Posts Tagged ‘respect’

So I figured I’d break my little hiatus to talk about something that was on my mind. A couple Saturdays ago, a friend of mine hosted a gathering in the community room at her complex to ostensibly talk about Hill Harper’s book, the conversation. Since most of us had only gotten halfway through the book, the actual conversation kind of went off on its own accord. But it was a really good conversation as these things go People were honest, candid, and upfront. People disagreed and cosigned, and did both respectfully for the most part.

And while there was a lot of singleness in the room, I think there was also a lot of opportunity for people to create connections in that environment because of that word: RESPECT. People listened to each other, heard each other, and got to appreciate each other’s point of views as people, not just as cute faces, good resumes, or sweet, sweet pieces of ass candy.

The homie April mentioned the other day that she has started to notice more men seeking what she calls the “Michelle Obama” type. I don’t know that it’s that more men seeing that so much as many of us are starting to get to that age range where we are seriously considering people as partners. It’s just the natural shift in priorities that happens as people move through different stages in their lives. I think, if anything, Michelle Obama gave a face and a name brand to something most of us were lookign for in the first place. Someone we can respect as a person and a partner.

To some degree, we as men haven’t really seen a partner to someone that we idolize that’s really an awesome woman in her own right since Claire Huxtable. And Claire was, well, fictional. I  mean all respect to Juanita Jordan, but she wasn’t that compelling. Neither is, say, Denzel’s wife. You could argue for Jay and Bey, but they were both superstars before they got together. There was no real sense of building there. Probably the closest we really see to the Obamas as far as a respectful loving relationship is Will and Jada.

The thing is, this may seem somewhat novel because many of us have been raised or lived in situations for a long time that were devoid of respect. Both respect for others and respect for ourselves. To a large degree, society teaches us to be disrespectful of others and ourselves. Think about the last rap album you heard. I’ll bet 70% of the songs contained a reference to belittling someone, or making someone feel inferior, or labeling someone less than the rapper.

Cashmere sweats,They come out next year, but they my last year sweats
And my hoe’s so sick,
Your new chick can’t fuck with my old bitch
And you know this shit,
I’m professional, they novices

-Jay-Z, Off That-

You see my point? We’re so used to treating other people as our inferiors that it’s difficult to just go ahead and treat people as equals. And this carries over into our relationships. What is dishonesty? Disrespect. Lying to someone is probably the greatest form of disrespect out there. Because not only does it steal someone else’s ability to make informed decisions, it implies that you’re too weak or stupid to handle the truth. and this is easy enough to attribute in obvious situations. Infidelity, lying about how much money you make or whether you’re really still talking to your ex-girlfriend on IM every night, these are easy things to peg as lack of respect because they’re so obvious.

But there’s an undercurrent of not respecting people that also runs through the rest of many of our dating interactions which we have to stop if we want these things to work. Think about all the little games we play where we kind of toe the line between being up front and respectful and not.

When you’re fucking a girl who you have no intentions of wifing but you know that’s what she wants. Now, you never tell her you’re going to, so I mean, it’s not like you’re lying to her. But are you really respecting her? And is she really demanding the respect that she wants. She knows there’s all this ambiguity in the relationship, and yet she continues to follow through with it. Because respect is difficult. It means doing things which may be painful. Or telling people truths which they’ll get mad a you for. Or take the case of the woman who accepts drinks at the bar from some guy she has no intention of giving her phone number to. I mean, she doesn’t owe him anything for that drink. so her taking it shouldn’t be a signal to him that she likes him, right?

From a technical standpoint, sure. You can justify a lot of shit that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you because it gives you some advantage. But you’re also not giving yourself full credit. You fucking that girl or taking that drink or necklace or whatever, that’s just you selling your moral standing as a person. And for what, a piece of ass or a $9 Apple Martini? Can’t we do better? Don’t we have to do better? I know what you’re saying. Well, you can’t trust anyone else to do the right thing, so why should I? Well, sure, I’ll admit, it is a battlefield out there. And a lot of people aren’t playing fair. But it’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to play at their level or not. And I’ve failed at this probably more often than not. I’ve done things not because they were the right things to do or the things that would lead to  greater outcome, but because they were the easy thing to do. they were the non-confrontational things, the things that kept shit smooth, the things that didn’t force me to explain myself. But as someone who’s experienced the flip side of that coin, I try to not put other people in that situation, because, personally, I don’t really like the feeling

Give you an example, someone once not so long ago showed a huge lack of respect for my time, and by extension, for me. And had they just told me what was going on, shit could have very well been cool. Whatever it was, I can accept and respect someone being honest and forthright with me even if they think it’ll hurt my feelings. You’re just not that into me, I can respect that. Your old flame is in town and you’d rather stay in and  have sex with them, I can dig it. You’d rather watch paint dry than spend time with me, hey, it is what it is. Having that info, I could have gone off and done what I was originally planning to do anyway. There would have been no hard feelings. But when someone doesn’t tell me the truth, it tells me that in their eyes, I’m not worthy of being honest with. I’m someone to be lied to or dismissed casually. And that’s not really a feeling I enjoy. I imagine some of the women that have dealt with me in the past may have had to deal with similar slights. But I should do better. So I think I will.