Who’s Fooling Who

Pam Reaves

From Author Pam Reaves’ column in Copa Style Magazine

A few days ago, Rodney Wayne Branch, Owner and Publisher of Copa Style Magazine, and I had our weekly chat. It is not unusual for us to discuss every subject under the sun. Both of us love to talk, and during a single telephone conversation, we can subject-hop like you wouldn’t believe. Without fail, we always wind up in my area of expertise (i.e. relationships), and that is why I’m a firm believer that relationships affect everything we do. No matter what the subject matter is, we wind up discussing it from a relationship perspective. Such is life – no matter what happens to us, there is a relationship perspective involved.

Ever since the Sterling/Stiviano scandal broke, we’ve had much to discuss, and what comes out of the Sterling/Stiviano discussions is amazing. This week, we talked about the conversations Ms. Stiviano recorded. What struck me initially about this week’s chat was how differently men and women digest and process information. One of the questions Rodney posed to me was, “Why would V. Stiviano tape their conversations over a period of time?” He says he’s still trying to figure that one out. Men are usually fixed in their thinking. So Rodney dealt strictly with the present facts. His male-influenced line of thinking didn’t include the small or seemingly insignificant incidents that led up to the tapings; emotions that caused one of the parties to tape their conversations; or what gave rise to the train of thought regarding the value of the tapes when all hell broke loose. For Rodney the facts are that: (1) Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano had some type of intimate relationship; (2) V. Stiviano decided to tape their conversations; and (3) the tapes have had major impact on Donald Sterling’s personal, as well as professional life.

Now women tend to be more analytical when it comes to relationships. We will dissect them to death to understand the dynamics of what is going on or what happened. We will delve into the emotions because we understand that emotions are what spark most controversies, arguments, chaos, or destruction. So for most women, it isn’t hard to figure out why V. Stiviano taped the conversations. In this regard, I shared my analysis with Rodney and gave him insight into the female psyche.

Given what characteristically happens in a May/December romance, and the dynamics thereof, I offer the following analysis. Mr. Sterling, who is at least 50 years older than Ms. Stiviano, imagined (and I place emphasis on the word “imagined”) that he was lucky, rich, and powerful enough to entice a young woman into an intimate relationship and do with her as he pleased. Given the age difference, it isn’t unreasonable to conclude that he was of the opinion that she was naïve about a lot of things. Being the worldly, wealthy, and powerful man that he is, there was no reason why he would have to consider whether or not he could handle a relationship with her. Mr. Sterling may have been of the opinion that given her age, life experience, and ethnic/cultural background, there was nothing she could ever do to harm him. What resources could she possibly have at her disposal to harm him in any way? Then given her socio-economic status when they met, she could be lured into an intimate relationship because she would be gifted with material possessions that only a uber-wealthy man could bestow upon her.

In my motivational speaking, empowerment seminars, and coaching sessions, I always discuss the danger of complacency. For purposes of this article, I will say that Mr. Sterling became complacent in his relationship with Ms. Stiviano, so much so that he was comfortable with having any type of conversation with her. Hence, he didn’t see any danger in expressing race-related matters with her even though she is of African American/Mexican descent. He became complacent in thinking he owned and ruled her. Based on an assumption she expressed in a television interview that she was his everything and loved him, he may have thought he had convinced her that they had a loving relationship. So this is where the Who’s Fooling Who reality comes into play.

Ms. Stiviano has always known with whom she was dealing. She knew he was an extremely wealthy and powerful racist. It was a certainty that one day something would happen in the relationship where she would need indisputable proof of whatever the something turned out to be. But for the tapes, it is likely she would have been dismissed as a nut case, disgruntled employee, liar, or extortionist. She was well aware that he was willing to pay for her attention and whatever else she had to offer notwithstanding his racist views. Although we have good reason to question her moral code, she knew he was without one as well. In this regard, if and when things went wrong, there would be no boundaries when it was time to silence and/or destroy her.

When we listen to the tapes, the tone of Ms. Stiviano voice is never argumentative, hostile, or combative. She merely asks probing questions, and he delivers the answers, proving what she has always known about him. We have now seen a number of television interviews involving the key players in this scandal. I cast my vote for Ms. Stiviano for being the interviewee who has remained calm under pressure; prepared for the hard questions; and unfazed by how she’s been portrayed. That is because she was always ready for this day.

It is Donald Sterling who was unprepared for the blow-up. With all his power, wealth, education, and resources, none of it worked because the Player got played. As the details of their relationship have emerged, as well as the comments made in the interviews with Donald Sterling, Shellie Sterling, and V. Stiviano, we see the devastation of toxic relationships. Donald Sterling thought he was playing V. Stiviano and in the end, he was the one reduced to tears in an Anderson Cooper interview because he thought she loved him. Shellie Sterling has been married to a man for almost sixty years (a life time), and she states in an interview with Barbara Walters that she doesn’t love him. So we can assume that for some time she has been in a loveless marriage. V. Stiviano’s interviews come off like she’s ruthless, heartless, stupid (remember the comment “I’m his Silly Rabbit”), and without morals. The interviews have been hard-hitting, but she remains cool. In this case, cool isn’t a good thing. It’s tragic that a young woman’s life is so morally corrupt that healthy emotions and relationships elude her, but she seems to be okay with that.

Lies (an untruth) and deceit (to omit the truth) are elements of the toxic relationship, and those who are involved in these types of relationships rely on lies and deceit to get what they want, control their partner (another element of the toxic relationship), and as hard as it is to fathom, maintain the relationship. Toxic relationships are destructive, so it is ludicrous to think that lies, deceit, and control will preserve any healthy relationship. As lies, deceit, and control compound, the individuals who are involved become lost in a maze where all parties become players, if for no other reason than to survive. Relationships, good or bad, become a part of us. The risk of being the Player is that he or she will get played. If you tamper, play with, or entertain toxicity, it will become a part of you. If you seek, embrace, and preserve healthy relationships, the elements thereof become a part of you.

Pamela Reaves is the Founder and CEO of NELLA LLC. She is a Certified Professional Coach, Author, Empowerment Seminar Facilitator, Magazine Columnist, and Lifestyle Event Visionary. Pam holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Management and has over 30 years of professional experience working and thriving in diverse corporate cultures. Pam has appeared on several radio talk shows, radio blog talk shows, and participated in a host of other cultural events, conferences and workshops. She has been a participating author in several book expos and festivals.

To read more of Pam’s articles, please visit http://www.copastyle.com.

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