When my friends ask me about the kind of man that turns me on, I initially have a hard time answering because I always think they want this detailed list that I just can't come up with. I tried the Star Jones approach of making a shopping list for a man, but somehow that didn't seem realistic to me. I don't know what he looks like. I don't know how tall he is or the hue of his skin. I know what turns me on in a man, but does that make him relationship material? In most cases, no. I've dated all kinds...tall, short, skinny, muscular, bald, balding, lotsa hair, blue collar, white collar, young, old, rich, poor...you get my drift. But those men that I've found that intense chemistry with, an extreme connection, have all had one thing in common. They are extremely talented in one way or another and passionate about what they do. That is, by far, THE sexiest quality in a man to me. It is also turned out to be, by far, THE biggest obstacle to the kind of relationship I want to have.
Fantasizing. Many women, myself included, suffer tremendously from this phenomenon. We meet the man that makes our heart flutter, weakens our knees and leaves us breathless. Then we begin the steady stream of mini-mental-movies that illustrate everything from the first time we make love to the actual grand proposal. We fantasize about introductions to the families, first vacations, even first arguments (fully equipped with fantastic make-up sex). But if you know like I know, these fantasies are way off base, which contributes to the intense disappointment we feel when it doesn't work out the way we want it to. We're more upset about the loss of the fantasy than we are over the loss of the man, most times. It's called being in love with falling in love. Yeah...we watch too much TV, I always say.
I dated this jazz musician once. I was totally in love with his dedication to his art. Music is also one of my passions so I thought it was a match made in heaven. He'd let me listen to some of the tracks he was working on for his new CD. We bonded over conversation about music, melodies, and life experiences. We had all this stuff in common. Somewhere between the conversation and the music, I thought that a relationship with this person might actually be possible. Yeah...right. My dreams consisted of me traveling with him and standing backstage all proud as he wowed the crowd. I also thought about the groupies and the girl in every city, but that didn't stop me from actually thinking that something real was going to jump off between us. We're still friends, but lemme tell ya I had to snap myself out of it first. I was trippin'.
On the flip side, I dated an attorney who was a wanna-be political power player. At first his mastery of the legal profession captivated me. I loved to sit and just listen to him talk about policy and precedence. To me, he was ultra-intelligent and words simply rolled off his tongue. I loved it! But over time I realized that his passion for his work was all consuming...and to be honest, a little boring. I love a man with passion, but I wanted someone that also wanted to put me as a priority. And I also wanted him to have some outlet other than the passion. Everybody's gotta take a break every now and then, right? Typically, these types of men settle down when it fits the overall master plan. And even then, the relationship is all about them. They usually don't provide the same level of interest in the woman's endeavors as they expect for theirs.
Control. Many passionate men love being in control of every situation. After my divorce, I dated what can only be described as a man with full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Not only was he totally dedicated to his career as a business mogul in a Fortune 500 company, but he was hopelessly in love...with himself. He controlled everything from when we had sex to how long we saw each other. Work was everything to him. Climbing the corporate ladder was his one and only goal...if you don't count the goals of having a threesome and posing in a fitness magazine. You might guess he was also dedicated to his body. He worked out every day and if he missed a day of workout, he would go to the gym twice the next day. It was the male version of being anorexic. He would look in the mirror and constantly critique his body. Yet he had the biggest guns and the hardest abs on the block! But it wasn't good enough. This is yet another characteristic of some passionate men...what is good enough to most is definitely not good enough to them. In the beginning I was hopelessly in love with this fool. I found his preoccupation with his career and health almost endearing. But what I later began to realize was that his constant state of preoccupation was not just for career, but it was for anything that kept him from focusing on me and our struggling relationship. After work and body came his friends (the majority of them female), football season, and his family (in that order). I actually remember saying to myself, "I can't wait until football season ends. Then he'll have some time to spend with me." Wow. It sounds even more pathetic reading it as I type. Needless to say, that relationship crashed and burned horribly and sent me into this eight-year relationship drought that I've had. It never measured up to the fantasy I had in my head. On paper we were the most compatible couple ever. In reality, it could never have worked out.
A past issue of Essence magazine contained an article on Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Kim Porter. P. Diddy is arguably one of the most passionate and successful Black men in America. An admitted workaholic, he is dedicated to the success of his many businesses. He even admits that his relationships have suffered because of his preoccupation with work and success. Kim Porter has been his on-again off-again love for over twelve years. Now they have twins and seem to have rekindled the love that brought them together in the first place. He now says that after all this time he realizes that he has to give more to his primary relationship...after all this time, he realizes. I can't say that I have the patience that she must have mastered to remain in P. Diddy's life. She must have known something that those of us on the outside couldn't see. WE, in our perfect world, would have left him high and dry. SHE knew better. She didn't settle. Regardless of what it obviously took to love a man of passion and ambition, she paid the price. And now hopefully, she is reaping the benefit.
Now. It's happening again. I am slowly finding myself attached to this person that is a brilliant musician. Oh Lawd the chemistry is off the chart!! He is talented and passionate in many ways. And again...we have all these things in common. We are both fitness fanatics, have had similar family experiences, are both from Louisiana, and attended the same university. We love big, loud marching bands. Our conversations are lively and rarely suffer from lack of inspiration or humor. We have been through many of the same things and want the same things in a partner. Everything seems great, right? Well...there is the issue of the "other" woman. She is brass, has three valves and demands his constant attention. He breathes life into her and in turn, she responds with the most melodious of sounds. He has called her "his best friend". He is 100% dedicated to daily rehearsal, almost to the point of obsession. If I call when he's rehearsing, he doesn't answer the phone. He sometimes rehearses twice a day. Sound familiar? Still, I love his passion for his craft. He is disciplined, artistic and insightful. But he is also regimented, strict and downright stubborn sometimes. I am understanding of the dedication it takes to excel in his field. But sometimes it seems as if that dedication can be the biggest pain! I know this place. I've been here many times. I also know that there's nothing I can say or do to make him do anything he's not ready or equipped to do.
But I can't help it. I'm so drawn to him. How do you start a relationship with someone when they've already got something that fulfills them in most every way that matters (well almost every way)? So luckily, we are not in an official relationship and we are both free to continue dating others. I have to put away the fantasies, or at least put them in the appropriate place. I know...not very romantic, is it? I have to let him earn his place in my mind and my heart. I have to see him for who and what he really is. And I may also have to accept that we may not end up together. I wish I knew why I was so addicted to passionate men. It would make my life much easier if I weren't. Why can't I just fall in love with a slacker and be done with it? There is definitely something to learn from this encounter. There always is, right? There is always a lesson. I believe my lesson is patience. For me, the lesson is ALWAYS patience.
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