Tag Archives: love

ASK JANICE: Where Does Valentine’s Day Even Come From?


Valentine’s Day: When lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. (Source: Brittannica.com)

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your soul mate, Galentine’s Day with your girlfriends, or Palentine’s Day with your non-gender specific buddies, February 14th means celebrating LOVE! And, as the saying goes, ain’t love grand?

Valentine’s Day brings to mind gifts of jewelry and long-stemmed roses. It calls up images of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, cozy, romantic dinners, and sappy greeting cards. It also makes me think of those nasty, chalky, little heart-shaped candies with silly greetings on them.

Now, I know this holiday can conjure up some pretty strong feelings, and not all of them good ones. Many folks, single and attached, think of February 14th as “just another day” and don’t really consider Valentine’s Day a big deal. Except, maybe, as an excuse to binge on chocolate. They go about their lives completely unbothered by the pressures and expectations of this romantic holiday. This year, many are more hyped about celebrating Taco Tuesday than some overly commercialized “holiday” about romantic love.

But there are some for whom Valentine’s Day triggers negative emotions, which is understandable. Especially for people who’re single and not happy about it. February 14th makes them acutely aware of their lack of romance. This tends to hit women especially hard, given the societal pressures to be “coupled” with someone. As if a woman’s worth depends on her relationship status. Ugh!

African american woman holding romantic paper hearts over yellow isolated background cover mouth with hand shocked with shame for mistake, expression of fear, scared in silence, secret concept

Social media doesn’t help with all of the cutesy posts of couples enjoying romantic dinners, proposals, and elaborate dates. All the Valentine’s Day hype can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, despair and depression. And this can even trigger self-destructive behaviors, up to and including suicidal ideation and action. Others stoically white-knuckle it with gritted teeth, waiting for the calendar to flip to February 15th, when it’ll be safe to go on Instagram, again.

Whether you love Valentine’s Day or dread it, have you ever wondered how we got here? I mean, why do we even celebrate it? I’ve always heard people grumble about Valentine’s Day being a made up, Hallmark holiday. But all holidays are “made up”. And in the Western world of the 21st century, ALL holidays are Hallmark holidays.

Most of us already knew that Valentine’s Day is named after a Saint and is also referred to as St. Valentine’s Day. But who was St. Valentine? Why is a Catholic saint associated with romance?

And what’s up with Cupid? What does a chubby, little, naked, flying baby have to do with love? Also, why is the baby naked and who gave him a damn bow and arrow?

I know I’m not the only one asking these questions. So, I did a little digging. And come to find out, St. Valentine’s Day goes way back (long before Hallmark was a thing, obviously) to the 14th century. What’s even wilder is that its roots, like so many Christian traditions, go back even farther: to pre-Christian Rome.

(Full disclosure: When I say I went digging, I mean I hit up a few different reputable websites. I didn’t do any deep dive into historical archives, or anything. My main sources were sites like (and including) Brittannica.com and History.com. I read a few other articles, too. But that’s it. I’m not an historian and this ain’t a history blog, so …)

Valentine’s Day’s origins are vague and hazy. Many historians believe that St. Valentine’s Day originated from the pagan Roman holiday called Lupercalia. Romans celebrated Lupercalia on February 15th to commemorate the coming of Spring with “fertility rites”. Some of these rituals may have included pairing women with men by lottery. Because the past was the worst, especially for women. Yuck.

Anyway. Romans celebrated Lupercalia even as Christianity spread and became the dominant religion in Rome. However, at the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I put an end to Lupercalia, forbidding its rites, rituals, and celebration. Many believe that St. Valentine’s Day, which is also celebrated in mid-February, but on the 14th replaced Lupercalia, with randomly pairing women with men morphing into a celebration of romantic love. Again, yuck.

But we don’t know that for sure. And there’s no proof that St. Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a day of romance until the 14th century, some 900 years later. So, who knows?

As for the actual Saint, the Catholic Church recognizes three St. Valentines, all of whom were martyrs. The consensus among historians seems to focus on two (or maybe one) individuals named Valentine.  First, there was a priest named Valentine from the 3rd century. The Roman Emperor at that time was this guy named Claudius II Gothicus. The story is that he decided single men made better soldiers than men with wives and kids. So, he passed a law forbidding young, single men from marrying so that he’d have enough soldiers for his wars.

Father Valentine was like “Nah”, and kept marrying young couples, anyway. He did this secretly, but obviously someone snitched, because he got caught. And Claudius, hater that he was, sentenced Valentine to death in 270 CE. According to legend, while he awaited execution, Fr. Valentine signed a letter “From Your Valentine” that he wrote to his jailer’s daughter (possibly), whom he cured from blindness and/or fell in love with (maybe).

Either that or, as other legends state, St. Valentine was a bishop, not a priest, who came from Terni, and who was also executed by Claudius II Gothicus. Some believe these two are the same guy. Others believe these are just old ass legends.

I know. Confusing and vague as heck, right?

We do know that by the Middle Ages, St. Valentine was one of the most popular saints in places like England and France. We also know that the first known written Valentine’s Day greetings began to appear in 1400. In fact, the oldest known written Valentine was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. He supposedly wrote it while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after the Battle of Agincourt. A Love After Lockup situation, perhaps?

So, from the 1400s onwards, the Western world has celebrated Valentine’s Day with romance, gifts, and greetings, despite its murky, mysterious origins. Yes, it’s become overly commercialized. And yes, it probably perpetuates the hetero-normative patriarchy. And yes, for some, it can trigger intense loneliness and depression. But at least there’s chocolate!

Oh, and the creepy, chubby, weaponized angel baby named Cupid? That lil dude has deep roots as well. Historians believe that Cupid evolved from a Roman god with roots in Greek mythology, Eros. Eros was the god of love, of course. Originally, Eros presented as a handsome immortal who played with the emotions of both gods and humans. He used golden arrows to incite love, and leaden ones to sow discord and aversion. Eventually, this handsome, grown ass ADULT somehow morphed into the mischievous, chubby, bow and arrow wielding baby we know and love today. But no one knows how or why.

I still don’t know why a flying baby would carry a bow and arrow in the first place. That just seems so hazardous and wrong. I suppose I could’ve dug deeper into Cupid. But to be honest, I ain’t got that kind of time. If you know more about Cupid and his origins, please comment below.  Also comment below and share your Valentine’s Day plans. How did they go? What did you do?

Until next time, have a safe and Happy St. Valentine’s Day!!



ASK JANICE SPECIAL: Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)

Have you ever heard of Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD)? I wish I could definitively cite where I first read about this. But I can’t. I accidentally stumbled upon this term while researching something else and fell down a rabbit hole. If you want, you can check out psychcentral.com, healthline.com, or any other prominent mental health publication to learn more. What follows is my interpretation of what I learned, so don’t sue me for not citing more specific sources!

First of all, Obsessive Love Disorder (OLD) is not currently classified as a distinct mental health disorder in the DSM-5. Don’t know what the DSM-5 is? Don’t worry – I got you. The DSM-5 is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, a book by the American Psychiatric Association. So basically, it’s like the psychiatric Bible of mental diseases. It’s the official last word on whether a condition is considered by the professionals as a specific mental health disorder. Back in the day, being LGBTQIA+ was considered a mental health disorder and listed in earlier editions of the DSM. Hence the need for a 5th edition, which is the most current.

Anyway, OLD isn’t a distinct mental disorder, though some mental health professionals think it should be. So stay tuned for later editions of the DSM-5. In the meantime, while it’s not considered an official mental illness, it is a serious condition that can be diagnosed, and often accompanies other mental disorders. More on that in a bit.

When a person has OLD, they become fixated on someone with whom they believe they’re in love. But symptoms of OLD go way beyond the boundaries of healthy relationships. A person with OLD becomes obsessive and controlling to the point where it not only adversely affects their own life, but also the life of the object of their fixation. This person feels an overwhelming need to “protect” and control the object of their obsession and often feels jealous and insecure. They become possessive and can even socially isolate themselves so that they can focus all of their time and attention on the person they believe they love. These feelings can lead to stalking, harassment, abuse, and even murder. Especially when the object of their desire rejects them.

Symptoms vary, of course. However, there are some commonalities among people diagnosed with OLD. Here are a few:

  1. An overwhelming feeling of love and attraction to someone, whether they’re in a relationship with them or not.
  2. A reduced ability to function and live a normal life.
  3. A need to constantly contact the object of their obsession, like sending constant texts, dms, etc.
  4. A total disregard for boundaries, including time, physical space, social life, work, etc. (like showing up to your job).
  5. Extreme insecurity requiring endless reassurance.
  6. Low self-esteem.
  7. Jealousy and an overwhelming need to “protect” and control.
  8. Extreme possessiveness and a need to control who the object of their fixation sees, wears, and engages with; as well as a need to control where and when the subject of their obsession goes and why they do.
  9. An inability to maintain normal relationships.

As I said earlier, people with OLD often have other mental illnesses, the most common of which include Borderline Personality Disorder, Delusional Jealousy, Obsessive Jealousy, Reactive Attachment Disorder, and Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder. I don’t have the time or space here to define all of these for you, but feel free to use context clues to get a general idea of the kinds of mental disorders often accompany OLD. Or Google them like I did.

The most interesting thing to me is that while very rare (it only affects about 0.1% of the population in the US), it affects women more than men, and no one knows why. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve watched too much “You” on Netflix, too many true crime videos, or because of all my research on domestic and intimate partner violence. But I was totally shocked to learn this affects women more than men. Who knew?

Anyway, that’s what Obsessive Love Disorder is all about in a nutshell. Have you ever experienced anything like this in your life? Ever been stalked? Ever done any stalking? Let us know in the comments below. And if you answered yes to either question, help is available!

(No, really. Please seek help if you or someone you know displays any of these symptoms. Please.)

Until next time, stay safe out there!



Relationship Goals by Sophia Ned-James

Don’t let all these online images of “perfect’ couples fool you, Sis. There are no “perfect” couples! That’s because couples are people, and people aren’t perfect! You only get to see the good times on social media, the happy times people choose to share. You don’t see the hard work and the messy arguments. You don’t get to witness those long, awkward silences that occur in ALL relationships.

They’re not showing you the fights about bills and money. No one’s posting or sharing pictures of the unanswered texts, the ignored calls, or the insecurities that make them doubt themselves. All relationships have tough moments, but you don’t see them because we don’t share them.

So, judge your relationship on it’s own merits and stop looking for perfection. Stop seeing #RelationshipGoals whenever you see pictures or video of that seemingly “perfect” couple. Comparing your relationship to some celebrity couple’s fabulous public display of love and romance will always leave you feeling wanting. And holding your guy to some ridiculous standards established by some jet-setting media “influencer” will always leave your guy looking unnecessarily lacking, when in reality, your guy is absolutely wonderful to you and for you.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a relationship that’s built on love, respect, and friendship, and you’re truly getting all that you deserve and desire, then you’ve already achieved #RelationshipGoals. After all, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it.

Sophia’s Sunday Uplift, March 23, 2019

The moment you stop looking elsewhere for love, acceptance, and validation is exactly the moment when you’ll find those things within yourself. Learn to love yourself as deeply and as fervently as you love those around you (especially the ones who don’t even deserve you). Trust me. When you begin to believe in your own beauty and brilliance, you won’t have any time for the naysayers or the negativity they bring.  You’ll be too busy basking in the warmth of your own light and truly living your best life! #SophiasSundayUplift #SundayUplift #SelfLove #Love #Acceptance #Validation #BelieveInYou

~Sophia Ned-James (Art is “Teenie Weenie Afro” by Melanoidlnk)




What’s Love Got To Do With It? Lessons From The FLOTUS

A few days ago, the first lady of the United States (FLOTUS) gave her first sit-down TV interview. When she was asked about whether the stories of the Donald’s infidelity bothered her, Melania stated, “I’m a mother and a first lady, and I have much more important things to think about and to do.”  What was conspicuously missing in her list of roles is “wife.”

When the ABC News’ correspondent pressed further and asked the FLOTUS if she loved her husband, Melania replied “We’re fine.” The FLOTUS did not say, “Yes. I love my husband.” The FLOTUS did not say, “Yes. I love the Donald.”

You know that’s right.

Many said the FLOTUS showed confidence during the interview. But, Suzy says the FLOTUS looked hurt and resigned… but determined.

Besides. What’s love got to do with it?

Lest the never-ending, rapid-fire White House scandals make us forget that it was only a few weeks ago after the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed by a White House insider claiming that Trump was amoral and inept, when an outraged Donald’s first response was he could only trust his children. Not his family. Or, wife and children. But, he could only trust his children.


Yes, Ladies. It happens.  The men we marry or chose to be with can turn out to be real vipers. Part-time or full-time. We may know from the get go they’re no good but we chose to be with them any way.  We’re not perfect. We may have some bad motives or conflicted thinking ourselves. (Look at Melania in her African interview wearing an insulting colonial pith hat talking about #BeBest to Africans. Really?)

Our relationships may be more about money, status, sex, children, security, family or a whole bunch of other things and for a bunch of reasons –  other than love. And, it can be hard to face this harsh reality, especially when we’re humiliated.  Melania provides us a few lessons:  When we are humiliated because of our men or partners we need to hold our head high. We need to carry on and focus on other parts or our lives.

Beyond these lessons, we do have to figure out where love fits in our lives and relationships even if the FLOTUS may not be there yet. Accepting a fake relationship or poor treatment from a spouse is accepting a life with unrealized potential.  What role are we playing in a relationship gone wrong? What issues do we need to address before we can have a relationship based on love? After all, life has everything to do with love.

Photo courtesy of People Magazine



Skills For Healthy A Romantic Relationship

Yes, ladies, there are lots of TED talks out there.  But, SuzyKnew! goes through them to identify the ones worth listening to.  Here’s a TED talk on how to build skills for a healthy romantic relationship that got over 1.5 million views. Given by Joanne Davilla, PhD, a professor of psychology and the Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University, the talk provides helpful points in a focused and concise format.

Click here for more about skills for a healthy relationship.


How Do I Get A Man To Commit To Me? ASK JANICE


I am crazy about this man I’m dating, but can’t get him to commit.  When we’re together, he’s totally into me. He treats me well and truly fulfills my needs in bed.  But, he always insists we’re not in a “real relationship”.  He says he’s not looking for a relationship right now, but that he does care about me.  Whenever I push him for more, he gets pissed.  And then sometimes I don’t hear from him for weeks!  What am I doing wrong?  How can I get him to commit to me?

Can you help a Sista out, please!


Hey Girlfriend,

First of all, you need to stop beating yourself up over this guy.  No woman can force a man to do anything he doesn’t want to do.  The only thing you’re doing wrong is accepting less than you want and deserve.

He’s already told you everything you need to know.  He cares about you, but doesn’t want a “real relationship”.  In other words, he’s just not that into you.

The bottom line is when a man wants to be with you, he’ll be with you.  There will be no excuses and definitely no going weeks without hearing from him.  You won’t have to pressure him or push him for more.  He will be with you, plain and simple.

Clearly, you want more from this man than just casual sex.  Sadly, you’re not going to get more from him.  He already knows that he doesn’t have to commit to you to sleep with you whenever he wants.  And since this kind of relationship works for him and you allow it, nothing is going to change.

My advice to you is that you end things with this guy.  You’re not getting what you want from him, what you deserve.  And that’s my point: you deserve the kind of relationship that YOU want.  You deserve to be with someone who will commit to you and really treat you with respect.

I don’t know if you’re settling for less than you deserve because you’re afraid to be alone, or if you’re truly in love with this guy.  But, you need to stop … NOW!  Men get away with treating us so casually because we allow them to.  You’ve given him all the power in this so-called relationship, and that’s just wrong!  You’re worth more than that, Sister.

I would also argue that your guy doesn’t really care about you, at all.  He obviously knows how you feel about him, yet he’s perfectly content to keep you dangling on a thread while he goes about his merry way.  If he really cared, he’d either give you the relationship you want and deserve, or he’d leave you alone.  But as long as you allow it, he’ll keep coming back for casual sex and a half-assed relationship on his terms.

This just isn’t the man for you, my friend.    The great Maya Angelou says that when someone shows you who they are, believe them.  Your guy has painted you a very clear picture of who he is.  You need to believe him, and cut your losses.  Let him go.  Walk … no RUN away as fast as you can.

Trust me, when you let go of this guy, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor!  Other than some occasional good sex, the only thing this man is doing for you is standing in the way of the man you’re supposed to be with.  As the Church Mothers say, “Girl, he ain’t doin’ nothin’ but blocking your blessings!”

Leaving this unfulfilling relationship would be an act of genuine self-love for you.  And like I always say, no one else is going to love you unless you love yourself first.

My dear, you deserve to have the kind of relationship that you want.  You deserve to be with a man who will commit to you.  Stop giving yourself to men who won’t give you what you want and deserve.  Stop selling yourself short.

Let this one go.  Let him be someone else’s problem.  Your King is out there, and this guy is just in his way.

How Do I Find A Good Man? ASK JANICE

Dear Janice,

I have a good job at a good company making good money. I just turned 31, and I really want a man – someone who can provide for a family. But, as a Black woman, I find it hard to find a Black man with a good salary. Also, I must say I haven’t received a lot of attention from non-Black men . But, the ones who are paying me attention don’t seem to be doing that well financially. Maybe I should just be looking for a good man, but it’s hard for me to seriously consider someone who makes less than I do for marriage.  

I would like your help in thinking this through. 

PS I love your articles and read them all the time.

Loyal Fan


Dear Loyal Fan,

First of all, thanks for your patience.  I’ve had some family and health challenges lately, which have prevented me from writing.  Things are a little more stabilized now, and I’m slowly getting caught up with everything.  So, thanks for your loyalty and patience.  It is much appreciated.

Now, about your situation … First of all, you are not alone.  The reality is that even though on average, women still make about 70% of what men make on the job, there are more and more single women who find themselves dating men who make less money.  This is a by-product of the great strides women have made in the workforce, shattering many of the glass ceilings which had previously held us back.  Things still aren’t equal, though.  We still have a long way to go.

However, while there have been changes in women’s salaries, our attitudes about who should be the breadwinner in the home should be haven’t changed.  Your own attitude about it proves this.  You admit that it would be hard to seriously consider a man for marriage if he made less money than you do.  And believe me, I understand how you feel.  I mean, we all grew up with stories about Prince Charming sweeping in and taking care of us, right?  And no matter how accomplished we become professionally, in the back of our minds, many of us still want that fairytale.

But we all need to get real!  Those fairytales were written when more women stayed home than were in the workforce.  And honestly?  None of those stories were really written for us Black girls.  So, we need to release those unrealistic and antiquated ideas about what marriage really is and face facts.  In today’s economy, it usually takes two incomes to live comfortably.  And if both of those incomes are coming into the same household, does it really matter whose is larger, the man’s or the woman’s?

Listen, the reality is that a wealthy man can be a wife beater, chronic cheater and low-down, pumpkin eater just as well as a hard-working, but lower paid man can.  Conversely, a hard-working, but lower paid man can be a sweet, supportive, loving husband, just as well as a wealthy man.  My point is that what you want is a good man, period.

A good man will take that less than huge salary and stretch it, save it, invest it and do whatever it takes to provide for his family.  A bad man can take a huge salary and squander it on other women, drugs, alcohol or gambling, leaving you with far less than what you started with.

Stop looking at paychecks and start looking at personalities.  Stop looking for someone to take care of you, and find a man who will take care of business WITH you.  After all, if a man is working and bringing home a paycheck (even if it’s smaller than yours), he is contributing to the household.  You still have more with his smaller salary than you do without it.  And with that smaller salary, you’re not sleeping alone.

Besides, just looking at dollars alone doesn’t give you the whole story.  Maybe he’s at the top of his field in an industry that just pays less than yours.  Or maybe he doesn’t bring home as much cash, but his job includes other perks like cheaper health insurance, better life insurance, travel perks and other things.  Maybe he doesn’t make a whole lot of money on the job, but he’s so skilled at mechanics or household repairs, he can make double that under the table on the weekends doing side jobs.  Maybe he doesn’t make as much because he works fewer hours, but that means you get to come home to a clean house, a hot meal, a hot bath and some good lovin’!

Money isn’t everything, my Sista!  Give me a good man with a moderate income and I can turn that into a lifetime of bliss!

Don’t get it twisted, though.  I don’t believe in supporting a man who isn’t at least doing his part.  You may not be making as much as me, Brother, but you’d better be making something!  I don’t believe in raising a grown man!  And if he is looking for a free ride from you, then he needs to go with a quickness!

You’re only 31, Girlfriend.  There’s still plenty of time for you to find the right guy, so stop fretting.  I just want you to focus on finding someone who is good to you and for you, and that doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of his paycheck.  You’ve got a good job with a good salary, and can take care of yourself.  You don’t need a man to do that for you.  What you need is a man who will enhance your life in ways that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

Seek a man who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated; who will love your truest and most authentic self.  Find someone with whom you’re compatible … someone you enjoy spending time with.  And as long as you two are compatible socially, sexually, spiritually and intellectually, then a disparity between your salaries won’t matter at all.  Because if you find the right man for you, you will find a life partner with whom you can build a great life together.

Happy Hunting!


My Love; My Self-Esteem

Is our ability to love and be loved linked to our self-esteem? Is it true we can’t have a really emotionally satisfying romantic relationship unless we are happy with who we are?

This is what today’s relationship columns tell us. Even SuzyKnew did a piece on how our relationship with our mother affects our ability to find true love later in life.

But, who doesn’t have a friend who was constantly depressed and then got happy once she got a man? How many of us have seen women turn their lives around once they found a supportive partner who gave them the attention and compliments they craved?

We need to put some perspective around the advice we get from these columns. I mean don’t these columns also tell us that we should surround ourselves with positive people in order to stay positive? So, why not surround ourselves with some good-looking men who pay us compliments – and the bill?!

I’m just sayin’…

But, low self-esteem can hold us back from love.  Relationship experts on YourTango offer these indications that low self-esteem is keeping you back from the true love you deserve.

Do they have it right?

  • You end up with men who are not able to give you what you really want; they’ll be unavailable in some way, whether not completely done with an ex, they’re married to their work, they are emotionally damaged in some way, or they live too far away.
  • It can be challenging to simply receive love and acceptance from a man, without being in “produce mode” – I call it the “Me plus what I give or do equals good enough to earn love” syndrome.
  • The fear of being rejected can bring out the absolute worst behaviors – which often lead to being rejected; controlling men or circumstances, being unable to be vulnerable and open with them, rejecting them first, or, as I call it, the “You can’t fire me – I quit” syndrome.