Been a long time coming since The Dating Scene started. In fact the first post was in 2008…2008!!!! There have been countless stories, lessons, and most of all debates on the everlasting quandary of love, like, and dating. But at this point in my life (and most of my peers’ lives), engagement and marriage is the new frontier. Not to say that we have solved the scene of dating, but one way or another we trudged our way through it and ended up with someone significant or, at bare minimum, we have a better sense of ourselves and what we want. As such, our current endeavor is to understand the rules of engagement and from there the road of marriage. So follow along…
What Men Fear Most.
This post serves to enlighten as to why men delay true commitment, aka engagement/marriage. I base this mostly on first hand experience. However, as I’ve shared these prevailing thoughts with men, from strangers to inner circle friends, the reactions are always the same, “YOOOO…that’s exactly how I feel,” “Preach on…,”or “wow, you’re right.” So I think I’m on to something.
What women want:
If you are a woman in the 28-34 range or older, chances are you are not about wasting time. It’s a luxury you can’t afford. Not only biologically, but you also are exhausted with putting effort into a relationship only to see it go nowhere. You want longevity, consistency, and a future. If you have been dating someone for three months you start to think, “okay where is this going?” Around six months you think it may be time to meet the close friends. After a year of dating maybe it’s time to “meet the parents” (*cue Gaylord Focker). Every six months after that you think, “Does he even know my ring size?” or “I’m ready for the next level, what’s the deal?”
And who could blame you if the relationship is going swell. You two love each other. You make him better. He makes you better. You’ve met his friends and he has met yours. You met his parents. You’ve left your mark in his place (i.e., toothbrush and feminine products) so if he were to invite a woman over she’d know that he has a girl (BTW…y’all ain’t slick.) But, seriously, what’s the hold up on taking it to the next level? I’ll tell you.
Here are a couple of things going on in his head:
1. Exiting the dating scene for a man is like a legendary professional athlete retiring from the game he was born and bred to play. It’s not that easy.
Most know that Father Time has caught up to them; they’re not as young as they used to be and it is time to leave the game in their mind. But in their heart, they think they can still perform at top levels and think that the game needs them. Think Derek Jeter.
For a man, the dating scene is an arena where he, in his own mind at least, is a living legend. The opportunity to score is endless and he needs to continue scoring as often as he wants. It is a thrill, a challenge he was socialized to embrace, one that is much more difficult to leave than we think. Why do you think we have bachelor parties? It’s similar to what Derek Jeter’s retirement tour is this year. He goes from stadium to stadium and gets a standing ovation from the crowd and even gifts from the opposing team, all celebrating his contribution to and departure from the game. As a man, the departure from the dating scene is quite similar. And our boys know it and are compelled to celebrate it. But deep down, he still may want to hold on to it.
2. Progressing from “In a Relationship” to engaged for a man is like getting a promotion. Sure—we’re excited about all of the additional benefits, but with promotions come new on-the-job pressures and responsibilities. Are we really ready?
Here are the two biggest pressures men feel:
a. “I now have to provide for someone other than myself”
b. “I feel the need to protect my family”
Although there are blurred lines (*Robin Thicke voice) between gender roles now more than ever before, innately most men are still driven to provide and protect. I’m telling you, the feeling is REAL and for men who don’t take the time to mentally prepare for it, they will run right in the other direction. Because think about it: for much of our lives we are being taken care of (thanks mom ), then we finally figure out how to take care of ourselves (thanks Food Network). NOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN, there is someone else’s life who we are responsible for? Wait Wait WAIITTT…. you mean to tell me that now I have TO DIE FIRST?? Like… if there is a noise in the middle of the night, I’m now deemed the noise checker and probably first dier? NAH… you mean to tell me that if she loses her job, I have to work like a Jamaican and find three jobs like Oliver so we don’t get thrown out onto the street. (I’m Jamaican btw.) OH, if there is enough food for only one person, she gets it? (but I’m still hungry.)
YES. YES. AND YES. Sh*t gets real! (‘Till death do yall part… might I add)
This is why most men may fight against any pressure to commit, especially regarding ENGAGEMENT (which really means MARRIAGE). He just might not be ready to take this on yet. It’s like getting a promotion you aren’t prepared for. The position where not only are you responsible for the lives of the people on your team, but the success or failure of your entire business. Instead of getting answers from a manager, you are now responsible for providing the answers.
Until a man finds his “soul mate” and RECOGNIZES it wholeheartedly (this is key), he will probably avoid any conversation about marriage, engagement, kids, or anything else that reminds him of the pressures he is probably not ready to overcome. Think about it this way: wouldn’t you rather a man who approaches engagement willing and ready, as opposed to one who simply gave in to your constant sometimes subtle/sometimes overt/sometimes from your parents/sometimes from his parents/sometimes from grandparents, pressure to get engaged.
Give him Time and Space (for my Lance Drummonds fans), and continue to show him that you ARE the one. He will start to tackle each fear one by one, and if he doesn’t then keep it moving. *Deuces. But honestly, it takes time; it’s not an overnight process. Support him through it because let’s face it, since most women embrace lifetime commitment fearlessly, you’re clearly the stronger gender and we men need you.