As I write this, my daughter Shayla is five years old. She’s a beautiful, intelligent, inquisitive, and vivacious little girl, full of life and love. Without a doubt, she is, and always will be, the love of my life.
When I put her to bed, I have her say the following affirmations with me:
“Who’s the greatest little girl in the whole world?”
“Shayla,” she responds.
“Who can be anything they want to be when they grow up?”
“Who loves you unconditionally more than anything in the world?”
I have Shayla repeat those words not only because she is beautiful, and she is the greatest (at least in my admittedly biased eyes), and she can be anything she wants to be when she grows up, and I do love her more than anything, but also because I know that if I don’t reenforce those facts in her mind, eventually certain people she meets or certain things that she may be exposed to or experience in the world might trick her into thinking otherwise.
Or more specifically, men will.
I believe that almost all little girls start off believing that they are smart and beautiful and can accomplish anything, but far too many have much of that beauty, confidence, and optimism stolen by some of the men they encounter.
Maybe it’s a daddy who leaves one day and then never comes back. Maybe it’s an uncle or preacher who steals not only their innocence but much, much more. Maybe it’s a teenage lover who whispers sweet nothings in her ear but then steps out behind her back. Maybe later on it’s a boyfriend who’ll never commit, or a husband who does but then still doesn’t want to stay at home.
No matter what the situation, it seems like in a blink a beautiful, confident young girl can be transformed into a self-doubting and despairing woman, not because there is anything inherently wrong with her but because she could never figure out the men in her life.
That’s why this book is about stopping that slide and helping women regain that confidence and positive outlook.
Not because all men are cheaters, manipulators, or pimps. No, as Reverend Run and I hope to show you, there are plenty of good men out there.
Instead, the truth is that no matter what heights your relationships have soared to, or depths they’ve sunk to, there is always more you can learn about the men in your life. Unfortunately, in this society we tend to stunt that growth by not confronting some very basic, and sometimes raw, truths about men and their relationship to women.
As you’ll see, I happen to love confronting truth. When I pray at night, the number one thing I ask to be blessed with is clarity, no matter what it reveals. As was mentioned in the opening prayer, it’s impossible to be stressed or depressed about situations and relationships that you have clarity on. Having grown up around people who hid from the truth and spent their lives confused and unclear, I never want to live like that.
I grew up in the Watts section of Los Angeles, in a house dominated by dysfunction. Where there was no father. Where when a man did show up, violence usually wasn’t far behind. Where addiction, depression, and, sadly, even abuse became the norm. The adults in the house never really confronted or challenged the situation, and as a result, nothing ever really changed. In a house where truths were under the rug, I wanted to take that rug out to the front yard, shake it up and down and beat it with a broom until every one of the nasty, dirty little realities came falling out and scurried away from me.
I’m blessed to have experienced a level of success I never even dreamed of coming up in the ghetto. Two movies I was featured in, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Fast Five, broke box office records worldwide and collectively went on to gross $1.7 billion. Several years ago I decided I was “done” with the music industry, but at my fans’ urging last year I released an album called Open Invitation-Reloaded, which was number one for two weeks and featured a single, “Stay,” that itself was number one for eleven weeks. Every day I think, “Thank God I listened to my fans!”
I also wrote a New York Times bestselling book called How to Get Out of Your Own Way, and one of the biggest thrills of my life was standing onstage with Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder in Chicago during the taping of Oprah’s final show and having her tell me, “Tyrese, oh my God, I read your book and it was powerful.”
But the only reason that child who never imagined a life beyond the streets was able to make his way to the big screen and stand onstage with Oprah was that I wasn’t afraid to look past my circumstances and address the unfamiliar. I know how hard it can be to change your perspective and attitude. I also know just how rewarding those changes can be when you finally do make them.
In Manology I want to encourage you to look past what you think you know about men and consider some of the insights Reverend Run and I are going to share in this book. It isn’t always easy to share some of the less flattering aspects of your past, but if this book can bring clarity to even one woman, then it will all be not only worthwhile but perhaps even the most important thing I’ve ever done.
I know I can make a difference because men are one subject I happen to be extremely knowledgeable about—specifically, what’s going on in our minds. Having made that journey from the hood to Hollywood, I’ve witnessed the full range of the male spectrum. I’ve seen what men do and think when it seems like they don’t have any future beyond their block, and I’ve seen what they do and think when suddenly there aren’t any barriers between themselves and their fantasies—when the true depths of their desires, for better or worse, are not only tolerated but celebrated.
And those truths that I’m going to share with you will often be raw, and parts may even make you uncomfortable. But that’s how I give it to my friends, and if you’re reading this, then I consider you a friend too.
Each time you start to pick up this book you should hesitate just a little, because what I’m saying is hitting so close to home. If I’m not striking that nerve, then I’m not being a good friend. Because in these pages I’m peeling back all the layers and revealing MY complete truth. Unapologetically.
I’m OK with not everyone appreciating my perspective or my honesty. My goal for this book is to promote a dialogue in which we can really talk about what’s going on with your relationships and expectations. When you’re finished reading, hopefully there will be some fundamental shifts in how you view men.
Instead of basing your life on how you’ve been taught things ought to be, you can make rational, controlled decisions on how we actually ARE. For better or worse.
Obviously every time we say, “Men do this” or “Men think that” there are going to be exceptions to those rules. You don’t need to look any further than Rev and me to see that not all of us are alike.
Also, I need to stress that just because I have insight into the behavior and motivations of men, I am still very much a work in progress as a man myself. I’ll tell you right now that I’m in therapy for some of the things I experienced and witnessed during my childhood, and while I’m making great progress, I don’t consider myself all the way home yet.
I’m honored to be sharing these pages with Rev Run, but I want to stress to you that there’s no “Reverend” before my name. I’m still just plain old Tyrese Gibson, and trust me, Rev and I have very different views and perspectives, not to mention different types of language we use to express our views.
Respectfully agreeing to disagree is one of the foundations of Rev’s and my friendship. In fact, our friendship was actually born out of a disagreement!
THE CONFLICT THAT SPARKED A DIALOGUE
It all started several years ago after I received one of Rev’s “Words of Wisdom” emails: You know! Those inspirational emails you saw him writing while he sat in that bubble bath at the end of every Run’s House.
At that time, my perception of Rev was probably the same as most people’s. I knew that he was one of the greatest rappers of all time and that his group, the legendary RUN DMC, was perhaps the most influential in the history of hip-hop. But I also knew him as the star of Run’s House, as a man who managed to navigate the turbulent seas of celebrity through finding God and then used that faith as a foundation on which to build a beautiful family. Like a lot of men, especially African-American men, I was extremely inspired by what Run had created. When the show finally ended, I was still searching for that inspiration, which is why I ended up subscribing to his “Words of Wisdom” emails.
While I loved receiving those emails, one day I got one that I just couldn’t cosign. I can’t remember exactly how it was worded, but essentially Rev was saying that once you’re married, there’s zero room for infidelity or misbehaving. Not because you don’t want to anger your wife but because you don’t want to anger God.
I respected what he was saying, but I also felt that even after invoking God’s name in their marriage vows, most men will refuse to stay faithful if the sex is bad. Just on impulse, I sent him a short note explaining my views, assuming that would be the end of it. In my mind, there was no way that Run was actually sending these messages out from his own email account. I was content just to float my thought out into the universe and never expected it to go any further than that.
So imagine my surprise when several minutes later I got a reply back saying, “Is this really Tyrese? The singer? If so, call me back at this number. Rev.”
Huh? I was shocked, but I collected myself and called Rev immediately. After a little bit of small talk, we got into it and started arguing about cheating. And arguing. And arguing. We ended up staying on the phone for several hours until we finally decided that we’d just have to “agree to disagree.” But despite our differences, the conversation had been stimulating and inspiring. We could both tell that a great new friendship had emerged.
Some people might call it a mentor/protégé thing or a “bromance,” but we started saying that Rev was my “MAN-tor,” which, as we’ll explain, is a term we coined for a man who teaches another man how to mature and evolve. However you want to label it, it was clear to me after a few more conversations that Rev had quickly emerged as one of the major forces in my life. Any man who not only talks but also “walks” the word of God is my hero.
Soon we began talking almost daily, chopping it up about everything under the sun—the music industry, films, our kids, fame—but particularly relationships, a subject I really respect his opinion on. It’s been said before, but I really felt like Rev was a hip-hop Bill Cosby. So when he talked about what it took to be a man of God and raise a family with respect, spirituality and integrity, I had to listen.
Whenever we spoke, I would try to get his opinion on not only what was holding me back but also what was holding men and women back in general. Because everyone—at least everyone I know—wants something similar to Run’s House in their own lives. Maybe not down to the last detail, but a similar mix of regality and ghetto love.
As Run will share, those conversations were incredibly healthy and motivating for him too. While he’s evolved so much over the years, he still has room to grow and speak. Speaking with me gave him the energy to keep pushing in that direction. When I would press him to go deeper into his truths, it forced him to reexamine his own life.
We started calling this process “iron sharpening iron.” Because just as only iron can sharpen iron, often it takes two intelligent, inquisitive, strong-willed individuals to sharpen each other. If you just sit back and become comfortable with what you’ve got, you’re never going to stay sharp. But if you have someone else who’s always pushing and challenging you, then the growth in your life and career will always be that much greater!
We both live our lives in the spirit of “People who know better should do better.” Our hope is that by learning the inner workings on your man’s mind, you’re going to know what you’re really dealing with in a relationship. And armed with that knowledge, you’re going to do so much better at finding the happiness and fulfillment you deserve in your relationships.
OK, I’ve said my piece. So now I want to let my partner Rev Run have his chance to speak.
Since Tyrese just said that this book should be about raw, honest truth, let me start by sharing some of my own:
I wasn’t a big fan of Ty the first time I met him.
The story (and it’s one that I didn’t even share with Tyrese until we started working on this book) of how our relationship started off on the wrong foot is this:
Back in the early 2000s, RUN DMC agreed to perform at Watts Day, a charity event Tyrese was throwing in his old hood. I didn’t know him personally; we only did it because Jam Master Jay liked Tyrese and wanted to help him out.
When we arrived to perform, Tyrese was nowhere to be found. Still, we took the stage and launched into a set of some of our greatest hits: “Rock Box,” “Sucker MCs,” “Peter Piper,” and “Jam Master Jay.” Songs that never failed to get a crowd hyped.
Just as we launched into “Run’s House,” Tyrese pulled up in a tricked-out truck. He jumped out, and immediately the crowd gravitated to him.
But as soon as “Run’s House” was over, Tyrese gave everyone a wave, hopped back in his truck and drove off. He had listened to all of one of our songs and then broken out. This little punk is going to leave during the middle of a RUN DMC set? I thought to myself. When we’re playing for free at HIS charity event. Oh, hell naw!
From then on, whenever I’d see Tyrese on the TV, or hear one of his songs on the radio, I’d get a little annoyed. “Little Tyson Beckford pretty boy wannabe,” I’d say under my breath. As much as I’d like to think I was above that sort of behavior, the truth is I had let my insecurities get the best of me.
So when he suddenly emailed me out of the blue that morning, I was shocked. But as I reread his message, I could tell he probably didn’t even remember the incident at Watts Day. (Not only did he claim not to remember it when I finally brought it up but he claimed it didn’t even happen. Trust me, it happened.)
Even though he was writing to challenge something I had said, there was a tone of respect in his email. Rather than hold on to an old grudge, I thought to myself, Wow, dude actually reached out to me. Let me hit him back and see what he’s about. And as he just related to you, we immediately launched into a heated debate over what I’d written.
“I can’t believe you want to tell women that cheating is inevitable,” I told him after he explained his position. “You can’t tell a woman that. It’s not right. Man, you just want to run amok on the earth, but still have a woman in some sexy Victoria’s Secret thing waiting to rub your feet when you get home at night. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. You better go take out the trash and tell your woman you love her on your way out to the garage.”
Though that was just the first of many disagreements we would have, I could see that Tyrese had some important ideas to share, with both me and the world. We’ve been best friends since that first conversation and talk on the phone at least once, if not more, every day.
Looking back, Tyrese reached out to me at the perfect time in my life. His friendship was like a breath of fresh air being blown into my home. Though I was incredibly grateful for the success of Run’s House, I noticed afterward that my friends didn’t want to hang out with me quite as much. It was as if my life looked too shiny, too perfect to them. I was feeling more like a monument to a certain ideal than a living, breathing man.
The irony was that even though I don’t drink, smoke, or chase women anymore, I wasn’t looking to separate myself from people who still did have a little bit of that wildness in them. What would be the point of me having gained some wisdom if I wasn’t willing to share it with people who could use it? As you’ll read, I believe the best way to help a man change for the better is actually through a type of relationship I call “MAN-torship”—where one man can lead his friend through example, rather than just preaching down from that mountaintop at him. That’s the kind of relationship that helped turn my life around, and it’s the type of relationship I was looking to share with someone else who might be in need of some direction.
Thankfully, rather than being intimidated by my reputation, Tyrese was receptive to being MAN-tored. And truthfully, he was not only eager to find out what sort of wisdom I could share with him but he helped push me in a new direction too.
If our conversations have helped sharpen him up, they definitely helped loosen me up. Tyrese reminds me not to take myself so seriously as “Rev Run” and instead to have fun with my marriage and my reputation. He’s brought a lot of new energy into my life and helped me begin to have a much greater appreciation for my blessings.
One of our primary hopes for this book is that it can help sharpen you up too. If you keep falling for the same type of guy without ever finding true love or happiness, we’re going to show you how to avoid falling into that trap and start meeting men who are actually better suited for you. Or if you keep having men walk all over you, we’re going to teach you how to establish a bottom line when it comes to your relationship and actually enforce it. You know how countries impose “no fly” zones over certain territories? Well, we’re going to show you how to enforce “no walk” zones over yours.
For others, Manology will help loosen them up when it comes to the men in their lives. For instance, if you’re obsessed about changing your man into something “better,” we’re going to teach you to let go of that energy and instead become a facilitator of his evolution, an approach that will earn his appreciation and respect instead of his resentment.
If you’ve been having trouble communicating with your man, we’re going to teach you when are the best times to talk to him.
If you’re having a difficult time getting your man to see what a great thing he already has right in front of his face, we’re going to teach you how to correct the condition that plagues too many relationships: Male pattern blindness.
Ultimately, while Manology will help demystify the men in your life, the most fundamental message to be found in this book ain’t even about them. No, at its core this Manology is about helping women feel good about themselves.
Tyrese and I might disagree on a lot of topics—in fact, our original title for this book was I Beg to Differ—but there’s one goal that we’re in rock-solid agreement on: we want to help women stop getting tripped up by the men in their lives and start empowering themselves.
As fathers ourselves, Tyrese and I have a vested interest in creating a more leveled playing field between men and women. Remember, Tyrese has a daughter, and I’ve got three of them: Vanessa, who’s approaching thirty; Angela, who’s in her midtwenties; and five-year-old Miley. It would break our hearts to see a daughter of ours get tangled up with a man who didn’t treat her with respect or have her best interest at heart. Just as we would never want to watch one of our daughters become joyless just because she was boyless (a condition I’ll speak on later).
If I could venture a guess, some of what Tyrese has to say in this book will strike you as pure craziness. Don’t worry, ladies, I will be here to put a foot on his tail when he goes overboard or gets too far out of bounds on a particular subject. But even if we don’t always agree with what Tyrese is saying in these pages, we can’t tune him out. To do that would just be a dance around the truth. To truly change your life, you’ve got to dance with the truth. Because without the truth you’re always going to be living a lie.
Frankly, at times it’s going to seem like both of us are promoting or defending the self-centered, egotistical stuff that men do. So let me say one thing to all the women reading this book: the core of Manology is sharing the secret thoughts of men. Not justifying their actions.
Again, with emphasis:
This book is about sharing men’s secrets.
Not justifying their actions.
That means that even though we might ask you to try to understand some of the sexist, selfish, inconsiderate, annoying, thoughtless and misogynistic things that men do, we’re not suggesting it’s right for men to do them.
We’re simply trying to help you identify the needs, desires, concerns, and insecurities that those actions arise from so you can figure out how to deal—or not deal—with them. So that when you look at your man, your lenses won’t be clouded by fear, insecurity, confusion or even love. You’ll be able to look at him clearly and say, “He’s the one for me” or “I loved him, but it’s never going to work the way I need it to. It’s time to say good-bye.”
Finally, I want to address the role that God plays in both my life and this book. Obviously, as a reverend, my relationship with God is the most important one in my life. It was God who helped me evolve from the swaggering rapper who “meet this little girl/hair was kinda curly/went to her house/to bust her out/I had to leave early” to the husband who tells his wife, “I never want to leave your side.”
Just as it was God who made me not only a better husband to my wife but a much better father to my children as well. Yes, it’s been God who pulled me out of the darkness that had enveloped my life and helped me see just how beautiful life can be. It’s a role God can play in your life too. In fact, one of my favorite Tweets to send out is this quote from Max Lucado: “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her.”
While I really do believe a woman should hide her heart with God, I don’t ever want it to feel like I’m being too rough or strict with my interpretation of His word. If anything, I’m actually pretty lenient in how I try to translate my understanding of God’s teachings into everyday realities.
No, I envision this book being applicable to everyone’s lives, whether they’re Christian or not. The blueprints for success that I’m going to lay out are the ones that I’ve learned through the Bible, but they can be applied to any life or situation.
The reason I’m not so strict is that if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years about relationships, it’s that they’re rarely ever perfect, but they’re always precious. Try to move through life understanding that no matter how hard you work, or no matter how closely you follow the blueprint, you’re probably never going to experience a “perfect” man.
And that’s OK.
What isn’t OK is wasting your time with a man who not only isn’t “perfect” but doesn’t treat you as precious either. Manology will help you find the clarity to make the right choices in your relationship and move closer to the happiness that you deserve.