As a writer, you must be able to deal with vulnerability. When you share your thoughts with the world, you are giving others an opportunity to attack you and your thoughts. If you can get past that fear, you'll succeed as a writer.
I have two friends, one married and one engaged, both to a beautiful black women. As a man, getting down on one knee to ask a woman for her hand in marriage is the ultimate sign vulnerability. It shows that the man is willing to put all of his trust into this woman; that he is willing to give his heart away and trust she won't break it. When I asked both of them how did it feel to get down and one knee, both of them said the same thing:
"Yo, I almost fainted."
The anxiousness of not knowing the answer you are about to receive and knowing that from here on out, this is the woman you are going to spend the rest of your life with is what caused that wooziness, according to them. The journey to get to that point is rarely discussed, though. Nobody wants to talk about the road to marriage, they just expect it to happen. Often times you will see women on social media say, "I'm not looking for a boyfriend, I'm looking for a husband," which should always be the ultimate goal; but how does one become an instant husband?
They can't, no matter what, a man must go through that stage of being a solid boyfriend before becoming a committed husband. One must go through stages in life, and the boyfriend-girlfriend stage is needed if marriage is the ultimate goal. That is where you learn the true meaning of commitment, trust, communication, compromise, sacrifice, and accepting that vulnerability that comes with being in a serious relationship. Without those things, a marriage is not possible and will not last.
So why am I singling out the black woman and the black men?
As a journalist, I naturally observe things, and from my observation, I create an opinion. I'm sure most people do this, but for me, it's second nature. What I observe with black men and women is that they are in a battle. Every day on social media, you'll see different memes, articles, and any other type of shareable content to explain what a relationship should be. You'll also both sides attacking one another's flaw, making a generalization for the entire sex.
It's a social war on our phones that we're not safe from.
This war creates tension, confusion, and separation. Black men and women are confused as to what they want out of the opposite sex because of what social media tells them.
"If bae doesn't do this then you need a new bae."
"If bae don't do these things, then you need a new bae."
"They look happy in their Instagram pictures, that my relationship goal."
My grandmother and grandfather were together for 15 years before they officially got married. My grandmother brought with her two daughters and my grandfather brought his five kids, and they created a family. They never had kids together. I asked my grandmother why did she wait so long for my grandfather to ask for marriage, and she said it wasn't a concern at the time. She was happy and content (a word that is looked down upon in relationships) with their relationship. When she was ready to get married, she told my grandfather that she was ready, and his response was ok. They went to the courthouse and officially became husband and wife, even though they were already operating as such for 10+ years. Overall, my grandparents were together for almost 40 years before my grandmother passed in 2012.
And that's not to say things were perfect because they weren't. My grandparents had real problems, problems that couples in today's generation would not be able to handle. However, the love was real, and my grandmother continued to play her role until the end despite my grandfather's mishaps. Ultimately, my grandmother became unhappy with their marriage in her final years, and the love that brought them together was forever gone. After my grandmother's death, my grandfather struggled with his alcohol abuse and has been admitted to the hospital multiple times over the years.
When I asked him what the problem was he simply said:
"I miss your grandmother. Life isn't the same without her."
At that point is when I knew what real love was; when you can't function without the other.
According to social media, my grandparents unique and unorthodox relationship would not be considered a "relationship goal". Relationship goals are not supposed to show the struggle, even though the struggle is a part of love and a relationship.
Black men and women are fighting to protect their inner feelings, no one wants to feel like they are getting played or made to look like a fool. That fear causes both parties to keep "side pieces" waiting in the background, just in case bae isn't living up to one of the goals. What makes it worse, is that women are now the ones that are looking for outside help more than ever.
Today's women that were in my grandmother's position would have been ventured outside of the marriage and tried to emulate my grandfather's actions. She never took that approach, even though she felt deep hurt. Instead, she continued to be a wife until the day of her death. In her last days, she would talk to me about her marital problems, and why she remained committed to my grandfather. My grandmother was a classy women with gangsta tendencies. She did not want another man to see that side of her until she was officially done with my grandfather. She loved my grandfather but hated what their marriage had become. My grandfather isn't proud of how he operated outside of their marriage, which was another reason for his deep hurt after her passing.
As men, we try our hardest to be fully committed, fully devoted, and loyal to our significant other, whether as a husband or boyfriend. I believe genetically, we are not designed to only be with one woman, and our desire to cheat is just a natural instinct of being a male mammal. Cheating for us is less about emotion, contrary to women. A women has to be emotionally invested to have sex with someone, as opposed to men, who can have sex with no emotional attachment at all but things are changing.
Women have become more promiscuous than ever before, while men are starting to desire more than just a hit it and quit it relationship. This is another dynamic that creates the war. As men, we're raised to find a "respectable woman that we can take home to meet our mothers". We expect women to treat their body and mind as sacred temples that need a master key to unlock. We want our woman to be exclusive, even though they may be impossible. When a woman cheats, the hurt a man feels is different from what a woman feels. We feel like we didn't do enough if another man can our women's attention, as opposed to women who feels like the man does not deserve them if he cheats.
Exclusiveness is key for black men. If a woman has been with many men like a 50-cent song, we don't see value in her. It's wrong to see a woman as property and not a human being. Men must understand that women have natural instincts just like us. We have to be more understanding of how a woman feels and of her desires. And this is not to say that we should stop holding them to a higher standard than we hold ourselves, but we have to be more understanding.
A man must feel needed and wanted in order for him to be the best partner he can be. That feeling of being needed drives us to become better men and partners. Our pride is what stops us from being vulnerable, and if we do feel vulnerable, we will find something to make us feel more manly, which often leads to cheating. Women are no longer willing to ride with us or struggle with us like those from my grandmother's era, unless it is beneficial to them emotionally and financially.
Women are not like they were during my grandmother's years on this earth. They're more concerned with proving their independence away from men. The black man does not hold much value in the black women's world, and as a black man, I have to believe that we are the cause of this. Somewhere down the line, we forgot our role is to protect, provide, and love. Society has told black women that we are not needed and they listened, while their white counterparts are getting married in their 20s; and we did nothing to stop that narrative.
There are no signs that this war is going to end anytime soon. Both parties are fighting til the death and the only true victims are the black babies that are growing up in single-parent households. I don't know what the answer is to end this war, but for now, I'll just keep observing.