Thursday, February 18, 2016

Downside of Equality

A romantic relationship is a partnership. Like any partnership, the parties may be equal but they are not the same. Each has individual roles and responsibilities. Those roles and responsibilities may change per circumstance or even over time. Those roles and responsibilities should be determined by the parties involved, not outside influences (e.g. family, society, etc). The parties may choose to have "traditional" roles and responsibilities, but it should actually be a choice and based on what is best for the relationship rather than due to outside pressures.

In many parts of the world, the rights of women have increased. While I am an advocate for women's equality and would even suggest more improvement is needed in many social areas (not just geographical areas), the social equality of women has come with an unfortunate downside.


One downside is some women have transitioned to a competitive relationship with men. "What men can do women can do better." While that idea might be useful and motivating in the workplace (or not, depending on your perspective), it has no place in a romantic relationship. A successful romantic relationship cannot have any kind of male-female competition in it.

Unlike men who can often be competitive and still maintain a very close relationship (though not always), competition for women almost always results in negative feelings associated with the other person. These negative feelings will result in a breakdown, or break-up, of a relationship unless very decisive steps are taken to prevent it - which rarely happens because the negative impact of the competition is not even recognized until it is too late.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sex: Men and Women Are Not On the Same Page

We often blame social constructs for male promiscuity, but that simply describes the social acceptance and encouragement of it. Biologically men and women are different and, therefore, the act of sex, as well as the aftermath of sex, can be very different experiences for men than women. 

Just one biological example is the hormones released following sex. During the anticipation, initiation, engagement, and aftermath of sex, oxytocin is released in women. Oxytocin is an empathy and bonding hormone. For men, dopamine is released after sex. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone causing feelings of achievement and victory. 

Can you see how just on a hormonal level men and women are not on the same page about the meaning of a sexual act? Bonding and victory are clearly not the same feelings or experiences. This is why after sex women want to cuddle (bonding) while men want to sleep, smoke, or conquer a project (celebrate, ride the wave of success).

Men can literally have sex without having an agenda beyond sex, and without forming an emotional bond. I am not saying that is right. I am not condoning male over female sexual liberation in any way. Neither am I saying every man acts on this ability. Some, for whatever personal reason or characteristic, choose not to have casual sexual encounters. 

Women, on the other hand, rarely have the ability - or even the desire - to have inconsequential casual sex, though there are exceptions.

Jennifer (not her real name) came to me several years ago to talk about having sex for the first time. She was an independent woman and a virgin. She had not maintained her virginity for religious reasons but because she was absolutely petrified of an accidental pregnancy. As a result, she had completely avoided sex throughout high school and college in order to avoid any accidents. After talking with her, I  also discovered she had intimacy, rejection, and commitment issues.  Jennifer had decided she wanted to "get over" the barrier of her virginity by choosing to have her first sexual experience with a man she had known for many years. They were just friends and had no interest in each other beyond friendship. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nothing is Free - Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

When I talk to people under thirty about ambitions and career paths, I am always astounded by their impatience. While I love the fact that they are not interested in "slowly moving up the ranks" like we of the older generations believed was required, I also notice how unrealistic their expectations often seem to be.

Too often they want to, literally, graduate from high school and become a manager or business owner. No entry-level positions for them. Additionally, I often hear them expressing an expectation for a fifty thousand dollar annual starting salary on their first professional job, despite no relevant previous work experience. 

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that a lot more can be accomplished if a person has no idea "it is not possible." 

As a result, I try not to discourage them but lead them in the direction of valuable information that will help them cope if they do in fact hit a "reality" bump.

For example, one of the most valuable things a person can do is read biographies of people they admire. It is immaterial who the biography is about or what struggles the person experienced. Just someone they believe has reached the sought-after peak - whether within the industry the person is interested in or just in general.

The value in the biographies, in addition to being inspirational that such peaks are possible and seeing how the person overcame obstacles, is that their were obstacles. Too many times I hear people aspiring to be like someone, or reach the same peak as someone, without any understanding of the struggles involved. This is dangerous because not realizing the struggles causes us to be unprepared for them and overly hard on ourselves when we hit obstacles. 

Nothing is free. Everyone who has anything of value has worked for it. You may not see the sacrifices. It may appear like the person just opened up their eyes one day to success, but that is never the case. 

Yes, people may "get lucky." Yes, people do experience "breaks." But effort, time, and sacrifices were made before the luck or the break. 

I guarantee it.

So look into the people you admire. Don't just look at where they are today (or whenever their peak occurred). Look deeply into their lives. Study their struggles. Research how they overcame their obstacles. See the mistakes they made. Give them full credit for their success by not ignoring what they overcame. 

Only then will you be able to map out your own plan - and eventually give yourself credit for your own successes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The "Love" Trap for Women

I am originally from Arkansas and grew up Christian. I moved to Arizona in 1998 and became Muslim after many years of study.

Soon after becoming Muslim, a Muslim man approached a Muslim friend of mine's husband to ask about courting me - many Muslims “court” rather than date.

Courtship takes the position that the two people have no physical contact at all (no touching, no hand-holding, no kissing) until marriage. Many in a courtship relationship will not spend any time together until parents or other adult "chaperones" are present at all times. In addition, courting couples state up front that their intentions are to see if the other person is a suitable potential marriage partner. Courtship advocates claim that courtship allows for the two people to truly get to know each other in a more platonic setting without the pressures of physical intimacy or emotions clouding their view.

You know, like scenes from Little House on the Prairie - boy and girl sit on the porch or in the living room of the girl's family home.

The courtship also ensures the girl's "virtue" is preserved - nothing physical can happen between them because other people could walk into the room at anytime AND the boy cannot tell anyone something happened between them (lying to hurt her reputation in case of rejection or just male bragging) because they were never completely alone, there are witnesses to defend her honor.

My friend and her husband acted as my chaperones. The man and I would meet at their home. We would sit in the formal living room and talk while my friend and her husband were in other parts of the home - the kitchen, family room, etc.

We met two times.  After the second time, my friend's husband asked me if I wanted to marry the man. I was shocked. I said it is too soon to say, I do not know him yet.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Changing Men

The biggest trap women fall into is trying to change men.

This often manifests in a "nice" girl falling for a "bad" boy. Usually she believes her "love" will change him for the better. Bad idea on many levels.

First, no person can change another person. Only two things create change:
    1) a person wants to change and is willing to do the work to change
    2) a person changes his or her actions, which then changes the reaction

Have you ever known a person, or seen a movie, where a woman was constantly trying to change man (how he dresses or losing weight, for example), while he resists? Then they breakup and suddenly everything she tried to get him to do he starts doing? It is a common theme.

The number one thing men hate is women trying to control them - and trying to change him in any way, even if for his own good, is interpreted by men as trying to control them.

That is not to say men are completely unwilling to change some things. It just means how the changes are approached is key.  Suggestions, not demands. Actions and reactions.

Some examples of how to encourage change are:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Daddy Issues

Women tend to subconsciously choose a mate based on their relationship with their fathers. If the father's love was unpredictable (sometimes loving, sometimes distant; withdrawing love as a form of punishment), the girl will usually choose a man who is similar.

Somehow we seem to choose what we know, usually without even realizing it, and even if it makes us unhappy. This is often manifested into the classic girl falling for a "bad" boy.

Occasionally, a woman will be aware of the behavior, and that she does not like it, and therefore, consciously choose a man who displays different characteristics. 

Sometimes a girl just gets lucky and happens to fall for a man without the negative characteristics of her father.

While the best situation is a father who cherishes his daughter and always makes her feel loved and valued, even this can cause a woman to be taken advantage of if she is not aware that this is not always true of all men. 

A father should not only treat his daughter as a jewel and protect her, he should also teach her the difference between good and bad behavior towards women, so she knows what to expect as well as what not to tolerate.

Deedra is originally from Arkansas; an attorney in Scottsdale, Arizona; a diversity expert and motivational speaker with The Ambassador Project; and has a blog at where she shares her perspectives based on questions and experiences. Follow Deedra on Twitter @askdeedra

Friday, February 5, 2016

Thoughts on Relationships

While no person should "change" "who you are" for another person, compromise is the foundation of any relationship - romantic or not.

The best way to retain "who you are" and still compromise is to know your worth and be willing to walk away if you are the only one willing to compromise or if "changing who you are" becomes a requirement to "please" the other person.

This requires both knowing yourself and having boundaries.

Too many people, especially women, have problems with each, regardless of their educational level or career advancement. I have worked with women who appear to ooze confidence in their career and yet are in the most unhealthy, even abusive, romantic relationships. The most popular girl in my high school - the beauty queen, the top cheerleader, the student counsel leader - married an abuser straight out of high school.

Neither beauty nor intelligence will protect a women. Only self-worth will do it.

Who Are You?
You need to get to know yourself, first.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Beauty As An Asset

In most western cultures, and some eastern cultures too, I see women striving for the ultimate beauty and youthfulness. I hear women lamenting their own lack of beauty, practically worshipping famous people they believe are successful because of their beauty, and always looking for the new beauty "trick" - whether diet, exercise, anti-aging cream, or fashion.

There is absolutely no problem with women wanting to be "beautiful" - however they define it - or always working to improve their image. I do, however, prefer when women are working to improve their "image" for themselves rather than others.

I knew a woman married for over thirty years. She was always on a diet. She always dressed in the top fashions, with clothes that complemented her body. She always wore make-up to enhance her looks. She owned just about every anti-aging cream on the luxury market and used them religiously. She went to the salon regularly, sometimes daily, to have her hair done in the most fashionable styles. She exercised and even had liposuction to have the "perfect" body. She made herself beautiful before her husband came home from work every day.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Diversity in Circle of Friends

I often hear the advice of "surround yourself with like-minded people and supporters."

To an extent that is true. When we are stretching ourselves into new territory, supporters and people who "get it" is vastly important.

At the same time, too much support, with no "realists" or "negative Nancy's" can also be dangerous.

We need to hear different perspectives.

Both my real friends and Facebook friends are very diverse. I do not not always agree with everything my "friends" say. I do not always agree with their opinions. In fact, some of their opinions not only make me shake my head, but some even make my blood boil.