“You know the problem with you women, women don’t know what it takes to keep a man. Women need to learn how to keep a man.”
Yeah, because this is our problem.
I sat at the bar next to one of my best girlfriends, enjoying a frozen cocktail when our bartender interjected in our conversation about “why men suck.”
Wow. What an exciting outlook to receive from the said man himself. He was not kidding, he was relatively serious and confident that this was our problem. As if we don’t have enough.
When I shot back at him that this outlook was one of many problems that kept people (men) single or in polygamous relationships. He asked, “Who hurt you.” More of a statement than a question.
So I had problems and obvious hurt that caused me to act like one of those women who didn’t know how to keep a man.
As we asked for our checks and headed to a bar where we could continue our conversation without mansplaining, we went over why we thought we were single.
You see, the problem with women is we only work to keep a man. We forget ourselves and everything that makes us amazing to make sure these problematic men feel secure, first, and happy. We slowly cut back on our hobbies, our goals, our friends trying to figure out why things still don’t seem to work out. When we feel like all we are doing is not enough, we retreat further from ourselves and push harder into them. We sit up late at night crying, wondering why all that we do is not good enough. When we bring this up in a conversation, we’re told that we’re crazy, we’re doing too much, we need to chill out. Never are we told that we’re doing exactly what we’re supposed to do in the first place.
Minus giving our all, of course.
See, I believe that to keep a man, we should let the said man know that we deserve the very best, or nothing at all. The last time I gave my all and then some, I woke up to a realization that I’d lost track with friends, I’d spent a year of my life catering to someone else’s needs, that I didn’t know what I needed anymore. I felt utterly destroyed and empty. I spent so much time falling into someone else, trying to love them, that I couldn’t see who I was. When he left, I didn’t know what to do. That was my first lesson in keeping a man; I couldn’t be committed to someone who allowed me to lose myself, and any man who allowed for that couldn’t be kept.
My second lesson came three years later. This time I was determined to keep myself present in the relationship. I’d spent the last three years cultivating my wants and needs so that I’d stand firm in whatever romantic adventure came my way. It was long distance and allowed for plenty of time to bask in my independence, his as well. Our relationship was based on honesty, communication, and an understanding that we were free to be individuals first, and romantically involved second. However, this relationship asked me to stunt my emotional self in various ways. I was allowed to be loving, but not admit that I was in love. Labels were a big no-no, and every time I had a passionate opinion about something we discussed privately or in a group, I was asked to say less, be less, or put down in a jokingly condescending manner. Suffice to say, being denied access to my own emotions, this relationship was a recipe for disaster.
See, I loved hard in this relationship, so much so, that I tried to overlook, what I thought at the time, a minor set back and keep pushing through. Pushing through until I almost lost myself completely again. The second lesson in keeping a man; never be with an emotionally stunted man who tells you how to deal, process, and present your emotions. The right one will not ask you to.
The final lesson I’d like to leave you with today is where to keep a man.
Keep him in your 10-year plan while cultivating your identity, goals, career, and girl gang. Keep him as an afterthought until you figure out who you are in this life. Keep him in check if you already have him. In my opinion, your priority should always be you first, him second, and open communication. Keep him from drowning out your identity because he is unsure of his own. Keep him away until he deals with his emotional trauma before projecting the baggage onto you. You’re already carrying enough of your own. You do not need to take on someone else’s in the name of love.
You may not find a man worth keeping for years, decades even, until then we need to remember to keep ourselves through all the heartbreak, soaked pillows, and pints of ice cream. Primarily through the bartenders that mansplain our relationship statuses to us.
To keep a man, we first have to learn how to remain who we are at the forefront of any relationship and then keep reminding them that we deserve the absolute best or nothing from them at all.
It’s not our job to keep men, it’s their job to keep up.