All Articles Tagged "relationship standards"
“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 .
We all have our dealbreakers. I won’t deal with a man who doesn’t have a college degree. I can’t work with a man who still lives with his mom. I really don’t want to date a man who has kids. Some are outlandish, some are personal preferences; but as Brande Victorian mentioned earlier in the week, there are two standards that are almost universal… at least in theory.
1. We won’t put up with a man who cheats on us.
2. We won’t put up with a man who hits us.
I wrote those in no particular order. Both are pretty terrible. And while we’ve heard women say that they won’t put up with cheating or abuse; when those things happen, exceptions are made. Sure, the relationship will never be quite the same but people work things out all the time. When it comes to love there really are no hard-fast rules on how to behave in any given situation. And if there were, we wouldn’t follow them.
If you ask me, I could see myself forgiving infidelity much easier than I could see myself going back to a man who’d put his hands on me.
Both are a betrayal , represent a lack of self control and hurt the other person, either emotionally or physically.
But there is something about a man, your partner, hitting you, especially in the context of marriage, that is so…unforgivable. I can understand that the dynamics in a relationship can and will change. People aren’t being fulfilled sexually or emotionally and they look to other people to meet those needs. But I just can’t understand why you’d feel the need to hit me in the heat of an argument or because I didn’t do something to your liking. That’s about power, you exerting power over me in a way you know you’ll “win.” That’s a type of sickness I couldn’t live with, eat with and sleep with every night. Who wants to live their life in perpetual fear of being beaten or abused by someone who’s supposed to be on your team?
I do believe that men who hit women and men who quickly resort of violence in general, seriously have some type of psychological issue. Those issues can be cured with therapy and what not; but how long does that take? How will I ever know that you’re truly reformed? If you hit me once, how do I know that the next time we’re having an argument, that you wouldn’t punch me in the face to shut me up? That’s a terrifying existence, yet there are millions of women, all over the world, who live this way.
What do you think? In terms of a relationship, which is a greater offense, infidelity or abuse?
What do men want? I don’t know. Love, sex, a corn beef sandwich on rye perhaps?
We see article after article about what men really want in a relationship. And I’m personally like, who cares? Call me jaded but whenever I used to be concerned about what the opposite sex wanted or ways of thinking is when I would find myself in the most undesirable of situations.
He was tall, brown skinned with dreads down his back. A former college basketball player now turned after-school youth counselor and very much sought after by ladies between the ages of 16 to 60. Yeah, he was that fine and on one cloudy summer day, I had caught his eye.
We were at a community festival, working the table for some playground committee we both served on. I was new to the committee. Therefore I was solely on duty to hand out information about our activities and program. He came later on, saw me, walked over and whispered in this deep baritone voice, “So when are you going to let me have your number?” Ooh Wee. My co-committee member had told me that Mr. Tall & Handsome had his eyes on me, but warned that he was a lady killer. Naw, that ain’t going to happen to me, I’ve been celibate and reading books about the ways to a man’s heart. I was smarter and thanks to all my reading, prepared. I played it cool because that’s what my book told me to do.
Everything I read said that it is best to keep a man waiting and guessing, never showing him your hand and most importantly, never seem eager. But as the sun began to set on the festival, my admirer became more persistent. So after the fifth time of asking me for my number, which by advice of the relationship expert was two more times needed, I decided that I would not give him my number – instead I asked him for his number, since men like it when a woman takes charge – this again, according to the relationship experts.
Later on that evening, we were on the phone. The relationship experts said it is important to maintain an air of mystery, because men like mysterious women, so when Mr. Tall & Handsome asked me about myself, I kept it cool and mostly hushed. And when he told me about what he was into, which was mostly basketball, I feigned interest even though I was into football and my only knowledge of the game started and ended at the team colors. But the experts said that men liked women who shared in their interest.
I went through so many changes based upon what I thought he wanted. I would listen closely, picking up hints and changing myself appropriately. He said that he was partial to the color purple, so I found ways of incorporating that color scheme into my wardrobe. He said that for health reasons, he didn’t eat red meat, so I got rid of all the hamburger meat, beef sausage and bacon in the freezer. He said that he was really into metaphysics, whatever that is, so I went to the library and sat for hours, pondering the ambiguity of Schrödinger’s cat. And he said that he was partial to women with dreadlocks. And that’s the story about how I ended up locking my hair.
Anyway, Mr. Tall & Handsome would get tired of me eventually and move on. Besides not being ready for anything permanent (which I promptly ignored because all the relationship advice I’d read said that every man can change and it was our duty as women to convince them), he also said that he was hoping I would change his mind. However, I didn’t seem to have a mind of my own. Ouch that stung. But he was right. I was so occupied with trying to fit his ideal image of the kind of woman that I thought he wanted, I forgot to really listen. I hated basketball and the only purple I liked was the movie. So was there anything about him, besides being tall and handsome, which met my list of wants and needs? And more importantly, what were my wants and needs?
Steve Harvey, Michael Baisden and a slew of other prominent relationship experts have made very fruitful careers explaining to women the ins and outs of what is on a man’s mind. And although Harvey and the rest are indeed men, they are only a few men and can’t represent fully the thinking of all men. Therefore, the only kind of man that you will likely attract with Harvey’s advice is someone like Harvey. Now, if you are into high top fades and colorful suits with 52 buttons on the inside sleeve alone, then perhaps you will find some value in what they have to say. However, for the rest of us, with more varied tastes in men, their advice is a little unhelpful.
Plus, it is simply a waste of time to even try to think about all the different things on a man’s mind. For one, men don’t really go around begging to know what women want. If they did, it would be a slew of female relationship experts exploiting that question for fame as well. Most men I know think they already know what women want. Matter of fact, if you were to ask a dude what women want, he is likely to say, his package. Okay I jest – sort of. I actually had a male friend, who said that to me before. “For real though, it’s not like we don’t care what women think, it is just we just don’t think about it much. We think about ourselves.”
As I have matured some in my relationships with the opposite sex, I have come to realize that most men will tell you what they are looking for. And as such, it is our jobs to not only believe them but also to be as honest and upfront in our dating as well. Forget about wanting to know what they think, I need to know how a potential partner could satisfy my needs. Can he be loyal and trustworthy? Can he make me laugh? Is he smart and cultured? Does he like football and beef sausages? It is about you as much as it is about them. And if what he tells you sounds like exactly what you need–go for it. But if not, well in the words of Jay-Z, on to the next one. It’s really that simple.
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“You’re so beautiful!”
“No, you’re so beautiful.”
“But you’re the fabulous one.”
“I only strive to be as fabulous as you!”
“Let’s do lunch?”
Is this the extent of some of your interactions with friends? Not that you don’t like each other, not that she isn’t fabulous and beautiful, not that you don’t wish each other well. Through the years, you may have made it a little past acquaintanceship, but fallen short of sisterhood. But somehow you know that you could never call her if you were having car trouble on the highway. You could cry with her over a movie, but you could never tell her about the past personal heartache you relived as you watched the film. You can’t be totally sure she wouldn’t judge you. She isn’t a bad person. That’s just the way she is. And you still consider her a friend.
When it comes to choosing and cultivating friendships, we all have that one friend who:
Has never been on time to a birthday party or spa date
Has always forgotten our birthday
Has betrayed our trust
Has made her life more dramatic and her problems bigger and more chat-worthy
Has trouble thinking before she lets rude things come out of her mouth
Shows up for the party, but is too busy to help us move
Just plain talks too much
Always criticizes our hair, makeup, or clothing, only “trying to help”
Never offers to pay for dinner or to pitch in for the movie
Only calls when she needs something
These offenses can range from annoying to unnerving to borderline unforgivable, but they are pardonable for some. They also affect a person’s ascension through our personal rungs of intimacy, rungs for which we can make adjustments: We won’t lend any more money to the friend who never pays us back, or we’ll tell our perpetually 30-minutes-behind friend that the 8:30 p.m. dinner reservations are for 8:00 p.m. Other misgivings, like betrayal, require a little more maneuvering.
The ideal definition of friendship has an easily- identifiable context, but I’ve learned that each individual friendship comes with unique expectations. As we get to know our friends, we recognize the ones to whom we can tell our secrets and the ones who are only good for superficial happy hour chatter. But how do we determine whether a friendship is toxic or tolerable?
In an article published in The New York Times, Alex Williams wrote about one woman’s assessment of “new friend candidates”
Thayer Prime, a 32-year-old strategy consultant who lives in London, has even developed aplayful 100-point scale (100 being “best friend forever”). In her mind, she starts to dock new friend candidates as they begin to display annoying or disloyal behavior. Nine times out of 10, she said, her new friends end up from 30 to 60, or little more than an acquaintance.
“You meet someone really nice, but if they don’t return a call, drop to 90, if they don’t return two calls, that’s an immediate 50,” she said. “If they’re late to something in the first month, that’s another 10 off.” (But people can move up the scale with nice behavior, too, she added.)
A bit harsh, I thought, since of the aforementioned friendship crimes, I’m guilty of at least five. It turns out that the older we get, the more aware we are of our own failings as a friend, and playing the grace card becomes a necessary component in our relationships. We cannot just cut off our friends lest we be cut. But what does a friend have to do in order for us to say, “Enough!”?
I’m not one for checklists like Prime’s, but I’ve learned that our propensity to keep track of how much we give when a friend is only taking is backed up by the social exchange theory of sociology; one that indicates the way we weigh risks and rewards of our relationships. We don’t keep track of our give and take relationships; it’s only when our giving trumps hers that makes us go “Hmmmm…”
There’s also what I call the theory of the psychic vampire: Do you feel better after you spend time with this person? Or has she drained all of your energy because the encounter (like most encounters with her) has a negative effect on you and your mood?
Psychology Today suggests, among other reasons, that healthy friendships end when “criticism and put downs are a regular part of your conversations [indicating] this is not a friendship that will enhance your emotional health,” or “when you have an emotional ‘growth spurt,’ and you…find that your old best friend isn’t able to go along with you into a healthier future.”
Then there are the total breakdowns. Your best friend shared your deepest secret, stole your man or committed another heinous violation of trust that makes you question whether she’s on your side in the first place. Are these types of relationships irreparable?
How do you set expectations in friendships? Which imperfections are you willing to overlook and which ones are absolute deal breakers in the way you maintain relationships?
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What are the primary traits women want in men? Intelligence, physique, selflessness, faithfulness, financially stability? Someone who is a good communicator, career/goal oriented, loving, respectful, family-oriented, honest, physically attractive, God-fearing, and with a sense of humor?
Many women create a certain type of perfect image for a mate that we have to meet, fall in love with, and marry. But more often than not, the person we have designed in our imagination may not be of our own image; meaning that the traits and characteristics people desire in someone else may not be reflected within the person who created the image. Most women have an idea of the type of man she wants to spend her life with. We know what we want him to look like, dress like, sound like, and act like. We even know what we want him to have in his bank accounts.
But are the things we want, expect and sometimes demand realistic? Do we have the things we want in ourselves that we want and require from men? I recall an elaborate list of traits and characteristics I devised of things I wanted in a mate. The list was compiled of more than forty adjectives that described the perfect man just for me. After I created the list, I placed it in my Bible, and every night before I laid down to sleep I would grab the list, read over it to be sure I wrote down everything I wanted and would start praying for this man I created. I repeated this regimen for about a year, until one day a powerful question ran across my mind: was I a reflection of the man I was praying for?
This was a very convicting question that made me take a long look at the list I created. Not only did this question make me look at the list I created, but it also made me look at who I was as a woman. So I examined the long list of traits and characteristics I wanted in a man and quickly came to realize a few things. First I realized that no one in reality existed like this; next, I discovered I was not a reflection of who I was praying for; and, third, I needed to know why I created such an elaborate list. After realizing these things I came to the conclusion that I needed to take some time to reflect on who I was, and find out what it meant to be a reflection of someone else.
When I began this journey of self- reflection, I discovered a lot of things about myself. I learned a lot about who I am while in and out of a relationship, I learned about my different personalities, I learned how to set realistic standards and expectations for myself and the relationships I encountered, and I learned that while I do deserve a good man, no man is perfect. I also realized that I created an elaborate list of traits and characteristics because I wanted a man to complete what was missing within me.
After this discovery, I took some more time to get to know who I was thoroughly and prayed to become a better, stronger woman rather than praying for a man who did not exist. In addition to learning who I was on this journey, I learned what it means to be a reflection of someone. To reflect or to be a reflection of a desired mate is to be able to relate to them, have the ability to be in a relationship with them; it is to be a comparable, compatible, and complementary individual to someone and share an identity with them. This simple, yet profound definition made me realize that my focus for a mate and a relationship was all about me and having my needs met. It also made me realize that while I am a good woman with a lot to offer a man, I must keep in mind that I must be a reflection of who he is in order for the relationship to be balanced, for it to prosper and for both of our needs to be met. At some point in our lives, we have created a list of things we want in a man, be it mental or physical. But before we begin searching and even diligently praying for whom we have created in our minds, we have to ask ourselves if the things we want are realistic, and if the things we want in someone else exist within. Are you a reflection of the man you pray for? Would you want a relationship with yourself?
Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.