Most men never forget their first love. I believe the same can be said about women, but for men, it’s a slightly different dynamic.
For men, many of whom are told in some form or the other to “man up” during their formative years, experiencing love for the first time can be a daunting and confusing experience. When we meet a beautiful and profound young woman who has the ability to capture our heart, it has the ability of making us experience things that are anathema to “manliness.” We start feeling things like vulnerability, wonder and unbridled exuberance, which isn’t necessarily new, but they’re coupled with a strange urge to share them with this person. It’s an emotional nakedness that most boys aren’t conditioned to embrace. And for Black boys, these feelings can be as welcoming as they are menacing.
Hyper-masculine expectations, which many of our young boys find fixed upon their shoulders during their formative years, is what constitutes strength to us. As we find ourselves still searching for a more humane picture of Black masculinity, it currently stands as mostly about not being “soft” or “acting like a b**ch”—which includes a problematic combination of emotional unavailability and misogynoir. It’s encapsulated in phrases like, “We don’t love these hoes” and “Love em with your mind, not your heart.”
The walls we encase our emotions in aren’t designed to keep women and love out as much as they’re designed to keep our masculinity in. As we continue to date, forever balancing the conventions of “being a real man” with opening ourselves up to love, some men eventually find a woman who is just “good enough.” She’s good enough to be loyal to, to have kids with and to even marry.
But for some lucky men, they encounter a deep, connective bond unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. It’s the transformative, life-changing type of love that comes with opening oneself to the vulnerability of love, with absolutely zero restrictions. It is to traverse the gap between “she’s cool” and “she’s my everything.” It is to embrace her friendship, her support and the essence of her soul not as an acquisition, but as a treasure. It is to place your heart wholly in the hands of a woman, in all it’s defenseless glory, pray that she doesn’t break it, and then find out that she cares for it as deeply as you care for hers.
Earlier this week I came across a succinct, poignant and beautiful Twitter post that I found absolutely moving, due to the young brothers willingness to bare his soul online about the woman he loves.
You don’t know how many days I’ve worked overtime, nights I’ve cried, & how much I’ve fought, just to call her my wife. ???????? pic.twitter.com/ZxNIdWYCLi
— Mr. Conner (@officialjhasz) January 9, 2017
While his post has received mostly positive reactions, there was one constant critique that I noticed from more than a few dudes who witnessed his post, and that was the “nights I’ve cried” part. For some dudes, that simply did not pass “manly” muster. These dudes, so inescapably trapped in a cell of hypermasculinity, willfully ignored their joint expressions of happiness and his declaration of love to focus on the three words that assault their fragile sensibilities. While it would be easy to diss those dudes, the truth is that I feel sorry for them.
The reciprocity of true love can be the most freeing feeling in the world. And when it’s achieved amidst hellish conditions, it reveals itself to be a truly precious and irreplaceable phenomenon. There are some men who have endured brutal obstacles to find their woman. There are some men who’ve had to fight all manners of hell just to be with their woman. There are some men who have been through hell and back with their woman right by their side, protecting and shielding him as much as they’re guarded themselves.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 11, 2017
The real reason Black men cry is because they’ve been freed by love. They’ve found a way for their masculinity to coexist with the concept of necessity. In today’s society, when it comes to love, it has become en vogue to reject the word need. Need is now seen as a pejorative that diminishes one’s individual sovereignty. It’s seen as a sign of weakness—an idea propagated by men and women, to men and women—to ever declare that you need another human. In today’s society need is emasculating. But when men learn to not give a damn about what people think and how society should frame their manhood, dudes begin to overcome those specious boundaries to find a fully-formed emotionally-secure form of themselves waiting for them. And the second we embrace that evolved form of ourselves, we begin to realize that there isn’t a damn thing wrong with being so moved by our woman’s love and loyalty that it actually brings tears to our eyes.
Lincoln Anthony Blades blogs daily on his site, ThisIsYourConscious.com. He’s author of the book, “You’re Not A Victim, You’re A Volunteer.” He can be reached on Twitter @lincolnablades and on Facebook at Lincoln Anthony Blades.