I met a cute lawyer named Derek while out with friends in New York’s Meatpacking District.  Drinks at One Oak led to hung-over brunch on Saturday and ribs while watching Vick’s Eagles whoop the Cowboys.  He’s great — sexy, funny, successful, humble and smells like a dream. All signs read “Go!”  Then we met afterwork mid-town for big eats at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  I took kickboxing class at lunch and tend to go anemic so I’m far from a vegan.  I ordered a shrimp appetizer, petite filet mignon, scalloped potatoes, the banana cream pie and a bottle of Cabernet.  He’s giving me the side-eye and I shrug it off.  It can’t be about the bill.  It just can’t.  He orders, like, vegetables.  At a steakhouse.  Chopped salad and creamed spinach.  I say, “My treat.” He retorts, “No way.”  So I cop: “Then what’s the problem?  You’re all screw-faced after I ordered.”  He goes quiet for a minute to say grace.  And I lower my head and say, “Amen.”  And I’m just staring at him with my mouth open ’til he says what the problem is.  Derek goes into a trance and recites like Jesse Jackson on Vicodin: “But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.” Leviticus 11:10 Shellfish shall be an abomination to you; you shall not eat their flesh, but you shall regard their carcasses as an abomination. Leviticus 11:11″ Then Derek says the Bible says God’s people are not to eat shellfish and that I’m a sinner.  I kid you not.  Loooooooooooooongest dinner of my life.

-Erica J.

I was hanging with some elitest ex-patriate Africans at Balthazar in the East Village.  Nigerians, Ugandans, South Africans, Senegalese, Cape Verdeans.  Great food, spirited conversation, many kisses on both cheeks.  My friend Chinesse from Cameroon introduced me to Francois a French lawyer working for White & Case (Rudolph Giuliani’s employer at the time).  Francois and I hit it off.  That weekend we went ice skating in Central Park, had Northern Indian food at Nirvana, went dancing at Nikki Beach Club. Francois was so courtly and charming — a perfect gentleman.  Divorced with a five-year-old son Laurent back in Enghien-Les-Bains. So we had Korean dinner at Kang Suh after the Opera during  the next weekend.  Then he asked me to come over to his corporate apartment to watch the French Open.  I thought that was an outstanding idea.  So we kissed for the first time that night.  It was amazing.  Leading by example, Francois took his shirt off.  All good.  Very warm, affectionate, nice vibe.  But then he started tonguing my ear which is like Def Con 3 in seduction warfare.  A little overwhelming but alright.  Until he bit my diamond & platinum earring in half.  Yes.  Bit. It. In. Half. *CRUNCH!!!*  Like a cartoon mascot of a heavily sugared breakfast cereal.  All I could think is, “I don’t want him near my nipples.”  So I made an excuse about having an early meeting and jetted to a taxicab.

-Ursula P.


Dating is sticking your toe into unknown waters.  It looks as beautiful, warm and inviting as the Caribbean Sea off the coast of the French West Indies.  But beware the sting of jellyfish, eel or shark.  You may, like the ladies testifying above, stumble into some belief or behavior that is just unacceptable in a man.

Pay attention and act according to what your gut tells you to do.  Safety and preserving all body parts first!


Additional tips as you determine whether he’s a keeper.

21. It is better to let someone walk away from you than to let him walk all over you.

Some of my girlfriends love to harangue me with tales of her man’s latest evil-doings.  I’m like: Why don’t you just get rid of him?  Men are like lightbulbs — if one is broken, you don’t keep it unless you’re a Hoarder on that scary A&E show.

22. Don’t look for someone to complete you.

You need to be a whole person relating to another whole person. Then your guy can complement you — not be a crutch.

23. Don’t give more in a relationship than you are getting out of it.

Don’t be high-maintenance but remember you ain’t his Momma.

24. When actions and words conflict, believe the actions.

And respond to the actions.

25. Don’t fully commit to a man who doesn’t give you everything that you need.

Keep him on your roster but get to know others.

26. Never believe a man that tells you he want to be with you, while he’s with someone else.

If he wanted to be with you, he would make it happen more sooner than later.

27. There is someone out there worthy to be your partner – so make room.

Weed out the losers and no-hopers to make room for the keeper.

28. If it don’t come easy, you gotta let it go.

Do you spend more of your relationship time happy or fighting?  It’s not worth it if your life is all strife with dude.

29. Be yourself & be true to yourself.

Reminds me of the fiance who wanted me to get breast implants.  Because his Momma had them.  I’m a 32 C to D.  What am I gonna do — become a 32 G?  He had to go, of course.

30. Determine whether there is room in your life for emotional cripples.

Everyone has problems but if a guy can’t handle his stuff, what makes you think you can do it for him?



My boyfriend Carlos and I live together and worship together at the same kung-fu school in Chinatown.  Our Sifu Li is part Chinese and the son of an American soldier and a Chinese prostitute.  Sifu Li is our Master and we obey his direction in eating, living and workshipping traditional Chinese gods like Kuan Kung and Kwan Yin.  I love Carlos but lately he’s been allowing our Sifu to deal him drugs (marijuana, meth and crack).  Plus he’s smoking with Sifu Li.  Now I don’t know how drug use fits in with Buddhist spirituality but I am not wanting to build a future with a junkie.  We’ve been dating for four years and if he’s not gonna put a ring on it should I try to help Carlos or just leave him with Sifu and his pipe?

-Marisol N.

I have been dating Casey for three months and he’s a great guy.  We’re both Lutheran, never married, working, good credit and have no kids.  Casey would love to have kids and he’d be a great Dad.  He’s less enthusiastic about getting married.  Should I work with him on his marriage reluctance or just call foul and walk away?

-Shonte C.


Your man gives you love, attention, affection and great sex.  He’s a highly functioning dude.  And yet just below the glittering surface image is addiction, degraded family values and the attitude that you just have to suck up the bad with the good.

What to do is an individual decision based on your priorities, values and needs.  Certainly, you don’t want to end up in the hospital, family court or jail because your honey has some bad ideas.  “I told you so” are hard words to hear after you’ve made risky choices.


Here’s some wise guidelines to help you think about making your grown-woman decision to keep or leave your man:

8. If you have doubt your man’s character, leave him.

Especially in light of the Sandusky and Fine scandal, wifeys shoulda been gone.

9. If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you right, don’t cling to him  as a “friend.”  That’s no friend for you.

10. Always put yourself and your happiness first.

11. Respect your boundaries when it comes to how a guy treats you. If something bothers you, speak up. If it doesn’t stop, drop him.

12. Dating can turn into engagement and marriage.  Or not.  Know when it’s time to cut the cord.  Don’t waste time being strung along.

13. Actions speak louder than words.

14. Never let a man define who you are or your relationship with him. Be active, assertive and powerful.

15. Just because he says he loves you, that doesn’t mean that he won’t hurt you.  “I love you” doesn’t mean that you are meant to stay with him.

16. You deserve to be the #1 person in the life of the #1 person in your life.

17. Love is a verb. Every day.

18. Give up your lifelong task of trying to make someone unavailable-available, someone ungiving-giving, and someone unloving-loving.

19. A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.

20. It takes half the length of a relationship to get over it. Take time to heal between relationships. Deal with your issues and leave them behind before pursuing a new relationship.


I get it — you have life goals: good job, good love, good family. But, on the job, in your social network and at the bar, New York City is the Olympics of hoodwinking.

KISSING UP is a step-by-step guide to keep your life on track and keep your heart intact.

In today’s society, nobody’s gonna hit you on the head to get their way. They will, however, lie and manipulate you quicker than you can say “Boo.” Blatant exploitation has be replaced with sneaky tricks and passive aggression. The dynamics may be subtler but the intent is always the same: control. The cute guy who doesn’t call, the co-worker who invites you to the big meeting at the wrong start time, the girlfriend who hangs out just to meet all the hot guys you know.

Believe you me, I’ve been there. If your boss isn’t trying to play you like you’re dumb, other phonies may be busy trying to convince you that the friendship and love is real.

KISSING UP is the resource to give you the tips and exercises you need to play to win on that Olympic field called “Life in the Big City.” To weed out the worthless & help the real thing blossom.


  1. People want the kind of love they can’t or won’t give.
  2. Never be with anyone dumber, shorter or poorer than you.  Or end up paying for it.
  3. Marry the one you love the most.  Or marry the one who loves you the most. You choose.
  4. If it don’t come easy, you better let it go.
  5. Are you better off with or without this person in your life?
  6. The way he treats you reflects the way he’ll treat your children.

I’ve gleaned these very dense concepts from year of listening to interlocking circles of women and their wisdom.  To give well-deserved credit where it’s due, some men have contributed to these ideas as well. These guidelines can help you streamline your thinking and make educated decisions about what you want out of life and your relationships.

Pain makes you stronger.

Fear makes you braver.

Heartbreak makes you wiser.

So let’s put on our thinking caps and thank the past for a better future.