Dec 27, 2020 Can you provide more?
We live in a time where everyone has an opinion on what you “should” be doing. I can’t be sure if this is any different from any other time except for the fact that we hear them more. Social media gives everybody access to seemingly everybody. If you frequent Twitter with any regularity, you’ll see that everyday it’s a battle of who can and/or should provide the most. So… who should?
My son was born in 2010. I was young, broke, and for the first time in my life… scared. I’ve never really worried about anything, and I haven’t since, but this one time was different. It’s a strength and a weakness of mine to not worry back then, but I was my only responsibility. I felt like I could live with any consequence that came from my carelessness. I almost invited consequences. I needed to be close enough to the fire to feel alive. When my son was born though, I was scared beyond comparison. Not only did I not have any real experience with babies, but I also had no real way of making money. I became obsessed with trying to figure out how to shut everybody up who said I was too young and broke for a child (they were right by the way). However, his mom wasn’t the one who needed to be shut up. You couldn’t get me to believe it but, she only cared about everything else. Somewhere in her mind, she felt like the money would just work itself out. My logic was, it doesn’t matter what else is good, if I can’t buy diapers she would and should leave. Within two years, I could pay for EVERYTHING. By then, we were worse than we’d ever been, and would soon be done for good. That was the beginning of a hard lesson that I had to learn, “Can you provide… More?”
Financial Freedom isn’t enough. Who would’ve ever thought? When they say hindsight is 20/20, for once, they’re right. You couldn’t explain to a young black man who had been told directly and indirectly how important a man being a provider was, that money wouldn’t fix everything. So ironically, that’s what I was fixated on. The honest truth is, the financial responsibility ended up being the easiest one to answer to. It was a time where my son’s mom was paying my best friend $120 per month in food stamps to let us sleep on his couch, essentially. Fast forward 6 months later I was paying a full rent and utilities for an apartment I slept in maybe 4 nights per month and her tuition to go to school. 6 months after that I was paying for CNA classes and trips and car down payments. I was still fixated. In being fixated, I had so many other blind spots. I was unbothered by the optics or the emotional ramifications of my fixation and my self absorption. I began to feel like now that I could pay to fix big issues, the “smaller” issues were hers to fix. Years later, her exact words were, “I would’ve lived with you in a box. I didn’t need all of that.” My ego was hurt. I was sitting there knowing that I’d always been a honest person, I became a provider, I always gave here everything she wanted, except… a title. It was like my ransom note. It was my ultimatum to get her to fix some of the things I needed from her. It wasn’t the best way to go about it though. What I came to realize is, she needed me to provide more. She needed me to lead better. Buying the car means nothing if you can’t drive it. To be clear, that’s not to say I was trying to buy her. My point is, in this particular situation, what I could buy wasn’t more important than the security I didn’t provide.
Love is Art, not Science. This quote is something I’ve always used to describe the difference between love and compatibility. I’ve used it to emphasize the point that everything will never work for everybody; especially in the dating space. I began learning this through the year I made the most money and lost the devotion I had prior. She needed me to commit to her verbally, romantically, and publicly. Her values aligned more so with being able to say “me and my man” will figure this out vs constantly getting questions about “when y’all gone be together” or “when y’all gone get married”? The more I understood that, the more my worldview matured. However, I still wouldn’t change a thing. Shocked? Don’t be. There was the other side of me needing more also, that couldn’t and shouldn’t be ignored. I needed encouragement and gratitude, more than I needed monogamy at the time. I needed functional considerations in and outside of the house. I needed a familial concentration. I wasn’t getting that. My value wasn’t placed in titles because everybody with significant titles in my life, disappointed me in someway by not living up to those titles. I still don’t place most of the value in titles, I place my value in actions, habits, and character. On paper though, people would say I was crazy. Or that I just wanted to be free to deal with other women. Here was this woman who was attractive, was “loyal”, in school pursuing nursing, and gave me a son. To most people, that might have been enough. For me though, not to go too deep, it wasn’t because she thought my dreams were too big. She thought they were unnecessary. She thought as long as I liked her, it didn’t matter if she ingratiated herself in my family when she came to family functions. She didn’t think going to business dinners and being inviting was important. She thought it was fake. Her other words to me was “why do you have to be special? Why can’t you just move back to Albany and be regular?”. Her worldview was just right in front of her at the time. All she needed was a decent place to live and to know that no other woman had access to me. She didn’t care that I wanted to build a better life and businesses and move around the world to have different living experiences; not just vacations. That didn’t / doesn’t make her a bad person but it made me needs go unaddressed. I needed her to provide more just like she needed me to provide more. One side shouldn’t hold more weight than the other. I don’t think my side held more weight in my eyes, I could be wrong, but my view was simply that I should see significant effort to improve as much as I felt I was giving effort to improve. Because I didn’t, nothing changed, especially the title or commitment. Because that didn’t change, I never got the effort I was looking for and we parted ways and embarked on a long path that would lead to us having a pretty good coparenting relationship.
So, What Now? What this lesson taught me and what I hope this blog can lend perspective to is, we all should be trying to provide more. In our own ways that best suit our goals and relationships. In this case, money didn’t mean much to her, but it’s still an important piece to me. This is why I don’t think a woman wanting a man that can financially provide is a bad thing. The problem is, which we see too often on social media, that a lot of women want financial security with no regard for what the man may need or want running concurrently throughout that relationship. Or women wanting a substantial amount of income to be coming in from the man’s side that they aren’t nearly close to on their own. This is also why I don’t think a man requiring an understanding and preemptive actions to be demonstrated before committing to a woman is a bad thing. Especially a man that has a lot to give and lose financially, the importance of the woman he chooses to share his life with comes with higher stakes. What we also see is men being so “money over everything” minded that when they can afford a substantial amount of necessities and luxuries, they become completely tone-deaf to their partner’s other needs. These men, like me, miss their blind spots or are completely unwilling to devote the same effort it took to become better men financially, into becoming better men emotionally. Devoting that time into becoming better as partners to lead the house instead of just paying for the house. It takes going through a lot and having the blessing of good people around you or the right event sparking enough humility to even realize that works need to be done. Then as it pertains to compatibility, we as a whole have to start to really understand and prioritize that over everything else. Because no matter how attractive, rich, submissive, or dominant either side is, if we don’t want the same things or have similar outlooks on how life and love should coexist, it will fail. And failure has a residue that is more bothersome than an alley in New York City. Relationship failures have left so many lost, confused, resentful, unreasonable, and ultimately…. scared. So much so that it feels like the Grand Canyon is sitting between men and women and nobody is willing to even think of a way to meet in the middle. No one is trying to provide more, most people are tip toeing to the finish line, trying not to do more than the other side. It can’t work that way.
Just my thoughts,
I look forward to hearing yours.