FYI’s groundbreaking TV series, #BlackLove follows five women through 10 weeks of workshops with psychotherapist, Jack Daniels and certified dating coach, Damona Hoffman.
The task last week was for the five women to focus on exactly what they were looking for in a man. Points to consider; deal breakers and separating wants from needs. A deal breaker for Monet Bell, is a man who seeks happiness in someone else. “For me, I need you to be whole on your own before we get together.”
This week they need to consider how they may be getting in their own way of finding love. The convo goes deep and examines how confident, strong, women of color are stereotyped in society. Monet shares, “I’m not allowed to be upset about anything because the moment I’m upset about anything, I’m an angry black woman.” She goes on to state, “It’s like, we can’t breathe. I can’t be a person.”
This brings me to a place of self-reflection. From my lens of white privilege, I realize I don’t know what it feels like to be labeled for expressing my emotions. I feel sad and helpless that others have to experience this, but shame and guilt paralyze forward progress. Bringing awareness and having honest dialogue is the first step to breaking down the stereotype.
Getting Out of Your Own Way
As a licensed social worker and life coach, Cynthia feels the need to find the best version of her own self in order to best help others.
Cynthia tells me she decided to participate in #BlackLove, “to learn more about myself and improve the areas in relationships that I find challenging. I also wanted to be assisted in making a decision about whether to formally end my marriage or not,” she adds.
The decision to end her marriage is one she agonizes over. “I don’t want to be divorced. I don’t want to feel like a failure.” However, she comes to realize her “happily ever after” is indeed over. “I am emotionally drained. I feel abandoned, unloved and just left to die. I can’t believe this is my life,” she says. My heart hurts to see this. No one should ever have to feel that way.
So what went wrong? She tells psychotherapist, Jack Daniels, “Our communication was horrible. I over communicated and he under communicated.” That statement is gold and I’ve thought a lot about how it relates to my marriage.
Cynthia is reluctant to make her list of wants and needs in a man and it’s getting in her way. “I feel like a list is so black and white. I kind of want to just vibe with someone,” she tells Monet.
As an Afro Latina, she’s dated mostly African American men. She realizes this could be another barrier. Cynthia shares, “A personal challenge for me is to open myself up to different kinds of men when it comes to dating. It may be time for me to explore new possibilities.”
Jahmil “Jae” Eady
Jae tells me she came into this process, “hoping to find clarity around what I truly wanted in a relationship and what changes I needed to make to get there”.
We saw the visceral reaction she had confronting her past with certified dating coach, Damona Hoffman, and she admits, “I didn’t expect to have to open up about my childhood so much.”
While Jae wasn’t expecting the therapy to be this extensive, it has given her some clarity. “I learned that I was very reserved and defensive when it comes to discussing my past. But sometimes you have to go back to the past, in order to move forward,” she says.
Some retail therapy with her friend JJ is just what Jae needs. With his help, she comes to 2 major conclusions; 1) her childhood has influenced her romantic relationships and 2) the relationships she’s building are not fulfilling. That’s some serious realz right there.
So what is getting in Jae’s way? She asks herself, “Is it possible for me to find a healthy and fulfilling romantic relationship when I always place my professional career, sense of freedom and personal growth first?” That’s a compelling question and key for today’s modern, successful woman. She adds, “I have not been able to find a balance that works up to this point, but with Jack and Damona’s help, I hope I will!”
Laree “La” Thomas
La shares with me that this process was more than she expected. “When I signed up for the workshops, I did it with a ‘sure, why not’ attitude, not really connecting to what it would really mean.” She adds, “I didn’t realize the work I would have to put in, to the commitment of finding love.”
During the workshop, La has us all rolling with one phrase…”ug mug”. Seriously, who hasn’t had an ug mug or two in their lives? More importantly, how do you define ug? Is it outward physical appearance or inward character and values? These are great points to ponder.
La is not the type to wear her heart on their sleeve and she struggles to tell her boo Karl that she cares. “I’ve been hurt in the past in other relationships. It’s hard for me to be vulnerable and let someone in,” she says.
La knows that the walls of steel she has erected around her heart are getting in the way of her relationship with Karl. When he recently expressed that he loves her, La’s response is awkward silence. Most of us have had the “pleasure” of experiencing those crickets, whether on the giving or receiving end.
She steps way out of her comfort zone and brings Karl to meet the girls. We see a giddy, school-girl, blushing La that is adorable.
Tennesha is my Minnesota girl. That connection to Mall of America and the Guthrie Theatre is strong. But more importantly, I connect with her as a fellow perfectionist. You don’t even want to know how many hours I spend typing and retyping my blogposts to ensure every word is exact.
Words and actions define who we are. Tennesha has been careful with both of these in her new relationship with Errol. Knowing that her controlling habits definitely get in her way of finding love, she wants it to be different. “I’ve been able to keep the controlling part of me at bay with Errol,” she says.
Over dinner, Errol reveals he hasn’t dated anyone other than Tennesha since they met and he asks her to date him exclusively. Her smile can’t contain how special she feels. We all sigh our collective “ahhs” at how cute they are when calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend.
She giddily tells the girls, “I’m boo’d up. Everything with him feels easy.” But quickly adds, ” I’m almost like, where’s the trick?” Don’t go there honey. When you first find the one, life should be a piece of cake. That’s why they call it the honeymoon phase.
A major roadblock for Monet is hanging on to pieces of her marriage to Vaughn. Thousands of viewers are having a major “aha” moment as they connect with this. That’s what I love about this show…so relatable.
Cortney Hendrix from the Married at First Sight #FirstWivesClub comes over to help Monet purge the old to make room for the new. They celebrate the arrival of Monet’s divorce papers and viewers can actually feel the burden lifted from Monet’s shoulders. The magic of reality TV.
Jack sets her up with a real gentleman and while there is attraction, the conversation is stilted. He reveals he’s more into “real” dogs than “toy” dogs and Monet isn’t having any of it. You love Monet, you love her Yorkie. It’s a package deal.