This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
The problem with women is we don't listen to what men tell us even when we hear them. Our inability to listen then turns into heartache. Let me break it down. Now hearing is a physiological act whereas, listening is a psychological act.
You see, listening is the interpretive action taken to help understand the sound waves. Well, this should be the case, however, it can be clouded by his actions on the one hand, and our desires on the other. Both of these things interfere with our ability to interpret what we hear.
It's like this: when a man tells you up front that he does not want a relationship, it should be cut and dry. BUT the problem is, his actions and our desires. Let's take his actions, he calls you everyday and texts you throughout the day. Those things are typically interpreted as getting to know each other better, right, righttttt? The question then is, why do we need to get to know each other better if we aren't headed for something?
Here lies the problem, the texting and calling leads to bonding and so we women, me included, don't really listen when he tells you over and over that he does not want a relationship. It's like we internalize his actions rather than what he has said.
Based on his actions we think, "Damn, we are really connecting. He must really like me." It's like this, we think the him liking us, will change his mind. I mean why would a man who has connected in a wonderful way with you, not want more with you?
Then some of us women say, "I know if I lay that, sugar thang on him, he will surely want more," but we fail to realize that good sex ain't even close to love. A man can fuck your brains out and not love you, or like you, for that matter. These are the problems that occur when we hear and don't listen.
Then the hurt happens because we heard him but did not listen. I've been there more times than I would like to admit. I remember after my divorce well over 15 years ago I started "talking" to this fine chocolate brotha who was eight years younger than me. We had some great chemistry between the sheets. Now the entire time I was seeing him, he made it clear that he wanted children and he saw HIV as a risk he was not prepared to take it with a child. Risk for mother-to-child transmission was greater than it is today.
But I was laying that good stuff on him, so somewhere I was hoping to turn him around. He was incredibly successful for his age and I thought that we would make a great couple. But I just wasn't listening. I heard him loud and clear, but I didn't listen. We kept doing that thang and he kept right on looking for a wife.
Now I'm going to be honest right here, I continued to see him, because honestly, I was lonely and something was better than nothing, at least that's how I used to think.
This was also that era where I made myself believe that I must be all that if a man couldn't stay out of my bed and between my infected legs. I had my self-worth twisted all between my legs.
About two years into that thing, I started working on my demons in therapy. I knew that I wanted to live whole and healthy both emotionally and physically. I started putting in the time, deconstructing my madness, so that I could reconstruct wholeness.
The whole time that I was working on me I was still laying it on brotha man and yep he was still looking for a wife. I'm not sure when I came to that place of wholeness deep within, but I remember the day I acted on it like it was yesterday.
I was at the gym working out, and brotha man's "girlfriend," the woman he had finally chosen to be his wife, came in as I was finishing up. We spoke. She started working out and I went to the locker room. It's a small world sometimes.
I showered and made a b-line to brotha man's apartment while she was still working out. Of course he asked did I see her there. *SMDH* at what women think they know about their man.
When I tell you the lovin' was some kind of good, good lawd I mean it. When the sex was over I went to the bathroom to wash my body and her bra and other clothes were scattered around. When I tell you I felt a certain kind of way, I mean that shit. I will never forget the ugly I felt at that moment. Washing my ass in that bathroom looking at her undergarments made me feel cheap. I dressed in silence. When we were on the elevator he sensed that something was wrong. He grabbed my hand and asked, "Are you OK?'
"No," I responded.
"Is there anything I can do," he inquired.
"No, but there is something that I can do."
I walked off that elevator and out of his life. He kept right on calling, even after he asked her to marry him and even after he married her.
But I was on a journey to wholeness by then and for sure there is no penis worth my spirit or my self worth. It was also at this time that I made a promise to myself. If you can't walk with me in the daylight, you can't have no coochie in the dark and I have not broken that promise to myself.
But even today, years later as hard as I try my best to live whole, I still know how hard it is to really listen to what a man is telling you. It's hard because no one wants to be alone. It's been extra hard for me lately because I am lonely. I've mostly met two kinds of men in the recent years, men who want to fuck me, but don't want anyone to know they are fucking me, or men who like the image of dating me but are a dime late and a dollar short turning it into something meaningful. Sometimes I get a tad confused, but not for long. I will take loneliness any day over my self worth. I like me and I like what I have become. I fought hard for Rae and I just can't sacrifice her.
So how do you reconcile what you hear with a person's actions? People say that action speaks louder than words, but that's not always true. Sometimes action is more emotionally favorable, than words and cloud the truth that lays within the words.
There is a thin line between hearing and listening. Reconciling it can be hard, but at the end of the day, what should guide you, is how you feel. Noooo, not how you feel when you are between the sheets or how you feel when you are actually talking or texting, but rather how you feel in your quite space. You see in that quite space is when God speaks to us. How you feel in that space, should guide your action outside of that space.
At the end of the day, you can't make someone love you or want you or want more with you. No matter how much you bond. No matter how good the chemistry is in bed or out of bed for that matter. No matter how much you like him.
Whatever barriers a person has that prevents them from taking a risk with you, you should not alter your worth. Each person has to make the best decision for themselves and we should respect their choice. Remember that your worth is not altered by their choice. What does altered your worth however, is when we hear and don't listen and act not out of the truth of his words but the contradiction of his actions.
Read Rae's blog, Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks.