Disclaimer: This blog was written from my personal perspective and on the premise of heterosexual and gender role conformity. It does not negate my support of same-sex relationships.
Phaedra: a Greek name meaning bright. Apollo: A Greek deity whose name came to be associated with the verb for, “to destroy“. How fitting?!
I started writing this post in early September, but never got around to finishing it. Then when I realized that the same dress that I got engaged in is the dress that Phaedra wore when she announced her divorce on Ellen DeGeneres, I figured it was a sign. Probably not, but we’ll go with that anyway.
While scrolling down my Facebook timeline one day, I couldn’t help but notice a very regal picture of Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Phaedra Parks, alongside a header announcing her divorce from husband, Apollo Nida, pending his incarceration. For the sake of time we’ll call a spade a spade: Phaedra is an attorney, mortician, entrepreneur, and reality TV celebrity. Apollo is a convicted felon who previously served 6 years in prison for auto loan fraud and has recently returned for an 8-year stint for conspiring to commit mail and bank fraud. As I looked at her picture I wondered what would make such a strong and successful woman go for the “bad boy”. What could she have found appealing about him other than his physical attractiveness? And after seeing this season’s premiere, I really began to question Phaedra’s dating judgment. But my confusion was short-lived as I remembered the grim truth: many women – especially women of color – are expected to love our men in spite of.
We are expected to date and marry men who have never been expected to live up to our same standards. Young girls are raised to be well spoken, well-educated, and mild-mannered while young boys often have their bad behavior overlooked. As adults, women are expected to take on his mother’s patience and turn a blind eye to his shortcomings. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that men of color suffer greatly from the effects of systemic oppression but at what point do WoC get to be more selective and strategic about who we marry, without feeling like sellouts?
The imminent fear that, “the more educated or career-driven a woman is the harder it becomes for her to get married” causes many women to date men that are not aesthetically comparable. We date down because we’ve been made to believe that the more successful we are the harder it will be to find a mate. So we find ourselves in relationships with men who are our extreme opposites. How many times have you seen the prom queen date the neighborhood villain?
While it is not impossible, it is very hard to build a future with the rugged dare-devil because the qualities that make him such a badass are probably the same ones that will keep him from being morally responsible. Many women go through the phase of acting out and taking dating risks; and I know this first-hand because my own phase probably lasted a little longer than it should have. Until I realized the decision that I would have to make. If I wanted to build a stable future it wouldn’t be with the guy stealing, lying, and skipping class. My fiancé has a degree in Finance, is extremely hardworking, prefers to wear his eyeglasses over contacts, doesn’t have any tattoos, and likes dates to the museum. He’s not a bad boy. I’m also not a troubled teen anymore. Your dating preferences should grow as you grow. And if your dating pool hasn’t improved, it either means that you have more self-improvement to do or you’ve fallen into the trap of believing that there’s a shortage of good men.
I’m not perfect and neither is he. But our relationship with each other thrives because we are committed to growing as individuals. The opportunity for me to be in such a loving relationship only came after I got serious about what I expected from others and what I expected from myself. Remember: we are just as much accountable for our heartache as the assholes that we date.