Why does it seem like black men struggle with maintaining and staying in a relationship? This seems to be a question that many woman have. Through close relations with the male friends in my life, we’ve shared information about our personal lives, relationships and how we feel society influences our thoughts and actions. Through this post, I look to give you some insight that may better explain the influences that molded who we are.
Being a black male in today’s society has many challenges on its own. Outside of the challenges “society” throws at us, many of us grow up carrying baggage full of unresolved childhood issues. A good portion of us are either fatherless, motherless, emotionally disadvantaged, and fear being socially unaccepted just to name a few. Regretfully, a lot of us never gained the necessary tools to minimize the amount of baggage we carry.
Over the years I’ve struggled with some of my personal baggage. I’ve learned that Facing each unresolved issue that resides in my baggage, it allows me to understand why I’m the way I am, and not hurt those that enter my life. For example, I’ve struggled with my verbal and emotional approach to delicate situations. My verbal and emotional insensitivity, caused me to be inconsiderably blunt, directly incompassionate and emotionally withdrawn. This has resulted in me doing what I did best, inadvertently hurt those that love me.
I’ve worked diligently at recognizing and breaking this generational behavior. Even though at times it seems almost impossible, I know that In doing so I’m able to see how and where this behavior came from, and ultimately how it brought difficulty into many of my relationships.
Unfortunately, most of us grew up emotionally uneducated, this isn’t something that we choose to neglect. This hard-wired trait has been passed down from generation to generation, and the longer we aren’t able to recognize it the harder it becomes to break. My father was a “military man” raising three boys that would grow into men. The military taught him that showing love and emotion could get you killed on the battlefield. He applied this same theory in his household.
The outside world was a battlefield so he taught us that crying was a sign of weakness. He instilled in us that, “Men didn’t share their emotions” and constantly reminded us that if we felt the need to cry, that we should “grab and check our balls to make sure we were still men”. Whenever we would look to our mother for comfort he would quote “ men don’t lay up under women”. My father was only teaching what he knew and what he thought was right. He had no idea that what he was teaching, would put us at such a disadvantage socially. What my father subconsciously learned from the men before him as well as by society, was to only show the emotions and speak only what was socially acceptable.
The behavior that I learned taught me that the only safe space I had to communicate my feelings and thoughts was to myself. It also taught me not to open up about things that troubled me, because it wasn’t socially acceptable for men to show signs of emotion. Society has influenced men to believe doing so makes you less of a man. With nowhere to express what’s inside the only thing left for a man to do when he’s overwhelmed emotionally, is to act out with aggression.
Our aggression is no more than unhealed emotions from our upbringing that was never resolved. We bring this behavior into our relationship, and on to the ones we love. When questions of “ what’s bothering you, is something wrong, are you feeling ok, do you want to talk about it” enter the relationship we respond according to what we’ve learned. With answers ranging from “ nothings bothering me, I’m good, I’m straight, stop asking me what’s the matter”.
“The disconnect for women”
This behavior can be hard for women to understand because Women have been nourished in this area since birth. Women are taught young to be vocal about their thoughts and emotions. They have also been taught that women stick together, have each other’s backs, and be there with emotional support. This has allowed women to create safe havens for themselves and others to gather socially and express ideas and emotions; men lack this. Society taught us and has accepted this as socially acceptable behavior. This separation in emotional education automatically creates a barrier that has to be broken down before there can be any level of communicational understanding in a relationship.
“Growing up fatherless”
In any males life having a father or father figure is very essential. A father is a kid’s first hero, role model, leader, an idol. Fathers set the tone for defining what a man is and what being a man is all about. When that pivotal piece is missing it leaves the kid to either gravitate more towards his mother or towards the male figures that live amongst his community. Those that pull more toward their mother because of their living circumstance, or because of the lack of male influence in their life are left to idolize either a strong woman or weak woman.
If there is no male figure, this means he has to rely on his mother for male guidance, male validation, and definition to what manhood is, and looks like. Doing so, in my opinion, causes him to subconsciously look for the same male guidance, definition and male validation in his spouse. This can cause some issues because he may be unable to lead his relationship without being led. The lack of a father or male figure can also leave a man in a place of looking for male acceptance.
This may push them to idolize street hustlers, celebrities and entertainers to fill the void that was left by a missing male figure. At this point, in my opinion, he is subjected to social illusions, life contradictions and a devalued perception of women. This behavior, when brought into a relationship, can be very volatile, the respect for women may be low, a direction in life may be missing and emotional intelligence may be nonexistent.
Nowadays in my opinion, the image of a black man in a relationship has changed. No longer, do you see it socially acceptable for men to maintain commitment, have loyalty, respect or Monogamy. Society doesn’t glorify good men as they should. Those that take care of their families, uplift their partners and become successful.
The new socially accepted black male is one who is promiscuous, has a mistress, disrespectful, degrade woman, and creates multiple kids with no responsibility. Even Hollywood Depicts this image of the black male in movies and sitcoms. Seeing such ill influenced behavior regularly being socially accepted, socially trending and glorified on tv and in society. Not only confuses males, but it also makes them question and second guess the high moral teaching he may have received as an adolescent. This unsureness and confusion of wanting to be socially accepted and of what’s socially accepted can yield him fighting a battle within himself. Stuck in relationships with someone he thought he wanted or someone he thinks will create the picture of social acceptance.