Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife
Listen here, y'all. If there was ever an article that I need to write for myself as much anyone else, it's this one! That said, I've never been the kind of girl who took weddings lightly. To me, they are sacred.
So, just like couples shouldn't enter into them lightly, wedding parties and guests shouldn't either. Attending one should mean you are in agreement with two people coming together and that you're also on board to support the union as best as you can.
Therefore, I haven't agreed to be in enough weddings to subscribe to feeling like I'm always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Oh, but what I can totally empathize with is "Why does it seem like I'm always the one who's getting some dude ready for his wife?" (I know this because quite a few of the men I've dated have told me so.)
I'm not sure if the guys who've said that to me found it to be a compliment or not. But as someone who really dug some of them and is currently still single, being the one who helped a man mature for who would become the ultimate lady in his life, more times than not, low-key pissed me off. Here I am loving you, supporting you, giving my all (bookmark that last part) and, rather than wanting to give me a wedding band and your last name, you'd rather send me an email in the middle of the night to let me know that my journey with you resulted in you fully committing to the next chick? What in the world?!
What time and healing, along with self-love and introspection has taught me is, wanting to know why a man sometimes opts out of a woman who loves him like she's his wife only to marry someone else (sometimes not more than a year later) is not a question they can answer. Beyond maybe chalking it up to bad timing, not knowing what they really wanted at the time or not responding well to ultimatums (please don't do the ultimatum thing; ultimatum is just another word for threat), they usually don't know.
Oh, but baby. After doing some real self-work, I've got a few reasons why I believe I used to be in this kind of pattern. I think they're worth sharing because once I switched a few things up, the emotional roller coaster of always being a man's pseudo wife whisperer ceased to be an issue…anymore.
So, why did it seem like I was always the woman who prepared a man for his wife instead of actually becoming his wife?
I Tended to Do More Assuming Than Asking
Some of y'all are gonna not be happy with me with this one, but that's OK. I can take it. Although I know a lot of women who are quick to call men "liars", that hasn't been my personal experience. Often times, a man has told me exactly what was up; I simply didn't want to hear it. They weren't lying to me. I was lying to myself. Another common scenario is they answered questions based on what I asked…just as I asked it.
Example. If I asked a man I was seeing, "Do you see me as marriage material" and they say "definitely," I would take that to mean that they could see me as their future wife. If that is what I really wanted to know, what I should've asked is, "Do you see us getting married someday?" I might not've liked the answer, but it would've saved us both a lot of time and, me personally, a lot of bitterness and disillusionment.
But since I ran with being marriage material, many times I would look at mere dating as marriage preparation. Meanwhile, the guy was on a totally different page. Sometimes in a totally different book too.
A ton of trial and error has taught me that if you want to know how a man feels about you, don't ask your mama, your friends, or even his mama and his friends. Ask him. Do it in person so that you can observe his body language and be as direct as possible.
A man who is all about making you his for the long run is going to make it abundantly clear that is his mission. You can take that to the bank. Or Jared's. Whichever you prefer.
I Didn't Know How to Love in Levels
For years, I've believed that while women can fall in love a billion times in one lifetime, a man might do it three times — his first love, another woman, and then his wife. I'm not sure if we as women do it so often because we're brave or they do it so little because they're more discerning, but my ultimate takeaway is that I've needed to learn more about how to love in levels.
What I mean by that is, I can love a man without acting like we're destined to be together. If we agree that we're dating, we're dating. If we want to become exclusive, we should mutually agree upon what that means. Until it goes from dating to exclusivity, I need to live my life like I'm just dating. If dating isn't enough for me, I need to express that, see where he stands and, if he doesn't want to move forward, I need to move on. I love him, but I also love me. I love me enough to get what I need.
See…love in levels.
Using this strategy has helped me to discover something else. Sometimes loving a man like I'm his wife before he's ready to become a husband robs him of the opportunity to come to the place of being ready for marriage. In other words, while I think I'm pouring love into him, what I'm really doing is suffocating him.
As a result, a guy moves on from me just so that he could get some emotional breathing room. I was awesome (which is good). However, I was also all-consuming (which is not so good). Once he got the space that he needed, he came to the conclusion that, "I want a love like Shellie gave but I want a woman who will let me come to that on my terms and in my own time." I got him open to seeing marriage as a possibility but it was the time between me and the next gal that got him to the point of making marriage a priority.
I Was "The Wife" Without Being HIS WIFE
There's a woman I know who lived with her boyfriend for several years before they got married. However, it wasn't until after he proposed that another side of her started to show. Her now-husband always cracks me up whenever he talks about how he didn't know how well she could cook or even how nurturing she was until after he put a ring on her finger. When I asked her what was up with that, she said, "I'm not giving him all of me until I know I'm going to get all of him in return. Living with him didn't show me that. Proposing to me did."
I know a lot of us roll our eyes (or sometimes even get a little defensive) whenever someone says, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" but try and see "milk" as being symbolic of more than just sex. There are a lot of us who end up devastated and heartbroken, all because we acted like a wife to a man who acted like a boyfriend (or less) in return. Meaning, we physically, emotionally, and sometimes even financially contributed to a relationship as if we were already married to someone. While that might've shown a man that being loved that way is truly special, that doesn't automatically or necessarily mean that they want to love us in the same way in return.
An even more direct way of putting it is this — until you're his wife, you're not. And if you're not, try and set boundaries within your own self so that there are some things he doesn't get until he is your actual husband. For some, that's sex. For others, it's certain types of sacrifices or emotional (or financial) investment. I'll leave that part up to you. Just try and come up with things that, should you not end up together, will result in calling it quits feeling more like a break-up than a full-on divorce.
Take it from me, life is a lot easier and your heart is a lot safer when you decide that until you're married, it's cool to not act like a wife — or even "wifey". It's OK to not give all of your mind, body, and soul. It's perfectly fine to not feel like you need to convince a man to see you as his future bride.
I've done enough marriage life coaching to know that the woman who catches a man's eye and keeps it is usually the one who is not trying to get him to marry her but is instead confidently living her best life. The one who conveys he brings surplus to her life, but he certainly doesn't fill any big voids.
If you live like that, you significantly increase your chances of hearing "Will you marry me?" instead of "Thanks for everything — for showing me what I do and don't want in a woman and how to decide what I'm looking for in my own way and time," which is basically the subtext of "Thanks so much for preparing me for my wife."
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.
Don't Be A Wife To A Boyfriend: 10 Lessons I Learned When I Was Single – Read More
I Have A Perfect Response To "What Do You Bring To The Table?" – Read More
Why It's Okay If He Marries The Next Woman and Not You – Read More
Featured image by Getty Images.
- Stop Asking Men & Women Why They're Single - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Timing In Dating: Meeting Someone At Wrong Time - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Take Our 2-Minute Wellness Quiz To Up Your Self-Care Game!
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images