If you’ve been reading, you know by now that I looked to the right and to the left and found that I wasn’t interested in pursuing what was there. Therefore, I decided to take some advice from India.Arie and come back to the middle. In most people’s eyes, I probably didn’t quite go to the extremes she sings about, but given what’s normal for me, I stretched beyond my personal boundaries. My posts on the left and the right may be lengthy, but they are only snippets of what happened with those experiences and of my attempts to look beyond the narrow confines of my status as a SBF seeking SBM.
Confident in the fact that I put in a good faith effort at exploring the outskirts, I returned to the middle–Black men. Since I’m not seriously dating any at the moment, I’m going to tell you about those SBMen with whom I share genuine friendships, and their experiences with SBFs. Each of their stories have helped me to better understand the sea in which I fish and why it’s so difficult to hook a good catch, while also helping me to remember that it is not unreasonable to desire a certain set of qualities in a mate.
First up is my friend Naim, the serial dater. Naim is a highly educated, upwardly mobile black man. His extended family leaves him with an extremely mixed Tiger-Woods-esque sort of heritage, and many women would say he’s attractive (in a light-skinned/good hair kind of way…if that’s your thing).
Naim invited me to lunch recently and, as usual when we’re one-on-one, the conversation quickly turned to the topic of relationships. He wanted to hear himself talk about his beliefs that I need to date and, more interestingly for me, he wanted for me to hear him talk about his recent relationship history. Naim and I run in a close enough circle of acquaintances (think 6 degrees of separation), that I tend to know his girlfriends at least socially before they ever become the apple of his eye. This is interesting, because it also makes me privy to the chatter in the peanut gallery–all the hating ass women (myself included, sometimes) who remain unchosen, often fueled by the viewpoint of the woman who was recently cut loose–each time that Naim selects a new mate. Over lunch Naim was about to give me access to his side of the most recent break-up story, a privilege that allows me to see as clearly as possible from the outside peering in.
So here’s the deal, as seen by the outside world: Naim and this girl, OG, were hot and heavy all over town and the internet together, and then it suddenly stopped. When this happened, the peanut gallery began to chatter…are they no longer together? did they break up? when did that happen? what happened between them? Before those questions could be answered completely, Naim began to pop back up on the local and online social scenes with a new girl in tow. The peanut gallery had a field day…what the hell is this? is he dating her? what happened to OG? and what ever happened with the girl before OG? he has no respect for his exes. how is he always in a new relationship? is he capable of staying with one girl? Honestly, I entertained some of these same thoughts as I wondered what Naim was up to.
Well, as we sat there eating our lunch, he said something along these lines: I’m going to go ahead and tell you this because you’re one of my good friends (translation: keep my name out ya mouth when/if get to tellin’ secrets). Me and OG broke up because she cheated on me. I didn’t tell anybody or make a big deal out of it because it’s embarrassing. As a man, I don’t wanna tell people my girl had sex with somebody else…and then I have to ask myself what I was doing wrong. It was during a time when I wasn’t able to be around a lot, and I understand that it was because she felt lonely. But still, she cheated on me and it wasn’t the first time something like this happened. I’ve shared this with a few people who I think understand my point and are supportive, but her friends say stuff to me like “you left my girl and now you dating somebody else; that’s wrong.” But I don’t know how they can justify someone cheating.
Okay, um, wow. Though he’s never put it so bluntly, Naim is a man on a mission. He is seeking a deeply committed relationship with a woman who wants the same. On the outside looking in, he appears to be a man who jumps from woman to woman and relationship to relationship with hardly a breath in between. On the inside looking out, he’s a man who very methodically chooses a mate, each time hoping that this one will be “the one”…and each time, being let down. As much as we women like to sit around and disparage black men for not being enough of what we want and need, this is the story of a black man who is relationship-centered, highly educated, focused, thoughtful, well-spoken, not harsh on the eye, employed, upwardly mobile, and knows God. Yet and still he cannot seem to find a faithful woman (I have it on good authority that this same scenario ended Naim’s relationship with the girl before OG).
On behalf of my Naim-ish brothers, I want to remind all women that sometimes we are the ones to blame for our own single status and it’s possible that the men we meet who play so many games do it because they themselves have been the victims of mistreatment. We can’t both want something and mistreat it with the intention to keep it. The end.
NEXT POST: The Middle (part 2)