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good love

good love

“I wanna know what good love feels like, good love, good love. I want a love that’s sure to stand the test of time. I wanna know what good love feels like, good love, good love.”

The longing for love in our lives can become more pervasive on February 14th of each year, a day many look forward to and as many dread. It can be a day of surprise (i.e., marriage proposals) or a day of disappointment (i.e, the surprise delivery of roses and chocolates never arrives). If we are among the disappointed ones, we may also experience envy on Valentine’s Day, wishing for ourselves the kind of affirmations others receive seemingly so easily.

I like that Anita Baker’s hit song, “Good Love,” qualifies what kind of love she wants – a good love. Too often we just say that we want love in our lives, that we lack love. More often than not, that’s not the case. We do have love, just not “good” love. If we can begin to acknowledge the various kinds of love and then begin to qualify them, we are well on our way to actually having what we desire.

“[O]ur experiences of love, and our loves, take multiple forms. Some thinkers prefer to reserve the name ‘love’ for a love that has normative content – that is, for loves that they consider to be good loves. Yet we know that not all of our loves are good, though they are loves. There are wise loves and foolish, good loves and bad, true loves and mistaken loves. The question ultimately is, what is a right love, a good, just , and true love?” (Margaret Farley, as quoted in Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual and Spiritual Goodness by dr. candi dugas [available on Amazon, $11.68 Paperback, $9.99 Kindle])

Farley suggests 3 criteria for good love:

  1. A clear and true understanding of whom you’re loving
  2. Your interior (i.e., your soul) connects with whom you’re loving (mutuality not necessary)
  3. Affirming whom you’re loving in ways that are honest about the person’s current reality and potential

No. 1 is in play when we do not objectify a person, only loving him for what we believe he can do for our egos, bank accounts, social statuses or careers. We are engaged in No. 2 when what we’re experiencing is more than words or even actions. And No. 3 is at work when we are not having an affair with a man committed to another relationship as if he was not, as if he were free to commit to us.

When any 1 or more of these 3 criteria is not present in our relationships, we have a mistaken love. Mistaken love is not when we think we love someone, but we’re actually feeling something else, like obligation. Rather, mistaken or false love is when we believe we have a love that does not match the nature of the relationship.

Let the love you have be the love that it is. Find out its name and call it out. If it’s not a good love and that’s what you want, end it; let it go. Then make it your business to get the good love you seek. You deserve it. And you can have it. “What you seek is seeking you.” (Rumi)

“If you’re the man I hear you say you are, I don’t quite understand why loving me is so hard. Never have I felt the need to be this close. Words cannot say, heaven only knows: I wanna know what good love feels like, good love, good love. I want a love that’s sure to stand the test of time. I wanna know what good love feels like, good love, good love. Morning, noon and night, forever all my life.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

when love goes wrong



On Valentine’s Day, for those of us who don’t participate in the traditional lover’s gift exchange,
we may see plenty of self-love articles.
(I’ve written a few myself.)
This year I believe perhaps there is space, today, for sadness and grief –
without any suggestion or requirement to transform it into something more pleasant.
Not today, just because it’s V-Day.

she Cried,
Feeling the Loss of a Love
that Promised to be Destined

she Mourned,
Realizing the Hope of what was to be
will Never

she Grieved,
Understanding that the Woman she was
Before she met him –
She’ll never Know Her again

If she can Think rather than feel,
Maybe she could Celebrate
the Incredible Strength Unfolding
from all the Pain

But Not So

Not right Now

these Moments
are for Tears
and Anger
and Insulting Epithets

Perhaps tomorrow
Another Day she’ll think again,
laugh again … soften
– forgive –
and move on

“A fool for love is a fool for pain
But I refuse to love you again”
~Lisa Fischer, Lisa Melonie, Narada Michael Walden

When love begins, the possibilities are endless of what can be and how. Then the true invitation comes. G~d asks lovers to strip and grow and too many of us decline – for a host of reasons: fear, cowardice, this-isn’t-what-I-signed-up-for, etc. But love is about stripping and growing – always. There is no way around it – no matter how it lives – between parent and child, between friends or between lovers. As I’ve written before, love (especially romantic love) is designed precisely to be the one vehicle that will pierce and penetrate to the depths of our souls and wreak incredible amounts of havoc on the familiar, protected places there.

My problem with Valentine’s Day is built upon a host of mythical, romantic fantasies that belie the essence of what it means truly to love another and the vulnerability, the utter nakedness, involved in that authentic exchange. Perhaps this explanation is at the heart of why I so dislike this holiday. If V-Day was about reality, about the grittiness of love, I would have a different opinion. (To be fair, I’m adverse to most holidays which I deem to be “made-up excuses to spend money.”) Perhaps intended as days to force us to remember each other to be with each other in love – most become days in which we are forced to be, to feel and to act in ways that we wouldn’t if it weren’t for the facades we don to live up to certain expectations. Pretense is always where I get off the bus.

“[N]ot all of our loves are good, though they are loves. There are wise loves and foolish, good loves and bad, true loves and mistaken loves. The question ultimately is, what is a right love, a good, just, and true love?” ~Margaret Farley in Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness

Sometimes love disappoints. And it sucks. And it’s all worth it because love is not the ultimate goal or benefit of our exchanges with the other. Becoming our best selves always is. And that destination is worth everything it will ever cost us.

This Valentine’s Day I invite you not to pretend to be OK if you’re not. Be fucked up if that’s where you find yourself – BUT DO NOT be there alone. Ideally, get good, faith-based clinical help. If that’s out of reach, lean on the shoulder of a trusted friend or mentor. If you allow yourself the luxury of this pain and move through it, this time next year, your next V-Day will be a whole different story. If you do not allow it to be what it is in this moment, the chances increase greatly that 2015 will be a repeat of now.

These are my flowers and chocolate treats to you –
the reminder that roses come with thorns and candy can be bitter as well as sweet.

Love yourself. Treat yourself. Absolutely – do that. But ALWAYS be real and true!

Simply, sometimes V-Days suck.

(c) 2014 candi dugas, llc

knowing & being known in the bridges of madison county: love & erotica series

knowing & being known in the bridges of madison county: love & erotica series

“Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Those who follow my writings know that I can be rather cynical about tomorrow – its hyper-commercialization and the very thought that all the love we feel should be compressed and best expressed during one 24-hour period with flowers that are already dead, cards that will hopefully be recycled and candy and alcohol that will throw off the healthy lifestyle resolutions made just 6 weeks prior. (Check out an archived article: “How Do We Love Ourselves? Self-love, An Ultimate Gift for Valentine’s Day”)

While my cynicism still exists, it is not as prominent this year as my continued fascination with the concept of different kinds of loves. Margaret Farley contends: “[L]ove is the problem in ethics, not the solution. [Our] experiences of love, and our loves take multiple forms. . . . [N]ot all of our loves are good, though they are loves. There are wise loves and foolish, good loves and bad, true loves and mistaken loves. The question ultimately is, what is a right love, a good, just, and true love?” (quoted from Who Told You That You Were Naked? Black Women Reclaiming Sexual & Spiritual Goodness)

So, this season is a prime time to pick back up on our love and eroticism series with a post about The Bridges of Madison County and how we love to love inappropriate love affairs (i.e., Liv and Fitz on “Scandal”). In Bridges we celebrate the love born from a brief affair over 4 days between an Iowa housewife and a celebrated National Geographic photographer. We don’t bemoan the fact that Francesca is betraying the loving trust her husband places in her. For over an hour we watch the chemistry ignite and the tension build between her and Robert. And then we watch for about another hour as they resolve their dilemma of forbidden love.

Francesca and Robert

Francesca and Robert in The Bridges of Madison County (from

What is it that draws us in, particularly those of us who ascribe to some level of moral and ethical accountability?

Perhaps when we applaud long-term married couples we are not celebrating the longevity of their union. Perhaps we are cheering for the depth of love we surmise they share because they have been together for so long. It’s the depth of love to which we connect, not the social and legal construct [marriage] we tend to perch upon pedestals. So, when we witness it between lovers, it matters not that they are married or even connect outside the bounds of another committed relationship. We seek love and we celebrate it wherever we find it – the kind of love that means “you get me.”

Francesca declares early in the movie, “What becomes more and more important is to be known, known for who you are.”

While she’s been with her dear husband for probably about 20 years, we understand that he does not truly know his wife for who she really is. They met in her native Italy and her agreeing to marry him meant that she would immigrate to America, an adventurous notion. Instead of her perceived glitz and glam, she got rural Iowa with its stable and loving community devoid of adventure. Even when she found joy in teaching, her husband preferred that she be a stay-at-home mom. Meeting Robert, she experiences an almost instant connection with a kindred soul. Both are intrigued by the other. He touches her place of adventure within and she wants more. After they make love for the first time on her living room floor in front of the fireplace, Francesca requests with tears in her eyes, “Take me some place, huh? Right now, take me some place that you’ve been. Some place on the other side of the world.”

 And we root for them because we root for [depth of] love, however it’s defined.

Let’s love ourselves first and well this Valentine’s Day. Then we will draw unto us a depth of love that burns with authenticity. Now, that is worth celebrating!

the cdllc calendar

Current Events

  • “Interrupting Race & Gender Oppression” – Now through March 1, 2013 – Travel to the west coast is expensive right now and I’m attending this fabulous training that addresses race & gender oppression “using storytelling, laughter, deep listening and other creative models and media.” Any amount is helpful! To donate (tax-deductible) and learn more, please visit my fundraising page. Thank you for your generous support!

Upcoming Events

  • “Single, Saved & Sexin’: The Redux” – Coming in March, Google+ Hangout – Revisiting the renowned Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) post, I join Crunktastic, Rev. Arabella Littlepage, and Rev. Theresa Thames on a panel to discuss “what it means to be a spiritual person and have an intimate life,” especially in singleness. We will be live; so, get your comments and questions ready! Read the original postCFC on Google+.

  • Urban Grind Book Club” – Premiering April 2013, every 2nd Sunday, Urban Grind Coffeehouse, Atlanta, GA  – Featuring books (fiction & non-fiction) and their authors, as a community that loves to read, write, and discuss interesting literary work. Interested authors should email me at to register.

Recent Events

  • “Doug Pagitt Radio: Religious Radio That’s Not Quite Right” – Last month I was a guest on Doug Pagitt’s radio show discussing Who Told You That You Were Naked? What a great conversation! Here are the links, in 2 parts: Part 1 and Part 2.

Annnnd . . . Texts for Our (Re)Consideration:

  • “Love never ends. . . . For we know only in part, but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. . . . For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Cor 13:8-12, NRSV)
  • “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will [rescue] you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” (Gospel of Thomas, Saying #70)
  • “When have you last had a good session with yourself? Or have ever had it out with you? Most often you are brought face to face with yourself only when such an encounter is forced upon you. Usually it is in connection with a crisis situation. . . . Now you look for some clues outside yourself and there are none to be found. You must decide and abide. . . . Whatever may be the occasion there comes a deep necessity that leads you finally into the closet of yourself. It is here you raise the real questions about yourself. The leading one is, “What is it, after all, that I amount to, ultimately?” Such a question cuts through all that is superficial and trivial in life to the very nerve center of yourself. . . . This is found only in relation to God whose Presence [Light] makes itself known in the most lucid moments of self-awareness. For all of us are God’s children [or children of Light] and the most crucial clue to a knowledge of God [or the Light] is to be found in the most honest and most total knowledge of the self. (The Inward Journey, Howard Thurman, 40)

NOTE: Since a wonderful group, CommonUnity, shared points 2 & 3 with me, I share them with you. Check them out on Facebook.

(c) copyright 2013, candi dugas, llc. All rights reserved.

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