You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. – Bible, Exodus 20:17
This scripture is one that is pivotal when dealing with relationships between men and women. Particularly in a day and age where Black women are made to feel that there aren’t enough available Black men in the world, so to them it’s reasonable to become involved with a married or committed man. And with many Black men feeling that Black women are desperate for a relationship or attention that they would easily fall into the arms of another man hoping for something better than what they have at home, it is becoming common practice in our society to pursue another man’s woman. This scripture is one of the ten commandments and it warns us against being envious of what someone else has, regardless of what it is. However, it amazes me how people feel that it is within their rights to attempt to infiltrate someone else’s relationship because it looks good to them from the outside. People who do this often believe that what someone else has comes easy to that person. They fail to recognize that a good relationship takes work. HARD work; along with commitment, understanding and good communication. None of those elements comes easy, even when you have a really good connection and attraction to someone. As a person you have to make a conscious decision to have a good relationship, then you have to put the necessary actions behind that decision. People looking for an easy relationship often lack the work ethic that it takes to maintain a relationship.
I recently went from being single to committed. During the last four years of being a single woman, I never dated or became involved with a man that had a girlfriend or wife. If I did, I didn’t know it. There are reasons I didn’t date married or committed men. One reason is trust. If a man would cheat on his girlfriend or wife, there’s a huge possibility that he would also cheat on me. Another reason is respect. If a man doesn’t respect his own relationship, he will not respect mine. And the most important reason to me is Karma. I didn’t want to do anything to anyone else, that I wouldn’t want to have happen to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had numerous opportunities to be the type of woman who messes around with married men. I’ve received “offers” from men to be their “other woman”, but the cost to me was too great. The cost to my morals and values was one that they couldn’t properly compensate me for. They couldn’t afford other woman’s insurance. So I sent them back to their wives and suggested that they make an effort to become better husbands. If any of these men’s wives were to ask me what happened, I would tell them. I don’t owe any loyalty to those men. They were the one’s willing to break their marriage vows, not me. And having had the misfortune of being a married woman (once upon a time) whose husband cheated, I know the pain that betrayal can bring. Every one’s situation is different and every woman doesn’t leave an unfaithful husband, and vice versa. However, the truth, regardless of how painful, is still the truth. I prefer to live with the truth, than to live a lie. You can’t make good decisions in life based on a lie.
The one thing I’m noticing now that I’m in a relationship is how many men I meet want to be “friends”, as if I’m so naive at thirty-six years old that I don’t know what they really mean. That’s an example of coveting your neighbor. They have no idea what it takes to be with me. They have no knowledge to the fact that many, many men have tried, and failed, in the arena with me. They have no idea of my flaws or moods. Sex is easy. Friendship is difficult because people often realize later that they want more or can’t handle more. And a relationship is life-altering. When I was single, if a man approached me with the “friends” line, I knew immediately they wouldn’t be boyfriend or potential husband material for me. They didn’t think I was worthy of commitment. I was dating with the purpose of finding a spouse. When a man says that to me now that I’m in a relationship, I know the same is true and that he really wouldn’t make a good friend at all – platonic or otherwise. And of course, my boyfriend is having similar experiences with women. Women are a mess, too. Sometimes they are worse than men are because they can be more aggressive and relentless. They can’t believe that someone else got the man they wanted, even though they never told him they were interested or had feelings towards him. The same can be said for men. To that I say, oh well, your inability to communicate your feelings are not anyone else’s fault. And even if you had, it doesn’t mean you’d have the same type of relationship with that person.
Everything ain’t for everybody. I say that for a reason. Everyone isn’t compatible, regardless of physical attraction. It is not physical attraction alone that makes a good relationship. So many things factor into having a healthy, trusting relationship with the opposite sex. There are a lot of beautiful women and gorgeous men that are single. Appearances only mask our character for a short time. Eventually the facade comes down and the real person is revealed. In a relationship you have to be able to show your true, authentic self and accept the true and authentic self of your partner. Relationships are not for fickle, superficial people who believe that it doesn’t ever rain. Relationships are for strong, resilient, forgiving people who keep an umbrella on hand.
First rule to relationships – You attract who and what you are. Two fickle, superficial people who are delusional in a relationship are doomed to fail. One fickle, superficial person in a relationship is a headache to their partner. However, two people with the same understanding of what it takes to maintain a relationship will be more successful, come rain or shine.
The next time you approach someone who tells you they are married or in a relationship consider the possibility that they have flaws and issues that you may not be capable of handling. The person they are with is their choice and their choice has nothing to do with your desires or lust. Respect their relationship. I went to a Tyler Perry play once and his character Madea said, “People always think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But when they get over there, they find out their neighbor was using ChemLawn and the water bill is high as hell”.