I’m wondering if some of us are looking for something in relationships that is just plain unrealistic and which does not exist? Maybe we need to get real and lower the bar a little. But how do you do that without feeling like you’re settling?
I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend tonight. My girl called me up and we talked for over 3 hours. We’ve known each other since 6th grade, but we became friends in 7th grade after she got into some fight with another chick who was beefing with me. She’s been married for about three years now. As we were catching up, the conversation got around to who I was seeing and all that. I said no one and we started talking about dating since my last relationship (which was nearly two years ago). All of that led to a discussion about what’s more important and what to look for in a partner.
I was telling my girl about a couple of really good guys that I know. These guys are what you would call the practical choice. They’re smart, independent, doing well in their respective careers, family-oriented, funny, sweet, and most importantly, they deal with my crazy ass. On paper, they stack up pretty well and if you were hiring for a husband, well you’d definitely invite them in for a second and third interview. Still, there is something holding me back from seriously trying to build anything with them. There’s a piece missing. I always say it’s a certain je ne sais quoi. I guess I mean there’s no spark. Isn’t there supposed to be a spark?
By that I mean isn’t there supposed to be some kind of passion there? I was having a similar talk with another close girl friend who was telling me about a guy she knows who just gets under her skin every time. He’s totally in her system. The problem is, he really ain’t shit. That’s when I realized that that is the way it always seems to go. I can definitely identify. I’ve met men who, just the thought of them, could get me excited, make me smile and make me think back to… well, shared moments. Usually, it’s the guys who really get you going (usually for some reason you can’t even explain) are the ones who lack all of those other practical qualities one would want in a partner. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to combine those men together? Can’t you have a man with all of those practical, stable, desirable qualities who you also can’t stop thinking about for a single day? A man that gets under your skin? A man that makes you feel silly and giddy and girly?
I asked my long-time friend all of this during our conversation. She agreed that all of that is great. Both types of men are necessary and serve their purpose. She brought up a guy we knew from back in the day and said he was her je ne sais quoi man. She said that even to this day, even though she knows what kind of person he is and how he’s type shady and whatnot, he still makes her feel *something* when they speak or when she reminisces. Still, she didn’t marry him or anyone like him. She married the practical man. Why? She said that while it would be great to have a piece of the je ne sais quoi man added on to the practical man, you have to remember that he’s just a “piece.” Why would you take that, when you could have something much more complete? While the passion is great, you know that those guys aren’t the ones who will grow old with you, love you through it all, work it out with you (because marriage sure is work). She made it clear that she loves her husband and has passion for him, it’s just a different kind. Not that wild, starry-eyed, ooh I can’t quit that nigga – type of stuff. But when she looks at her husband playing with their young daughter and sees how much he loves her, she said she loves her husband even more. When she thinks about how they are partners and how they work together, building their lives, she gets a different kind of fuzzy inside je ne sais quoi but it’s there nonetheless.
I told her I was worried that if I married a man who I didn’t feel that spark for, who I didn’t long for and think about before I went to bed every night, that I’d eventually feel like I was with the wrong person. Maybe I’d get divorced. Perhaps I’d cheat. She said it wasn’t like she was totally devoid of passion and spark for her husband. It was certainly there. You’ve got to have the spark and the practical qualities. She said I was just thinking about it the wrong way.
I thought about what she was saying as she told me all of this. She wasn’t saying settle. She wasn’t even saying that a person can’t have it all. She just thought it was important to realize that certain things have longevity and other things are fleeting. While the fleeting moments might seem so intense and so hypnotic, they are moments only. I know that she is happy with her husband and their family and that she hasn’t given anything up to be with him. I was just envisioning this passion/spark as this overwhelming feeling. The kind of feeling you get when I was involved with those guys who were unavailable, players, immature or just plain selfish. She was saying that it’s not the same.
I guess it’s not a matter of lowering your expectations. It’s a matter of maturing in your understanding of what a serious, long-term relationship is all about. It’s not about feeling like a giddy teenager with a crush. It’s about building a life with someone who has the qualities necessary for the two of you to be successful individually and as a unit. That is the kind of thing that breeds a different kind of passion, one that is real, grounded, and has longevity.
So those two guys I mentioned earlier are still out of the running. Not because they’re not great guys. I’m positive they’ll make fabulous partners for someone out there (which is why I never say that “there are no good Black men around,” bullshit). It’s just not me. Not because the fireworks aren’t popping off, but because I’m not in a place myself to really appreciate the kind of passion and spark my friend was describing. I’ve still got work to do on self, yo. Still growing out of giddy, girly crushes.