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Straight talk no chaser, p.9
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       Straight Talk, No Chaser, p.9

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  QUESTION NO. 2: If she were more supportive, would you have stayed in the relationship?

  The Answer That You Want to Hear:

  Absolutely. I want to be committed. I want to be with somebody who understands me and wants to be with me and understands what I’m about. I’m looking for that type of woman who wants to be committed and supportive of her man.

  The Breakdown:

  He’s telling you what you want to hear—that he’s a man who is committed and looking for a long-term relationship and willing to do what is necessary to take care of you. He knows those are all the buzzwords that get you hooked, and now he’ll sit back and let you fill in all the blanks—imagine him walking out of the house in the morning, briefcase in hand, going to work hard for you and the family, then coming home and holding and caressing you in his strong arms until you fall asleep. Of course, he didn’t say any of that other stuff; he just said what you wanted to hear. Don’t fall for the okey-doke. Get to the bottom of it with this. . .

  QUESTION NO. 3: Well, if you were supportive, you were looking for loyalty, and you’re a hard worker and a good provider, how could the relationship break up? What happened that she said, “I can’t do this anymore”?

  The Truth:

  Well, I was looking for that support because I couldn’t find it at home, and I met someone who was more supportive and loyal.

  The Breakdown:

  The only thing left for him to do was to admit that it was infidelity, rather than a nonsupportive woman, that led to his breakup. Of course, there are nuances to why he ended up cheating, but the fact is that the relationship ultimately ended because he was being unfaithful—he broke the cardinal rule. Now you know he’s a hardworking guy who requires support and loyalty to be in a relationship, but you also know that he’s capable of cheating if he feels like he’s not getting what he needs out of the relationship.

  Here’s another example.

  I coached a listener on my radio show, the Steve Harvey Morning Show, to dig deeper into her questions with her man when she wrote that she suspected he wasn’t quite the father he made himself out to be. “He says he’s a great father,” she wrote, “and speaks highly of both his son and his daughter . . .”

  QUESTION NO.1: How’s your relationship with your children?

  The Answer That Makes Him Look Best:

  It’s great. When we’re together, it’s nothing short of magical. My son is just like me—athletic and strong. And my daughter is smart and so beautiful. They’re amazing kids.

  The Breakdown:

  This answer makes him seem like he’s a fantastic dad, committed to his children and putting in work to mold them into good human beings. It plays into your natural desire for a man who will faithfully and happily participate in the rearing of the family you hope to have someday.

  QUESTION NO. 2: How is your relationship with their mother?

  The Answer That You Want to Hear:

  It’s cool. We do what we can to get along for the sake of the kids. She doesn’t make it easy, but my kids are worth it.

  The Breakdown:

  He’s telling you what you want to hear—painting a picture of himself as the good guy in a relationship gone bad and the man who is willing to endure suffering and strife if it means he’ll get to be with his kids. Now, he’s looking like a superhero in your eyes because there is nothing sexier to a woman than a man who will bend steel and leap tall buildings to get to his children. You start imagining him rubbing your pregnant belly and reading to your babies and standing over the grill cooking up a home-cooked meal for the entire family while you stand by, looking on admirably at your magnificent catch of a man. What you missed was that he said his ex doesn’t make it easy for him to see his kids, and that he sees them when he can, not necessarily on a regular basis, and certainly not in the most pleasant of circumstances. Get to the bottom of it with this . . .

  QUESTION NO. 3: If you and their mother don’t really get along, how does that hinder your relationship with your kids?

  The Truth:

  Well, because she and I don’t really get along, it’s hard for me to see them as much. I see them maybe once a month and talk to them occasionally on the phone. But there’s some distance there because of the drama with my ex.

  The Breakdown:

  The only thing left for him to do was to admit that he’s got some baby mama drama that keeps him from being the superdaddy he originally made himself out to be. The mother of his children may have good reason for cutting back on his time with his kids, or she could be a lunatic; in either case, you’d have some issues to deal with if you got into a relationship with this man—namely a potentially dramatic and volatile relationship with his ex, and some real inadequacies he may have as a father.

  Getting to the bottom of that information allows you to make an informed decision about whether you want to start something with this guy. It’s not hard—women are inquisitive by nature. You and your girlfriends ask these same questions when you recount your dates for each other anyway. You and your girls get to the bottom of things quickly. Do the same with him. Put aside all the romantic notions and approach this thing with eyes wide open and a clear mind.

  My wife, Marjorie, played this really well when we started dating again. Of course, she was already privy to my shenanigans; I’m a public figure so there was already a lot of bad stuff about me out there—all she had to do was a simple Google search and everything she ever wanted to know about me, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the lies, was right there at her fingertips. I came in the door with publicized relationships gone bad. My advantage was that Marjorie already knew the real me; we’d been friends for twenty years and dated a few times by the time we got back together, so she knew there was some good there. A lot of good. But to figure out if I was truly ready to share that good with her, Marjorie knew I was going to have to add up some things for her. First, she asked why my first two marriages didn’t work. I had a pat explanation at the ready:

  “I was on the road touring and it kept me away from home a lot,” I said simply. “The separation just grew and kept us apart and I wasn’t there enough. I was working and trying to make it for us, but bringing home a check wasn’t enough.”

  My veiled attempt to end this line of questioning by telling Marjorie I was committed and hardworking was no match for her; she kept the questions coming. “But what specifically made you decide those marriages weren’t for you? Is it that marriage isn’t for you?”

  I brought my A-game on that one—told her what I thought she wanted to hear. “Well, I’m a romantic and I love the idea of being married. I want a committed relationship, I want a family, and that hasn’t changed just because the first two marriages didn’t work out. I have a lot, but I really want someone to share it with—a woman who can be loyal to me, who will support me while I’m out doing what I have to do to take care of our family, a woman who wants to share all the blessings in my life.” I gave her details about how it all went down—about how my first marriage ended after I went away to become a comedian, and some of the problems that grew from my second marriage too.

  Now, I thought I’d made it through—that I’d said what it took to get Marjorie hooked on the idea of being with me. But she just wouldn’t let it go; she needed more from me—not because she was trying to give me a hard time, but because she really needed to make sure that her heart was protected. See, she’d already been through two marriages that didn’t work, and she was in a good place—raising her kids, working hard, and really secure in knowing what she needed out of her next relationship. She’d made very clear that she didn’t need to be in a relationship to be happy—that being alone was okay. But if she was going to get into another relationship, she needed to make sure that not only was she ready for it, but that any future mate was ready too. So a few days after our initial discussions, Marjorie pitched the third question: “I get that when you started telling jokes things weren’t the same, but why did you just go away? H
elp me understand this thing.”

  I’d already told her what made me look best (I’m a hard worker), and in the second conversation, I told her what I thought she wanted to hear (I’m a romantic looking for a partner with which to share this journey). But in response to this third question? There wasn’t any more carpet and cushioning I could put on the floors, no curtains I could use to dress up the windows, no faux finishes I could throw up on the walls to make me look better. I’d run out of ways to decorate the truth, and it was clear to me that she wasn’t going to stop with the questions until she got the truth, so the truth was what I had to give her. And when I opened up to her, I revealed to Marjorie that the truth was that I was too young to get married the first time—that I should never have been anybody’s husband at twenty-four. I didn’t have it together in any way and really, the shortcomings in our relationship were mine—I was to blame, not my ex. All I could do in that first marriage was protect my wife and profess my love for her, but I simply wasn’t capable of providing for her in any meaningful way. Not only couldn’t I provide, I didn’t even have a plan for providing. I knew from age nine that I wanted to be on television, but I wasn’t doing anything useful to make that happen; I’d gone to college and gotten kicked out, and while I was working at the Ford Motor Company, I dreamed about being a star but had no real, tangible way of becoming one. “If my ex didn’t believe in my future, I couldn’t say I even saw it for myself,” I told Marjorie. “Still, I resented her and anyone else who didn’t support my vision. So really, I couldn’t stick around for that.”

  I went on to tell her about how by the time I got married the second time, my career was in bloom and that I started enjoying the fruits of my labor in ways that were destructive to my relationship. Regardless of the reasons why I did that, when I was forced to really dig deep into what went awry, I always came to the same conclusion: my actions were wrong; I wasn’t conducting myself in a way that was conducive to a successful marriage.

  By probing, Marjorie really got to the truth with me. Admitting that I was resentful, didn’t have a plan, and walked out on my first wife because I didn’t have my act together didn’t make me look like a good guy, by any stretch. Admitting to cheating on my second definitely wasn’t going to make my case any easier. But it was the truth, and that truth gave Marjorie the chance to really come to terms with what she was signing up for, and, honestly, made me dig deeper into how my own personal shortcomings needed to be checked if I was going to make a marriage with Marjorie work.

  After that conversation, Marjorie looked at me more closely and watched my actions and acknowledged that I was different now—that I was doing what it took to make our relationship work. When I was on the road, I would send for her every chance I could, she knew she could call the apartment anytime and I’d answer the phone, and if she was with me, I wasn’t sleeping with my cell phone duct taped to my thigh so that she couldn’t keep an eye on who was calling and texting me. She saw a man who was shedding the baggage and ready for real love, and she liked what she saw. And it wasn’t long before she was saying, “I want you. You’re the man for me.”

  But she had to come to that on her own, after gathering her information, evaluating it, and coming to some conclusions about what she would and would not tolerate. She didn’t go about it in any nasty, mean way; she simply asked the right questions and kept digging until she got to the treasure—the truth.

  Know that you can do this, too, and that you’re going to have to be just as smooth and persistent about it. You can’t grill this guy like you’re Bill Duke in that scene from Menace II Society, where the main character is sitting under the bright light in the interrogation room, sweating and stuttering while Bill stares at him with those piercing eyes and announces, “You know you effed up, don’t you?” every time his suspect opened his mouth. No guy is going to willingly stick around for the lie detector test and the military-styled interrogation tactics.

  What we will do, though, is answer truthfully over a period of time. Asking those questions during the ninety-day period I told you about in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man will give you plenty of time to learn the truth. If you really want to get to the bottom of it all, tell a guy, “I’m just looking for honesty—it really turns me on when a man tells the truth,” and he’s going to pull out all the stops because the mere promise of an eventual romp in the hay with you is like truth serum to a man: “Did you say the truth turns you on? Oh! Okay! So I was with these midgets, right? And we pulled out these monkeys . . .”

  Well, maybe he won’t tell you all about the midgets and the monkeys. But he will be more willing to give you the truth if you’re willing to put in the work it takes to get to it.

  7

  Presentation Is Everything

  Don’t Let Your “Off” Day Be Her “On” Day

  Nothing moves men more than your graceful curves, the softness of your skin, the shape of your eyes, and the pout of your lips—the way your calves look in a sexy heel, and the way you sway and glide across a room, everything on your body moving in a perfect, deliciously beautiful symphony. These things drive us crazy. It is, absolutely, the first thing we will notice about you—every single time.

  We don’t care about where you work.

  We don’t give a damn about how much money you make.

  We don’t care if you can actually string a whole sentence together, really—at least not when we’re deciding if we’re going to get your attention. (When it comes to picking a partner to have children with, we tend to get a bit pickier.)

  All a man is concerned about when he first sees a woman is how she looks, how she’s dressed, and what she’ll look like on our arm when we’re strolling along. To us, these considerations say the following things about you:

  YOU CARE ABOUT YOURSELF

  Say your skin is a wreck, your fingernails are raggedy, your feet look like you’ve been running marathons barefoot, your hairdresser doesn’t even know your name anymore, much less style your hair, and your closet looks like it came straight from wardrobe on the set of an ’80s sitcom. What does that say about you? Nothing nice, I’ll tell you that much. To a man—hell, to anyone looking—it practically screams, “My face, my body, and my clothes are nothing special—completely unworthy of anyone’s time and attention, even my own.” However, a woman who clearly looks like she takes the time to care for her self—gets facials and manicures (or, if she can’t afford to go to the spa, creates her own spa at home), applies makeup in a way that is natural and appealing, wears a hairstyle that is flattering and clothes and shoes that are stylish—makes a statement, “I really like me, and you should know by looking at me that I do.” Men appreciate women who value themselves, because it generally means that those women are happy with who they are and place a premium on their self-worth. We don’t mind telling you you’re beautiful, for sure. But if we’re going to be in a relationship with you, we don’t want to have to be responsible for you liking you. That’s way too much work for any one man to assume, and rather than imagine ourselves doing all that heavy lifting, we’ll just move on to the woman who looks like she can handle caring for and about herself on her own.

  YOU CARE ABOUT HOW YOU LOOK IN A MAN’S EYES

  Say you are the woman at the club in the dress that’s a little too tight, the top that’s a little too low-cut, the makeup that’s a little too loud, the hair that’s a little too big and obviously fake, and the platform shoes that are a little too high. Oh, you might draw some serious attention dressed that way. But I can guarantee you that the men who will approach you have made some simple calculations in their heads: two Long Island ice teas + three dances + a couple of half-planned, zero-effort dates = a hasty romp in the hay, without any commitment from me. That woman will have men throwing her into the “sports fish/throwback” category so quickly her bedazzled hair weave will spin. Remember what I said in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man about the “sports fish”? She’s the one who sends off the signal that she h
as absolutely no rules, requirements, or respect for herself and that we men can treat her any old way, with absolutely no effort to make our connection permanent or long-lasting. In fact, the only thing we’ll see in that woman is a hint of desperation, extreme tackiness, and a flashing neon sign on her head that’ll blink, “One Night Only!”—as in, once that night of fun is over, we don’t have to be bothered with her ever again. The woman who dresses sloppy sends signals too: men will assume that (a) you are incapable of fixing yourself up, that you don’t know how to make yourself look hot and, quite possibly, could have some hygiene issues; (b) you don’t care how you look and you could potentially embarrass him if he’s going to introduce you to his boys or his family; and (c) you keep a nasty house. None of these things are a turn-on. None of them.

  The kind of woman we will notice and approach is a woman whose dress style is sexy/neat—which is more subtle than sexy/provocative and more engaging than just plain. A woman who looks put together and sexy—who showcases her assets without oversharing and who uses her clothes, hairstyle, and makeup to good effect—is the one who says to men, “I am beautiful, I am to be respected, and you can take me around your mother and your frat brothers without feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed.”

  YOU’LL MAKE US LOOK GOOD

  This is critically important to a man. It is one of the first things that will come into our minds when we see you—how will I describe her to my boys? How will she look on my arm at the business dinner? Or at a Yankees game? If I took her home to meet my family, how will they perceive her? In the first moments that he sees you, a man is sizing you up for the long haul—how you’ll dress when he takes you to the park, when you go to a house of worship together, when you’re out at the club or having dinner with his friends, when he takes you around his coworkers, including those who make decisions about his paychecks and promotions. We look at and evaluate everything, initially based on how you look. Without even being conscious of it per se, we are giving you the head-to-toe once-over—taking in everything from how you’ve fixed your hair, what your nails look like, how your clothes fit to what your calves look like in those heels and what your body would look like in its natural state. If you look good, we instantly start to think of you as someone with whom we might have a future, someone who’ll be part of the equation going forward. We’ve assessed that you could be the perfect fit to help us satisfy the three things most important to a man: who we are, what we do, and how much we make. This matters because appearance is everything to men; perception is reality. This is natural. It’s not taught or learned—it’s innate. Every animal has something they use to make themselves look more attractive—to look like the fiercest, most beautiful of the pack: peacocks have amazingly colorful feathers; lions have bushy, fiery manes; and elephants have long, strong tusks. We men have money and stature—a nice watch, a fancy car, an enviable job with a title. And we have our lady.

 
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