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Tag Archives: monogamy

Why Unavailable Men are Attractive

Although I’ve sworn off unavailable men and have done a damn good job of keeping to that vow (even in the face of extreme temptation), I have a confession…

The longer I remain single, the conference mistress position becomes more and more attractive. It’s perfectly suited to meet my busy schedule and mutually beneficial. Here are all the perks of being someone’s conference mistress:

(1) Time. You don’t have to worry about a man being around regularly, drawing on your time, emotions, and energy when you clearly have other things to be doing. Likewise, he doesn’t have to worry about you contacting him when he is with his wife/girlfriend/fiance/family.

(2) The Benefits Package. It’s guaranteed wining and dining, and possibly sex, in between conference commitments and during a time when you’re already on a semi-break/pseudo-vacation from your regular schedule.

(3) Experience. That wedding ring is like a 15 page CV detailing a man’s experience in wooing women. As a conference mistress, you have a guarantee that this man comes pre-trained (by his wife/girlfriend/fiance) to say and do the right things when in a romantic situation.

(4) The Ease of Termination. This man is married, and yet he’s willing to keep company with a woman who is not his wife in a high-stakes environment (one crawling with his colleagues and the adoring fans of his scholarship and work). Thus, he has good reason to keep your name out of his mouth and the streets. You can rest assured that there won’t be any awkward situations or fear of being slandered…even when those pesky morals kick up and you decide to terminate the “relationship”.

And this one is just a bonus, but…

(5) Community Service. There are apparently tons of married women out there who wish their man would have an affair. Yep, they actually wish their husbands who are so upstanding and faithful would do something exciting and non-boring like step out on their marriage. And what’s better – the conference mistress gets to shed her image as a closet whore and assume one of a Good Samaritan. I mean, if his wife is on board, who on Earth is left to judge you?

For clarification, yes, I agree that it’s sad that I’ve thought this through and can articulate reasons why unavailable men are such an attractive option. But, seriously, what could be better than a man who I’m attracted to and enjoy spending time with, who wants to blow time and money on me, but who I  don’t have to see or speak to on a regular basis?! You romantics would probably say that all of that in a man who you get to see and love is much better. I’m just not there yet, I suppose.

To the women who believe they have a good relationship and ask, “Why can’t you just go get your own man?” Here’s the answer: I could, but then he’d be around all the time. Your man is a good option because, at some point, he’s got to go back to you and leave me alone. It’s like watching people’s children – the highlight is often that I can engage with them on my schedule, and when I’m done I get to send them home.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Conference Season, Dating, Marriage

 

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Getting what you give

A wise and insightful friend left a comment on my last post that has been on my mind ever since I first read it. Here’s what she wrote:

Maybe you find your self attracting men who are already attached/ somewhat attached is because YOU are attached to something or someone else in your subconscious. Perhaps an old flame or old idea of love. You know we only attract what we put out… So what are you putting out in the universe?

I think it’s a great question…and it’s probably exactly the reason (other than being mistress age) why I attract an inordinate number of married men. I attract men who are unavailable because I am also unavailable. In addition to the several standing commitments I have on a weekly basis, I am attempting to both write a dissertation and search/apply for full-time jobs. My schedule operates on the academic calendar, and on the scholarly schedule of my field. At any given point in the year, I am researching, writing, and preparing to submit or present one or more conference proposals, conference presentations, conference papers, or journal manuscripts. The point: my time is over-committed and unavailable and I’m usually much more tired than I am interested in leisure activities and outings.

It’s really amazing that I meet any men at all given how much my social activities are built to overlap with my academic and professional life…but it’s also not surprising that most of the men I meet also lead ultra-committed lives. There is a key difference between these men and me: a large portion of their commitments are to women whom they married, while mine are to my professional life. But at the end of the day, I guess we’re both unavailable…and I get what I give.

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in Dating, Marriage, Reflection

 

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He has a crush on me…now what?

This post seems so appropriate following “the talk.” Earlier this month, I mentioned that I’d been learning to be more open in my dating profile. So here’s the deal:

I met this man while out shopping. He approached me in the store, told me how beautiful I was, and that he was new to town. Here is this young, black man, not my type but easy enough on the eyes, complimentary, and up front with his intentions and baggage. In a twenty minute conversation, we learned each others’ back stories and found commonalities between ourselves. He left with my phone number and I left cautious, yet flattered. It was like some oddly awkward and exciting version of speed dating. After that, I went two days without hearing from him. Then, on a random Tuesday afternoon, while at work my office phone rang. I answered, and he said “This is Dominic. I don’t want you to think I’m a stalker or anything, but I couldn’t read my own handwriting [chuckles]. You were right that your name is very unique. I was able to find your contact information at work right away.” After a conversation that felt like a second date, and giving him my phone number again, we made plans for dinner later than evening. Fast forward 5 movie nights, 3 Dominic-cooked meals, 3 outings with my friends, 2 dessert nights, 2 quickies, 1 sleep over, and 4 weeks later…and this man tells me that he has a crush on me. Rather than being flattered, I was caught off guard and reacted with sarcasm and a tinge of jealousy.

So now, you’re probably trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with a crush. The answer to that lies in the details I’ve left out–the most important of which is his girlfriend. Yes, you read correctly. He has a girlfriend. She lives several states away, which leaves his free time completely open to court me and whomever else his heart desires. The girlfriend wasn’t a dealbreaker for me upon meeting him, because he was forthcoming with his relationship status and direct in telling me that the relationship was rocky. His subsequent behavior led me to believe that everything he’d told me originally was true. Then came a weekend when we were both planning to travel–I was taking a family vacation and he was planning a mini-road trip. As I drove to the airport, he and I were on the phone discussing our respective weekend plans. In the midst of that discussion…

Dom: Well you know Kaye is coming this weekend.

Me: Who?

Dom: Kaye.

Me: Ray?

Dom: Kaye.

Me: Who is Ray?

Dom: You know, the girl from [insert hometown here].

Me: [thinking: Girl?! Maybe he didn’t just say Ray…Did he say Kaye? From ____? Oh hell naw…his girlfiriend?]Don’t act like I know her name. We never talk about her. I thought you were going to [next state over] this weekend.

Dom: I am. I’m off until Tuesday.

That was a wake up call for me. First off, “the girl from home” is not the same thing as “my girlfriend.” Secondly, a girlfriend who is coming to visit you, and for whom you are taking vacation days, is not the same thing as the other half of a relationship that’s on the rocks. Suddenly, I realized that I had found myself right back in the place that I didn’t want to be–as a wedge in the middle of an otherwise functional(?) relationship.

Since that day, I’ve attempted to bow out of the contest for his attention and affection. We talk a lot less, but we still see each other frequently enough (i.e. 2 weeks, 2 movie nights, 1 Dom-cooked meal, 2 outings with my friends, and 1 dessert night have happened since I made the decision to fall back). It’s a little difficult to shake him, because (as previously mentioned) he’s new to town and I’m his first-friend-in-a-new-place-crutch. I’ve introduced him to people, but he would rather hold onto his crutch (me) than strike out on his own. For example, when people invite him places, rather than just responding, he checks with me to see if I’m planning to go first. It’s odd…but anyway back to the story: So…when he looked me in my eye and announced his “crush” two nights ago, it sounded more like tired game to me than flattery. That tends to happen when I listen with one ear focused on reality. Here’s how that went…

Dom: I can’t help it that I have a crush on you. I like you. I like seeing you. Have you noticed that I only come out places when you’re around? I come because I hope that I’ll get to see you. I have a crush on you.

Me: Well Im crushable.

Dom: That you are.

Me: Yep. Crushable. Just not datable.

Dom: What do you mean? I think you’re datable. I’d date you.

Me: That’s a moot point. You have a girlfriend.

Dom: Who I’m clearly not worried about. I like you. You’re pretty…

Me: Well thank you

Dom: …and you have a good heart.

Me: I *do* have a good heart…

Dom:  I can tell that. I watch you.

Me: …but you on the other hand…you’re more like an asshole. [sidebar: he really can be quite rude to people]

Dom: I know! But you balance me out…in so many ways. You’ve got a good heart. I’m an ass. You’re brown. I’m light-skinned…

That conversation was like a minature version of “the talk” for me. Though it didn’t lend me much clarity on where he stands, it helped me clarify where I stand. I’m not flattered by Dominic’s crush, and even if he were free to date me, I don’t think I am able to trust him in a monogamous relationship.  

Moving on. I’ve really got to figure out how to move out of this zone where people have crushes on me to a place where they actually want to (and are free to) date me. Once I get to datable, I’ll be looking for the road signs that point me towards marry-able. I’m trying to make moves out here!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Dating, Future Planning, Reflection

 

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The Talk

In almost every conversation I have with other SBFs about the men in their lives, there is one common thread: the talk. [Cue music: dun, Dun, DUN!] Oddly, we each seem to have some type of anxiety-inducing fear surrounding “the talk”. Often times, we are so afraid of “the talk” that the thought of it makes us revert to a passive, preteen version of ourselves that passes notes rather than engages in an adult dialogue.

For those who may not know what “the talk” is, it’s the conversation where two people (in this case, a man and a woman) explicitly state and work out the details of their relationship. In my experience, it most often begins with some version of the question, “What are we doing?” It involves a discussion about whether or not you’re exclusively dating someone and what you want or expect from each other.

What’s interesting about the women I talk to (including myself) is that we wait too late to have “the talk”. We only take the initiative to begin “the talk” after we’ve become too far invested in someone. By the time we’re sitting around with our girlfriends discussing whether or not we should have the talk, we’ve already been dating (or sometimes, doing) some man for so long that our emotions are completely tied up with him. We are so far into liking him that we can’t in good conscience date (or do) other people without feeling as if we are somehow stepping out on him (the non-boyfriend). In fact, by the time we pose the “What is this?” question, we already know the response we want is for him to say that we are in a monogamous relationship. And thus, it’s easy to see why “the talk” induces anxiety. The stakes are too high. Any conversation that has the potential to either end in bliss or heartbreak (because we’re so dramatic that we actually can’t see past these two extremes) is too risky. But what’s even riskier is never bridging the conversation and slipping emotionally deeper into something that can’t be easily reversed.

That said, it seems that it’s better to have “the talk” earlier on in a budding relationship. However, I should note that women just as hesitant to bridge “the talk” too early, usually for fear of scaring a man away. In attempts to protect a man’s ‘fight or flight’ reflexes, we sit back enjoying the ride…only the look up several months into an almost-relationship, emotionally-invested, and afraid to ask “the question” for fear that the response won’t be favorable.

Geez, my head hurts just thinking about it all. I do wonder, though, if most (not all) men who allow a relationship fester in neverneverland long enough that it needs some clarity aren’t truly ready to be in a relationship. I mean, honestly, should a woman have to be the one to begin that conversation? Shouldn’t a man be clear enough about his desire take a particular woman off the market that he steps up to the plate and exposes his feelings with the hope that she’ll reciprocate?

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Dating, Uncategorized

 

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The middle (part 3 – the marrying kind)

The middle (part 3 – the marrying kind)

For the final installment of stories about my journey back to the middle and back to focusing on what I want in life–a healthy relationship with a single black man–I’m going to tell you what I learned from my friend Henry. At this point I’ve known Henry for most of my life and, as long as I’ve known him, he has always been the marrying type. Even when we were teenagers, he didn’t play the games that other guys played with girls and he was a true friend. He’s never been the type of guy who makes women swoon on sight, but he’s not harsh on the eyes and can charm almost any unsuspecting woman into falling for him. This is probably why Henry is a newlywed. I know…not single, right? This is true, but I want to talk about Henry’s path to the alter, and it’s my blog, so…

here goes:

Before Henry met his wife (hereafter known as Wifey), he had this long, drawn out, on again, off again, luke warm, tug and pull relationship with a girl who had his nose wide open. She, like many strong, professional, black women, couldn’t allow Henry to take the lead in their relationship. While she enjoyed having Henry woo her with showers of expensive gifts and affection, she never allowed him to truly run the show. When she finally realized, during one of those off-again-but-still-connected periods in their relationship, that Henry was considering being serious about a new woman (Wifey to be), she made a huge, public play for his heart. She lost. She was left crying and Henry, though sure about his desire to pursue Wifey, felt like an asshole.

Henry jumped in head first pursuing a relationship with Wifey and they ended up engaged. When I spoke to him after the thrill of the engagement had died down (for those of us on the outside) and a few months before the wedding, he was excited about marriage. In the midst of joking about how expensive it is to plan a wedding and how hard Wifey had him working to make sure all of the details were covered, he told me, “I can honestly say I haven’t regretted it for a minute.” Knowing Henry, though, I wasn’t surprised by this and I told him that. In this same conversation, Henry and I talked about the children he would eventually (probably sooner than later) help bring into the world. He shared his dreams of what their personalities will be like and hopes for who they will become.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from watching Henry approach relationships over the years is about the kind of men who women seldom talk about–the marrying type. There are some men out there who truly just want to be married. They want to have a committed relationship with one woman and bring children into the world who they can love on and brag about. I’m not saying these men are a dime a dozen, but I do have a few in my friend circle and I know that they are not extinct. Endangered, maybe…but definitely not extinct. The knowledge that these men do actually exist is what keeps me hopeful and open to the possibility that the next man who comes into my life might be the one instead of just another one who will eventually leave my life.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Dating, Future Planning, Reflection

 

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Birthday Blues

For at least three months now I’ve been adamantly, uncontrollably, inexorably dreading today, my birthday. I’m hitting a milestone age, and I haven’t accomplished most of the major things that my high school self expected me to have done by now…including the relationship status. Amongst other things, high school me thought that I would be three years into a happy marriage by now. Instead, I’m three years into single-dom and approaching another decade of life as a single (though still fly) woman with no prospects.  

Though we’ve been broken up for almost three years and I haven’t spoken to him in about two and a half years, I am missing my ex-boyfriend. I miss the reciprocity of a loving relationship, and thus I miss him…because that’s the last time I had the relationship security that I enjoy having in my life (or at least at this point, three years out, I have fond memories of it).

When we first broke up, I blamed my ex for the fact that we were no longer together. After all, he was the one who uttered the words that solidified the break up. In a moment of brutal honesty with myself, aided by India.Arie singing “These Eyes” in the background, I realized that I blamed him for the break up mostly because I felt blindsided by his emotions. We broke up two weeks after my birthday in 2008, and one week after I got a ‘happy belated birthday’ card in the mail from him. Below the printed text in the card he’d written “Sorry it’s late, but I plan to spend so many more birthdays with you that it doesn’t matter. I love you!” I was flattered by his written words one week and floored by his spoken words the next. We were on the phone, having our millionth argument about the same thing–the fact that I’d decided to move to another state 10 months earlier–and at the height of his frustration, he told me that our relationship was over.

I was hurt that he made that decision for both of us. In hindsight, though, I understand that he was hurt by the decision I made for both of us (the decision to live in cities that are a 13 hour drive apart). And if I’m really, really truthful, I also understand that I’m responsible for planting the spoken seeds of doubt in our relationship. I suggested a break up two months before he made it a reality. The fact that he was so against my suggestion is the reason why the finality of his words hit me so hard when our relationship actually ended. At that time, I couldn’t understand how “I plan to spend to spend so many more birthdays with you” turned into “it’s over” in just 7 days. Truth is…I still have trouble grasping that concept. When I did have an opportunity to ask him how his feelings changed so drastically so quickly, he told me, “I was tired.” While he was apparently walking away from our relationship tired, I walked away bitter.

That bitterness has kept me guarded and single for three years. At this point, I’m tired of being single, I’m tired of holding on to the remnants of hurt and anger that I attribute to my last relationship, I’m tired of wishing that I was as in love with my life right now as all of my newlywed and new mommy friends are with their lives, and I’m ready to move into this new decade serious about shedding the identity that prompted me to start this blog in the first place. In the words of my always positive and upbeat college advisor, onward and upward!

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in Dating, Future Planning, Reflection

 

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Late Nights & Early Mornings: Conference Season

I, like many people, attend several professional conferences in a year. Last year’s conference season is what opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve reached what one of my SBF girlfriends, Sunni, refers to a mistress age. Mistress age is the age at which you become an attractive romantic option for married men. Though I’m sure this age can vary for many people, I believe that it usually happens to women in their late twenties. The funny thing about mistress age, is that a woman who has reached mistress age will rarely realize that she has reached this milestone in life. Mistress age snuck up on me like an unmarked cop car on a busy freeway. I didn’t see it coming, and even once it arrived, I wasn’t able to identify it immediately.

Then, suddenly, one day I looked up and realized that in one year I’d been inappropriately involved (in some fashion, ranging from conversation to sex) with four different married men. The interactions were inappropriate because the men were married. I have these four men to thank for my post on asking the right questions; each of them has added at least one question to that list. If I’d had this list before I met each of them, I most likely would have never ended up in such inappropriate positions with them. However, in my defense (if I’m even allowed such a thing), married men who are seeking a mistress rarely state that they are married. In fact, out of the four, only one has ever spoken the words “I’m married” to me. He also happens to be the only one with whom my interactions never advanced past conversation. Therein lies the dilemma of being mistress age, which is truly a conversation for a different blog post…because this one is about conference season.

Before describing conference season, though, it was important to explain the concept of being mistress age, because that’s the only way you’ll understand what happens to me, and I’m sure other mistress-aged women, during conference season: we somehow morph into a target only viewable by men who have wives. This brings us to the purpose of this post. I have attended a few conferences in the past month, one of which happens to be the same one that brought married men numbers 2 and 3 into my life last year. As always, my experiences with the eligible and ineligible bachelors attending these conferences have given me lots to think about. So, my next few posts will all be the “Conference Season Chronicles”, in which I will discuss my interactions with the men (some married and some unconfirmed) with whom I interact. Late nights and early mornings…those are the elements that make conference-going an interesting, unpredictable, and enjoyable activity. If you want the details, read the CSCs as I post them.

*thanks to Marsha Ambrosius for help with the blog title

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2011 in Conference Season, Reflection

 

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