By Maya Francis

I have an older brother. He is 17 years older than me, stands at a confident 6’1″, and is witty, charming, and handsome. The problem is that he knows it, and for most of his life, women have catered to his whims and his ego on more occasions than I can stand to count. I hung out with my brother the other day, a seldom occurrence, at his apartment. It is meticulous in its cleanliness, and has a particular warmth and style to it, particularly for a man who lives alone. A comforting smell of lavender draped the room from a series of burning candles. The Isley Brothers beckoned from his bedroom.

“You want me to be your boyfriend and I’m trying to be your friend. Stop making me the f*cking bad guy,” he spewed in his cell phone. Despite the peaceful ambiance, these conversations are not unusual for my brother, who seems to attract a special breed of relentless woman, whose self-respect seems to teeter on the brink, if it even exists at all. “Stop trying to make me your f*cking boyfriend. I’m trying to be honest, but my truth seems f*cking hurtful to you.”

I laughed, knowing it wasn’t funny, but amused by how routine it had become. For years, I’ve watched him break them in, then break them down. There was the girl who he dated each holiday season for access to her Macy’s discount; the idiot who sat in the car on hot summer days while my brother visited my mom within the cool confined of the AC in our house; the one who took him back after I wrongfully identified her on the phone (“Oh, hey Cindy. I’ll tell him you called.” “Cindy?” she said incredulously. “No, Maya. This is Kenya. Have him call me.”)

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This is nothing new, and yet, it never gets old.

I got comfortable on the sofa while he continued to berate his non-girlfriend. “You can’t have a f*cking monopoly on my time. You want to be over here every day, and frankly, it doesn’t bother me that you haven’t been here in two days. I have other sh*t to do. I’m not your boyfriend. I keep telling you, you should find somebody to take you out. You should want to be with somebody who wants the same things that you do.”

And there it was. Despite the packaging and the delivery, my brother had said one of the more honest things I’d ever heard him – or any man like him – say to a woman who wanted too much from a man who had little to offer but hard d**k and a few jokes. Seeing that I’d gotten settled on the sofa, my brother ended the call with his lady friend abruptly, though she continued to plead with him via text throughout the two hours or so that I was there.

You should want to be with somebody who wants the same things that you do.

For the last week, I’ve heard myself repeat these words in my head. It’s a simple concept, really. And yet, we waste so much valuable, irreplaceable, expensive-ass time wanting someone (or some thing) that simply isn’t for us. Trying to fit square pegs into round holes so we feel like we’ve won. Like we’ve accomplished something. That we’re exceptional, because, despite the odds, we were able to make the impossible, possible.

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And what, really, is more impossible than trying to make some man with no expressed interest in a relationship, a monogamous, considerate, consistent, emotionally-available partner? What wars have been waged, what property, damaged, because some woman felt herself losing the battle, but sought to be victorious in the war? Who among us hasn’t transferred our substantive being into a vessel of resentment and vengeance at some point all because a man has remained steadfast in his resistance to our hopes that one day he may reach an epiphany?