Monday, January 3, 2011

An update... Or, The Empire Strikes Back

I recently read Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment by comedian Steve Harvey.  While there are some valid points, the book basically makes women responsible for men's bad behavior towards them (not serious things like abuse, but rather fear of commitment or trying to get sex and then disappearing).  While I understand the intent of the book - Steve Harvey feels he is being the honest, helpful older brother - I still found myself rolling my eyes at certain parts, such as the chapter about why men cheat (because women drive them toward it) or the chapter about women being "too independent" and therefore men don't feel needed and therefore are unwilling to commit (ohhhhh, that's what I'm doing wrong) but what I mostly got out of the book is that women are not only responsible for their part in relationships, but for the mens' part as well.  The main message of the book: if women don't work hard at keeping their men in line, but make him feel like the boss, as well as happy and secure and well-fed and loved, then we're going to end up miserable.  Basically, men are off the hook for their behavior and once again, women are to blame for, well, everything that goes wrong.

I beg to differ.

I went on strike on September 23, 2010 and officially announced it in this blog back in October.  The strike has served many purposes - clarity, figuring out what I want from a relationship, feeling better about myself and the choices I make.  It's also given the universe a chance to play little tricks on me.

I can only speak for myself, but it seems like hooking up and incessant dating clouds my judgment; it keeps me distracted from the lessons I'm trying to learn and confuses things for me.  The strike has set me on course for these lessons to be loud and clear.  Don't force a relationship if it doesn't feel right, or don't go on a date if the phone conversations are an indicator that we have nothing in common, and do not, under any circumstances, answer the phone when someone from the past is calling.  Especially if several people call at once.

It seems like, within the span of two weeks, my phone started ringing and my little text chime started sounding.  I was getting the same message from lots of people: "How are you?"  "I miss you"  "Sorry I haven't called."  While there was this odd sense of validation from the phone calls and some relief from the loneliness, ultimately these shining gems showed their true colors and reminded me why I'm on strike in the first place. Here are the stand-outs:

Beer Can in the Shower... and at Breakfast!
As stated previously, Beer Can and I are still friends.  Beer Can is single, and while he likes to say he is fine being on his own, I'm pretty sure he's just waiting for the right woman to come along.  As is the case with many single people during the holidays, we tend to reflect and distort reality and somehow, Beer Can has made up his mind that I am that right woman for him.  During a conversation of about 300 text messages back and forth, mainly me explaining why it wasn't a good idea for us to be together, I somehow agreed to go to breakfast with Beer Can.  I didn't really see any harm in it, and there really wasn't.  Actually, it was a great idea because when I walked into the restaurant he was already there - and having a beer at 9:30 in the morning!  It was a big, glaring reminder as to why I made the right decision for us not to be together.

Smooth Like Stucco
I met Ben* and it was instant attraction.  Worse, it was that intense, crazy, fire burn attraction.  The problem with that kind of attraction is that it burns bright, hot and quickly burns out.  The more I found out about Ben, the more the fire went out.  I found out that the woman he was "kind of seeing" was really his girlfriend and worse, he was living with her (in his words, he was just "staying" with her.  He hadn't moved in all of his belongings so they were not officially living together.  Wow, really?).  It was unfortunate because we had great conversations and I was really comfortable with him.

I cut things off but he's that guy who always lingers, swoops in once and a while and sends text messages or says just the right thing... this time, he sent beautifully worded text messages right around the time the other guys were getting in touch with me,  and while everything he was saying was really nice, he ultimately killed it by saying this one pretty little phrase: "so don't you think it's time to break your strike, and don't think you think it should be with me?"  Disappointing, but not surprising.  Ultimately, all the fluff was just a front for what he was really after.  I didn't reply, erased all the pretty words and yes, the strike continues.

The Reason for the Season  
Back in September I met Tim* when I was out celebrating my birthday with my friend M.  We exchanged numbers and we spoke on the phone quite a few times.  We had great conversations and while I was pretty sure nothing serious would come of it, I figured he would be good for a fun time.  A week later he called me and, on the spur of the moment, asked me to meet up for drinks.  I went, we had a few drinks, a few laughs, and some physical interaction (this is a family show.  If you want details, you have to take me to lunch).  I immediately regretted the decision to even waste the time on him, and he proved to be that guy.  You know the guy.  He didn't really call, he was really uncomfortable when we saw each other out... Now, I'm not 15, so it wasn't like I felt like I had sullied my virtue to a boy who didn't love me.  If anything, I was done - fed up with men like Tim, fed up with the game, and fed up with myself.

I knew (and still know) that I wanted a healthy, stable, respectful relationship but I was still dating knuckleheads - not with the hopes of changing them (I grew out of that notion a long time ago) but basically treating them like placeholders until the "right one" comes along.  I was constantly dating because I was bored, and worse, I was lonely.  I wasn't having physical interaction with every person I dated, but that isn't the point - I was wasting a lot of time with guys who weren't worth the time.  Guys who felt like it was okay to call and just expect me to drop everything and go hang out.  Guys who told me they didn't want a relationship but wanted all the benefits of a relationship (all my time, my attention, my affection) without the mess of loyalty or reciprocation.  Guys who thought it was okay to treat me like I was at their beck and call.

I was done, so I went on strike.

In three months, I've been on two dates that were made in advance and while they didn't lead to anything, I feel like I finally have a handle on figuring out what I want and communicating those things without fear.  I used to be afraid of seeming like I was demanding or a nag.  I've learned that setting out the expectation of respect weeds out the guys like Tim, who, after three months called me on a Sunday night at 10:00 to see if I wanted to meet up for drinks.  I explained why I would not and went on to tell him about the strike.

It felt good to let him know that there was a new policy for dating me.  His response?  "Fine, I'm going to take you out on Tuesday.  You'll see, I'm more than some guy just looking to get some.  I'll call you tomorrow to confirm."  He didn't call (and still hasn't), and I am fine with that - I wasn't going to go out with him anyway.  He had spent the better part of 45 minutes trying to convince me that the strike was a bad idea.  He said we are consenting adults, and we should just "go with the feeling."  Well that may be true, he already showed me that he wasn't worth "going with it."  I am not against "going with it," nor do I judge anyone for having a healthy sex life - but the choice I have made for myself is to press a big fat PAUSE button on physical interaction until I am in a relationship.

I'm not responsible for the way men choose to treat me - I'm only responsible for what I put up with, and these days, it's very little.  Beyond being a catch (which I am), I am a human being and the rules of common courtesy are something that most of us (including men) learn early on.  While Steve Harvey may think it's my job to teach grown ass men those rules, I believe it's my job to be aware of whether or not those rules are being followed.  If they are not, I am not to blame, nor am I going to stick around to see if I can change anyone.  I'll act like a lady, think like a woman, and operate like an intelligent human being.  If that's too much to handle, then don't call, especially if it's 10:00 on a Sunday night.

Next time: As The Years Go By

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the knuckleheads.

Happy New Year all!  I don't make New Year's resolutions, but I have decided to share my New Year's Goals for dating.

  • I will continue the strike, which is more of a way of life now than a strike - I am no longer available if a man doesn't come correct
  • I am going to listen to my instincts.  If something doesn't feel right in the beginning, I'm going to pay attention to that and not put any more energy in than is necessary.  I will not go on a date, hoping that things will be better in person. 
  • I will not make apologies for who I am.  What you see is what you get, and if it isn't for you, move on.  If you don't like my independence, or my body, or my laugh, or the fact that we aren't going to get physical upon meeting, that isn't about me, it's about you.
  • I am going to remember that his issues are his, and mine are mine.  I'm not going to internalize someone else's baggage and feel like something is "wrong" with me.  
  • Most importantly, I am going to be up-front and honest about the fact that I want a relationship.  No more "well, let's just see where it goes" or "no, no, I don't want a relationship either, I'm cool just kicking it" and hoping he'll fall in love with me.  I am going to be honest about what I want and move on if the other person doesn't feel the same way. 


  1. orlae, chica!

    i love your response to the book. i feel ya on all these things. keep yo fiyuh burnin'. only the worthy will see ya light. ;)


  2. Thank you hermanita... as my man Common said - some ****** recognize the light, but they can't handle the glare...

    Shine on baby...