Browngirl vs Expectations

I recently found myself without a male companion to entertain me and my tomfoolery. After things ended with this one, I found myself looking at my dating history and doing some self-reflection. I’ll tell you what though: That was the best thing that I could have done. But, instead of torturing myself by going through all the names in my digital black book, I opted to just look at the last two guys I’d dated. They both seemed to have the same thing in common: Neither of them wanted to be in an exclusive, committed relationship with me.

I admit that it was a tough pill to swallow. Initially, my findings made me wonder what was wrong with me. Was it my looks? My weight? My attitude? Oh, I went down the entire list. After each relationship, I’d always change something about myself. Everything from losing weight to revamping my whole wardrobe, I tried it. But the results were always the same: no true commitment. Then, I began to look at other women who were in healthy, happy relationships. What did they do differently to get a guy to commit or even marry them? Even more distressing was the fact that, from the outside, those women didn’t seem to have anything in common.  I was confused and quite pissed off because, as smart as I am, this thing called love was something that I could not understand, no matter how hard I tried.

Not ready to give up, I started talking to my guy friends. Okay, I started talking to my ex who actually turned out to be a good friend. (Sadly, it’s the story of my life. LOL!). Man, did he drop some gems on me! Some were helpful; some, just plain ol’ silly, but definitely appreciated. The first thing he told me was to get over myself. Then, he told me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me…that I’m beautiful, smart, ambitious, kind, generous, and good in bed. Good in bed? That made me blush and giggle a little, of course. But his appraisal of me begged the obvious question: If I was so good, then why didn’t he want to commit to me? He replied without hesitation that he simply wanted to be single. He liked being single and he’s still single to this day.

His answer made me think back to when we first met.

I had just gotten out of something that had ended badly and wasn’t looking for anything serious. I just wanted to have fun. And fun is exactly what I got. It came in the form of a sexy, chocolate, six-foot-five-inch tall glass of water, which is definitely my kind of amusement.  We had great chemistry: He made me laugh; we could talk about anything and nothing for hours; he got along with my family and friends; and oh, let’s not forget that he, too, was very good in bed.

We quickly became friends and, for the first year, we were inseparable. It was refreshing. And then, it happened: I caught feelings. I mean, who wouldn’t? At that point, I was between the proverbial rock and a hard place. I kept wondering how I would tell this man that I had changed my mind and no longer wanted be the fun girl that he dated. I wanted be the only girl that he dated. In a perfect world, we would sit down, have an open conversation, discuss our feelings, and decide whether to take things to the next level or just go our separate ways. But this was my perfectly flawed world and I rarely take the responsible adult road. I decided to take the “I’m gonna stick around and hope he feels the same way soon” road. Let me tell you how that turned out to be four more years of frustrations because he just wouldn’t commit. Eventually, I gave up and moved on, only to do a repeat performance with someone else. The next one was a much shorter relationship, but it ended the same way.

Both of these guys were good men—funny, smart, affectionate, kind, and family-oriented. I had good chemistry and I experienced amazing things with them both. One major thing that both men had in common was that they had dated me, a girl who didn’t have any expectations going into our dating situations.

What is this expectation I talk about? Well, for the last 18 years I thought expectations were the same as standards when it came to relationships. But, after a good heart-to-heart conversation with a recently married friend, I learned the difference between the two. My friend shared what she had learned from her premarital counselling with our pastor and then asked me to talk about the expectations I had for dating relationships. I went down my list of what I wanted in a man: 6’2” or taller, chocolate-complected, nice smile; no kids; smart; financially stable; blah blah blah… She let me go on, then she asked me the question again. I was like, “Umm, I just told you.” With nothing but kindness in her voice, she said, “No, you gave me a superficial list of what you want in a man. I asked you what you want in a relationship and how do you communicate that with the person you are dating.” That shut me up because I really didn’t know and, to be honest with you, I had never thought about it that way. But the way she phrased the question helped to make sense of things.

How can I have a successful relationship, if I don’t know what I want? Furthermore, how can I communicate what I don’t know to my partner? This, by far, has been my biggest relationship “a-ha” moment to date. I repeated her questions over and over again in my head:

What do I expect during courtship? What are the things that I don’t want to live without in a relationship? What things can I bend on because they’re just not that important? What do I want in a man?

The answer to each of those questions is the same: I still don’t really know. All I know is that I don’t want to continue down this same road of long–term, uncommitted dating. I don’t think my heart can take much more disappointment, so I guess you can say what’s next is bound to be something special.

Yeah, despite it all, this brown girl is still a hopeless romantic. I still believe in love. I still believe that my Prince Charming is out there being perfected for just me. And on that note, I will see you on the flip side. Who knows? I might surprise you and share my answers to my friend’s stupefying questions in my next post.

The Brown Girl

Erica Butler2 Comments