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checklistNEO, it seems like nobody can say nothing about what they want today without somebody else taking it personal. Can’t people make a choice about what they prefer in a relationship without being accused of judging? -LISA F.

MY REPLY: There are plenty of instances that can be personal but not in a judgemental way. People don’t talk about it out of fear of other people catching a case. There is nothing I ever write about that I don’t get a bunch of replies saying “yeah but”.

The thing is, just because you have a preference don’t mean you don’t recognize the exceptions. You are entitled to the choices that your conscience can live with. Like there are family members and friends who will call us for a quick fix to their problems because it is convenient for them but we know they need to learn so we will sometimes ignore them. Otherwise we will be cleaning up after them forever.

Some personal examples for me is I have to limit my time around smokers. I will not ride in a smoker’s car or go to a smoker’s house. I can spend only so much time with a smoker riding with me or even in my home because the nicotine makes me ill and closes my throat; not to mention what it does to me being intimate with a smoker. Even though there are non smokers married to smokers, I just can’t really hang with one. That is not me judging them, although I do jump on them a lot because I lost my father to cigarettes and never want to see it happen to a friend. But cigarette smoking affects my friendships with people because it is a health matter, not a judgement matter. Even doctors will tell you that women and children suffer higher health risk when there is a smoker in the home and some female problems are directly tied to having sex with a smoker.

Another issue for me is obesity. It isn’t that I find my thick friends unattractive. Just the opposite. I enjoy being around a thick chocolate sistah with a great spirit. But my overweight friends see me more in the winter time. That is because I am not a big fan of air conditioning and also don’t need a bunch of fans. My big friends freeze me out when I’m in the car with them or at their home. Every summer cold I have ever had has been trying to be sensitive to the comfort of my overweight friends so I tend not to invite big people to my home a lot in the warm or hot weather because I won’t sacrifice my health for their comfort and I don’t like the pressure it puts on them not to complain.

Since I work for myself, I don’t get paid if I am sick. Is that judgement? No. It’s just the truth. Of course there are some smaller folk who are just as bad with the a/c but it doesn’t affect them as much to turn it down. We all have to live with the results of our life styles and choices. Just like I like to be more active in the warm weather. I like to bike, swim, fast walk, hike, and play low impact sports. Because of this, I am more likely to be around my friends who are in a position to participate in those activities with me without slowing down. So it would not be practical for me to have a mate who could not do the things I enjoy because that is how people grow apart and have affairs with those who they see more than their mate while doing the things their mate cannot or will not do.

Being unequally yoked is not just a religious term, it is also a practical one. You should be able to enjoy the things you love with the person you love. It’s different if unforeseeable circumstances cause things to change but I would not deliberately put myself in a committed relationship with anyone incompatible with areas very important to me. It’s a setup. Just like me being a writer getting with someone who hates to read. Or like not inviting my friends who are vegetarians during BBQ season. I don’t want to hear their mouth and they don’t want to see me tearing meat off of bones with my teeth. There are just some things we need to be grown about without always taking it personally. It is not offensive to tell the truth. But if you can be merciful in its telling, it is usually better received. -NEO BLAQNESS