"I Just Thought I'd Be in Control of the Relationship"

My roommate has some seriously frustrating interesting relationship stories.  Before I begin, understand that my roommate is a very relationshippy sort of person; she's been married twice, is going through her second divorce, and talks about how she'd like future relationships to proceed.  She's made it clear she intends to marry again; she just hopes to choose better.

And that's all perfectly well and good.

In the meantime, however, she's experiencing Post-Breakup Stress Disorder.  She's developed paranoia about meeting "bad men" and winding up in another long, deeply unfulfilling, unloving relationship in which she has to do all the work.  I explained that it's okay; she needs time to breathe and recover from the last man and should take this time to focus on herself.

So, naturally, I suggested casual dating.

Anyone who's read my work over At the Bar knows I'm cynical about relationships.  Mind you, I'm not cynical about love or romance; I'm merely cynical at how people have begun expressing themselves romantically over the past couple of decades, especially in the face of economic decline.  That's why I currently follow a strict philosophy of 1) getting a roommate and not a man when money gets tight, and 2) dating casually because most folks have a really skewed idea of what constitutes a healthy, committed relationship.

So the roommate decides to take my advice and started dating casually.  Her first experience went like this:
1) She decided to go with an older guy (about ten years older) because she thought he would be more mature and experienced than a younger man.
2) She suggested a primarily physical relationship to him, spanning from the beginning of May to the end of June.
3) He agreed to her suggestion, and the two of them hashed out the additional details.
My roommate relayed all this to me, excited as a schoolgirl, and I wished her well.  However, I told her casual dating has its own pitfalls because once one person expresses the desire to keep things strictly casual - or happily follows through with such a suggestion - 9 out of 10 times, the other person eventually throws a fit.

My roommate assured me that everything had been worked out and agreed upon, almost like a contract.  She said she and her new "friend" were very agreeable about the arrangement and looking forward to May.  I said, "Okay...but be prepared in case things go south."

And go south they did.

Keep in mind, they were due to start things in May.  We weren't even mid-April - like 24 hours after the agreement - when he called her and said he was "unsure" about things.  He said he:
1) was "unsure" of what to call her during their 60 days together.
2) was "unsure" of what to expect on the 61st day.
3) felt like they should date more seriously so they could get to know each other better.
So the roommate (politely) asked, "Why did you agree to the original terms if this is how you felt?  Where is this coming from and why have you changed your mind?"

To which he replies, "Well, I just thought I'd be in control of the relationship."

Moi: Mm-hm.  *nods*  Called it.

Now before I continue explaining this from a heterosexual perspective, understand that this sort of conundrum is not limited to heteros.  I've met too many lesbians who feel they should get to sleep with whomever they want while their girlfriend remains chaste and loyal to them alone.

*rolls eyes*

With heteros, we're still dealing with the nasty aftertaste of "the man should be the leader" mentality.  In heterosexual relationships, the man's needs/wants/preferences are assumed to come first, which is why heterosexual women in particular (lesbians deal with something similar) obsess over looks and overall "being enough" for their men.

By the way, my roommate and I are Africans.  The man in question is also African.  Amongst Africans, Latinos, and Asians, this bullshit is amplified by a thousand.

And this is what I meant earlier about most people having a "skewed" idea about what a healthy relationship is all about.  For most people, relationships are image and control: having the validation of being romantically involved with someone else, and having that someone else cater to their needs.  In the case of hetero relationships, when a man voices his needs and wants, he's expected to be accomodated, or at least be taken seriously.

But when women voice what we need/want, our needs and wants are given the brush off.  Sex is unsatisfying?  Well, that's because women supposedly don't enjoy sex.  Kids driving a woman crazy?  Having them was her idea!  Money's tight and husband's not making an even the slightest effort to make more?  Goddamn woman's being a gold-digger.

And so on...and so forth.


  1. This is one of the main reasons why my ass is still single and I don't date. I'm divorced after being married for almost 8 years, and all this shit seems so complicated!I dated someone once after my divorce but I don't think I'll ever get married again. Honestly I don't think I'm cut out for it.

    I've spent so much time a lone, that I don't think I could function in a relationship. I like having my personal space and being able to decorate my home the way I like (I know that sounds silly!). It's all or nothing with me. I'm the type of woman where if I can't get what I want out of a relationship, I'll just be alone. I just don't have the patience to deal with a lot of bullshit when it comes to men. Been there, done that.

    As of now, my current boyfriend takes two AA batteries, and that's fine by me.

    1. It's not as silly as you think, especially when you boil down to what it is you really want: your own space. Your own place to what you want without having to factor some man into it. It's not the same the other way around; most men have to be scolded for NOT factoring in the woman they're with, because it doesn't come as automatically as it does for us. They haven't had it drilled into them for thousands of years.

  2. Man....I can't. If this is what I can expect from the dating arena, then I refuse. I know humans are complex creatures, but gyatDAMN!

  3. Um, yeah...that sounds about right. Fuck that motherfucker.

    This is one of the main reasons I'm not trying to be bothered with dating and relationships. It's always going to be an issue of control with someone. I just don't have time to play games, even casually. My heart cannot be given over to whimsy. I matter, damn it!!!! So I just stay out of the game.

    Don't get me wrong; I will give dating a chance when the right guy finds his way to me. But since the world's full of 99% of the wrong guys for me, I don't expect it to happen anytime soon. But I'm happy with my life as it is.

  4. "But since the world's full of 99% of the wrong guys for me, I don't expect it to happen anytime soon. But I'm happy with my life as it is."

    I love this comment <3


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