How to Avoid Love: A User’s Guide

I have become an expert at masking feelings, not showing all of my cards, or just not having an ounce of emotion flowing through my veins. In sports it’s a good thing – “that boy has ice water flowing through his veins;” in relationships, uh, not so much. Let me preface this article by stating that I am not a SME [subject matter expert for non-corporate types] nor have I ever slept at a Holiday Inn proving that I’ve gained some universal knowledge about the subject. I just simply like to think out loud and capture that shit in a blog.

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I’ve noticed through various exploits and other accidental mishaps that I’ve become a stone of a man. Maybe it was all of the Jägermeister I drank, drunk, consumed throughout my life but somehow I seem to have become devoid of feeling. Now I don’t mean feelings for my kids or my mama don’t creep up every now and again, but feelings that are expected in relationships. Don’t get me wrong – I want to have these feelings percolating through my being but they just don’t seem to be happening. Therefore, I thought it best if I just prescribe how I deal in hopes of providing some kind of guide to the other misguided and disenfranchised men out there in dating land. NOTE: in the words of the great Jimmy V, “don’t ever give up, don’t ever give up,” (even though it might appear that I have by writing this column).

The Guide

  1. Avoid prolonged and unnecessary eye contact when out on a date. She’ll give you those puppy dog eyes and next thing you know you’ll be buying rounds for the whole got-damn bar!
  2. Do not engage in small talk after work. I get it. You’re tired, you wish you had someone to talk to. You want to be heard. But, don’t give in. It’s better to stay silent and go into listening mode rather than engage in the fact that your co-worker is an ass and it’s getting on your last nerve.
  3. Ignore compliments – even though they feel reeeaaaalllll good. Let’s face it men, we’re like women in this way in that we want to hear how good we look, how strong we are, or how well we screw. Those are all compliments that get the best of us. And before long you’ll have a hoop through your nose while being strung along like a pregnant mule. But hey, if you’re happy about that I’m not one to judge.
  4. Say stupid shit. Like this blog. And you’ll be sure to avoid any possibility of love seeping into your heart and you being captured like a wild boar. Image result for roasting boar cartoon Roasting over a flame. In the middle of a jungle. Lost.  Damn, that imagery just sucks.
  5. Never, and I mean never, bring your kids around. God knows, she’ll do some nice stuff, the kids will be impressed, then you’ll hear about her for a long time to come. Better to keep the kids guessing.
  6. Get a job! Shit, any job. Three jobs. Stay busy. If you just do that you’ll stay lonely like a mutha. (Just buy a lot of those magazines like The Source or Smut.)
  7. Follow the relationship advice of our male compadres. We don’t usually fare well in this arena so it would only make sense that you’d listen to the gibberish coming out of the mouth of your bro; because your bro is so knowledgeable about sport’s and statistics it makes sense he knows about the opposite sex.
  8. And finally, don’t be such a mama’s boy. How can you turn your back on a woman you damn near fell in love with if your mama says, “so-and-so is such a nice girl?” Before you know it you’ll be saying “yes, dear” for many years to come.

And finally, follow Steve Martin’s “Lonely Guy” for further advice.

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Go well and with non-love good peeps.

What Value Doth Saith a Man?

Recently I had a great conversation with a beautiful, young, intelligent, and successful woman. We spoke over a candlelit sushi dinner and with just the right background music playing overhead. Her smile was radiant and her sense of humor was refreshing. She had a confidence about herself that shone through her lovely skin tone. And as we mused about our days and life and fun times she then popped me the question – What can a man offer a successful woman like herself besides his muscles and a dick?

Uh, what, huh?  Come again (no pun intended)?

I stammered as I searched for the answers. Mind you, she was not referring to me as we are merely friends (I think?). But her line of questioning did put me on the hot seat for a moment. I was not ready for the conversation to take this type of turn, but it did. Wow I thought. In my translation of her question I conjured up a doable meaning for me – What value does a man have to a woman?

In my quest to uncover this mystery about us men I felt it was in my duty to educate her but also enlighten all women that might have the same question.

Here are the results that protruded from my brain:

P.S. – I did not use the aforementioned values so eloquently established by said friend.

…waiting for it,

…hmm, harder than I thought, but give me a moment,

…I got it! Wait, I don’t have it.

…Can you repeat the question please?

Well, heck, I really only can come up with two things – good loving and muscles (or the ability to buy muscles).

But is that really all a man can offer a successful woman? Have men not evolved in a way which their value is seen as greater than the two-item list? Are we men resting on our past laurels? My friend then spoke of the unthinkable for a man; she wanted some type of emotional connection. I had to ignorantly, but innocently ask the question, “what the Hell does that mean?” Like, someone to talk to when you are lonely? Talk about my day at work? Should I whisper sweet nothings in your ears? Or are we talking telepathy? I was at a loss for thought and clearly out of my element.

“Check please!”

While I may not be the most metrosexual man of the day I like to think I am a fairly progressive person; someone that has been open to new ideas and various opinions. I believe in letting people speak freely about their thoughts and I usually try to keep an open mind when doing so. But now I was lumped into this archaic value of men – to protect and help make babies. Speechless.

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I don’t think it is a bad thing that a man can provide some muscle when needed. A man can install an air-conditioner when it gets hot outside. He can fix a tire on a cold winter’s day. Some men can barbeque up a storm and with minimal preparation. How about change a light bulb high above or even skin a fish. And a man can sexually satisfy a woman when he puts his mind, body, and back into it. And maybe, just maybe, a man can connect emotionally, evolving of sorts – but call it something else. How about call it thought engagement. That I can understand.

Go well and with love good peeps.

COMMITAPHOBIA (kuh-mit-a-foh-bee-uh) –noun

1) A man’s irrational fear of being in a committed relationship; 2) Fear of “settling down” for a man; 3) Usually a condition found with men, difficulty being faithful; 4) A man’s emotional state when dreading the thought of only being with one female companion over and over and over and over again.

Sentence: Jason had been stricken with commitaphobia as he contemplated his future with his main squeeze Sheila.

We all have heard it a thousand times. Many of us have lived through it numerous times. And some of us men have been stricken by this disease in our lifetimes. How does it manifest itself in our lives and what can we do about it?

I have studied this disease among my male compadres and am puzzled by the same results – the fear I see in their eyes as they try to live a rich, deep, meaningful life by committing to the woman of their dreams. It doesn’t matter what walk of life this poor man comes from but any man is capable of contracting this condition. And once he gets the condition it is virtually impossible for him to recover. Or at least we know it will take him some time.

Symptoms of this ailment are usually the following: a) the inability of a man to focus on one single woman; b) a man backs out of conversations that deal with commitment when initiated by said female companion; c) the desire to sexually conquer a female – ALL females; d) lackadaisical attitude toward female companions when prompted for emotional intimacy [also known as “the arm’s length syndrome”].

Studies have shown more than 50% of men deal with this affliction yet help does not seem to be readily available. Some statistics have shown 2/3rds of the male population is screaming for assistance due to the onset of this terrible state. These numbers increase dramatically after divorce or over age 30. It is a serious epidemic in our communities. We need the government to take action and provide assistance – like mandated health care.

But wait; there is help for this affliction right around the corner!

I have personally enlisted the help of various psychologist and medical professionals to understand, dissect and learn more about our disease to see if there is a drug, similar to Viagra that can help a man overcome this fear. There seems to be hope on the horizon. I have found many times the affliction can be treated by mental stimulation. Other times it is best to wear a man down. It is also treated by constant catering to the man’s desires. Other sure proof methods show a way to a man’s heart (which is one source of this issue) is by his stomach and this still stands true.

Do not despair my female accompaniments. And do not act rash by switching gender teams (not that there is anything wrong with that). Instead, work with us men to eliminate this awful condition. Most of us men don’t want to be stuck with commitaphobia and are willing to go through treatment.

However, our studies need money. There are ways you can help. For the price of a cup of coffee a day you can save a man from this dilemma. You can help him find his way. Or you can adopt a man to wean him of his commitaphobia. It will take time but believe me it can work. I know this because I, too, was afflicted by this disease. I was a commitaphobe.

Be Blessed.

Next topic: Why are men pigs?

O-M-G! Am I Really Incapable of Love?

What if you discovered something about yourself that was so hideous, villainous, outrageous and terrifying that it pained you to think about it? What if you woke up one day looked in the mirror and discovered you were the boogeyman, albeit wearing a nice crisp Kenneth Cole shirt with Levi straight legs? What then would you do as you left your humble abode to venture out into the world exposed for all to see? What if? Accept what has become? Push it aside as a non-truth? Or face it head on?

In a recent conversation about L-O-V-E (I shudder at the mere mention of the “L” word) I was the Peanut Gallery throwing small bombs of negativity. In true fashion to my pessimistic, sarcastic, and insensitive characteristics I had difficulty answering the simple statement.

L-O-V-E is _________.

Of course I could have wordsmith and found a very poetic description to fill in the blank. Or I could have quoted Biblical scriptures stating the prescribed definition – say it with me you scholars – I Corinthians 13:4. I might even make light of the moment and awkwardly provide a voice of humor sheepishly masking my real feelings. But the real challenge for me was I could not answer honestly. Maybe it’s just me or maybe some of you have gone through this. But how do you answer a question if you are unsure of the context? Better yet, is it possible that we don’t know what we don’t know?

And I may not know what love is. I don’t mean the love I have for my children, or my parents and siblings. Or the love I have for my friends. Or even the love I have for my cats. But what about love for a significant other?

In my marriage I often felt I was out of my league with love. My past relationships were brief compared to others. I never really engaged with another human being on such a deep level that I found myself shallow of thought. Yet, I felt encouraged and hopeful because I had seen an example of love through my own parents. I also believed in love as I was growing up. But something happened and my beliefs were shattered. I felt ill equipped to nurture my loved one as needed or to show compassion when required. I was headed for a bad turn and I didn’t see any way around it. And there it was – THUMP! I hit a wall of despair and my marriage and family crumbled. In the accident I was relieved of all sympathetic thought and any desire to show another human being love.

Therefore, I became incapable of holding onto one of the greatest gifts to mankind. Maybe I held onto the pain of a bad breakup time and again. Or the loss of my puppy as a child deterred me from loving again. I have felt there is nothing harder to overcome in life than the sadness caused by broken dreams. I have been depleted of emotion giving way to a shell of my former self in an effort to protect. In the long run I know this is an unhealthy place to be. Therefore, I recognize where I am and I move forward in correcting this trait.

I can love again.

If I focus on fixing ME the rest will follow. We all hear and many of us ascribe to the idea that we must be made whole. Making ourselves whole is a matter of discipline and introspection. It might be a painful process in the beginning but the results will be magnificent. Butterflies aren’t born beautiful they evolve. And so must I. Musicians George Benson and Whitney Houston (rest in peace) sang it best in the song The Greatest Love of All – “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.”

This sounds like a good starting point for me.

Escaping My Reality if Only for a Moment

I started my weekend and enjoyed the refreshing conversation from an old friend. I basked in the aura of my offspring playing games of truth and dare and other innocent pleasantries. I relished in the atmosphere of a wonderful restaurant talking about life’s beauty while drinking cocktails. I had an unplanned but welcomed visit with a college bestie as we enjoyed conversation while being surrounded by beautiful women living a luxurious life of wining and dining. And finally, I had the pleasure of being in good company to round out my weekend of bliss.

And in one moment – POOF! I am reminded in ways that life is still revolving around me and I have much to deal with on my plate. My Houdini act is disrupted as I make my way back to my daily routines. I try to settle into the day in front of me but am filled with fleeting moments of pleasure that take a backseat to the humdrum of life. I long for these tingling moments like an addict that doesn’t know where his next hit will come from. And if I wallow too long the funk will overtake me filling me with despair and indecision.

But this is the life we live, looking for escaping moments to fill the uncomfortable voids in our lives. We expect these moments to last forever. We hope to piece these precious moments together to mask the sadness we might feel when the moments are through. Sad feelings engulf me as I wait in traffic thinking about the upcoming work events; or hear the morning news of death that surrounds us; or thinking of my own health challenges and hoping for resolution. I expect we all have these moments come upon us in some form or fashion; however, we all strive to minimize the influence these moments might have over our lives.

To do this I constantly think of those pleasantries I encountered over my weekend and use these as the building blocks for increasing my quality of life measure. I look at others and I hope to solve their riddles on how they came to build on these positive moments and minimize the negative ones.

When I look around at the beauty of life I allow my mind to embrace these beauties and increase the harmonious feeling in my spirit. I think of the dinners I had and I smile. I think of the deep conversations and look forward to the next. I think of touching moments and let them intimately hug me through my mental recollection. And I think of my children’s laughter and have it be the fuel that gets me through the day.

In the meantime, I work, attend my meetings, address my health, and face life as expected. But I am thankful of having the time to escape these realities of my life if only for a moment, because all of these moments define my reason for living and it is grand.

Me and My Mojo Jangles

The following phrase should be sung in the voice of my favorite Blues artist Muddy Waters:

“My mojo done come and gone and come back again; I’m ‘bout to round that bend bringing’ my mojo from deep within! Oh, lord, yawl better watch out!”

At least this is what I’ve been told. Funny thing, I wasn’t even aware I lost my mojo, let alone that I had any mojo to begin with. And this got me to thinking, what the heck is my mojo and am I doing good or evil with it? Don’t we all have a bit of mojo? Shall we explore this idea of mojo together? Let us.

I hear the young-ins talk about SWAG these days and I quietly wonder how this word has grown and taken the place of similar words over time. Swagger, mojo, cool, and debonair are just a few words throughout history that describe the wannabe James Bond in all of us – in particular us men. However, many women desire a similar Je Ne Sais Quoi when ascribing to certain enticing characteristics that evoke appeal. Sex appeal is a powerful trait.

I never thought of myself having any sort of mojo growing up. I was just…me. Yet, throughout the years I would look at others who clearly exhibited some type of cool factor and I often thought these individuals set the bar. Sean Connery, Denzel Washington, and Johnny Depp have that “IT” factor; there are certainly others on your list but these exemplify having mojo on my list.

But, honestly, all of us really do have some type of mojo working for us. Regardless of your stature, your position, your nerdiness, we all have it. It usually is recognized by someone other than us. Someone may mention an endearing quality that we hadn’t thought of that gives us pause and might even make us blush. We take their words at heart and smile warmly as we are given the compliment. Everyone loves a good and sincere compliment.

So what happens when we lose our mojo? This occurs because of life and the turmoil we experience. Life happens, or as my brother says, “shit happens.” And when that poop hits the fan we stop living the life we once lived. We might find ourselves in a funk and begin to get lost in this insidious pool of disgrace and disgust, not knowing how to get out. Losing my mojo wasn’t on purpose – it just happened. And it was brought to my attention during my difficult days because my outer shell began to reflect my inner spirit. I felt there was nothing I could do about it. I accepted the pain and the pity secretly hoping it would just go away or that I would wake up and the nightmare would be over.

And as the story goes – none of that occurred. I still had to overcome and face the demons surrounding me.

The wonderful thing about overcoming is the peace you feel when you do overcome. Or the feeling of accomplishment that comes along with finishing a race. Also, there is euphoria and jubilation that fills our emotions as we look back at the road we traveled. It’s like grabbing a cold beer, sitting on a stump, and admiring God’s handiwork and your part in maintaining the masterpiece. This is where I find myself; through the storms I am recognize the positives of life.

My mojo is just heating up. It is that Godly feeling within that allows my Spirit to shine brightly. And for a moment after numerous challenges I finally believe I can overcome the storm. It is this newfound confidence that I wear so well. And I hope everyone can have this same suit of confidence as well. We all deserve a little mojo in our lives from time to time. So go find yours.

Daddy Dan

Why Can’t I Make this Work?

I see it crumbling right before my very eyes. I stare into her eyes and see the pain and there is nothing I can do. I want to reach out to her, tell her how much I love her but my words are empty without the supporting actions. Every move I make is handcuffed. I cannot release who I really am because of this prison in which I exist and yet I know it will be the demise of my marriage. I look up into the night sky during an isolated evening and I pray a simple pray: God, why can’t I make this work?

A man’s vulnerability is a complex issue. But most women don’t care to understand this vulnerability we men deal with. Women believe if a man is in love he should open himself in such a way that whatever vulnerabilities he is feeling will be squashed by the love she brings. The truth of the matter is men don’t operate this way. When we open ourselves to experiencing such heavy psychological and deep-rooted vulnerabilities we feel weak. Weakness might be one of the strongest negative characteristics for men. It might be the kryptonite that destroys our soul. Submitting to being weak is a “no-no” in any language. Weak men are squashed and no woman wants a weak man.

Then how does a man express his deepest vulnerabilities without feeling weak? How does a man show that while he might have vulnerabilities he can remain strong? Aren’t vulnerabilities akin to showing a weakness? This conundrum in which men operate causes confusion. For all of us that Believe know confusion is not of God.

In today’s relationship-market our vulnerabilities become more exposed than ever. As a man of a certain age attempts to date he takes the risk of being rejected for some vulnerability if he allows himself to open up. We expect our maturity to kick in and for us to handle these situations like adults but the fact is we are human; humans with real emotions. These emotions are strong and uncomfortable. Many times to hide any weakness we downplay the emotions and focus on other things in life where we can approach them like robots. This includes our jobs, our golf games, exercise, or anything else that is not human, let alone female. And through this we believe we are able to overcome.

Well, what would happen if we allowed ourselves to be more vulnerability? What if we opened up without the fear of rejection? How would we be accepted by our potential partners? A man has to be very comfortable in his own skin to allow his willingness to be open not impact that whom he is. Only so many men actually reach this level of maturity. Many of us continue to wallow in the world of miss-illusions where we continue to shelter our deepest insecurities and harbor a false sense of who we are as men. The lucky ones, well, I believe they experience something much greater in their relationships. They experience a trusting bond with their partners that allow them to be as free as they can with no judgment.

It is only through this mutual trust that a relationship can thrive. Therefore, one can presume the question “Why can’t I make this work?” rarely occurs in a healthy relationship. It is replaced with “I am making this work.”