A couple of weeks ago I had a lady I respect, but had never actually met before tell me after reading one of my articles:
“I love your life. I can tell you’re young, because you still believe in people.”
It was a simple statement that I believe was meant as a compliment, I’m sure she sent that email and thought nothing more of it….It stayed with me. Still young because I believe in people…I wondered at what age does that “belief” go away? Is my “belief” routed in faith, or is it misguided naiveté’?
You see my heart is broken. It is in shreds. This innocent statement came at a very crucial moment. A moment where I was on the precipice of trying to hold out faith in a man, but knowing that faith was misguided. This simple statement came at a time when I was doing everything I could to suppress feelings of anger. Discontentment. Discouragement. Frustration. After giving a “man” a second chance at friendship he betrayed my trust again. He took my offer and spat on me. God said 7 X 70, people interpret that as unlimited forgiveness because who would you have to forgive 490 times…I think I was hitting that with him. After seeing me go back thru the same thing I had gone thru eight months prior my friend thought it was time for some hard reality.
Friend – “What’s the problem? You offered him your friendship; he doesn’t want it…his bad. He’s an idiot that you don’t like anyway. I don’t understand what the problem is. You said yourself; he isn’t what you thought he was. You said yourself you didn’t like his personality. You already know his communication style is zero. You already know he is a liar and a cheat and a runner…what is the problem, because YOU know he did you a huge favor. He is trash. Say it! T.R.A.S.H.!!!
Me – “I don’t like to refer to people at “trash”.
Friend – “But you know that’s what he is. What is really bothering you?”
Me – “I’m upset. I don’t like to be upset. I’ve prayed and I just can’t get the anger out of my heart.”
Friend – “That’s okay…you have a right to be upset. That’s a normal feeling when someone wrongs you.”
Me – “It’s not normal. Not for me it isn’t. When you give kindness you get kindness…that’s how it works!”
Friend – “Where? Where does it work like that? The world I live in, for most, its kill or be killed. It’s do unto others as they have done unto you.”
Me – “Well, my world isn’t like that. I give kindness, I get kindness back. This dude though…I’ve never met anyone so evil. I just can’t believe I gave him another chance, and he did the EXACT same thing again.”
Friend – “So you’re upset that a dog is a dog? Just be real.”
Me – “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH (this is a literal scream) I’M PISSED!!! I DON’T EVEN LIKE THIS DUDE! I’M PISSED BECAUSE I KNEW HE WASN’T ABOUT ANYTHING, AND I HELD MY TOUNGUE BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO BELIEVE IT. I WANTED TO SHOW EVERYONE THAT THEY WERE WRONG ABOUT HIM, AND THAT THERE IS GOOD IN EVERYONE! I DIDN’T WANT TO LOSE MY FAITH IN PEOPLE, AND I CERTAINLY DIDN’T WANT TO BELIEVE THAT HE WAS DOING THIS ON PURPOSE. EVEN AFTER I TOLD HIM I WAS IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE HE JUST KEPT SAYING I WANTED HIM…HE IS SO ARROGANT!”
Friend – “Okay…get it all out!”
Me – “I AM MMAAAADDDD! I WANT HIM TO CHOKE ON HIS OWN VOMIT! HE SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO BREATHE THE SAME AIR I DO, AND THE FACT THAT HE CAN BOTHERS ME!!!!”
At this point I’m literally screaming, and shedding tears not out of sadness, but anger.
Friend – “I’m your friend. I love you. I know how good your heart is. I don’t want to see your spirit or your personality change, but I don’t ever want to see you hurt like this again so know what I’m saying is being said out of love. You are not mad at him. You are mad at yourself. You knew he wasn’t about anything, and you knew he was going to do exactly what he did, so it wasn’t even a surprise this time. He is trash, and if his mom raised him like that she’s trash too. You are mad because of your reaction. You’re mad because for the first time you are having a “human” reaction to someone.”
Me – “What does that mean “human reaction”?”
Friend – “You are always so “Desmond Tutu-y” about everything, it is actually refreshing to see you scream. To see you angry. You suppress those feelings all the time, and that isn’t good. You have a right to be angry; dude lied to you from day one! He played with you, and you’re right…he did it on purpose. I bet if you look at his facebook page it’s filled with all kinds of things like: “I’m a good man. I want a happy ending. I deserve a good woman”. Look at it, I’d put money on that. He’s not even attractive! It’s okay to be angry. Be angry and deal with that anger then you can move on, because you don’t want this to mess up your relationship with the man you really do care about it.”
Me – “It’s not okay to be angry. I am a Christian; I am supposed to show love and forgiveness at every turn! If I don’t have my faith then I am nothing! I feel so stupid.”
Friend – “I promise you God knows you are HUMAN, it is okay! Don’t feel stupid, there isn’t a woman in this world who hasn’t felt dumb behind a man before, your time is just coming a little later than most. You have just been really lucky! You are trying to apply Christian methodology to a man who has no idea who God is. He will swear up and down he is a Christian, but has no relationship with God. Didn’t he tell you no one was going to understand your lifestyle of following God’s word, and in the same breathe holler he was a Christian? Girl, get on your knees and thank God right now for removing that evil spirit out of your life! Trust me, we have all been praying for that!”
Me – “I’m not upset with him. You’re right; I don’t give two shakes about him. I’m upset with myself. As arrogant as I say he was, I was twice that. I wanted to prove that kindness, faith, and love would always win the day. I wanted to prove that people, women in particular, were paranoid…no one is deliberately out to hurt anyone. I wanted to prove that I could have a friendship with this man that clearly wasn’t worth my time. And when he did it again, like everyone said he would, I was hurt. I was embarrassed. I wasted the better part of a year believing in someone that wasn’t worth it, and all I have to show for it is a busted fantasy.”
So, going back to my original thought…at what age does someone lose their faith in people? There’s obviously not a set time, because I know women in their early twenties all the way to women in their sixties that know to ditch and run at the first sign of trouble, but for me I can tell you the exact date and time I lost my faith Thursday August 8th at 2 p.m., and I consider it a blessing. Losing faith in people really doesn’t have to be a negative, in my case it was a definite positive. God is the only one that is Devine, people will let you down. I just learned what most people apparently learn at an early age, everyone isn’t worthy or deserving of a second chance. Everyone isn’t even deserving of love, any degree of love, and when God tries to remove someone….LET THEM GO! It is always a blessing. So, to this lady that sent that random thought, I thank you. I’d heard that from friends many many times, but for some reason hearing it from a virtual stranger really made it click. I am loving my life again too. I will always show forgiveness, and give people the benefit of the doubt, but in the future I will be sure that person is worth it!
Have you ever had a relationship, on any level, with someone that meant the world to you? Someone that you would just do anything for, they were the epitome of friendship, love, or whatever the case may be. You wanted this person in your life, for whatever purpose, and you thanked God for the joy they brought! Then one day you woke up, and prayed you would never have to see that person again?
My sophomore year of high school the most amazingly handsome man I’ve ever seen, even to this day, walked into my class. James was so beautiful he literally looked like someone drew him. I didn’t think that kind of beauty was even possible. It must have shown on my face because he locked eyes with me, and gave me the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen…even to this day.
I can still remember that feeling. I remember the day very clearly. It took maybe a month for me to see his personality did not match that beautiful face and smile. His inside was as ugly as they come. I can also remember the day I looked at him, and he was no longer “Denzel”…he was “Flava Flav”….that’s at best. He had done nothing to me personally, but I’d seen his interactions with others. I heard his conversations. His willingness to always put other’s down, or have a good laugh at their expense. It was unappealing. That’s when I truly learned and experienced the meaning: If you’re ugly inside…you’re ugly outside.
I recently had a similar experience. My head was completely wrapped in a man that I thought was just amazing. I remember our second date, and I thought God was blessing me ridiculously for being faithful in my walk with Him. I came home, and pulled out my “man list” of everything I wanted in a mate. This guy matched most of my list, and caused me to add a few things I had not thought of. That was exciting because my list was long. God said be specific in your prayers…I was very specific. I’d been praying over this list for a couple of years, and this man was God saying to me “Here is your list…and then some!” Amen!
Well, obviously, I was wrong. We never even made it to friend. It was circumstance. Though the guy himself was gone, without provocation warning or discussion I might add, the fantasy of him was still there. Since I did not know at the time what kind of man he truly was, I was left with a busted fantasy. For a couple of months I mourned what I thought was the loss of the guy, but what was actually the loss of the fantasy.
Several months later, after I finally let that fantasy go but still held a bag full of anger, I encountered him again. He said things were different, and he was no longer carrying the “baggage” which caused our getting to know each other to come to a screeching halt. I no longer carried the fantasy of him and my heart now belongs to another, so I thought it would be good to actually get to know this man he could turn out to be my very best friend. I, personally, believe people come into your life for a reason. I have a difficult time believing, not that it’s not true or doesn’t happen, but I can’t buy some people come just to cause misery. I can’t believe MY God would allow that. Since I didn’t get a lesson or a blessing the first time, and he came back, surly I’d get “something”. God brought him for a reason…either I needed him, or he needed me. Our story wasn’t done. In retrospect, it’s amazing how little apprehension I had about letting this guy back, but my fantasy allowed me to step out on faith.
Admittedly, I threw myself into the thought of a friendship far more than I should have. I put a lot of energy into attempting to get to know this man. I’ve always been a really good judge of character, and after the fiasco the first time, I had to redeem myself. I don’t usually misjudge people this badly. The wool doesn’t get pulled over my eyes easily. I saw by the third week nothing had changed. I knew three weeks in he still had that “baggage”. I knew that even though I was only looking for friendship, he was still holding onto some type of resentment towards me. It was a pretty horrible experience, but I am no quitter. I could not let my fantasy, or my months of mourning, be in vain. Anything worth having is worth working at….right? That may be true, but at some point you have to realize what you’re working so hard at, may not be worth having. Friendship should flow smooth, it should come easily. When you have someone that is fighting you, intentionally or not, every step and insisting everything you say or do means you want them it can be a little frustrating. I finally had to admit to myself, there can be a fine line between not giving up, and being stupid. My toe was tipping that line.
After months of talking I finally saw him face to face again, and I instantly had a flash of James. He looked totally different. I knew by the conversations that he wasn’t the same guy I remembered, but seeing him was a different story. A wave of sadness filled my body, because my heart wanted to desperately believe what my mind knew months ago wasn’t true, that this man was not the fantasy I thought. Not at all saying he is a bad guy, with a horrible spirit like James, just that he wasn’t what I thought. He is broken. I am whole. Broken people bring misery, because they are miserable. I don’t think it is their intention, at least I hope not, but it just turns out that way. I don’t think it was his intention to pick unnecessary fights with me. I don’t think it was his intention to always misread what I said, and react horribly to it. I don’t think it was his intention to constantly blame me for ridiculous things. I don’t think it was his intention to be such a horrible communicator. Again, at least I hope not.
What I realize now is when you are broken you tend to think that everyone is like the person you became broken for. When you come out of a relationship of pain, fighting, and misery you expect everyone to be like that. You expect everyone to have the intention to cause you grief. You will take a simple statement, and turn it into an insult. Knowing this I thought I could “fix” him (I know, I know stay with me). I put in so much effort because I wanted to show this man, everyone doesn’t leave. I wanted to show him there are women that will show infinite patience, and that misery is really a choice. I was going to show him blessings that he didn’t know existed. Be his sunshine, after the rain. You can choose to invest time in a relationship that is really just a dead cause, or you can open your eyes to accept the blessings that God is sending you and be thankful.
In the process of trying to show him that, I realized I was doing the same thing. I was becoming so involved in trying to develop this friendship with someone who didn’t want to know me, I was becoming miserable. My friends and coworkers were becoming upset, because they saw it was happening all over again. I lost my “glow”. I have a constant smile on my face, I was losing it again. You can’t fix broken people…if they know they are broken or not…the only thing that can fix that is time, and a willingness to want it fixed. I’ve found that when someone is whole, and they get with someone that is broken, the opposite usually occurs and they become broken themselves. It is a chain reaction. The problem is a lot of people don’t even know they’re broken, and they continuously bring other people into their broken situation, and cause them misery. Then have the nerve to blame them.
I feel really sad for him now because in the process of writing this, I realize he is living with a busted “fantasy” of his own. He has his own baggage that will be a lot harder for him to get rid of. One of my favorite sayings is “The first time you do something it’s a mistake….the second time it’s a choice.” When I welcomed him back into my life that was my choice, and I deserved the misery I got from it. I own it. I wanted to repair the busted fantasy I had been holding onto for months. It didn’t turn out nearly as I had hoped, but it did turn out how I had expected. No regrets. A lot of sadness, but new hope that God is working on the man of my list, and when he comes he will be complete and he will be whole.
So, I say to any sister that is unaware, if you know a man is not “right” or you are in a bad relationship hoping it will get better…assess. Ask yourself, how will you feel if you invest another year of your life, in a miserable situation, and it doesn’t get any better? If you think you will be okay with that…stay, work on it. If you think you will be even angrier that you wasted that time…get out now. Life is too short to spend a day being unhappy. I ask that if you do decide to stay, just make sure the person you’re staying with is willing to do the work too. A relationship, on any level, will never work if both parties aren’t in it. If you can’t build a friendship a relationship will never work. Your companion has to be your best friend. Does he know what a real friend is? A friend will not cut and leave you because things aren’t going the way they want. A friend can have an argument, and work it out. A friend doesn’t twist everything you say into a personal attack on them. A friend is patient. A friend is kind. A friend knows how to forgive AND forget, because forgiving without forgetting is a grudge. It will cause problems to keep occurring. A friend will talk to you, and work things out. A friend will not leave you holding baggage. A friend will not send you a letter, divorce papers, or just disappear without warning or discussion. A friend will always be there to listen to you, and a friend knows how to apologize. Is this man your friend? If he is…you have a chance. If he isn’t get out now, God/Allah/Buddha or the universe in general has something way better for you.
Over the past eight months or so, I’ve written several articles on apologizing and forgiveness. Some out of anger and some out of regret. We all logically know that when you apologize to someone it is supposed to relieve your guilt. It should be an admittance that you did something wrong, and you are a big enough person to admit that. Logically, it isn’t supposed to matter if the other person accepts or not.
I pose the question: “Does it really not matter to you if they accept?”
Speaking, strictly from my personal experience, if I offer the apology I truly believe that a (I was in the wrong or b (I care enough about your feelings, that you are more important to me than who was in the right. I don’t believe I’ve ever given an apology without at least the hope the other person genuinely accepted. I, personally, am not interested in someone apologizing to me to relieve their mind. I once wrote:
“I was still unworthy of even a passive “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” You know the apology you give just to keep the peace. The apology you give just to be… human. (See apology to my sistas)
I wrote that after having a horrible experience, I finally realized I meant nothing to someone who meant a lot to me. I thought that if I had received even that acknowledgement that my feelings mattered to him, that some of the pain I felt over the past few months would be relieved. Then on a sleepless night, I came across the Michael Richards’ (Kramer from Seinfeld) racial rant. I’d never actually seen it, but of course heard about it, and his many subsequent apologies. I’d also seen several other celebrities: Tracy Morgan, David Spade, Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson…the list goes on and on, offer apologies for comments they had made either jokingly or otherwise because they had offended some group of people in some way.
Enough is enough. He meant what he said, as I’m sure most of them did…why apologize? The fake apology is just as insulting to me. You don’t randomly make comments like that from nowhere. You feel that way, and that is absolutely your right. I may disagree with it, and that is MY right, by offering some half baked apology and expecting me to think you have miraculously changed your view does me no good. It does you no good. That caused me to think, if I feel that way about phony celebrity apologies, why should I feel any different about an apology from someone I have/had contact with? No one likes to feel their feelings don’t matter, but is an apology that isn’t truly from the heart better than no apology at all?
I’m guessing that for most people it isn’t. For me, an apology just acknowledging that I do care about your feelings has always been an easy thing to give, and until recent acquaintances, I had no idea everyone didn’t feel that way. I’d only been in give/get move on type situations. This begs the question:
Can you truly forgive AND forget?
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to keep them in your life. However, if you do make the decision to forgive them, and keep them, you have to be able to forget. If you can’t do that, then you will not be able to move forward. There is no point in that. I’m sure most of us have been in a situation, or at least know someone that has, been in a relationship with someone who claims to have forgiven them, yet repeatedly brought up whatever injustice they feel they suffered. That isn’t fair to you, or the person that thought they were being forgiven.
I understand the value of protecting your heart. I truly do. I understand the importance of learning a lesson from each experience. Most importantly, I understand that to do something once is a mistake…to do it twice is a choice. So, being gun-shy of someone who has hurt your heart once is perfectly logical. It is sane. However, keeping them around as “punishment” is a waste of your time. I’ve known men and women that have cheated on their mates, and been “forgiven”, yet had the offense thrown up in every argument. I’ve seen them be followed. Have their phones checked. It’s a horrible existence and oddly enough I’ve seen them leave more often than the person that supposedly forgave them.
I never really understood until I was recently “forgiven”, but it was obvious that I really wasn’t. Then I realized an apology, and false forgiveness, can actually cause more pain. Chose wisely, carefully, and slowly! A lot of issues can be resolved with an old fashioned face to face conversation. A lot of issues can be resolved if you take time to recognize who your friends really are, and who has truly invested time into getting to know you. I feel that needs to be repeated: Who has TRULY INVESTED TIME IN GETTING TO KNOW YOU. Any adult knows, everyone isn’t your friend, and everyone that smiles in your face, won’t stick around for the hard times with you. It is important to recognize who will. You don’t want or need someone who will cut and run at the first sign of trouble. So make the choice, Forgive and forget and move FORWARD, OR forgive and remember and move ON. That is a choice you have to make…and live with.
I’m well into my thirties, and I am child-free (not to be confused with childless, which implies you want children). To me, they seem like a huge responsibility. A responsibility you never get rid of. Now to most (hopefully) that sounds like common sense. This being common sense to me, caused me to wonder why there as so many children with one parent? Why are there so many unmarried/never married women with multiple children, with multiple fathers? Why are there so many baby mamas and baby daddies that literally hate each other?
To expand even further, why are people having children so young now. In my teens and early twenties, having kids wasn’t even a thought. I was selfish. Proudly selfish. My time was my own, and I wanted it to stay that way. If I wanted to spend all of my money on clothes…who was I hurting? Everyone, of course is different, but that responsibility wasn’t something of interest to me. I knew it was RESPONSIBILITY. My point being, I have to wonder how many of these kids really realize what they are getting themselves into. Sure you love this boy, yes I said boy, today but what about next year? Do you really think this seventeen year old boy is going to be around forever?
I’ll get off of the kids, because at least they are just that, kids. I was watching some news program, and they had a fully grown woman, with I believe 13 children. None of the father’s in the picture, and she was complaining that some government agency wasn’t doing enough to help her take care of her children. She actually said, in a rage “Someone needs to be responsible for my kids!” The representative for the organization she was upset with was so exasperated, when she was telling of the clothes, food, and furniture they had provided. Nothing was enough. She was right though, someone does need to be responsible for her kids…her. I hate to sound heartless, I truly do, but I don’t feel I should have to pay for someone else’s choice. We all get down on our luck that is not what I’m talking about. If you have a child that you are unable to take care of…I don’t see how having more children is going to help the situation.
I recently had a discussion with a group of male friends on the subject. I wanted to get insight on relationships, children with the ex-wives or ex-girlfriends, and child support. One thing that surprised me was the rant that women get pregnant intentionally with the hope of holding on to them. You’re probably wondering why that was surprising to me…because it’s not the seventies. I had no idea that there were still women that thought a pregnancy would keep a man. No, seriously I didn’t. I thought, and still am not sure, if they were being facetious or serious. I have to wonder if you would even want a man that was only around because of a baby. It seems sad to me. I, of course, came back with the argument that a woman can’t get pregnant alone, and you should know what kind of woman you are dealing with. I was quickly rebuffed. Sad point, but we know it’s true…a woman becomes pregnant, and if the man doesn’t want to be bothered, that responsibility falls back on the woman. He is free to go about his business as he pleases. Sure, he can be forced to pay child support, but he can’t be forced to be around. With the decrease in marriages, and befall of the family unit, I can’t imagine anyone being unaware of this.
I have several clients and friends without any idea who their father is. Most didn’t seem to be overtly affected by it, but I started to think about siblings? I know it’s a long shot, then again in this day it may not be, but what if you become involved with someone that is relative? The thought was a bit disturbing to me. It is something that I would want know. That you should know.
Responsibility shouldn’t start after you have a child. Acting impulsively is rarely a good thing. If there are still women planning pregnancies to keep a man (I still can’t wrap my mind around that), how are you going to be responsible if it doesn’t work? If you are a teenager or young lady, take the responsibility to know you are making a permanent situation, for what may just be a temporary feeling. Be responsible enough to know that with or without a man, if you are going to be a good parent, you’re always going to have to put that child first. Be responsible enough to do what is best for you, because at the end of the day YOU are the one that has to live with your decisions.
We all know divorced couples. We’ve all seen ex-spouses that for whatever reason just could not keep it together. Never having been married myself, it was something that I just could not comprehend. Until recently, I’d never even had a friendship end negatively. Whenever I saw divorced couples that couldn’t even be in the same room, I dismissed them as silly.
I was watching an older episode of Law & Order: SVU and this couple was out of control. Every time they were in the same vicinity they were screaming, and trying to attack each other. It was unreal. Out of spite, she accused him of rape. Out of insanity, he set her on fire. That’s right… fire! I remember seeing the episode a few years ago, and thinking no way would fighting escalate that far. Watching it now that my blinders have been removed, I realize things like that happen every day. Maybe not to that extreme… hopefully.
When love turns to hate, there is nothing you won’t do.
I do believe that is one of the most frightening sentences I’ve ever heard. How do you get that far? How does this person that you love so very much, become a person that you hate. You’re a man that has been loving, protecting, providing for this woman. She has your last name now… how do you grow to hate her so much that killing her, and your future, even becomes an option? How do you love someone, and get to the point where even being in the same room with them is an impossible task?
I have a friend that can’t even talk to his ex-wife. Their relationship is so bad, the only way they can communicate is thru email, and if it’s an emergency thru text messaging. I thought that was the craziest thing ever, but if every conversation you have ends in cursing and screaming, I guess email would be the best way to go.
I told myself, I’d never be in such a situation. I’m not much of an arguer, and no way would I do anything to make a man so angry that he’d want to see me dead. No way would I be in a relationship that had gotten so bad, that we couldn’t have a simple phone conversation about children we share. It’s ridiculous! Then I realized… no one ever thinks they’ll be in a situation like that. Sure there are some men/women who thrive on drama. There are some that you just know, everything they do is going to end up that way, but for the rest of us… no, I don’t believe that is a normal thought. So, how does one avoid this?
We all know men and women think differently. That’s no secret. I tried to think back on all the stories I’ve heard. What was at the core of each situation? While relationships end for various reasons, it’s safe to assume if there is that much anger, it ended badly. How do you keep the anger from escalating to violence, to hatred that is the question? The answer, as I see it, communication. Forgiveness. Someone has to be the bigger person, and as much as you don’t want to hear it ladies (frankly, I don’t want to say it), but it’s probably going to have to be you.
It takes two people to argue, and as hard as it is, if you stop… he has no choice, but to stop. Sometimes throwing someone a bone, even when they are unwilling to do it to you, will save you so much drama. When you have two people, and neither is willing to compromise, the drama never ends. Example… ex-wife asked if he would change her breaks, it would save her some money and he knew how to do it. He refused… just because; he didn’t want to help her. No other reason. The next week, he wanted to get his daughter, but it wasn’t his weekend….she refused… no reason. A simple compromise can make a world of difference. I know he did you wrong girl… I know he did. That’s done now. It’s over. I’m sure he doesn’t deserve your kindness, but you have to decide what cost you’re willing to pay to keep from giving him your forgiveness. How high of a price are you willing to pay to be spiteful? My mother always said, “Let people be stupid by themselves.” Sometimes compromising is necessary for peace, and when love turns to hate… it may save your life.
After you reach a certain age, the odds of finding a man without kids is almost impossible. That age gets younger every year. It’s a fact of life. The divorce rate is higher, and the number of people having children outside of being married is astronomical.
In our “anything goes” society, it is nothing to rack up multiple children with multiple partners. I hate to report it, but it is what it is. I remember in my early twenties saying “I’d never date a man with kids.” In my late twenties “As long as he just has one child, that’ll be okay.” In my thirties “If I can find a man with just one baby mama, that’ll be cool.”
Several years ago, I had a coworker tell me and I remember it as if it were yesterday: “Never date a guy with kids because they are always still sleeping with the mother.” She was sleeping with the father of her kids, and neither of them considered it cheating because it didn’t mean anything to them. They had history, and that was just the way it was. At the time, I was young and engaged to someone that didn’t have kids so it really wasn’t an issue; I just pushed it out of my mind. I dismissed it as the ramblings of someone trying to justify cheating with the ex.
After dating and befriending men over the past decade with children, I’ve found two things to be true.
1. Dating a man that has a horrible relationship with his child’s mother is a situation you never want to get into. The drama is nonstop. 2. Dating a man who has “too good” a relationship with his child’s mother is a situation you never want to get into…the drama is nonstop.
The Drama-Filled Relationship
When dating a man that is in a constant battle with his baby mama, you will never be at peace, because he is never at peace. Obviously, I haven’t polled every man and every relationship, but I think we’ve all seen enough to know it’s no fun for anyone. The posts on facebook alone are enough to curl your hair. I have seen men become so angry just at the mention of the baby mama, that’s regardless of if she was the wife, a long term relationship, or just a casual one night stand. It doesn’t seem to matter. I’ve heard horror tales of keeping the child away. Calling the house late at night. Leaving voice mails cursing them out. Going to the new girlfriend’s job cursing her out. Following them on dates. The list goes on and on.
Now, I’d like to pause for a moment to say, I’m only giving the one side, because this article is dealing with what it is like to date the man, the “baby daddy” so to speak. This is in no way to imply that any woman that has done this wasn’t provoked in some way.
After hearing so many of these stories, I considered myself blessed to have never been in one. One of the first questions I ask when dating with a man with children is:
“What is your relationship like with the mother?”
If the comment is something derogatory against her in anyway, I immediately move on. Regardless, of how it ended, at some point you thought enough of this woman to lay with her and make a baby…she deserves your respect. If the comment is somewhere along the lines of we deal with each other well, or we maintain a relationship for the child/children…I proceed.
The “Too-Good” Relationship
Now, you’re probably wondering how their relationship could be too good. I didn’t think that was possible either until…If you’re dating a guy, and the child, the mother, and himself frequently go on outings like the movies, shopping, etc…is that really a “good” thing? I want to say yes, because no matter what the child comes first, but you’re on the outside trying to establish a relationship with that man…how comfortable would you really be with that? When she has the code to his home, you know in case she needs to get something for the child when he isn’t there (mmmhhhmmm)…is that okay? When his family is inviting her on family vacations….where do you fit in? I had to ask myself those questions, and for me…No, I’m not okay with that. When I had to ask myself what I’m willing to deal with, I realized that when there is a baby mama involved you are always the “other woman”. She is never going anywhere.
I’d always told myself that I would never be involved with a man that couldn’t get along with his child’s mother, and I hate the term baby mama/baby daddy with a passion! But when dealing with two men, back to back, that were still a little too close to mother’s I realized if there is a mother anywhere in the equation there is some form of drama. There is no good or bad drama…drama is drama anyway you cut it. If the relationship is too bad then the man tends to be angry and bitter, and I’ve found in most cases, not looking for any type of long term relationship with someone else. You throw child support into the mix, and you can almost hang it up. If their relationship is too casual, then you run that risk of them getting back together, or cheating with each other from time to time. It’s almost a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation.
So where do you go from here. As a single, childless lady do you concede that you have to deal with one or the other, and pick which one you think is less stressful? Hope that the mother is remarried, and lives in a different state? Praying for one of the few straight men that haven’t procreated, and if he finds you hang on to him for dear life?
I realize these are extreme circumstances, and the majorities (hopefully) of people with children don’t fall into either of these categories. Unfortunately, for the single girl, a lot do. All you can really do is set a guard on your heart. Know what you can and cannot deal with, and most importantly never settle for less than you deserve.
I’ve always lived by the motto “Be the best you can be”. I’ve dedicated myself to constant self-improvement, and when I decided I wanted to be a wife I decided I wanted to be THE WIFE. I wanted to be the ultimate wife. The first, last, and only wife. No way would my marriage go down the drain, divorce is not an option.
So, I went to the source… the bible. I read ever scripture on marriage, relationships, the male role, the female role… everything. I became the Proverbs woman. I needed more. I need all the “proper” skills, sure I could cook but… I needed more. Cooking classes. I cooked, and I cooked, and I cooked. I’m ready for Top Chef! More. My house is clean, but is it “clean”? Okay… cleaning is not my favorite thing, but I made it my “thing”. Bring on your white gloves!
Cooking. Cleaning. That’s all good, but it isn’t 1955, I needed more. I continued to pursue every interest I had… piano, dance, foreign languages… whatever my heart desired I did. I was ready. I’ve done most of what I want to do; the only big goal left was starting my family. Sharing my life with that one special, awesome King God made just for me. He was nowhere to be found, but I wasn’t discouraged, he was coming. Then I noticed I was acquiring a lot of male friends and a lot were in or just getting out of bad relationships. It took awhile for me to put it together, but most had the same complaints: She didn’t want to work. She was lazy. She was ghetto. Had too many kids. She wasn’t this. She wasn’t that. Okay… cool. Then I noticed, these same men were getting into multiple relationships like that.
We can all make a mistake. Most of us have at least one relationship we regret, but when you are dating the same person, in different bodies, over and over… it isn’t a mistake, it’s a choice. It is what you like. No one wants to believe that they “want” someone that isn’t going to call, keep a clean house, not work, or has a lot of drama… but there are too many women out there like that, and too many men dating them for there not to be a demand. No woman wants to say “I want a thug” “I want a man that is going to be dependent on me for his shelter, food, and transportation; however, there are too many relationships like that for there not to be a demand.
I was talking to a male friend that I was really starting to “like”. Very intelligent. Hard-working. Goal-oriented. I was impressed. Then I just randomly asked the question: “So, what are your expectations for your mate?” I was expecting the stereotypical answer I normally get: Sexy, intelligent, funny, good cook blah blah blah, you know the things you’d expect a man to say just because it sounds “right”. Well, I was in for a rude awakening, his response: “I don’t have any expectations.” Huh? I had to have him repeat it. No expectations at all? If you don’t have any expectations, then how do you know what you want? If there are no expectations then you can’t be disappointed in anything that you get. My puzzlement seemed puzzling to him. I, admittedly, was almost irate. You mean to tell me, I’ve prided myself on becoming “wife” material, and no one is really looking for that. No one cares if you cook, keep a clean home, have outside interests, and most importantly have a relationship with God.
It suddenly all became clear. Most of my friends, of course, share similar interests. Most of my friends are also single… except the ones who oddly enough, are a little “looser” with their values. Unbelievable! How did I not notice that before? My mind started to spin… this man told me he had no expectations for his wife. Divorce rate is 50%… that is NOT a coincidence. I remembered having a similar conversation with a few male friends, that are divorced, and they made mention of things their ex-wives didn’t do that they ASSUMED a wife would. When asked if it were discussed that would be her role in the relationship prior to marriage they all said “no.” You can’t fault someone for doing… or not doing… what you “assumed” they would. One man was disappointed his wife didn’t fix his dinner plate. His mother fixed his dad’s plate. The wife of his friend’s fixed their plate. It was his assumption she would automatically do that. She didn’t grow up in a household like that, and it was HER assumption he would fix his own plate. Expectation not expressed, disappointment ensued.
When you expect nothing… that’s exactly what you get. If you have no expectations, you don’t know what to look for. Sadly, a lot of people don’t know what their expectations should be until it’s too late. There’s nothing wrong with expecting your spouse to perform certain tasks… as long as it is discussed with them prior to marriage. The problem is not the expecting… it’s the assuming. We should all be looking for the things we need to make us happy, no matter how small. No one can tell you what you should expect. Going into a relationship of any kind with assumptions is never a good thing. What’s worse is going into a marriage with the thought if it doesn’t work there is always divorce. Think on what you want. Think on what you need. Find the person that meets those qualifications, and has expectations of their own, because you never want to be on the receiving end of someone’s assumption.
If you read any of my articles you know I frequently referred to a subset of Black women as BBW’s (bitter black women). Not in a negative light so much, but just as being tired of what the Black man has had to offer us. A subset of woman that were always waiting “for the other shoe to drop” so to speak… women who were quick to cut a man down at the knees without a thought if necessary. While I had nothing against these “angry” women, I was proud to say I wasn’t one. While I learned from each failed relationship, I was able to not take any preconceived notions into a new relationship. I was proud of that. I was “above” all of the pettiness… yet I realized I was not as content as I would like to be.
I had been treated badly, in my opinion, by a man I considered a friend. While we were a little more than that (although if you heard how he downplays it, you wouldn’t think we knew each other’s last name), we were certainly not in a relationship, which made his treatment even more upsetting. My heart hurt. I was angry. I had done nothing wrong, but I apologized anyway. I was going to be the “bigger person” and forgive. I was going to show patience. I was going to show understanding. I was going to show not all Black women were angry and out of control. I offered a hand of friendship many times over many months. I knew one day he would see my side, and I would get the apology from him I so desperately deserved.
After months of waiting, I thought my day had come. I finally had his attention. He responded to my email. He was ready for communication. He saw the error of his ways, and was ready to set things straight. My patience, forgiveness, and understanding had paid off! The feeling of elation was short lived. After all these months, after all the unreturned messages, and after all the grace I had shown him… he still didn’t feel he owed me any apology. He still had no idea what he had done to wrong ME. His view was so distorted; I actually started to wonder if he was mentally ill. I broke down everything…detail by detail. I couldn’t believe that was even necessary. Then, even after all of that… I was still unworthy of even a passive “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings.” You know the apology you give just to keep the peace. The apology you give just to be… human.
I snapped. Something in my soul broke. Forgive 7 X 70 (Matthew 18:21), I think I used all of my forgiveness on this “man”. I released all of my anger, more tactfully than he deserved, but I think I made my point. I told this boy exactly what he was…. and what he deserved. With each word I could feel my heart lightening. I could feel all the anger I had been storing up leaving my body. I hadn’t felt that good in months. Good isn’t the word to describe how telling him off felt. I only wish I said more. I had no idea what I was holding on to. Then I understood. Forgiveness is great. You should always forgive; there is no question about that. But there is a difference between forgiveness, and being a fool. I had certainly crossed that line. I had made it too easy for this coward, who didn’t belong in my life, to come back and reap the benefits of my friendship. Forgive… forget… move on… sounds great in theory, but when is enough… enough? I had my enough! Then I realized, my sisters may not be so much bitter (not all anyway), but enlightened. Sometimes, it isn’t forgive and forget… it’s forgive and remember. This man didn’t deserve my kindness, my forgiveness, and certainly not my friendship. So now, I apologize to my sisters for calling you BBW’s, I finally understand. Being cautious. Knowing your limits. Knowing everyone isn’t worthy of your patience and time, and frankly dare I say, even your forgiveness. I see now knowing, and acting on those things doesn’t make you “bitter”, so I am changing BBW to Beautiful Black Women for all of my enlightened and empowered sisters, and I’m so proud to now be in your company.