Why You Shouldn’t Wait After Him

A week ago, Keyshia Ka’Oir and Gucci Mane tied the knot through what appeared to be the most extravagant wedding ever broadcasted on VH1. After spending nearly three years behind bars, Mane made a reappearance in May 2016. One of the first decisions the artist made was to propose to his long-term girlfriend, Ka’Oir, who had been patiently waiting for him while he served time. While social media rejoiced at the pair’s wedding, I couldn’t help but remember the long history of trials Ka’Oir went through during her relationship. From drug abuse, to later being asked to bail her man out of jail—she never had a break. Still, many posts on social media praised her “patience” and called out women who dreamed of having a similar ending but wouldn’t wait on their man to grow up and step up to the plate. No shade on their beautiful union, but this reference to “waiting on your man” sounded way too familiar—like a bad played out song that eventually turned into an anthem.

Flashbacks of my favorite chick flicks started to come to me and it was in a bitter conscience that I realized girls have been taught from day one that men need a little more time to grow up. Consequently, it taught girls that their responsibility, is to sit through that time loyally until their reward comes along. I remember viewing Love and Basketball with my two best male friends a couple of years ago. I was curious to see how they would interpret the iconic African-American romantic comedy.

In the movie, the two main characters, Quincy and Monica, have known each other since elementary school. They liked each other, but somehow the male character, Quincy, is never fully ready to commit. For example, Quincy is a reckless player having meaningless sex with different girls in his high school while Monica is pitifully single and waits for him to realize she has feelings. In the most iconic scene of the movie, she loses her virginity to him before starting the perfect relationship in college. When he realizes his father is a cheater, he takes his anger out on Monica by cheating, not returning calls, trying to jeopardize her basketball career and snubbing her. Eventually he breaks it off with her. The movie ends with both of them finally getting married and starting a family a couple of years later.

The first thing one of my male friends said was, “She is a real one!” When I interrogated him about what he meant, he and my other friend both joined in and explained that she really loved him. God knows they probably would not have felt the same had the sides been reversed. A cheating and disrespectful woman is the face of poison, but the same traits in a man are simply signs of “immaturity.”

The same realisation hit me when–painfully, because this is my favorite show–I made a retrospective on Gossip Girl. Blair was ready to be Chuck’s girlfriend from season one, while he took years of personal development before realizing she was worth the effort. After four seasons of Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta, Rasheeda came back to her husband of twelve years. After he cheated on her while pregnant, bought a condo without telling her, doubted his paternity to their newborn son, mocked her on national television, she was partly praised for being a “good wife.” She was praised for understanding that “marriage takes patience” and for waiting on her husband Kirk to “grow up.” I stood there thinking, “Isn’t he already grown?” I pitied her and thought she was such a foolish woman. However, it is not entirely her fault.

Our culture has made us believe this is what females ought to do to: eventually find prince charming–accept his frog stage and the sometimes personal or public humiliation that comes with it.  These three examples are little compared to the amount of television shows and movies that sell us the idea that men will be men and women will wait. Somehow, there’s a preconceived idea that a guy must go through this phase where he will not treat you right, where he will take you for granted and do you wrong before he eventually blossoms into the man you deserve. And somehow, this is motivation enough for you to stay when things do not go the right way.

There is a fine line between supporting your man when he is down, and sitting around waiting for him to get his act right while you are mostly paying the price for childish ways. There is a difference between a guy who has a hard time finding a job and cannot yet afford to take you out places (but you know if he had the means, he would) and a guy who takes sketchy or illegal jobs to fulfill selfish goals: buying expensive items, showing off, buying drugs, gambling, etc. One is an involuntary temporary struggle and one is a choice that is bound to clap back. Just because your boyfriend (or your lover) practices habits that are leading him to a sinking boat does not mean you must sink with him.

There is a fine line between genuinely asking for an apology followed by taking active steps towards reconciliation and repeating the same set of misconducts over and over again with the same excuses. Even if there is potential growth, you have no obligation to wait for the process to be over. Being in a miserable arrangement is not a down payment for future happiness in a healthy one. When we find a guy we care about, we instinctively make space and time for this person. Not because we are “grown”, not because we are “more mature”, not because we have “more money”, nope. None of these answers. The only reason we are ready for relationships is because we make ourselves be. Plain and simple. A man can be devoted, serious and respectful at any stages of his life if he makes the decision to be.

We need to start tearing up the myth that men will be boys in progress and women will be the girls walking (or should I say tripping) in the shadow of these boys. Both men and women need grooming and there should not be an expectation for either of them to stick around through a thorn road. This is your life and your time as well. An engagement, a wedding, an apartment, a trip or a relationship status on Facebook should not be your prize because you waited for him. You deserve all these things and they can all be given to you in a respectful manner.

I wish nothing but the best for the now married couple, but Ka’Oir’s decision to stick through her boyfriend’s missteps (or any woman's decision to be a ride or die to her partner) should not be imposed as a universal ideal. I cannot wait for a world where women will understand they can still love someone, but decide that they need and deserve someone better. Perhaps then, men will learn to make themselves ready for the women they claim to love as well.