“College-educated, six pack abs, and works in a career that requires a collared shirt and tie.” Whether it’s after a series of hell dates, another Valentine’s Day spent resenting romance and any warm-blooded mammal with pheromones, or allowing the vapors of a steamy shirtless sex scene with Michael Ealy video cloud your head, all women will at some point find themselves either mentally or physically jotting down a list of things they want in a man, especially when repeatedly being confronted with what you don’t want.
As broad or specific as that list may be, I think it’s healthy to know what you are seeking in a man. Knowing what you want may not necessarily be the key to finding your very own Dr. Morehouse Man pushing a Mercedes Benz, but it will at least get you in the neighborhood. Having standards is important because as the wise Malcolm X once said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Of course that saying had nothing to do with dating, but the adage works.
Somewhere along the way though, some women convinced themselves that having standards meant waiting for the first intelligent, attractive and financially stable man to come along and sweep them off of their Steve Maddens and carry them straight to a life spent between shopping malls and spas. It started to make less and less of a difference if that man was considerate, kind or respectful. Unfortunately, these same women thought it somehow made them better than women holding down the guy working part-time security to pay their child support, because at least they had “standards.”
The conflict I found with many women as of late is that they are confusing having standards with wanting to be saved. Most of us want a man to match our fly. Having someone on or at least close to your level financially, mentally and emotionally won’t make a relationship perfect, but damn if it doesn’t make it a little easier. There are less arguments about who’s paying for what, less pettiness and immaturity and less room for resentment and competition. Ideally, we would like to think love solves all these problems, but most women over the age of 21 know that real relationships are about more than those magical butterflies you get whenever he calls you, “Bae” (which I hate by the way, but ironically still use).
But let’s be real, are the standards you have more about wanting a man who’s your equal, or wanting someone who will do all the work for your life that you’re not willing to? How many times have I witnessed a woman making some contradictory statement like, “I need a man who can buy me nice things and afford to be able to take us to expensive restaurants,” when meanwhile they are living check to check and completely content with a minimum wage salary? Trust and believe that if what you really want is to be saved, there’s no shortage of caped crusaders waiting to fly in and upgrade you, but be honest about it. So often, women are walking around talking about how “classy” they are, mistaking the standards they think they have with what is really some kind of “Things I’m Not Willing to Do In My Own Life” wish list.
I’m not throwing shade at the housewives or the stay-at-home moms who are in marriages or relationships where they have come to a mutual agreement with their partner about the roles they both play. For example, a few months ago, when rapper Drake made a haphazard comment that Vanessa Bryant shouldn’t be entitled to a large divorce settlement because she “wasn’t with Kobe shooting in the gym,” she promptly responded, “I don’t need to be in the gym. I’m raising our daughters, signing checks and taking care of everything else that pertains to our home life.” And honestly, if that’s okay with Kobe, it’s okay with me. What I’m referring to are the thirsty Joe Camels parading their unjustified standards right through all of the good men that were, are one, digit short of the salary requirements of the relationship. Maybe he didn’t attend an Ivy League University, but does he make you laugh, stick up for you when it comes to his momma, work hard every day and know that being adventurous on a date is about more than choosing the Netflix movie with subtitles? Then consider yourself blessed.
I want to repeat that I’m not suggesting women settle for any less than what they want, but if you are constantly complaining about being lonely due to the lack of good men, it might just be that you’re lacking good judgment. That doesn’t mean date a guy whose biggest problem is getting Hot Cheetoes’ dust from in between his Xbox controller buttons, but if no man is meeting your standards, said standards might be unrealistic. Stop lying to yourself that you’re intimidating or that there are just no decent men in your city, because the truth could be that you’re actually just difficult and pretentious, even worse if you can’t even bring the things you claim you want to the table yourself. Save the capes for the comics. If a superhero is what you want then it’s time to admit that you’re really looking to be saved, not seduced. Meanwhile, for those of us who want a “real” man, it’s time to get realistic and understand that checklists are for The Fresh Grocer, not your love life.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .