Are Relationship Titles for Convenience?


I have this aunt and this uncle. They have been married for more than 25 years. This past Christmas holiday they opened their gifts from each other, danced after dinner, and cuddled all night like a couple of newlyweds.

Then, after a few days of non-stop PDA and fun, my aunt packed up the suitcase she’d brought with her, got on a plane and flew across the country back to her home… where she lives… alone.

My uncle stayed in Ohio, went back to his normal routine of work and then went back to his house… where he lives… alone.

Twenty-five plus years and for the past eight or nine they’ve been separated. Oh sure, every now and then they’ll live with each other again for a few months, but then, like clockwork, they’re back to their separate corners, doing their separate things.

My aunt ventures out and dates— and I’m sure my uncle does the same— but whenever she comes back into town it’s like they’ve resumed their marriage, like nothing has ever happened. For years my aunt has been saying she’s going to divorce him and for years she never has.

One day I asked her, “Why don’t you just get the divorce already? Y’all have been apart for so long.” And do you know what she said?
She said: “Even though he’s not here and we don’t live together, we’re still legally married and, in a way, that means I’m not single.”

There you have it.

Women today are so consumed with and afraid of the idea of being alone that some would rather hold onto something that isn’t truly there just for comfort. She hasn’t yet found a new man (or the right one) and so instead of crying “alone” or “by myself” she holds onto the fact that she still has a husband, legally. It saddened me to hear this.

Marriage is a title; it takes much more than signing a piece of paper to cultivate and sustain a real marriage. But how many of us women choose to hold onto a title, any title, just to say we are technically in relationship even if the physical aspect isn’t there? Men too. I have another uncle and he’s guilty of the same thing. He lives up north, his wife lives down south, been married on paper for decades but living apart for years.

Channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw: “I wonder, is holding onto the title of a broken or false relationship better than having no relationship at all?”
What do you think, sistas?


Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Marks aspires to help make a difference in society through the messages in her writings. She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Check her out at:



Does Every Woman Need Closure?

Three different guys. Three different situations. One repetitive outcome.

Guy Number One

He was attractive, intelligent and all the ladies wanted him. I, being a lady, was no different. We flirt, talk on the phone and eventually start dating. A couple weeks later he comes to me saying, “Sorry, I just didn’t like you as much as I thought I did.” Ummm, okay?

Guy Number Two

Again, attractive, intelligent, every girl is trying to date him. We talk for hours on the phone every night. We hang out during the day. Months go by and still nothing. So, nervously, I ask, “So, are we talking?” His response: “Well, I wouldn’t say that.” Hmm, alright then.

Guy Number Three

Now he’s a bit different. Not all that attractive, but he’s sweet. Every girl isn’t checking for him, but he treats me like a queen, like he just cannot get enough of me. Life happens, we’re forced into different states. We reunite again after a few months. I’m finally back in his warm and familiar embrace. Me: “I still have feelings for you.” Him: “Well, me too, but I met someone else.” Ouch!

So, as the same scenario plays out in my love life over and over, an ugly untruth is secretly making its home where my self confidence use to reside: I’m not good enough. I was not good enough to be liked as much as one guy perceived; I was not good enough to even try being in a ‘pre-relationship’ with; and I was not good enough to be the victor in a past love vs. new fling duel.

Without me realizing it, this feeling has buried itself deep into my heart, and has grown and flourished over the years. Now, I finally meet Mr. Right who’s trying his hardest to love me, but the not good enough branches and leaves keep pushing his affection away.

So, fed up with myself and desperate to not lose the man I love, I did the unthinkable. I sucked up my pride, put my feelings on the shelf, borrowed some courage (from who knows) and asked each and every one of my old flames that awful, but necessary question: why?

I got closure and was finally able to move on. But now I’m wondering, should I have needed it? We all have bad experiences in the love department; it’s a part of life. But, as the story goes, we eventually find the perfect guy who is so wonderful and more than we could ever imagine that we instantly forget about our pasts. It’s like Lauryn Hill’s voice blasts through our minds: Nothing even matters at all.

But what happens when it does matter? What happens when you’re still holding onto past hurts and pains that your prince charming wasn’t able to sweep away? And worse, what about when your past starts affecting your future?

I’ve always thought that once I met the right guy, everything else in the past wouldn’t hold any value. Your present (and one day future) are all that matter now. So, does it say anything about your current relationship if your man wasn’t able to make you forget about your past? Or do we as women put too much responsibility on our future mates to clear out the skeletons in our closets when that’s a chore only we can/should do?
What do you think, Sistas? Is closure necessary in order to move on?

Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Marks aspires to help make a difference in society through the messages in her writings. She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Check her out at:

Relationship Deal Breakers… ?

While watching Iyanla Vanzant try and fix Basketball Wives star Eveleyn Lozada’s life, I couldn’t help but wonder what the latter’s relationship deal breakers are?

Evelyn admitted to being physically manhandled by her husband before they were married and even to knowing that he was sleeping with other women. Still, with all this knowledge in hand, she walked down the aisle and before God and family, vowed to love Chad Johnson for life.

I wish I could say Lazada is some rare case, but truth be told, I know many men and women who don’t seem to have boundaries or deal breakers when it comes to their relationships.

My ex-husband’s brother loved his wife dearly (they were childhood sweethearts) and stayed with her for years as she went through her midlife crisis- hanging out in clubs and cheating with men half her age. The marriage eventually ended when she left him and their children to move in with one of her young lovers.

You would have thought cheating would have been a deal breaker but it wasn’t. You would have thought abandoning her children would have been a deal breaker but that wasn’t either. For my ex’s brother there was no deal breaker when it came to his wife because he loved her just that much.

But for many of us, we do have deal breakers. Mine is any form of physical or emotional abuse. I also don’t play that DL ish. If I find out my significant other has a thing for men, I’m out!

What deal breakers do you have?

Kissing Frogs

Anyone that knows me knows I love to kiss. It’s amazing, but I’ll come back to that. One of my mentees called me today, frantic, she has a boyfriend (aaawww!), and he passed her a note advising her that he would like to kiss her after school (again..Aaawww!). She didn’t know what to do. They’re twelve (12). She was so excited I couldn’t help, but be excited for her. I was apprehensive…12. That’s a bit young to me. I was asked “So, how old were you?! Was it great?! Are ya’ll still friends?! Did you love him?!” …..I thought back…way back. My first frog!

The first kiss. Amazing. Yes, I remember it well, and I was just as excited as my mentee. Many that will read this knew me growing up. I’ve always been the tallest girl I know. Growing up I was taller than most boys as well. I wore the thickest glasses ever made, and I literally had teeth growing every direction…except straight. I was, for lack of a better word, hideous! That is, until the summer before my freshman year of high school. I was fourteen. Things turned around for me…instantly. I got braces. Contacts. Brand new boobs…that’s right…brand new. The boys…they came a flocking! The first one, and I’ll never forget him, John, it was the summer before his senior year. He strutted around my neighborhood in biking shorts. Biking shorts ya’ll. Now he was about 6’3″, and full grown. Read what I’m saying: a “full grown” 17 year old in biking shorts. My mother hated him. Hate. She hated him. Fortunately for him, my father no longer lived with us. He wouldn’t have made it past the door. Didn’t matter to me, he was male, and he wanted me. The tall girl that had the thick glasses and bad teeth had turned to a swan. I had a boyfriend. Heeeeyyyy!!

My mother allowed him in our house, in the living room. I now suspect so she could keep an eye on us. Well…on him anyway. I was walking him…in his biking shorts, to the front door. He grabbed my hand, bent down, and kissed me. Really…I’m being kissed…by a man! Now, I know the way I tell the story, you would think it was by far the best kiss in the world…trust me, to this day it is still the worst kiss I have ever had. He was horrible, sorry John, but even with no experience I knew that wasn’t how you kissed. The awfulness of it, however, doesn’t take away from how happy I was. It still makes me smile. To answer my mentees other questions, no I didn’t love him, but I did love the idea that he liked me. Yes…we are still friends. We joke about it a lot, and he claims he is much better now. He has 6 kids (one of whom I am the Godmother of), so I assume he has greatly improved.

Since John, I am not ashamed to say I have kissed my fair share of men. Kissing the frogs, waiting for a prince, some of them good, some of them bad, all of them necessary. Sometimes you have to go through a lot of frogs to get to a prince. It’s part of the process. You learn what you like. What you don’t like. What’s good for you. What’s bad. If you are lucky, one day you kiss the frog, and it is the sweetest most amazing thing in the world. You found your Prince, the one that you want to kiss every day. All day. For as long as you both shall live. That one kiss makes all of the frogs you went through worth it. That one kiss frees your mind, and unlocks your heart. This amazing man sent to you from God, makes all the horrible kisses…all the bad experiences…all the heartbreak…all the rejection worth it.

Do I wish my first kiss was better? Do I wish it was with someone I actually loved? Do I wish he would have been my prince, and we would have lived happily together for the rest of our lives? Of course I do. Would I trade that kiss? Not for anything in the world. It was my first kiss. It was awesome! Until I kiss my Prince, it is the one kiss I’ll never forget. It was the kiss that put me on the path to finding my Prince! So to my mentee I say, with tears in my eyes, and joy in my heart….GO GET THAT KISS GIRL!

Does He Only Text You?

I have noticed an ongoing trend in relationships these days. One where couples no longer whiseper sweet nothings in their partners ears, but rather text them.

I have several girlfriends who seem to spend more time texting their men over the phone than actually spending time with them in person.

According to a recent study on how technology has affected the dating scene, 65% of respondents felt it was okay to ask for a FIRST date via text message. 48% said it was okay to break up via text, while 30% admit to actually being dumped via text message.

Even more sobering, many women claim texting has totally ruined the act of courting. “A lot of guys don’t even call anymore, they just text,” said one female respondent. “Guys no longer feel like they have to woo you. Now it’s all about technology. They feel a text message is just as good as a phone call or one on one interaction.”

When asked how much time they actually spend with their “textmates,” most admitted that texting has cut down the one-on-one time they spend with their partners.

Natasha Reynolds, a college student, says she and her boyfriend hardly speak by phone or see each other because of their busy schedules. She admits the short length of text messages had led to misunderstandings and thus they have limited their texting time. She says she hopes it will strengthen their relationship and the way they communicate with one another.

So, how you Brown Sista readers? Do you find yourself texting your men more than you talk to them via phone or see them in person? Do you think texting has ruined the art of dating?

Have your say.

Is Love Cursed by Monogamy?

Kanye West begs us to ponder a crucial question when it comes to exclusive relationships and marriage: “Is love cursed by monogamy?” In this day and age it’s very likely that you’ve either been cheated on before, have cheated on your significant other, will cheat on your significant other in the future or will be cheated on. Is this a sad reality that we will have to come to terms with or is it possible to have a monogamous and loving relationship for a sufficient amount of time?

Imagine a world where polygamy was the norm and people were expected to date more than one person at a time. Polyamorous is a word used to describe a person who has several intimate relationships at a time. When sitting to consider the benefits of being in this type of relationship and having the acceptance of all parties involved it sounds ideal. You get to basically have your cake and eat it too. But if you are a woman dating three different men who all know about each other, you may reach a point where you start developing stronger feelings for one of the men that you’re dating…then what? It is an innate human desire to want to be with someone and experience a close relationship but what happens when you want someone exclusively to yourself? The thought of someone you love being intimate with someone else is enough to insight the green-eyed monster in anyone. How can you be nonchalant while watching the person you love, loving someone else?

I’ve heard the saying “if you’re not ready to be exclusive, don’t be in a relationship,” but what about those in polyamorous relationships? The beauty of a relationship or marriage lies in knowing that you have found someone who cherishes and loves you enough to make a commitment to be with only you. Without that sense of security, the glamour of a relationship fades. Why even be in a relationship with someone if you guys are free to date and commit to many other people? Monogamy, although a difficult concept for many to grasp, is what makes a relationship so amazing. Despite the temptations of others around you, perhaps the true test of love is being able to commit to one person and only one person. Being in a polyamorous relationship could be fun at first; the ability to have relationships with several men sounds appealing. But at some point it’s nice to feel like someone loves and cares about you enough to commit to you and share their life with you and only you.

Janice Gassam is a graduate student currently getting her degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. To contact Janice her email is
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Which was Better?

Do you remember your two big firsts? I remember mine like they were yesterday.

My first kiss was at the age of fifteen. It was with the most gorgeous guy who I will call Mark.

While visiting me one day, we were watching television and during the first commercial he leaned in and kissed me. I remember that while it was happening I felt as if I was floating above my body, watching the entire moment unfold. It was truly magical, and I can honestly say that to this day no kiss has ever matched the one I shared that day with Mark.

As for my other big first, it was a very forgettable experience. I think my expectations may have been a bit too high. I truly expected my first time to be like what I had seen in the movies. I expected it to be super romantic and last for hours and hours. Sadly, it was not very romantic and at best it lasted for 30 minutes… tops.

I was twenty at the time and remember feeling a great loss- like I would never be able to get this moment back. My partner, who I will call by his real name (lol), Guy, was very happy with himself when it was over. He really thought he had put in work. I mean sucking my nipples through my heavy ass sweater, did he really think that was a hot experience for me? Uggg!

I won’t even talk about his complete lack of knowledge of the female body. Hello… my clit’s over here (lol).

Ok, let me stop before this becomes a bashing-my-ex post.

Anyway ladies, answer the question. Which Was Better: Your First Kiss of Your First Time?

My Love Ideal: In Honour of Those Who Came Before

I want what my grandparents had. They were married for over 50 years. And, I don’t just want it for the sake of merely wanting it. I want it because it’s no longer viewed as plausible. It’s rather passé to some, and for others it’s perceived as being darn right near impossible. Yet others’ opinions as it regards Black love still leave me unwavering in my perspective. I maintain that I desire to experience a Black love affair that lasts forever. For me, that would be a revolution of epic proportions. I would liken it to a silent war, as opposed to a noisy revolution. A lengthy love affair with a Black man would stand to erase the very notion that stability with regard to the notion of the Black family is not a prospect that could become a reality; whereas the disintegration of the Black family currently stands as the norm. Now, I’m not suggesting that those who would rather opt for a life of perpetual singledom, serial monogamy, an open relationship, polygamy, or anything that goes against the standard heteronormative relationship experience, wouldn’t wind up being just as fulfilled – I’m simply stating what I desire, along with the reasons for it.

Amid the chaos and confusion that has been disseminated throughout popular culture conduits, namely the World Wide Web, which really don’t seem to be lessening in terms of the wide availability of editorials, videos and research that go viral in a matter of a few hours – with Satoshi Kanazawa’s, Why are Black women rated less physically attractive than other women?, being the tip of the iceberg, to the litany of tirades against Black men as criminals, deadbeat fathers and washed-up-has-beens – only further propels me to want to establish an amorous, secure and equally-beneficial union with a Black male counterpart. Given the climate of the post-racial meme which we are presently supposed to be experiencing, it almost seems as though it’s a slight for me to be pro-Black love.

I don’t offer my opinion to imply that my pro-Black love views are anti-any other type of love affair. Rather, my longing for a Black love affair that lasts forever is deep-seated, heavily shaped by the historical experiences of Black peoples, and is primarily for the purpose of ascertaining for the masses of naysayers that in spite of the would-be congratulators, who tend to suggest that a Black woman’s education, curvaceous body, and headstrong attitudinal ways are much too much for any Black man to be able to handle. I thought those were good qualities? I would venture to agree to disagree on this matter. Instead, I offer to completely disavow the claim that I or any other Black person will not be able to: a) find a spouse/life partner; or b) maintain a lifetime relationship with said spouse/partner [one that is relatively free of strife of course]. And, if it weren’t for the ideas floating around to suggest that the aforementioned were implausible, we would have far less reservations when searching for our potential mate.

Perhaps, it’s just in my nature to be both up for a challenge, as well as to challenge the status quo but, I’ve about had it with all of these statistics, psychological analyses gone awry, timelines to suggest at which age we should get married and quite frankly, the culture of fear being privy to our most intimate of thoughts. We shouldn’t feel as though we have been placed in a situation whereby we fear venturing into one of the most sacred and coveted of human acts: partnership. The only person who will ever be able to hold you back from finding the love of your life is you. But really, how amazing would it feel to be able to have a “you said I wasn’t gonna be able to but, I did it anyway” moment with your spouse 60 years from now despite all of the triumph we’ve had to overcome as a people?