via Sasha Frere-Jones:
Beyoncé, for all her traditional behavior as good-looking good girl, is building a catalogue of songs that have little to do with traditional expressions of love or pain. She is most fond of the second person, and her hits, in the aggregate, form a sort of default advice column. She isn’t as interested in her own pain as she is in telling others what mistakes not to make. I’ve made a small list of her key talking points, reaching back to her work in Destiny’s Child:
“No, No, No”: Be entirely clear with your partner; vague language can lead to confusion and hurt feelings.
“Bills, Bills, Bills”: Money and romance do not mix, so keep separate bank accounts and go Dutch until your relationship is stable.
“Bug-A-Boo”: Constant communication can feel more like harassment than affection.
“Say My Name”: If your partner is avoiding you, arrange a face-to-face meeting. Monosyllabic answers and lack of affection can be an indication of deeper troubles.
“Jumpin’, Jumpin’”: Couples do not necessarily need to spend every night together. Plan one night a week where you are with your friends, and he with his.
“Independent Women Part 1”: If you pay for your own shoes, you are more likely to judge your relationship on its own merits rather than as a tallying of goods exchanged. (Get Cameron Diaz to help you count your belongings, if you feel like you’re losing track.)
“Bootylicious”: If you are more experienced than your partner, make sure to be explicit about your needs and expectations. Direct questions will save time and decrease anxiety. (Comfortable jelly levels, for example, should be established early on in any relationship.)
“Check On It”: If a man shows sustained interested, allow him to get close to you over dinner, or a movie. Leave your options open. If he has a friend, perhaps invite him along; the friend can act as a control group for the evening.
“Ring The Alarm”: Fights are not always unhealthy. Sometimes, a blowout can be cathartic and release pressure that might be damaging your ability to communicate. Introduce a sense of play into your arguments—megaphones are fun (make sure your neighbors are familiar with your routine, and don’t call the police), and role-playing can help defuse anger with humor.
“Irreplaceable”: If your ex is having trouble finding his way out of the house, provide clear and consistent directions. Men are sometimes challenged by the word “straight,” which has sexual overtones. Suggest that he go left or right, terms familiar from both baseball and driving. Also, keep several empty boxes on hand. (Once broken down flat, boxes can fit horizontally into a closet or under a leaky houseplant.)
“Freakum Dress”: Be sure you own at least one freakum dress. If you find one you really like, consider buying several of them in different colors. (Make sure you have a friend who can explain what a freakum dress is.)
“Single Ladies”: If a man values your relationship, be prepared to demand a commitment. Suggest that he signal the value of his commitment by buying you an enormous piece of jewelry, something big enough to kill a hamster with one mild blow.