Views: Soul Food

outdoorcouple_smFriendship first, relationship second, marriage third, and sex last.

You can’t cook a turkey in a microwave, but in a microwave society, we don’t understand this simple concept. We want our meal fast and we want it now! Turkey is like relationships. There’s a natural order involved and you have to prep them both. Empty the insides, tuck the wings, tie the drumsticks and place it in the oven. A turkey requires nurturing. You can’t reverse the process and expect good results. However, most people ignore the process and get a burnt bird.

We want the sex first, the friendship last and throw the relationship and marriage somewhere in between. Most ignore the process and get a burnt heart. We know it doesn’t work this way, but it doesn’t matter what we know, it matters what we do. If we keep ignoring the recipe, we’ll keep the divorce rate high and the happy couple rate low. You can’t bake an apple pie on an oven rack alone–you need a baking pan to prevent the dough from spilling through the cracks. And you can’t build a relationship on sexual attraction alone–it’s messy. You need friendship to support the foundation.

When soul-singer, Bill Withers said “Lean on me, when you’re not strong/ And I’ll be your friend/ I’ll help you carry on,” He understood the architecture of relationships. Though his lyrics are simple, the philosophy is profound. Friendship alone is enough to sustain whatever it comes against.

There is no fountain of youth and there aren’t many sexy 70 year olds. When we’re close to the grave, the beauty fades and the friendship stays.

Ladies, this is for you: Great relationships start with great friendships. Don’t discredit him just because he’s your good friend, and don’t jump in bed with him just because he’s good looking. Relationships require nurturing. Don’t search for Mr. Right Now when Mr. Right is already in your phone book. Strip away your grocery list of unrealistic standards and make a list of your closest male friends. Eliminate your brother, your unavailable buddy and your best gay friend and look who’s left. Yes, that’s him. He’s your good friend and confidant and he’s always there when you need him. He looks forward to seeing you and he’s even given you dating advice. Yes, that’s him. That’s the man who loves you and has for years. Now what are you going to do about it?

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become …” –William Shakespeare.

Gentlemen, this is for you: She may taste like candy, but candy doesn’t fill you up. She could be as sweet as sugar, but too much sugar is bad for your health. Similar to foods, the healthiest relationships are the organic ones, the ones that begin with a friend. Feed your souls, gentlemen. Friendship is essential to the soul and it’s about time to do things in order. Enjoy your soul food before your dessert.


— Enitan Bereola, II

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Bereola is the go-to style and etiquette impresario, public speaker and entrepreneur. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed BEREOLAESQUE: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette book for the Urban Sophisticate. He is working on his follow-up, Guide to Ladies’ Etiquette from a Gentleman’s Perspective. Find him at and at

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