We don’t seem to get it. We all know (or think we know) what we want in a man. We’ve carved him out of stone in our minds and intricately chiseled every detail about him, standing back with our arms folded in admiration of our work. However, our artistry when it comes to our dating checklists include everything under the sun except one of the main traits that could guarantee a long-lasting relationship: a healthy lifestyle.
It seems that we don’t demand better health of our potential partners. It almost seems irrelevant as it is rarely included when we discuss the perfect man. Somehow, regardless of how informed we are of our culture’s damaging health habits, some of us look for the money, the leadership ability, the good looks, the good taste and the chivalry – all of which absolutely are feathers in the caps of the men we date. But within the black community – the community with only 55.9 percent of its people expected to live in good health – it seems that we do not take health into immediate consideration when choosing a mate.
Why isn’t it a non-negotiable? How does that make sense in the black community?
It seems that as long as he wines and dines us, is ambitious and wealthy, we can let the detrimental sweet tooth slide. Though he might be on the verge of diabetes and barely drinks water, it’s cool as long as he makes six figures.
I’m not telling you to go out and run brothas down because they don’t actively advocate for their own health through healthy diet, exercise, and regular check-ups. I do, however, invite you as a fellow black woman to reconsider what you deem important/”good enough” to date. Should you choose to move forward with a man who is decidedly and selfishly unhealthy, the negative effects can and will reach far and wide into your future.
If we decide to date, it is only a proper assumption that at some point, we are seeking a relationship. And if we are seeking a relationship, it is only a proper assumption that we are expecting that relationship to yield long-term commitment, most often in the form of marriage. But what happens when health is not discussed? What happens when neither party informs the other of their family medical history? What happens when consistent poor health choices begin to catch up with you?
You begin to date a handsome top level advertising executive with two nice cars, a home just paid for, a healthy benefits package, but a not-so-healthy lifestyle. He makes a lot of money and spends a lot on you but drinks heavily on the social scene, is dedicated to a number of fast food chains, eating out every other night, and sees no real reason beyond a few push-ups here and there to exercise. Nothing about that lifestyle suggests a long life. Everything about that lifestyle suggests a future spilling over with medical bills, depression, anxiety, and resentment. Poor health breeds poor health in one way or another for all involved. While money and material things are a factor in relationships, health trumps them all by leaps and bounds.
It seems that we don’t consider health until health begins to visibly fail. Why is the most important factor the least important on our lists? Do we shy away from demanding healthy habits of others because of our own unhealthy ways? Are we too deeply stuck in the cultural rut of greasy, highly concentrated, fatty soul food and fast food that we don’t really see the harm it has done/is doing to our people?
Black women have a very large and influential role in our communities. Much more influential than we realize at times. Not only do we care for our communities, but we set the standards and rules in a variety of aspects, especially when dating. Men will only be/do what we, as black women, allow. An abusive man will only try his hand at consistent abuse if the woman allows that behavior. It is the same with health. We do not have to accept a partner with a staunch allegiance to unhealthy living. We do not have to accept any behavior that will cause us heartache or grief – whether now or in the long run.
It wouldn’t hurt to take a second look at our relationship expectations now would it?
La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.