When I was 18 years old, I fell in love for the very first time.
His name was ________ __________ and he was amazing. Tall, dark-skinned, slight of frame, beard. The most beautiful teeth I’d ever seen.
I can still tell you where I was the first time I saw him. I was new to campus, and desperately in need of black friends. I was sitting cross legged on the floor in the Student Union building during the course of a Black Student Alliance meeting. He entered 20 minutes late with his fraternity brothers, and I was floored.
He was darker than all of them, and taller, by a head. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a wifebeater. But over the wifebeater was an open, blue workman’s shirt; the kind a mechanic would wear. A wide-brimmed straw hat rested atop his head.
He was the first man I ever wanted that I was able to make my own.
Only, he wasn’t my own.
He’d made it very clear from the beginning that he didn’t want a girlfriend.
“No titles,” he’d said. And I’d agreed.
And we hung out, messed around, went out on dates, exchanged gifts, he met my parents. But he’d been clear. No titles.
Clear as mud.
When it became evident he had a whole other non-relationship, and a smattering of women around campus, AND off of it, I was heartbroken. And confused. When I’d confronted him about his indiscretions, he’d been as tolerant as he could before the shame of it all and realization of his position had his back to a wall. Unable to withstand the hurt in my voice and accusation in my eyes, he’d shouted, in anger, “DAMNIT! YOU ARE NOOOOOOOT MY GIRL!”
I will never forget that moment. As long as I live.
We grew and changed and our lives took us into different directions. We both matured into the adults we were meant to be, and he remains one of my best friends. And we laugh about it all, today. Well, I laugh. He’s still rather ashamed, and gets defensive.
But the fact of the matter is, no matter how much I love him, today, or how my life has changed, or how I barely recognize the girl I was at eighteen, those words, and the vehemence with which they were shouted, continue to haunt me.
I knew then, that was a lesson I’d learn one time, and one time only.
I’ve never had my heart broken again.
So my question, dear readers, becomes: Why are women still learning this lesson, today? Why are grown women paying taxes, getting bikini waxes, possessing expensive gym memberships making this mistake, today?
I’m going to stand on this working hypothesis:
When a man says he does not want to be in a relationship with you, he never will.
When a man says he does not want to be in a relationship with you, he never will.
I know no one wants to hear it. I know life changes. Circumstances change. People change their minds.
I’m trying to save you some time, here.
Oh. He might change his mind about being in a relationship. Being with you and experiencing the creature comforts of boo-hood might certainly whet his palate in terms of being properly loved and cared for by a woman.
That woman just won’t be you.
Let’s examine it further.
When a man tells you he doesn’t want to be in a relationship, he is stating straight out, point blank, that he doesn’t want you.
This is so powerful because it is entirely antithetical to how we’ve been led to believe they operate. This man doesn’t even want you enough to lie to you to convince you otherwise; he doesn’t even have the time to blow smoke up your ass. He is going to tell you something he knows you don’t want to hear, and risk the chance that you will walk away. He won’t even try to sell you a dream.
Because it’s NEVER going to happen.
That’s how committed to that shit he is. He is willing to risk you WALKING AWAY rather than tell you something different. Because, he could take or leave you.
I suspect, at this juncture, many of you are in disagreement with me. You think that I’m making a broad, sweeping indictment of all non-title situations. I haven’t taken care to look in on each specific instance, and the motivators and driving factors that have led your particular breed of noncommittal man to his anti-relationship platform.
Maybe he just got out of a horrible relationship.
Maybe he just got divorced.
Maybe he’s been hurt before.
Maybe his parents never loved him so now he can’t properly process genuine affection.
That’s a bunch of bunk.
He likes sleeping with you, doesn’t he? He likes hanging around you, doesn’t he? He likes it when you cook for him, fold his drawes, and pick up brews for he and his trifling friends, doesn’t he?
That’s RELATIONSHIP SHIT.
AND HE LOOOOOOOOOOOOVES it.
What he DOESN’T love is being accountable to you. He doesn’t love being a conservator of your feelings and emotions; taking them into account and letting them influence his course of action. He doesn’t love having to come home only to you without the freedom of flirting with or sleeping with other broads.
But, that’s really neither here nor there.
The POINT is, whatever reasons he’s offered you are crap, but even if they weren’t (which, they are), they’re inconsequential. The POINT is, he has already TOLD you that he doesn’t want you for anything serious. If you want something serious, you need to get a move on.
And this isn’t a reason to be unhappy. It may be disappointing, yes, but be of good cheer.
This situation is one of the only times in life that a person will look you in the eye and tell you, outright, that if you stick around, he’s going to screw you over. This is one of the only times in the course of your entire adulthood when someone is going to tell you he has no good intentions where your heart is concerned; that this is going exactly nowhere. This man is doing you a favor. You should be grateful.
But no. You don’t see that. You see a challenge. You think you’re gonna change this man’s mind.
Now, my friend, D, a PhD candidate, and chronic over-thinker, has rather wisely pointed out the fact that women are conditioned to think this way.
D says that society has taught us, since our birth, tales of our persistence being rewarded with success. Women, specifically, have been given tricks of the trade to keep a man happy –keep quiet, don’t be too argumentative, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”—that he might somehow suddenly realize how good he’s got it and find his way back to us, back to love.
D makes a good point. And I agree.
But I suspect there is something else at play.
It’s a big word. And it stings. But it’s appropriate.
Something is so great about you, and your love, and your sex, and your macaroni and cheese that you can overcome his relationship trepidation.
He hasn’t known love like yours. He hasn’t met a girl like you. What y’all have is different.
This man has seen you. He has known you. He has kicked it with you and laughed with you, and knows enough about you to realize that he DOES want to spend time with you.
He knows your love and what it’s capable of juuuuuuuuust fine.
Trust that, in the weeks and months that y’all have been not-titled booed up, he has inventoried your character and your you.
And made a determination that he doesn’t want a relationship with either.
You know what men do when they are thinking about having a relationship with you? When they’re open to the option? NOTHING.
They do NOTHING.
They keep their mouths shut, they scope out the situation, and they let the chips fall where they may. They watch as things are progressing, and if something blooms within their hearts, they come to you with an offer.
THAT’S what men do.
They don’t start out from the GATE with, “I don’t want to be in a relationship.”
Men who say this have a very distinct reason for doing so. And this is what women need to realize.
At some point, very long ago, before all of us were alive, men and women entered into a tacit agreement, whereby men were only responsible for their words. We were to take a man “at his word,” and punish him only when his actions belied those words; when he acted in opposition of them; when he failed to make them true.
This is controversial.
This is controversial because we all know that men in a no-title relationship BEHAVE the same way as men in titled relationships.
And these behaviors are what lead us to believe that change is possible; that they are warming to the idea of being with us.
They’re not, though.
They’re enjoying the moment. They’re enjoying the benefits of the boyfriend experience while remaining indemnified against poor-boyfriend liability.
All because of their initial disclaimer.
And it’s messed up and unfair.
But there’s a grace to it. There’s a comfort in words that people are bound to. There’s a safety there.
Because actions are subjective.
You see the intimacy of a spoon; its suggestion of long-term affection.
But that man just likes to hug.
You see the sweetness and tenderness of a frontal lobe kiss.
That man was just saying, “Hey.”
If you have found yourself on the wrong side of a failed non-titled relationship, before you rally like hell against this man for what he has led you to believe; before you call his job and key his car, and tell his friends he isn’t worth a damn, look at yourself.
Look at who you are.
Why are you okay with someone telling you he doesn’t want you?
Even if you both start out on noncommittal footing, if your feelings change, and his remain the same, why are you staying?
Why is it okay to be with someone whose mind you have to bring round to the idea of you?
That man who leads you on, he’s an asshole. Make no mistake about it. He knows what he’s doing.
And he’s dogged you out for sure.
But you’re the bigger asshole.
Because you dogged you out first.
A stranger, no matter how close you fancy him, doesn’t have any obligation to you. At all.
The only person charged with a duty to protect you and your well-being is you.
You are the only person accountable for you. You are the only person who can keep you from being hurt.
When a man tells me he doesn’t want to be with me, I take him at his word.
It very well might be the last good thing he says to me.