By Jordan J. Hill –Blackdoctor.org
“Always remember that putting yourself first is the most important step in finding love.” It’s clear with the release of her book, Love Him or Leave Him: But Don’t Get Stuck With the Tab, that Loni Love, a comedian (including stand-up), an actress and talk show hostn, lives by her own advice. “There’s only one thing I love as much as making people laugh, and it’s giving advice. Ask anyone who’s received one of my love lessons and they’ll tell you I have a special gift.” It comes as no surprise that she’s written a book abundant with advice for women seeking or looking to maintain love.
In the introduction of the book, she explains how the environment in which she was raised provided her with early life lessons on the importance of putting yourself first.
“I grew up in the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit during the height of the crack epidemic. The streets were filled with drug dealers and prostitutes. Coming up in such a rough environment, a girl had to be tough and street-smart to survive. I saw firsthand what happens to women who are foolish in love, or just plain foolish.” Love also credits her mother for instilling the lesson. I learned this lesson, up close and personal, watching my single mother manage her dating life. After her divorce, my mother, Momma Love,had plenty of boyfriends, but she refused to take crap from anyone. I remember one time, one of her boyfriends, Mr. Herbert, was living with us, and Momma Love found out he’d cheated on her with Miss Bernice, the Bible study teacher. The next day his clothes and his Bible were out in the trash. Her philosophy was: no woman has to put up with second-rate treatment; someone better will always come along.’Never be a side dish. Always be the main course.’ It’s a lesson I took to heart.”
Perhaps the hardest lesson she learned involved her best friend, Peaches (who apparently had some serious hair styling talents). Also growing up in a crack-infested neighborhood, Peaches began dating a new guy – a crack dealer. Tragically, Peaches was a victim of a homicide in which the intended target was her boyfriend. The death of her best friend taught her, “Too many women make sacrifices to be with men.” She went on to write, “I’ve seen friends compromise their safety, dignity, money, and even happiness for the sake of a relationship. But I’ve seen enough. Now I’ve made it my personal mission to remind women that we need to put ourselves first.”
Love recalls her senior year of high school when all of girls were stressing out about prom. Many had their ideal prom date in mind, but with no confirmation on who that guy was taking, had a plan B, C, D, and E. “There were schedules,deadlines, backup plans, and emergency ditch plans should the night not go as planned. It was totally ridiculous. I told my friends, ‘You need to worry about yourselves. Focus on your priorities, like how you’re gonna pay for that prom dress’.”
Love’s boy trouble of her own only reinforced her belief in putting herself first, “Back then my boyfriend Mack was the love of my life. But I decided we weren’t going to have sex because I was saving myself for marriage. Even though I wasn’t giving it up, Mack promised me he would take me to the prom, and I believed him. Well,a few weeks before the dance, Mack hooked up with my neighbor. Of course, I immediately dumped his cheating a**… After a few days of being down in the dumps, I picked myself up and decided that me and my hoop dress would go to the prom alone. That’s when the phone rang. It was Mack’s best friend, Albert. He’d heard that Mack and I had broken up and was wondering if I would be his date for the prom. I can still remember the shocked look on Mack’s face when his friend Albert and I walked into the dance looking like a black Rhett Butler and his date, Hattie McDaniel.” She realized that her mother was right: “If you refuse to accept being treated poorly, something better will come along. There is no need to compromise who you are just to be with a man.”
“Twenty years later I’m still spreading that same message to my fans,” writes Love. “People see me on television, or they come out to my comedy shows, and they feel like they know me. People approach me in airports, in ladies’ rooms, and in the street, talking to me like we’re old friends. Like I’m their long-lost sister. Like I’m the one with the answers to all of their problems, even though we’ve never met.”
Loni Love is currently one of the co-hosts for the talk show “The Real”. Both men and women can learn a great deal about self love from her talk show and book.