Jul 25, 2016

#3: Where The Gentlemen At??

Here we go for round 3!  This week's story was submitted to The Huffington Post by 28 year-old Jen from New York, for an article titled 21 First-Date Horror Stories To Remind You That Romance Is Dead:

"I had a date with a guy who has been asking me out for a while.  We went out for dinner and drinks which he made me pay for myself (which is whatever...I can handle myself), but when we got back to the bar we had met at for drinks before dinner for him to return me to my car he leaned in for a kiss and I gave him a quick peck and he said 'that's all I get!?'  And pointed...downstairs.  Yup buddy that's all you get."

Wow...where do I even start on this one??!

Lesson Learned #1: Be A Gentleman!
I'm going to approach this a little differently than I have in my previous posts.  Usually my lessons learned are aimed at the lady in the scenario, but this time I'm talking to the fellas!

Jen mentions this guy had been asking her out for a while.  Makes me wonder if Jen had been putting him off for a while for some reason she doesn't mention.  Regardless, he eventually wore her down and she agreed to go out for dinner and drinks.  So why in the world did he make her pay?!  In my opinion, the guy should absolutely cover the cost of the first date.  No exceptions.  That doesn't mean the first date has to be elaborate or expensive.  I've said before a great date could be a walk in the park followed by a picnic while watching the sunset.  What's more romantic than a beautiful sunset??

It irks me that this guy pursued Jen "for a while" and then made her pay for her own dinner and drinks.  Guys, if you're not ready to treat a woman like a queen on that first date and make her thankful she eventually agreed to go out with you, don't even bother asking her out.

I really feel this is where we as parents come in.  We have to raise our little men and women to truly understand the appropriate way to treat and be treated by the opposite sex.  But that's another blog post for another day.  Stay tuned for that coming soon!

Lesson Learned #2: Be Prepared
Clearly, Jen is a smart girl.  She came prepared to pay for herself in the event the guy chose not to pay for her.  The issue of who will pay for the first date can be a difficult one, and is not usually discussed prior to the actual date.  I've always assumed the guy has it covered.  However, I always have my debit card handy just in case.  A few years ago I went on a second date with a guy to a barbecue spot I recommended.  He had mentioned in one of our phone conversations that he loved barbecue so I knew he'd love it.  I got there late and he already had a table.  It was one of those places where you order at the front and they bring it over to you.  So when I got to the table, he says to me "How about you go and order the food and I'll hold the table".  In my mind, I'm thinking hmmm...shouldn't that be the other way around?  As in I hold the table and you get the food?  But I rolled with it...and ended up paying for his meal in the process.  Thank God I had the money to take care of it.  It's not that I minded paying for him, it was the fact he made it to where I had no choice.  Fellas, don't be that guy.  When a woman is ready to say "It's cool, I got it", she will.  And if she doesn't, then maybe it's time for you to rethink whether she's the one for you.  There's another blog post idea...

Lesson Learned #3: Avoid Getting Physical On The First Date
I told you Jen is a smart girl.  Homeboy leaned in for a kiss and she gave him a quick peck.  She knew her comfort level and stuck with it.  But he had the nerve to take it a step further and insinuate that he expected more!  So not only did he make her pay her own way, he expected her to give up the goods as well!  Where the heck did Jen find this guy??

Kinda crude but 100% true.  Being asked to go dutch on a first date is not sexy.

As a rule, I don't kiss on the first date.  In fact, the majority of my first dates have been so platonic that kissing was the last thing on my mind.  Occasionally, the only thing on my mind after a first date is getting in my car and pretending the whole ordeal never happened.  That said, I have had a couple first dates where the connection was so strong, it felt natural to make an exception and end the evening with a kiss.  But that's about as far as it went.  A true gentleman doesn't expect anything more than a kiss on the first date, and certainly doesn't behave as though he's entitled to more when the woman refuses.

I think it's important to keep things as platonic as possible for the first several dates.  As women, we are naturally more emotional than our male counterparts.  If a man kisses or touches me in the right way, next thing you know I'm planning a wedding and picking out names for our babies.  And that, my friends, only leads to disappointment when you learn who he really is and maybe that he's not as into you as you thought.  I know this from experience.  Take the time to get to know him and make sure he's worth your time and effort before you commit to becoming intimate with him.  It is so worth it in the long run.

Do you agree with my "lessons learned" from this week's dating nightmare?  Comment and let me know if you have any other suggestions!

Jul 21, 2016

Bradley Cooper

Eamonn McCormack/Wireimage

Ahhh...Bradley Cooper.  Those eyes.  That smile.  It's no wonder he was voted "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine in 2011.  He was born and raised in the Philadelphia, PA area, and has starred in multiple TV shows and movies including Alias, Wedding Crashers and He's Just Not That Into You.  He's probably most famous for his role as Phil in The Hangover movies.  I have to admit, that's when I first noticed just how cute he is!

Not only is he super handsome, he's also super smart.  He has a B.A. in English from Georgetown University, and a Master of Fine Arts in acting from Actors Studio Drama School at The New School.  He has also received multiple Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his movie roles including Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.

So let's take a moment and appreciate the fineness of Bradley Cooper. 

You're welcome 😉

Jul 18, 2016

#2: Steak! It's What's For Dinner. Or is it...??

Hello friends!  Here we go for round 2!! I hope you're enjoying reading these posts as much as I'm enjoying writing them!! 

I received an email from a reader named Leann, who'd like to share one of her dating horror stories.  Thanks Leann!!

"I had been talking to a guy on a dating app for a couple of weeks.  He lived an hour away from me and one day he said he would come to my town and take me out for steak.  Two days before our date, he tells me he doesn't have the money to take me out.  I was a little taken aback but appreciated his honesty I guess (HEL-Lo!  Should've been a huge red flag!)  I instead invited him to my place for steaks.  I cooked an amazing meal and made sure my house was perfect.

As he arrived he told me that his jeep got repossessed but borrowed a friend's car to get to me.  He came in and ate like I have never seen a human eat before.  He stuffed his face disgustingly as if he hadn't eaten in days!

We watched an episode of impractical jokers, at which he laughed like a hyena.  After it was over, he left and that was that.  He told me afterwards he was staying at a friend's house while he got back on his feet.  He accidentally sent me his location one night and I decided to google it.  It was a hotel!  I believe he was homeless.  He made me believe he had a really nice, well paying job.  I found out that at one point he worked there but they fired him and had a judgment against him.  I can't remember the reason."

Lesson Learned #1: Do Your Homework
I have a feeling this is going to be a lesson learned from all of these dating nightmares.  See Trivia Night for more details, in case you missed it.  It is SO important to know who you're going to be spending time with before you even decide what you're going to wear.  Can't stress this enough!

Lesson Learned #2: Pay Attention To The Red Flags
Pay attention to the vibe you get when you have a conversation with a potential date.  Don't over-analyze, but do listen to what they say and how they say it.  No matter how trivial it may seem, if something doesn't look, sound, feel or smell right...if your gut tells you to run in the other direction, pay attention!  Like Maya Angelou said, "When a man tells you who he is...believe him."  I believe this is the Holy Spirit telling you that this particular person is not for you!  In this instance, Leann mentions that the fact he told her he couldn't afford to take her out (even though a steak dinner was his idea in the first place) should have been a huge red flag for her.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the possibility of romance, we miss (or ignore) the signs telling us to move on in another direction. 

Ms. Angelou said it best.

Lesson Learned #3: The First Date MUST Be In A Public Spot
I don't care how long you talk to a guy online, whether through text, Skype, FaceTime, IM...the first date HAS to be in a public place.  This is especially important if you have children at home.  You might think you know the guy because you've shared personal details about your life with him over the course of a few weeks, but you never really know a person until you spend time getting to know them face-to-face.  Skype and FaceTime don't count, in my opinion.  Notice how the whole truth started to come out as soon as he walked through the door?  He doesn't have a car.  He eats like a caveman.  He laughs like a hyena. He's most likely homeless.  These are facts that don't necessarily come out in the course of a FaceTime conversation.  Not to mention the safety aspects of inviting a stranger into your home.  I've watched enough of the news and Investigation Discovery to know that this is not generally a good idea.  Thankfully for Leann, inviting this guy over to her house didn't end badly.

If he can't afford to take you to dinner, he really shouldn't be looking for a relationship in the first place.  But if you think he has potential to do great things; if he's putting in the work to be successful, and you're willing to wait for him to get to where he wants to be, a good date doesn't have to be expensive.  There are plenty of state parks around with beautiful views and walking trails.  Although it wasn't really a date, I recently went hiking with a guy friend and had a great time.  You could take a picnic and watch the sunset.  This allows for lots of conversation so you can really get to know who you're dealing with, while ensuring your safety since you'll be out in public.

Do you agree with my "lessons learned" from this week's dating nightmare?  Comment and let me know if you have any other suggestions!

Jul 14, 2016

Idris Elba

In my humble opinion, Idris Elba is quite possibly one of the most beautiful men to ever walk the face of the Earth.  I dare you to disagree with me.

Craig McDean/Interview Mag

Born in London, England, Mr. Elba is a talented actor, musician and DJ.  He has played many roles on TV and the big screen, including Detective John Luther on the BBC show Luther, and Russell "Stringer" Bell on HBO's The Wire.  And ladies, as of a few months ago he is SINGLE.  Heyyyyyy... ;-)

Someone posted a link to Idris' most recent photo shoot on Facebook, and once I was done drooling I knew I had to share with my lovely readers.  After all, it'd be rude to keep him all to myself.

Click here to see more hot pictures from the shoot. 

You're welcome...

Jul 11, 2016

#1 - Trivia Night

I am so excited to get this section of my blog up and running!  I love talking about dating and relationships, though not necessarily the act of dating itself, so these posts make perfect sense for me!

Our first story comes from a 24 year old named Serena shared on Bustle:

"I was on a Tinder date with a guy who had completely lied about himself, so I was already annoyed. The bar we were at was having a trivia night; since we entered a round late, we came in last place. At this bar, the losing team (us) and the winning team (a couple on a legit good first date) had to participate in a 'physical challenge.' The announcer made me and the other girl blindfold our partners, and then he handed us gigantic cucumbers covered in peanut butter. He told our partners that they had to lick off all the peanut butter in order to win. Since I hated the guy so much for lying about himself and getting me into this situation, I was maybe (a lot) rougher with the cucumber than I should have been. At one point, I basically shoved it into his mouth to get it over with, and he immediately knocked it out of my hand. It rolled under a pinball machine and we were disqualified. I stayed for 20 more mortifying minutes before faking a work emergency."

So if you've been living under a rock for the past couple of years and have no idea what Tinder is, it's a dating app you can download on your smartphone.  You put in your search criteria (preferred gender, location and age) and the app sends you a bunch of profiles to review.  Swipe right if you like what you see, swipe left if you don't.  If you both swipe right, you get a cutesy message saying you're a match and you're free to communicate within the app to learn more about each other.

It's not clear from Serena's story how much contact she had with her date prior to meeting up, or what exactly he lied about.  However, here are 3 lessons I learned from her story:

Lesson Learned #1: Do Your Homework
When I meet a guy online, I have to know more about him than he's already told me.  So when we talk on the phone or meet up,  and the conversation (hopefully) begins to flow, he's pretty much confirming what I already know. Yeah, it may defeat the purpose of the conversation itself, but at least I know I'm talking to the dude in the profile pic.

The easiest place to start is Facebook, since most everyone has a profile.  Some dating sites, including Tinder, are even linked to Facebook and you can see who your mutual friends are which makes stalking researching your potential date even easier.  If you have mutual friends, don't be afraid to ask them about him.  Check out his pictures and make sure there's no one around who looks like they could possibly be his girlfriend/wife/significant other.  Make sure he looks the same in ALL of his pictures - I almost went on a Tinder date with a guy who looked different in every single picture he had posted.  Notice I said "ALMOST". I need to know what I'm walking into!  Be on the lookout for fake profiles that seem too good to be true.  Catfish, anyone? Umm...no thanks.

By the time you find his Facebook profile, you'll likely have his full name so then you can move on to LinkedIn to confirm his professional life.  Google him, search his name in the sex offender registry and your state's Department of Corrections (DOC) website.  Most DOCs have a database you can search for both past and present inmates.  I'm serious, I have used all of these easily accessible and free online resources to research a potential date, and as a result I've avoided a potentially dangerous situation on more than one occasion.  Like the time some guy emailed me on Match on behalf of his friend who was so shy he just couldn't email me himself (red flag #1).  The guy gave me just enough information to find out that his "friend" had spent time in prison for multiple sexual offenses.  I promptly deleted his emails, blocked his profile and kept it moving.  #byefelipe

Lesson Learned #2: First Dates Don't Have To Be Adventurous
Granted, trivia night isn't exactly adventurous under normal circumstances.  But if you're on a first date with a guy you barely know, it could turn out to be pretty awkward as it was for Serena.  A dinner date may seem cliché, but it gives you an opportunity to talk to the guy over a somewhat limited period of time and if you're not feeling it you can leave after dessert...if it even gets that far.  If things go great, you can continue chatting over drinks or head to a movie.  Save the adventurous stuff for the second date when you have a better idea of who you're hanging out with.

The other great thing about a dinner date is you'll get to see how he treats the wait staff.  This is huge for me.  If he's disrespectful to them, you'll know he's that kind of guy.  No matter how sweet he may be to you on that first date, he'll probably end up talking to you the same way eventually.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

Lesson Learned #3: Be Honest With Yourself...And Him
I'll admit this is a tough one for me.  I don't like to hurt anyone's feelings.  I mean really, who does??  But if things are obviously not going well, it's best to be honest rather than prolong the agony.  Why suffer through the embarrassment and awkwardness a minute longer than you have to?  First dates are awkward enough!  You don't have to be mean about it, but say something along the lines of "Hmm...this isn't going so well, is it?"  Maybe get a to-go box and cut your losses.  Another reason why dinner is the best option for a first date.

Several years ago I was on a first date with a guy who spent most of the evening telling me how his wife had cheated on him with his best friend.  By the way, don't talk about how your ex done did you wrong on the first date.  It's not cute.  Like, not at all.  Anyway, I was not feeling him but I didn't know how to express it.  So when the conversation began to dwindle, I pulled my phone out and started checking Facebook, emails...whatever just to let him know I had tuned out.  I never heard from him again.  Probably not the best way to handle it but mission accomplished regardless.

Any other suggestions for how Serena's date could have gone better?  Comment below and let a sista know!

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Jul 9, 2016

Dating Stories

I have yet to meet anyone that sincerely enjoys dating.  I'm not talking about comfortable dating once you've fallen head over heels in love with your perfect match.  I'm talking about the dreaded first, second, maybe even third dates.  Whether it's a blind date, a Tinder date, or you decided to live dangerously and date a work colleague (NOT a good idea), that first date is the stuff nightmares are made of.  What should I wear?  Should I wear my hear up or down?  Straight or curly?  Should I order a salad so he doesn't think I eat too much?  Will he expect me to pay?  What will we talk about?  What if I don't like him?!  The pressure can be overwhelming!

So in an effort to alleviate that stress, I figured I'd take the time to look on the more humorous side of dating.  I'll pick one hilarious dating story each week, either from online or my own experience, and after having a good chuckle perhaps I'll analyze what went wrong and what could have been done differently to make the experience more enjoyable for all involved.

If you'd like to have your hilarious/disastrous dating experience featured, email me at charlotte@mslawrencewrites.com.

First post will be up on Monday!

Jul 8, 2016

So yeah...this happened...

A little over a week ago, I was headed to pick up my son form his dad's house for some mommy/son time...and this ish right here happened.  My first fender bender where I was at least partially to blame.  I don't really want to get into the details of how it happened since the insurance companies are still investigating in order to make a decision as to liability.  However, I will say that after this accident, I'll just go ahead and sit in traffic from now on.  Getting to my destination a few minutes earlier just isn't worth the deductible and more importantly, risking my life.

Thankfully, my kids were not in the car when this happened.  I can still remember the sound and feel of the impact, so I can only imagine the lingering effects this experience would have had on them.  It happened so quickly.  I literally did not see him coming.  Just another reminder of how quickly life can be taken away with absolutely no warning.  So hug your kids and your loved ones and tell them you love them at every opportunity, because you never know when it will be your last...
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Jul 6, 2016

My Soulmate

At the tender age of 21, I got married to a man I truly believed was my best friend.  I didn't have a traditional wedding with my family and friends there to witness what should have been the most special day of my life.  No maid of honor, no best man, no bridesmaids or cute little flower girls.  I didn't even have my dad walk me down the aisle.  It was just the bride, the groom and the minister.

Looking back on that day, I wish I had done things differently.  I was never the kind of girl to dream about a fairytale wedding, which is probably why mine went down the way it did.  But these days, it seems all I can think about is how I would do things if I ever have the chance to walk down the aisle a second time.  I'll hear a song and think, wow that would be an amazing first dance song...

Or wow, I could totally imagine myself walking down the aisle to this one...

Yeah, OK I'm kind of a John Legend fan!

And I may or may not have a secret Pinterest board to store all of my wedding planning ideas......oh come on, I know I'm not the only one!

When my marriage ended, I spent a lot of time looking for love in the wrong places.  I had felt unloved and unwanted for so long that I was just yearning for a man to validate me.  Getting married again equated to being controlled again, so a wedding was the furthest thing from my mind.

But as time went on and my emotional wounds healed, I began yearning for the real deal.  I began thinking about and praying for my soulmate.  That one man who gets me completely.  We can express ourselves with a simple glance, and finish each other's sentences.  He gives me the space to be me, even though we are one.  My protector, my comfort, my shoulder to lean on in uncertain times.  In essence, he is my best friend. 

For a long time, I kept these thoughts to myself, sharing them only with God in my prayer time; letting Him know I'm ready whenever He is.  The featured scripture for my devotional over the weekend was Habakkuk 2:2, which encourages us to "write the vision and make it plain..."  It's OK to dream, to wish, to hope, even to have secret Pinterest boards and to have faith that you will receive your happy ending.

If Facebook is anything to go by, at least two couples get engaged or married every week.  And don't get me started on the new babies!  There was a time when I would get frustrated, wondering why they were getting the blessing I had been praying so earnestly for.  That sounds so selfish of me now.  However, over the past several years, I have learned not to envy what others have.  I have accepted that my time is coming.  Rather than be envious, I have chosen to use this time to prepare for what is to come.  Because my next walk down the aisle will certainly be my last.

I do believe I have already met my soulmate.  And when the time is right, John Legend will serenade us through our fairytale wedding and into the rest of our lives together.  Until then, I'll keep on pinning and praying.  I encourage you to do the same for whatever your heart's desire may be.  Dare to dream!!