Kwesi was some kind of beautiful thing. He was ebony lovely, long, lean… and God finished all of that amazing with a beautiful dimpled smile. I spent a lot of time swooning over him. So much so, in fact, that I didn’t realize our casual dating relationship was evolving into something more than what he and I had planned.
What began as cute dates, talks about politics and insatiable passion quickly became an almost live in relationship—complete with cooking, cleaning and loving provided diligently by yours truly. We’d discussed our shared ambivalence towards “labels,” and how we’d simply see where things went.
Kwesi was one moment enraptured and the next moment cold. He’d talk about us spending our lives together and him taking me to meet his mother in Ghana, and within the same conversation remind me of how much he loved his freedom and perpetual wanderlust. I was in it sort of deep though. I loved him. I wanted us to have happily ever after.
But my love-glossed eyes didn’t quite blind me. I noticed that my grocery bill was increasing, and so were my laundry loads. As I canvassed my space, I also noticed there were pieces of him nestled everywhere. I decided that we needed to talk.
Where were we? Who were we? I wanted to know, because I understood that I was no longer living the life of a single woman. I was, in fact, acting very much like a “wife” (whatever I thought that meant at the time, I suppose). And though I’d never been one for titles, I was very much of the opinion that either a person is single or he or she is not. And as a single woman, I didn’t need to be washing anyone’s draws but my own.
Naturally Kwesi wanted to continue to be friends only, and I chose to move forward. I later spoke with a woman who’d also dated him, and realized that, for him, taking advantage of the friend zone was a repetitive behavior. Kwesi’s other “friend” waited six years for him to commit to her; it never happened.
All this came to mind as I read a recent post at The Loop 21 entitled, “Why Ladies Need to Stop Hearing What We Want To Hear.” I don’t disagree with the author’s argument at all. She writes:
So many of us believe that we can change men. Like when a guy says, “I’m not ready for a relationship,” but the woman is and she continues to date him for years thinking he’ll somehow evolve into a commitment. Didn’t you hear what he said? He doesn’t want what you want. While others of us have the negative superpower of being able to see all the good while blocking out all the bad—that’s just self-sabotage in disguise.
This does indeed happen. There are women (and to keep it even, men) who become determined to create a romance with someone who obviously doesn’t share those same yearnings. And most often we know, right? Many times we are lonely, hopeful and in a rush to feel that complete feeling we’re taught we should feel at a certain point in our lives.
I recently had to remind a girlfriend that a relationship can’t exist via text message only, and she had 100 excuses as to why there was still hope for her happy ending. She would go on and on about how busy this guy was and how wonderful he made her feel when they did connect (which was almost never). My girlfriend behaved very much like the women the author of the above mentioned post spoke of and to.
But what about the others? What about women who are sold false hopes by men who enjoy the benefits of being in a relationship, but don’t want the responsibility of the commitment—the fellas who make those pipe dreams of fairytale love taste as good as a freshly fired crème brûlée? Where’s the article telling men what they should or should not be doing to encourage women to “hold out” when they know they have no intentions of committing?
We have to examine the way that much of the relationship advice dispensed these days makes women feel like they’re enduring the insufferable wrong thing in failed relationships. Yes, tell women that if men say they want no parts of a relationship, women should listen. But also tell men that if they don’t want relationships, they shouldn’t act as if they do, or accept the perks and treatment they know women probably reserve for men they’re in relationships with. There must be mutual accountability when hearts are broken and things fall apart.
What say you? Are many women creating fantasy relationships on their own, or is there often encouragement to do so from the men who want all the “yes” while saying no?
Josie Pickens is a writer, educator and social commentator who blogs at jonubian.com. Follow her musings on Twitter @jonubian.