Entering the Conversation: Black Relationships

Originally Posted: Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Two weeks ago, I started reading The Conversation by Hill Harper. At 43 years old, Hill has a degree from Brown University and two degrees from Harvard including a law degree & a Master of Public Administration. He broke into TV in 1993 and his best known role is on CSI: NY. He is an accomplished author, and he literally puts his money where his mouth is, as a “Big Brother” mentor, political campaign supporter and philanthropist. Needless to say, I was very interested in what this single, articulate & accomplished black man had to say.


HIll & I share a lot of the same philosophies about the black community and about relationships. He was inspired to write the book because of the breakdown of family (& community). He begins with the striking fact that in 1966, 84% of all black children were raised in 2 parent households. In 2006, that number would become 33%(statistics for other races in 2006 included  80% of Asian children, 75% of white children and 70% of Latino children). The majority of black children are being raised by single mothers. What has happened between 1966 and 2006 that caused this drastic change? Hill was also inspired by a budding relationship with a woman that he didn’t want to destroy by falling into the same old patterns that he had in the past (shout out to Nichole – I’m praying for you guys!)

The beautiful thing about this book, is that it is not gender-biased. He has something for men and women. So now, I’m going to break down the message for men, the message for women, sex & it’s role and then finally some “quotables” to think about. Most importantly, if you haven’t already, please go out and by the book! It will change your approach to relationships forever.


  1. -“Women are mistrustful of men and men are suspicious of women.”
  2. -There are three parallel worlds that exist and rarely do they ever align: what is said, what is meant and what is done. I believe that successful relationships align those three parallel worlds.

– The biggest challenge to love is fear.

– Acrimony (bitterness/ill feeling), abuse, neglect, dishonesty, competition and professional jealousy are modern relationship problems to look out for.

– Inclusion makes your partner feel wanted and needed.

– Put down the magnifying glass and look in the mirror.

– True power lies in one’s ability to create.

-There are no victims, only volunteers

-Time can’t guarantee the growth of something that doesn’t exist.Don’t hold on to a relationship for the sake of holding on to it, when you know it’s not right! Too many men have women in their lives simply because they’ve known her forever. You may be missing out on true love by holding on to something that you should’ve let go a long time ago.

– Love is a choice. We are not “in” or “out” of love. We choose to be “in” or “out.” We choose to commit. This was the realization that I had about love THIS YEAR with my current relationship. Feelings are transient and they change. You may dislike your partner sometimes because of their actions and the hollywood notion of “perfection” is simply that, a facade. Love (and if you decide to cement your commitment with marriage) is a conscious choice. For more thoughts about how I feel about love see this blog:http://web.me.com/dnboyd/Site/Blog/Entries/2009/11/1_What_Is_Love_________.html


Men want to be with someone they can provide for, someone they can protect. To me, that simply means let a man be a man. There is nothing wrong with allowing a man to assist you in whatever capacity he can.

There is nothing more appealing than a woman you can trust with your dreams. Women can sometimes be dream killers. I cannot tell you how many men tell me that they left a woman simply because she wasn’t supportive enough.

Men want: a friendship and partnership that includes family, professional ambitions and successes, the creation & maintenance of a home, a solid and secure financial future, conversation, laughter and great sex. Don’t underestimate the power of laughter! Go back to your childhood. Bring out the kid in you. I couldn’t help but think about the many world wars my boyfriend and I have (literally world wars! I almost got waterboarded in one of our wars). We had a contest once to see if we could run and jump onto a wall. We make each other laugh and smile everyday. That’s important!

Withdrawal can occur when a man is overwhelmed by money, work, stress or other things that he is trying to work out before communication with you. This one hit home. Women take things so personal sometimes. When a man withdraws, it does not mean that he does not want to be with you anymore or that he’s cheating. Just like we get into our moods where we don’t want to bothered, men do too. If you give him the space and time, he’ll eventually tell you what was going on. Generally, when our men withdraw, we turn up the heat by nagging or by forcing him into a corner. It’s okay to let him be. He’ll be back to himself in no time.

A man settles down because of (a) timing, (b) the woman befriended him (c) woman caters to his male ego (d) woman keeps him stimulated

92% of men cheated because of emotional disconnection (a sense of feeling underappreciated). It wasn’t because of sex (surprisingly). Men need to feel appreciated and wanted. When your man does something that you like, TELL HIM!

Men will cheat because of space and opportunity.

A gentleman is the personification of a strong man and humility is one of the strongest attributes of a true gentleman.


Women want: someone they can nurture, someone they can nurse through illness and loss and other tragedy. Someone they can argue with without feeling like they are being bullied or patronized. Someone who might disagree with them but not disrespect or disregard them. A good dependable man who can be a good father.The key here guys, is that you have to be a man of your word. DON’T SAY IT IF YOU DON’T MEAN IT. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep. Also, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Your vulnerability shows us that you trust us, and if you trust us then that draws us closer and it makes us more willing to open up our hearts. Ask your woman for her opinion on certain issues (don’t be afraid to bring up barbershop talk at home). Make her feel like her opinion matters.

If you don’t want to get shot, don’t go where the bullets are.This one was about cheating. Stay away from your weakness! If you know that you can’t go to the strip club without trying to take one of the strippers home, stay away from the strip club. You owe it to your partner and yourself to SACRIFICE by staying away from the bullets.

Women cheat because of feelings of insecurity. All women have some level of insecurity, because we live in a society that objectifies us and that has very narrow standards for beauty. Social pressure to be everything to everyone, be smart, but not too smart (because if you’re too smart then you’re not a lady), really impacts our psyche and makes us feel like we aren’t measuring up. Personally, I am incredibly sensitive & insecure during my period. Keep this in mind and turn up the compliments and the support anytime you sense that your woman is insecure or when she has anxiety about something at work.

Let’s Talk About Sex Baby:

It is generally accepted that men and women view sex differently. Most people believe that women are more emotional (and usually can’t even get aroused) unless there is an emotional connection. Men can, for lack of better terms, “stick and move.” Hill’s book explained in biological terms why that happens. There is a chemical called “oxytocin” also called the “feel-good hormone,” which secretes after affection (cuddling) or orgasm.  It is also called the “bonding” hormone, because it is secreted when a woman breast feeds her child. Women secrete this hormone more, and there are more receptors in the body for the hormone. The hormone stays active in men for up to 3 hours after a physical encounter. In women, it can stay active for up to 3 days. So women literally feel and experience sexual encounters differently. Hill also says that men can detach activity from emotion easier than women, especially when it comes to sex. Now he does not condone or excuse cheating, he just lays out how differently men & women approach it.

Ultimately, I leave you with this “patience is a secret weapon that forces deception to reveal itself.” – Pastor A.R. Bernard

The most important lesson that I took away from this book is the value and importance of communication and patience in a relationship. We make so many assumptions about our partners, and we move so fast that we sometimes neglect or fail to discuss important issues. Hill even has a section at the back of the book with a list of questions to encourage you to get your own conversation(s) started. Please, go buy the book now. It will force you to put down the magnifying glass & look in the mirror.

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