Updated: Jun 14, 2022
March 22, 2022
By Jay Lovelii
I haven't always had the best of luck with men. At one point, I down right hated them.
Sure I grew up around wonderful men like my grandfather, older brother, step father, and a host of other male family members, but that didn't shape my full scope of experiences with them. I could remember not caring for the male species at an early age, because they simply weren't always the nicest to girls. I could remember the boys typically laughing at us. Not wanting to play with us. Sometimes hitting us under the guise of a crush. And the older I got, the worse it seemed that males treated us.
Music did not make it easier. As a black young girl, rap is basically my culture. Hearing men degrade women, calling us names and throwing their preferences in our face definitely was internalized, rather I knew or liked it or not. I felt I did not have much men wanted outside of my body, because society presented it that way to me. And I despised men for it.
I also did not have a relationship with my father, and that further set the tone of men being a disappointment. Even down to my grandfather's death at the age of 12 gave me trauma surrounding my relationships with men. I felt that men either would hurt me or leave me, maybe even both. My thinking ultimately shaped my upcoming experiences with men as an adult.
My adult relationships left a lot to be desired. At 18, I dated a guy for some years and it was soooo much emotional manipulation. I could never tell if he really liked me. He would say some harsh things to me, gaslight me and make me ponder my own worth and mind. He cheated... A LOT. He was ridiculously broke and I gave him money; silly me, knowing the trouble and risk, I stuck it out with him regardless. I thought that one day he would change. One day he would choose me, and I did not want to let him go.
After him, I left one toxic situation and went to the next for 5 years...Instead of just emotional abuse, this one added a bit of physical to the mix this time. Just my luck lol. It was a lot of love and codependence in this relationship that my daughter resulted from. I simply connected with the father of my child through trauma. We related through pain, and that manifested in many ways within our relationship.
Once I got the strength to leave that tumultuous relationship behind, I took a lot of time to heal. And within that healing,
I was able to build MORE standards, more boundaries, have a better mindset and ultimately attract better caliber of men.
Within the time period, (going on the last 7 years), I was able to grow a better mindset of dating and men overall with acknowledging and applying the next set of principles and actions in no particular order.
Tip #1 - I decided I would always come first
I know this sounds so cliche and almost like "duh" why would you not, but we live in a society where many women were damn near TRAINED to do everything in hopes of attracting, getting, and keeping a man. Down to giving up many of our hopes, dreams, and hobbies for our men. Hell, some of us give up friends and family, too. It didn't take rocket science to realize I was loving these men more than myself. Once I realized that after checking myself, I began to resist this narrative. I made sure that in any connection I had with a man that 1, my needs were met, and 2, that I was not giving up or doing anything I knew did not feel right in my heart to do so. Even if it were to make him happy or keep him around. My life and desires outweighs any man I date; I simply will not give up what makes me, me, to keep a man around.
Tip #2 - I chose not to give my power away
This tip is basically an extension of the first. As women, in relationships we have idolized and definitely overused the term "submissive" as a character trait of the perfect wife. If you are not submissive, docile or agreeable, no man will want you, or at least that what's society would like us to believe. We were taught that the man will make all the decisions for us. They will be our "saviors". Another narrative I rebuked lol.
Now, don't get me wrong, I believe in being nice, loving, cooperative, and supportive in relationships, but I do not believe giving my power to decide and have an opinion is the mark of a great wife. I grew up and was raised around some of the most outspoken, opinionated, headstrong, and resilient women I have ever met. They ALL had husbands, and they seemed to still be themselves despite having one. I won't speak for them in saying they did not give up parts of themself because in some way I believe they may have, but if they did, I had the luxury of NEVER seeing it. That's how great of women and wives they were.
Being that I never saw it, I never emulated being submissive in relationships. I gave my power away with men by not leaving at the early signs of abuse and not always speaking up for myself when it really mattered because I was too young and unaware that I was being mistreated, nor did I particularly know what I wanted or how relationships worked. Despite being around married people, I did not know shit about relationships. I simply wasn't taught. So this left me not understanding how to set boundaries and hold firm to them. I was just doing anything for the men I dated under the guise of love and wanting better for them. This caused me to give up so much of my power.
Changing my mindset about men also gave me my power back.
I decided that I would not hate men, but I would hate patriarchy instead. I decided not to put every man I dated or met in a box of negativity, especially knowing that I wanted to ultimately be with a man some day. I stopped believing that I would never find the love I was looking for, and began to think positively about men and relationships in general. I began to study and research relationships. I began to go within myself for a better relationship with myself too. Because knowing that in the past, I was looking for men to fulfilled where I lacked, led me to learning to fulfill myself.
Now, I love men in a way that is empowering to me. I make sure I am fed first, before I give any of my nutrients to him. I let it be known when I don't like something so that WE both can make the necessary adjustments to eliminate that action. Also, in that way I can see how he responds to note our compatibility levels. Boundaries and standards are healthy because they hold YOU accountable to your choices. Who you decide to date can be a big deal, and we must not skimp on KNOWING what we want and placing boundaries so that the other person does not take advantage. Click the link below for a great article about how to stop giving your power away.
Tip #3 - I set my standards and boundaries
I'm going to tell you my PERSONAL standards when dating men. You do not have to agree to it, but just to give you an example of the things I like in men. Note, I am what some would call "simple" or "low maintenance" because my standards are not about what a man DOES for me, but how his presence can enhance my life. Also note, I meet EVERY standard presented here, so I'd never expect from a man what I do not have myself.
The men I date must be able to take care of himself and his children (if applicable) by himself financially. (Meaning he must have a GREAT job that allows him a low stress lifestyle when it comes to money!)
The men I date must be kind!
The men I date must have standards and boundaries themselves as well as know how to enforce them with grace.
The men I date must have a great sense of humor
The men I date must be a critical thinker
The men I date must be self aware
The men I date must believe in personal development (self help, therapy, mentorship, etc.)
The men I date must have dreams, ambitions and MUST be working towards them
The men I date must be intentional
The men I date must love themselves and practice self care
The men I date must be generous
The men I date must be adventurous
The men I date must be family oriented
The men I date must know how to communicate and listen
Of course I must be attracted to him lol but these are the standards I have and hold very strongly to. They are some of my best character traits and I want them mirrored.
Boundaries are important because they tell people what you will or won't allow as far as treatment. For example, like many of us, I do not tolerate disrespect so that is either checked at the door when it is unintentional or he can be completely eliminated if it is blatant and intentional. When someone has overstepped your boundaries, it is up to you to tell them, but with GRACE. I see too many women just flying off the handle with their men when he steps out of bounds, especially unintentionally.
As women, we tend to overreact a lot when our men does something we do not like. I am also guilty. The guy I have the most affinity for currently has definitely been taken on a slight ride with my reactions lol. Not that the emotion and irritation is not well deserved form me towards him, but I have been working on approaching my mate with love, after my negative feelings have dissipated. When I am able to approach at a level emotional level, he is typically more willing to listen to my needs and work to make the necessary adjustments. I am able to come up with some plans of actions from both of us to better this aspect of our connection.
Tip #4 - I paid attention to what men said and did
When it comes to scouting out good men, it has become simple now with age and experience. I simply listen to what they say and pay more attention to what they do. Many men talk a lot when it comes to women, and that is because many women are wooed by words. I, on the other hand, take words as face value and place more emphasis on their behavior than what they say to me. I am highly attracted to men that do as they say they will, and when they do not, I can tell they are either not self aware and working to improve, or they just dgaf lol.
I also note patterns that led to discomfort in my previous relationships. When I see that a man has the same patterns of behavior or thought processes of an ex that I had trauma with, I typically move away from him. I believe in second chances, but I also believe that patterns of behavior, even in different people, is not a lie. It shows you what to expect.
Simply put, do NOT ignore the RED FLAGS!
Tip #5 - I learned to communicate my desires
In order to communicate my desires to men, I had to first learn what they were. I had to learn from experiences what I needed in my relationships in order to feel fulfilled. I also had to learn what does not create harmony for me. The only way I was able to do this was by going within and doing the work to discover who I was. I didn't let what I learned from society tell me what I needed from my man or in my relationship. I began to listen to my heart for what I needed. From my immense journey through spirituality and self love, I was able to not only find out the characteristics I needed from my man, but how to mirror those same actions. I realized i had to become the woman that deserved the standards I seek in a man. And now that I do, I have no issues voicing what I need to any man I date.
I will admit, I am not married, and may not ever be, but what I do have is peace within myself and that has led to very peaceful relationships over the past 5 years. I am in love with someone who is a great person to me and I think we have a good shot, but even so, when my entanglements end with men, they typically never end in anger or hate, and very little hurt. Only because I do not date men that intentionally hurt me. When it ends, it is for a reason such as lack of compatibility, bad timing, or simply growing apart, not cheating or abuse. If you are struggling with men, I hope you apply some of these principles so that dating won't feel like such a chore or traumatic experience for you.