Ask Demetria: How Do I Get My Jump Off to Open Up More?



Dear Demetria:

"I’m having sex with a man that I would like to get to know better. I’m not trying to rush into anything; I would just like to be a little more knowledgeable about the person who is sexing me. I’ve invited him over when we talk, but he never comes. However, when he wants to have sex, he’ll ask me to meet him in various places, such as his mother’s house. I would like to be somewhere comfortable, but he seems at ease with risky places. I’m confused and not sure how to communicate with him. Any advice?" —Anonymous

I’m in support of single, consenting adults having all the safe, consensual sex they desire, whether it’s an established relationship or a one-night stand or a friends-with-benefits scenario. Your body and with whom you share it is your business.

That said, you’re hustling backward here. You want to get to know the person you’re sharing your body with now? That’s a matter that should have been worked out before you hopped into bed—or wherever y’all are having sex. Also, don’t lie to yourself about what you want here. You’re not having sex with this man because you only want a good time. You also want an emotional connection—hence, you’re inviting him over to talk and get to know each other.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a connection. But what is wrong is trying to use sex to get it. A lot of people make that mistake, and they quickly realize that the connection doesn’t last beyond the sexual engagement, if even then.

When you began this situation, you were offering sex with no strings attached, and he accepted. Now you’re trying to change the rules midway through the game. You have the absolute right to change your mind about what you’re looking for, and he has the absolute right to want to keep things as they are.

You have to start paying attention to what’s going on, though. This man has made it clear that he is interested only in having sex with you, not building a relationship with you. It’s why he’s never available to talk or spend time when there’s no sex involved, but he can quickly find the time and a corner in his mama’s house when he’s ready, willing and able. Is he even that available when you’reinterested in sex, or is sex also solely on his terms? I’m guessing that he isn’t, since he won’t even compromise to have sex in a place you would find “comfortable.”

You’re selling yourself way short here, hon. Not only does this guy sound uninterested in you beyond sex, but it also sounds as if he may be committed to someone else. Is it that he doesn’t have his own home in which to have sex with you? Or is it that there is someone else—his girlfriend or wife—who lives in the home he has, which is why you can’t go there?

Read the full story on The

Ask Demetria: Should I Wait 'Til His Divorce Is Final to Date?


Dear Demetria:

I’m currently in a seven-month relationship with a married man who is separated from his wife (it’ll be a year this October). They don’t live together but are co-parenting a child. I’ve met the baby, wife, immediate family as well as close friends. Also, he took me on a trip out of the country for a wedding that he and his wife were initially invited to. While I love how things are going, entering a new season (mid-20s), I am reassessing this. Should I back up because his marital status isn’t “divorced”? Let me mention that he wants one and his wife doesn’t. Or should I give it more time (two years) to see what happens? —Anonymous 

The man you are dating is married. Period. He might be separated from his wife, but he is still married to her. “Separated” does not mean “single.” You’re right to reassess this one in your new season because this is a bad situation.

You don’t realize it, but you are a rebound from his marriage. If you’ve been in a relationship with him for seven months, that means you likely met him when he’d been out of his marital home for a few months. This other woman’s husband didn’t take hardly any time to process separating from his wife before he took up with you.

Maybe he was deeply unhappy in his marriage and knows for certain that he wants out. I can fully understand that. But he still has to take the time to process the end of his marriage and assess what went wrong and the role he may have played. (It does take two.) Unless he does that, it’s impossible for him not to bring the baggage from his relationship with his wife into the relationship with you. He needs to “do his work.” You’re a distraction from that.

Also, they are still in a relationship. This isn’t like dating, where you say “It’s over,” move out and, just like that, the relationship is over. It has to be legally dissolved. Many states require a legal separation of a full year before couples can even begin divorce proceedings. There’s a reason for that. The hope is that if spouses take the time to consider their situation thoughtfully and with clear heads, they can work out their issues and reunite.

He says he wants out. His wife says otherwise, which makes this situation very messy. They have history, memories and a child together. And while the marriage is rocky, it isn’t over. He has unfinished business with his family.

It’s also not just another random woman who wants him; it’s his wife. That holds more weight than you seem to give it. At any moment, he could decide that he acted too rashly, wants to give his family another shot, and return where his wife and child are waiting with open arms. If you told me he’d been separated for years, I’d wonder what the holdup was, but I’d think that a reunion was less likely to happen (even though I know of couples who have been separated for years and worked things out). But a guy who got in a serious relationship three months after he moved out? Anything’s possible at this point.

I’m wondering why, in your mid-20s, you’re willing to take on the complications of a married man with a wife and child. What is so compelling and urgent about this relationship that you can’t wait for his divorce papers? Is there some sort of ego boost, knowing that he has a wife but he’s choosing you over her? Do you feel that he’s giving you the wife treatment because he’s taking you to events that he planned to attend with her?


Read the full story on The Root 

Ask Demetria: Should I Propose to My Man?

Screen shot of a woman proposing in a viral You Tube video.

Dear Demetria:

"A friend is considering proposing to her boyfriend. I am against it, not because of gender roles but because a man will commit to you when he is good and ready. How do you feel about women proposing to men?" —Anonymous 

In theory, I’m not against women proposing to their boyfriends. I was once a girlfriend who discussed marriage with her significant other and was anticipating a ring. It did trouble me that because I chose to abide by tradition, the entire timeline of the future we were planning together was being determined by him.

I was wondering and waiting and hoping for a ring while he was the one with the option to take action. It was one of the few times in my life when I didn’t feel like I was being an active participant in it. For women who feel a similar way, I absolutely understand why they would take the initiative to propose.

That said, I never considered proposing. I consider myself a modern woman, but in many ways I’m very old-school, and I like the idea (and romance) of a man going after what he wants and doing the asking—whether it be a first date or proposing marriage. It seemed contradictory to me to want a man who is a leader and then not let him lead by asking him to marry me. For women who want a leader type of spouse—and not every woman does—I wouldn’t recommend proposing.

But those are my thoughts. What really matters most here is how guys think about this scenario, since sometimes they are the ones being asked the big question. I asked several what they thought about being proposed to by a woman, and I’m glad I did. I’d guessed that most would find the idea emasculating, but many of the men who shared their thoughts—on the condition of anonymity— weren’t turned off.

“Women talk about ‘leaning in’ and all this empowerment stuff, yet sit around and wait and hope that their man proposes to them is the most ass-backwards thinking around,” one man responded. “You champion liberation and equality, yet feel that it’s a man’s place to propose because ‘that’s the way it should be; that’s the way it’s always been.’”

Another gentleman echoed similar sentiments: “If we’re in a mutual relationship and heading in that direction, why shouldn’t either one be able to propose the next step? I think this is another vestige of our society’s paternalistic approach to relationships. My manhood would not be threatened by this.”

He added, “All of that said, if you never in all the time we have been seeing each other reached for a dinner check, don’t all of a sudden get liberated.”

But other guys weren’t so on board. In fact, they were adamantly opposed.

“I would not want to be proposed to, and if I was, it would be indicative of a bigger problem,” one man responded. “I’d wonder if she thinks I’m a bitch, if she thinks I pussyfoot around, if she thinks she has to take control of a situation. All of that epitomizes emasculation. These are not ideas that I want my wife to have in her head about me.”

Most of the men who responded implored women to wait for a proposal. “There’s something to be said for some traditions,” one man said. “Let us have this one, please.”


Read the full article on The Root 

Ask Demetria: He Abandoned His Pregnant Ex


Dear Demetria:

"I’m talking to this guy. His recent ex is actually pregnant by him. He explained to me that he strongly felt like she tried to trap him because he told her before she got pregnant that he wasn’t ready to start a family.

When she got pregnant, he told her the best thing would be to get an abortion. He thought she did, but apparently she lied and didn’t go through with it. So he gave her the option to give it up for adoption or she could keep the baby, but he was not going to be a part of their lives. I’m guessing she agreed at first, but ultimately she changed her mind, so he finally left her. He wants to go back to school for his bachelor’s degree and become a cop.

I still don’t know how I feel about this. She gave him a choice to be a part of the baby’s life without being with her, but he still said no. I feel he’s awesome with me, but this scenario bothers me. I don’t know why. What do I do? —Anonymous

I appreciate your candor and the details you’ve provided, but honestly, you could have stopped after the first few sentences and my answer would have been about the same: No.

Why? It’s one thing to have a partner who has a child from a previous relationship. Hopefully by the time you meet that amazing co-parent, that person has sorted out his or her major issues with the ex and they’ve got a smooth operating system running.

But dating a man who has someone else pregnant? Whether or not he wants to be a father to the child, the fact remains that there is a woman out there carrying his child and he is not with her. That relationship is messy and complicated and unresolved. You don’t need the headache. Run.

The additional details are astounding, and the only thing they change about my answer is escalating it from “no” to “hell no.” You’re likely bothered by his version of events because they defy common sense and demonstrate an appalling lack of responsibility and character.

Unless there’s some far-fetched scenario in which he wore a condom to prevent getting his girlfriend pregnant and she went all Being Mary Jane and used a turkey baster to retrieve its contents in hopes of impregnating herself and it worked, this guy wasn’t “trapped.” (And if that were the scenario, he would have told you.) It’s much more likely that he and his ex had unprotected sex and she became pregnant as a result of the act that they, together, the two of them, participated in.

Even if they did have safe sex and she still became pregnant, that doesn’t absolve him of the responsibility of taking care of his child. Sex is pleasurable, and many people treat it as solely recreational, but the middle school biology fact we all have to remember is that it can also result in a child. It’s a risk all heterosexuals take when we have sex.

Ask Demetria: My Ex Is Spilling the Tea About Me on Social Media

Worried Businesswoman

Dear Demetria:

My ex is very active on social media. Whenever he is upset or annoyed with me, he writes about me in a condescending manner. He doesn't say my name, but I know it's about me because I know what's going on. So do my friends. I've asked him so many times to stop, but he won't. What do I do now? —Anonymous

When I think of this scenario, I picture the online equivalent of the current drama playing out with rapper Future, former fiance of singer Ciara. He recently had a rambling sitdown with Marc Lamont Hill at the Huffington Post, and Future attributed the breakup with Ciara to creative differences in their music and her desire to get married quickly and have a big wedding. This was after she had already given birth to their child.

He went on, giving details about his sex life with his ex, telling Hill that they had sex and prayed after, unlike what Ciara does with her current boyfriend, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, which is praying and abstaining. It was TMI and intentionally disrespectful.

Much like your ex, Future has a tea-spilling problem. Perhaps he expected viewers to empathize with his point of view, not realizing that he sounded foolish. But that was not the result. I mean, the man is throwing pubic shade on an ex that not only moved on (quickly) but upgraded to Wilson, a man who appears to treat her well (and takes her on dates to the White House).

Some of the responses to the interview, posted to my Facebook page, were brutal:

“[This] basically was a bunch of [bulls--t]. I mean, how DARE she want an actual engagement, a ring and a big wedding?? What type of crazy-arse expectations were those?? I mean, wasn't having the kid enough of a ‘prize’???”

“Stupidity is a sin. Future is so hurt & needs to have several seats. He's upset [because] she's not running behind him.”

“If he wanted to take his time marrying her, he should’ve took his time getting her pregnant.”


Fortunately for you, your ex doesn’t have a national audience. You have the option of effectively ignoring him. That means you stop checking his social media page—in fact, block it—and you tell the mutual friends who want to run back and tell you what he posts to stop informing you. You don’t want to know what he’s saying because you don’t care anymore. Let ignorance be your bliss.


Read the full response: HERE 

Ask Demetria: "How Do I Get Her Back?"

Kanye West "Heartless"

Dear Demetria:

Help me out, D. I was dating a woman long distance, and things started to head into relationship territory pretty fast (three months). I felt pressured and basically stopped hitting her up as much and being less responsive to slow things down. She reacted terribly and cut me off for being inconsistent. I was relieved at the time and let her leave, but now I regret it. She ignored me last time I tried to reach out. How can I fix this? —Anonymous

Honestly? I don’t know if you can fix this—or, if you can, that you should. You thought things were moving too fast, and you’re entirely entitled to however you felt about that. But the correct and respectful thing to do was to have a conversation about how you felt about the pace of the situation, not be passive aggressive and distance yourself from her. You seem to care now, but you’ve been disrespectful of her feelings, and your past actions demonstrate that you’re a consistently poor communicator. I can’t say that I blame her for ignoring you, given these circumstances.

I also wonder, what has changed now, and why you are suddenly interested in her again after being consistently uninterested? Are you reaching out to her because you are lonely? Bored? Or is this your ego in the sense that you’re only interested now because you reached out and she didn’t bother to respond? Do you want her back, or do you just want the satisfaction of knowing that she may want you?

I’ll be honest; if this query came from her about a guy she was dating who demonstrated that he wasn’t interested in the same way you have, I would tell her to keep it moving and don’t look back. I would advise her to know her worth and not waste her pretty on a man who has shown her how easily he can disregard her feelings and not care enough about her to respectfully say, “Hey, I like you, but this is moving too fast for me,” or even, “Hey, this isn’t working for me.”

If you had said that to her, she might have been disappointed by your perspective, but at least she would have seen that you cared enough about how she felt to communicate like an adult. Because you had treated her feelings with respect, there would have been a better opportunity for you to circle back if you were ever willing to rekindle something with her in the future.

Read more: here 

Ask Demetria: "I’m Considering Lipo, but My Boyfriend Hates the Idea!"


Dear Demetria:

I’ve lost 40 pounds and have 20 more that I would like to lose. I love my body, but I have a trouble area that will not budge with exercise and clean eating. I have decided to get liposuction if I lose the rest of the weight and the area still hasn’t budged. I feel like this is reasonable, and I don’t consider it “cheating.”

I have a consultation scheduled, and my boyfriend does not approve. He believes I don’t need it and I’m just not working out enough or doing the right exercises. I just don’t think he understands. I know it's my body and I still plan to go through with it, but I want him to be on board and support me. How do I get him to understand? —Anonymous

First, congratulations on taking control of your health and putting in the work to get the results you want. With a lot of discipline and certainly some major lifestyle changes, you’ve accomplished a great feat. I’m proud of you.

Most people would consider the approach that you’re taking to be quite reasonable. After working to lose a considerable amount of weight, you want to be happy with what you see in the mirror. You’ve committed to losing another 20, and given your past progress, there’s no reason to believe you won’t reach your goal. You’ve decided to make your final evaluation once you’ve met your weight-loss goals. That’s a responsible way to approach the surgery.

It’s also nice that you’ve shared your thoughts with your boyfriend, but unfortunate that he’s not on board. It would be great if he were more supportive of your possible surgery, but the truth is, you can’t force him to be. He has his own ideas of what he finds attractive—or not—and he’s entitled to that, just as you are. The good news is that you don’t need his permission to move forward, and your opinion on your own body trumps his ... by far.

But you would like him to get on board with your idea. I get it. Try getting to the real issue of what he’s afraid of, because it’s likely deeper than “I just don’t think you need it.” There have been reports in the news of people dying or having major complications as a result of cosmetic or elective surgery. Cases like Kanye West’s mother, Donda West, as well as Tameka Raymond and Joan Rivers, come to mind. Perhaps sharing the research you’ve done to pick a qualified surgeon would help ease his concerns. It may also make him more comfortable if you invite him to meet your surgeon during your consultation so he can make his own evaluation of him or her and ask questions of his own about the procedure.

Another common concern when a mate loses weight or drastically alters his or her appearance is the fear that the partner will become more attractive to others, which may be a threat to the relationship. Or there’s a fear that the partner who has made the changes will want to upgrade to someone more attractive than his or her current partner.

Read the full story: here 


UPDATE: The original poster wrote in recently, "Lipo OP: Hey, Belle. I had another convo with bf & he said he would be down with whatever made me happy. I still felt like he was just telling me what I wanted to hear & didn't fully understand. I started researching doctors & had my first consultation yesterday & it turns out I have a considerable amount of loose skin that has to be removed/tightened when I lose the remaining weight. I was bummed that it was worse than I thought & bummed about the price so I showed bf the pics from my appointment. It really sealed the deal for him because he really paid attention & saw that I wasn't overreacting. He congratulated me on losing so much weight & told me that WE would get some more opinions & to not let it bring me down ! THANKS FOR THE ADVICE!"

Shaming Your Kid Online is Cyberbullying


There’s yet another viral video of a black parent publicly shaming her child.

In this one, a 12-year-old boy named Terrence, who came home smelling like marijuana, got a “George Jefferson” haircut from his stepmom. To make matters worse, the stepmom, Aaliyah Hines, found out that he also failed the seventh grade and will have to repeat it next year. In the caption for the video that was posted to Hines’ Facebook page, she said she’s selling his Jordans. He also won’t be sleeping in his new bed, he’s going to summer school and she’s sending him to stay with her mom. Oh, and she promised to give him that George Jefferson haircut again the following week.

“I don’t ever want your hairline to grow back,” she said to him in the video. “You’re going to be looking like your grandpa.” Apparently he’ll be looking like an old man for a while.

I’m not bothered so much by the punishment part of it. Jordans are a luxury, not a necessity. And sending the kid to Grandma? Well, maybe she’ll actually do a better job staying on top on his schoolwork this summer. It’s not lost on me that it’s close to the end of the school year, and the stepmom (the biological mother and father aren’t seen in the video), despite yelling to the camera that her son is “going to get this work,” has just discovered in the final hour that the child has failed.

The punishments are what they are, but what I take issue with is the “whole world” knowing about it. It’s one thing to screw up and be punished, even embarrassed, but it’s quite another to know that there is an everlasting video telling millions of people what you’ve done, and one that they’ll be able to pull up anytime.

When I viewed Hines’ video Tuesday night on her Facebook page, there were 1.1 million views. By Thursday morning, it had 7.2 million. Hines seems very proud of herself, performing for the camera as she chastises her son, including shaving his head as he sits there pathetically. I think she expects the whole audience to cheer her on, applauding her for being like the much-hailed Baltimore momwho stormed a street protest to snatch up and smack down her son. But really, I felt awful for the child.

Did he deserve to be punished? Absolutely. Did he deserve to be publicly humiliated for an audience of millions? Absolutely not. If anyone other than a parent uploaded a video to humiliate another person this way, especially a teenager, it would be called cyberbullying. If the child willfully participated in this act as part of a group initiation ceremony, it would be called hazing. But because it’s a parent humiliating a child on camera and posting it online, we’re supposed to celebrate this as a new, effective model of parenting?

Read more: HERE

Ask Demetria: I Moved, and He's Not Ready to Marry Me

Do know that waiting is an option, not a requirement Dear Demetria:

I have been with my boyfriend for almost three years in a long-distance relationship. In January I moved to his city to be with him. We have talked about getting married in the future. But I’m super frustrated that almost six months into living together, he hasn’t proposed yet. I try not to bring it up, but I can’t help it. Then it turns into an argument about how he isn’t ready yet, etc. My question is, how do I keep sane while I have to sit in this waiting limbo period? It is consuming me! —Anonymous

This is a hard one to conveniently “fix” because there have been a lot of missteps along the way that led to this point. Your situation will be hard, but not impossible, to neatly unravel. If it makes you feel better, this is a surprisingly common conundrum. Also, you do know that waiting is a choice you’ve made. He’s not making you do that. You do not have to wait. Own the choice you’ve made to do so.

That said, you two have been in a long-distance relationship for a significant amount of time. At nearly three years, it was time to figure out, “What are we doing here?”

It seems that there was a desire from both of you to be together in the same city. But it also seems that you were both so caught up in the romance and the excitement of finally being together that you overlooked, or avoided, some important detailed conversations about where this relationship is headed and when. You’re now both learning this information on the back end, when it’s the most inconvenient and frustrating for the both of you.

It’s great that you and your partner had a conversation about wanting to be married to each other before you moved, but as you’re finding, the timeline for that matters. A lot. You’ve made a big sacrifice by packing up and moving to a new city—likely leaving your friends, maybe family, and a job behind. You’re looking for a reward, of sorts, for doing that.

I don’t fault you for feeling that way. But since that was your outlook, you should have relayed it clearly to your partner before you quit your job and opted not to renew your lease so that you knew exactly what situation you were moving into—or not—and could manage your expectations and relationship accordingly.

Read more: here 

Ask Demetria: My Ex Won't Visit Our Daughter Unless I Have Sex With Him

Black Mother and child.

Dear Demetria:

I am currently single and dealing with the father of my daughter. We were never in a formal relationship, but he refuses to see our daughter unless there is sex involved. He also has other children, with multiple women, whom he sees and acknowledges. I don’t want anything to do with him, but my daughter needs her father. What do I do? —Anonymous 

The father of your child has opted not to play a role in your daughter’s life unless he can get something out of it—namely, sex with you. That’s a really unfortunate stance that he’s taken. But no, you should not have sex with a man you “don’t want anything to do with” in exchange for him fulfilling his responsibilities as a father. Mothers make sacrifices for their kids, of course. But this is asking entirely too much.

He should be present because he’s her father, period, not because there’s quid pro quo where he gets a treat for doing what he’s supposed to. Tell him flatly that sex with him is no longer an option. He may choose not to come around anymore; and as sorry as that will make him as a man and father, and as sad as it may make your daughter, do know that his absence in your daughter’s life will not be your fault. You’re not telling him not to come around; you’re telling him that he no longer has sexual access to you. His absence will be solely on him. He will be making the choice not to be a part of her life, not you.

What your daughter needs is a father who is actually invested in her well-being and who genuinely cares about her. Her current father isn’t demonstrating this if he will spend time with her only when he is enticed with sex from you. Even though he may be present in her life now, present isn’t enough.

Your daughter doesn’t just need a father; she needs a good father. And by no one’s definition would her biological father’s current actions count as being a good father. Also know that what your daughter needs, too, is a mom who respects herself.

Read more: HERE 

Ask Demetria: He Wants A Paternity Test for Our Child!

One of Maury's infamous paternity test segments.

Dear Demetria:

I've been in a relationship for three years. We moved in together after I got pregnant, and our son is now 2 months old. I've never been unfaithful. He cheated early on. He said he wants a paternity test. I'm positive that our son is his, and I'm offended that he would question if he is the father.WWBD? —Anonymous

I get why you're offended. His asking for a paternity test implies that he has some doubts about being the father and that you may have been having sex with someone else—and, worse, doing so unprotected. In so many words, he's saying that he doesn't really trust you. Because you've mentioned his infidelity all these years later, I'm guessing that it's still a sore spot for you, despite the fact that you stayed with him. You've got to be thinking, "Hold up. You cheated and I didn't leave, and then you come through with this?!"

I'm sure you're angry. You have a right to be. And I'm sure that he knew you would be, but he asked anyway. I get why he did. Stories abound about men who believed a child to be theirs biologically, only to discover later that the child was not, sometimes after years of paying child support. This is a great fear of many men, and although it's exploited for amusement on talk shows like Maury, it's not entirely unfounded.

Some years ago, The Atlantic ran a story by Steve Olson on "nonpaternity events," the geneticist's term for a guy who may be a father, but not biologically.

"[Geneticists] rarely publish their findings, but the numbers are common knowledge within the genetics community,” Olson wrote. "In graduate school, genetics students typically are taught that 5 to 15 percent of the men on birth certificates are not the biological fathers of their children. In other words, as many as one of every seven men who proudly carry their newborn children out of a hospital could be a cuckold." A later New York Times story on paternity testing included a statistic that said 30 percent of men who question whether they are the father are actually right to question.

So yeah, it's not entirely unheard of for some women to lie or be mistaken about the paternity of their child. I get why an unmarried man, even one who actually trusts his partner, would ask for a test in order to be doubly sure for his own peace of mind.

Here's another rub: In some cases, even when the man discovers that the child isn't biologically his, after years of paying support, not only doesn't he get a refund for the money spent on someone else's biological child, but he is also mandated to continue paying. In other cases, men have been forced to pay just because their partner put their name on the birth certificate, even though DNA proved that the child wasn't theirs.

Beyond finances, it's also emotionally devastating to find out that a child you thought was "yours," biologically speaking, is not.


Read more: here 

Ask Demetria UPDATE: #Justthetip

A controversial ad that ran in NYC subways.

Dear Demetria:

You told us to cool out before things went too far. They did, and now we’re in trouble. I got her pregnant. Now she wants me to tell her dad by myself. I’m not talking to bruh by myself. He’s a big dude, like black man from The Green Mile big. He might break my damn legs, and I need these legs. What do I do? —Anonymous

I remember your story. You sent a query to Ask Belle about three months ago to say that you “accidentally” took your girlfriend’s virginity and she was mad.

You wrote this:

I swear it was a weird accident. My girl wants to wait until marriage. In the meantime, we do everything but penetration. Last night, we humping. I got her legs on my shoulder and I’m moving. I made a wrong move or something. The next thing I know I’m in. But not all the way in, just the tip. My girl starts screaming and punching me. She’s asking me what did I just do. She telling me I ruined her virginity and this wasn’t how she wanted to lose it. I feel like [s--t], man. Unfixable or nah? P.S.: I love her.

After a bit of back-and-forth, I learned that you were both 18 and high school seniors, and neither one of you had received a proper sex talk. Her parents are super religious and had simply admonished her not to have sex. (Dear parents: This is not effective.) They didn’t discuss with her how to manage her sexual urges, other than to pray about it.

I—and several readers on social media—wrote in to support you after you and your girlfriend shared your story. Everyone reading had once been a sexually excited teenager, and very few of us were given the proper information about how to protect ourselves from accidental pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. We learned by trial and error. We tried to have the conversation with you and your girlfriend that we didn’t get from our parents.

We told you then that whatever you two chose to call what y’all were doing, you needed to wear a condom (or at least underwear) while doing it. We didn’t tell you not to have sex, which would have been unrealistic, since the average American loses his or her virginity at age 17. We told you how to protect yourself. We were rooting for you both, man.

Your girlfriend’s pregnancy may have you feeling as if it’s the end of the world. It isn’t. I promise. But this is a big deal. You’re scared—as you should be—and not just of your girlfriend’s father, whom you should have thought about when you weren’t using a condom. You and your girlfriend just took on a major responsibility, the magnitude of which I’m not sure you fully grasp just yet. Starting now, and for at least the next 18 years (really, for the rest of your life), you’re both in this together.

The upside of this togetherness, however, is that you’re not required to tell her father alone. I’m positive that there were two people actively involved who resulted in her pregnancy. So either both of you inform her father together, or she tells her father alone, since it’s her father.

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Stop Celebrating Toya Graham While Condemning Protestors

"Hero Mom" Toya Grahama, and her 16 year old son, Michael Even before Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother of six who was captured on video “disciplining” her son, began making the news rounds, she was already being hailed as a hero.

The video of her dragging her 16-year-old son, Michael, who was throwing rocks at police, from Baltimore’s melee and slapping him repeatedly in the face had gone viral. Commenters e-applauded her for “doing what any good mother would do.” Some called her “mother of the year.”

I’m part of the contingent that doesn’t think Graham was right. I was a kid who got hit, and I’m in the camp that striking another person—especially a child—in anything other than self-defense is wrong. Countless studies have concluded that hitting your children doesn’t make them better, responsible people. After seeing Graham’s reaction—admittedly one born out of anger and fear—I’m not surprised that her son has a similar reaction to anger and fear: violence. The lessons you get at home are the habits you take “abroad.”

I absolutely don’t think that she handled it the best way, but I think it was the best way she knew how in the moment. While I have the luxury of sitting at my laptop debating the moral quandary of it all a few days later, Graham didn’t have that same luxury when she spotted her son in a crowd of protesters. She wasn’t thinking philosophically or about what bystanders would say or whether there were cameras rolling or whether her actions would soon be viewed by an audience watching on their cellphones.

She was reacting as she thought about her son getting himself killed by police out in the streets of Baltimore. She told CBS News, “I didn’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,” referring to the 25-year-old man who died after he was seriously injured under suspicious circumstances while in police custody. Graham’s fear for her son if he was anywhere near the police, much less antagonizing them, has merit.

Graham was scared and she was admittedly angry. Her only son was putting himself in harm’s way, and undoubtedly she was desperate to protect him. Graham, as she describes it, “lost it.” I won’t condemn Graham’s reaction.

But I will point out the hypocrisy of people who applaud Graham and yet condemn Baltimore’s protesters, who have been called “thugs” and “animals” and everything but a child of God, when their reactions and Graham’s are one and the same.

Just like Graham, the people in the streets of Baltimore are also scared and fearful and desperate. Graham is using all her might to “discipline” her child, who is taller and, likely, physically stronger than she is. There are citizens throwing rocks at police officers with guns. These are means of last resort because they have all “lost it.”


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Ask Demetria: "I asked my husband to move his former wife's urn."

"Why don't you love me?"

"My husband’s first wife died. They had two kids. We live in his house. He keeps his wife’s urn in the living room. I requested that “she” be moved, and he and the kids are upset. Am I wrong?" —Anonymous

So when it comes to relationships, it’s not always about right or wrong. Sometimes it’s “Am I happy, and/or is my partner happy?” Or “How do I keep or restore peace and get my needs met, too?”

But if you want an answer in terms of rightness or wrongness, I don’t think you’re inherently wrong for asking. I do think it’s a sensitive subject that you may not have handled in the best way.

For starters, I’m not sure why the kids were involved in this discussion, given its sensitive nature. This should have been a subject that you broached with your husband and worked out between the two of you and then approached the kids as a united front. That would have gone over better than having you—whom they may not have taken to as a second mother yet—approach the topic with them on your own.

I also think that while you’ve chosen to focus on the urn, the urn isn’t really your issue. You used some interesting language to refer to the home you live in with your husband: “his.” You’re married. You live there with your husband and stepchildren, to whom you are a full-time mom. It’s curious tome that you don’t consider your dwelling your home. But I can also understand how that could be.

You moved into a home that your spouse once shared with his previous wife. Unless he and the kids did some major renovations and interior decorating, that house has his ex-wife’s stamp on the furniture, the decor and maybe even the dishes (hopefully y’all got a new bed). If this is the case, I’m not surprised you don’t consider the place “ours.”

I’m choosing to believe that you’re a reasonable person. And I’m going to guess, based on your query, that you may feel overshadowed by the memory of a deceased woman, which is understandable.

If you feel that your new family isn’t making room for you in their lives, then that needs to be addressed, not just the urn. The urn is just a symbol of a larger issue, and even if it’s moved to a place where you don’t have to see it daily, your feeling of being an outsider won’t change.

When you asked about moving the urn, your family didn’t hear “There’s not enough room for me here.” They heard, “You don’t respect my ex-wife and our mother.” Given that, I get why they are mad.

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Nairobi, Kenya

I knew maybe three things about Kenya when my plane landed in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in late February: The traffic was awful in Nairobi; it was a “party city,” with the good times rolling as late—or, er, as early—as 9 a.m.; and in 2013, the city’s most upscale mall, Westgate, suffered a four-day siege by the Somali Islamist terrorist group al-Shabab. It’s the same group that attacked Kenya’s Garissa University College on Good Friday, killing 148 people.

Of the few things I knew, I knew the most about the mall tragedy. One Saturday afternoon when I had somewhere to be, I sat glued to HBO watching Terror at the Mall, a documentary about the siege.

So why go to Kenya, given its history of terrorism? If I were afraid of terrorists, I wouldn’t live in America, certainly not in New York City. Terrorism in Kenya was the least of my concerns when I booked my ticket in December. A friend had sent me a link to a glitch fare from New York to Nairobi. A plane ticket that would usually cost around $800 was only $250, including taxes. I’d never been to East Africa, and the pictures of Nairobi captured my interest. That was enough for me, but not for my mother, who couldn’t think of anything but my safety. She stopped just short of begging me not to get on the plane.

“They blow up malls over there!” she (inaccurately) pointed out when I called her from the airport.

“They threatened to blow up the Mall of America, too!” I countered from the bar.

Neither she nor I knew that the “they” we alluded to were the same group: al-Shabab.


Two days later I arrived in Kenya at 7:00 a.m. My first thought walking out of the airport? “It smells like 9/11.” I’d lived five blocks away from the World Trade Center back then, and after the buildings fell, and for months after, everywhere below 14th Street in Manhattan had this weird smell, kind of like burnt metal and something else I’ve never been able to identify. It’s a distinct smell that I would know anywhere. And there it was in Nairobi. Weird.

The traffic was worse than what I’d been told. Nairobi traffic is like rush hour in Atlanta and Los Angeles combined. Based on the distance, it should have taken maybe 30 minutes to get from the airport to my hotel. It took two hours.

We pulled up to the gate of the Hilton, a landmark of sorts. Three guards surrounded the car, peering in first, then asked the driver to pop the trunk for inspection before we were allowed onto the property. Before I was allowed to enter the hotel, my bags went through an X-ray machine and I went through a metal detector.

More or less, this was the procedure everywhere I went in the city center of Nairobi. Every big hotel has an X-ray machine, and every mall entrance has at least a guard who scans everyone up and down before they’re allowed to enter. Security guards stand at the entrances to some, but not all, restaurants. As I walked the streets, it was common to see guards holding what looked to me like vintage versions of the AK-47 I shot at a gun range once. The heightened security—heightened in comparison with America—should have made me feel safer, but I actually wondered how big a problem terrorism was, whether I was safe and whether I should have listened to my mother.

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Ask Demetria: "I Accidentally Exposed My Partner to an STD!"

Girl, what?

Dear Demetria:

I started talking to this guy and he was great—everything I could ask for and more. There’s just one problem: I have a sexually transmitted disease, and I was completely embarrassed and scared to tell him, especially after the way I have been treated in the past. I kept it to myself and continued to take care of myself.

One night, we were messing around and he went inside raw and my heart dropped. I told him about the STD the next day and all hell broke loose. I cry every night, and now that we don’t speak anymore, I have this cloud over my head because I miss him and wish this wasn’t my life. Should I call him or continue to give him his space?” —Anonymous

Give him his space.

I sympathize with how upset you are. You’re embarrassed about your sexually transmitted infection, which is a common feeling. And when you’ve been up-front with potential partners in the past, you’ve encountered a lot of rejection from people that you cared for and wanted to be accepted by. I understand why you would be scared to divulge your health status to new partners.

But you have to understand that your fear isn’t a valid excuse to put someone else’s health at risk, which is what you’ve done in this instance. You’ve indicated that you really care for this man, but what you’ve done says otherwise. It’s actually quite selfish. And scary.

Sex doesn’t just happen. There’s a buildup to it. You knew you had an STD that you hadn’t told him about when you began removing your clothes. But instead of spoiling the moment by stopping and explaining—which actually would have showed you cared for your partner by allowing him to make an informed decision about sex—you robbed him of that opportunity. Even just asking him to wear a condom would have been better than remaining silent.

I will assume that you apologized to him the next day when you told him about your STD and “all hell broke loose.” If you’ve done that, there’s no need to call him now.

But as you’re contemplating this event and seemingly still hoping that things can work out between you two in the long run, I wonder if you fully understand how awful this situation is. Good health is priceless, and you put his at risk. You’ve demonstrated to him in a very fundamental way that he cannot trust you. While I know you want him back, he would be very foolish to return—or even pick up the phone—given this set of circumstances. To be clear: It’s not because you have an incurable STD—but because you lied to him by omission and put him at risk.

There’s something else you should consider here: getting tested. You weren’t in a committed relationship with this man, and you two had obviously not been tested together, or he would have known about your STD. Something else that’s obvious is that he’s OK with having condomless sex with women he’s not even in a committed relationship with. Who knows how many other women he’s had sex with without a condom and what he may have been exposed to and exposed you to? Having one STD doesn’t prevent you from getting other ones.



Ask Demetria: "My BF Doesn't Want to Spend His Birthday With Me!"

A bromance birthday?

Dear Demetria:

"I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost a year. It’s our first time spending our birthdays with each other. I was planning something for his birthday, but he told me he might go out of town with his friends. I told him it was fine because it’s his birthday and he can spend it how he wants.

"But I feel a way about it because he’s made several trips with friends since we’ve been together, and we haven’t had the chance to take one trip together because of conflicting work and school schedules. I feel he should spend his birthday with me. I also feel that if his plans with his friends don’t go through, I’m just his fallback plan.

"He says he really wants to spend it with me but wants to travel internationally while he has time off from school. He suggested we could celebrate our birthdays together when mine happens two weeks later. Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Should I just let it go?"


I understand your frustration with your boyfriend’s choices, but you have to take some accountability for your own frustration. You made plans for your boyfriend’s birthday without checking with him first.

In fairness to you, most couples do tend to spend their birthdays—and major holidays—together. But instead of assuming that was the case with your boyfriend, you should have told him you wanted to spend the day together before you started making plans. That’s on you.

What’s also on you is that when he told you he made plans with friends, you were disappointed and didn’t say so. You had put some effort into celebrating the day and spending it with him. When he told you he was thinking of spending the day with his friends, instead of pretending that it was OK, you should have said, “Hey, I was hoping to spend the day with you. I’ve been making plans.”

Not speaking up is on you. Because you didn’t say anything, your boyfriend is walking around thinking everything is A-OK. It would be awesome if your boyfriend were a mind reader or more considerate, but he isn’t. So you have to tell him when you’re unhappy if you actually want him to address your unhappiness.

There’s another issue at play. You have made it a priority to spend your time with someone who isn’t doing the same for you. Putting you on the back burner while he spends time with his friends seems to be a regular occurrence. It says a lot about how he feels about you.

I’ll give you a nugget of wisdom that was told to me and has served me well: People make time and space for what’s important to them. Given what you’ve said about your boyfriend in your query, I’m not sure how important you are to him.

I’ll give you another nugget: Don’t make a priority of someone who only makes you an option. You feel like a fallback plan on his birthday because you are.

I’ve had birthdays that I wanted to spend alone or wanted to travel. I also recognized that I was in a relationship and that I would alienate my partner and likely hurt his feelings. One year I spent the entire day alone at the beach, and after the sun went down we had dinner. Another year I had dinner with him and left for vacation the day after my birthday. These are the “sacrifices” committed people make for each other.


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Ask Demetria: "My Man Doesn't Like My Natural Hair"

Lupita has short hair that no one complains about.

Dear Demetria:

I did a big chop yesterday. I sent a picture to my live-in fiance, who is the father to my 2-year-old daughter. He responded that I looked crazy and that he doesn’t like short hair. When I got home, he asked me if I was going for the lesbian look. I asked him if I needed to ask him for permission to cut my hair. Now what? —Anonymous

Oh, dear.

Hopefully this can be fixed. And by “this” I mean the discord in your relationship, not your hair. For clarity, there’s nothing wrong with wearing your hair natural, and your hair doesn’t need fixing. There’s also nothing wrong with short hair.

Despite your mate’s ignorant comment, it’s not an outward sign to sensible people that you’re a lesbian, although it does seem to be a popular point of view somehow. I’ve been natural on and off since I was 16 and have done five big chops. I’ve heard commentary about being a lesbian each time. It’s profoundly ignorant. Don’t people know there are lesbians with long hair? Or better, don’t they realize how basic it is to intertwine hair and sexuality?

Anyway, it seems you’ve made a big mistake here, not in cutting off your perm, but in not discussing your decision with your mate. You didn’t have to get “permission” for your decision, but you should have had a discussion with him before drastically altering your appearance. He needed a heads-up, just as, if he had locks or facial hair, you probably would want to know before he cut them or shaved, since he would come home (or out of the bathroom) looking very different from the last time you saw him.

There should have been a chat that went something like, “Hey, babe. I’m thinking about getting rid of my perm and cutting my hair short. What do you think about that?” He could have filled you in on his thoughts. Even if he didn’t like the idea, you would have known what you were walking into beforehand, and both of you would have been better equipped to deal with it when you cut your hair short.

Perhaps you could have waited and grown your natural hair out a little longer before you did the big chop. Or you could have cut your hair in stages so that a short haircut wouldn’t have been so jarring to him. But that conversation didn’t happen, and you were both blindsided—him by your decision, and you by his reaction.

He’s not out of line to be shocked by a drastic change, but I’m concerned about how he handled his dismay. If he doesn’t like your hair, so be it. He’s entitled to have his own opinion. But insulting your appearance by saying you looked “crazy” and questioning your sexuality were way out of line. Does he frequently speak to you this way when he’s upset? That’s the real issue here, not your hair.

But back to what you asked: “Now what?” Explain to him why you cut your hair. Maybe it was for the health of your hair, maybe you were over the expense (and pain) of perming. Maybe you’re over buying into mainstream culture’s beauty standards. Or maybe you just think natural is on trend. Whatever the reason, offer it up. Perhaps understanding your rationale will help him come to terms with your choice. (I’m hoping if he’s your live-in fiance and father of your child, he’s a rationale man, even if in this instance he hasn’t demonstrated it thus far.)

After that, add that you understand he’s not onboard (perhaps yet?) with your hair, but it’s absolutely not OK to insult you or your hair, no matter how much he disapproves. He certainly wouldn’t be OK with you insulting his appearance, especially when he would probably be feeling vulnerable after a big change.

Depending on how much you value his attraction to you, you do have options for your natural hair. You can experiment with hair products and colors. You can grow your hair out. You can also wear protective styles such as wigs or weaves or braids. Or if your intent is “just” to wear your hair as it is currently, you can continue to maintain it as is, and he will have to get over it.


Ask Demetria: My BFF Isn't Happy for My Pregnancy


Dear Demetria:

My best friend and I were living together when I met my boyfriend. When I became pregnant, he started to stay over every night because I got off work late and he was concerned for my safety. She started to become very distant and eventually moved out.

After she left, she called to say that we should split the remaining bills three ways because my boyfriend was always there while I was at work. Needless to say, I told her I wasn’t interested in being friends anymore. I also felt like she wasn’t happy for me to have a baby, which always pissed me off. Am I wrong? —Anonymous

Yes, you are wrong, entirely and unequivocally. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are so excited about, focused on and consumed with this pending baby that you’ve become distracted and dropped the ball.

Take a step back for a moment and consider this scenario from your best friend’s perspective. She and her bestie moved in together with hopes of having a fun bachelorette pad. You get a boyfriend soon thereafter, which isn’t a bad thing, and then you became pregnant. Life happens. But she signed on for two adults to live together. Not you and your man and a crying newborn.

Having a boyfriend is fine. But having him there “every night”? Not so much. Every time she wanted to run from the bedroom to the kitchen or the bedroom to the bathroom, she had to throw on some pants or a robe, lest she flash her goods to your man. It meant that when she came home from work, she couldn’t just chill out, braless, in front of the TV to enjoy Scandal. It meant that she had to turn up the stereo to drown out the sound of you and your man getting it on. It meant that she couldn’t ever just be comfortable in her own home anymore, unless she was secluded in her room. That’s no way to live.

If your man was at the house “every night” and, if she is to be believed, was also there while you were at work—did you give him a key?—that means he lived there. You moved him in as the third roommate without discussing it with your roommate. If you wanted to cover his bills, so be it. But you had your friend picking up your man’s financial slack. And you started a family while you were living down the hall and said nothing to her about it. That’s why she was distant. The baby didn’t have anything to do with it.

Now, about your boyfriend. I’m concerned about your situation.

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Ask Demetria: The Mother of His Child Wants to Come to Our Wedding


Dear Demetria:

I’m getting married later this year. My fiance’s son is in the wedding and reception, and his mother wants to come to the reception. I said "yes" to the wedding, but she and I aren’t friends. No hard feelings toward her, I just don’t want her at my reception. My fiance said it’s not a big deal. How to handle this? —Anonymous

There’s no “right” answer here. I’ve thought about it a lot, and even I can’t settle on one. Let me present you with some ideas to consider that may help you make a final decision.

First, I don’t get why the ex would want to come to the wedding. It’s not for the kid, no matter how old he is. His father is present, and since it’s a wedding where his father is the groom, there likely will be grandparents, aunts and uncles and maybe even godparents present—i.e., plenty of family and “like family” people to watch over the child. So safety isn’t a valid concern, and surely the child has been alone with his father before.

Maybe this is some sort of closure for her? If she still has feelings for her ex, it could be like when a casket is closed at the funeral. Maybe there’s another way of looking at this. She may be over her child’s father, and her asking to attend the wedding is her way of showing support for the union—and for you, as the soon-to-be stepmother of her child. Not all exes sit around pining for what was.

The ex has been bold enough to ask for an invite, which is supremely bad etiquette. So you should be bold enough to ask her why she wants to come. Don’t be rude, but do be curious. It is a valid question.

Speaking of etiquette, it’s also rude to extend an invite to the wedding but not the reception. “If you invite someone to your wedding, they should be a part of the entire event,” says Lauren Beamon of Elle’s Couture Events (who was also my wedding planner). “Inviting someone to just the ceremony and not the entire wedding is like asking someone to come to a dinner party but telling them they can’t have dinner.”

But beyond the rudeness—and maybe you don’t mind being such on your wedding day—the ceremony is actually the sacred part of the wedding events. The reception is a celebration. You don’t know why your fiance’s ex wants to attend (which is why you should ask, to judge her motives), but on the off chance that she has some ill intentions, what you really don’t want is someone with bad energy sitting there and sending bad juju while she witnesses your vows—or, better yet, objecting to them when the minister asks.

Maybe you’re concerned about paying for her plate at the reception, or just unwilling to do so on general principle. Maybe you just don’t want her there because she’s an ex. I get that, especially the latter reason. But if you’re going to invite her to any part of the festivities, opt for the reception over the ceremony. The ceremony is really the part you need to have go off without a hitch.


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