By Maya Francis
I have an older brother. He is 17 years older than me, stands at a confident 6’1″, and is witty, charming, and handsome. The problem is that he knows it, and for most of his life, women have catered to his whims and his ego on more occasions than I can stand to count. I hung out with my brother the other day, a seldom occurrence, at his apartment. It is meticulous in its cleanliness, and has a particular warmth and style to it, particularly for a man who lives alone. A comforting smell of lavender draped the room from a series of burning candles. The Isley Brothers beckoned from his bedroom.
“You want me to be your boyfriend and I’m trying to be your friend. Stop making me the f*cking bad guy,” he spewed in his cell phone. Despite the peaceful ambiance, these conversations are not unusual for my brother, who seems to attract a special breed of relentless woman, whose self-respect seems to teeter on the brink, if it even exists at all. “Stop trying to make me your f*cking boyfriend. I’m trying to be honest, but my truth seems f*cking hurtful to you.”
I laughed, knowing it wasn’t funny, but amused by how routine it had become. For years, I’ve watched him break them in, then break them down. There was the girl who he dated each holiday season for access to her Macy’s discount; the idiot who sat in the car on hot summer days while my brother visited my mom within the cool confined of the AC in our house; the one who took him back after I wrongfully identified her on the phone (“Oh, hey Cindy. I’ll tell him you called.” “Cindy?” she said incredulously. “No, Maya. This is Kenya. Have him call me.”)
This is nothing new, and yet, it never gets old.
I got comfortable on the sofa while he continued to berate his non-girlfriend. “You can’t have a f*cking monopoly on my time. You want to be over here every day, and frankly, it doesn’t bother me that you haven’t been here in two days. I have other sh*t to do. I’m not your boyfriend. I keep telling you, you should find somebody to take you out. You should want to be with somebody who wants the same things that you do.”
And there it was. Despite the packaging and the delivery, my brother had said one of the more honest things I’d ever heard him – or any man like him – say to a woman who wanted too much from a man who had little to offer but hard d**k and a few jokes. Seeing that I’d gotten settled on the sofa, my brother ended the call with his lady friend abruptly, though she continued to plead with him via text throughout the two hours or so that I was there.
You should want to be with somebody who wants the same things that you do.
For the last week, I’ve heard myself repeat these words in my head. It’s a simple concept, really. And yet, we waste so much valuable, irreplaceable, expensive-ass time wanting someone (or some thing) that simply isn’t for us. Trying to fit square pegs into round holes so we feel like we’ve won. Like we’ve accomplished something. That we’re exceptional, because, despite the odds, we were able to make the impossible, possible.
And what, really, is more impossible than trying to make some man with no expressed interest in a relationship, a monogamous, considerate, consistent, emotionally-available partner? What wars have been waged, what property, damaged, because some woman felt herself losing the battle, but sought to be victorious in the war? Who among us hasn’t transferred our substantive being into a vessel of resentment and vengeance at some point all because a man has remained steadfast in his resistance to our hopes that one day he may reach an epiphany?
The truth is, this happens all the time. Some of you are sitting at your computers right.now. checking the timeline of some man who has already made it clear that he doesn’t want you like that. Yes, you there. maniacally checking for iMessages that never came. I’m talking about you. It makes little difference if you’re sleeping with him. He may make it a point to send you a smiley face in the morning, or ask about your weekend plans. But in the not-so-fine-print, the man has already meant what he said when you weren’t listening. You’ll never be his girlfriend. Especially if he’s enjoying the free ride he’s on now. Giddy up.
“When are you going to find a nice girl?” I asked my brother, thinking about the type of husband he could be if he wasn’t so… the way he is.
“I don’t want a nice girl,” he said with a laugh. “I like sluts.”
Let’s be clear – a man may sleep with a woman, and go out to different places with her, hell, they may even go on vacation together (I cannot tell you how many cruises this man has been on). But the scales won’t tip until he’s good and ready, if he ever is. My father taught me early on that the one who cares the least is in the most control. In my brother’s case (and other’s like it) the fact that he can take it or leave it exposes the pawn.
You should want to be with somebody who wants the same things that you do.
This concept is a simple one that defies the logic of the best and the brightest. Including people in relationships. There are folks in relationships right now trying to “see what happens” hoping that their partner will wake up one day and miraculously be someone else. We’ve conditioned ourselves to believe that “relationships take work” to the point that in some cases, they’ve become a chore. Everyone has different deal breakers, so I won’t be as bold to make a declaration across the board, but I do think that although relationships take work, they’re not supposed to be hard. I don’t believe in a labor of love. The minute you’re convincing someone to like you, or treat you well, or want the things you want, is the minute you’ve run out of time.
Twitter has exposed me to the reality that there are a vast amount of people who are wasting time negotiating things in their personal lives, which, to me, is probably one of the more stupid things I think one can decide to do. As I see it, one’s personal life, is, in fact, personal. Relating to the self. Controllable, for the most part. As such, I try to keep my personal life simple and balanced. I save the stress for work-related things where other people’s opinions matter. If I want something and it doesn’t work, I move on. Condition myself to want something or someone else. Focus on the attainable. Maximize my time. Assure my emotional stability. “Crazy” women are born from their inability push forward in a direction to where they are loved. Not liked. Not flirted with. Loved. Cared for. Respected.
Lastly, I am, by no means, suggesting that everyone should be in a relationship. I’m not saying that’s what everyone should want. Nor am I absolving my brother from his ongoing abhorrent behavior (a post for another day, I’m sure.) If you want sex, seek it with someone else who wants it under the same terms. If you want a relationship, seek it with someone who wants to relate to you. Casual sex, is, in fact just that. Functional relationships require two people. You should want to be with somebody who wants the same things that you do. Whatever those “things” may be, seek them. But don’t be the pawn.
Maya K. Francis is a writer, publicist, marketing consultant, and graduate of University of Maryland’s top-ranked Philip Merrill College of Journalism. She also holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Since launching her blog in 2008, Francis has offered readers an opportunity to journey with her through her adventures, realizations and missteps in her professional and personal life. Her biting and insightful commentary on pop culture, race, politics, gender, and sexuality has been featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer and digital publications including Ebony.com, The Root, XXL, and Clutch Magazine. For more, visit her blog or follow her on Twitter.
Admin Note: As you’ve probably noticed, we’re increasing the diversity of our content and highlighting perspective that we think you will find interesting (and well-written). Today’s guest post is just one example of that. More to come as we move forward! -Slim