These days, Mr. Right is in demand. But what we don't often acknowledge is that he knows it-and he is willing to milk that fact and us for all we're worth. Believe me, no one is hating on the brothers who make it and do well. The problem is, there just aren't enough of them to go around and even fewer have the heart to make a commitment.
By creating a picture of what Mr. Right looks like-right diploma, right job, right designer labels-we were initially trying to avoid some of the heartbreaking mistakes we made in the past. It was a well-intentioned effort to be equally yoked with a man. But when it comes to lists and rules, it seems that the right road has taken a wrong turn. The list has become a tool to dismiss, ignore or avoid brothers who may not appear to fit into the box of what we believe will guarantee safety, security and happiness in love. But appearances aren't everything.
So what's a sister to do? Focus on possibility versus probability. There is a great probability that an unmarried 30-year-old lawyer has someone stashed on the side. There's a wonderful possibility that a bus driver can make you happy. The plumber, the train conductor or the Fed Ex guy may not fulfill the overt characteristics outlined on our list. On the other hand, they may have character.
They represent a ready and reliable pool of good, hardworking brothers who may not fit our lists-but can fulfill our yearning hearts. They may be the partners who fill our lives with stability, security and love, and more important, they want to do it.
Perhaps it's time to stop focusing on what a man has and where he works and become more mindful of who he is and what he offers: Is he kind? Is he honest? Does he show up on time? Does he hold the door open for you? Does he pray?
At the same time, we may also need to consider if we are willing to live at the level he can provide while affirming and inspiring him to rise. We might need to make room for the man to contribute what he can rather than demand what he must. And that requires clear, honest dialogue about our collective and individual advancement.
It takes a strong man with a broad back to stand with a powerful and accomplished woman. If you can find one who is willing and able, he may look like a diamond in the rough, but remember, he's still a jewel. And consider this for your list: That shoe salesman gets great discounts and that high school grad may have a world of life experience. They'll all tell you-if you just give them a chance.
Shutting Down Guys? Iyanla Vanzant Has Some Advice for You
If you've been shutting brothers down because they didn't have an impressive job, wear the right clothes, or hang a higher degree than yours on their wall. Iyanla Vamzant says you've also been shutting yourself off from love.
Couple #1: Malorie, 31, and Antonio, 36; married 2 1/2 years
Dating (Near) Deal Breaker: "He was a blue-collar brother."
The Backstory: "When I met Antonio, he made a living scrubbing toilets and mopping floors as a maintenance man. He had only gone as far as the twelfth grade-though he's a very smart guy. In the beginning I wondered what we would have in common. But when I felt the strength of his love, I realized his profession isn't a reflection of who he is. I'm glad I didn't close myself off to dating someone just because he didn't have a glamorous job. What's more, now I've got a man who's handy around our home." -ZULAIKA JUMARALLI
Couple #2: Sandra, 36, and Leon, 29; married 4 1/2 years
Dating (Near) Deal Breaker: "He lived at home with his mom."
The Backstory: "I actually tried to pass Leon off to a younger friend of mine. What worried me was that he stayed at his mom's house. I wondered, Is he a mama's boy? But because he seemed like a nice guy, I thought, Why not have him as a friend? I later learned he was repairing his mom's house and that he is a really kind person who has a wonderful relationship with God. All those details overshadowed the insignificant and material ones. Especially the fact that he later turned into the most adoring father ever." -LYNYA FLOYD