The ABCs of BLACK LOVE: What Your Woman or Your Man REALLY WANTS but Is Afraid to Tell You

Ebony, February 2000 | Go to article overview

The ABCs of BLACK LOVE: What Your Woman or Your Man REALLY WANTS but Is Afraid to Tell You


What Your WOMAN Or Your MAN REALLY WANTS But Is Afraid To Tell You

HIS

WHILE Sisters have historically complained that Brothers don't understand them, many Black men believe they are the ones who are the most misunderstood--whether it's in the workplace, at home or even in the bedroom.

Indeed, many times it is a breakdown in communications, a disconnection between what a Brother says or feels and a Sister hears or believes that is at the root of infidelity, financial problems, physical abuse, spiritual bankruptcy or any other obstacle that threatens fruitful relationships.

Dr. Nathan Hare, a San Francisco-based psychologist and co-founder of the Black Think Tank, says men in particular are in a tough situation because they don't usually express themselves as well as women. "Many times when a man keeps things bottled-up inside of him," Hare says, "it gives his lady the go-ahead to define him as she wishes, [giving her] the go-ahead to decide for herself what he likes and dislikes, what emotions he feels, when he feels them, how long he feels them and whether he should ever feel them again. Soon she believes she knows what is best for him."

The best-kept secret in the Brother-Sister game is that women for the most part are not even close in their assessment of the needs and hopes of their men. In fact, many women don't know the men they are with--they only know the men they have helped to create.

"They rely on snap sayings, the old rules, the old cliches. They rely on what other women tell them," says William July II, author of Understanding the Tin Man, Why So Many Men Avoid Intimacy. "But they aren't taking the time to talk to the guy, to ask him what he wants. Women need to do a lot more listening to men."

So what would a man really like to tell a woman about his wants, needs and desires? What would a Brother tell his lady if he felt like he had the freedom to do so and if he felt that his honesty would not result in misunderstandings, misinterpretations, hurt feelings or ugly arguments?

According to psychiatrists, barber shop counselors, and locker-room experts and relationship experts, he would probably say:

* 1. HE WANTS YOU TO REALLY UNDERSTAND HIM.

Some relationship experts say many times men bury their true being under a facade of masculinity. July calls it the "Tin Man Syndrome," a state of being amongst men who feel they either have no heart or have no freedom to display their emotional side. The Houston-based lecturer and author says women have been a major cause of pent-up feelings that men experience. "Women are not free of responsibility," he writes. "In fact, they're willing participants in much of the `macho male' belief system. Some women are often culprits in the very schemes they say they want to end."

This self-destructive attitude produces a shell of a man who is ill-equipped to deal with the complexities of a relationship, or life for that matter. There has recently been a push by some Brothers to get women to drop the preconceived notions they have about men.

* HE WANTS YOU TO ENCOURAGE HIS OPENNESS.

To be a man--especially a Brother--means never showing emotion. But while most men won't admit it, what many long to do is to cry, to laugh, to love, to lower their guard and not feel like they have to always be oblivious to the softer side of life. There's only one problem--men believe women will call them weak if they show emotion.

It has been said that there are only five situations in which a man truly feels free to show emotion--during war, while playing sports, while intoxicated, during a fight, and at a funeral.

This pent-up emotion is at the root of much of the anxiety, frustration, and a general sense of powerlessness a man feels.

* HE WANTS YOU TO HELP HIM LEARN HOW TO LOVE YOU.

Loving a woman many times requires training and instruction, which men are afraid to ask for and women assume men should know. …

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