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  • Writer's pictureDr. Speshal Walker Gautier a.k.a. Dr. Spesh

Sis, The dating struggle is real or is it?

Updated: Aug 15, 2021

I often hear the saying “nice guys always finish last” and I’m sure you have heard it as well. While I am cautious not to overgeneralize any particular experience to any group of people, I have certainly found myself wondering whether the phrase has any merit to it. The irony is that I hear this phrase just about as often as I’m hearing straight women saying that “all the good men are taken.” How can both be true? Why hasn’t this group of women looking for good men discovered this seemingly good group of straight men? Or have they?

I have to admit, I do believe the nice guy plight has some validity to it due to some of the scripts people have bought into when it comes to heterosexual relationships. I’ll share an example. Years ago, I met up with a group of friends. A colleague had let me know her single friend was coming along. I appreciated the level of intention as it had been made clear that her friend was on the market for a romantic partner. I thought this would be perfect because my husband, who I was dating at the time, had a single friend in town. While we were out I raved to this single-ready to-mingle woman about how he was such a nice guy and in fact one of my favorites in our social circle. She responded, “How nice? I hope he’s not too nice.” Needless to say nothing came out of their encounter and he is now happily engaged to someone else. I use the example, however, to highlight her verbalization of something I have seen play out in relationships or potential relationships, time and time again.

In a previous letter, I laid out how attachment styles or relationship blueprints, shape how we approach relationships. A healthy or secure attachment is one that is safe and predictable. The predictability lies in knowing that your person is able to meet your emotional needs and is available to do so. There’s a sense of comfort and security in knowing this. Sometimes, due to our over romanticization and idealistic versions of love, we yearn for constant excitement, spontaneity, and adventure (or at least we think we do). Don’t get me wrong it’s nice to intentionally shake things up and spice up your relationship where you can. At the same time, a level of consistency and predictability is what maintains a sense of security. This can feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable if your relationship history has been chaotic and unpredictable. Hence, when someone nice and attentive comes along it can feel mundane and boring. The problem is that the constant insecurity of not knowing what to expect from a partner can be mistaken for passion, particularly in the moments when you reconnect. Sometimes you think you're “crazy about someone” when in actuality the relationship instability is driving you crazy.

Regardless of your attachment style, when it comes to Black Love, many of us have fallen victim to the struggle narrative. The countless examples of couples who struggled through and prevailed. The toxic “ride or die” narrative of the woman who sticks around despite years of hurt, pain, and dysfunction. By all means, people are entitled to choose and remain in relationships based on what works for them. But it’s time to let go of the struggle narrative as being some testament of Black Love. The consequences have led to harmful scripts, particularly within heterosexual relationships. Black Love does not have to be some enduring plight. There are amazing people looking for love. Some of whom are predictable, reliable, and dare I say nice.

*Dr. Spesh is an Atlanta based Clinical Psychologist, blogger, and diversity consultant.*

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