Relationships Are Not 50/50, They're About Manhood by Kyle Phoenix

In response to emails about other TV shows and blogs that ask about relationships and how to balance them.  They'll never be exactly balanced and the desire to have it be 50/50 has more to do with a capitalistic box being forced onto individuals.  You and a partner will not always be comparable in the same areas. One person will make more money, perhaps even doubly so and can't expect the partner making less money to chip in 50% to the rent/mortgage.  A work around to that might be that if someone makes drastically more than the other party is responsible for utilities, cable, food.  Or there might be a time frame where one is in  school or unemployed and that is taken into account for their contribution.  That should mean though that maybe the house is sparkling clean, meals prepared, dry cleaning and laundry done for the other and social obligations managed.

Men tend to assume all men are like them rather than learn how men and women do to evaluate individuals based upon that individual.  Men with men also tend to ignore that a relationship isn't a service being met but a blending of lives to help support and enhance each other.  One of the things I've come to consider in relationships is that my employment must include domestic partner health insurance at only a minor bump in premiums, as well as making provisions for life insurance to be distributed to a partner and other family members without an issue and that requires a level of outness.  Using your money and resources with a  partner means that you can't play closest games any longer because there might have to be a joint bank account where both men (or women) have part of their pay deposited into or making sure that their partner is directly named in a will, as well as their control over a partner in terms of life ending health care.

MSM are able to negate dealing with the complexity of being a true relationship by assuming it's just sex, having dinner together and 50/50 when in fact real relationships in the 21st century demand a realistic eye at blending one's life and resources.  Honestly part of the joy of being a man, a real man is sharing one's resources.  And if you've got a partner who's been there through thick and thin then they too deserve some of the accolades for helping you maintain stability (physically and mentally/emotionally) during all your trials and tribulations.

Not having constant examples for what it looks like to be same gender partnerships/couplehood leaves MSM with more fantasy than reality when it comes to love.  I had to accept that specifically as a Black man I was gradually moving into a salary range that not all Black and Latino men enjoyed and that meant that if I wanted to go with a special someone to shows or restaurants I had to be conscious of offering to treat them and being clear that I was extending a gift to them and there was no quid pro quo involved.  For instance Plataforma Churrascaria is one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan but it's no fun going there alone (though I have---its THAT good) so when the Plataforma mood hits me every month or so I might invite a new date there; a current paramour; friends or recently I took and adult son for his birthday.

Plataforma is based on the Brazilian delight of multiple kinds of cooked meats (pork, chicken, sausages, steaks, lamb, veal) and fishes/shellfish being brought table side on large skewers.  It's all you can eat based on a card that face up green means more, turned over red side means no more.  Then in the center of the restaurant is an island buffet about a hundred feet in circumference that has all kinds of veggies for salads  soups, sushi, shellfish, antipasto, etc..  While you're handling the buffet you get a checklist card for what hot sides you want for the table---steamed veggies, plantains, mashed potatoes and at the end they come along with a dessert cart that's six feet tall.  It's an experience to go there.  I personally love the variety, that there's a price fixe and that no matter what kinds of people I bring there, there's something to satisfy everyone.  But such variety is expensive, with drinks it can be as much as $100 to $150 per person.  I've been there on average once a month since I found out about it about 10 years ago but not every date/partner I've been with has been able to afford it on their budget.

I, though as a man, think that part of manhood is sharing my bounty with friends, lovers, children and animals lovingly, graciously without expectation of being "paid back" in anyway.  And I do mean anyway.  I've been there on first dates that I've never seen again.  I also like to send people flowers, huge arrangements and plants, cookie platters, cheese baskets and books and music and scarves and candy cane full Xmas cards.  A couple of years ago having moved into a new building I lost my damn mind and made 30 packets of sugar cookies for the every apartment in the building---I got one thank you card back but everyone was always in person nice and pleasant to me.  If I see a sweater or shirt or pair of slacks or coat for a lover or friend or student, I'm cool with picking it up. (I was once talked out of having a BMW on a lover's curb for his birthday with a big red bow on it.)  But I don't expect reciprocation for any of my gifts and I'm in no way thinking that I'm trying to buy someone's affections.  But my education and work history ad skills allow me to have these things to share but should I not share them with people because they can't afford it or have the same level of resources/access that I might?  Would that be loving?

Conversely I will tell you that I've been fortunate enough to have just by accident found myself dating a Broadway producer, a franchise hardware store owner who offered me a house and even a royal prince of the Ottoman Empire (no, really.)  And in those situations I learned to be comfortable with two words: thank you.  With accepting that someone else had more tangible resources and one Christmas I actually had an argument with someone because he was hurt that I hadn't chosen all of the options he'd given me for gifts.  I've only demurred twice, the house offer---it was for me to go to Bard College and I was looking at going elsewhere so it was a great offer but moot; and when the Prince who moved in with me wanted us to get a bigger place....on Park Avenue.  I said no then because we were just starting out and he wasn't sure if he was going to ultimately stay here in America and a $3000 to $5000 a month apartment is only cute when the Prince is on lock down for his share! lol

What I'm trying to convey is that in true manhood sharing is natural, it's one of the ways you can really see a real man.  You can see it in his generosity  his willingness to share what he has and give without reservation.  There are of course boundaries and there are of course people who will try and take advantage of your generosity in even a relationship.  But here's what I can tell you about parasites, they're extremely obvious.  They think you can't see them but you can and parasites never realize that the little thing they've gotten, a nice dinner, some clothing, a nice home to stay in----it's always the tip of the iceberg of what can truly be given to permanently transform a life.  Parasites tend to be consumed with the getting in the short term so most times you don't have to worry about being taken advantage of.  And parasites are only maybe 1 or 2 out of 10 or 100. When a man tells you how much he's concerned about getting hurt and used, he doesn't know how to set boundaries AND be generous.  He can hold it tight to his vest but some of what everyone is looking for in love in generosity.  You might be rocking Scrooge with twenties in your pocket but no one to dance to Silent Night with.  Also I've been on a few different budgets in my lifetime and what I've learned is that $10 today or $100 or even $1000 never broke me for the rest of my life.

Love, or better yet love being a verb, being loving, is about actions and patience and understanding that I might by virtue of my abilities be 70% of the financial in a relationship but you might be 65% of the emotional, the teacher for me to learn how to feel and be intimate in some ways.  Or maybe I'm the 75% brain of what to do with you who instead has 80% of the financial power.  You might be more of an extrovert so you'll have more of the social calender managed than I do and maybe I make sure that those hundred or so Christmas cards I send out a year (I eventually had to slow it down, I was literally spending a weeks pulling it all together! lol) get to your friends and family too.

If we only see a relationship as 50/50 we only get 100.  If we see it instead as multiplying my skills and resources with yours then you have healthcare (worth about $10,000 to $500,000 a year) or I have a nest egg when you pass away or maybe the way I'm shown love is by coming in to your newest food creation every night.  Men quantify resources and 50/50 as unfortunately a commodity or money based system when there are so many other wonderful and larger things that go into a relationship----and those elements can rapidly multiply your joint financial picture faster than two fisting a dollar.

Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
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