Growing up, most of my friends were boys. I was always more interested in things like capturing bugs than applying makeup and shopping for purses. To be honest, not much has changed since then. No, I’m not out here climbing trees as a grown-ass woman, but I keep platonic members of the opposite sex in my circle, and I still think makeup is gross.
One perk that comes with male friendships is having a front-row seat in the theater of men’s minds. This sort of access has allowed me to discover my guy friends’ propensity for utter foolishness — including, but certainly not limited to, the willful wasting of a woman’s time.
Six months ago, my friend Sam and I were catching up over the phone when he dropped a bombshell.
“I’m getting married,” he said.
“To who?” I asked, perplexed because Sam wasn’t seriously dating anyone. He hesitated to answer, perhaps aware of how ridiculous he sounded.
“Darlene. We met about six weeks ago. Still, that doesn’t matter. She’s the one!”
Naturally, I was skeptical. Since entering his fifties, Sam had accelerated his search for love in hopes of finding an everlasting relationship. It was the sort of desperation one usually equates with women of a certain age, so I was shocked to hear this sort of talk from a man. Sam was adamant that he was now “over the hill” and “running out of time.” For him, patiently dating was not an option.
If a man doesn’t have himself together, he should be honest about it, both to himself and to the women he meets, and fully committed to his own betterment.
So, Sam and Darlene, both Muslims, swiftly entered into a Nikah Mut’ah, a marital contract during which the couple can act as husband and wife without any binding commitment (or accusations of moral indecency). If all goes well, the marriage is solidified. It’s kind of like leasing a car with the option to buy. Yet six months later — days before their Nikah Mut’ah was set to expire — Sam called me with a piece of not-so-surprising news: He was no longer interested in continuing a relationship with the woman he had once touted as “the one.”
“What happened?” I asked, doing my best impression of a woman in shock.
“She has crazy bills, four kids, doesn’t work, and I can’t afford to save her,” he said. “She keeps looking to me for help but I can’t take all of that on.”
He wasn’t wrong. But he wasn’t right, either. Sure, Darlene didn’t have her life together, but neither did he. Sam knew of Darlene’s circumstances before plunging headfirst into their relationship. He took on that responsibility, then, after playing house and having his fill, wanted to wipe his hands clean. It was a textbook example of time-wasting.
Just like us women, men need to pour into themselves before attempting to pour into others. And like us, men should seek an educational pathway that assures continual growth in their careers, as well as a professional trajectory that ensures they can take care of themselves and eventually a family. Before taking on the responsibilities of a relationship, men should also strive for excellent credit, a healthy amount of disposable income, plus funds for a rainy day and retirement. That’s at the very least.
If a man doesn’t have himself together, he should be honest about it, both to himself and to the women he meets, and fully committed to his own betterment. That’s not to say men without these things have nothing to offer. Conversation, friendship, and noncommittal sexual pleasure all have their merits. But without those things, a man isn’t a serious suitor, and shouldn’t present himself as a catch, savior, boyfriend, or husband material to any woman — especially these five:
1. The struggling woman
“I can do bad all by myself” is more than just the title of a Tyler Perry flick. It’s a mantra for many of us who’ve ever been broke and/or broken. If a man isn’t able or willing to help make this woman’s life exponentially better on all levels, he shouldn’t even bother. She doesn’t need someone who is also struggling to make her journey all the more tedious.
2. The healing woman
It can take herculean strength to move forward from trauma and hard times. Every woman who manages to find much-needed healing deserves to be celebrated and left alone by men who will only bring her more stress, grief, and trauma. Any man who can’t uplift and motivate a woman while leading by example should kick rocks.
3. The single mother
Men who aren’t prepared to take on the responsibility of supporting a woman and her children for the long term (emotionally, mentally, financially) need not apply. Disappointing a woman is bad enough, but there’s a special place in hell for people who connect with children while having no intention of sticking around.
4. The collegian
This woman needs to put the heft of her focus and energy into reaching her goals and educating herself. Any man who doesn’t respect and honor that by giving her space and support should set his amorous sights elsewhere.
5. The career woman
A woman focused on furthering her career should not be interrupted and distracted by a man who doesn’t dream as big. Jealousy, contempt, feelings of inadequacy: She doesn’t need this kind of toxicity in her life.
If you love women, let them flourish. Or help them be great. Don’t enroll them in a course that offers no advancement. There is someone for everyone, and if you know you can’t provide a woman what she wants, needs, and deserves, step aside and make room for a man who can.
Don’t be like Sam. Don’t step into a woman’s life knowing you can’t shoulder the responsibility of supporting her growth and bettering her life. Strive to be an asset, not a liability. Because at the end of the day, when you waste a woman’s time, you waste your own, too.