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What black women really want from black men.

ASK any Brother--young, old or somewhere in between--and it's a good bet that at some point in his life he either has been asked to answer or he himself has posed the enduring and puzzling question, "What do Black women really want from Black men?" The age-old question has equally confounded Brothers, their fathers and their grandfathers while navigating through the pitfalls of relationships with their wives and lovers. Along the way, some men have responded to the question better than those who don't have a clue about what Black women want and expect from Black men when they become a twosome.

Black women say it's simple, and they don't understand why Black men don't understand and have such a tough time realizing what they want. So, Brothers, let's go directly to the source for the answer to what has become one of love's toughest and most persistent questions. If you ask Black women--from the corporate executive to the college student to the entrepreneur and all in between--you'll get a variety of answers, based on their personal, individual desires and needs. There's no mystery, they say, no surprise, no really unsuspecting entry on a wish list that includes love and romance, integrity, fidelity, communication, commitment. Although wish lists may vary from woman to woman, there is one common denominator--the one thing that most women need, desire and demand--appreciation, the foundation of any meaningful relationship. Without it, there is no romance, no fidelity, no integrity, no commitment, no trust, no lasting union.

If nothing else, more Brothers have to realize that appreciation is the one, single element that can lead to better, more substantial and lasting relationships between Black men and Black women. But before we paint an all-too-dismal picture, we have to point out that some of us get it right--maybe not often enough, but on many occasions there are Brothers who exhibit a deep and public appreciation for the strength, majesty and resilience of Black women.

For example, I know a Brother who has never been very verbally expressive to his wife, never much of a romantic. But recently--out of the blue, without being prodded and as if reality had suddenly struck him--he said, "Honey, I'm lost without you." He didn't mean that she was always there and knew where to find his misplaced items, or that she was always there to make sure he had a clean shirt and underwear.

What he meant was much more profound--straight from the heart and to the heart. He meant that she was the he who made him believe that he could when everyone else said he couldn't. He meant that she was his strength when he was weak; his voice when he couldn't speak; his eyes when he couldn't see; his ears when he couldn't hear. He meant that she not only treated him like a man, she made him feel like a man. In other words, what he meant was that she completed him.

What woman wouldn't want that kind of assurance and adoration, that kind of acknowledgement of her self-worth, that kind of confirmation of her valuable contributions to a relationship that works? In the imperfect world of love and romance, every deserving Black woman hasn't gotten this kind of what-would-I-do-with-out-you tribute from the Black man with whom she shares her hopes, her dreams and her soul.

Black women need to know, not assume or suppose, they need to know they are appreciated, and they need to be continuously reminded and reassured that they are. For those Brothers who haven't learned the power of appreciation, Dr. Ronn Elmore points out how they can change their lives (and the lives of those they love! in his book, How To Love A Black Woman: Give--And Get--The Very Best In Your Relationship. "Loving a woman the way she needs to be loved without compromising yourself requires huge amounts of wisdom, stamina and experience ... Those who have achieved success got it by on-the-job training. No matter how much you have going for yourself and how well you're already doing at loving a Black woman, you could waste your most valuable resource if you don't study other men who love Black women well. Watch them closely and you'll learn valuable, practical lessons that can only enrich and encourage you as you strive to give and get the most satisfying love."

Undoubtedly, there are men outside the African-American community who recognize and appreciate the uniqueness of the Black woman, but generally speaking, Black women seek approval from Black men, and they want to be loved and appreciated without being taken advantage of.

When you look at the Black women's wish list, it's easy to see why their desires are at the heart of Black male/Black female relationships. The entries on the list focus attention on some of the most important elements in any relationship, and one element is no good without the others if lasting romance is the objective.

Admittedly, Brothers have some work to do in establishing and maintaining successful relationships with Sisters. But if Black men and Black women are fortunate enough to, first, find each other, then mutual respect and appreciation will be the keys to the establishment of enduring love. As a wise person once said, "Love doesn't fail," people do."
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Title Annotation:For Brothers Only
Author:Leavy, Walter
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 1, 1998
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