25 Plus Dates, 7 Rings, 5 Engagements, 2 Promises, 2 Marriages and 1 Divorce

Since I was thirteen years old, I have been serious about "boys."  The seeds were sown when I was about 11 during the summer of 1986 (could have been a little sooner).  That year I was a soap opera watching fool!  I absorbed the dramas and followed along with several didn't story lines per show.  Back then shows I watched were:  Young and the Restless, Another World, Guiding Light, Days of Our Lives, Bold and the Beautiful, and others that were short-lived.  Then there were the evening dramas Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, and Dallas.  There was always a favorite couple, a troubled sibling, a crazed ex, a power hungry, money driven old fool, and so on. 

I learned much from watching TV about making out, what love was and what it wasn't, how men romance women, obsession, break up, adultery, and greed.  I began to take my thoughts about those subjects and compare them to the real world.  It wasn't that different!  From family to school friends, there was always someone in the group whose life seemed to parallel a character on an invented television show.  These soap operas had story-lines very similar to those nowadays in reality shows.  Women would fight, get drunk, lie, cheat, and parade around in expensive looking clothes, handbags, and shoes.  Men would creep around in the background doing what they liked to do best have their way with this one and that one!  So with a rich background of drama, what would happen later in my life?  The same things that played out between those social classes on TV.

After receiving much television programming about relationships, I began to feel like things were changing in my body at 11.  Irritable, moody and a sprouting body that was often sore, I started fantasizing about sex.  There were other feelings far beyond that age, but for purposes of this article, I won't get into early childhood.  During the 80s, I do recall when two 17 year old boys took notice of me in a way that was similar to what I saw on television.  One dark skin black boy would strategically go outside practicing Karate chops and kicks when he knew I was outside.  The fair skin black boy quite boldly showed up at the porch I use to sit and write stories with whispers of wanting to be my boyfriend.  He would write a letter, drop it off, and hope that he didn't get caught by my grandmother.  This was only the start of what was to come later.  I wasn't that interested in older boys, but found one particular boy at my school, when I was age 12, worth getting to know.  However, I manage to get out of that three year relationship before having sex with him.  Somehow I managed to have self-control until I turned 15.  The many hours of sexy programming, listening to R&B music for hours a day, and the attention I received from boys had took it's toll, when the opportunity came to act like those damsels in the soaps with a 17 year old boy, I jumped at the chance.

Little did I know that I was setting myself up for years of roller coaster romances and heartbreaks due to so much sexy programming.  I had been faithful for a time in a few relationships, but when I felt like things were taking an ugly turn, my own player mentality would surface and I would become like the guy I suspected would be cheating on me, "Two could play that game," I would reason.  Once again, I was headed down a path that wasn't good for the soul.  There was no appreciation for God and wisdom as I grew older.  Although I had just two serious boyfriends during junior high, high school and part of my college years (late 80s and early to mid-90s), once I became a somewhat mature adult, there would be nothing more than friends on dates and friends with benefits for a short-time in my life.  Out of 25 plus dates, most of which took place during 95-96,  I would wear seven rings in my lifetime, and out of that group, there were five proposals to marry.  The other two were promise rings.  I refer to my 20s as the terrible 20s, because I just didn't have a handle on my emotions when it came to being with one person for an extended length of time.  I really didn't want to marry, have children, or anything like that.  I saw enough both on and off the television screen and that lifestyle just didn't seem feasible for me.

Eventually, after a year of celibacy with a personal relationship with Christ--which was very much needed after a period of domestic violence, I got my act together long enough to say, "Yes" to someone who was older than me and this time I actually went all the way to the Justice of the Peace.   I had my reservations about that marriage--the guy wasn't much different than others before him, but I honestly felt I needed to slow down and when I did I became pregnant.  After taking off blinders and distancing the core of who I am from distractions, I noticed some things about myself in that marriage that I didn't like.  I had to center myself once again after our second child was born.  I began to see the man I had married in a different light.  Prior to marriage, I had established boundaries and for years I had repeatedly forgave this person on the deal-breakers--things that I knew was just plain wrong and I knew that no matter how nice he acted toward me, my heart was only growing colder toward him. I just couldn't keep convincing myself I loved a cheating, lying man--the type who was very much like a character from one of those soaps I had watched during childhood.  So I divorced him.  Almost 10 years later, I would marry again.  To date, I am still learning and growing in this marriage.  I wouldn't say that he is like any character I ever watched on TV--he's different. 

In closing, I would have to say that no matter how much experience you have when it comes to dating, relationships, and break ups, there will always be something more to learn about self and others.  Taking that much needed time out whether in or out of a relationship, just might save you some years of potential heartbreak.  You will always find out more about yourself in every date/relationship.  You may discover that you don't like the person you have become since a new person has walked into your life.  I will tell you that if you don't see an improvement in who you are and you seem to be going backward, rather than forward since being with that person, evaluate whether he or she is worth keeping around.  Frequent disputes/fighting, private thoughts of wanting to get out or hating a mate, and constant bad-mouthing him or her to others, are just a few signs you have fallen out of love with that person.

Nicholl McGuire

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