relationships Archives - The Jose Vilson


Whitney Houston

This is part of the OccupyVDay movement, sponsored by Samhita Mukhopadhyay. I found out about it via Jennifer Pozner and didn’t think I would, but Ms. Houston inspired this. Rest in peace.

Until a few years ago, Valentine’s Day worsened everything I knew about love.

My first crush was this girl named Barbara in the second grade. Whether it was her low key demeanor, cherubic face, or her dulcet voice, I knew I had to send her a card and a small box of chocolates to let her know my feelings towards her. Sure enough, the other Jose in the classroom (Jose L, because namesakes have to take on their last initials) felt the same way. We didn’t compete for long because she disappeared to another school soon after.

My second crush happened in the fifth grade with a girl who, by all measures, people considered way out of my league. When Valentine’s Day came, instead of actually asking her to be my Valentine directly, I sent her a copy of The Bodyguard Soundtrack on tape. This endeavor was a fail of epic proportions: not only did the tape come on too strong, but I didn’t learn my lesson in the least.

My third crush didn’t come until sixth grade. I missed Valentine’s Day, so I waited until way after graduation to talk to her. The problem is, I gave her a mixtape of songs that reminded me of our elementary school years together, and a flower … then ran away. The present me watches the movie of the kid me screaming “NOOO!!!!!” Not only did I not even give her a chance to respond, I didn’t even talk to her until her graduation. By then, she had already developed the most frigid of shoulders.

During my middle school years, I went to an all-boys school, normally a safe haven from the pressures of relationships with the opposite sex, but the school had a sister school a few blocks away. We also had a school counselor who I had a bit of a crush on. After asking my mom for a spike in my allowance, I bought gifts for a good four people, none of whom had that mutual interest in building a romantic relationship. They wanted to go steady … as friends.


During my high school years, I had a Valentine then, too. I crossed the barrier of actually speaking to Ana about dating. I thought I did everything right: I called her, I wrote up a card in my chicken scratch handwriting, and even gave it to her face-to-face without running away. Just one problem: I never followed through. I thought the gift would have sufficed for a few chances at getting to know her better. Alas, I only got one, and I missed it. We remained friends, but I never learned how to take it from there.

Thus, Valentine’s Day became this enigma where I stubbornly believed that, if I make a monetary investment and depreciate my self-worth, I would do the right thing by the girl / woman of my dreams. I didn’t have someone to teach me the rules of courtship, and my parents preoccupied themselves with making sure I stuck to more scholarly pursuits with lines like, “Be careful! You might get her pregnant and you don’t want that!” Add this to the social pressures from my friends who had a new girl to date every week or so, and it was enough to make me quit this relationship business completely.

It’s a psychological castration that does no favors to a young man trying to understand how all the pieces fit.

With frustrations building, I started developing the nice-guy mantra in college, a sexist idea that states “If a woman doesn’t want me specifically, then the guy she’s currently dating must be a jerk, so I must be a jerk to get her.” I didn’t know how I had turned into this monster. I had so many women around me in college who inspired me, led me, and pushed my thinking. I also knew I needed to find a solution.

Sure enough, I turned to music. I remembered this one song I used to love back in elementary school by Whitney Houston. For those who grew up in the 80s and 90s, listening to the song signaled a change of the channel because gruesome images of starving children and adults would mess with our scheduled programming. After revisiting the song, I realized it spoke to an element of spirituality and love I never understood.

Throughout our entire lives, we’re asked to show off, compete, and do for others so long as we can something in return. Our daily interactions are a commodity, the things we do an investment on some personal gain. Valentine’s Day promotions encourage those of us with no root to cling onto hopes unfounded. What might have once been an innocent  day to demonstrate and celebrate appreciate each other’s existence has turned into a billion dollar industry feeding off the insecurities and cultural neurosis of the social collective.

How often do people wonder if this holiday has become less about love and more about outbidding competitors?

Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” asks us to invest more in ourselves. The lyrics started to crack a shovel at my lack of self-love. Before we go spending hundreds of dollars for flowers that last a week if you’re lucky, we ought to spend our time and energies growing ourselves as spiritual beings. Only then can we really develop profound, meaningful relationships with others. Even if the person has neither the desire or capacity to reciprocate your love for them, your love of self carries you forward.

Compulsory gifts to our paramours and significant others can’t change that.

After learning this lesson (the hard way), I began to restructure my wayward ideas on this day. As a work in progress, I continue to find ways to spread the love throughout the year rather than this specific day. With a newborn on my lap every afternoon, I now have a responsibility to teach him about this story long before I find a book bag full of heart-shaped boxes and mixtapes.

Jose, who normally wouldn’t write about love, especially on the first day after launching my brand new website design.


On Commitment

November 28, 2010

Jay-Z and Beyonce

I caved. After dodging some calamitous trends and memes in the social media world, I let people “inbox” me their questions, hoping no one would ask me anything too off-kilter. In previous exercises, people have done everything from asking me to predict their futures to openly wondering why I didn’t want to meet up with them. I squirmed internally and gave the most appropriate response possible (and haven’t tried to meet them since).I mean, other people can read my response and they have a record of my interaction, and that in and of itself is a commitment.

It’s probably why I never make promises I can’t keep.

I might say something like, “I’ll try my hardest to be there” with a fat asterisk that continues, “weather-permitting, or if I already made a commitment that I won’t be able to leave early from, or if I just gave the kids a quiz that day and I have to grade it to let them know I’m being serious about their education.” It’s probably why I don’t commit to events often, either. I rarely attend things, so when I do, people genuinely drop their jaw when I do make it out.

My word is my bond.

It’s probably why I don’t say very much, either. There’s so few things I’m open with in public forums nowadays, my sex and love life highest amongst them. Of course, when I post a request to those in my network to inbox me questions, the first one would be about relationships. I probably would have punted a couple of years ago, but now I can see the field better, so I’m willing to go for the touchdown with the end zone much closer than before.

My friend Danielle asks, “Why are those who are afraid of commitment so afraid? What is their fear?”

“… Too many reasons, but my best reason: They’re often afraid of commitment because, essentially, you’re giving yourself to another person. There are studies that show that people who have an amorous relationship with someone else develop a semi-symbiotic relationship too, so when they break up, it makes them feel like they lost a part of themselves. If you constantly find yourself giving of yourself so much, it gets harder to trust that much of your person to someone else unless they know how to take care of it.”

It’s so true in almost any relationship you take on. I just know from personal experience that the idea of commitment is much easier to work through than the action of commitment. What commitment entails is much more than saying it. I’m still learning this thing about commitment, but I have something worth fighting for. I’m not perfect, but I’m giving more of my person to the other. And if that’s happening, then that means I’m trusting them with more of me.

If I ever perfect the potion for commitment, I’ll put it in a bottle. Not to sell it, just to take a whiff of it whenever I need it in other parts of my life, too.

Jose, who vows to only take on (at most) 3 memes a month …

I went from the favourite to the most hated
or would you rather be underpaid or over-rated?

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Ice Cube and Chris Tucker, Friday

On this sunny, brisk day, two young shapely women in well-fitting sweatpants walk past me to my left. Concentrated on getting my bookshelves together, I didn’t think to turn around and do what most men do given such a situation. The guy with his girl in front of me, however, found some longer-lasting misfortunes doing what I didn’t do.

“I ain’t mad at you checking them out,” she said.

I smiled, because I knew what was coming next.

“So then why did you say something?”
“Because it makes me wonder why you’re checking out other girls why you’re with me.”
“It’s natural. Guys can’t help it, and you know that.”

Dude could have stopped right there. He didn’t.

“I mean, girls gossip and guys don’t understand that. Is that not natural to chicks?”

I crossed the street before I either saw a bawl-fest or another whack to the arm, but laughed just the same. He wasn’t going to hear the end of it. Obviously, he has no desire to adopt a mature mechanism for checking women out so he has two options at this point: he can either apologize to his lady and never check out women again around her or he can be blatant and check out every woman that appeals to him around her. Either way, it makes him look like a jerk, no matter how ephemeral his pleasure.

To an extent, he’s right; most guys glance at other women frequently, not to be disrespectful towards their mate. If anything, it’s either a force of habit or nature. Often, nothing more. Like a child who’s looking around the room and finds everything so fascinating, a guy is often looking but not looking for any other reason. If they’re single, they’re often more likely to try something, but even then, it’s more often than not an overt means of expressing something within. At least from what I’ve seen.

Once we get older, we get over it. Yes, we’ll still steal a glance here and there, but the more mature members of our sex will mostly take a deep breath and focus more on what’s important. If I was that guy, I’d probably just tell my lady (because I already have) that guys aren’t as physiologically intelligent and too often our nature takes over our reason, even when our needs are being met satisfactorily. (Read: we’re dumb and we’re learning how to cope with it.) Guys in general eventually catch up and if we really care, we’ll try our best to get on par with what we’re saying to our partners.

But that’s coming from this Dominican male, and not the one that got the crazy side-eye from his woman this afternoon. After the way he turned around this afternoon, he’s probably got more than a neck to take care of.

Jose, whose neck is just fine, thank you very much …

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August 8, 2010 Jose
The New Trevor and Ceci Tamsen (taken a while back)

I just got back from the most well-traveled three weeks I’ve had in my life, and in my travels, I learned quite a bit about myself and the people around me. My latest stop to San Diego, CA, was no different. My friend of 10 years Ceci and her now-husband Trevor invited me to their […]

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The Manhood Series: 8 Great Reasons Why She’s Not Calling Back

July 6, 2010 Jose
Lady GaGa, "Telephone" Video

For more from my Manhood Series, please check this tag. Have a great read! If the first words that come out of my mouth are “He didn’t really say that!”, chances are I’m talking to a friend of mine about a some guy who threw her terrible lines. My face either looks like someone’s head […]

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Sugar, Spice, and Other Items We Should Never Mix

May 25, 2010 Jose
Bad Sugar

“They say you can’t turn a bad girl good, but once a good girl’s gone bad, she’s gone forever.” – Jay-Z, “Song Cry” Five years ago, when I first used this quote for my former blog, I wrote about my relationships with the opposite sex, and pondered whether the adversities of the ones I’d met […]

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My Not-So-Funny Actually Quite Tragic Valentine [The Love Below Series]

February 12, 2009 Jose
How To Heal A Broken Heart

Before my days in college (man, I loved college), I really didn’t much success with the ladies. And by not that much, I mean there was a recession of immense proportions. I looked around and watch my friends talk about female orifices and their indexes feeling on the softest, roundest female bottoms ever. Me? Not […]

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