A couple nights ago, I had finished speaking on a panel about Black Men and their presumed “Wishlist.” After the panel discussion ended people in attendance were encouraged to mingle with one another for networking or potential future dates. As me and one of the other panelists worked the room to thank people for coming out and answer any follow-up questions, we came across a young man who opted out of the networking part because he said, “I’m taking time to focus on myself.” It’s a surprising answer and position to be in because many times women are under the impression that men cannot be alone. However, men do spend periods of time alone and they are fully capable of doing so without necessarily having a warm woman to tide them over.
A few years ago, I had just broken up — or had a situation fizzle — and I embarked on a very unhealthy few months of life. I had experienced so much drama that I began to project some of that frustration onto other women because of my inner pain. I went out too much, I drank too much, I lied too much (and didn’t care when I got caught in those lies), and overall I made a lot of bad decisions. At some point when I realized exactly how unhealthy my behavior was becoming I decided to take 90 days for myself. I wouldn’t talk to any women, I wouldn’t date any women, and most importantly I didn’t sleep with any women. It was a very personal time for me, I stayed to myself and kept myself out of temptation’s way. Prior to the 90 days ending, I decided that I would extend it to 120 days, and then 180 days, and eventually it ended around 210 days, but I had succeeded in emotional rehabilitation.
I think that the presumption that men can’t be alone for any period of time is not one that has no basis or reasoning. I know several men and women who are incapable of being alone because they aren’t really big fans of themselves. Yes, that’s the real reason. It’s not about being lonely and taking lesser options, it’s about being with yourself. I knew that the anger that I was projecting was coming from a place of hurt or frustration with myself. I started writing more, I went to the gym frequently, I picked up new hobbies and I began to rebuild and repair myself, not many men are willing to do that.
It’s that lack of self-examination that causes a lot of men to continue to bang their head against the wall in their love lives. Men tend to tell themselves that they can engage in sex with women and have no attachment to them, or not really want the long term commitment. While a man may be able to do that in the short term, he must understand that while women may establish emotional connections that sometimes prevent them from having meaningless sex, men have ownership issues. Spike Lee’s movie, She’s Gotta Have It, should always serve as an example of why men can’t exist in situations in which they don’t have any ownership. Therefore, I don’t think men can just keep the company of women with no real expectations or while recharging their emotional availability before the next relationship, it simply doesn’t make sense.
To bring this home, can men be alone? Yes, they are fully capable of being alone. I think that women afford men the excuse that they can’t be alone and men capitalize on that allowance. My advice for women is to not allow that to be the case. Just as much as men recommend women be alone for a while to figure out what they really want in life and who they want to be, women should challenge men to do the same. In addition, be ready to hear and understand men who are truly alone and not looking. Don’t be quick to tell him that he’s a liar or that it’s impossible, that’s surely not going to help the situation. I would advise that women be supportive and encouraging. Above all else, I would recommend being a friend because the type of man who can shutdown his love life for personal development is one who is maturing in the way that you want to see more men become in the future.
Dr. J is a writer for the men’s blog Single Black Male. Dr. J’s inspiration and motivation for writing comes from a desire to provide real and honest advice to all. His approach is no nonsense and rarely sugarcoated. Follow him on twitter @DrJayJack.
*Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.