"guess it's bout time i'm due another love/messin with this n**ga got me fallin apart..."--Teedra Moses She's a natural beauty, stunning with or without makeup. A head-turner men can't help but whip around to take a peek at when she's walking down the street, or even in the next car. She's vivacious, with big, pretty eyes, a sweet smile and a sexy style. After years of begging off from eligible guys, she finds "him". The one. And being that he's the one, she pours herself into him like batter, determined to make it work. But the word "work" doesn't even begin to describe all the heavy-lifting the relationship requires. He's high-maintenance in one way or another, difficult, hard to understand and hard to deal with. He cheats or he ignores her or he puts his hands on her. He's always stressing her out and transferring his weighty negative energy onto her. And after a considerable amount of time with him, she's exhausted. She's still gorgeous, of course, but now there's something in the eyes--which, of course, mirror the soul--that says she could use some time away...from everything. Most people would guess she just looks really amazing for 32. How old is she really? 22. Women that are truly gorgeous have a light about them, an enigmatic, ethereal beauty that supercedes video-vixen or supermodel standards. It's God-given, of course, and it draws in everyone, especially the opposite sex. Unfortunately, it often happens that the same men that are attracted to this light are the ones able dim it to the point where the woman is damn near unrecognizable. In an effort to not put too much of my friend's business in the street (because you have all been here), I can safely say that I had a crazy light at one time, before the last time I locked it down for SB. Dave cracks me up these days by insisting that when we broke up, I looked so beautiful everytime he saw me that it seemed like there a little person following me around with a beam light. I laugh, but I know what he's talking about; I had a crazy glow back then that even I could see. And there was a sliver of time after Dave and before I was bamboozled into signing back up for SB that I could have run for the hills. But no, I took my glow and my light and poured it into loving him. He could have made it even brighter, but that would have been too much like right. Needless to say, over the next couple years, the wear and tear of that love did a number on me to the point where I don't think anyone thought I had anything especially ethereal going on. Kim noted the other day that it was only after I finally got some sense in my head and back-outed from that relationship that I began to get my light back. And it's true, people that I didn't even know started to comment on my glow. And that's only when I put an end to the romance, when I finally managed to scrape him completely out of my life, I was suddenly back to the old me--only better. It goes beyond the superficial: the bottom line is that being with some men can grate at your self-esteem. If he doesn't lift you up, tends to put you down, or is kind of neither here nor there on the whole, it does have an affect over timee. As women, we should expect to find a man that absolutely cannot believe we're so fly, for whatever reason we happen to be fly. He should not be able to fathom that you are so smart and talented, beautiful and cool. But a lot of men are quietly intimidated by a woman that has a lot going on, and, in the words of Vince Vaughn want to "isolate her and make her feel bad about herself". This is, of course, unacceptable. No man should be able to make or break a woman, but it happens every day. My friend told me last year that all the little things that different men say, over time, over years, adds up and it slowly chips away at a woman's core until she has messed up beliefs about herself. I believe this is true. You need the man in your life to counteract this; he should build up what has been broken and make it even more prominent. Also, a woman has to be strong enough to get out of situations that look like they have the potential to do the opposite and cut them off at the pass. Because, honestly, if you're not careful, a man will age the crap out of you. Spending time with him can make you not do the things you want to do for yourself. And conversely, the mark of a great relationship is where you only get better without losing yourself or letting any part of you that you treasure go. I can't speak for everyone, but I actually do treasure my looks. And so any man that doesn't help and encourage me to look great and doesn't care if I look a mess as long as I hang around is not for me. A man should take away the burdens that stress you, not add to them. 30 is the new 20, not the other way around. And finding the right man should make you feel--and look--even younger than you are.