Erotic provocateur, racially-influenced humanist, relentless champion for the oppressed, and facilitator for social change, Scottie Lowe is the brain child, creative genius and the blood, sweat, and tears behind AfroerotiK. Intended to be part academic, part educational, and part sensual, she, yes SHE gave birth to the website to provide people of African descent a place to escape the narrow-mined, stereotypical, limiting and oft-times degrading beliefs that abound about our sexuality. No, not all Black men are driven by lust by white flesh or to create babies and walk away. No, not all Black women are promiscuous welfare queens. And as hard as it may be to believe, no, not all gay Black men are feminine, down low, or HIV positive. Scottie is putting everything on the table to discuss, debate, and dismantle stereotypes in a healthy exchange of ideas. She hopes to provide a more holistic, informed, and enlightened discussion of Black sexuality and dreams of helping couples be more open, honest, and adventurous in their relationships.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Short-term Thang

Relationships, at least here in the self-centered West, have a specific pattern. When a couple meets, they feel each other out, they date, they make an assessment as to whether the person to whom they are attracted is worth the emotional effort, and if said couple falls in love, the couple decides to pursue a relationship. The understanding is always that the couple is pursuing a “long-term relationship”. The unspoken definition of a long-term relationship, as we have been led to believe, is one defined by no end date. A long-term relationship is supposed to be forever, happily ever after, it’s supposed to symbolize the dissolution of the individuals and the birth of a couple who combine their lives and goals and stuff in a romanticized notion of pair bonding.

I have the distinct pleasure, the very unique opportunity to be in a short-term relationship. A short-term relationship is, as I have defined it, a relationship that has no specific end date but one that is also not formed with the false belief that it will last forever. A short-term relationship is one that takes advantage of the feelings of love, intimacy, companionship, and connection one can feel with an individual while taking into consideration that there are very specific impediments to the relationship that will not withstand the test of time, that will not pass the long-term-litmus. A short-term lover is one who has the benefits of all the closeness, passion, commitment, and love without the threat of maintaining everlasting bliss looming overhead.

My lover, my manfriend and partner, the person with whom I share my life and body is an amazing man whom I love conditionally. He is someone with whom I share a history -- a history that has been blemished by his betrayal and poor decision making. We are vastly different individuals in many ways who are also so alike it is scary at times. I hold no fairly tale illusions about a happily-ever-after with him but I am more than willing to revel in the happy-right-now feelings I have in my heart (as well as my other body parts that are outrageously satisfied). I’m working hard to implement all the things I’ve learned over the years about what it takes to be in a healthy relationship, the things I’ve practiced in my mind with my fantasy partner about not expecting him to read my mind, trying to communicate my fears and dissatisfaction without trying to belittle or demean him. I’m loving every minute of being able to express all the love I have in my heart by spoiling him, nurturing him, by loving him totally and completely without hesitation or reserve. Our core philosophical compasses are so dangerously opposite however it would be foolish to think that we can build a life of long-term goals together.

I am Black. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not only Black, but I’m super, unapologetically Black. I’m passionate about providing people of color, descendents of slaves, individuals of African descent a model and example of healthy relationships and sexuality that celebrates our differences without having to whitewash our unique identity, without conforming to clownish stereotypes, while divesting ourselves of detrimental and destructive behaviors we’ve acquired in trying to conform to an identity that is not our own. While he is a man of color on the outside, he doesn’t identify himself as such. He rejects his identity; he is comfortable, dare I say happy being surrounded by rednecks and very, low-class white people. He has spent his entire life believing that being Black is something negative that has to be overcome, something he has to deny in order to be accepted by his peers. To think for a minute that he and I have the potential to form a long-term relationship would be foolish. I NEED someone in my life long-term who can be supportive of my goals and objectives. I need a partner who not only can believe in my goals but whose goals are similarly aligned with my own. For right now, however, I can overlook those differences and see the things about him that are exceptional.

Because we have been socialized is such different circumstances, my great fear is that because his core/intrinsic attraction is to smoking, drinking, bi-polar, dysfunctional, mentally unstable, white women that I will once again become the discarded victim of his need to distance himself from being Black. He is uncomfortable with my blackness. He doesn’t like me talking about race unless I say that color doesn’t matter. He is more willing to let white people ridicule him about his race than he is willing to consider that I have a right to publicly express my displeasure with the way Black people are portrayed, depicted, and stereotyped. So . . . we choose not to talk about race. For the short term, that works. I can compartmentalize my life in such a way that we can laugh and joke and share a great number of conversations that don’t touch upon race, we can enjoy the moment without the burden of projecting what is going to happen years from now. Can I do that forever, for the long-term? Unquestionably, no!

He has never seen a healthy relationship; I come from generations of Black couples loving each other as far back as slavery. Our perceptions of what it takes to be in a healthy relationship are vastly different as well. His approach to relationships is not to think about anything, never question his choices. My approach is to analyze, dissect, think, and think again. We both see each other’s position as being flawed. I need to assess the mistakes and patterns of my past so that I can grow, mature, and make healthier choice in partners and relationships. His belief is that every choice he’s made in the past has been valid and justified because he was doing what he thought was right at the time, no matter how detrimental the outcome. We live in a tiny, backwards town where adultery, drugs, alcohol, and violence are the norm for relationships. We live in a town where everywhere we go, we are faced with one of his past dysfunctional lovers, all of whom he still cares about and defends as valid choices. I could easily say that I don’t need the drama, that I deserve better in a partner but that would be stupid of me to dismiss the fact that I’ve never met a man more committed to my pleasure, to my happiness, I’ve never met another man more willing to try to be a better man with me.

The things I love about him, the things that make him such an exceptional man, are largely the things that make him so vastly different than most African American men that have been socialized in Black communities. He doesn’t have the defensiveness, machismo, or absurd notion of what it means to be a Black man so he can be his authentic self. He makes me happy. I love being with him; I know deep in my heart that he loves me; I know that being my boyfriend is important to him, so much so that he’s willing to try something different than what he’s tried before. I question his ability to be completely honest but we are working daily on that with very good results. I’m working hard on trying not to change him, I’m trying not to be judgmental of his current emotional maturity but accept him for who he is and all the wonderful things that he brings to the table. I can be outrageously condescending in believing that my way is the only right way and that he has to think and believe as I do. I’m working on that. I know him to be thoughtful and kind, he is beautiful, sweet, sincere, intelligent, warm, and loving. When I think of his accomplishments and abilities, given his surroundings, I’m in awe of how outstanding a man he is. I know that when I tell him my concerns and objections that he’s going to make a concerted effort to address them immediately. He is attentive to my every desire and need. Those things have more value and weight in my choice to be the woman in his life, to be his girlfriend, than the fact that he was raised in a community of rednecks and has embraced them as his peers, loved them as his partners.

I think of all the romantic interests I’ve had in the past that would have benefited from a short-term philosophy. I think about how many nuanced things that adults should experience in a relationship that I’ve been deprived of because my relationships didn’t have long-term potential. I’m not at all sure that my man understands or believes in the whole short-term concept but he’s wiling to take things one day at a time and see where it leads us.

This culture, this society bombards us with clich├ęs about opposites attracting and love conquering all but I’m introspective and self-aware enough to know that those are just empty words meant to distract people from the very real, very hard emotional work it takes to build a healthy relationship. I’m attempting to replace the dysfunctional, romanticized Hollywood picture of a long-term relationship with one that is based on appreciating the good things a person brings to the table while those good feelings last. When will our relationship end? As my grandmother used to say, “Honey, you have to ask someone smarter than me.” I would like to think that our relationship will come to an amicable end when it is time for one of us to move from this place. Maybe the relationship will end when one or both of us decide that the current situation is no longer fulfilling. Ideally, the relationship will end with no hurt feelings and the acknowledgment and recognition of the tremendous love we have for one another and how it has been a wonderful component to what will be our history as we move forward. There are those who would have me believe that our relationship will be long-term as long as we continue to accept each other, love will prevail, don’t be a cynic, anything is possible. etc. Equally as loud and equally as critical of my short-term relationship model are those who say that any man who has hurt me in the past, who doesn’t value me for who and what I intrinsically am as a person is not worth my time and effort as even a short-term partner. I have to say that I’m not only comfortable with my choices but I’m outrageously happy. I have weighed his pros and his cons and the benefits FAR outweigh the negatives. For the short-term, what he and I share is positive, affirming, beautiful, loving and wonderful and that works for me.

Scottie Lowe Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved