I've had this conversation before.
The one where I nagged my partner about the fact that he doesn't spend enough time, give enough attention, or dish out the same amount of effort that I felt I was giving to him.
When he calmly explained to me that he was doing the best that he could with what he had, and that right now his main priority was getting to a place where he was financially stable and accomplished to where he could provide the best for his family and loved ones, I wasn’t hearing it. After all, I, too, had a lot on my plate between chasing my dream career and trying to master the art of balancing bills, bosses, and other obstacles of life that often knock the smug “I-got-this” smirk off a recent college grad’s face when served a dose of reality. It gets real out here—yet I was managing to make it work while still dedicating time and energy to our relationship.
I questioned his level of sacrifice because at the time I didn’t quite understand why he couldn’t give more to our relationship. I argued that other races do it all the time, but for some reason many Black men feel that they can’t give all into a relationship or explore the idea of marriage until they’ve got their lives perfectly together. I continued to press him for more until it got to a point where he got tired of the repetitive arguments, usually stemming from me because I wanted more attention. More time. More everything.
In a September interview with GQ, heartthrob Michael B. Jordan revealed that he’s taking the time in his 20s and early 30s to focus on his work.
"I try and be focused. I told myself at a young age, once I kind of saw this momentum, that I would sacrifice all my twenties to my work. I’m 28. I’ve got a year and a half.”
Coming from nothing to now being the breadwinner of the family, there’s a lot of pressure for him to be able to provide, and he’s at a place where he’d rather sacrifice having a serious relationship for the sake of taking care of his family first.
"I’m pretty sure the women won’t say that’s good, but for me it’s like I can’t have any regrets and I have to know that I gave everything I had to making my family okay. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me is my family, bro. I come from nothing, so it’s like my family, they came with me. That’s all I care about. Couldn’t give a f-ck less about anything else. My mom, my dad, my sister, my brother—they’re good, I’m good. They’re not good, I’m not good. I put everything I had into everything, so once they’re good I can start living a little. My mid-thirties I can live a little. And I’m so okay with that. I’m cool with that.”
A lot of females that didn’t agree with this agenda. They want what they want, I tell them what I want. It doesn’t quite work out that well. That’s why I’m by myself.
Are you lonely?
“I’m not. I understand what females want and need, you know. I’m good at that. I don’t know if I’m the guy to give it to them right now. I’m emotionally unavailable. Until I find something that’s so undeniable that I can’t help myself.
It wasn’t until I really started focusing on myself and what I wanted to accomplish that I began to understand what my ex had been saying all along--he just wanted to be at a place of peace and in a position of prosperity before giving his undivided to another. Not because he wasn’t capable of giving anything before, but because relationships take time, energy, and attention. They need to be nurtured, and when you’re not in a position to where you can effectively do that—when you’re not ready—it can result in undesirable consequences such as arguing, fighting, divorce, etc.
At 25, I’m learning more about myself and the woman that I want to become, and I am also more aware of what I want in a relationship. I’ve seen how a man not having his own, or worse, pushing aside his dream to focus on love, can be detrimental to the longevity of relationship.
As women we often ask for a man who comes correct financially, emotionally, and mentally, but then throw temper tantrums when they’re actively working on that and let us know up front that they can’t give us their all at the moment. We say that they don’t have to have everything together and that we will be their ride or die, but when we see our friends going on romantic getaways, being wined and dined, walking down aisles, and journeying into motherhood—we side-eye our partners and hit them with that “so when is it my turn?” talk, and in turn the guy out of love (or maybe just to appease us) may cave into the pressure and attempt to give us our heart’s desires, only to end up silently struggling to keep up with the demands of a relationship.
It’s said that common reasons for divorce revolve around finances and lack of communication—but often a man has communicated his lack and the fact that he’s not ready prior to marriage or entering into a relationship, but we impatiently try to push them to move on our timetable.
I often wonder how many problems would be avoided if we all approached marriage and love when we were financially stable and able to focus on nurturing our relationships instead of our pockets. I wonder if we took the time to focus on our dreams instead of being distracted by our fantasies if our perspective of relationships and marriage would change, and if we would build foundations on solid ground instead of unstable soil.
I’m at a place in life where I want to be able to give my all to both my family and my man when it’s time, and not have to worry about not being able to adequately provide the wants and needs of another because I’m still trying to fulfill my own goals and desires. I’m okay with taking the time to enjoy life. That doesn’t mean that I won’t date, just that when it’s really time for me to settle down I’ll be able to come to the table complete, and that my partner will be able to do the same.
As Michael, and other men, reminds us:
[Tweet "If a man tells you he's emotionally unavailable, believe him."]
Maybe it's time that we start listening.
Are we pushing men into relationships they’re not ready for? Sound off in the comments below!