When I’m crushing on a man, I see him not as he is, but as he could be. I write my desires onto his body and willfully ignore his imperfections.
A man who wears white tees and timberlands= a sly sartorial commentary on 1990s hood culture.
A man whose grammar is off in text messages? = he was in a rush to text me because he’s madly in love with me.
A man who mumbles= actually, quite brilliant, but shy, and humble.
Of course, at some point, I realize that the man in white tees and timberlands is stuck in the 1990s, the man with bad grammar really doesn’t know the correct use of “whom” or when an ellipses ought to be used, and the mumbler never had anything worth hearing.
I’ve heard a lot of men complain about how women aren’t “real with them” about anything. According to these men, they have false eyelashes, breast and butt implants, makeup, and high heels, so the women themselves aren’t real. These statements are ridiculous–they reduce women to their fashion choices. Women are so much more than what they wear, or what they choose to inject or not inject into their bodies.
real talk: i have that hair!
But men aren’t real either. Like a bad movie, the best clips are photoshopped and pasted together for a convincing story. In a first meeting, men will hide the fact that they are in a relationship, or hide that they have kids, or lie a bit about their job to make them look better.
So dating takes time. And that’s hard in a microwave, drive through culture.
I’ve had to slow down. Be still. Listen to everything a man says, and watch everything he does.
Even beyond that, I have an obligation to keep it 100 with myself. I’m guilty of taking the facts and making them a little bit prettier. What can I say? I write fiction. And the truth usually isn’t glamorous. I should fall in love with the nerdy man who loves Jesus, but I’m usually more attracted to thugs who have thick wads of cash held together with rubberbands. I have a penchant for underground rappers who rock snapbacks, or scholars with theologies I find deeply problematic.
If I can keep it real with God, myself, and my girls (who always hold me accountable), about the men I date, I won’t end up madly in love with a man who doesn’t really exist. Instead, I’ll be able to see that man’s faults, accept and love him as he is, while encouraging him to be and do better.
I’m pretty sure that’s what real love looks like.