My Brother’s My Keeper: 6 Things I Learned About Love And Men From Watching My Brothers

July 9, 2012  |  
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I am the youngest of a large rambunctious family and I have three older brothers.  I think it’s a wonderful thing to grow up in a house where brothers are present.  My brothers are significantly older than me and watching their maturation, or lack thereof at times, taught me so much about life in general and a boatload about “boys.” My brothers, especially the two youngest, were the handsome, life-of-the-party jocks of their crews.  They were extremely popular with the ladies.  As I witnessed a barrage of young women flock to and from our home as my brothers got older, I learned some really simple—yet important—lessons.  These lessons didn’t reveal profound truths, but they provided nuggets of wisdom that I continue to remind myself of today.  You know, sometimes it is so easy to forget that which you’ve already learned, but my interactions with men are always much simpler when I remember the things that I learned while watching my brothers. I offer these same lessons to you, not as new information, but as necessary reminders.


1. Good men are not always good guys.

My brothers are good people, good men, nice men even, but not “good guys.”  They are the kind of men that you can call if you ever need anything and they will genuinely do their best to help you out.  They are big burly men who in tender moments go to my mom’s gravesite and pluck up weeds and lay fresh flowers. My mother raised them right, so they are kind and respectful in general.  But in the case of women, they are not “good guys.”  They do not always do the right things; they are not always exclusive; they are undeniably natural hunters.  I have seen these brothers of mine remain relatively good men—men who honor and protect the women of our family—and consistently fail at being good partners. Watching my brothers taught me that every good man is not a good guy and that if a good guy is what I’m in the market for, that settling with a good man can sometimes prove to be problematic.  I know lots of good men.  I don’t date any of them.



2. You can’t make a man want you.

I know that this is no revelation and that we’ve all heard it before, but let me say it again. You cannot make a man want you. Baby girl, I know that you’re beautiful, you’re fly and you’re educated. You ooze sex appeal and are used to being coveted. But if HE doesn’t want you as more than someone to bed, he doesn’t want you and there’s nothing you can do to change that.  Sure, you can make a man lust for your body—he is a man after all—but you can’t make him want you in any real way once the sweat dries.  I’ve seen women try hard, try the right things, try the sleazy things and all the in-between things.  It seems the harder they’d try, the more disinterested my brothers would become.  Most people like being in control, but there are some things we simply can’t control, another person’s interest in you is one of those things.  Watching my brothers taught me that rather than “trying to get chose” it is always a better option to be myself instead…eh, he’ll either love me or leave me alone.

3.  A man will continue to do what you allow him to.

Over the years, I’ve seen my brothers end up in some unfortunate situations.  In the ugliest of these, I’ve learned painful lessons.  I believe that love is patient, and that when you truly love someone you should exercise patience when they inevitably make mistakes.  No one’s perfect, but I’ve learned from my brothers that in this life I should know the things that I can live with and the things that I cannot.  I’ve learned that a man will do what you continue to allow him to do.  My brothers taught me that when mistakes occur, I can forgive but cannot forget, so when situations arise that I do not want to reoccur that rather than continue to talk about it, I should choose to be about it instead.

I can tell a man, with tears in my eyes that I want him to come home at night, that I want to be the sole object of his affection and desire; Yeah, I can tell him. Or I can leave the first time he walks out our door at a time far past the hour when nothing but legs is open.  I can choose to communicate with my actions that a man can’t have me and continue with undesirable patterns of behavior.

4. You cannot change a man, but you can be the kind of woman who inspires him to be a better man.

My brothers taught me that men do not change for women. Women will change their appearance, alter their personalities and switch up their routine when in hot pursuit of a man. But, while he may send his best representative out on the first few dates, a man will be who he is and he will do what he does.  He will not change for you. I’ve seen women continue to get with my brothers and men, in general, who have consistently shown who they are.  And despite all of the evidence that suggests otherwise, these women believe that they possess something that will cause men to be different with them than they were with all the other women in their lives.

I’ve learned that people tend to truly change only when they become uncomfortable with themselves.  I’ve seen my brothers remain exactly the same with women hellbent on making them change.  Yet, ironically, women who refuse to get involved with them or discontinue their involvement with them because they don’t meet the standards they’ve set for themselves have a different effect.  I’ve witnessed women who have a presence about them who have caused my brothers to examine themselves. Through examination they’ve become ashamed of certain behaviors or recognize insufficiencies and truly desire to become better men because of it.  My brothers taught me that while it’s not likely that I can change a man, I can totally be the kind of woman that inspires him to do and be better. However, even with that, I’ve learned that it is best to not consider yourself the exception to any rule and to engage men who are already in line with what you want instead.

5. A man likes a good challenge.

How can a possible relationship with someone really go if within the first few weeks of just getting to know them, you’ve already put yourself out there for a guy completely (as in, you’ve given up the goods with the quickness) and you’re doing any and everything he asks? While you don’t need to be hardheaded or put up a front, having standards and knowing a good man can wait goes a long way. The ladies who bend over backwards for a man they really don’t know much about are the ones brothers usually get with their friends and speak of as just another notch in their bedpost.

6.  Men are simple.

There are some simple things that most every man I know wants.  I’m not trying to minimize the things that men want in life and I’m not trying to be crass, but it seems pretty straightforward.  Most heterosexual men I know want to have work that fulfills him, a woman that excites him, a home where he can have peace, a stomach that is consistently full, and a penis that is consistently empty.  Please forgive me for that last one, but it’s kinda true.

I send a big thank you out to my brothers Walter, Terrence and Derrick for having such colorful lives that I learned from them simply by paying attention.  So that’s my list of lessons learned.  What do you think?  Do you agree or have you leaned something entirely different?

Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago.  Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.

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