How much are our ideas and beliefs about love rooted in what we feel vs. what we think love is supposed to be? I think that relations between men and women (especially black men and women) are in the shitter right now because people have these idealistic, unrealistic perceptions of love that they get from society, church, and the media (always got to blame the media somehow lol).
From a young age we are trained that love is: one man and one woman coming together and forsaking all others to build a life and a family together. The End. This one man and his one woman should preferably be all red hearts and song birds, making googly eyes at each other. They should also fall into stereotypical caricatures of people in love: the man is the money person who is clueless about relationships and what his woman wants/needs; and the woman is the emotional wreck of a guiding force whose job is to make the man feel guilty about his cluelessness, confuse him, then blame him for his confusion. Men are seen as constantly fighting their philandering urges and submitting to the “ball and chain” because it’s “cheaper to keep her” and they know they need someone to do their laundry and grow old and have sex with. While women are usually blindly in love, suspicious, controlling and using sex as a form of reward and punishment.
We get so caught up in these “roles” that human nature and feelings hardly ever come into play. I catch a lot of flack from people when I say that I don’t believe that human beings are genetically designed to “mate for life”. Monogamy is possible and can be a beautiful thing, but a person has to be ready for it. Too often, we are rushed by societal standards and biological clocks to do things we are not ready for. That being said: if you tell the (monogamy) lie, then you have to live the lie. While I may not believe monogamy is right (or possible) at every stage of a person’s life, I do not condone cheating. Cheating is more than a lie, it’s theft because a cheater robs their partner of their right to choose. They also rob their partner of their rose-colored view of this thing called love.
Far too often, people go into relationships with unrealistic expectations. Women expect knights in shining armor who will protect and provide for them while, of course, forsaking all others. Men expect a woman to be a care-taker, stay beautiful/sexy and to give them sex on a regular basis. But the woman shouldn’t be too into the sex part because men feel like sex should be their idea and they should have to “convince” the woman to participate. Otherwise, what would married men bitch about? Although everyone goes into relationships with certain expectations, they often aren’t verbalized and that lack of communication leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and break-ups. Even when expectations are known, people tend to promise things that they know they cannot deliver just to get “in”. Once “in”, disappointments and resentments start building when expectations aren’t met; and the relationship ends.
We get so caught up in the roles we think we are supposed to play, that we lose sight of who we are, what we want in life, and what we want from a partner. Love is fluid and ever-changing; yet we expect our partners to love us the same every single day, forever. That’s not a reasonable expectation because human beings go through different emotions and moods that affect their feelings and behaviors. We don’t allow for those changes in relationships. People in relationships aren’t allowed to be moody or want their own space or even to dislike their partner for a day or so. They certainly aren’t allowed to love or lust anyone besides their partner–whether they act on it or not. That’s all a part of human nature and relationships fail because we base them on dictated roles instead of our nature.
I see a lot of people “play acting” in their relationships and I shake my head. The female is playing the role of the nurturer. She cooks and fawns over her man, deferring to him in every way–except when it comes to how that relationship is being run. Women will play the submissive role except when it comes to nagging the hell out of a man to move to the “next step”. They want a commitment, then a ring, then a house, then a baby–sometimes in that order but it doesn’t matter as long as they get what they want at the time. Men will give in and step up to the plate even when his heart isn’t really in it. But society tells him that he should “settle down” and be a provider. So he signs up for something he’s not ready for and soon feels the pressure and plots his escape. Escape can come in many forms: cheating, drinking (or some other addiction/distraction), mentally checking out, or actually leaving. Who is to “blame” when that happens? The woman for pushing a man into what she wants (or what she thinks she’s supposed to want)? Or the man for agreeing to do things he knows he’s not ready for?
They say: women use sex to get love; and men use love to get sex. I have to somewhat agree. Women tend to suppress our sexual selves because society says we are not supposed to like it, want it, or do it unless we are in love and the man that we are in love with asks us to. So women give sex to get what they think is love. Men will pretend to love a woman so that they can get sex. Everyone is happy living the charade until it doesn’t work anymore. Too much importance is placed on sex itself. It’s seen as the ultimate taboo or the ultimate expression of love; when really it’s not much of a big deal. The heart is not a required organ; and love isn’t a requirement either. Nor is any other emotion. Sex is a physical act that can take place both inside and outside of a loving relationship. Given the context, it can mean different things. Men understand that. Most women do not.
Through nature and “nurture”, men have a need to spread their seed. They just do. They’re designed that way (I guess) as a means of assuring that mankind will continue on. Some men feel that it is their personal responsibility to accept this mission and to single-handedly ensure that the Earth will remain populated. They’re assholes, I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the average guy who has a basic, biological urge to sleep with different women. They’re fascinated by new “stuff” and remain in pursuit of it for most of their lives. It’s about the challenge. Women just don’t get that. They think that sex should be this sacred thing between a man and woman in love; and that if a man truly loves her, he will not want to have sex with anyone else. That’s where they mess up. A man can love a woman and want to be with her forever and still want to stick his penis in other women; he can even act on it and still love his woman. Men can put sex into categories of “making love” and “fucking”. It really does make sense in a guy’s mind when he tells his wife “I make love to you, I was just fucking her”. At this point, while I understand what he’s saying, he’s dead wrong because he has cheated; therefore, becoming a liar and a thief.
Ideally, what should happen is that a man and woman go into a relationship with certain understandings about each other. If the love is real, they will survive just about anything. If a man is not ready to be monogamous, but really digs this one particular chick and wants to be with her, that should be allowed. Go ahead and gasp. Yes I believe in open relationships. They can be highly successful and might be necessary depending on the people and the situation. Why should a stable reasonable man not marry the woman he loves and start a family just because he might want to have sex with other women on occasion? Some people think he should wait until the lusting is out of his system, and perhaps he should. But what if he doesn’t want to? What if he’s ready for marriage and family now? Why could this man not let the woman he loves know how he feels about her and what his intentions are concerning other women? Then it would be up to her to accept this or move on. In my opinion, this is better than two people in love NOT being together; or being together with one of them cheating. Deception is never good.
I’m not saying married men should have free license to hump anyone they want, whenever they want. As with everything (especially the good stuff), self-control and moderation are expected. But sometimes in life, shit happens. People have emotions and needs that their partner may not be able to fulfill at a particular time. Remember, we are always evolving and changing. We go through phases and certainly there are phases of falling in and out of love with our partner. Should a marriage break up because the husband (or wife) is in an “out of love” phase and/or is sexually attracted to someone else? I say no. As long as everyone is open and honest and precautions are taken; open relationships are not always a bad thing. But they’re not for everybody.
I know a few couples who are in open marriages. I know two of these couples fairly well. Well enough that I have let my inquisitive nature take over on several occasions to ask them many, many questions. The thing about both of these couples is that they seem more secure and more sure of their marriages than most other couples I know in traditional relationships. They’re both so sickeningly lovey-dovey that it’s sometimes hard to stomach. Their relationships seem solid; nobody seems to be going anywhere any time soon; but they have sexual relationships outside of their marriage. Imagine that! One thing I notice about these couples is their communication is open and direct. Many people proclaim to be their partner’s best friend, but how many husbands can tell their wife the absolute truth about every aspect of his life and private thoughts? Not many. If the average husband came home and told his wife that he met some woman and felt a certain chemistry with her, his wife would either kick his ass, kick him out, have an emotional breakdown; or all three. Most women cannot handle the truth. So the result is another family broken or severely fractured over a fleeting attraction to a woman who does not matter in any way. Why does it have to be that way?
I know most people reading this are probably giving me all kinds of side eyes at this point, and I’m used to it. I am not saying that open marriage is right for everybody; but I AM saying that marriage, in general, isn’t right for some people at all; but they do it anyway. We need to get an open dialogue going between men and women. The most important thing is, we need to listen to each other and really hear what’s being said. We each need to be honest and responsible and know whether or not we can live up to our potential partner’s expectations. At that point, we have to commit to giving them what they want or walk away. It’s the only fair to do.
We also need to take ego out of the equation. Sometimes what a person does, thinks or feels really has nothing to do with their partner; but it’s our tendency to make everything about us. Everything is not for everybody, but people should discuss (at length) what it is they want and expect; and devise a plan so that both parties’ needs are met. That plan does not have to follow societal rules for a “perfect marriage”; mostly because there’s no such thing. Of course there will always be “rules” to the game, but we can make our own rules to meet individual needs and be very happy.
Love is indeed a complicated concept which is very difficult to execute successfully. On top of that, we tend to make things more difficult than they have to be. I’m not advocating relationships and marriage be a free for all with everyone doing whatever they want. I just think we are getting it “wrong” and need to step back and re-evaluate our definitions of love, marriage, commitment, and relationships. We are a MESS right now: Divorce rates are SKY HIGH! Women are out here acting the damn fool out of desperation to find and/or “keep” a man. Men are engaging in irresponsible and very dangerous behavior because they can’t tell the truth and be themselves. So I’m just proposing an alternative to what we’ve been doing all along that has gotten us here-in hell. Stop the insanity of doing the same things yet expecting different results. If nothing else, I hope that people start to communicate more effectively so we can finally start to get this thing right!