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I Stopped Asking Men Why They're Single

And with that, my anxieties around dating have come to an end.

Dating

A couple of years ago, I met a guy through a friend that seemed very well put-together. He had a Bachelor's and Master's degree, worked a great full-time job, loved the Lord, was practicing abstinence and more. Ultimately, he seemed like such a great guy but it was to the point that he seemed "too good to be true".

After initially meeting him, I asked my friend who introduced us, a question, "Why is that man still single?" I had a difficult time wrapping my head around how a brotha that was as suitable as him was not yet taken. My mind quickly ran with an assumption that something must be secretly wrong with him. That assumption caused me to become closed off towards the idea of anything being more than a friendship; so I self-sabotaged things.

I can boldly admit that I was not ready to receive a good man looking back at how I rationalized things.

Thank God for healing and growth!

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Throughout my singleness journey, I have been known to be a bit aggressive with my questions, extremely guarded with my emotions and very blunt. I got tired of being a closed-off woman, so I decided to no longer ask a man why he was single but rather what he has been doing during his singleness. The reason for that change was because I got a taste of my own medicine.

A couple of weeks after meeting the guy I previously mentioned, our mutual friend shared with me that he thought that something must be wrong with me because I was still single. Apparently, I came off as being "too good to be true" in his eyes. After discovering his assumption, I was highly offended by his false claim. At that time, I was single for about two years and took relationships very seriously so I was in no rush to just jump into anything for the sake of a title. In addition, those two years were filled with a lot of learning about self, mistakes made due to picking poorly, and I was diving deeper into my blogging. As you can see, my singleness was not an unfruitful one. So I could not see how I could be labeled as being "hazardous" from a man who had no idea what my journey consisted of. It was at that moment during my hissy fit that I realized that I was a total hypocrite.

Here I was getting highly upset for being labeled as 'broken' when I was throwing that same label on single men that seemed "too good to be true". It took for me to get a taste of my own medicine to realize that I no longer needed to dish it out to others.

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Instead of trying to figure out why a man was single, I began to ask what they have done during their single season. I knew from personal experiences, that my single season consisted of learning how to better interact with men in a healthy manner, as well as the purging, undoing and relearning of multiple things to the extent that I was not in the position to embrace what I always deserved: a good man.

Furthermore, I knew that while walking intentionally in my purpose, I realized that many of the men I met back then were not suitable for me because I was just scratching the surface of what God called for me to do.

In essence, the only thing I needed to be committed to was my healing and purpose. So the decision to be single instead of in a relationship was not because I could get into one, I chose not to because I did not feel led to dive into one. Since I knew the details of my singleness and the various things I endured, I would be ignorant to think that my experience was limited to only women.

Therefore, asking men what they have been doing during their single season was a great way for me to learn more about who they were instead of placing labels that were marked by assumptions. I discovered that some of the guys I met were using their free time to heal through therapy, were working on their degree, focusing on work or, in some cases, they were just living the bachelor life.

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Their answer brought some context of what they valued and clarity around where they were as it relates to what they were looking for.

For instance, if a man shared that he spent the past three years focusing on his emotional and mental healing through therapy; then it is safe to assume that he values mental health and takes the investment of self extremely seriously. That revelation was a great way for me to determine if the guy was in a position to receive a good woman. On the other hand, I have met men who have done nothing during their years of singleness and that began to raise a red flag for me.

See, anyone can say that they are single because they cannot find someone that they like but not everyone can really explain the self-work that they have done because some have not done any work at all. By work, it is not limited to only growing in one's career, saving money or buying a house. Sometimes work may require isolation from dating altogether in order to really reflect, heal and grow. I noticed that the men whom I met that were actually productive in a healthy manner were less likely to string me along and beat around the bush about a commitment. Of course, it is essential that I add that this is not a definite for all men but it is certainly the case for most men in my experience.

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By granting men the stage to share who they are as it relates to their journey, it eased my anxieties around dating and forced me to realize that a good man most likely will take some time in isolation to do the self-work needed to receive a good woman in various capacities.

As a result, my "gasps" towards meeting a good man that has been single for two or more years greatly decreased and I became less suspicious towards high quality men. All of which has led me to believe that sometimes a good man is not too good to be true if they have utilized their singleness as an opportunity to self-develop.

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Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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