drinks. Write down the ingredients and give each of your cocktails a name that somehow pertains to your relationship – preferably a title that relates to something funny or secretive that only the both of you understand. Spend Valentine’s night sipping from one another’s cups. Get drunk and then, get naked.

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PURCHASE A TWO HOUR LESSON IN SOMETHING OUT OF HIS OR HER COMFORT ZONE – One of the best ways to reignite the passion in a relationship is for one partner to introduce the other partner to something unfamiliar to them. Especially if you have experience in a certain task or activity, a two hour lesson will allow your partner to step foot into a world where you can be the guide. Search for locations where swim classes, ice-skating lessons, samba sessions for beginners or even basic painting instruction is being offered. Engage with your partner by assisting them with the steps that they may be having the most difficulty executing. And if professional lessons aren’t being offered in your area, simply secure a location and YOU act as the instructor.

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SHOW THEM A POST CARD IMAGE IN PERSON – Most of the time, between the bustle of our days and the heaviness of our nights, we miss the beauty of nature that exists directly outside of our windows. We see gorgeous sunsets in pictures, but it’s rare that many of us experience them firsthand. Scope out a location where you and the love of your life can easily look at the stars, watch a sunrise, see birds flying, hear the ocean moving or witness the sky turning into a blanket of orange, pink and deep red clouds.

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DO A HOME THEATER & WATCH OLD MOVIES – Instead of piling into an overcrowded AMC, turn your couch into plush, VIP seating. Replace the Valentine card with little, red, tear-off movie tickets. Purchase paper buckets from the grocery store or a Bed, Bath & Beyond. Fill the buckets with homemade popcorn. Buy tall paper cups, plastic tops and straws. Fill those with your Valentine’s favorite soda or fruit drink. Choose one or two movies that the both of you can enjoy. And for nostalgic sake, try to get your hands on the first movie the two of you ever went to see together during one of your initial dates. You’ll win points for remembering. If you really want to impress, try renting a projector that will allow you to play the movies on one of the white walls inside of your home.

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CREATE A “DAY IN THE LIFE” GROUPON PACKAGE – Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, present your BAE with 7 to 10 Groupon’s that pertain directly to their likes, desires or something that works in their favor. For example, for $3.00, your Valentine can ask you to wash the breakfast dishes before 10:00am. For $2.00, your Valentine can request that you vacuum the inside of their car and take it to be washed before noon. For $1.50, your Valentine can have you rub their feet and massage their ears before 6:00pm. The catch, however, is that once the time you come up with expires for each groupon, the request or service is then null and void.


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PLAN A SCAVENGER HUNT – Even if you do decide to purchase an expensive gift for your Valentine, make them search for it in a hidden place. Begin the scavenger hunt in the front seat of their car. Let each clue reflect a place, idea or thought that is especially pertinent to your relationship. Place the clues in red envelopes spread throughout the neighborhood or inside of the house. Put numbers on the front of each envelope so in case your Valentine stumbles ahead of the hunt, you’re able to keep them on path. The clues don’t have to be intricate, but a sentence or phrase that will make perfect sense once they read it; i.e. “that time I came home in the middle of the day and found you napping in the oddest of places” – then your Valentine would look underneath the dining room table for the next clue. LOL!

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OFFER YOUR VALENTINE ONE NIGHT WITH THEIR CELEBRITY CRUSH – Physically transform yourself into the actor, actress, singer, athlete, reality star or performer that you know your Valentine is most attracted to. Recreate one of the signature looks of that superstar and even try to emulate the voice, and mannerisms that makes that celebrity so appealing on the surface. Once your Valentine is convinced of the switch, strip down and allow your Valentine to call you by that celebrities name in the bedroom. People often say, “if only I had 15 minutes with ___________!” Well, let your Valentine act out on you all of the fanciful things they would do if given that golden opportunity.

Valentine’s Day can be as fun and creative as we make it. There’s no need to follow the trends or fall into the cliché’ of giving candy, roses and cards. Show the one you love that you think enough about them and the relationship you two share to reach outside of the conventional box. Be original in your approach to sealing this Valentine’s as the day he or she will remember most at the end of this year.

 

I Hate That You Seem Perfectly Fine Without Me

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It has been a little over one month since the two of you decided to part ways — for the third time in two years. You are determined to walk away once and for all; leaving behind the countless incidents of infidelity. Sick and tired of waiting hours for him to reply to your text messages or simply to answer his phone whenever you call, you have decided that he will never hear from you again. You love this guy deeper than you have ever loved anyone else, but the dynamics of the relationship have hurt you worse than anything you’ve endured in your past. You have worn yourself thin by worrying at night that he is out in the streets flirting or sleeping with someone else. He denies ever meeting or conversing with the scantily clad “others” who are suddenly commenting all of his online photos. Every time you ask him a question or request that he explain a situation, his response is always, “what do you mean? stop blowing things out of proportion!” The relationship you share with this guy takes a toll on the other facets of your life and you simply refuse to carry the emotional burden into a new year.

However, your frustration with being mistreated by this man has not overpowered your intense connection to how he makes you feel when everything between the two of you appears to be “okay”. Watching him live his life from a distance, as if everything in his world is perfect and happier without you has become painful and difficult to endure.

The reality is that you are the one who ended the relationship, again. Your man agreed to let you walk away in that moment as a temporary fix to the issues that he didn’t want to verbally address. You have broken things off with this guy several times in the past. However, the moment you begin to miss him, the two of you have always reunited.

Since men tend to exist as very routine creatures, your man has become quite familiar with your cycle. As a result, he no longer fears permanently losing you or missing out on the long term benefits of having you in his life. Your “run and return home” routine has trained this man into his own cycle of avoiding your questions when the two of you are together, allowing you to break things off, waiting for the turmoil to cool down and then knowing you will eventually come back to him. 

The entire time that you have existed in and out of this man’s life, there has never been a period where he was truly forced to feel your absence. It crossed his mind during the first breakup that he would never see you or hear from you again. That’s why he showed up to your job unannounced, cried on your lap inside the car, and worked so hard to win back your affection. Now, he doesn’t even take your absence or physical withdrawal from his life seriously. Instead, he uses the weeks or months of separation to hangout and “chill” with other individuals he finds attractive. He takes full advantage of the two of you not officially being together by now openly engaging in all of the activities that he would normally hide from you. And the moment you dare to question him about his decisions or reckless behavior, he knows that he can toss it in your face that YOU broke up with him. This man knows that he doesn’t have to be cautious of how he carries himself, because you’ve trained him to believe that ultimately, you’re going to return to the relationship.

Most often, guys experience the “Play” phase almost immediately after their relationship ends. This is the phase of behavior that you are misinterpreting as your man being perfectly fine without you. The “Play” phase is the initial period following a breakup that lasts between 4 to 6 weeks. During this “Play” phase, guys will purposely avoid dealing with emotional pain even though he IS hurting. There is very little self reflection as it pertains to the mistakes they’ve made. Men will use this time to buy new clothes, create dating profiles on different hook-up sites, go to the club with their friends, invite strangers to stay the night at their place, purchase high end items to fill your void and usually just indulge in the foods, people, places or things that you would otherwise suggest they stay away from.

Your response to his “Play” phase must be total silence. This time, do not react out loud to his antics. He is expecting you to post emotional status messages on Facebook or “Im doing me” quotes on Instagram. He’s waiting for you to text and call him to fuss about the new whores he is spending time with — just as you usually do. Your normal reaction gives him the opportunity to laugh at you, brag to his friends that you’re blowing up his phone and simply relish in the fact that he still has your heart tangled in a knot.

IF you even decide that it’s worth your energy to ignite a reconciliation, it becomes important that you remain distant in all regards for a minimum of 10 to 12 weeks. It usually takes guys this long to enter into their “Self Reflection” phase following a breakup. Once the novelty of his single life activities has worn off, he is now beginning to feel the intensity of your absence. Additionally, the pain that he has been able to suppress over the past few weeks has risen to the surface. The combination of your absence and his refusal to acknowledge his pain forces him to examine his own weaknesses, misgivings, failures and disregard for others. He is no longer enjoying the “pretend my life is perfect” behaviors because the universe is forcing him to address the role he has played in the dissolution of his most important relationships. You need him to undergo this growth period, otherwise the cycle will repeat itself.

Sometimes, guys need to experience their own peril as a result of avoiding the issues that plague their lives. Allow him the space to make believe that life is happier without you because in your mind, you already know it’s simply an act. If the man you love is never able to make a conscious connection between his internal problems and the poor relationship decisions he tends to make, then he may never become the man you can spend the rest of your life with.

BEWARE of the friend who screams, “EWW…you like him?!”

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You find yourself drawn to this new man for qualities that extend far beyond his physical features. He loves alternative music. He eats sushi. Hates clubs. Goes hiking on the weekends. Watches “How To Get Away With Murder” every Thursday night. Plays the saxophone. He works as a freelance photographer. And he doesn’t associate with a lot of popular, uppity people. He hates driving, but you enjoy it. While you’re behind the wheel, he’s always gripping your right hand in his left. What the two of you are building is cozy and it makes you feel good. He isn’t necessarily the type of guy you’d usually date, but your “type” has continued to be of disappointment over the years. You’re trying something new. Keeping his face and identity hidden from your social media timelines.

Your “friend” is aware of this particular guy in due part to mutual associations or simply in passing amongst the social circuit in your city. This guy and your friend have never spoken or engaged in real, face-to-face conversation. Your friend has decided that based on this dude’s surface characteristics, he isn’t worthy of their attention.

Anxiously, you mention to your friend one day that you and this new guy have been texting, spending time with one another and exchanging photos over the past few weeks. The initial response from your friend is laughter, paired with a sharp, “ewww…you like him?!” – This is your friend reacting to your excitement over finally, possibly, meeting someone you organically feel connected to. In your mind you’re thinking, “how rude can you be?”

Then you snap back at your friend by saying, “I don’t care if he isn’t the cutest boy ever. He doesn’t have to be. You don’t even know him. You don’t see him the way that I do and I think he’s perfect the way he is.” Your friend apologizes. However, you silently vow to never mention this man or your dealings with him in front of your friend again.

Another month goes by and your friend randomly asks how things are going between you and this new man. Despite the fact that you’ve spent every single day at his house, in his kitchen, on his computer and between his sheets, you casually respond, “we’re good.” When your friend begins probing for more details, you make it clear that you really like this guy, but you then suggest it’s too soon to tell where things are going. Your heart is already too attached to this man to stomach any further judgment from your friend, so you don’t give up the specifics they’re fishing for. You’ve decided it’s enough that your friend is clear that the two of you are involved. Changing the subject but not really, you then inquire about the guys who your friend has been seeing as of lately.

driving…driving. listening…listening.

A few days later, while scrolling your Instagram timeline, you notice that your friend has begun following your man’s page – the same friend who screamed, “EWW!” when you told them that the two of you were dating. Not only has your friend followed your new man, but there are also random, pointless comments & smiley face emojis left beneath three or four of your new guys photos.

It’s at this point that many individuals make the mistake of not saying anything to their friend, in fear that they’re making too much out of nothing.

BEWARE: Your involvement with this new guy, who otherwise would have never crossed your friends mind, has now made this man intriguing to them. Suddenly, your ‘friend’ is a little more attracted to this dude. Over the past fourteen years, it has been my experience that some people don’t usually find a certain guy attractive or appealing until someone else close to them begins to express interest.

People who we mistakenly label as friends have a sordid way of wanting to get close to someone new in our lives, simply because that individual represents something else we have that they don’t. It’s a similar scenario to watching two children interact with one another in a classroom setting. It’s not until the more developed child picks up the odd toy that’s stashed in the corner and starts playing, that the other child attempts to snatch it and keep the toy for themselves. Especially in instances where the new guy we are dating is completely different from the men our ‘friend” is use to seeing us with or even the men they themselves often attract, this ‘friend’ will go through extreme measures to figure out why we are drawn to this man. In their ploy to uncover the connection, their first effort is to make contact. It is not wrong or inappropriate for you to tell your friend that your new man is off limits to their online or in person advances. Of course, your ‘friend’ is going to downplay or deny their fascination, but it’s still up to you to make your HANDS OFF position very clear. You are not blowing the situation out of proportion by drawing lines between a ‘friend’ who prematurely expressed disgust for a guy you care about, and their newfound interest in connecting with him. If their social media contact were truly innocent and void of ulterior motives, your friend would have mentioned to you that they followed your date online in the first place.

In this day and time, it is very difficult to formulate new associations with individuals who truly respect the GIRL/BOY CODE that reads – “Thou shall not attempt to meet, date, talk to or sleep with someone who is presently or once was involved with my friend.” You can often expect that the same individual who screamed “EWW!” will change their tune to “OOO!” the second they see that there’s something about this guy that truly turns you on. BEWARE.

The Reasons Why Your Man Seems To Turn Against You When You’re The One Doing Everything To Help His Black Ass

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Often times, we transform ourselves into the roles of counselor, therapist, secretary and parent whenever the man we’re dating or seriously involved with is facing a dark period in his life. Suddenly, his job layoff, financial crisis or family emergency becomes our problem to solve. We begin taking on tasks, responsibilities and self-imposed stressors in an effort to make sure that the man we love survives this unfortunate setback in his life. We are buying extra food to make sure he’s eating as often as he likes. We’re updating his resume, making phone calls, being extra affectionate and offering loving advice to help him get through this dark period. It seems that our surface efforts would be embraced – our dude would display an outward expression of appreciation. Instead, however, he becomes distant and increasingly agitated whenever he’s in our presence. He doesn’t want to spend one on one time anymore, but is constantly entertaining his loser friends and online “fans”. Everyone else in his life seems to be receiving the smiles, upbeat personality and star treatment. Meanwhile, we are left home, alone, venting to our friends and wondering what we’ve done wrong to deserve his negative attitude. It’s simple…

Many of us make the mistake of extending ourselves in the same ways in which we assume we would want others to help or assist us in our time of need. We place ourselves in the mode to support our men by any means necessary, even if that sometimes means ignoring our own needs and sacrificing our financial or emotional stability for his ultimate success. In our decision to dive in to fix the issues that are plaguing the man we love, we tend to forget that a lot of guys initially feel the need to retreat and make decisions on their own. Even though we often think that it’s best to create a plan and take immediate action, a lot of men require space and time to determine what his first step will be in handling his dilemma. Bombarding his space with increased calls and text messages in an effort to find out what he’s going to do or if he’s going to follow our advice, only intensifies his stress levels.

We forget that even as his romantic partner, our position in our man’s life is not to necessarily solve his problems. Men are very prideful creatures. Despite his race, sexuality or socioeconomic background, a lot of men still feel that their role in life is to provide for themselves and protect the individuals closest to them. When we make an attempt to help without his asking, that behavior on our part tends to make our man feel weak. While it’s sometimes difficult to sit back and wait for our dude to share all of the details or to ask for our input, it becomes important that we give him the room to do so.

He is sometimes running to hang with his friends because even though they may be aware of his situation, they aren’t forcing him to discuss it or execute their idea of what the resolution should be.

One of the best ways that we can be supportive of the guy we love is to speak to him with encouraging statements, as opposed to using sympathetic words. You have to learn how to feed and fuel his ego in order to get him to open up to you or to ask for your assistance. Instead of saying things like, “I’m sorry that you’re going through this baby. Are you okay? Awe…I hope things will get better”, you should offer statements such as, “You’ve got this! The job is yours. Are you forgetting who you are?” Remind your man that he is still in charge of his own life. You can also bring up a past situation where the chips were down for him and he somehow pieced them back together. Encouraging him, as opposed to pitying his circumstances will give your dude the confidence he needs to make solid decisions on his own. Then, more than likely, he’s going to want you to contribute to the plan of action he comes up with. His mind and spirit will be open to receiving your ideas or suggestions. Your man needs to feel that you are standing beside him in his path to solve the problem and not necessarily in front – trying to lead him to make the decision that YOU think is best.

Also, keep in mind that you too are going to become just a tad bit frustrated and exhausted as you’re taking on extra responsibilities to make sure that your man is okay. Once you start getting frustrated because now you’re paying two cell phone bills instead of one, or now you’re having to run extra errands to help him out, he will recognize a change in your demeanor. Even though you’re aiding him from the kindness of your heart, the little things he says or does may begin to upset you. Despite your annoyance with him going out to have drinks with his friends when you feel that he should be home applying for jobs, you should not say things to him like, “well, if it weren’t for me then your phone wouldn’t even be on”, or… “I’m the one trying to help you and you haven’t even thanked me”. Your man may begin to feel like a burden and will often retreat as a result of his guilt. That explains why he’s suddenly interacting with strangers on Facebook or posting “happy photos” on Instagram, as if everything in his life is perfect. The communication he is now sharing with associates or total strangers serves as his escape from the relationship with you that is now filled with feelings of ridicule and resentment.

Always remember that during tough times, guys will often turn towards the individuals who know the least about their real life situations. Engaging with people publicly who only know them for their cute faces and other surface attributes sometimes makes men feel good about themselves when their lives are falling apart behind closed doors. It sometimes feels that we are getting the short end of the stick because he knows that we are aware of what’s actually going on. Our expectations of him are often greater than what he may feel he can fill at the moment.

So, the best way to avoid becoming the frustrated, lonely lover who is sitting at home feeling unappreciated, is to support your man WITHOUT MENTION. When he initially calls or texts you to inform you about what is happening in his life, do not tell him what he should or needs to do… until he asks for your input. Your job is to listen and offer encouragement. You only need to express sympathy in the event that his grandmother or best friend has just passed away. If you’re going to take care of washing his clothes so that he can focus on making emergency calls, there’s no need for you to verbally bring it to his attention that you’ve done so. Simply dry his things, fold them and put them away. He will notice on Monday morning that all of his underwear and tee shirts are clean. Never throw in his face what you have done to help him during his time of need. It’s tough enough for a man to accept money from his partner for food, gas or other bills. Even in the event that you two are upset and arguing with one another, avoid bringing up the gifts or favors that you’ve extended to him. He will often respond by LEAVING YOU, simply because he never wants anyone in life to feel that they can take full credit for the man he has become. And even if he doesn’t walk away from you in that moment, the resentment will send him on his way the moment he gets back on his feet.

Men don’t simply leave the individual who “held them down” when times were tough. Men walk away from the person who constantly held it over his head.

Guys rarely forget the individuals who helped them keep their heads above water. If you want your relationship to remain intact following the struggles your man is presently enduring, please don’t overwhelm him with your desire to take total control of his circumstances. Help him without stealing his power to help himself.

Trying To Explain To My Mother That Im Not The “Woman” In My Relationship

Couple enjoying dinner

Good afternoon Xem,

I hope this email reaches you in spiritual peace and wellness. I want you to know that I pray for you just as I would my own brother. I have so much respect for what it is that you do not only for the LGBT community but for mankind as a whole. You really are a spiritual warrior and I know that God has amazing things in store for you. I am writing to you this afternoon because I am having a very difficult time trying to get through to my mother as of lately. Xem, my mother and I are extremely close, especially now that she and my father’s divorce has been finalized. I consider her to be one of my very best friends. It has been tough for her emotionally trying to accept the separation, as well as now living in our house alone. I recently moved out to live with my boyfriend, Troy. He and I are both grad students at UIC here in Chicago. I lived home during my undergraduate studies, which is when my father first moved out. My mother is very supportive of me and my relationship. She treats Troy (my boyfriend) just like her second son. His mother isn’t at all supportive of his sexuality. They have a very estranged relationship, so he and my mother have established their own special relationship. We usually invite her over to our place on Sundays for dinner. She and I will cook together, which is something we’ve done since I was probably thirteen years old. It’s my way of trying to maintain some consistency in her life now that she feels I’m all she has left. However, it irritates me so much Xem that my mother doesn’t seem to understand that just because I cook for Troy and I or she sees me wiping up the table once she comes over, that I am not the woman in my relationship. My mother raised me to be able to take care of myself. Before she knew I was gay she would always say that she never wanted me to have to rely on a woman to do everything the ways that she had to do for my father. So, for me it’s just natural to keep everything in a certain spot or to try new recipes and things. Troy does not know how to cook and when he does call himself cleaning, I end up having to go behind him to really CLEAN CLEAN if you know what I mean. LOL! Even though my mother and I discuss practically everything, I do not discuss my sex life with Troy, with her. Therefore, she doesn’t realize that Troy and I have always had a very equal relationship, if you know what I mean here as well. LOL! My mother is only 56, but her idea of gay relationships is so stuck on who plays the man role and who plays the woman. She always asks me ridiculous questions like, “if you and Troy get married, will both of you wear tuxedos or will you wear something else?” I fall out laughing at this lady because it’s like she expects me to come down the aisle in some ballroom gown or wedding dress. She will also joke but really being serious when she’ll tell me to just drop out of grad school to spend my days with her and let Troy take care of us once he graduates. It’s a little frustrating because I know she really means what she says. Now I will say that Troy is taller than me and he is thicker than me. I guess from the outside looking in, my mother and others may see us and assume that because of the physical differences, we have strict roles in our relationship. However, even if that were the case Xem, why is it that I would have to be looked upon as the “woman” or Troy’s wife. Do you know what I mean? I just really don’t know how to explain to my mother the difference between straight relationships and my relationship. As much as I truly love my mother and get along with her, it’s when she makes these comparisons that I sometimes just want to scream and throw my plate at the wall. I try not to get upset however because I know she means well. Troy thinks the entire situation is hilarious. Like yesterday when she came over and saw him watching the game and doing his homework while I was trying to change our bed. In her mind I think she sees Troy as the role of my father who would spend Sundays doing office work and me playing her role as my fathers wife, or ex wife now. That’s what it is. How can I possibly break things down to her in a way that she will finally understand? I look forward to hearing from you soon if you see this and can reply. Also, I don’t mind if you choose to post this on your Xem says site. I love reading your advice!

XEM SAYS…

Believe it or not, your mother’s misguided idea of how gender roles shape same sex relationships isn’t so farfetched from how many others examine the romantic union between two men. Your mother only understands her position in the world as a woman, a mother and a wife. As a result, the traditional practices and values that have defined those positions since the beginning of time, frames her perception of how you are also to exist in this world. Your mother understands how a man typically acts as a husband to his wife based on her personal experiences living alongside your father. In contrast, your mother also understands how a woman typically acts as a wife to her husband. However, now that she witnesses you, her gay son, modeling some of those same actions alongside your live-in boyfriend, she only has her personal experiences to use as comparison. As a wife, she cooked for your father and cleaned the house while he watched television and worked from home on Sundays. When she visits you and Troy, she sees you changing the bed linens while Troy is doing his homework with the football game playing in the background. Your mother’s perception then is that you have taken on a traditional female role, and Troy is playing the traditional “man of the house”. Your romantic relationship with Troy is probably her first time ever witnessing two men living together and loving one another, up-close. At the age of fifty-six, your mother uses her past experiences to figure out present situations that are new and unfamiliar to her. She honestly thinks a label is supposed to exist on how you interact and engage with the man in your life.

It is important that you explain to your mother, the way you stated to me – that you and Troy have established a very equal, romantic relationship. Make it clear to her that you label Troy as your boyfriend, as he labels you with the same title. Let her know that with those “titles”, the two of you expect the same levels of courtesy, consistency and commitment from one another. Remind your mother that she is the one who raised you to be able to prepare a meal and clean a house without the help of a spouse. Tell her that even if you were a straight man who was married to a woman, you would still be changing bed linens on Sundays and cooking dinner for the family if your wife was unable to. Remind her that your wife would then still consider you her husband, and would not alter her perception simply based on your ability to cook and clean. Your mother may not realize that Troy does indeed clean up on a regular basis even though he doesn’t necessarily do a good job. Explain that contemporary culture has widened the gap between what is considered traditional male roles in a relationship and what is seen as modern day, male performance.

To really lay the situation in her lap, talk to your mother about the “masculine work” you perform in your relationship, but compare it directly to the “masculine work” your father played as her husband. For example, inform her that there are times when you come home from class, take out the trash, plop in front of the TV and call Troy to bring home dinner. It may seem trivial to have to water the details of your love life down to such ground levels. However, older people sometimes have to see things from the very point where they stand.

I think people in general are more comfortable when they are able to specifically categorize other people. It’s a part of our human makeup to mentally make sense of how others operate in society by labeling the roles they play within it. You’re actually very blessed to have a mother who has the desire to understand the dynamic of your relationship with your boyfriend. You may want to consider the fact that your mother inquires about your gender role because she is afraid to directly ask you questions about your sex life. Because your mother obviously equates you doing the chores to a display of feminine behavior, she may also assume that you are always “biting the pillow” in the bedroom. You made it clear to me that you and Troy practice a very equal, versatile, sexual relationship. Possibly, it would blanket your mother’s understanding of your relationship if she knew that Troy wasn’t the strict, sexual aggressor between the two of you. It is universally understood that women traditionally “lay on their backs” to engage in sexual intercourse. Well, if your mother knew that you are sometimes on top of Troy as he lays on his back for you, she would be forced to erase the comparison between you as the “woman” or female figure. I know openly discussing your sex life with a parent or sibling can be extremely uncomfortable. However, since the two of you have established a close, best friend relationship, it may be easier to share those details with your mom.

I’m not sure how long you and Troy have been together, but over time, I truly believe your mother will witness the balance in your union. The more she sees the two of you engaging with one another in and outside of your home, the more she will begin to understand that a same sex relationship isn’t necessarily framed by traditional, gender roles. Be encouraged in knowing that you are one of the lucky few; having a mom who embraces not only your sexuality, but also your decision to live openly with the partner  you love. Continue to cherish every moment that your mother spends alongside you and Troy, for it’s her silent prayers helping you two remain united. Believe me. She feels at peace knowing you have a special man in your life.

I Now Regret Letting My Best Friend Move In With Me When He Had Nowhere Else To Go

lazyroommateuse

Hello Xem. My name is Andrew. I don’t mind if you share this letter on your website because at this point I am extremely fed up. I have been a fan of yours since 2010 and I very much respect your point of view on the different issues you discuss with us. I don’t want to take up too much of your time because I know you get so many of these requests on a regular basis. So to keep it nice and sweet, I am at the point where I feel my friendship with one of my best friends is in jeopardy. He has been living with me since March in my one bedroom apartment and it doesn’t seem that he is making attempts to move out. He lost his job around Christmas and began borrowing money from us to pay his bills, so we thought (there are 3 of us who have known each other since high school). He told us that he was going to be receiving unemployment and would pay us back once the checks began coming in after the processing period. He said that would be in January. Well, we come to find out that he used the money he borrowed not to pay his rent or other bills in full, but to still buy gifts for other people. Then, when the new year came around he was trying to play catch up on his car note and gas and electric and rent. So, none of us (the 3 friends) knew that he was borrowing money from all of us. Something happened with the unemployment whereas he wasn’t able to receive the checks. I guess he started receiving eviction notices in March and his car company even began calling me looking for him because he was so behind on his car note. I became really concerned and because I love him like a brother I offered him to come stay with me until he could get back on his feet. I’m a bank manager, so I know that we do summer hires every year that most often turn into full time positions. I arranged for my best friend to interview in April for one of the three teller positions that was opening in June. I basically tailored his resume so that his skills would fit the teller position requirements. Everything was arranged for a Wednesday afternoon. I even allowed him to drop me off at work using my car that day, go back to the apartment, get dressed later in the day and come in for the 1pm interview. He never showed!!! I thought something happened to him so I began panicking and calling him and our other friends. He was asleep the entire time!!! This has become who he is now. He sleeps through the entire day and is up throughout the night blasting the television or asking to use my car before I go to bed. When I give him leads for different positions that are opening in different places he doesn’t follow through by faxing his resume. I have a fax machine and scanner at my apartment, so he doesn’t need to venture out to an Office Max or anything.

I also don’t feel that he respects my things. He sleeps in my living room every night, but he doesn’t fold the sheets or blankets or fix the couch when he wakes up. He doesn’t clean out the bathtub once he takes a shower or even do anything for that matter. Our other friends warned me to not allow him to move in with me but he honestly had nowhere else to go. His parents moved to Texas two years ago and that’s when he moved out into his own place here. His sister is away at college in Minnesota, but goes home to Texas during her breaks and we (the 3 of us) are basically his other family so to speak. I’m the one who welcomed him into the house, so how can I ask him to leave now? I know he is unmotivated right now and probably depressed in certain ways, but when I try to even talk to him he doesn’t want to discuss anything. I think it would push him over the edge if I asked him to leave, but our other friends are saying that he needs to hit rock bottom before he stands on his own. Do you agree with that and how would you handle this situation? I know I wrote more than I expected. Sorry. I hope you will still respond to me.

XEM SAYS…

I absolutely agree with how your circle of friends feel regarding your present living situation, and the circumstances that surround the mutual best friend. Your heart was obviously in the best place when you opened your home to someone who you consider to be a brother. He was facing hardship and you provided what should have been a temporary cushion to soften the heavy blows of life. However, you made the mistake of not setting rules and framing a timeline for your best friend to follow prior to moving into your home. While we’re sometimes unable to predict how long it will take for someone to “get on their feet”, I feel that allowing a friend to live in your home for 2-3 months is more than fair in aiding in their process to restructure their financial life. When we fail to set expiration or due dates, the people closest to us will subconsciously take advantage of that opening. We extend ourselves out of a pure love for a friend, but that friend becomes so comfortable that they begin to depend on our helping hands. You have created a situation for yourself where you are now taking care of your best friend, as opposed to your intention of helping him once again take care of himself.

If it truly isn’t in your heart or your spirit to send your best friend out into the street immediately, it is time that you give him a deadline to move out of your apartment. If he knows that he now only has until November 1st to find another place to live, I am confident that the deadline will light a fire beneath him to vigorously search for employment. Your best friend is obviously not a dead-beat, otherwise he would have never been able to maintain his own place or vehicle for the past two years. He certainly possesses marketable skills, as he held a full-time position prior to losing his job last December. So, the issue isn’t that he can’t find a job or a new place to live. The problem is that he has become complacent and refuses to move his feet.

In the meantime, you must also create basic rules to govern your household. Treat your best friend as if he is your roommate. In essence, that is your living situation for these final 2 months that you will allow him to live in your home. Make it clear to him that you need your rest at night and therefore, he needs to monitor the volume of the living room television. Give him the responsibility of cleaning the bathroom every Sunday and mopping floors or vacuuming on Saturdays. Sometimes, as this is true for a lot of men, they won’t initiate cleaning – but they will follow a routine of straightening up behind themselves when they are instructed to do so. Remind your best friend that even though he sleeps on your couch every night, that area isn’t considered his bedroom. Ask him to please fold the sheets and straighten the pillows each time he wakes up and starts his day.

If your best friend is offended by your deadline date or taken aback by the new rules you set in place, he will possibly leave on his own. You cannot feel guilty if he catches an attitude and decides to move out now. This grown man has lived with you, rent-free for the past six months. Honestly, you have already extended yourself beyond reasonable expectations. If he decides to stop speaking to you and continues to associate with the other friends who refused to let him live in their homes, then he doesn’t value your friendship. You have provided for him in ways that no one else was willing or able to do during these dark moments in his life. Though he may be depressed or frustrated at the hands of his present circumstances, he has also made you feel uncomfortable living in your own home. It’s unfair. A large part of maintaining a healthy friendship is being able to look at someone you care about and say, “HERE IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE”. If they continue to cross those boundaries, that’s your cue to cross them out of your life.