Why Girls Like Me Ask For Intentions Up Front

Photo by Ryan McGuire

I’ll be honest. I checked my phone for missed calls about three times yesterday. Absolutely nothing. I heard a FaceTime ringer go off this morning. To no surprise, it wasn’t him.

It seems like each year I trek out to Los Angeles for the holidays, I have even the smallest of heartbreaks to report on. This time around, it’s been different. Not because of the way he was able to get my number after making an awful first impression. Not because of his lack of emotional availability masked in lofty aspirations to “get to know me.”

This onset of disappointment has been different because I’ve been forced to deal with myself before moving on. More than anything, I’ve found myself swimming in a sea of regret and pushed to confront a desire suppressed for far too long: The desire to know a man’s intentions up front.

Before writing this off as an ode to bitter, broken women, know this revelation is two-fold. First, these desires of mine exist given the unapologetic woman I am. The Type A-minus kind of gal who would rather be left alone than to have her time wasted by anyone. Secondly, the suppression comes into play given my of my fear of being blacklisted as crazy, having trust issues, or any benevolent euphemism tagged to assertive, but very single, women in our culture.

I’m done with the tug and pull. Exhausted by the dissonance existing between what I know to be fair and how the South raised me. No longer afraid of the labels. And indifferent to the awkward facial expressions on fine faces when I ask the question, “What are your intentions with me?”

You probably won’t be around long.

Whether in dating or my journey towards becoming the best possible me, my goal has never been to ensure I’m wifey material for every potential suitor. Chasing such a thing would be unfair and pretty irrational. If 99.9% of the men I meet will not be a suitable match, why give everyone the same footing in the early days?

Asking for intentions is a simple request for an honest, objective conversation about the value of time between two consenting adults. Not a marriage proposal. Not an invitation to meet your mom. Just an expectation of your process to get to know me and a platform for me to then manage my own expectations.

I’m committed to being emotionally celibate.

I used to believe my man problems were at a minimum given my abstinence from sex. Well, at least that’s what everyone else led me to believe. But as I reflect on the brokenness I’ve experienced as an adult single, it brings me back to one fact: I’m a sucker for whoring out my heart.

Whether familial, platonic, or romantic circumstances, there is nothing I will not do for those I love. There are no inhibitions for me to share my story, encouragement, or wisdom. Ironically, the strict physical limits I have for romance seem to not be applicable to protecting my mind. But the consequences have taught me that loving too soon without commitment, consistency, and covenant is just as risky emotionally as it is with sex.

I think you need to build your confidence elsewhere.

It’s always the “nice guys” who seem to lead me into these situationships. And if I haven’t learned anything by now, it’s that the single guys with 60-second pitches on their niceness all have the contagion of low self-esteem. Maybe it’s a result of feeling unappreciated or invisible. Maybe it’s residual heartbreak from a previous toxic relationship. Maybe it’s realizing they’ve internalized misogyny as much as the men they claim to not be. Whatever it is, men’s inability to reconcile dissatisfaction in their pursuits seems transfer to the next unsuspecting victim with a warm, welcoming smile.

Over the last several years of unannounced disappearances, friend-zoning, and dozens of iterations of “I like you, but I’m not ready for anything right now,” I had no relationship to show for the extra night shifts of vulnerability I invested. The trend of men using my openness as a platform to rebuild their confidence and gain knowledge about the types women they really wanted left me, and continues to leave me, empty.

Because I want to know what’s in it for me.

All relationships and friendships need to be reciprocal. Not to keep score, but to avoid a rescuer-victim dynamic. Being over-committed to under-responsible parties is a recipe for unnecessary heartache and time wasted for at least one person involved.

If a man is pursuing me, I want to know how I benefit from the space he occupies from the start. What are your intentions? What will I learn from you? What will be the crux of your courting of me? It goes back to agency. God has the sovereignty to place people along my path. I have the discretion to decide who can and cannot enter my life intimately. That is a decision I no longer allow curious men to make for me. Just because you’re interested doesn’t mean I have to accept you.

When I gently press for the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), I usually get asked to stall time in some form of ambiguous, discovery-mode friendship. I personally have enough platonic male friends. They all know who they are, get on my nerves regularly, and make me very happy. We aren’t really accepting applications at the moment. And I don’t need any additional numbers to eventually block in my phone or new Instagram accounts to avoid when you suddenly change your mind about me.

After not hearing from the guy for over a week now, I have done my best to channel my cynicism into an effective postmortem, for myself and girls like me. If it’s a game we’re all playing as singles, he definitely won. I’ll give him that.

I really do love love. The anticipation, the chemistry, and even some of the risk. But I’m tired of not giving my intuition the respect she deserves. I mean, with every guy I’ve been involved with, she’s been undefeated. But there’s grace for that. We’ll know better next time.

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