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On His Mind: Invisible man

This 31-year-old brother says single sisters claim they want a good Black man, but it's the bad boys-not the nice guys like him-who get all the love

I’m straight, single and STD-free. I have a college degree and no kids. That should make me a great catch. Yet I’m still walking the streets of New York alone. I know what Ralph Ellison meant when he wrote about brothers being invisible in our society. But I don’t think he imagined it would be Black women looking right through us. 

For me, one particular failed relationship serves as a shining example of how sisters are not seeing the light. My ex and I had been dating for a few months when her son went off to camp. It would be just the two of us for a week. She was supposed to call at ten one night, but it was after midnight when the phone finally rang. She was in tears following an unsettling argument with a relative. I jetted up the highway to my lady, and I held her close until morning. 

But when the sun came up, she pried herself away from me, showered and began to dress as if I weren’t there. When I asked what was wrong, she insisted everything was fine but said I needed to leave because she was late for work. After an emotionless kiss on the sidewalk, she went one way, I the other. Following two days of silence she called to say she couldn’t see me anymore. When I asked why, she said it had to do with “her own issues” and begged me not to make things any more difficult. It was over, just like that. 

Confused, I thought back to all the stories she’d told me about her past relationships: her problematic baby’s daddy; the ex who’d physically abused her; the young professional who had played her. Yet she’d stayed with them far longer. And how did I compare with these men? I had formed a bond with her son. I’d listened to her frustrations about work and offered suggestions about her future. I was there for her. In my mind, I was everything those phantoms of her past were not, and I’d been rewarded with a dismissal just when I was about to tell her I loved her.

A year later, my ex called me out of the blue ranting about the guy she’d just finished seeing. She wasn’t happy and she was tired of dating. She said she wanted to get married, but had no prospects. (Hello? Are good guys invisible?) I was simply polite and jovial the whole time we were on the phone. And then we hung up. 

Maybe the timing was never right for us. Or perhaps she just likes bad boys. Or maybe I pick the wrong women. One ex cheated on me with a womanizing pretty boy. Another girlfriend came home with an STD and tried to convince me that I’d given it to her. And I’m not the only brother out here with stories like this. One of my best friends spent hours on the phone getting to know a dating prospect and ended up counseling her because her sister was dying of cancer. Thinking they had made a real connection, he was thoroughly surprised when she ditched him for a celebrity on their first date. No relationship came from it, and soon she was grumbling to several of their mutual friends about “no-good Black men.” Another friend was told by the girl of his dreams that he was “too good for her” before she dumped him unceremoniously.

I do believe the woman for me is out there. It’s up to God to decide when our paths will cross. But I know that when I finally meet her, she won’t look right through me. She’ll see me for who I am: a man who wants to love her, always, no matter what. I also know you have to accept the bad with the good in any potential mate. And I realize you have to fully understand who you’re dealing with before any drama starts. I guess in my past relationships I could have picked up on a red flag before getting involved. Perhaps I was looking right through these women in turn, letting some things about them become invisible as well.