As a firm believer in the saying, “You gotta believe the messenger before you can believe the message” I’ll go ahead and address this now… I in no way consider myself to be a relationship/dating expert. In fact, the majority (if not all), of my friends would argue the complete opposite based merely on my personal dating history (but that’s a whole Netflix Special in and of itself). While we’re putting things on the table, let’s pause for a very important message: DISCLAIMER to any man I may have ever gone out with, liked, pretended to like, slide in his DM’s, casually dated, been in a relationship with (there is a difference), loved, married, divorced, friend-zoned, breadcrumbed, zombied (it’s a thing), hell any man I’ve ever looked at for that matter, this blog is NOT about you, so let’s check our egos at the door. This is simply a guide to assist those in the dating game and a personal reflection as I prepare to make my next EX, my Best Ex!
Tip numeral uno: Make sure he NEVER follows this damn rule! Throw out everything you’ve ever learned about “treating people the way you want to be treated.” Hopefully, by this point in life you’ve learned just how ass backwards this doctrine really is, at least when it comes to romantic, platonic, familial, work, church or any other type of relationship. The expectation should not be that someone treats you how THEY want to be treated, but rather, they treat you how YOU want to be treated. Hence the reason Gary Chapman’s entire theory on The Five Love Languages and how each of us expresses and experiences love is so popular. For example, if a man’s primary or secondary love language is quality time, and yours isn’t, he may want to reconsider those long walks in the park. Now if he persist on exuding a specific love language that you aren’t particularly receptive to, it may be time to have a conversation, which leads us to tip number two.
Communication, while important, has the possibility of screwing everything up. For starters, according to the 7-38-55 Rule, our words only account for 7% of what we’re truly trying to convey, tone accounts for 38% and body language tops the charts at 55%. So now that we’ve all grown up under the fallacy “it’s not what we say, but our paraverbal communication that matters,” we now see it really lies in the kinesics during a conversation. Insert eye roll! Regardless of whether we buy into the whole 7-38-55 Rule, what we need to know is that communication should not be the sole focus in a relationship; rather our efforts should be directed towards reaching a mutual level of understanding. According to the world-renowned Dr. Stephen R. Covey, reaching this level is seldom attained because “most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Going a step further, we typically reply to others with the intent of being heard as opposed to responding so that others might comprehend. And let’s not even get started on how our tendency to question others out of authority (versus questioning for clarity) has completely transitioned curious questions into oxymorons. Lord help us all!
So when having an interpersonal exchange what are the key elements one should look for when deciphering a man from a grown ass boy? I’m certain the answer to this question will take much longer than a decade to cover, but for the sake of brevity let’s condense it to the following:
- Discipline and attentiveness to seek first understanding;
- The ability to accurately interpret messages conveyed during a conversation;
- The practice of questioning for clarity;
- The dedication to responding in a manner that the recipient will understand; and finally,
- Commitment to consistently repeating this process.
Let’s be clear sis, I’m not referring to the typical BS we all may be accustomed to, but the Behavior, Situation and Impact model (or BSI) when providing feedback. Allow me to break down this organizational leadership concept as it applies to romantic relationships:
Scenario A: You spend countless hours preparing for date night. The kids are fed and in bed. Your hair is cooperating and you’re rockin’ the heck out of that outfit! Can’t nobody tell you nothin! I mean, you’re pushin’ more confidence than Lizzo when she sings Truth Hurts. Beyonce, Naomi, Jada or any Vogue model doesn’t stand a chance next to you. As soon as he sees you he says, “You look nice.”
Scenario B: You just had the day from hell. Your annoying ass co-worker keeps doing passive aggressive shit and she has one more time before you forget you still need your job! Your triflin ass cousin keeps asking for favors swearing this will be the last time and your frenemy had the nerve to “borrow” your entire caption from your latest IG post. All you’re focused on at this point is getting home, throwin off your clothes, tying up your hair, and sippin some wine. You spend the next 45 minutes explaining your day from beginning to end and he says, “damn, that’s messed up.”
So in all fairness, these scenarios are first-world issues; nevertheless, they’re worth discussing. In both scenarios we see how a grown ass boy might respond. Albeit the responses are factual and better than nothing, (you did look good in the first scenario and your day was messed up in the second one); the feedback lacks depth. Now a grown man on the other hand will take the time to acknowledge what’s going on, interpret the totality of the situation and articulate the possible impact.
Grown Man Response to Scenario A: “Damn baby, you look incredible! I appreciate the time you spent getting ready. I’m sure it wasn’t easy getting the kids settled and then perfecting yourself, but I wanna let you know that I acknowledge all of your effort and seeing you like this really excites me. I also remember you telling me how much you love getting all done up and how it does something to your confidence. I’m just happy I have the honor of enjoying you this evening.”
Grown Man Response to Scenario B: “Damn baby, you definitely had a really rough day. What homegirl is doing at the job is not okay. I remember the last time you told me about her sending those emails and cc’ing people who didn’t need to be included. And don’t worry about your cousin Tiffany, I know it’s hard for you to say no to family, but we’ll figure it out. And please ignore @_prettybasic791 we all know she copies you because she wants to be you. Just know I hear you and I understand how today was a rough one, so if you need anything let me know.”
Now ladies in a Utopian society this would be the norm, but because we live on planet Earth I strongly suggest you do NOT set yourself up for disappointment by expecting responses like this every time. We have to be realistic and factor in things like him being tired, preoccupied with work, it not being a convenient time to talk, etc. However, as a grown man, he should at minimum have the capacity to point out exhibited behaviors, demonstrate his ability to expand upon circumstances and thoroughly articulate the possible impact a situation may have on you. Now that’s the type of BS he should be on.
Pardon my vulgarity, but this one requires your complete attention! The only woman’s titties he should be sucking are yours, unless of course y’all have some type of arrangement that works for the both of you (we are not here to judge). The point is, make sure he’s weened from his mother. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a man holding his mother in a high regard; however when the relationship manifests into a codependent affair that reeks of an Oedipus Complex, there’s a deeper-rooted issue. Pay attention to the signs that show whether a man is encouraged vs enabled, affirmed vs coddled, and raised well vs well-groomed. How he treats his mother is NOT necessarily indicative of how he will treat you, because you are not (nor should you try to be) his mother.
In addition to how he treats his mother, listen intently to how he talks about his exes. A man who constantly degrades his ex is either still salty about the situation or clearly lacks the maturity and emotional intelligence it takes to self-reflect, grow and apply wisdom. Now don’t get me wrong, some women are no good, but what grown man spends his time focused on trash while in the presence of a masterpiece? Pay attention ladies….
Last, but certainly not least, the most critical aspect of avoiding grown ass boys….drumroll please…
This part of the game is generally the most difficult to broach because it requires genuine soul searching and reaching an elevated level of accountability that most people aren’t comfortable exploring. I’ll use myself as an example:
One day while preaching ad nauseam to one of my closest friends about how dope of a woman I am with all my accolades, degrees (plural), excellent credit score, property ownership (in the Bay Area might I add), net income, retirement benefits, etc. she looked me dead in the face and said: “okay, you know you’re still regular right?” Me: “Come again? I’m something like a unicorn!” Her:”No ma’am, you just present well and check boxes. Besides materialistic things what else do you have to offer in a relationship? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…”
It was at that very moment that I was forced to be real with myself and kill the character I spent years creating because like Dr. Rheeda Walker explains in her book, The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, “you have to be willing to let go of who you want people to think you are in order to have the strength to be who you really are.” Well I’ll be damned. In the spirit of putting on my big girl panties, I had to admit that perhaps there was still some growing that needed to be done despite how “grown” I depicted myself to be. I had to own up to the fact that I was hiding behind accomplishments and “success” (I use the term loosely) as a defense mechanism. I committed to 30 days of self-discovery where I was intentional about exploring and acknowledging my red light/green light state (triggers vs euphoric feelings), buried trauma, deep rooted fears presenting as other emotions and unrealistic expectations that I kept placing on significant relationships. Ya girl had her work cut out! At the end of the 30 days I realized the following:
- In order for this journey to self-discovery and accountability to be truly effective, it takes a lot longer than 30 days; in fact this process is never-ending.
- What you project is what you’ll attract.
- Time is the new currency so spend it wisely and invest in yourself.
- The baggage that we all carry must be routinely unpacked and repositioned.
- There is no pinnacle to growth.
With that, I had to toss out my revised Ciara Prayer/Moving from Broke Ass to Boaz wish list and focus full throttle on maturing into a grown ass woman if I’m truly going to avoid dating grown ass boys.
Mommi, Pamela P.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed as I shared a little insight into my life (or at least got a little comic relief). Lord knows I’m still a work in progress! I’d love to hear all about your dating experiences and how you personally avoid dealing with grown ass boys!