Being in a Relationship is Hard Work

art by Ron Smith (RIP Ron) for Stages

art by Ron Smith (RIP Ron) for Stages

After thinking and thinking and thinking about what to write in this section, I finally came up with a series of questions that should have done the trick and allowed me to write a long series of articles, but they all became small next to the idea of breaking down the myths associated with relationships. When we all look at it, after reading the books and articles and listening to all of the radio personalities who claim to be relationship experts, although they aren’t married, and watching all of the talk show hosts who teach us how to keep it together, it still seems that we have bought into the negative ideas of love and all of the ideas and myths associated with the perceived difficulty of developing and maintaining relationships.

These myths have been around so long that rather than the words being considered cliché, they are now taken as law. We assume a relationship will be difficult. We assume and expect relationships to fail. We know that men are going to cheat and that women are going to retaliate. We know every dude is on the damn downlow and that all women have closet lesbian lovers. Shall I go on?

Before I begin giving relationship advice and presenting myself as an expert; which I’m not, but just imagine you are reading this on a burgundy leather sofa in a room with hardwood floors and paintings on the wall by Ernie Barnes (I’m a sports guy what did you expect). The curtains are pulled open and held by gold colored ropes. The skyline is showing through the window. I have a pen and a pad, my glasses are sitting on my nose and … forget it. I’m your therapist doggone it.
Let’s climb into this discussion on the myth of the difficult relationship. First, the fact that Black women love Black men to a fault could be one of the foundations of the hard work myth, but that is another topic altogether. Second, sisters who seek to save men (poor cats) or only date certain types of men (rich cats) actually create and sustain the myth of the relationships being hard work. I feel that I am attacking.

Am I placing the blame on Black women here…? Yes and no, I hate ambiguity and indecisiveness, but as with any discussion there is always a refutation and this is not a definitive article.

Relationships are a two sided coin but women do tend to make things a lot more difficult than they have to. Relationships are easy to maintain. If everyone is honest about important things and you lie about small things, your relationship will be fine. Is it this simple? Yes it is. See, most of the time a man does not want to argue and a man will avoid an argument. But women push the issue on things and then misunderstandings take place and everyone ends up hurt and frustrated when the initial reason for arguing was: Why don’t you drive today, I’m tired.
There are very straightforward guidelines for maintaining a relationship and keeping everything easy going. I call them the Caveman Commandments

1. Give man sex often – Many difficulties often stem from the fact that a man might be a bit flirtatious. Now I’m not saying a brother is going to stop flirting, but if he has something to remind him of why he got with you in the first place then he is less likely to act on the flirting. I’m not just talking about the good hard working 30 second loving that us men typically do, make us want to work hard for it. Dammit sneak up on me naked!
2. Don’t get mad when you catch me looking – This is important. Just because I look at another woman doesn’t mean that I am going to cheat. I’m a man. I look at butt. Like John Coffey in the Green Mile, “I can’t hep it.” Don’t get pissed off at me… unless I’m looking on a regular basis. If I’m doing that and I don’t care if you catch me, it’s a wrap.
3. Give men sex often – Oh did I say that one already? Well, at least you know this is important. If I have to go more than a week and a half and your friend is not visiting, trust me I’m either going to start looking at porn or I’m going to start taking the flirting thing a step further. Once again, “I can’t hep it.” And yes, it only takes a week for your man’s eyes to start wandering.
4. Tell me what you want me to do – I’m stupid. Fellas I almost feel bad about this one but man you can’t argue. We are stupid. We don’t feel the same way you (women) do about things like talking, hugging, talking, well just talking. You might really be interested in the latest method of building a stronger relationship, but in all honesty at the end of the day if I don’t get butt, hell I can’t hear anything. I go right into ‘Charlie Brown’s teacher is talking mode.’ (Women you can tell when this happens because we resort to words like, “Yeah, that’s real. I agree one hundred percent.”)
5. Make me talk with you – Don’t let me shut down. If you see something is on my mind, don’t automatically assume it is you or the job. Take me to dinner, not a fancy restaurant, just some pizza and video games and get me to chill out a bit. (We like to eat and one hell of a pizza can actually remedy a lot, no kidding.) Then ask me what’s up. After that give me some butt and I’m straight.

Relationships are not difficult. In all honesty, no jokes, when you approach a relationship with the mentality that it is going to be hard work, you have already generated bad feelings and created problems. Relationships are fun and sometimes challenging but on the whole, the process of learning someone takes a lifetime. If you get bored then problems occur and a relationship can be hard to maintain. But women, men are not going to initiate new things. If you can get a brother to read a book, see a movie, go walking, hiking, go to a museum (especially contemporary art museums, they always have naked art in those), try a new restaurant, read a newspaper, try something different then your relationship will remain interesting which is key in keeping the relationship smooth. This is not ‘hard’ work, this is ‘fun’ work. I guess I’m placing a lot on women to do to make the relationship ‘fun’. Well, this is an unfortunate fact that exists in relationships, men are perfectly content with going to the gym, watching the game and kicking it with the fellas. Everything else is not as important, so women things will fall on your head. It’s not fair but at least you are reading it now. I have one more thing to throw in here to make relationships work… women, keep it tight. I was asked once why Black cats, chase White women. My response was pretty basic and honestly it was a very generic answer, ‘white women are less confrontational and White women work out’. But then I thought about the fact that most of the Black dudes I saw with White women, had fat White women and that kind of killed my answer. Back to the topic, men are like water, we seek the path of least resistance. Now I write all of this with one caveat, men you will have to meet women half way and stop being so lazy (and if you did something to get the women you have to at least do what you did once a month).

The myth of relationships being hard is just that a myth. If we all stop entering into relationships with this cliché in our heads we lay the groundwork for relationships to be less stressful and less about work. Relationships built on the premise of ‘fun’ work will last longer and create more understanding couples.

Buy Stages: A Handbook on Men and Relationships