“Who plays games with no rules? A fool.” – En Vogue
I was a late bloomer in the romance department. The opposite sex did not find me attractive until somewhere between my sophomore and junior year of college. High school Jess couldn’t buy a date. I was awkward, uncomfortable with my body, had a perm that did me more harm than good, and was too goofy for my own good (the goofy part still stands). When Drake said, “High school pics, you was even bad then”, I could NOT relate. Only one guy asked for my number during those four years, and I turned him down because I was so insecure. My personality was (and is) on point, though! Still, I was always a girl friend and not a girlfriend. That space between “girl” and “friend” is the friend zone. Therefore, what I thought I knew about sex, dating, and relationships was largely shaped by my obsession with romantic comedies, young adult romance novels, and observing those in relationships close to me.
One of the greatest things to come out of quarantine has been Netflix adding He’s Just Not That Into You. I’m not saying how many times I’ve watched it over the past few months because, 1. It’s an embarrassing amount, and 2. I’ve honestly lost count. The movie follows the love lives (or lack thereof) of five women. While several parts of the movie are triggering for me, nobody’s story triggers me more than Ginnifer Goodwin’s character Gigi’s.
Gigi spends the majority of the film trying to play the game of love by figuring out the minds of men and how she can win them over before finally realizing that she’s the one who’s been playing herself all alone. I believe Gigi’s story mirrors that of my own and many other millennial women’s quest to find love. We spend so much time trying to understand the opposite sex and shape and mold ourselves into what we think a man wants when really, it’s just a waste of time. And why is it a waste of time? Because here’s what I’ve learned about men: a man is who he is, wants what he wants, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Men actually aren’t as complicated as we try to make them out to be. You know how Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time?” Auntie was talking about men! Men often show us their red flags clear as day, but because we like them so much, we try to dip them in some type of paint mixture and pray they come out green.
Stop doing this, sis! Stop playing yourself! It’s time for us to take back our power in relationships. Ladies, we have got to reconcile with some hard truths, take a hard look at ourselves, and put us in the position to win. It’s time to stop thinking, “Am I good enough for him?” and start thinking, “Is he good enough for ME?” You’re the sundae; he’s just the cherry on top. With or without a lover, you still fye!
Now I’m nobody’s relationship coach, but let me give you some advice. Here are some green flags for you to look for. These are things men will do if they’re genuinely feeling you and are worthy of your time — no prompting, no pleading, no begging necessary. (Disclaimer: As a straight woman, this is written from a heterosexual perspective. However, I believe these tips can be used for anyone trying to win in relationships. Let’s get it!)
One of my favorite quotes from Zora Neale Hurston says, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
Respect Your Boundaries & Self Love – BOUNDARIES! BOUNDARIES! BOUNDARIES! Setting and enforcing boundaries are important in ANY relationship, be it familial, romantic, or platonic. They honestly deserve their own post. One of my favorite quotes from Zora Neale Hurston says, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” At the end of the day, you have to take care of you. I like to think of boundaries as a white picket fence that protects everything that’s sacred to you and the special parts of your life that you’ve already built. Have a game plan ready for your prospective partners. Let them know what it’s gon’ be and what it’s not gon’ be — with authority! And if they can’t handle that, then show them the gate. You have to protect yourself out here on Lovers Lane, and it absolutely begins with you. Remember, you’re the sundae!
Respect Your Body & Time – I hate my arms. I always say they look like they belong in a pot of collard greens because they do! Anyway, I once dated a guy who enjoyed squeezing and playing with my arm fat. Noooooo! It was annoying and made me so insecure, and he knew this. The right person will respect your feelings toward your body while at the same time celebrating it for its various quirks.
The same is true for sex. If you’re cool with having a FWB (friends with benefits) relationship where only talking well after dark and never being seen together in public is the norm, so be it! But if you’re having sex with someone in exchange for their love and affection, quit. This is only serving them, not you. You can’t sex yourself into someone loving you, let alone liking you. Guard your body!
They must respect your time as well. If they desire more than sex from you, they’ll contact you at a respectable hour. They’ll plan actual dates that align with your schedule. They’ll pursue you. They’ll show some gumption! Basically, they’ll already show an awareness of this:
State Their Intentions – I once had a man straight up say, “I ain’t shit.” In hindsight, I appreciate him more than a lot of guys I’ve dealt with. He flat out let me know what I was dealing with and left the ball in my court, saving me wasted time and effort. Thank you, sir! If you aren’t dealing with someone as direct as this, watch their actions! Did they tell you what they were looking for in a relationship? Are they backing up what they said? What did they promise you? Do they even keep the promises they made to THEMSELVES?! I.e. weight loss and career goals (this is a major key in getting a feel of someone’s consistency & reliability) If not, then…
Support Your Ambition – I’m a teacher. When discussing the ins and outs of my career (a lot of the time the workload), I’ve been met with various levels of support from men, two of which stand out: I’ve had one guy tell me teaching wasn’t worth it based on the amount of money I make and that I’d essentially be better off in a different career (ouch!), but I’ve had another guy simply ask me if there’s anything he could do to help (awwww!). The point is, someone who’s really down for you is going to care about your hopes, dreams, ambitions, and put an effort into being a part of those three. Come on somebody!
Support You Emotionally – I got ghosted in March of this year. Not only was the country just shutting down due to the pandemic, but my grandmother had just passed away and I was suddenly being asked to teach from home. As soon as I told the guy I was talking to that my grandmother had died, he disappeared. Wtf. It sucked, bro. It sucked so hard! But once I got over it, I realized I didn’t even want to be with someone who was incapable of supporting me emotionally. He wasn’t good enough for me!
If they’re not applying pressure, they don’t want you. And that’s ok! Move on to someone who actually does.
Text You – Text, call, email, slide in your DMs, leave a voicemail, set up a Zoom call, organize a Google Meet, download the Google Duo app, Skype, Kik, snail mail, whatever! The point is that there are far too many avenues of communication in 2020 for someone who is “interested” in you to not contact you. If they’re not applying pressure, they don’t want you. And that’s ok! Move on to someone who actually does.
In the words of the late, great Whitney Houston, “I’d rather be alone than unhappy.” You deserve someone who’s sure about you and won’t leave you guessing. And if that person hasn’t come along yet, it’s all good! In the meantime, stay smart, play fair, and guard your heart!
X’s and O’s,
Catch up with Part 1 here!