Fearless, loving communication is the way out of all our predicaments—in gender relations, in sustaining family and community, in ending war. And there’s no more strategic place to wage fearless love than with our men—because our love is under siege.
Making good love in the middle of war is no easy feat. But all the mighty forces undermining Black love—including our own self-defeating behavior—will wither in the face of our open hearts and compassion. Black women’s fearless love can unleash great power and restore heart, soul and sanity to our community.
Awaken to the sacred. Our soul work is to see beyond the physical to our deeper humanity. Learn to love goodness, not good looks, sweet talk, power or possessions, and the field of exquisite available brothers broadens grandly. Choose honor, kindness, fidelity—in one who sees you as his equal, listens when you speak, treats his family well. Take off the mask and work at being your sane, loving self. He’ll soon feel safe enough to leave his survival strut at the door. And that’s success!
Communicate with tenderness and compassion. “I love it when you come to bed early, and we get to laugh and love” gets better results than “All you do is work.” Spoken tenderly, honesty is stunning, healing, courageous and contagious—and promotes self-respect. Take the lead. Even if your partner communicates poorly, you’ll both feel better if you start dropping your verbal defenses and any meanspeak.
Consider his feelings. Fight the temptation to point out his flaws. Your opinion is not the truth. Correcting others unnecessarily, frequently or in public robs them of their dignity. As we accept ourselves, we become less judgmental of others, which draws them nearer.
Set reasonable limits and respond with reason. Partners need to know what’s not acceptable in the relationship. If a lover’s behavior veers out of bounds, we must protect ourselves physically, financially and emotionally, but it’s never our role to punish. If either partner violates a trust but takes responsibility and sincerely wants to repair the damage, recovery is possible. Communication, counseling and new agreements can reestablish trust and even deepen the love. Emotional wounds, like physical ones, take time to heal. Forgiveness occurs in layers.
Be generous with your spirit. Smiling and looking deeply into a person’s eyes creates intimacy and connection; it says you’re fully present. Smiling eyes communicate approval, trust and admiration, and will encourage our men to dream. Brothers need us to believe in them, to be patient with them and to support them in striving for their goals in their own time and in their own way.
But above all else, we Black women must learn to love ourselves freely, fiercely—and first. Caring for others will always be limited if it doesn’t start with self-care and self-respect. Only fearless love will keep our partnerships together and see our children through.