Today is February 14, Valentine's Day and for many, yesterday was deemed as the end of "cuffing season," just before any purchases were made for the holiday. Cuffing season defined by many is a period of time during the cold weather seasons in which people commit to serious relationships with the intent to break up as the weather warms up in efforts to maintain their 'sense of freedom.' While normalized and accepted within the Black culture, it comes with its price. Cuffing season comes at the expense of someone's emotions, and typically it has been made that those are of a women. Of the women who may spend today crying their hearts out asking themselves "What was wrong with me?" as they thought that they met "the one," they are now filled with feelings of confusion, hurt and frustration. Within the Black community, it has become the expectation that women internalize such break ups. That they figure out what they did wrong to lead a man to treat her the way that they did. We tell them to read Steve Harvey's Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man (2009). We tell them to listen to pastor's like John Gray who preach sermons about how women should act to find a mate. We have conversations about how women are "dating wrong." While introspection is important, and helps us learn from previous mistakes, its important that such occurs for both sexes. Interestingly enough, we have shifted the blame towards women when it comes to relationships. Rarely is the conversation held that men need to be more honest and forthcoming. I honestly have never heard a sermon that focuses on men preparing to become husbands (and that doesn't mean that its not out there). Thus, we have created "the fuck boy." So what is a "fuck boy?" He can be deemed as a smooth talking, nice-looking brother that sweeps you off of your feet. He's known to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, lavish you with the finer things in life and then just disappear at the drop of a dime because he was not "ready," for such commitment. Often times, society praises him for his acts. Often times he's not met with consequences and the women in his life just accept that he is what he is. In reality, he is challenged with expressing himself. He has been conditioned to think that his confidence is built on his ability to inflict harm to others. The f$@! boy does not know how to respect himself and therefore, he does not know how to respect women. Psychologically, there are a lot of components that go into obtaining the title of f$@! boy. Often times, they lack empathy, the ability to comprehend another person's feelings. Research conducted by Baskin-Sommers, Krusemark and Ronningstam (2014) suggests that those who meet criteria for the diagnosis do not simply have challenges with being empathetic, they have challenges with low self-esteem, sense of internal control, self-enhancement, and self-centeredness which ultimately impact one's ability to be empathetic towards others. [caption id="attachment_428" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Via www.giphy.com[/caption] When speaking about Black people in general, Hughes and Demo (1989) reported that despite social and racial tension, Blacks overall have equal or higher self-esteem (one's ability to recognize his/her worth, abilities and strengths) than Whites. In conjunction, Blacks experience lower personal efficacy (one's belief in his/her ability to complete tasks or handle certain situations). Based upon that research alone, it can be suggested that Black men may be aware that they are worthy of love, yet lack confidence in their ability to display love. It can also reflect back on societal and racial barriers which have limited many Black men financially and therefore, their confidence levels regarding their ability to contribute to a household may limit their willingness to be serious in relationships, so they exude their charm and wittiness because that, they are fully aware of. Research on Black men and their mental health is limited. A literature review concluded that conflict between sexes or martial status, psychosocial coping and racism/discrimination all played contributing factors in a Black man experiencing depression (Watkins, D., Green, B., Rivers, & B., Rowell, K. , 2006). As research is vague, it can also be concluded that depression in Black men is not diagnosed on the account that Black men's presentation of depressive symptoms vary greatly from how the diagnosis is defined in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, used to determine mental health diagnoses). therefore we can only assume what their behavior may be reflective of internal challenges that they have trouble sharing. So while you ladies celebrate Galentine's Day, indulge in sweet treats and blast Trina's Fuck Boy to fill the void tonight, remember that you and your actions are not the only solution to this cultural issue we are facing. Someway, somehow we have to create a nuturing community in which our men are willing to recognize their mental health concerns, seek healing and then we can foster more healthy, loving Black relationships.
References Baskin-Sommers, A., Krusemark, E., & Ronningstam, E. (2014, February 10). Empathy in Narcissistic Personality Disorder: From Clinical and Empirical Perspectives. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research, and Treatment. Advance online publication. Hughes, M. & Demo, D. (1989). Self-Perceptions of Black Americans: Self-Esteem and Personal Efficacy. American Journal of Sociology, 95(1), 283-288. Watkins, D., Green, B., Rivers, & B., Rowell, K. (2006, August 28). Depression and Black Men: Implications for Future Research. Advance online publication.