If I was graded on the subject of dating and relationships as it pertains to my love life, I’d surely receive an F.
But at least I’d get a “B+” for the freedom of keeping that information private. I can’t imagine having to live and relive my relationship woes under public scrutiny like celebrities such as Halle Berry does.
She has had a few aha! moments regarding her marriages and has spoke on them:
“I looked at the part that I played and looked at the part the men I had married played. I had chosen boys. I wanted to do grown up things, but I was not with a grown up.”
Although she accepts some of the blame, these internet streets still insist that since she’s the common denominator, she must be the sole problem. In fact with her beauty and her perceived ability to snag any man she wants, she must be unstable and crazy.
Perhaps they forgot to add “in love.”
I’m compelled to remind them that plain ol’ crazy is rather a harsh word, not to mention beauty doesn’t exempt anyone from heartbreak, and Halle isn’t the only one who’s been repeatedly unlucky in romance. As a grown woman, I also encountered my fair share of “boys,” and while I didn’t marry any of them, I did live with one.
I don’t even know how dude was approved for that modern apartment or his BMW especially since he didn’t have the resources to maintain either one. He claimed to be a chef for an Italian chain, but I soon discovered that his cooking skills could’ve used some spice from the Culinary Institute of America. And the random paycheck stub I found only proved that he was indeed the dude who sprinkled parsley sprigs on the plates right before they were served to customers. Or at least that’s what I caught him doing one evening when I went to pick up my order. And not that anything was wrong with his job, of course, because he did have one, but he had a bad habit of compulsively lying and living beyond his salary.
On weekends he could easily treat our friends to bottles of top shelf liquor, but on Mondays he couldn’t even afford a gallon of regular gas for his foreign ride. But one particular Saturday night still remains vivid in my mind.
I had gone to bed while a few friends lingered after a get-together we’d hosted that evening. (Rude I know, but for me the party was over.) I awoke to a commotion – yelling and progressing footsteps – outside. I jumped out of bed and headed to the living room to see a bloody and bruised guest, and I witnessed this fool throw a blow to his guest’s face. When he saw me, he acted like the ish was normal! I, on the other hand, was stunned.
“Get the gun!” he yelled.
“And rope!” he continued. “He’s going around telling people where I lay my head.”
Fortunately for me and his friend, there was no gun. But unfortunately for the chef, I was out. It wasn’t the life I had envisioned or even considered. This was not a man. He wanted to lead a “bad boy” lifestyle at 26 –mimicking Romello from Sugar Hill, albeit a poor one – while at 22, I strived to be a functioning post-collegiate adult who’d build with an actual grownup. I had no room in my budget – or kids for that matter – for weekly allowances or tolerance in my life for his real life boxing matches, so I made a speedy exit after a few months of moving in.
Yet I found myself in an eerily familiar place with the next guy but minus the wannabe baller and gangster mentality. However, he still wasn’t “on my level,” as my dear friends worded it. I was ambitious, spontaneous, and adventurous, and I remember excitedly telling him how I had just established an event-planning business since I was the go-to person for coordinating parties anyway. The best supportive answer he could muster was “Oh. Babysitting is a good business, too.”
But I quickly remembered I was talking to someone who was sporadically unemployed because “the white man” didn’t want him to get ahead, and he was also unreliable and stagnant with no goals other than daily drinking with the fellas. We were a definite mismatch, and so once again I was on to the next.
After my third consecutive relationship attempt and fail, I seriously questioned not only why did I keep attracting similar men, but also why did I keep entertaining them? My initial sentiments mirrored Halle’s.
I thought, ‘I can’t get it right.’ I was feeling heavy-hearted, embarrassed and ashamed. I thought, ‘Surely it’s my fault. I need help. This is not where I want to be. I should be somebody’s wife.’ I wanted to be a wife and mother.
Indeed I was embarrassed, too. There I was a college graduate with so much drive and promise yet I chased and accepted mediocrity when it came to men. I outright ignored girl-friendly advice and red flags because I was always too quick to jump right in and then found myself too ashamed to admit, “Ahh, I effed up with this one, too.” Instead I’d respond, “I got this!” But I didn’t.
In retrospect, I was caught up in the idea of being in a relationship. I wanted the superficial – an actual plus one on wedding invitations and couple’s trips, and I wanted the general – a partnership, the intimacy, and eventually a family. And while I don’t necessarily seek a provider, per se, I would like a protector as Halle mentioned: someone to “take care of us and serve us.” But I was vague on the particulars that I wanted in the man such as formally-educated, well-traveled, respectful, and humorous because I thought that would land me in Build-a-Bear mode. However it was an older, married coworker-friend who told me that as women, we should always have a list of desired qualities and non-negotiables.
One of my cousins has since said, “You’re too picky,” as if I prayed for tall, dark, and handsome, too, and admittedly I didn’t want to be the type of person who dismissed another human because he doesn’t fit a certain standard. But I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong with being selective about the person with whom I want to be intimate and personal. There’s someone for everybody, but not everyone is made for everybody.
I’m not vulnerable to the pressures to coupling up because everyone else already has or because I’m steadily getting older, either. I’m also immune to the third-wheel stigma. Sure I’ll hang out if I’m interested, but I’m also down to roll solo because I’ve embarked on a different type of relationship, anyway – one that I’m building with myself. And one that will only attract and see an equally-yoked match.
My decision isn’t predicated on some idea that I’m afraid of love, as some folks have alluded, but on the fact that I’m preparing for that sparkly, glittering, dynamite love through self-care, self-love, and self-reflection. I’ve taken some me time to do things that I enjoy, fulfilling needs the last ones couldn’t supply, because the next man who comes along will only be an enhancement to an already enriched life and not a proverbial completion, detraction, or just another fail.