I love being challenged and the sense of accomplishment I feel from having to figure things out. Serendipity is exciting to me because I have a curious mind and inquisitive nature. And more, I love sharing my process with others who are daunted by what excites me. It is my hope that I might encourage and inspire anyone who cares to listen, to make a similarly daring attempt, whatever that may be.
That said, I am not the type of woman who likes a project! The project I am referring to is one in which I invest time equipping a man with life skills so that he may succeed in the endeavors of his choice. As much as I genuinely like to help people, and have even dedicated my professional career to doing so, here’s where I draw the line.
I didn’t always feel this way. I was once willing to help anyone with anything I could, especially my significant other. I evolved into this after helping one significant other too many. And please, reserve your judgment; this is not an unusual narrative for any woman. Show me a woman who hasn’t paid it forward, and I’ll say she doesn’t exist. Maybe she isn’t paying it forward in her current relationship, but she has at some point; that’s just how patriarchy works.
I’ve decided I don’t want to build anything with a man but a bond; and most conducive to that is him being in a place where he’s established enough for bonding to be our focus. My candor about this has led people to caution me with all sorts of warnings about “being alone for the rest of my life.” And I can’t forget to mention the people who call me “inflexible” and “harsh,” as they tell me I’m “wildin.”
Completely unfazed, I think this is a perfectly reasonable boundary to have in place. Here’s why:
Many people look for their significant other to have qualities they either don’t have or wish to further develop. Beyond qualities, people look for their significant other to provide access to circumstances they haven’t experienced. This is normal... to an extent. The nuance lies in how much it unnerves me to hear a man or woman place an expectation on someone else that they have not met in their own lives. So yes of course you want to be with someone you admire, for whatever reason; but to seek in someone else what you absolutely know they will not find in you, is in my opinion, the very essence of half-steppin’!
Here are some examples of what I mean:
If you’re interested in me, and you ask me to help you understand or fix your credit, I will be less interested. If you want me to encourage you to go back to school, I will be less interested. If there is anything in your life you wish to change that is contingent on me (or anyone else besides your therapist, parents, or God) having a pep talk with you, you guessed it: I will be less interested! Why? Because the first step to understanding or fixing most of these issues can start with a simple Google search. I’m more than likely to conclude that your real issue is lack of determination, which is a huge turn off; or lack of direction, which isn’t as bad, but very telling.
I would however, support my significant other through cancer, or if he lost everything because his house burned down, or if he has an elderly relative for whom he wants to care because family is important to him. In any of these scenarios, I’m certain there’s no better person to have on the team than me. Not because I revel in despair, but for the one who deserves my love and presence, count it all joy.
Otherwise, miss me with the basic shit please!
I already know some people will read this and miss my point entirely. They will focus on “bad credit” or “going back to school” rather than gleaning from the emphasis I placed on examining the underlying reasons why they’re in a situation that not even they find desirable...so why would I?
Let me take some time to address this:
I’m not saying I’m perfect; I’m far from it. I am not saying we need to look the same on paper or need to be on the same level, whatever either of those things mean. I am saying that however different your accomplishments and goals are from mine (because I expect them to be different), if you have none, are yet to start or if you don’t approach life with the same vigor and determination as I, then we are not compatible!
I am saying that my partner needs to be as dedicated to self-improvement as I am. I am saying that my partner needs to be as dedicated to self-care as I am, because my time apart from him is as important to me as my time with him. I am not measuring your accomplishments, because what you have is not who you are. I am measuring whether we’re compatible, which is not determinant on a relationship’s outcome, but it is a contributing factor to being in a fulfilling relationship.
The person with bad credit who waits to be incentivized by someone with good credit has not yet realized how unnecessarily more difficult they’re making their life, and the life of the person who is patient and kind enough to help them. Why not do a Google search and be incentivized by the benefits of good credit? Or the admission deadline of the school you’ve been wanting to attend? This is a person who hasn’t realized that their life is theirs to live, and that the achievements of their more accomplished partner do not all of sudden become theirs, simply by association.
Osmosis ain’t that strong, boo!
And of course, there are men who do this for women, but I maintain they shouldn’t have to. Still, these experiences are disparate. A woman who seeks a significant other who can help her is called all types of names (you know which ones), while a man who seeks a significant other who can help him is a “good guy who’s just tryna make it…” See how male privilege works…?
I fully understand that sometimes (if not all the time) this is the risk you take in relationships. Even the couples we admire most are together in the long run because of their ability to withstand hardship and conflict, and support one another. And the relationships that didn’t last took the same risk in the beginning as the relationships that did, except someone or both people in the relationship decided to stop putting in work.
The only thing any man or woman has in trying to make sure they don’t find themselves in an unfulfilling relationship is the mate selection process. And still, that can turn out any number of ways. Compatibility, male privilege and patriarchy considered, uncertainty makes us all equal.