Monday, July 16, 2012

The fellas ask: So we're guilty until proven innocent?


In the aftermath of the trust post from last week, I received a lot of emails and tweets. All levels and ranges of responses from the positive "Thanks for opening the discussion" to the other side of the spectrum. Some were saying that I was ignorant and/or irresponsible, that I was aiding and abetting rapists, that I was just as criminal in my thinking as the perpetrator, that I was racist. Others indicated that I don't know about the number of black women being assaulted. It went on and on. For those who felt I was insensitive or those who missed my point (which was not at all about rape or victimization or the criminal justice system) - okay, I heard you. Thanks for sharing. Let's move on, shall we?

There was, however; one line of questioning that I will follow-up on. More than one gentleman asked me - If women are so wary that they are assuming all men are guilty (of something) until proven innocent, how do we ever build real relationships?

Excellent question. As always, disclaimer first: I'm not a relationship expert. I've just been to the three-ring circus and seen the clowns more times than we need to discuss. Okay? Moving on...

Let's pull apart the premise first. There are several myths wrapped up in here. First being that real relationships are not being built everyday. There is also the myth that there are no good professional single straight men without eleventy million babies' mamas left in the United States. There is the myth that of the two decent men left, one of them is a dog and the other one only dates white women. There is the myth that women don't move on from their pasts but are quick to paint the next guy with the ex's brush. These are myths that need to be debunked, killed dead, buried deep and never no more resurrected.

But the allure of these myths is wrapped up in the unmistakable truth for many of my professional sisters- a good man is hard to find and hard to keep. (Bruhs, my bad - I know it's hard out there for you too)

All that being said, not all women believe men are guilty until proven innocent. However, many of us have encountered a rascal or two along the way so we may have to side eye you for the first 60 90 180 days. Nothing against you personally, gents. It's the whole once bitten, twice shy concept. We're going to try not to lump you in with your ratchet brethren that have come before but I gotta tell you, if we see some of those same tendencies and mannerisms in you, we're going to be right skittish. Like I once announced, "I'm going to try not to drag the entire seven piece matching set that is my relationship baggage into our thing, but this overnight bag is heavy on it's own."

"So what can we do, Chele?"

Well let me tell you, fellas... you're not going to like it. But you're going to have to communicate. You're going to have to ask why every now and then your new boo thang looks at you like she's waiting for you to pull on hockey mask and grab a chainsaw. Relationships are a journey and how will you know how to navigate without a map? That's how relationships go off target, folks get to barreling along without knowing they've hit quicksand and next thing you know? You're sunk. 

And you're going to have to be transparent. I don't mean oversharing. What I mean is that if you say you are going to say or do or be somewhere... let it be so. Consistently. Don't make a woman wonder where your interest lies or what you're really after. Speak plain and let your actions reflect it. 

Not to let the ladies off the hook. The same rings true for us as well. Far too many chicas out there making it hard for the rest of us. We've all run up against that guy who just got out of a bad breakup with a chick who cut such a fool, no one in his family even mentions her name. Yeah, don't be that chick. Don't expect a man to read your mind. They are not that magical (no shade, guys, IJS). When something is on your mind, speak on it before it becomes a festering wound. Again, transparency. 

SO beyond saying both sides need to just. do. better. I guess I'm saying, isn't it worth it in the end to put a bit of due diligence in at the beginning? BougieLand, what say you? Ladies, do you prejudge men based on your past experiences? Fellas, do you feel that you are being judged before you even have a chance to state your case? Do share...

57 comments:

Trey Charles said...

So what you're saying is - yes we're being prejudged but it's our own damn fault?
*sends stern side-eye*

Grace said...

Everyone prejudges - it's human nature. You look at someone and you think of them in a certain kind of way until they prove to be another kind of way. Especially if as you say, I see some of the same behaviors. I'm totally categorizing.

Dr. Peppa said...

Add to all this the fact that many of us tend to have a "type" that we date so one may seem similar to someone else. But I agree with you, if we get to know someone and build that trust, all is well - or better at least.

Slim Jackson said...

On the real, everybody makes snap judgments. We're conditioned to put people in boxes (pause) and get to decisions as efficiently as possible. I'd say, though, that women spend more time thinking "prove me wrong" than "prove me right." That's why a lot of us feel like we're fighting an uphill battle sometimes and -- excusable or not -- opt to not prove ourselves. It sucks to try and have a conversation with someone through a barricade because they think you're an enemy in disguise...if even for a moment.

thinklikeRiley said...

Imma second what @SlimJackson said and add - women be a l'il quick on dat trigger.
IJS - let a bruh eff up before you start shooting, ma.

Angela said...

I take individuals on an individual basis. Period. I pay attention to what you do and what you say. If one doesn't line up with the other, I'm pretty much out early on. Other than that, I simply enjoy the process of getting to know someone. I've found that it simplifies my life.

blackprofessor said...

I think both sexes "prejudge" when they meet potential SOs.  I look for differences/similarities with exes and I categorize them as red, pink or white flags depending on the issue.  I may not say/do anything different, but I do note that I need to pay attention to something.  

I am pretty simple in that I look for a man whose words and deeds are in complete alignment.

Jason P said...

Went out with a woman over the weekend, she kept saying I reminded her of her first love. I wasn't flattered. One, he's not around so something happened. Two, why keep bringing up another dude on our date. And three, WDDDA?

SingLikeSassy said...

Gosh, I try not to. But you're right, when you see behavior from a new guy that was red flag behavior from an old guy, your spidey senses perk up.

OwenCinDallas said...

First, I stay amazed that you receive some the correspondence you do and don't just come out blasting. Sounds like a few people are prejudging you based on one post. But as you said, let's move on...

I've been with my wife for close to twenty years and she still does things that surprise me. I would say people should be discriminating but leave room to let someone surprise you - in a good way.

ASmith said...

This is the stuff folks are talmbout when they say relationships take work!  If we all just shed the last guy or girl off and stepped to the next one R&B and blues would've never become the great genres they are.  Toni Braxton would have NO albums as she'd be able to breathe again, and wouldn't need someone to unbreak her heart.
I think you're foolish if you don't learn from bad experiences.  Of course the next guy isn't the last guy and in theory we ought not treat him as such but as another poster said (and I've said before) we tend to date the same person over and over anyway so there has to be a healthy level of CYA in the beginning. This attitude or thought that women (or men) are terrible for not stepping into a new relationship with absolute fresh eyes is ridiculous.  What human is doing that other than the ones we all roll our eyes at and think "is this child EVER gonna learn?"I don't know if I prejudge, but you best believe that I'ma be quick to extrapolate behaviors I see based on behaviors I've seen.  IMO that's good use of past experiences.

CaliGirlED said...

 I agree it is an uphill battle. I think it's just that after you've been shot a couple few times when you see someone with a gun, in the holster, with the safety on, you are going to be quick to draw yours. Not necessarily shoot it but have it loaded, cocked and aimed....Not right, but reality.

CaliGirlED said...

 Not a good look AT ALL!

CaliGirlED said...

"First, I stay amazed that you receive some the correspondence you do and don't just come out blasting."....Took the words right out of my mouth!!!

GrownAzzMan said...

If I feel she is worthy I will attempt to get through the brick walls that have been built as protection due to the actions of others. However, she is going to have to drain the moat and get rid of them gators first...IJS

CaliGirlED said...

 *praise dances down the aisle*

CaliGirlED said...

"Relationships
are a journey and how will you know how to navigate without a map?
That's how relationships go off target, folks get to barreling along
without knowing they've hit quicksand and next thing you know? You're
sunk...And you're going to have to be
transparent. I don't mean oversharing. What I mean is that if you say
you are going to say or do or be somewhere... let it be
so. Consistently. Don't make a woman wonder where your interest lies or
what you're really after. Speak plain and let your actions reflect it."I think is the best answer for everyone, both sexes! Communication, Consistency and Consideration are important in any relationship. May not be easy, but very necessary!

William Martin said...

I always start off assuming that she's not really seeing me and I'm not really seeing her. We're both seeing what we want to see in the beginning just as both are putting forth their very best. Once "damn she fine" and "he speaks so well" then we can get down to the real. Everything before reality hits is just illusion, projection, imagination and wishful thinking.

JohnKinTX said...

I was with someone for two years and did not know her at all. The next person I met, after three days I felt I'd known her my whole life. I just accepted that she wasn't anything like "the other one" and moved it forward. At some point, you have to just leap of faith the whole thing. Nothing's going to keep you from getting hurt if that's the future holds but why not take a chance in the meantime?

Mo said...

"Relationships are a journey and how will you know how to navigate without a map? That's how relationships go off target, folks get to barreling along without knowing they've hit quicksand and next thing you know? You're sunk."  Let the Church say Amen. Collection plate going around.

We are  equipped with those "antennas" for  our own protection, I say  we all pre-judge, it is the screening process. However, some of us have  let out pre-judging damage a good thing.

La said...

First, let’s differentiate between a judgment call and judgment.
Judgment call: Every time I see him he’s with a different woman 10 years his junior and still trying to slip his number to the bartender. He ain’t the one for me.
Judgment: Oh, no. He’s wearing a red shirt. My ex wore a red shirt every day and cheated on me all the time. I am so done with men in red shirts.
This is an overly simplistic example, but you get the idea, lol. Not judging someone and using your better judgment are 2 different things.
Secondly, I work very hard at not prejudging anyone based on what I’ve been thru. It’s a tightrope walk; you have to learn the lessons of your past so you recognize red flags but you can’t work yourself into a state of constant paranoia and create issues that don’t exist. It’s not easy.
I’ve found that when I am unable to do this as flawlessly as I’d like, being open and honest without oversharing is easiest; “these are the issues I am dealing with and this is why.” Communication along with a sincere apology is simple and works wonders.
I think more people are willing to support others thru their issues than we give each other credit for.  The key, I think, is that you have to actively be working thru them, and letting yourself be supported. No one wants to live a lifetime with your festering issues. But plenty of people will stick around while you better yourself.

I Am Me said...

What he said.

I Am Me said...

It's hard to keep running into that brick wall when you don't know why it's up or if it's ever coming down.

CaliGirlED said...

Let the doors of the church open. Whosoever will, let them come! *stands up and proceeds down the aisle*

And yes I do feel this goes both ways as some of my sistas play varying degrees of heauxnanigans on the brethren!

CaliGirlED said...

 Representatives are REAL!!!

CaliGirlED said...

Damn the bruhs be absent but when they peek in from time to time (John & Doc) they drop some good stuff!

That's very refreshing John, especially from someone who we know went through hell, chauffeured by Satan's daughter!!!

CaliGirlED said...

 Pastor GAM and First Lady La are preaching up in here THIS DAY!!!

MsJamie14 said...

I believe in trust until you give me a reason to believe otherwise. However, that's why I employ the "what's the rush?" theory. You are still a STRANGER. You are taught from childhood to be wary of strangers. So the more time I take to get to know you, the better off we all are, cuz hey, I'm also a stranger to you. I'm sure guys don't want to get the chick that's into slashing tires and boiling bunnies either.

Bailey said...

I try to take people as they come. But I will hold back in the beginning while checking for foolishness.

Javalicious said...

Everything before reality hits is just illusion, projection, imagination and wishful thinking. Kinda brutal but... Truth.

bashowell said...

I try not to put things from the last man on to the next.  But that's not to say I don't carry forward ratchet lessons learned.  Whatever the last man lied about/did wrong gets added to the list of things I might want to look out for in the next guy.  Just in case.

Angela said...

Ha! I did have some gator pets in my past. lol

blackprofessor said...

 This attitude or thought that women (or men) are terrible for not
stepping into a new relationship with absolute fresh eyes is ridiculous. - This right here!

blackprofessor said...

 she is going to have to drain the moat and get rid of them gators first - you just slayed me because I got a visual image of this, lol!!

NewCreation101 said...

Maybe you should go around it or climb up the wall...Im just saying ....if there is a wall there...then there's  probably a good reason why its up ...just ask why and slowly chisel your way to that person's heart. 

GrownAzzMan said...

"The key, I think, is that you have to actively be working thru them, and letting yourself be supported. No one wants to live a lifetime with your festering issues. But plenty of people will stick around while you better yourself."

In a nutshell...

OneChele said...

*sends side-eye right back* Sir. I feel certain that's not what I said.  Don't get me started up in here.

nylse said...

So, i guess if we tend to date the same person over and over anyway - i guess I always dated the good guy?!
i honestly think in relationships its about both of you being willing to be open and honest with each other, barring no reason to not do so.  if you're atennae is going up, then its time to communicate and move on (if necessary).

C Nelson said...

I think that there's a difference between "guilty until proven innocent" when what we're talking about is the possibility of cheating or fraud, and "guilty until proven innocent" when what we're talking about is the possibility of rape and murder.  I'll let the waiter at the restaurant scan my credit card much sooner than I'll willingly leave myself or my daughter alone with a man who's not related to us, or carry on any kind of relationship with a man who pushes after I say no on anything from cocoa to can I get you a soda. It's pure risk assessment -- to put it bluntly, I know I'll survive cheating or being stolen from; it's not my safety on the line, just my pride and my money.

If she treats you like she thinks you're cheating, lying, and stealing when you're not and never have, that's unwarranted "baggage" and she may need some help. If she treats you like she's not entirely safe with you until you've proven you can respect it when she says no? That's a combination of her knowing the danger isn't usually a stranger, and realising that men and other women alike demand women and even girls prove they did everything possible to be deserving victims.

Making it off her threat list is as simple (and as hard) as letting no stand in the small things and the big things, trusting that she knows her own mind, at least as long as what she's saying no to isn't something you absolutely need to get by.  ("No, you can't go back to school" is a problem. "No, I don't want to go out with your friends again," not so much.) Making it so no-one has to have a threat list ... well, maybe in my great-grandchildren's time there won't still be stories about how a ten-year-old girl obviously isn't innocent and provoked her own gang rape by adult men and older teens because she was often out after dark.  A girl can dream.

keishabrown said...

then talk to your homies when you see them doing dirt! 
i know y'all don't want to get involved and it breaks the man code - but maybe JUST maybe, if dude were called out on their ish by their fellow brethren, they might think twice about how much harder they are making it for the rest of you. 

keishabrown said...

*bangs tambourine* 

TrulyPC said...

I don't know you and you don't know me so why do either of us need to respond from the onset as if we do?  I think it sometimes comes down to a false sense of entitlement.  If a gentleman wants to get to know me and I am receptive then approach me in a way that honors that.  I think people have forgotten how to date (the getting to know you stage) and it just creates problems. 

ASmith said...

We don't want to oversimplify the "we date the same person over and over" theory.  Obviously if the person you date repeatedly isn't good for you, whoever you end up in a good relationship with isn't that person.  However, that also means that you finally realized your dating patterns were no good and took the steps to rectify those.  Few people do that after every failed relationship so... the "we date the same person over and over" theory stands"

We all do the same thing over and over until it no longer works for us.  Some of us take longer than others to realize it's not working.

ASmith said...

I'm always here for your commentary.  Always.  This was everything.

I can't make the next guy pay for the last guy but I CAN be aware and we can talk about it and work through it.  I think some people miss the idea that when it's clear to you I'm using past baggage while operating in this new relationship, you want to try to make me talk about it first.  If you immediately get defensive (however right you may be) that sends MORE red flags.

I just hate for this topic to be overrun with simple answers because it's not simple and we ALL (men and women) do it.

BB Waite said...

I gotta go old school - maybe if folks waited 20 seconds before seeing each other nekkid creating a false sense of intimacy where none exists???????????????????

OneChele said...

Oh. Someone got Miz BB started...

CorettaJG said...

*applause*

M Dot said...

All of this is why I hate hookups...it's gotten to the point where I have what I call approved matchmakers...a few woman (some single, some married) that can attempt to pair my hopeless self up.

I think a lot of  these issues stem from people not letting things happen organically and being POd because it doesn't happen on their prescribed timeline or like it did with girlfriend X ...so then you start looking for flaws and when you find one it's the Aha, I knew it moment* and from then on the flame...is...out.
*Aha, I knew it moment=  Just like (fill in name of previous person you dated) and he was a dog so this guy is too.

CorettaJG said...

Hmm... my dating history is not extensive but I am the type to wait until I see a problem to believe there is a problem.  I seem to really have to see the writing on the wall before I get it.  

Communication has never been a problem for me.  I'm probably an over-communicater. I don't play games well and am typically too blunt about what I think or feel (like when I told my ex-husband that an older relative told me that I just needed to "train" him; that didn't go over well).

I do think that there is a false since of real intimacy too soon without there really being relationship.  After I eloped after meeting my husband 5 months prior, my mom gave me a book called "Too Close, Too Soon."  I didn't want to hear it at the time, but it had truth in it. 

M Dot said...

*deposits $10 in the offering plate for the Building Fund*

CaliGirlED said...

 Ruh roh!!!

CaliGirlED said...

"I think a lot of  these issues stem from people not letting things
happen organically and being POd because it doesn't happen on their
prescribed timeline or like it did with girlfriend X."...Uh huh!

Brneyed1 said...

I extend a length of  "trust rope" to men; they either find a way to hang themselves with it, or to pull me closer.  

Emanon VonWess said...

Right thats rule # 1 don't discuss ex's on first dates wow sorry that happened we r not all that way ;)

No Comment said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your last sentence was EVERYTHING including the TRUTH! 

No Comment said...

I don't have a rep. but I hear they are very real. I can only be me take me as I am or have nothing at all in the words of MJB. 

JOY2LOVE4LIFE said...

I've dated all kinds and I tend to keep an open mind while being aware that in time people, if you pay attention will ALWAYS show you their true self, it is about whether or not I chose to overlook it or explain their behavior away that is the problem. Maybe that is cause I am a therapist, and  I believe we all have some issues at some levels, so finding a perfect issue-free person is impossible. Also I accept that meeting or getting to know or develop a healthy relationship with anyone takes time and genuine effort, whether boss, friend, romantic partner, family (yep even learning a baby takes time). What I look for is whether or not this person open to positive possibilities...whether there are signs that this person is unhealthy in their thinking and unwilling to acknowledge their role in a bad relationship. Hence why I the only male I dated with a child was one who took responsibility for choosing poorly the woman instead of blaming his baby mama situation all on her. We all have choices in life, I look for the man who takes responsibility for his choices.

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