Straight Talk, No Chaser, p.7Gena D. Lutz
Not only do we need you, we want you too.
But if you want more than one casual hookup after another with a man, you’re going to have to show him the way to your heart and make him work to get there. You know the Bible verse: To whom much is given, much is required. This needs to be your motto—your modus operandi—as you seek a commitment from him; you have to let him know that you have a lot to offer and that you fully intend to use your powers for the good of the both of you, but only if he meets your requirements. Get commitment from your man by keeping the following in mind.
HOW TO GET A MAN TO COMMIT
1. Get Yourself Ready for a Commitment
I’ll never forget the lesson my mother taught me about getting ready for a blessing. I was living with my parents, trying to find my way, and preparing myself for big things—in this particular instance, a new car. My old car was sitting up on cinder blocks in my parents’ driveway, and I’d been saving up my money and checking car dealerships and want ads all around town, looking for a more polished ride. One morning while we were enjoying breakfast together, I said, “Mama, I’ve been working really hard. I’m going to get a new car,” seeking out support.
At first, she didn’t say anything—just nodded. And then she reminded me: “Your old car is out there on the blocks.”
A couple days later, I announced to her my intentions again, and again, she nodded and repeated what seemed obvious: “Your old car is out there on the blocks.”
For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why my mother, who was usually much more supportive, appeared only lukewarm about my plans for a new car. The only enthusiasm she could muster up whenever the subject came up was that “your old car is out there on the blocks” statement. And by the fourth time she said it to me, I confronted her. “Mama, how come every time I say I want a new car, you tell me about my old one?”
She was quiet at first. And then she let me have it: “If God gives you a new car, where are you going to put it? Your old car is out there on the blocks. If you’re going to ask God for something, act like he’s going to give it to you and make ready to receive it.”
And you know what? What she said made all the sense in the world. I wasn’t ready for a new car because my old one was taking up space out there in the driveway. Like trash. Even if Ed McMahon had driven up in a new car, I wouldn’t have had a space for it until I cleaned up my mess. That’s just what I did, too. I called one of my partners and paid him twenty-five dollars to tow that car away. Then I hosed off the concrete and put down some new asphalt and cleared out those blocks and got that driveway ready for my new ride. Two months later, I drove my new car onto that nice, clean driveway and thanked God for my blessing. Finally, I was ready to receive it.
I share this metaphor with you because it symbolizes what women who truly are looking for a committed relationship must do to get ready for the blessing. You can’t get the man you want if you got all your garbage—all that baggage from the last guy who did you wrong, an ex you won’t let go of—in your figurative driveway, up on those blocks. You simply have no room in your heart if the guy you keep dating, even though you know he’s not the one for you, is hanging around. You may touch each other every once in a while and do things to make each other feel good, but on balance you’re lonely, he’s not there for you when you need him, and you know that relationship isn’t going anywhere. He’s like that old car up there on those blocks, taking up space.
The same is true of things that block your heart and your mind from being available for someone new—divorce, bitterness over a relationship gone wrong, holding on to the myth that all the good guys are taken, thinking it’s best to have a deep bench of guys to “play” with rather than focusing on making one relationship work. Each of these things keeps your heart up on those blocks—makes you seek out in the new guy all the mistakes and screwups that ended the last relationship, hold on to the bitterness, and brace yourself for something bad when you should be focused on finding something good.
You’ve got to stop looking for all the signs that the new man is going to hurt you, stop messing around with the guy who’s just wasting your time, stop holding on to the hurt and anger and resentment that came from your divorce. Call the tow truck and haul that mess out of there, and get ready to receive the man who is worthy of you.
2. Build a Fence Around Your Heart
To do this, you’re first going to have to let go of the stereotypes that paint men with that broad stroke of negativity. Contrary to popular belief and a host of bad information passed down from generation to generation of girlfriends, there are some good men out there. You wouldn’t know it by the stories many women share with one another: all the good men are taken. Men don’t want to commit, they just want to play. They just want to have sex with as many women as possible and don’t care about your feelings. If you hear this enough, you internalize it, then transfer the stereotypes to every man standing before you—whether he fits the mold or is the very antithesis of it. Once that image is etched on your mind, then you’re setting the tone for how you’re going to present yourself to the men who do come your way. You know how it works: He could meet you one glorious Saturday afternoon in the park—the sun could be shining, the birds could be chirping, and he could be as charming, funny, intelligent, and handsome as you’d have him to be, but in the back of your mind, the loop of conversations between you and your girlfriend plays on and on. The moment he answers a question the wrong way, you’re making assumptions about him and changing the way you’re presenting yourself to him. All of a sudden where there was a smile, there is attitude. Where there was spirit, there is defeat. Where there was hope, there is brooding. All because he said he doesn’t want to get married right away or doesn’t want kids right now. He may have meant, “I don’t want to get married before I finish school,” but because you’ve bought into the stereotypes about men and commitment, you hear, “I don’t want to be married ever.”
In essence, you build a twenty-foot brick wall with barbed wire at the top. I promise you, few men are going to be willing to scale it. Your presentation, your approach, your energy isn’t welcoming—nothing about you is saying to prospective suitors, “I’m available, approachable, and, under the right conditions, ready for love.” Sure you could be screaming it from the tower window through a megaphone a mile away from the fence you built, but he’s not going to hear you because you’re too far away, too high up, and too guarded.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with standards. In fact, I’ve always said that you have the right to have them—must have them in order to get a man to take a relationship with you seriously. But do your standards and requirements reflect who you are and what you’re capable of giving back? Because not many men will sign up for a situation that isn’t fairly equal. I remember when I presented Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man on Oprah, there was a woman in the audience who said she had a list with two hundred thirty-six standards and requirements, and any man who wanted to be with her had to meet every last one of them. One of them I distinctly remember was that she wanted a man who is at least six feet, four inches, with a nice build and washboard abs, and that she had no intentions of settling for less. Well, I remember sitting there looking and thinking to myself, “If I were six feet, four inches with washboard abs, I’m not about to pick soft, short, and fluffy. I’m in the gym working my ass off, eating turnip greens and tofu, and you’re chowing down on smothered pork chops? No ma’am.”
You can have all the high standards you want and demand a man scale that twenty-foot barbwire fence just to go on a date or two with you. But the last thing you want him to say when he makes it over there is, “Damn: You made me climb over all of this and this is all you got?!” Why does he have to be a millionaire if you’re working at the shoe store? Why demand he have three degrees when, despite your native intelligence, you dropped out of junior college? Why demand he own and run a business if you can’t even pull together bus fare to make it to y
That doesn’t mean you lower or eliminate your standards and requirements altogether, either. You don’t build a one-foot fence around your yard and then let just any old body walk all over your lawn. If you have no standards and requirements, a man can cancel a date with you at the last minute without repercussion, he can sleep with you before you’ve got ninety days’ (more of that in the glossary) worth of dating under your belt, and he can call you two hours after he told you he would and then show up in the middle of the night for the infamous booty call. You’re essentially signing up to be mistreated by someone for whom commitment doesn’t matter. And trust me: if a man thinks he can have you without making a commitment, you’re not going to get a commitment from him.
If you truly want commitment, you’re going to have to build a four-foot fence around your heart—raise your standards up in a way that says, “Not everybody can come and play and dance in my yard. If you want to act disrespectfully, then go up the street to someone else’s yard.” It is those standards and requirements—the demanding he treat you with respect, the requiring him to call when he says he’s going to call and take you out when he says he’s going to take you out, his rising to the occasion and being good with your kids, and, most important, his acknowledging that you require commitment from any man coming into your yard—that will make him understand that to get past that fence, he’s got to put in some work. But the work will be well worth it because behind that fence is a beautiful prize: your love, your support, and your cookie (more on that in Chapter 8 and the glossary)—the three things every man needs to feel whole with a woman.
RECOGNIZE WHY YOU’RE STICKING AROUND
A woman is programmed from the time she sees her first Disney movie to expect that a knight in shining armor will ride in on his big white horse and whisk her off to their big wedding day, with all the doves chirping, the flowers blooming, and the townspeople cheering her on as she rides off into the sunset with Prince Charming—right on into her happily ever after. This is part of the female culture and you start getting messages even as a toddler: you should expect to get married, have a family, and grow old with someone you love who loves you back. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that dream; it doesn’t have to be a fairy tale. But if your pursuit of that dream wedding is keeping you in a relationship that offers no hope of commitment, no chance of advancement, and is doing nothing more than making you miserable, then your dream of happily ever after will never become reality. And though you may not want to hear or accept it, you really have no one else to blame for this but yourself.
This is harsh, I know, but it’s the truth.
You’re stuck in a relationship with a man who isn’t fully committing to you because you’re not using your power to make him understand that you will accept nothing less than commitment. Please understand: a man who wants you will jump through hoops of fire with buckets of gasoline tied to his waist if he loves you and you make clear to him that you need a firm commitment from him—monogamy and a ring—if he’s going to stay with you. We understand consequences; it’s what we live and die by. But if you’re letting him stick around, without demanding he make his intentions clear, and you’re conducting your relationship under the premise that “some” man is better than “no” man, then you’re going to get what you signed up for: just a piece of a man.
Men understand why you stay. You rationalize it’s better to keep us and be halfway happy, even if you don’t get your wedding day and the paper that says you’re officially committed to each other, than to risk being alone. But you’ve got to take a less emotional approach and think logically about why staying with him, if you’re doing it for any of the following four reasons, isn’t in your best interest.
1. If You’re Staying with Him Because of the Kids
I commend you for this—it’s a noble gesture. No child should have to grow up without a father in the home, and it’s a natural part of your nurturing instinct to want your kids to stay in an intact household if it’s an option. There’s value to that. But what value does your child get when he sees his mother is miserable all the time? Who wins if you’re doing all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the child rearing, making all the effort and getting back more than your share of misery or frustration, and you’re not getting what you want and need in return? Is it win-win if your child doesn’t know what love and respect look like? I’ve even heard women say that for the sake of their children, they’re simply going to stick it out in their relationship arrangements until their kids graduate from school, and then they’ll leave. That’s a mighty long time to wait for happiness. That’s why they have this thing called visitation. You should look into that. And then make plans to get happy, particularly if he’s the type who’s never going to give you the commitment you need.
2. If You’re Staying with Him Hoping That He’ll Eventually Give You a Ring
Know that the ring’s not coming. You’ve been with him for how long and he still hasn’t asked you? He’s still making excuses and promises? He never wants to talk about taking the next step? Tells you he’s not ready? Those are all the signs that you’re holding on to a hope that’s absolutely hopeless. He’s not marrying you because you’re not telling him it’s mandatory in order for the two of you to continue. Why should he? He says he loves you. You’ve had his children and he’s grateful for his babies. You’re sleeping with him. You hold him when he’s sad. His family already accepts you. And you’re going to the office parties. He’s got all of the benefits of a marriage. In his mind there’s no compelling reason to get married. You’re the one who wants a wedding. He doesn’t and until you make it a requirement, he won’t.
3. If You’re Staying Because the Sex Is Good
Fireworks at night will leave you feeling nothing but empty and alone in the morning. Countless women will tell you in a heartbeat, “I can’t bear him—he’s not doing this, he’s not doing that, but girl, all the lights swirl and the stars pop in the sky when I’m in bed with him!” His physical prowess is so outstanding, that moment of gratification is so addictive, all his negatives are overlooked for a moment of sexually charged excitement. But let me clue you in on a little something: he’s not the only one who can satisfy you. If you really want to experience something incredible, find a man who treats you the way you deserve to be treated, a man who adores you the way you deserve to be adored and gives you your heart’s desires. See how that feels. Talk about “Oh say can you see” and bombs bursting in the air! You’re diminishing your chances of getting true gratification as long as you keep messing around with the wrong one.
4. If You’re Staying Because the Money Is Right
Know that you’re selling your happiness to the highest bidder. Let’s say he’s the primary breadwinner—he makes more than you or his half is essential to upholding the lifestyle you’re accustomed to and have come to love. You’re going to take a hit if you leave; you may go from a mansion to an apartment, from a luxury car to a used sedan, from expendable income to a scenario where you’re closer to living paycheck to paycheck. But isn’t that worth your happiness? Can you put a price tag on what your happiness is worth? What’s the cost? Is it worth $36,000 a year? $100,000? $1 million? Are the big house, the two extra cars, and the shopping sprees at the fancy stores worth the misery? You may lose financially if you walk away, but what you gain in happiness, peace of mind, and self-esteem—is priceless.
BE WILLING TO CASH IN YOUR CHIPS
Once you consider all of the preceding, once you think logically about how illogical it is to hold on to a man who re
Why would you gamble with your life like that? Something could happen next month, and you’d have nothing to show for all of the work you put in. Trust me: he’s got plenty—he’s got you, he’s got sex, he’s got emotional support, he’s got your loyalty, and he’s still got his freedom to leave whenever he wants with very few repercussions. Shouldn’t you have what you want too? If you want him to commit, he has to know that you will cash the chips in—that you will leave. Otherwise, again, most men will not voluntarily head to the altar. You can tell your children all day, “If you don’t do this, that, and the other, you’re going to be in big trouble,” but until you show them what will happen to them if they don’t listen, they will keep testing you. Hate to compare men to children but let’s keep it real.
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