[Claire] Thank you, and welcome to…


 … the game show on which love coaches answer reader e-mail and match wits with members of our studio audience (100 readers who voted on Ebony.com) while taking the Three Choices Challenge.

We’ll hear six dilemmas from our Mystery Guests—EBONY readers who’ve hit relationship rough spots. Is it better for them to break up or make up? Perhaps it’s time to wake up and re-evaluate expectations! There’s only one way to find out. Let’s play along!

Challenger #1 is James C.
Wadley, Ph.D., a sex therapist from Philadelphia! (drjameswadley.com). Welcome, Dr. Wadley. Listen as our first Mystery Guest backstage tells us what she’s dealing with …

{Mystery Guest #1} My husband keeps porn in his pocket! He watches pornographic videos sent to his smartphone by “a friend.” I’m afraid his habit may lead to sexual experimentation outside of our marriage. He claims the videos don’t really turn him on, so why can’t he stop looking at them? Is he addicted?

Dr. Wadley, your response?

You and your husband may be in denial about his pornography use and what it means. Is he a sex addict who can’t control his behavior? Maybe. It’s his denial that it is a problem: His refusal to set appropriate boundaries with the sender and the medium through which he uses it in isolation suggest the possibility. Meanwhile, you may be an unwitting enabler. Both of you should consult a psychologist or therapist who has training in the treatment of sex addiction and …
[Buzzer sounds]

Time’s up! Dr. Wadley, your answer to this Mystery Guest’s challenge is … WAKE UP! And re-evaluate the relationship. Does the studio agree?

Studio Audience;

Make up 27%

Wake up 62%

Break up 11%

Way to go! Who’s next, Don?

Challenger #2 is Shane K. Perrault, Ph.D., founder of africanamericanmarriagecounseling.com, who joins us from Greenbelt, Md. Here’s a guest with a gripe, Dr. Perrault …

{Mystery Guest #2} Every time I get into an argument with my girlfriend, she threatens to leave. I don’t know what to do to make her happy. How can I fix this?

I sympathize with the anxiety that her threatening to leave causes you. It’s unsettling to imagine that someone you love is less invested in the relationship. To change this pattern, shift from being reactive to becoming proactive. Often, people threaten to leave because they feel their issues won’t be heard—much less resolved. Even worse, your mate may feel she will be hurt over and over. If you react to her threats in an angry, defensive or critical way, you could make a bad situation worse. During your next fight, invest your energy into discovering why she is hurt instead of fixating on why you are hurt and offended about her threatening to leave. Try saying, “I love you and recognize that you feel hurt, unheard and frustrated. I don’t want you to feel that way. What precisely are you hurt about?” Then listen! Instead of defending yourself or criticizing her concerns, try asking, “What would make you feel better?” and, “What would the behavioral changes you need from me look like?” Next, simply respond by saying, “I hear you and do not want you to feel that way anymore. I love you, and going forward, while I will still make mistakes, I will do things differently so that your concerns are addressed.” [Buzzer]

That’s the way you MAKE UP!

Studio Audience:

Make up  5%

Wake up  36%

Break up  59%


Challenger #3 is Linda R. Young, Ph.D., a psychologist from The Woodlands, Texas (drlindayoung.com). Welcome, Dr. Young! Let’s listen to our Mystery Guest.

{Mystery Guest #3} After I found a video of him having sex with other women, I kicked him out. I know this sounds crazy, but I still love him and want him back home. We still have sex sometimes, but I know he’s seeing someone else. He says he still loves me. What should I do?

Dr. Young, your response?

Your boyfriend has made it clear that he doesn’t value your relationship. Tell him you are going to stop seeing him because you don’t want to be a booty call. To help you stand your ground, get to the bottom of the issues that keep you holding on. Complete this sentence: “I’m afraid if I never see him again …” Some common answers I’ve heard and the corresponding issues they represent are: “No one else will love me” (self-worth); “I’ll be too lonely” (lack of social support); “There are no good men out there” (distorted belief that all men are dogs). Work with a counselor or self-help resources to address the issues your answers reveal. Now flip the sentence to the positive: “The best things about never seeing him again will be …” Reread your answers daily to boost your resolve and … [Buzzer]

Dr. Young, we heard you loud and clear that our guest needs to BREAK UP with that low-down dirty dog. Our friends in the audience say …

Studio Audience:

Make up 1%

Wake up 21%

Break up 78%

Challenger #4 is Ronn Elmore, Psy.D. (dating-help-for-women.com). He’s a best-selling author and therapist based in Elk Grove, Calif. Listen up,
Dr. Ronn …

{Mystery Guest #4} We dated on and off for nine years. Now we’re engaged on and off. I was 19 when my boyfriend and I started dating. Now I’m 28, and he’s 34. He says he still loves me, but at times like this, I don’t see it. We never stop arguing over trivial things. We’re not on the same level educationally, but he has done things for me no other man would. I heard a voicemail message of him flirting with a girl, and we had a huge argument. Now he’s talking about calling off the wedding, and I feel betrayed. How can I move my relationship out of this slump?

Dr. Elmore, can you help?

Honestly, you don’t sound confused. You sound scared. You’ve had the same two choices all along: stay and try (again!) to make it work, or end this chronically unhappy relationship for good. If you stay, at least leave the passive “complain and continue” pattern you’re stuck in. Instead, insist that you and he undergo couples’ counseling, or it’s over. But frankly, I sense that your true desire is to end this deeply flawed relationship—now.
Fear of the unknown keeps you obsessing over whether you’d be making a regrettable mistake; however, the longer this drags out, the uglier your parting is likely to be …[Buzzer]

Time’s up! You hedged a little with the multiple choice, but that sounded like BREAK UP! What say you, audience?

Studio Audience:

Make up 3%

Wake up 65%

Break up 32%

Challenger #5 is Chad Dion Lassiter, M.S.W. (chaddionlassiter.com). He joins us from the city of Brotherly Love. What’s your story, Mystery Guest?

{Mystery Guest #5} My girl’s relationship with her son’s father is rocky. But they still call each other Momma and Poppa, like old times. Why should my lady keep calling him by a pet name now that they are no longer
together? Should I approach
her about this?

Chad Dion Lassiter, what’s your take?

It’s a challenge for many men to find their voice and address something like this because of the hypermasculinity and hypervulnerability so many of us have internalized. You’ll need to move beyond the societal and self-imposed barrier we know so well: the “cool pose,” to feel comfortable discussing this with your girlfriend. Let her know that the behavior bothers you and why. Ask her why she does it; you may find it’s simply out of habit or with no intent toward intimacy with him. As you stated, their relationship is rocky. Request that she call him by his given name. It’s time to be direct. Ask for what you want.

That’s definitely a WAKE UP call! Survey says …

Studio Audience:

Make up 10%

Wake up 69%

Break up 21%

Challenger #6 is Mary Pender Greene, LCSW-R, ACSW (marypendergreene.com), a therapist from The Big Apple.  

{Mystery Guest #6} My boyfriend and I were best friends for four years and started dating last year. I live in Houston, he lives in Kansas City, Kan. We see each other monthly. We’ve talked about moving in together. He has a young son, so I’d have to relocate. I’m second-guessing the whole thing, and it’s causing friction between us. Do you think it’s a good idea?

Mary Pender Greene?

In a long-distance relationship, you are getting the best of the person when you are together. Excitement is always heightened when time is limited. Moving in together would enable you to get to know each other on a day-to-day basis. You’d get a clearer, more realistic sense of his world: who he is as a person, what he offers as a mate and how he handles his responsibilities as a parent. There may be ups and downs, challenges and adjustments to make, but you won’t be able to make an informed decision un-
less you try it. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. You must experience the situation fully to decide if you are happy … [Buzzer]

Ah, here’s a loving couple that needs to work it out and … MAKE UP! The rest of you say …

Studio Audience:

Make up 11%

Wake up 64%

Break up 25%

Well, our guests came to the right place for smart advice! Which challenger’s answer got the most votes from our studio audience, Don?

Dr. Linda Young, with 78% agreeing that Mystery Guest #3 should break up with that cheating man.

That makes dr. Linda today’s champion!

Thank you for sharing your stories. When you’re clear about your values and value yourself enough to demand the honesty, respect and intimacy you deserve, you’re a winner in the game of love!

Thanks to our Love Coaches, our guests here at Connect Studios and you at home. ’Til the next time we play … Good night and gooooooooood lovin.’