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I was involved in a really interesting conversation this week with a friend of a friend. He was talking to a group of us women and we were sharing or man and lack thereof problems with him. He gave his brutal and blunt assessment from the male perspective.

The thing that stuck out most in my mind that he kept asking one of my friends who said she keeps getting involved with the “wrong” men.

So he responded, that women actually have choices. We can simply say no.

If someone comes to us and doesn’t have everything we want or need, we can say no. We can turn them down. We choose.

Now what makes this thing so complicated is we say yes to people who we know can’t give us what we need or want, and we decide that that’s acceptable because we don’t want to come off stuck up or too picky or unable to accept people for who they are.

More often than not, when men decide to pursue a woman, they aren’t thinking as deeply about it as we do, or even trying to gauge potential.

They see something in a woman. They desire it, they want it. They go for it and wait for us to make the choice to even bother with them. If we say no, they may keep trying. Or they just may keep it moving without much of a fight.

But here we are as women, two weeks, two months and two years in knowing full damn well the situation isn’t working, but deciding to continue to entertain the wrong folks because we don’t want to be mean, or hoping the person will magically change into the person we wanted them to be.

The male friend gave a great comparison.

He asked my friend if she ever had sex unwillingly. He said that he hoped her answer was no, because if the answer was yes, she was a victim of rape.

So if in fact her answer was no, she made the choice and consented to the sexual encounter. She was in full control of her decision to get something she wanted.

So, if she could make that kind of decision with that much accuracy and confidence, why couldn’t she do the same in selecting which relationships she was going to get into and put work into maintaining?

I sat there dumbfounded.

It made a ridiculous amount of sense. As women, we’ve become super empowered in terms of our sexuality and even being more casual in our encounters. We can tell a man how we want them, where we want them and we can surftboard all night long.

But we cannot articulate that we need to be supported. That we are weary and need affection and kindness and strong arms to hold us. We! can’t seem to find the courage to hold men accountable to what they say and do in terms of how they treat and love us. We let a lot of things slide and because of that, we want to blame them and accuse them of not acting right.

Should they just do the right thing? Sure, they should! That’s what decent people who actually care about you do. But until we find the right person, we have a lot of folks in the training program on how to treat us and we have to enforce it. I’m not saying rule with an iron fist, but there are ways to emotionally stand your ground, have standards that you won’t bend from or amend when it’s convenient. You have to be real. You have to be consistent and I think a lot of that hangs on how much we love ourselves and how much confidence we’ve accrued. We want people to like us, so it’s easier than we realize to change up from who we really are to gain other people’s acceptance. But it’s false. Real acceptance and real love comes when you know who you are and you give people the opportunity to love you for it and if they don’t, you can rescind the offer and keep stepping.

As I get older, I’ve learned a long time ago that the quality of my relationships have always trumped the quantity. That sometimes long stretches of no dates was far better than several dates in a row that went absolutely no where, or dates I accepted because I was bored and just lonely.

We can articulate everything that person does wrong to our girlfriends, but when it’s time to do the work and speak up, we freeze. We give second, third and fourth chances.

And the giving of second, third, fourth and millionth chances are actually perfectly ok and fine because it’s your choice to give those chances.

But when you continue to complain about being taken advantage of and give another chance instead of simply saying no, it’s like you totally forgot you actually have a choice in the matter.

The result of your choice may be something you don’t like, or something that is uncomfortable, but you still have a choice to opt out and say no thanks.

The male friend said that it is actually simple. We laughed. He described a scenario where if he was a woman and could sit back and choose men he’d say, “no, no, no, yes, maybe, no, yes, you and your brother too.”

He said as a woman, no matter who you are, where you are, what you look like, someone is going to try to get with you. Now, sometimes and a lot of times it may not be the guy you want to talk to you, but men will always try and you have the choice to give them a chance or simply say no.

But it’s just difficult to say no to the guy who has that smile who makes you melt, but won’t return phone calls in a timely manner.

It’s hard to say no to the guy who you’ll move your schedule for, but will break plans last minute and will still call you at 1 a.m. to see if he can come over.

But we do have a choice. We can deal with the temporary disappointment of not answering that booty call, or feeling alone that night. Or we can accept the little they give us for the little they give us. But it truly is on us.

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