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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Men & Women: The Unwritten (Until Now) Rules of Engagement : Titles

BA; BS; MBA; PhD; Mr.; Mrs. are all titles. Titles that we strive for in order to demand respect, get a better job, or get a higher pay grade. We pay great money to obtain these titles and take pride in making sure everyone around us acknowledges them, however when it comes to the title that connotes a relationship or commitment people run from it like the plague.

This is the basis of my conversation with a group of friends of mine between the ages of 23-30. We were at a kick back and talking about relationships etcetera and when the idea of titles came up the men in the room were acting like we had cussed out their mama. It seemed the general consensus around the room was that if a man chooses to date a woman (and I use the term date in the rawest sense of the word) that should be enough. All of them felt as though labeling the young woman as their “girlfriend” only complicates things. Therefore, it serves no good purpose. “Why label a good thing?” one of the young men asked. They continued on to say that marriage is only a piece of paper so what is the point of that? The foundation of their beliefs rested on the idea of “it’s more important to do the job of a husband or boyfriend than to just have the title and behave oppositely.”  They went on to say that should a woman ask a man for a relationship the possibility of him no longer showing interest in her is quite high.  So, I asked myself “are titles really that important?” 

Now most of the women in the room seemed amazed at this revelation, but they should not have been because aren’t there more women nowadays choosing to be single or favoring long term relationships as opposed to marriage. Playing house but still checking single when they file their income taxes? But these ladies seemed to be getting an eye opening epiphany as they listened to the men in the room express their views. And each single woman in the room found themselves either resigning to be single forever or accepting the possibility of being someone’s long term “boo-thang.” But why do women accept inferior or nonexistent titles? Why do men feel so comfortable treating the women in their lives in a manner they would not want their mother or sister to be treated? 

While I sat back and listened to the men and women go back and forth on this topic I found myself perplexed and honestly somewhat amused. Listening to this debate made me feel old or old fashioned I guess, because all I kept thinking about is my grandfather saying, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” At the time, that made little sense to me, but as I have grown up I understand it more fully. It just seems to me that people (both men and women) either want the end result without the work that goes before it or they do not want to do work at all but in both cases this makes them lazy. 

Not having a title means being able to do whatever you want; whenever you want without repercussions or guilt. If a person doesn’t want a title he/she has the option to jump on the next new or “better” thing should it appear. And if it doesn’t old faithful will still be around. It’s a win-win. Or so it may seem. 

Titles come with expectations and many people today are not willing to live up to those expectations. Simply put people are becoming lazier and more selfish. Let us be honest people don’t want titles because they don’t want to have to live up to anything. They want to be able to satiate all of their carnal desires. Basically keeping their options open at all times. Never committing to anyone in the hope that when/if the next best thing comes along they are available to explore that option as well. And not marrying because it is believed to be just a piece of paper is another cop out. When you forego that “piece of paper” you forego such things as benefits in life or death, unified family, joint assets (as recognized by the law), to name a few. But in essence anytime you/they want to walk away you can and with no repercussions. Easy breezy

Marriage is a standard and standards are a lost ethic in today’s society. My grandfather also used to say you must stand for something or you will fall for anything. And no one wants to stand so is it safe to say we’re watching people fall like dominoes. Walking away from a marriage constitutes thought and serious consideration. And in many cases stepping out on a marriage has other financial and long lasting consequences. People want the fun, but not the potential consequences. People want the party, but not the partnership. 

We will sign our names on shady loans, but not a promissory commitment to love and grow with someone. And there’s nothing wrong with growing apart, breaking up, or divorce. It’s not ideal but it would understandable. At least you made an effort to be an active participant in a relationship; unfortunately it did not work out. All in all titles are not villains they constitute the willingness of a person(s) to put in the work required to build something. Why is this too much to ask?

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