We live in a time when the media and the relationship experts are telling us that we may have to date outside our race to find the mate for us. Many news articles are signaling the death or imprisonment of men in our eligible marriage category and panic has set in, that we will be alone for the rest of our life or have to settle for the small pickings over our fence.
I understand the theory and accept that sometimes it may be necessary. But considering our Caribbean men come in all shapes, sizes and colors, then it is already a given for many of us. But what I do not want you to do is compromise on the values that are important to you. He may not be 6 feet and barely gets to 5 feet 10 in sneakers but if he is disrespectful, filthy, does not speak with honor and lives without integrity…then he is not worth the compromise.
Fear is a natural enemy to love. The two cannot exist in the same space or body. They cancel each other out. So before we go any further, you must decide that you are ready to move beyond fear and embrace a life with has love seeping out of every crevice. This subject of fear is something we will tackle throughout these pages and it is important that you understand it camouflages itself in many forms but its name is still fear. We will uncover its true identity and then send it a clear message that its days have been numbered.
Before something can be compromised, there must have been an original plan or vision that was desired. Women need to know what they want and what they like. I remember in college going on my first date and the guy asked me what I wanted to eat. A simple question which should have been followed with: “Let’s go for a burger or can we just grab a pizza.” No, I had to make it complicated because I did not feel confident that my desire would be honored. The guy was trying to make a good impression, he was prepared to buy me what I wanted and I couldn’t even get it out my mouth. So, I said, “Whatever you choose is okay with me.” So, he says, “Okay, let’s go get some KFC.” I say, “Nah, I don’t want that?” Every option he presented I said no to and he kept asking, “What do you want?” I can’t remember how it worked out in my favor but it did. All I’d really wanted was a whole lot of McDonald’s fries and a coke and I did not have the courage to ask for it. That conversation came back to me recently as I found myself having to answer the question for my own knowledge, “What do you want?”
I shall confess for the sake of growth to logging on to eHarmony.com for the sole purpose of research. The personal profile intrigued me and I was pretty surprised that after answering all those questions that can take more than 30 minutes that the results fit the view I had of myself at the time. To go further and then select options for what kind of man I was looking for was where things got interesting. Do you want men of a particular race, I checked off more than just black man. Does he have to be in the United States? Well, I was in the Caribbean so I needed to widen my options. I chose so many broad categories and when the results started coming in, I had to say, whoa hold up a minute. I don’t like the pickings. The experience taught me a simple truth, you need to know exactly what you want and expect to get it. I like tall men, my first college love sealed that deal for me. Since then the men I am usually attracted to, are over six feet tall. How the heck did I end up marrying a short dude with too much attitude and a whole lot of issues I was not prepared to deal with?
My life was going great and I was doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life but up until that point, the relationships I had were all temporary and usually challenged my Christian values. In my panic that this was all I was going to get, I took the first thing that came along with red roses and some chocolate chip cookies and calling the name of Jesus. In the end I did compromise more and lost much in the process of wanting to be in a relationship.
The compromises were many. Although he professed to be a Christian, before long we were sleeping together. His upbringing was also vastly different from mine and our worlds collided often in terms of what was appropriate behavior for men and women, language, how we dealt with money and the lack of it, child rearing and the list went on. Even our Christian beliefs were different when I chose to be honest. None of the things on the list of compromises I had to make to have a man were worth the price of the marriage license and the subsequent years of abuse and divorce. You have got to know what you want and be willing to wait for it. It is yours for the asking but you must be patient and you must believe.
But Nerissa, everyone says in relationships there must be compromise. There should be no compromise on your core value system. That is your internal compass that guides you and is there to protect you. To allow it to be distorted will lead to years of confusion and unnecessary pain.
We can compromise on whether we have fish or chicken tonight but not on whether we do or do not sleep together before marriage or how we deal with children. To not have a unified system to operate with when dealing with children is to bring confusion and much disciplinary problems. Children are masters at knowing how to play up any imbalance between parents. If for you it is important that you be married before you have sex, then he should share that same belief. Not just to get you but it must be at the heart of his identity and it must be seen in his relationship with God.
Girl, do you know how many men get saved just to get a woman? Yes, but we get caught by them because we want to. We deny our own instincts and choose to buy into their game. You can tell when you are being manipulated but we allow them to talk us out of our panties or even up the aisle because we won’t stand up for ourselves.
I am not talking about standing up with a big mouth in the street or hitting him upside the head or checking on him 24/7. You stand best on your knees. Taking this man before God and saying. ‘What do you know about this man Father? Is he truly one of yours?” We may ask the question but if the answer is not what we want to hear then we will still go our own way. To go to God and ask for His directive should also mean we are ready to hear what He has to say and be willing to obey if He says walk away.
Well I am not a Christian and although I believe in God I don’t think I would know how to hear His answer to that question. You can still find the answers by watching the man’s life. Do you know his friends? Would they be your friends if he were not around? Have you met his family? How do they relate to each other and to him? What does he tell you about past relationships? If it was only ever the girls fault then run the other way. If he has nothing good to say about his friends or can’t even tell you there real names, then lace up those sneakers girl.
Just because a man may have a bad past does not mean that all is lost. Can you see a change in him? Does he have longevity on his job and can friends attest to his change. If he is still talking about things being hard and no one giving him a chance. You need to walk. You want a man in your life that is working at overcoming every obstacle no matter what it is. It is worth it to you, to tell him to come back in six months when things have worked out for him. You do not need to be the one offering to save him. You can’t.
Many of us enjoy being the savior, and fixing up our men. You don’t want to start out that way. If you create a power balance where you have to fix him or vice versa then the power will always be off-center in favor of the one who has the greatest emotional need. Many men will look for the women who need to play nurse as it gives them time to keep from making a commitment and loaf on life. They recognize your need to have a man with the accompanying drama is greater than your desire for peace of mind and enjoyment from knowing you are in a healthy relationship.
If you are willing to be honest and identify your past mistakes and can see the areas you compromised on, then you can put yourself in a better position not to repeat the mistakes. When you see these errors repent of them and ask for the strength not to do them again. Choose each day to wait for what you want and believe that you will get it.
One positive result that is automatically created when you know who you are and what you want is: certain types of men will avoid you. Some may have the courage to call you names or they may even say you intimidate them. Don’t let them make you change your focus. The men who can feel you positive energy and see that you are a woman of worth who knows who she is; will be attracted to you and will make the move. As you shift your own perspective on yourself, so will the men around you shift. Trust me on this. They will shift and you wouldn’t even have had to move across town, or to another island or state.
Don’t compromise. You are worth waiting for and getting the dream, just the way you want it.
Excerpts from Truly Caribbean Woman’s Guide to Good Love (Available December 1) by Nerissa Golden (2008). All rights reserved. Do not reprint without permission of the author.