What does it mean to have a man work for your love?

Dating, Marriage

Awhile back, I was confronted with the question, “What does it mean to make a man work for your love?” There was a woman who felt like she had done all of the work in her past relationship and didn’t receive the same in return as far as effort. They were in a long distance relationship but she was always the one flying back and forth, cleaning his place and doing a multitude of other things even though she was just his girlfriend.

Actions speak louder than words – his and mine. 

Hear me when I say this – making a man work is not about controlling them or forcing them to be with you or having them do something they don’t want to do. That doesn’t work. Instead, it’s about us, as women, communicating clear and reasonable expectations from the beginning. It’s about choosing and being with men who are ready and willing to put in the effort and are ready to stop playing games and instead be committed.

It all boils down to two words: MAN UP! In other words, they have decided to make the conscious decision to put in the effort for the right woman at the right time. They are willing to go above and beyond to show how serious they are about the relationship; and not just any relationship but a meaningful relationship built on love, trust, communication, compromise and mutual respect.

A lot of guys, including my husband, have told me they want a challenge when it comes to settling down and being truly committed. In other words, they like when a woman makes them work for it…and I’m not just talking about sex. Some of them don’t mind working hard for the right person. However, we have to keep in mind that everyone reaches this point in their lives at different times. So, not every man you run into will be ready to take this step.

When my husband and I started dating, there were ladies he was still talking to and/or involved with. Then, when he decided he wanted to take things to the next level, he knew I wasn’t going to play “second fiddle.” I clearly communicated to him how I was the least bit interested in playing games or dealing with nonsense. He kept telling me he wanted us to be together but I needed his actions to match his words. There was a time when manipulation and “pillow talk” were enough for me but this time was different.

I ended up telling him, “Get your life together” and this was way before Tamar Braxton coined the now popular term “Get yo life!” He will tell you I did and we still joke about it even today.  I wasn’t nasty or rude about it but I was firm and he knew I meant what I said. Shortly thereafter, he did what he needed to do to show and prove to me how serious he was about the relationship. Please understand, not everyone is as vocal or outspoken as me and I wouldn’t recommend that specific method to everyone; but what I do recommend is that you communicate your expectations (within reason) from the beginning – through your words and actions.

We make it too easy for them.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to do things for our men and making them feel special whether dating or married – and especially as married women. I’m always trying to do something special for my man even more so now because he is in fact my husband. However, when we’re dating, some of us make it so easy for men that we make it even harder for the women who refuse to settle for less than what they deserve. We give it up so easy (whatever “it” may be – physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.), or require so little in return that some men are immediately turned off by those of us who aren’t willing to compromise our reasonable standards.

That’s why I believe there are so many men today who will tell you, “I don’t have to pursue a woman. She should pursue me,” or “I can do a whole lot less and get someone else.” While it is 2016 and it’s not unusual or unreasonable for a woman to pursue a man, sometimes we can give too much too soon and usually the conflict arises when the same is not provided in return. Call me old fashioned or whatever but I still believe anything good worth having is worth fighting for…including a good woman (and this can really be said about practically anything in life) .

I can admit I was guilty of not requiring more from certain men I used to date. In the past, I tried to do everything in my power to please and keep a man even when they weren’t putting in half the effort. I constantly sacrificed so much of myself but didn’t expect, nor require, the same in return. I reached a point where I was fed up and as I learned more about myself, ultimately I realized I needed to make a man work for my love instead of giving up everything – mind, body and soul – in return for nothing.

I expected more from myself and from him.

Please understand, I was able to vocalize my expectations and stand behind them because I finally reached a place in my life when I knew what I wanted and had a clear vision of what I expected. I used to go from relationship to relationship thinking I knew what I wanted; only to later realize I was trying to fill a void that could only be filled through deep reflection, self-love and my personal relationship with God. So, I took some time for myself and learned how to love myself first.

Just like I was more focused on his actions, the same was true for me. Sometimes, when you’re so used to things being a certain way you assume that’s how it’s supposed to be. But just because we forget doesn’t mean we don’t still deserve to be treated like a queen. Gone were the days where repeated cheating, games and lies were acceptable in my book. I used to tell myself and others, “I’m not putting up with this. I deserve better,” but then I would do exactly that – put up with the nonsense. I didn’t require more and I didn’t do anything differently. So, I made up in my mind that I would no longer accept the bare minimum or merely rely on “sweet talk.”

Gone were the days when I would settle for mediocre just to say I had a man. Over time, I learned comfort and convenience weren’t substitutes for love. I had to be smarter about my choices. I had to be smarter about love, so if there was ever a question of, “How do I know if he loves me,” I could respond with something more than just, “Well because he said so.”

For example, the first nine months of our relationship was long distance and in the beginning Eric told me he was going to make the effort to come and see me (and vice versa). I honestly didn’t believe him at first but throughout those nine months he did exactly what he said he was going to do. He literally drove nine hours every month (and sometimes more than once a month) just to see me and spend time with me despite his graduate school classes, midterms and finals. He did something that I never really required before or even expected from other guys before him: He put in the effort.

Furthermore, he was constantly calling, emailing, texting – and vice versa. He would take me out on dates, open doors for me and everything. He reminded me of what courting and a real relationship looked like. Most importantly, he was trustworthy and loyal. He was the initiator more times than not, which ultimately showed me two things: a) he was into me and b) he was willing to put in the work. He showed me what it really felt like to be in love. Everyone has their own definition of what “putting in work” looks like for them, but for me this is what I wanted…what I deserved. This time around, his actions matched his words and helped build my confidence in him and our relationship; something I had never experienced with any other man before him.

Despite all of Eric’s efforts, he never felt like I wasn’t into him just because he had to work for my love. He knew how much I loved him, but instead of me doing everything without reciprocity, I let him take the lead. It’s a mutual relationship versus one where someone is doing more than the other.

At the end of the day, no one – male or female – should feel like they’re doing all of the work in a relationship. If the guy isn’t willing to put in the work or you feel as if you’re the only one putting in all of the effort, then maybe he’s not the guy for you. Sometimes, when people say “no” to you they’re saying no to themselves because they’re not ready to step up to the next level in the relationship or even within their own lives. But that’s okay because sometimes you have to meet people where they are, but sometimes you have to leave them there.


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