So…full disclosure: I originally wrote this in 2012. At the time, I was 37, single and “dating hell” does not begin to describe my pain. So what I would like to do is re-visit this topic as my now-45-year-old self. Warning: I was wayyyyy off on some of this stuff. But you know—hindsight is 20/20…
I recently read an article that was all about how women may have been missing out on finding “Mr. Right” because they’re too busy dating the wrong guys. The article illustrated who those wrong guys were, i.e., “the wanna be rapper”,(2020 me says, “uh, hell no- no potential rappers allowed) “the perpetually high backpacker,”(same) and so on. I thought it might be interesting to look at the whole thing from another perspective. What about the really awesome guys out there who don’t have some type of major malfunction? We often miss out on these guys as well. Why?
It could be that in this age of “I refuse to settle”, we’ve been overlooking perfectly good potential mates because we don’t have a clear view of what it is we want when we embark on our search for love. (Still true) We often miss the traits that aren’t immediately evident (like he’s super-nice to your mom and goes out of his way to help old ladies across the street) because we’re busy looking at what kind of car he drives, or what he does for a living.(Also still true, although 45 year-old me has a far better understanding of the need for financial security.)
Nobody’s saying lower your standards, but it might make life easier if you opened your mind enough to consider the fact that while your soul mate may not be 6’2” and chocolatey fine, with a seven-figure net-worth, he may be kind, generous (with what little he does have) and perfect husband and father material. It may be hard to remember sometimes, but there really are some good men left in the world. (Still true, although at this point, my kids are grown, so “father material” isn’t really on the list of criteria anymore. That being said though, finding a man that can deal with your GROWN children is more than a notion. That requires a special kind of patience. But that’s a post for another day…)Here are a few examples…
1. The Nice Guy- I have never understood the supposed fascination some women have with so-called “bad boys”. I just don’t get it. Who wants a life/relationship filled with drama and misery? Bailing your boyfriend or husband out of jail is not what’s up. (And in 2020- you’re most definitely on your own, homie. I will not be leaving my bed at 2 a.m. to do a damned thing for you if it involves them folks. Nope. Nada. Not today, Satan…) I’ve heard women say that nice guys are boring. I’ll take boring over abusive any day. (Okurrrr!!!) You can spice up a relationship, but the emotional scars that come from being treated badly may take a lifetime to heal. (All jokes aside, there are many of us who—to this day—carry the scars of abusive relationships. Some mistakes you pay for a loooonnnngggg time, Sis.) Is it the nice guy’s fault he has some home training and actually wants to make you happy? No, you won’t experience the high and low thrills that exist in relationships with rough-necks or assholes, but you won’t have to help him pay his court fees and fines either.
2. The Blue Collar Man- No, he doesn’t sit in the corner office. Yes, he wears a uniform to work and he punches a clock. How is that a bad thing? No, he may not be able to take you on a vacation to the Caribbean at a moment’s notice, but he will kick in when your light bill is due. (And that is e-ver-y-thing) It takes a lot of integrity to get up and go to work every day. It takes drive just to survive these days. A man that will get up, get out and get something (the legal way) is worth considering. (Amen, 2012 me!)
3. The Single Father-Think about it, a single dad is already proving that he’s not afraid of responsibility. He has a good idea of what it takes to balance work and family life. More than likely, he has to cook, clean and take care of his home. These are traits we say we want in a man. As long as you don’t end up being stalked or harassed by his ex, you could do a lot worse than a man who wants to raise his children. (Let me just say here, that it also takes a special kind of woman to deal with a man’s grown children. If you don’t have it in you- leave that man and his kids alone. It’s worth it, if the two of you can make it work, but it requires a certain level of maturity on both of your parts).
4. There was a whole section here about “the student” and how he was demonstrating commitment and striving for a better life, so you should maybe consider giving him a chance. I’ma just update this to 2020. A middle-aged man who is willing to go back to school is a dope human being. Not only does he have responsibilities, he also has to deal with the fact that it may be more difficult to retain information, he may not have the stamina he once had, so he’s tired as hell trying to finish those papers and, on top of it all, he has to deal with 20-something a-holes in his classes that are just like he was at his age—annoying as hell—so he really, really wants to do better in life. Cut him some slack.
5. The “Reformed” Player- This one is also tricky, because it can be difficult to know for sure when a player has turned in his jersey for good. It’s also tricky because you don’t want to spend your relationship wondering when/if he’s going to relapse. But believe it or not, sometimes the improbable happens. Every boy doesn’t stay a boy. Some of them actually do grow up. It couldn’t hurt to at least entertain the thought that there are some men out there who get tired of playing games and want to settle down and live their lives. (That being said—there are still a lot of them out there paying games. At your age, you recognize the signs. Ain’t nothing sadder than an old ass man tryna catch at the club. SMH).
If we’re going to heal Black relationships and repair the damage done to the Black family, we’ve got to change our thinking and the way we relate to each other. Nobody’s saying settle, just keep an open mind and at least give a brotha a chance. Give yourself a chance. You never know what might happen…
If you should find yourself single and dating over the age of 40, you already know that the game has changed. You’re not having the bullshit. You are no longer playing the games. Your favorite phrase is “Get your bitch ass off my phone”. (Oh, that’s just my favorite phrase? Ok then…). Anyway, this is your time to decide what you will and won’t tolerate. What you will and won’t accept. And trust me, Sis—I am not mad at you. But, relationships do require a certain amount of communication, give-and-take and understanding. It might be worth considering letting your guard down…just a little. Ijs…
A. Rozelle is a freelance writer and the author of one short-story collection, two novels and a recently completed screenplay. Her work has been featured in The Dallas Morning News, The Dallas Weekly, Rollin’ Out Magazine and Eclipse Magazine. She resides in Atlanta, GA, where she is hard at work on her third book, which can only be classified as a supernatural-historical-erotic work of genius…or something like that.