I dont want to grow to love you.

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On a lovely summers evening I was sat down with my parents. Whilst having our “supposed” family time, we were all distracted by modern technology. 3 of us glued to our iPhones, iPads and tablets, out of nowhere I am met with

“Immanuella, what do young ladies your age look for in a man?”.

My stepdad asked in his cool and subtle voice. Instantly I look up. Although taken aback, I was excited to answer the question, any opportunity to describe a dream man was fun but I was intrigued to see where the discussion would lead. I was hoping it wasn’t a setup.

“Well for some of us I’d say God fearing”.
Surely that answer would give me brownie points for my churchy African parents right? If this was indeed a setup. I couldn’t tell but I kept on going.
“I also know girls like TALL guys”.
I Tried my best to push it onto OTHER girls knowing very well tall is a 100% part of my spec.
“A lot of girls say they want ambitious and motivated men, but I think it’s important to be driven more than anything because without drive you can’t fulfil your ambitions”.
“I mean obviously, handsome is good and oh yes beards, girls nowadays, we love beards”
“Really?” he asks, whilst looking at me puzzled.
“Yes, it’s the in thing at the moment, girls love it” I replied confidently, assured I knew exactly what I was talking about.
My mum interjects, in a sceptical tone
“Isn’t that a bit shallow?”.
I rollllllled my eyes.
“Nope mum, I don’t think it is. I think it’s very important young women don’t compromise on their standards. If they want tall, dark and handsome they have every right to want that”. My mum is the wisest woman I know, however as I’ve grown older and developed my own set of thinking I find we don’t always agree on everything.
“Immanuella those aren’t standards. Most men can grow a beard at any time, What’s all that? For the girls requesting tall men are they tall too?”
“I wouldn’t say shallow mum, we all have our preferences and our standards which we are all entitled to. Young women are constantly budging and lowering their standards. Settling. This doesn’t have to be the case. As far as it goes for the height thing I don’t know. I think it has to do with feeling safe and protected by their partner hence the attraction to taller men”.

Whilst this debate between my mum and I continued, it raised a separate discussion in my mind about relationships. The silent or vocal expectations of women.
Has anyone else noticed when a man knows exactly what he wants in regards to his career or better still in regards to a partner, he is seen as a go getter, but if a woman is to list the exact same with what she wants in a potential partner she may be labelled as picky, too fussy, and shallow? A man with standards is admirable but a woman with standards or even preferences is often seen as picky.

I’m not sure if it’s just me but I am familiar with the term “grow to love”. We are directly or indirectly told that physical attraction shouldn’t be the basis of our decision when picking a partner because we can “grow to love” them anyway. Whilst I do believe some men are also called shallow when they do the same, I do not believe it is a pressure that pushes them beyond their own personal preferences, the way it can be for us.

We are expected to be loving, kind and nurturing which I’m not mad at, but actually being physically attracted to a partner is not expected to be the most important factor for women. We are expected to look beyond the physical. Moving away from just physical attraction alone that notion that a woman is “lucky” to find a partner means that women end up settling in ways they shouldn’t. Certain things that should be red flags are often ignored because “at least you have a man”.

I know love is a choice, a commitment and something that grows over time. However I believe it is very important young women don’t feel pressured into compromising preferences or standards.

I asked myself what if I don’t want to grow to love YOU.

We all have a choice in who we choose and we all have a right to be in charge of who we choose. Young queens do not be pressured into settling. You do not have to grow to love someone if they are not what you want. Identify what you do and do not want and stick by them.