He Says, She Says: A Relationship Tug-of-War

She Says

I’m 32 years young, single and vibrant. There are no signs of age anywhere on my face or body. I’m fortunate enough to visit Sephora only for the latest NARS products, instead of eyelift creams and skin tighteners.

I have traveled with friends all over, partying in and with the best. My passport was stamped nearly 10 years ago thanks to my fabulous and favorite aunt, Jackie. She made me apply for a summer abroad in China when I was scared shitless to fly across three states to and from college, let alone across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s been on since then.

I’m a cultured girl who can swag out at the club, yet still enjoy a ballet or play. I love black romance comedies, though they are few in number, and I can quote any noteworthy film in Black cinema, including Blaxploitation movies like Superfly and Willie Dynamite.

My bank account is never overdrawn, and despite the excessive shopping, I still manage to maintain a healthy savings account. There are still times, more often than not, that I love coming home to my empty condo. I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. If I want to lay around watching Meryl Streep movies until tears roll into each of my ears or put on a one-woman fashion show with the designer clothes that bulge from my closet, I can do that. Life is indeed, good, but something is missing.

You guessed it: A man. I want to be married. Well, someday. It seems like it’s happening for everyone else.

I, along with millions of other African-American women, want to be married, but it seems to be a dream deferred. I’m not so naïve that I don’t know what the problem is. It isn’t me; it’s them. They’re simply not ready, but they should be by now!

I don’t understand how full-grown men continue to do the same things they’ve done since age 18: play video games, club constantly and sleep with as many women as their stamina will allow. Am I crazy for feeling like I’ve done everything there is to do except the very thing that matters most? A committed relationship isn’t be the be-all and end-all of my life. I have so many other things I’ve yet to do and see, but I want to share my future with someone else.

Kanye West said it best in “I Wonder” from his Graduation album, “On that independent shit/Trade it all for a husband and some kids.” I love me some Yeezy, but damn, I wish he wasn’t right about this one.

So where does that leave women like me who know their worth and aren’t willing to take the first man we see? Are we really expected to wait around until they’ve sown their wild oats and mastered every Madden game? Call me impatient, but I want what I want now. I think I’ve waited long enough. What’s a girl to do?

 

He Says

Wait, did you say marriage? You and my mama have been talking, right? Everything has a season, but I don’t think this is mine for marriage. I’m 34-years-old with a pretty decent job that didn’t happen overnight. Here’s something women don’t understand about men, mainly me: I can love you through and through, trust you and actually want you to be my wife…one day. But, there’s this factor called financial stability.

Marriage is a huge responsibility, and it takes money. While the woman is salivating over wedding dresses and place settings, we are looking far ahead into the future. How will we provide for you and us? What about kids? Can we maintain our lifestyles? It took me years to land a job with real earning potential, which would even allow the thought of marriage to cross my mind. Now I’m well into my 30s and the world has cracked wide open for me.

You have no idea the advantage a 30-something single man with a good job and no children has in dating. My boys and I call it “The Glow” because women see it and flock to it. They’ve fallen for the man shortage statistics, so they all go for the guy with “The Glow.” There seems to be only a small percentage of us, but really, women just aren’t looking in the right places.

So, when a woman or two—or three treat me as if I’m their man exclusively, I let them. They know from the beginning that I don’t want to be in a relationship. They go along with it only because they believe they can change my mind. I mean what I say, and there aren’t enough home-cooked meals or Kama Sutra positions to change that.

The truth is I’d love to find that woman I can spend the rest of my life with. My kid would have my wife’s eyes, my mama’s knack for making anyone feel at home or my strong work ethic. Maybe I’d have all that by now, but the one woman I truly loved told me, contrary to my thinking, our long-term relationship had an expiration date. I didn’t want to, but my pride let it expire anyway without a fight.

What’s the big rush to get married anyway? It’s way too many other things to do besides getting married one person, sleeping with that one person forever and having a house full of kids who will probably run me crazy. There’s a life to live and money to be made. I think women need to calm down, and just be patient. To the women I’m dating who want to be with me exclusively, unfortunately, I’m just not ready. I’m enjoying everything the universe has for me. I won’t be made to do anything by anyone. It’s not an issue of selfishness, but an issue of coping with the truth.I hope when I am ready to settle down, there’s someone left for me to love. I doubt I have that problem though. The world is mine.

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In a society where African-American men and women are pitted against each other in media and real-life relationships, conversation about our lives and how mates will fit into them is imperative. Are the differences in our thinking attributed to a cultural shift or was John Gray right when he penned Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus? Each gender clearly struggles with its own issues which, in fact, could be simply be the distinct differences in the X and Y-chromosomes. This tug of war begs the most important question of all: Will we ever learn to compromise or will we continue to witness the demise of the African-American relationship?

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7 thoughts on “He Says, She Says: A Relationship Tug-of-War

  1. Response to “He Says” although I understand where “he” is coming from, the world is his as a SINGLE black man with a decent JOB and NO kids and he has women throwing themselves at him and he does NOT have to pick just one. The sad thing is that when he gets ready to settle down, maybe when he is in his late thirties or early forties, it won’t be the ladies who are his age he will look to marry, it will be some young girl in her twenties or early thirties because she can bare those kids he wants. I say this to open Black womens eyes, don’t wait for the BLACK guy, open your eyes to the potential of dating outside of your race or better yet, stop giving up your body so quick and easily to these guys. Make them work for you so maybe they would start taking relationships seriously instead of just hopping out of one bed and into another because you are so desperate to have a Black man you would do anything to keep him. Just saying, open your horizons ladies don’t wait around for that perfect Black man, who is too busy having fun to even care that you have put yourself on hold for him to get around to settling down.

  2. There are many men out there that actually WANT to get married, but I think women sometimes make the mistake of dating men they know aren’t marriage material at the moment or have no plans for marriage thinking they’ll be the one to change them or wait them out. Being a fabulous, well-traveled, successful woman is a great thing, but a marriage isn’t just about showing someone your resume… sometimes you have to be willing to find a man that isn’t necessarily “resume perfect” and instead full of the qualities that really support a relationship and you can build together. Again, this may be a different reality for people in their mid 30s as typically you’ve already established yourself in your career, and in your 20s most people are just starting out and open to building with someone else.

    Something I have found helpful is to really understand someone’s background and the family dynamic they experienced growing up. It’s possible that things like a bad divorce, death of a parent, etc can affect them in a way that makes them not want to get married. Sometimes you have to understand the logic behind why someone wants what they want. Also, marriage isn’t something everyone (man or woman) strives to have… but if it’s a deal breaker issue for you be sure to date someone that has marriage in their plan. We all have different definitions of “family” so make sure that you and our significant other are on the same page.

    • I think you made a great point to take people’s backgrounds and families into consideration. That strongly affects all of us though we may not know it. I believe in marriage because I’ve seen it work with my parents. As far as the “resume” the woman was talking about (since I wrote it), I don’t all women use those accomplishments as resume builders, as if to say, “why wouldn’t you want me when I have all of this?” but more so, “I have all of these things, but there’s something more to gain.” Not every woman feels that way though.

      • Responding to the actual question you posed at the end of your post, it may sound corny but I think the best thing to do in the situation is to pray for God to not only bring the right person into your life, but to also have you in a place where you’ll be ready to receive them. I think there are many people that could be a potential match for someone, but timing is everything. I know friends that want the man of their dreams to walk through the door tomorrow, but they’re so damaged from past relationships or holding onto baggage and drama that if we was there they could easily miss out.

        I definitely think life is sweeter when you can spend it with the one you love, but sometimes you have to just put yourself out there and live life and not wait for a spouse to fall from the sky and the next thing you know they pop up. For instance, you’ve always wanted to do XYZ, but have waited because of whatever… throw yourself out there and start doing the things you want and you could meet your future mate!

        My husband and I were friends for over 10 years before we dated. We had flirted early on in the friendship but left it at that. We never expressed any real interest and fast forward 10 years later… after living in different states we reconnected during a vacation, sparks flew, and the rest is history. I’m not saying it happens for everyone, but your future husband could already be in your circle of friends (or acquaintances) and you just not realize it yet.

  3. The worst lie men ever told themselves…well black men [because I feel men of other cultures get this]…is that it is easier to gain, and build wealth with a dual income. They’re sitting around here talking about wanting ‘financial stability’, while their white peers are partnered up by 26, DINK and have 100k in the bank by the time they’re 30. If finances is the primary reason, their argument is flawed too deffff…

    I didn’t ‘get’ what I think marriage will be to me until like 2 weeks ago: a partnership with a contributor [financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally], a partner, and a road dog. And building a family unit. Unforch, it takes some guys a very long time to articulate what a marriage will mean to them. It’s not about ‘just having s*ex with one person for the rest of your life.”

    But..N.Tee.Ways… I’m about to get on the Kim K get engaged plan. *cues Kanye’s workout plan*. All Ballers Everything. :-/

  4. This dialogue is usually rich with insight but absent of black men who are willing to be vulnerable and honest in front of women. So the dialogue remains off balance….respectfully.

    I have to become a man before I can become YOUR man—-
    I think a LOT of black men are really struggling with owning and defining their manhood. Let’s be real if you’re not getting a solid definition from the bible or from your father then you get it from the culture and that’s incredibly scary. There is a large number of us who are truly lost but trying to navigate life and make a way. I’m “successful” by normal standards having my MBA, great income, no kids, loving black women, and saved but I’m still figuring things out. My father didn’t teach me how to pick a wife. He didn’t model what being a father looks like for me to see it and know I can do the same. Some women don’t want to hear it or think its an excuse but there are very logical reasons behind why even the “good men” are not trying to marry you….not yet at least.

    Often we’re preparing at times and evolving. And we’ve been brainwashed to think that black women wont really love us unless we come to the table FULLY ready. And it makes some guys resent women. Few will admit it but I see it all the time. It’s almost like we refuse to step up to meet the standard because not because its a standard but because its a woman’s standard and validation of what a “good man” is. I’m all for empowering men to be healthy in every area of life but 70%+ had no father loving our mother to model ourselves after, few seem to be serious about Christ, education is THE ONLY way to a quality lifestyle but education is failing us (along with a criminal justice system that IS criminal) and to top it off we wont be vulnerable enough to talk about our issues so black women feel the pain of our silent screams…..but do you know it has to everything with us and very little to do with you?

    Other points..

    Money = Manhood?
    Im sorry but manhood and money are tied together deeply. The only thing worse then being a bad boyfriend is being a broke one. No man wants that so please respect the fact that we just want to provide….thats all. Some guys take it too deeply and never get “ready” but a lot of guys are trying to figure out how to keep it all together financially. I really think we all want to be leaders but when you know deep down youre not equipped with the skill to manage money its easy to stay single. And its also much easier to get out of debt single then with someone else….lol

    All my single ladies?
    Independent ladies are horrible marketers. Men dont care about your job, credit, car. Tell me your loyal, creative, kind, cook well, incredibly affectionate, and supportive and THEN you have my attention. The rest sounds like stuff men say and you’ll then only attract men who want to be provided for…..

    Sex? The #1 and simplest way to at least have a drama free life is to keep your legs closed. Period. I know its hard but the truth is we dont want it. Good men want to earn it and keep it forever (marriage). We want you to say no but 98% wont. Not only is it biblical but its practical. The funny thing about sex is most men use it for therapy and not for love. Think about the terms we use…”beat it, smash, cut, hit it, etc.” I dont think women also realize that your value drops by 99% if we get it before we’re committed to you. I dont care who you are or how great things are going. It instantly allows us to be curious about the next girl we see…because we already know what it’s like with you. And this goes for men too. It took me a while to spiritually mature to get here but Im fully believe that when sex happens in a relationship its because the man isnt leading. We fail women over and over in this are and ourselves. Im sure its rare for a woman to find a man who agrees from day one that sex wont happen until marriage but I guarantee the best thing a woman can do to protect her heart from the masses of wack dudes that’ll crush it is to not give your body to ANY of us. Make us earn you……seriously. If you walk into a store and they give up a $5,000 credit card with no application..???….most men are going to max it out and not even feel bad…

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