One of the best (and worst) things about being an adult is the occasional realization that certain things you never wanted to believe to be true are, in fact, true. On a macro level, these realizations are good because they help you grow and see the world for what it truly is and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But, however good this knowledge may ultimately be, it still stings a bit to learn that you believed some wrong-ass shit.
In the past few years or so I’ve had (at least) two such realizations. One was already touched on by my partner at Very Smart Brothas a couple weeks ago in “Is This What Growed Up Feels Like?” But, while Panama admitted feeling a little ashamed that he was a fan of such ignant rap, I feel no such shame. I’ve stopped trying to explain how the misogyny, nihilism, and overall misandry present in much of popular rap — even rap made by “conscious” artists — is just some sort of postmodern social commentary reflecting on the trails and tribulations of post-industrial inner city society and finally admitted to myself that I just happen to like some ignorant-ass, vulgar-ass, violent-ass music that’s ignorant, vulgar, and violent for no reason. I’m not sure what exactly that says about me, but it’s about time I stopped trying to believe that wasn’t true.
The second realization wasn’t as easy to accept. I was either at my friend’s aunt’s house or outside of a greyhound station bathroom (can’t remember which) when I first remember hearing that “a man should love his wife a bit more than she loves him.” In both instances, I was too busy making sure no improbably fast six-legged creatures crawled on my chicken to pay much attention to the phrase.
As the years passed, I began to hear it more and more, but it was never actually said with any type of sane explanation. A girl I dated in college once told me that her mom told her never to like a boy more than the boy likes her. When she asked her why, she apparently mumbled, shook her head, and said “because you don’t want to end up with the gout and worms like your grandmother, that’s why.”
Explanation or not, that sentiment just never really sat right with me. A relationship idealist, I believed that the best partnerships were formed when both parties fell in love simultaneously and loved each other equally. Plus, as a young man doing whatever the f*ck I needed to do to stay the hell away from any burgeoning relationship with “friends zone” potential, the idea that I need to be more into a woman than she was into me was an affront to my pride and the complete antithesis of everything I “learned” through experience.
I don’t know exactly when or where I started to accept this sentiment as truth, but I do know today that it is undeniably, unequivocally, and uncomfortably true. Thing is, while (many) men seem to reject this sentiment because it seems to balance the dating and relationship scale in the woman’s favor, it’s actually necessary because that part of the game is already balanced in our favor. Us falling first and harder doesn’t do anything but even things out.
To wit, I’m assuming most of the thousands of men who will read this have been in at least one good relationship, and possibly more. I’m also going to assume that, in at least 50 percent of these relationships, the guy eventually “won” the woman over by “growing on” her. Basically, he was really feeling her, she was “eh” about him at first, but he eventually managed to somehow convince her that he was worth being with/sleeping with/swallowing, etc.
Now, if I were to ask how many of these men ended up happy with a woman that they were completely “eh” about at first until she convinced him that she was worth being with, I doubt I’d get many replies.
Because of certain sociological and biological factors largely out of our control, women aren’t really able to grow on men the same way we can grow on them, making it paramount that we (men) are the ones who show the most initial interest.
Also, another completely unscientific and unresearched theory to add to the rest of the completely unscientific and unresearched theories presented today is that men who aren’t head over hills about the woman they’re with are more likely to do things that “unsettled” men do — i.e., cheat, be non-committal, stay emotionally unavailable, etc.
Obviously, men in love do still do these things (women definitely aren’t immune to it either), but I just don’t think it happens as often as a man who doesn’t really feel like he put the time and effort into “winning” anybody. Just as women are more likely to value men who are wanted by other women but chose to pursue them, men are more likely to value the women they chose to attempt to win. It’s a truth I didn’t really want to admit, but I guess learning new shit is the best part about being a grown-up. (Actually, being able to drink moosetracks milkshakes for breakfast while sitting on your couch butt-naked and watching “Miller’s Crossing” without anyone saying a gotdamn thing is a pretty good part about being a grown-up, but that’s beside the point).