Do you ever think that maybe you’re a bit too much when it comes to your conversations with men? This question plagues me each and every time my romantic life falters. Whenever I go out on dates, I try my best not to start off with, “So what do you think about race relations in America?” or “Do you read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s writing?”
Even so, I worry that my affinity for social justice issues puts me at odds with men, or at the very least, the kind of men that I’ve been dating.
I’ve been out on dates with men who are both blue-collar and white-collar, who graduated from Ivy League universities and who have a high school diploma, men with and without children, men who work on Wall Street and men who work in department stores. I’ve always believed in casting my net wide because you know never know who might enchant you.
Of course, I don’t talk about race and gender issues all day every day. I like to joke about trashy reality television and watch slapstick comedies on Netflix. But some little detail always sets me off and I bring up race issues, feminism, intersectionality, and so on and so forth. I speak and speak and speak and then realize that the person I'm on the date with is quiet. Then I wonder if I scared him, if I mouthed off again. If I said too much.
Why do I ever think that I’m too much? Men certainly don’t have this problem. They can never be too much. You see? There I go again. It’s difficult to shy away from issues of which you are constantly aware.
Most of the eligible men I meet who want to discuss my writing and views on a certain article published in The Atlantic have no romantic interest in me. I want romance and I want to be taken out on dates. I feel like my identity is dichotomized between a writer and a woman. I love conversation but I also want to be held, kissed, and loved. From my experiences, it seems like I cannot have both.
When I interact with inspiring (heterosexual) feminists through social media, I’m always delighted to hear how they found the loves of their lives who didn’t try to silence them, but nurtured their natural gifts. It seems almost like a dream for someone like me.
I’m afraid to ask them, “How did you meet him? Were you ever afraid that you’d be too much for him? Did you ever fear that he would be intimidated by you?” Of course, these questions sound silly because the correct feminist response, if I invoke the voice of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, is that if a man is intimidated by me, then I have no interest in him.
But it’s not that easy, especially when you’re a single woman. I don’t want to admit that the patriarchy and misogyny affect me, but they do.
I grew up, like many women I’m sure, believing that a woman needed to act in a certain manner in order to attract a good man. You have to be docile. State your opinion but don’t unabashedly tell a man when he is wrong. Don’t even think about starting an argument even.
I want intimacy as well as equality, a relationship but also a space for individuality. A man doesn’t need to fully understand me in order to appreciate me. Heck, some days I don’t even understand myself. There’s always this push and pull with me as my ideas about the world and about myself continue to evolve.
Maybe I can chalk up this confessional as a baseless worry that I’ve had because of a series of bad luck that will have no adverse effect on my future love life. But nevertheless, this is what’s real to me. Perhaps I’m simply just a woman that contains multitudes, someone who is still learning the best ways in which to harness this strength without fear and expects nothing but the best love and respect in return.