"Honestly, there's a problem in general with men. They project whatever their issues are onto us. So if they're insecure because they're not where they're supposed to be, they say we're insecure. But their behavior causes us to be insecure. And it's a cycle I don't want to be part of. I don't want a perfect man, I want a man who is willing to grow."
I was chatting online with a close friend earlier this evening, and I wrote the above statement. It was the conclusion of a conversation that began with each of us talking about some of the struggles in our most recent relationships. Granted, I'm having a bit of a bad day today. I just got back from a nice holiday with my family to my lonely, not-yet-settled-in apartment, I'm a bit tired from the long drive, and I had a dream this morning about the last person I dated, which caused me to wake up somewhat disturbed. It made me think about what I don't have, when most times I try to focus on what I do have. I come from a good family, I have a strong faith in God, a job that I love, I'm educated, I have some talents and abilities that not everyone has, I look younger than my age, and I have really pretty hair. I get told that I am loved more times than I can count in the span of one week. I'm confident without being conceited, I definitely know what my areas of growth are, and I work on myself. Constantly. There's a lot that I have, and I recognize that I am blessed.
There's something I do not have, that I want more than anything. A family of my own.
I have always wanted to be a mother. And I am traditional in that desire. I want my own child. I want a child that grows within me. I'm not against adoption, but I want to live motherhood. I want to experience the feeling of being pregnant, and I want to use it as an excuse to eat bacon and deep-fried pickles with abandon. I want my child to have a father, to know his or her father, to live with his or her father. I want the father to get up and cook my bacon and get me an order of deep-fried pickles. Even at 3am. Yes, I want the traditional husband and children.
I'm not apologizing for that, and I'm not desperate because I want that. There's nothing wrong with me for wanting to have a traditional family. But there is one thing I will not do. I will not compromise myself for what I want.
This last guy I dated - let's just say that he taught me some things. Long story (that should never have lasted this long) short, he said he needed to focus on his career and couldn't focus on a relationship (sound familiar?). I know enough to know that the career that he has chosen to pursue requires about 99.9% of his attention in order for him to succeed at it. While I didn't necessarily disagree with his focus (in fact I encouraged it), I did disagree with the fact that his idea of not focusing on "a relationship" meant that he wanted to spread himself among many "relationships". He and I had several conversations regarding our future. An issue that arose a few times was that he said I didn't ever think he was "good enough" for me. I've known him practically all my life, so when he said that, I knew he really felt that way. And when I took the time to think about it, he was right. I didn't think he was good enough for me. Never did.
Despite that, I fell in love with him. The main reason I fell for him was that he genuinely knew me - he knew my good qualities and loved them, but he also knew my crummy qualities, and pointed them out to me in a way that motivated me to grow. I fought through the feeling that he wasn't good enough. However, he didn't help. He did some things which demonstrated that, because of his belief that I didn't think he was good enough, he wasn't going to try. He wasn't going to work on the relationship. In the end, I knew that he loved me. He always did, ever since we were kids. But my thoughts about him, as well as his thoughts about my thoughts about him, sabotaged any chance at a future that we could ever have.
I've learned that many men feel the need to be settled in their purpose - their careers, their spiritual beliefs, their desires, their personal growth - before settling down to create a family. If they experience instability or insecurity in any of these areas, they find it difficult to maintain an intimate relationship with a woman. Perhaps this is because many women expect men to provide for and protect them. (Don't shoot me, I'm just saying what a lot of people think but won't say in this era of political correctness.) I've observed that both men and women expect perfection from each other. If you don't believe me, check out some of those YouTube videos on "Black Marriage Negotiations". I'm not perfect, but I work hard at everything I do. I recognize my flaws, and when I have trouble doing so, I'll listen to feedback from those I love and trust to tell me the truth about me. I TRY.
Personally, I don't expect a man to be perfect. I don't expect him to make a certain amount of money, though he should work hard. I don't expect him to have a six-pack, because I certainly don't. I don't expect him to quote the Bible verbatim, though he should have a personal relationship with God. What I will not compromise is this: If I am willing to grow and change and become a better version of myself, he should be willing to grow and change and become a better version of himself. HE SHOULD TRY. And, until I meet the man who is willing to try, I would rather live without the one thing that I don't have, that I want more than anything in the world.