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Ugandabahn: Kurve bei Mombasa

Do you really want to walk this road alone? Image via Wikipedia

A lot of women know what it takes to get a brother, you know. They know how to dress. They know how to act. They know what to say. But the most important thing is the maintenance: do they know how to keep a man? And that’s where we fall into problems…They have to know what to do to continue the relationship and to keep the level of attention that they get. — Todd K. Allen (caller), Complete Chocolate Couples

There’s a song by Betty Wright, “No Pain, No Gain,” that celebrates a relationship that has been through some things, but is now stronger for it. “I was earning my man while I was learning my man/Something you young girls might not understand” she croons. As a young woman, I’ve heard it from everyone from Michael Baisden to Steve Harvey to CNN that I have no idea how to keep a man. Either I’ve tricked him into dating me and he realizes I’m not what I pretended to be, or I didn’t bring anything to the relationship but my looks. I have no idea how to keep a man once I have him. Or, to put it another way: 

She doesn’t understand her role in terms of what she is supposed to be bringing to the relationship other than maybe sex, arm candy aspect, or even financial…how can she be the best she can be if she doesn’t understand her role in relation to the man and what she’s supposed to be bringing…to the relationship that will make the relationship fruitful and productive?–Terrance, contributor and guest co-host, Complete Chocolate Couples

These two quotes are taken from a blog talk radio show, Complete Chocolate Couples. The title of the show was “Being the Best Woman You Can Be in a Relationship,” with two males and two females hosting. When the topic turned from the representative (which I spoke about in two previous posts found here and here), this became the talking point: do you know how to keep a man?

I’ve been in a relationship for over three years now (hey, Mr. P. :D!), and I must admit, it’s been hard to maintain. Not only do you have to adjust to another person’s personality quirks and make sure you have your own individual pursuits, you have to learn to support each other, keep the relationship growing, and not get (too) bored with each other. I struggled a long time with raising this topic because I still don’t think I know how to “keep” a man, but I think it’s a question worth raising and attempting to answer.

Over the course of my relationship, I’ve learned several things about what will end a relationship and what will enhance a relationship. First, things that will kill a relationship:

  • No consideration: No matter how good you look or how wonderful you are in the domestic arena, no man wants a woman who doesn’t care about them. This was an issue early in our relationship, as I had no idea what this really meant to him, this idea of consideration. What it means for us is not smothering him to death with constant texts, emails, phone calls, facebook and twitter messages, but actually considering what he would like to do, considering his feelings, learning about things that are interesting to him, being present in conversations about things he wants to talk about.
  • No respect: No one wants to be talked to any kind of way you feel like talking to them. No one wants to be belittled or badgered for having an opinion or feeling a certain way about things. There are many different things that reflect your level of respect for a person. Some women love to put their fingers in a man’s face and poke his forehead; some get up in his face and snake their necks from side to side. Some roll their eyes and others curse their mates out. No man likes to be treated like this in a relationship when he can be talked down to and disrespected for free on the street.
  • Complacency/”Falling Off”: I used to be offended when a man said he was upset because his long-term wife or girlfriend had fallen off. Most of the times I’d get an attitude about it were when they sited the birth of a child or something as the reason for said falling off. But I realize they do have a point. Oftentimes, people in relationships get complacent. They feel like once they have someone, they don’t have to keep doing things they did to get them (I spoke on this in the earlier posts as well). Not only are they not interested in doing more, they aren’t interested in keeping the same level of engagement and work in the relationship. All of this sends the message that you don’t care. Getting a man was something to achieve, and now it goes on the shelf with all of your other trophies and accomplishments to collect dust.
  • Illegal number of men on the field: (OK, so that may not be the technical name for when too many players are on the field at the same time, but you know what I mean, right?) One commentator hit this on the head when speaking about women getting advice from their (usually single) friends about what to do about their relationships. She said it’s like “the misinformed leading the misinformed” and you “end up stuck together.” Mr. Perfect had a real issue with too many people being in our relationship. I, who hadn’t been in an adult relationship, was just seeking advice; however, hearing about our relationship from third parties began to put a lot of stress on the relationship.  It’s one thing to get advice from reliable sources, or to objectively evaluative the things you read/hear, and it’s another thing to invite too many cooks into your relationship kitchen. Nobody wants to hear in the streets what’s wrong at home, especially if they didn’t know about it already.
  •  Unwillingness to change: You always have to be right. You see no reason why you should do things differently than you’ve always done them. You don’t want to go anywhere new or do anything new. You see no reason to progress as a person, let alone a couple.
  • Bait and Switch: As I said in a previous post, you send out a representative that is nothing like you, and after you have him on the hook, you throw off the mask. Is it any wonder they always leave?
  • The brass ring: You are so focused on getting married, as if it is the be all and end all, you have no desire to take the time to figure out if you should marry him. You have no idea if he’s right for you. You don’t seem to care about any of his hopes and dreams, don’t care where he wants to settle down or if he wants children, and could care less about his friends. You have blinders on to everything that isn’t leading to a ring. (You better ask Kandi & Kim: sometimes, “the ring didn’t mean a thing”!)

The bottom line is, a lot of women can’t keep a man because they are focused solely on the benefit of the relationship to them. Their interests are completely selfish. They think as long as they still look good everything should be fine. They have no idea what they should be bringing to the table, let alone if they themselves have any of those things to bring. They don’t know that your role in the relationship is to support and enhance the other person and grow yourself in the process. You can love you and focus on you without being in a relationship and forcing someone else to focus on you without any benefit to themselves.

So, what other reasons are there for why relationships don’t work? Why can’t women keep men? What’s not working?

What do you do to keep a man? And what are you bringing to the table? Well, that’s for another post.