Who gives Relationships the Green Light? Men or Women?
A close male friend recently told me “You can’t totally judge a guy’s feelings by just his effort to do or not do something”, because “most men rationalize action by claiming the things that seem to be priority in that moment”. Men, as a rule “seldom act on feelings, or how it feels at that point in time, unless it involves getting laid”, because “that almost always makes sense to a man”.
In spite of this, most of my guy friends take umbrage with my insistence, that it is men, who in fact choose when it comes to relationships. They insist that it is us women who choose, because research shows that modern women like myself tend to be extremely picky, and are capable of committing the same dastardly acts we accuse them of in relationships.
None of this negates my assertion, however, that it is my experience, that in determining how fast a relationship progresses, or if it ever moves beyond casual to serious – MEN CHOOSE. As a single attractive woman, about the only thing I have complete control over right now is whom I choose to f!*k, because that can happen any time I take a man up on his offer.
“Why can’t I have one of those normal boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girls likes boy situations?”
A girlfriend, in fact, recently used her Facebook status to ask, “Why can’t I have one of those normal boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girls likes boy situations? No drama…no nonsense, no games, no BS. Is that even still possible?”
It is of course, but only if and when the guy in the equation is ready to go there with his relationships. When a close friend who doesn’t live in New York suggested that we get married, I had to let him know that he shouldn’t draw ‘lines in the sand’ that he wasn’t quite ready to cross. I couldn’t dispute that we had unexplored potential, but I told him that if he really thought there was a possibility that I could be the “one”, he would come up with a plan for us to spend time together instead of leaving it to chance, and listing me among people he wished to see when he was in New York. I would be his first priority and seeing other people would come second. His proposal without any concrete action to back it up was essentially a way for him to hedge his bets.
Love isn’t all it takes to make a relationship work because if that were the case, I would probably still be with my ex, with whom I shared three and a half years of my adult life. Instead, he is content with meeting up with me every three to six months as his schedule allows, followed by text messages that say, “Hey hottie thanks for a great time. I enjoyed being with you”. I don’t doubt it when he says he loves me, but he isn’t exactly willing to spend less time on his philanthropic endeavours to spend time with me.
Similarly, I was flattered and hopeful when I started exchanging text messages and witty notes with a guy I’d always had a crush on, but wasn’t surprised when he never took the final step to make sure we met up for dinner, or kept in regular contact, despite his insistence that he would. I cannot convince a man who knows I’m similarly interested to break bread with me. He has to look at his calendar, pick a date and say let’s do dinner.
“Dating… for the average man must be like shopping in a high-end department store for ice cream.”
I tell my friends that dating in New York for the average man must be like shopping in a high-end department store for ice cream. There are few bad choices, and free sampling. It is human nature in such a scenario to want to sample every flavour possible, even if one has a favourite. The problem with this of course of action, however, is that after sampling five different flavours, you can’t remember what your favourite tastes like, and then you can’t make up your mind which one you want.
Given that men don’t have a biological clock, and have been socialized to believe that they must “sow their wild oats” before settling down, it is unsurprising that they develop rosters instead of making a choice. When they’ve had too much ice cream they detox by taking themselves out of the equation, and throwing themselves into work or spending time with their boys.
Blame it on socialization, but most women, myself included, grew up believing the darn fairy tales. I always thought that if I took care of myself, kept a good house, handled the business in the bedroom, and avoided the neurotic needy behaviours my guy friends routinely complained about; I would have a fair chance at love. WRONG!
“20% of people in committed relationships are actually in love with someone else.”
Recent research shows that 20% of people in committed relationships are actually in love with someone else. That’s one in five couples people! In fact, the same friend, who proposed to me, was floored when an ex-girlfriend told him shortly after her marriage, that she felt as if she was losing him twice. He couldn’t understand how she could feel that strongly about him, and still marry someone else. I had to gently remind him that regardless of how much she felt for him when they were together, it was ultimately up to him to decide that she was someone he could see himself with for the long-term, and act to suit. He opted not to make that choice.
The problem with those fairy tales and women’s lib is that too many of us women believe that “impossible is nothing”. This is understandable because we were raised by women who supported their men through the darkest of times, for the sake for their families. We are for the most part socialized to adapt, and put our personal relationships first.
The stark reality for those of us who believe in long-term partnerships, and also want kids, however, is that fairy tales are really just TALES. A good story does not always translate well into reality; and frankly you can’t convince a man regardless of your connection, or compatibility to “put a ring on it” and choose you. Sometimes the man, who chooses you, is someone you wouldn’t go near with a ten-foot pole. Thus you end up hoping that a guy who you can care about ultimately chooses you, knowing that your relationship with this man may not be as deep or as fiery as the man you love, respect and want, but you’re ready to settle down, and most importantly he is ready to settle down with you.
Truthfully there are two men in my life who I can see myself with for a very long time. Neither of the individuals in question will deny that I am a “good woman”, but I know that whether or not I ever end up seriously dating one of them frankly, isn’t my choice to make. The man I end up with will be the man who not only recognizes my worth, but who invests the necessary time and effort to sustain our relationship. I can only hope that I am as attracted to that man, physically, mentally and emotionally as he is to me, lest I too end up like my friend’s ex.
I am too principled to stand in the way of a man finding someone who truly has his back, like T.I. raps in the song “Got your back”, simply because I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to have kids. Honestly, I am truly relieved and grateful that my ability to have a fulfilling life does not hinge on my relationship status or motherhood.
Until that time when I am ‘chosen’, however, I do reserve the right to pass on offers of roster positions or just sex. Yes it’s a part of life, and I’m no virginal ice queen but I have a toy, and when last I checked it was more reliable, consistent and posed no significant risk to my health. My body is a temple and only tithe paying individuals get to worship in it. More importantly, I believe in honouring all facets of my humanity, not just my sexuality. I’ve been told by some that I am in effect letting my gorgeous body “go to waste”, but in this matter at least, India Arie rightfully sings, “I choose!” My body does not make me who I am!