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Law of Subtraction

When we’re young we learn how to add about the same time we learn how to subtract. As soon as we are old enough, fairy tales make us want to add a prince or a knight to our dreams. We conjure Mr. Right out of thin air and shape him to be all that we want him to be. We picture him tall, handsome and smart with the ability to make our hearts beat. He is a fantasy and a figment of our little girl dreams. We make our dream man perfect because we believe that we deserve the best so we don’t leave any good qualities out. He is the Ken to our Barbie and our budding self-esteem demands that we make him worthy.

As we mature the mathematical maneuvering begins. Life teaches us that a good man has more than what the eyes can see, so we add things. We multiply the facets of our guy’s character so he can be strong where we are weak. Like God made Adam out of clay we reshape our dream man until he’s a masterpiece. We’re done creating. As young women we test our dreams against reality. We delve into our first relationship with stars in our eyes and our hearts open wide. Our first love is human and he has faults; he’s far from ideal so we cross him off the list. Moving on is easy. The next guy comes (mean), then the next (lazy), and so one. Things with our prince aren’t going as planned. It’s time to reassess. The next guy is far from perfect, he has only a few of the things we need, but time is passing.  We decide to ignore that he doesn’t call or treat us like queens. We’re tired and weary so we look at our childhood list and subtract. We say to ourselves, I’ll take some traits off the list but not everything. The relationship fails and we’re left with broken hearts. Was it our fault? The next guy loves someone else, the other has a problem with fidelity and the third says, ‘he’s just not ready.’ Again we press the minus symbol and subtract. We tell ourselves, I can’t have it all. I’ll take just one more trait off the list but not everything. After a few more failed relationships we consult the childhood list. We rewrite, rearrange and strike things off completely. Maybe we wanted too much. Maybe our requirements were unrealistic. With just one requirement left on the list finding Mr. Right will be easy. Our only condition now is that he love us unconditionally.

The lack of standards now attracts men who are just fractions of what they should be. We start to think that love is overrated. We don’t need it if we have someone to snuggle up with at night? Our list is empty but the thought settles into our minds that, we will take just one more thing off the list. Just one more thing. Surely no woman can have everything. Subtract.

All we want now is a man to be there and most nights he can’t even do that. The little girl with the list is gone. We look at ourselves in the mirror and subtract…subtract…subtract.

Have you practiced the law of subtraction just to add a man to the equation?



About the Author

Stephanie Small, Sistah & Superhero! Author, Educator, Personal Growth Coach & wannabe Superhero! Author of Black Girl's Guide to Winning at Love & Life! (Available on Amazon.com, B&N and Kobo)
  • Juschilin

    Really enjoyed this one – are you saying that most women settled with the men they now have.


    • Juschilin, I can’t say ALL women settle. The scope of male and female relationships is too vast. But building a make-believe boyfriend is like the Build-a-Bear Toy Store on 5th Ave. What suits one little girl is not an exact fit for all kids. Many of us settle and yet some women never compromise. It’s about choice. Thanks for the post, I’m sure you are the man of your girlfriend’s dreams.

      the Super Sistah


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