Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The WingWoman is Really Not Your Friend

I write this post, regrettably out of personal experience. The silver lining is that because I’ve been there, I can easily recognize this syndrome and help fight it. (Note: I was this person a LONG time ago, so for those of you that know me and my friends, there’s no need to speculate about those friendships. Lol)

Have you ever heard the phrase “waiting in the wings?” As an idiom it refers to any person who is waiting, often in anxious anticipation, for their turn at some task or opportunity. 

The heart of this post, however, focuses on:
women who are waiting on a man who is currently in a relationship to become single so that they can be the next girlfriend or spouse

I call them WingWomen. (I realize that men do this too, but I can only write one blog post at a time. I also realize that the original definition of wingwomen/wingmen are people who accompany you on your romantic pursuits so that your friends can meet my friends and yada yada yada... let me live, k?)

Most WingWomen (WWs) don't intend to become WWs; it happens over time. A single woman meets a guy, learns that he has a significant other and (hopefully) places him in the friends-only/hands-off category. She may have met him at work, through a mutual friend, church, or some other innocuous way. As time passes and the woman and man spend significant time working on a project together, shooting the breeze at happy hours, in Bible Study or whatever it is, the two really get to know each other and become more than just associates, they become friends. People that don’t know them may see them out together and speculate that something’s going on, but there really isn’t. 

As the woman gets to know the man and realizes that they share similar interests, have complementary humor and vote the same way, she starts thinking, “Man… too bad he’s not single. We’d be perfect together.” (I haven’t decided yet if men are oblivious to when women start thinking this way or not, but I’d like to believe that in their minds, it is a completely platonic relationship.)

This natural attraction is all fine and dandy until women start doing what we’re always doing (subconsciously or consciously); we start planning. 

The WingWoman starts thinking, “He really enjoys spending time with me; sooner or later, he’ll realize that I’m the one he should be with!” The woman may even meet the guy’s spouse under the guise of wanting to get to know the woman that makes him happy, but in reality, she’s sizing her up. She’s wondering what she has that the girlfriend or wife doesn’t have and how can she subliminally hint that to him. So she’ll say, “It’s so cute that you’re supportive of your wife even after all the weight she gained. It’s crazy how that works huh? I couldn’t gain weight if I tried.” 

The whole time, the guy is thinking, “Wow, she’s such a great friend! She’s randomly dropping off homemade macaroni and cheese, volunteering to pick me up from the airport at 4 AM, and so supportive of my plans to quit my job and pursue a professional foosball career!” 

Wrong. Is someone really your friend if their motivation is to eventually get you to be more than friends? I know how this story ends. Believe me. 

Ending 1:
The WingWoman continues to be a “great friend” until she hits her breaking point. Maybe the guy gets engaged to his girlfriend or he asks her to help him plan the surprise birthday party for his wife. She snaps. And she gets mad at him for “leading her on.” Everything he does pisses her off and she tells him he’s a bad person/a horrible friend/whatever. 

The guy is usually either completely confused or sheepishly wondering why it took so long for her to realize what her role in his life was. This typically doesn’t end amicably for anyone and the friendship is ruined.

Ending 2: 
The WingWoman realizes what she’s doing and that her cause is hopeless, and falls back. She continues to be his friend but minimizes her role, which is probably best anyway. Let the girlfriend/wife do all the heavy lifting. 

Ending 3:
The guy and his girl have just had an argument/fight and guy calls the WingWoman to vent. The WingWoman suggests they go out for drinks so he can calm down and take the edge off. The WingWoman takes advantage of guy’s drunkenness, makes a move and either the guy gives in to it and immediately regrets it or he’s like “Whoa! What are you doing!?!? You’re like my sister! Eew!" Again, either way it doesn’t end amicably and the friendship is ruined.

So what’s the take away from all this? Well it depends on who you are:

You Might be a WW IF...
1. …one of your close male friends were to take a serious step with his significant other, you’d be upset or angry or hurt. 
2. … you think that your close male friend is “too good” for his girlfriend.
3. … you find yourself comparing guys who are actually interested in dating you and SINGLE to your male friend who is not. 

What can you do about it? Some people are able to transition their crush to friend category relatively seamlessly. Some people cannot. If you can’t, then tell your friend that you simply are unable to be a friend to them at the time, and move on until you’re ready. 

Men, You Might Have a WingWoman If:
1. Your female friend is consistently offering to do really nice things for you and only you. She’s not even the Mother Theresa type; she’s just really nice to YOU.
2. Your female friend doesn’t seem too concerned with your relationship or speaks about it as if it’s just the current trend. “How’s, um... what’s her name Cyndi? Cynthia? I can never remember.”
3. Your female friend believes you are her go-to person for all emergencies no matter what time of day it is. If it’s 2 AM and she catches a flat, she thinks it’s your job to go get her, not one of her girlfriends or other single male friends. 

What can men do about it? I don't really know to be honest. All I can really suggest is that you repeatedly but kindly make it clear how serious your relationship is, establish boundaries, and don't rely on the WW as the person to vent to about your girlfriend or wife. You're only fueling the fire.

Moral of the story: Be a friend. Don’t be a WW. And don’t allow your friends to be WWs. No one wins. 

The floor is yours.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"I Love Black Men" - Signed a Black Man

From the title, you'd think this was yet another ode to Black men from the ever-loyal Black woman, right? Not this time! This post comes from a guest, Mr. Garrett James. The post will make you laugh and hopefully... it will make you think.

Here's a word or three from Garrett. Enjoy.

I am a black man and … I love black men.
Calm down. Relax your forehead for me. It’s nothing to do with physical attraction. . And before I get too far into it… I probably should state that again and be slightly clearer… partly for you and mostly for me.

So… (deep breath..) I love black men… Yes, I love strong, positive, passionate, family loving, friend loving, responsible, God-fearing black men!

I love them so much probably because that’s what I want to be and unfortunately, I’m not sure if that’s always who I see in the mirror. And even worse, I’m not certain of where I can obtain a scale by which to measure. I’m a full man now right? Full meaning I’ve been around for three decades, owned a home and a car, almost made babies, had a job for years, survived the quarter life crisis… and still… sometimes I ask myself “Are you a man yet?” I mean, I know I’m male. But am I a man? Do I have the manhood that I should? Honestly, I don’t know at times. And if I DID have a scale, would I even know how to measure it? I know it’s character based, but does one measure character?

So as I’m sitting in my seat drinking a cup of weak brown coffee during a men’s Bible study on a dreary Saturday morning in March, I thought to myself as I watched the men in the room, “Self, I wish I had a dad.”
And by dad I mean ‘daddy.’ Iyanla Vanzant (See one night I was turning the channel and my remote’s batteries died when it stopped on the OWN channel) says your daddy isn’t always your biological father. Your daddy is that male who told you that you were a man; the one that crowned you. The one that showed you what manhood really was, whether directly or indirectly. And so I got sad again (I say again cuz I think about this often) sitting there sippin’ my coffee, because I don’t know who that was for me. Life is my daddy, I guess.

But I want one because I want to BE a father one day. I have mentees and the cycle of bridge building has already begun. But how can we really teach something we’ve never been shown or never lived? I’m sure it’s possible, but the time it takes just scares me. I don’t want to play guess and check with my family. Further, who will teach me how to be a husband and how to lead a family? It’s discouraging not being able to look to my immediate environment. My parents and those close to me don’t have marriages that I want to pattern mine after. Did yours?
Where will I SEE that part of manhood that says you take care of family before all else? Of course I know the concept, but I want to SEE it in action. I want to see how grown men conduct themselves when faced with decisions. How arguments are settled and relationships are kept intact. How grown men show emotions and who they let see them cry. Or as Kanye asked, “How [they] stay faithful in a room full of hoes?”

I was raised to be tough and to show no weakness; to be uncomfortable with close relationships with new men (for fear of the labels). I was raised to associate masculinity and power with lots of money, influence and of course, women. Yes, I was raised to shy away from statements like ‘I love black men.’ Bigger than me, it seems that many of my male friends have learned manhood by trial and error. And take it from me, trial and error concerning relations has cost me relations… and too many people end up hurt, bitter, and writing blogs. #sigh

Funny enough, at that men’s bible study, the leader told everyone to get a prayer partner and if you didn’t have one (in the room) to raise your hand. My hand stayed down even though I didn’t have one. I don’t know those guys; maybe next time.

So yea, I love black men because I love myself. And I love those traits that positive black men have – I just don’t know if I have them. So what’s a grown BLACK man to do?

Fellas, how did you learn the lessons of manhood? If you had to teach yourself, how was the process? Ladies, does the absence of confidence in manhood scare you at all?

Note: If you'd like to hear more from Garrett James, follow him @CMediaUSA or Email Garrett.