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Dope Dating Advice with Kerry Neal: Pride and Ego

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Fontana, CA — This video clip shows a Black man and a Black woman going through the motions of a first date and getting to know one another. It was taken from the show “Ready to Love” on the OWN network. Now, admittedly, I haven’t watched the entire episode, nor do I regularly tune in. However, I thought this exchange was provocative and felt the need to share my thoughts.

Now, the clip was edited, so we don’t have the full range of the entire conversation; however, the parts shown appeared to provide enough insight into the gist of the interaction.

So, these two people exchanged fielding questions with one another, and apparently, the guy, in a fun way, asked her to select between one concept or another, just getting a feel for who she was. He asked, “Black or white, beach or book, etc. I think you grasp the idea of what he was doing. And, from their debrief, she seemed to enjoy the inquiry.

Then, he asked her, “Choked or smacked.”

She responded, “I’m not willing to answer that question.”

As the two debriefed about their exchange, she did appear to like him but was CLEARLY taken back AND offended by the question, which she felt was inappropriate. The guy then says, “How did this conversation get twisted into something sexual?” Her response was classic: “Those words of “choked” and “smacked” woven together would be interpreted to be sexual by most of the world. If we don’t change this subject, I will end this date!”  With an initial look of regret in his eyes, which she clearly notices, he begins to respond and says, “Look, OK—I think this conversation has gotten a bit intense…” Pause: it sounds like he’s about to apologize about the comment so they can move on. And oh—not that this makes a big difference, but the woman the guy has encountered is amazingly attractive.

Anyway, I digress.

The next words are what inspired this article. He responded, “…but if you would have given me the respect to clarify what I meant…” Pause: Then the woman sips her drink again, picks up her purse, and walks off the set—end of date.

Here is the personification of ego on display. But before we go on, let’s define what an ego is:

Dictionary.com says this about ego: A person’s sense of their worth. For example, someone with a large ego thinks they are very important and valuable. Synonyms for ego would be self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect, and self-image. Most of the time, they are a force for good – especially in a business environment where individual talent, ambition, and confidence are major factors in a company’s success.

But you better believe there are times when an inflated ego can have a destructive effect. Like, during this date. Instead of swallowing his pride and saying, “My apologies—I might have gone a bit too far with my questions. If you don’t mind, let’s strike that from the record and continue our amazing conversation.” But noooooo—homey went on to flex on camera and stand his ground, and the beautiful kept her word and abruptly ended the date. Good for her. Talk about boundaries!

While it is a great thing to have a positive and balanced view of self and self-worth, if a person says they are offended, particularly when you’re trying to build a potential relationship with them, what does it take from you to say that you are sorry?

Although I am focused on men right now, this certainly has application to women as well. Relinquishing your pride and ego is okay when navigating a relationship’s nuances. Unfortunately, we live in a time when asking for forgiveness or giving grace is perceived as an act of weakness.

Here are a few tips when getting to know someone—or just in a relationship and building deeper intimacy:

  1. When a person says they are offended, it’s not about you—take it as a way of the person saying, “This is how I like to be loved and appreciated.” This has nothing to do with your intentions. Acknowledge the infraction and move on, but also go deeper and inquire, “What’s a better way to handle this in the future that celebrates you?”
  2. Stepping back from a pending argument signifies personal restraint and maturity. Sometimes, it will feel like you are “losing” when you decide not to spar. However, it helps to provide a safe space for a person to disclose more because of the willingness to back away.
  3. You’re not competing -you’re in a relationship (or seeking one). This is classic and common. It’s like muscle memory for many of us. It’s almost as if we are on guard in a getting-to-know phase, waiting for the self-fulfilling prophecy. We anticipate the negative and are surprised by the positive. This is a byproduct of childhood trauma that has not been addressed or has not properly healed from a previous relationship (or a combination of the two). Find someone you can relate to and can be comfortable sharing your inner thoughts with.

Trust me—pride and ego will get you nowhere fast in a relationship.

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