The Only Reason Why Relationship Advice Even Exists

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In less than a week, VSB will celebrate its 5th anniversary. As of today, we’ve published 1289 entries, and those entries have received 472,695 comments. And, between the comments, email, Formspring, Madame Noire, Twitter, Facebook, and people recognizing the shirt and chasing me down at bus stops, the number of dating/relationship-related questions I’ve been asked and answered numbers in the thousands.

That’s thousands of questions about men and money and sex and cohabitation and celibacy and intimidation and exes and dating and independence and texting and where to meet people and dating men with ashy elbows from thousands of different people. And, controlling for occasional outliers, I’d say that (at least) 75% of the women asking questions already know the answers before they even ask.

So, why do they continue to ask? Well, the most common question I receive—and the fact that this particular question happens to be the most common question—answers that question.

As I’ve stated numerous times before, I’m not a dating and relationship “expert.” My particular form of “expertise” is just me combining my experience, education, and observations to give the most practical and objective advice I possibly can. That being said, there is one particular sub-subject I—and many other men (and women)—do have a real expertise with:

Random Woman: “Is he into me?”

While it comes in various forms and is constructed various ways, this is the question I hear the most. Unfortunately, after they’ve asked the question, and have volunteered the background info I’ll ask for to give a better assessment, the answer usually is “Sorry, but probably not.” 

Anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a “Damn, I guess they don’t like me as much as I hoped” conversation or realization knows how it feels. And, knowing how it feels, giving that answer (usually) is not fun. It’s even less fun when realizing that they already knew the answer before asking.

This sounds delusional, which fits one of the most common stereotypes men have about women and relationships. But, delusion (usually) has nothing to do with it. It—and most of the rest of the questions I receive—is all about hope, hope that manifests in two separate ways:

1. “I know the answer already, but I hope someone agrees with me so I can be more sure about my decision.”

2. “I know the answer already—I can feel it in my gut—but I really don’t want to believe it. Maybe, hopefully he’ll tell me my gut is wrong.”

Much of the pushback people who dole out this type of advice receive is also related to the concept of hope. According to them, people (the advice givers) have positioned themselves to profit off of people’s (primarily women’s) hope by putting a tux and tails on common sense and calling it “genius.” While their concerns about the intelligence/independence level of the people asking questions—and the true motives and agendas of the advice givers—are warranted, this pushback has the tendency to minimize the fact that it’s easy to be objective when you’re not invested. Of course it’s easy to read an email or a tweet and deduce that person A doesn’t like person B as much as person B likes person A, and that person B is an idiot for even asking. But, when you’re person B—and, as mentioned earlier, we’ve all been person B at some time—it aint always as easy.

The variables constituting love and attraction are so intangible and so subjective that a level of hope is necessary to want, pursue, and maintain it. I mean, knowing how love has a tendency to completely and thoroughly f*ck us up, who in their right mind would even want that? Well, we do (Most of us do, anyway). As delusional and idiotic and nonsensical it seems, we hope it’ll be different for us. And, as long as that hope exists, relationship advice—an awkward way of finding some truth in a haystack of hope—will too.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Ask A Very Smart Brotha: 180 Day Rule, Brownie Points & Stringing You Along

***The Champ’s latest at Madame Noire takes questions about V-Day, the 90 day rule, and, well, that’s about it***

Nina: If a man tells a woman he only wants to be friends… Why does he still show interest?

DY: Because saying “I don’t want a relationship and I want to be friends” is usually manspeak for “I want to continue to hit it as long as I can without you hating me. And, if you catch feelings, I want to always be able to come back and say “But…I said I didn’t want a relationship”

Shaleith: Ok I have a question….why can’t someone see that squandering away their money on unnecessary things when they have bills to pay is madness?

DY: “Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why did Judas rat to Romans while Jesus slept?”

Candis: Why is it guys talk about doing something nice, like cook you dinner, or take you out. Then in the same breath say “and then screw your brains out” like that’s suppose to make me feel like a woman? Why do they mess up the vibe like that?

DY: Some guys suck at communication. And, when you suck at communication, you’re not very good at seduction. One thing you have to realize, though, is that for some women, hearing “I’m going to screw your brains out” turns them on even more. Perhaps that’s want he’s used to dealing with. Basically, it’s up to you to express to him that hearing things like that take you out of the mood. If you don’t tell him, how will he know?

Norca: I need a Valentine’s Day gift idea for my BF. He has everything already! Please help! Thanks!

DY: Experiences—tickets to a game, a personalized lap dance video, a weekend getaway, etc—never hurt. Neither does a steak and BJ.

Wanda: Steve Harvey suggests we make a man wait 6 months before giving him ‘the cookie’. Is a man going to wait that long, or is he just getting his cookies somewhere else while you make him wait? And is a woman who doesn’t make a man wait a keeper?

DY: I thought it was 90 days, not 180? Oh well. Anyway, if a guy really wants to be with you, it’s not going to matter how long he has to wait (or how quick it happens). Obviously, if you make someone wait 20 years (or give it up in 20 seconds), that’s probably not going to end well, but aside from staying away from extremes, there’s really no arbitrary set time on how long you should wait to sleep with a man.

The only clock you should be on is your own. Basically, ask yourself if you’re ready, and don’t do it unless you’re 100% sure your answer is yes.

Erica: Why do men want brownie points for what they as a MAN in the relationship are suppose to be doing in the first place? I understand appreciation but doing the bare minimum isn’t really doing anything at all.

DY: Doesn’t everyone strive for brownie points, though? Couldn’t you say the same thing about women who want praise for being independent? I agree that it’s annoying, but this isn’t a gender specific trait.

Read more at Madame Noire

Why All Relationship Advice Is Bullsh*t

I have a confession to make. Everything we have ever said about relationships — the rules and regulations, the mores, the laws, the lists, the 21st century updates, the theories about the cookie, when to give up the cookies, how to bake the cookies, and how to eat cookies if you’re dealing with a severe case of acid reflux — is bullshit. All of it. Everything we’ve ever said is full of shit. Shitty shit shit shit shit.

And, by “we” I’m not just referring to VSB. No, this applies to every single bit of dating and relationship advice you’ve received from any and every one from Tyler Perry to the toothless boosters selling ironing boards outside of your nephew’s barbershop.

Shit, when it comes to relationships, even our book — as amazing, insightful, and awe-inspiring as it happens to be (Seriously. Your Degrees Won’t Keep You Warm at Night is the shit.) — is about as useless as an anus on your elbow.

Now, I realize what I’m saying isn’t necessarily new. You don’t have to go very far to hear someone argue that relationship advice is ultimately meaningless because the dynamics present in each relationship are too variable, too nuanced to be addressed and “solved” by some arbitrary advice. And, well, you also have people who argue that most “relationship experts” are charlatan chickenhawks seeking profit by offering answers to unanswerable questions.

But, while I agree with the valuelessness of relationship advice, I disagree with the reasoning for their conclusions. It’s not useless because the advice is usually wrong. It’s useless because, well, we’re looking at it backwards.

While romantic relationships are often thought of as these mindlessly complex labyrinths where cheat codes and color-coded maps are necessary in order to even have a chance of making it through, relationships are supposed to be easy. Not easier than we currently think they are, but f*cking easy. Easy like Sunday morning. Easier than paper Deltas. So easy that any advice about them should be obsolete.

We make them difficult, though, because we continue to get into relationships with the wrong people.

That is it. There’s no deep discovery. No byzantine secret. 99.999% of the problems that exist in our relationships occur because we allow sexual impulsivity, horniness, peer pressure, cold weather, boredom, loneliness, bills, biological clocks, Beyonce, beer goggles, work goggles, internet goggles, availability, and convenience to convince ourselves to enter relationships with people who just aren’t right for us. And, to add insult to injury, not only are they not right for us, we know they’re not right and still go through with it. Your (and “your” is addressing everyf*ckingbody) relationship didn’t end because of shit that occurred during the relationship. It ended because, well, it never should have began in the first place.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

The Five Worst People To Get Relationship Advice From

“Can a comedian not have an understanding of the subject?
Does having failed relationships necessarily mean you can’t give good advice?

This comment, left by CNotes in yesterday’s “Seven Reasons Why I’m Totally Not Upset About Steve Harvey’s “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” Movie”, reiterates a feeling I’ve always had about relationship advice. By trade, a good comedian has to be extremely observant, intellectually curious, relateable, irreverent, and equipped with an above-average helping of common sense. Basically, not only are they equipped to at least give decent advice, they’re practically built for it.

But, you know who you should probably never reach out to? Hmm. I’m sure Marc Anthony can tell you.

From “Affleck advised J.Lo on her crumbling marriage”

Although Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck famously called off their engagement and 18-month romance in January 2004, the actor was happy to help as his ex’s 7-year marriage to Marc Anthony was falling apart.

Guadalupe Lopez, the singer-actress’s mother (and plus-one at the July 9 BAFTA bash with the royals in Hollywood), sought Affleck’s advice on July 12, multiple sources confirm in the new Us Weekly, out Wednesday. “Guadalupe reached out to Ben over email. She wanted advice for Jennifer,” reveals a source.

Three days after that secret email exchange with Affleck, Lopez and Anthony announced the end of their union in a joint statement.

Now, it’s likely that J-Lo’s marriage would have ended even without Affleck’s help. From what I’ve read, Marc Anthony was an abusive control freak, and, well, the universe and planets and sh*t just wouldn’t have allowed J-Lo to be married to Marc freakin Anthony too much longer.

Still, when making a list of the worst people to possibly get advice about your current relationship from, doesn’t “someone I used to f*ck” have to be at the top? I mean, aside from cheating, I don’t have many unconditional dealbreakers, but I have to say that asking a dude you used to bang for advice on us is close. It doesn’t even matter if dude tells her “Really, you’ll be much happier if you just give him seven blow jobs a day,” the fact that she even thought to ask means that the relationship is practically over already.

Anyway, “a person you used to sleep with” is definitely number one on the list of the five worst people to get relationship advice from. Here’s the rest

2. The person who’s been trying to f*ck you since the series premiere of “Scrubs”

Yeah, I might be going on a limb here, but you’re probably not going to get objective relationship advice from the guy who’s been tagging himself as your heart in all of your Facebook pictures

3. God

I say this as a Christian too, but asking God for advice on your bullsh*t relationship is like renting a Uhaul truck to move a box of Kleenex. I’m sure the big guy has more pressing issues to worry about than whether you should be mad that your new beau jokingly called your thigh a brown sugar cactus.

4. Both of your parents at the same time

It’s weird. Getting advice from Mom and Dad separately always seems to work, but their signals somehow get crossed when they’re in the same room and both trying to advise you. It kind of reminds me how the GhostBusters made sure never to cross the streams. Maybe the force of parental advisement is so strong that it only works when one of them is around

5. The person with the perfect life

This may seem a bit too cynical, but the friend who’s been with his wife since they met each other in 6th grade might be the last person I’d get advice from. I mean, yeah, his relationship life is virtually blemish-less, but this blemishlessness probably makes him unable to relate to us commoners. It’s the same reason why superstar professional athletes usually make terrible coaches and general managers: They’ve been blessed with so much natural talent that it’s hard for them to relate to, assess, and motivate the less gifted.

So keep your perfect life and your perfect wife to yourself, and let me keep getting all my knowledge and life alterting advice from J-Ashy — the crackhead selling toasters and Advil outside of my barbershop.

Anyway, people of VSB.com, did I forget anyone? Can you think of anyone else who definitely should have been on the list?

Also, since J-Lo’s a free agent again, am I the only one who wants her to say “F*ck it” and get back with Diddy just so I could watch the internet Armageddon that would surely follow?

—The Champ

***Check out “Trash Day and Being the Back-Up Girl” — the latest edition of The Champ’s advice column at Madame Noire***

Shooting The Messenger: Why Even Ugly Men Can Give Good Relationship Advice

A segment of a comment on yesterday’s recap of the recent Three Deez VSB event:

Now, they’re clearly great guys, but the amount of dating, relationship advice, opinions of women that they share in the blog really struck a cord with me. No offense, but it just didn’t seem likely that these guys could have the frequency of experiences with women to be able to talk about such things to the extent that you do. I mean, my friends and I expected to meet some pretty suave gentlemen and albeit they’re cools guys, they’re just not the type of men that we believe could garner the expertise to talk so frankly about women.

Well la di da. Apparently, neither the Champ nor I seemed cool enough or like the BMOC enough to be ladies men of any sort. Now, I’ll never claim to be a ladies man anyway. I’m one ladie’s man – Laura Winslow. Mind you, this was the opinion of one person who ventured out and – honestly – assessed her interactions with the two of us. Now of course, I immediately took that to mean that we couldn’t book her. Which may or may not be true. But it also presupposes we’d want to. A(squared) + B(squared) = C (squared). But that’s neither here nor there. Because her entire premise is flawed anyway.

See, nearly every man can give relationship advice if he’s just honest. And do you know why? Because 99 percent of the relationship advice that men give falls into two categories: 1) common sense or 2) the truth that women either don’t want to hear or don’t want to accept. And this isn’t to say that all men have common sense or even a good grasp of the truth.

But there’s also that little tidbit that most women either refuse to acknowledge or refuse to believe that it could happen to them. The most marginal man can book a decent to above average woman as long as he’s *WHAT CLASS?*…

…funny.

And me? I’m thebomb.com/imawesome.

We’ve talked about this before, but all women need to keep them interested, generally, is a good laugh. Not saying she’s going to give up the cotton immediately, but if you make a woman laugh she’ll at least listen a little bit longer. A smart ugly man will hone his comedic sensibilities because that’s really all he has…his gift of gab. So let’s say a funny ugly dude has the gift of gab and manages to charm the pants off of women…or has money. This cat can rack up chicks. We’ve all seen it happen.

And multiple experiences with women makes it possible to speak on those situations. Which then brings us to credibility. See one part of the comment that stood out was that she was questioning our credibility. But you know the problem with the entire argument was that she was placing feminine ideology into a man’s realm. It’s quite obvious men and women view things completely differently. I’ll bet there are women reading this now sideways just because its easier and makes more sense. See what I did there? As a man, I know that I ain’t believing a busted chicks opinion on a lot of things man related. Fair or unfair, it is what it is. If a chick who looks like Shamu’s attractive third cousin’s bottom feeding sauerkraut dealer comes to me telling me how many men she has, I know she’s lying. Hell, sometimes I wonder how some women even end up pregnant. Unattractive women are generally good wang repellant.

So yes, I’ll even go so far as to say that if I read a chicks blog about her exploits etc and she’s busted I automatically lose interest and find it hard to really believe. I think women view things that way to a degree. Except women get gamed by less than supermodel, suave Billy Dee ninjas all the time. I know I’m not Boris Kodjoe, Becker, or Yeltsin. I remember on the post that shall remain nameless how somebody said that my only real asset in life was my personality. But wow…what an asset. If I looked like Kid and was a douche, well yeah, I might be short in life. But I’m fun. And do you know what women like? Fun guys. And you know what happens to women who are around fun guys? They end up interested. Even accidentally. That coupled with women just being better people in general and more willing to take a shot on happiness as opposed to superficiality (in general) and you can end up with more women than you can shake your stick at.

Point is, even though I don’t know what you heard about me, I’m still a motherf*cking P I M P. But you do bring up an interesting question about relationship advice in general – even a broke clock is right twice a day – and that’s this:

When actually seeking out relationship advice, what do you look for in the way of credibility? And if you find out a man isn’t “traditionally” attractive, etc (think the Game post from the other day and Mystery’s face), does it diminish the impact of the advice? If you find out a dude is more atttractive, does it mean you pay more attention to the advice he might have to give?

And I wonder this…has any man ever gone to a woman to ask for relationship advice? And would he if the chick wasn’t hot?

Talk to me. I’m Petey.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka PETEY JAKES aka TANGLE JIG P aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3