They say there are two sides to every story.
Nothing surprising there, especially when it comes to relationships, but the fact is there are most likely three: yours, theirs and the truth.
If you listen to the other side of the story, particularly when it’s not your story, your perspective will more than likely change.
This occurred to me soon after receiving an avalanche of email from men who took issue with Alisa Henderson’s assessment of Atlanta’s dating scene and more specifically the difficulty single women like her have finding a suitable mate.
It was Henderson’s opinion that a good man was hard to find, made even more difficult by an imbalance in Atlanta’s male-female ratio. There are 80,000 more single women than men in Atlanta, ages 18-64, one of the largest gaps in the country.
Gary Ellison, though, believes women would fare better if, perhaps, they’d remember the man who brung ’em.
“Most successful women came from a hardworking blue-collar family,” he wrote. “Once they have made it … they’re too good for the hardworking blue-collar man.”
Ellison, a 50-year-old truck driver from Grayson, suggests women look for a man like their blue-collar father.
“He will never let you down,” he said. “That’s the blue-collar pride.”
Although Adrian Thomas agrees being single and serious in metro Atlanta isn’t easy, he said it comes down to a woman’s maturity level or lack thereof.
Thomas describes himself as a fit, 54-year-old divorcee, successful director of Internal Audit at a local telecommunications manufacturing company and “most definitely a good man.”
But he said, “A lot of (women) still need to grow up.”
Roger Brown took Henderson’s assessment personally and said it promoted stereotypes of African-American men as irresponsible and unreliable miscreants. My word. Not his.
“I am a 50-year-old black male,” he wrote. “I work for a federal agency as an information technology professional, am a very proud father of two adult daughters. I attend church regularly and have a very personal relationship with God.”
Brown said that he has been seeking a committed relationship with a black woman since moving to Atlanta eight years ago but hasn’t found one.
“I’ve experienced the male opposite of what was described,” he wrote.
And it’s not just true for him: Brown said this is true for his black male friends who are also gainfully employed, successful, intelligent and single.
Like Henderson, Brown said that he’s found dates online, gotten hookups from friends, through his church single ministries but nothing.
“I don’t do clubs but will go listen to live music and I enjoy getting together with small groups of close friends,” he wrote. “But in these efforts to meet that right one, I’ve quite frankly met many looking for or asking for what they are not willing to give.”
One woman, Brown said, went as far as to run a background check on him. That was fine but he later found out that her supposed ex-husband was still living at home.
“I’ve numerous examples of some really crazy experiences since moving here but I’m still hopeful and I don’t hold any beliefs that there are no ‘good black women.’”
But like Ellison, he does believe that good black men are often overlooked or rejected because women often have unrealistic expectations, are only interested in how much money men make, or simply believe they don’t need a man.
Something tells me this isn’t something we’re likely to settle any time soon, but I circled back to Leslie Neland, the local relationship expert who suggested ways women could get around the monopoly board.
Neland, author of “Finding Mr. Forever,” says even men can follow the formula she devised for women called the 3 L’s: List. Location. Love.
The list should consist of the most important qualities and attributes that you want your Mrs. Forever to possess. Be specific and list no less than five, but no more than 10. Once you determine the type of woman you’re interested in, be proactive in locating her. If you want a doctor, for instance, attend medical conferences or places where doctors frequent. And just like a woman, a man must love himself first.
What was surprising is what Neland said next. Men are a lot more picky than women.
“They have more to choose from,” she said.
That’s the good news, men. The bad news is your chances for making a bad decision are greater, too.
Because of that, Neland said, men should be selective and know who they are compatible with.
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST
Gracie Bonds Staples is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for daily newspapers since 1979, when she graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi. She joined The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2000 after stints at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Sacramento Bee, Raleigh Times and two Mississippi dailies. Staples was recently promoted to Senior Features Enterprise Writer. Look for her columns Thursdays and Saturdays in Living and alternating Sundays in Metro.