Black Relationships : Girls & Boys, Part I

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  1. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Girls & Boys, Part I By Darryl James

    Relationships are complicated.
    It is difficult for two people to merge ideas and beliefs on religion, politics, family, money and values. Things are even further complicated by the fact that men and women are very different.
    Communication often breaks down when either men or women view issues from one perspective or the other, without considering both sides, or considering the divergent socialization of each sex.
    Many of the difficulties African American men and women are dealing with in relationships have less to do with how “horrible” we are as a people, and more to do with some simple facts about male and female socialization in America.
    Relationship counselor Angel L. Gaines advises both women and men on interpersonal issues as part of the Christian Ministries at one of Los Angeles’ largest churches.
    Gaines earned a degree in child and family development, with courses in family dynamics, before attending Practical Christian Living Classes at West Angeles Bible College in LA. Her counseling career, which spans more than five years, focuses on male/female and parent/child relationship dynamics.
    In “Bridging The Black Gender Gap,” my mini book on relationships, Gaines explains that interpersonal issues begin with the individual, and are the basis of conflict in relationships.
    “My philosophy is that people usually have conflict because of the way that they process pain,” said Gaines. “Until they can pinpoint the way that they process pain, they will use band-aids as opposed to seeking the root cause of the pain.”
    Once the root cause of the pain is discovered, individuals are able to understand another person’s pain and work toward conflict resolution with them. This will place them on a road to managing anger.
    “Anger is actually an emotion that no one is taught to deal with,” explained Gaines. “That’s why more women suffer from depression, which is anger turned inward. In childhood, when we are angry, women are taught that expressing anger is not lady like.”
    While women are generally told to simply get over their anger without seeking resolution, male children are simply told that men don’t cry, which I discussed in a recent column, entitled “Big Boys Don’t Cry.”
    They (men) have issues of conflict resolution and often become violent or aggressive,” Gaines said. “As a result people don’t know how to channel their anger.”
    Gaines also points to problems with the male characters in the fables men encounter as children.
    “Nearly every male character is macho and extremely heroic, saving the day at all costs, above and beyond their natural call of duty,” she said. “The other option is found in fairies, wizards and genies, which usually carry very effeminate characteristics.
    “You never get the person in the middle, so men grow up having to identify with one of those types. The problem is that when they grow up with those two types, men don’t learn how to deal with rejection and pain, until later on in life. They are not expected to hurt, just to save the day. “<br>
    The confusing emotional signals men receive are the reasons why many men have never cried in front of women. They will often shut down their emotional connections the first time they are hurt, which is how emotional baggage is created. We continue to deal with adult relationships based on things we learned as children, and most of us never examine them, then we present ourselves to other human beings for partnership, which is what a relationship is.
    And women are learning some things as adults, which severely handicap them in relationships, including labeling themselves as “Independent Women.”
    Gaines said that the phenomena of the “Independent Woman” is really a mass effort to pretend hurt away, by pretending not to want or need what is really desired. Pretending pain away and seeking ways to mask it has given rise to what Gaines calls the “fantasy love” business.
    “If you want to make a quick million, write a romance novel, or make a movie where two people meet, fall in love and its all done in two hours,” she said. “We are catering to the fantasy of relationships, which is escapism. It’s almost an oxymoron, because we’re escaping from the hurt of one relationship by indulging in the fantasy of another.
    “Dating shows are making money, because the smart entrepreneur has learned the market and the product. The product is in the grocery store and on the cover of magazines and women are the target.”
    Women are targeted because the expected notion is that men are already pursuing women and that women have been trained to prepare for that.
    Gaines said that women in American have been trained for a specific role in the dating process.
    “From preschool, we are taught that we will get a prince charming,” she said. “In every fable, there is a woman at the end getting a handsome charming man who rescues her. Even the songs we hear have a girl in distress waiting on a man to rescue her.
    “By the time a girl is in fifth grade, she is dreaming about getting married. It’s a fantasy and marriage is just not a fantasy.”
    Since females are counseled from childhood to wait for marriage, Gaines said that the “Independent woman” phenomenon is simply a defense mechanism.
    “The mentality is that if I can convince myself that I don’t want what I really want, then it doesn’t hurt as much when I don’t get it,” she said. “It masks my pain and doesn’t hurt so bad to say ‘I don’t need a husband anyway.’”
    In addition to sending the wrong signals, people often miss crucial signs.
    “A sure sign people who are seeking relationships miss is the relationship with the opposite sex parent,” said Gaines. “If you meet a woman who does not have a good relationship with her father—her first opposite sex relationship--if her father was not present, you are dealing with someone with abandonment issues.
    “If a guy is aggressive with his mom, you are dealing with someone with anger management issues. If he adores or communicates with his mother, communication and affection won’t be problems.”
    The rest: click here