What were you doing at 3am this morning? While the majority of you were probably sleeping (and a few of you mighta been getting lucky), I was up having a 3 hr long conversation with one of my Spelman Sisters, @sade_t. <— Follow her. She’s awesome!

We were catching up on life since graduation–school, work, weather, you name it. And well, what’s a gab session between girls if you don’t talk about boys, right? As I age and mature, the “Let’s Talk about Men” conversations I’ve been a part of take on a different life. We aired our transgressions, but mostly we just talked about all the life lessons we had learned from dating certain types of men, or certain men in particular. It was funny to see how many of the same “mistakes” we had made and good to see that we both had enough insight to learn and grow from it, as opposed to being bitter. I thought I’d share one of my “lessons”…perhaps you can relate.

A lot of times, dating is about proximity. You date the types of people that are closest to you, most frequently. In college, the guys who were around me generally came from a completely different walk of life than me. Without casting too many stereotypes, I’ll just say, to me they read as sheltered, slightly naive and quite frankly, soft. It was a far cry from the men I had grown up around and grown to love. Nonetheless, there was one who caught my attention and despite the fact that I too was different from the girls he usually dated, we were soon inseparable.

Then came the roller coaster ride…

Problem #1:

Even with all the good times we had together, I soon started to realize that he wasn’t having fun with me…he was having fun with the person I had changed myself into to be what he liked. In all actuality, I wasn’t REALLY having fun at all! He was used to the “Country Club, pearls & a cardigan” kinda girl and despite the fact that I’ve never so much as been inside a country club much less been a member, I tried to be that for him. I found myself questioning every thing I did.  Every thing I said. “Should I wear that?” “Don’t say that..that way.” “Dammit, why did you just say that?” “S*@t, you just said dammit.” “F*#@!, you cursed again.” SCREW THIS!

I eventually grew upset with myself for pretending to be something that I wasn’t. I had always prided myself on doing me, even if it was what no one else was doing. But on the other hand, was this type of person really that bad? Maybe if I just gave it the old college try I could learn to like it.

Problem #2

My life has always been pretty tough by most people’s standards and for that reason going to college and being engulfed in a world of affluence was a real adjustment process for me. Just as I was getting a firm footing, junior year came and knocked me on my a**. I can’t tell you how many nights I spent crying trying to figure out how I was going to make it–and by “it”, I mean life. Could I hack this? Did I even deserve this?

Well sir, while I’m trying to figure out things like keeping the lights out, I do not want to hear about how your life is soooo hard because your mother calls you too much. ARE YOU FREAKIN’ SERIOUS RIGHT NOW!?! At that stage in my life, I was in no condition to stroke egos or hold hands. I just wasn’t. And I get the whole “we all have problems and they’re all different” bit, but frankly, when your life is literally falling apart by the seams, some people’s “problems” just seem trivial and contrived. I could go into endless detail about the overwhelmingly ANNOYING conversations I endured in the sake of being a good girlfriend…meanwhile, inside I was screaming for someone to see me, for someone to keep from drowning. By the time all was said and done, I pitied his lack of self-sufficiency and had very little, if any, respect for him as a man.

Lesson Learned:

Growing up I had always told myself that the very minute I had children, their crib would be encrusted with diamonds, their pacifiers would be gold leafed and they’d never have to lift a finger. I wanted my children to never have to want for ANYTHING. I’d give them the hottest, the newest, the most expensive without them even having to ask. The wounds created by watching all my private school friends have those things ran deep. But this relationship, and so many other of my college experiences, taught me that in many ways I would be doing my children an injustice. Hard work builds character. Now do you have to be sleeping on a mattress on the floor to get the real meaning of life? Probably not. But being completely unaware of the fact that there are people who live like that, in my opinion, is never a good thing.

For that reason, I will probably always date men who are “more like me”. Men who I don’t have to explain my life to or feel ashamed of the things I had–or didn’t have. I find it difficult to relate to stories of BMWs and Jack & Jill’s meetings, but I’m right at home amongst talks of free lunches and bus rides to school. And in the larger context, I trust a man who has struggled more than I trust one who has not. I trust that when/if things get tough, he will know how to cope with that and be a shoulder for me to lean on. Now, the trick is finding one whose known struggle, but seeks success. (Different blog, different day).

Anywho, I’d say this relationship was a success in it’s own little way. After all, dating is about finding what you don’t like as much as it is about finding what you do like, right?