Currently, R&B sensation and American Idol winner Fantasia’s affair with a married man and Alicia Keys’ dalliance with Swizzy before they got married are bringing this subject to the forefront of the black blogosphere.
When I asked her why she would sleep with a married man, she said she liked “the gifts, casual sex and the lack of serious attachment”.
For a young lady on the go and about her business, I could see how that might seem like an ideal set up.
But what about his wife? And his kids? I asked.
“What about ‘em?” my friend said, side-eyeing me with her left eyebrow high in the air. “I don’t care about them, as long as he’s good to me.”
Just Be Good to Me
When my friend said that, I immediately thought about the lyrics to another popular song about cheaters, the 80s SOS band smash, “Just Be Good to Me“.
The song, which features a monster R&B groove rising and falling over heavy synthesizers, tells the story of a young woman enamored with a man who “may have many others”, but she shelves thoughts of him cheating as long as the man agrees to “just be good” to her.
Over the years, I’ve had friends who’ll sometimes call to tell me about a great guy they just met, and in the midst of gushing over this man, eventually a small dent in this new knight’s armor will be casually revealed: “He’s perfect! Except…did I mention that he’s married?”
And just like a film director, I already know what my friend is about to say next. It’s the same phrase I hear over and over from friends who date married men, as if they all read the same script.
My friend adds quickly, pushing the string of words out so fast it’s almost like one: “ButHe’sSeparatedFromHisWifeSoIt’sNotLikeHe’s really married…”
I’ve often wondered why so many of my friends seem to find nothing wrong with dating married men, and when I say “married men” I also include men who claim to be “separated”, because “separated” does not equal “divorced”.
Is the dating crisis for black women really that severe that we’re driven to share men? Or is there something deeper going on?
While I don’t know Fantasia or anything about her life other than the facts I’ve already mentioned, I’m going to venture to guess a few things about her.
1. She probably grew up having her hair fried with a straightening comb every week as a child before she was deemed “old enough” at age 8 or 9 to have her hair coated with toxic chemicals for 30 minutes every month in order to straighten it, with particular attention paid to straightening the “naps” in her ““kitchen”.
2. More than likely, she was often made to feel inferior because of her dark skin, and may have even been advised to use bleaching creams or to “stay out of the sun so you don’t get darker”.
3. Someone may have even advised her to tuck her lips in so they didn’t protrude as much, or, as my grandmother used to tell me, “pinch your nose a little every night so maybe it’ll get straighter”.
How can I say these things? Because Fantasia’s upbringing, more or less, was my upbringing.
And while our stories are exactly not the same, I know one thing: the stories of black women who grew up poor in the South are, in many ways, more alike than they are different.
I have no doubt Fantasia’s low self-esteem caused by her –our– upbringing contributed to her extreme attachment and devotion to this married man, who, as a church-going woman, Fantasia should have automatically backed away from. But why didn’t she?
Friends…Tell Me I Am Crazy…
Ok. I’m not even going to front and act like I can’t see what the attraction is. Antwon Cook is one fine brother.
When Fantasia met Antwon at his T-Mobile store in Charlotte, she no doubt was swept off her feet by someone that was attracted to her blackness, her full lips, wide hips and take-me-as-I-am Carolina girl attitude. (And maybe even her money and fame…shhhh…).
Fantasia, star of VH1′s Fantasia For Real and the Oprah Winfrey produced Broadway play The Color Purple is a young mom, and she may have been longing for a successful man for years, but has had to devote most of her time to taking care of her daughter and to her career.
Maybe she just wanted to be put on a pedestal for a change by someone who could make her feel taken care of. As a black woman, I get it.
And in exchange for having this “He’s perfect! Except…” man in her life –who probably made this once little black church girl feel like the most beautiful woman in the world– she was willing to overlook the fact that this man was not yet legally free.
Now Fantasia’s life seems to be falling apart, and I wonder if she thinks it was worth it.
Apparently there’s a sex tape starring Fantasia and Antwon in existence, Antwon broke it off with her (though they’ve been spotted together recently) and a lawsuit currently being brought against Tasia by the current Mrs. Cook could cost Fantasia millions.
The publicity surrounding the affair, sex tape and lawsuit has put Fantasia in a deep depression. She even made an attempt on her own life. And in the midst of her nightmare, some people have even joked that she’s learning lessons from the Alicia Keys guide to dating.
And through it all, I’m guessing that the worst part of this, at least for Fantasia, is the fact that the man who’s last name she has tattooed on her left shoulder is still married, albeit separated.
Fantasia’s heartache saddens me, for several reasons. One, Fantasia is a fellow young black woman from North Carolina who reminds me a lot of myself because we both know what it’s like to grow up black and poor in this state.
Two, Fantasia’s story reminds me of the first friend I mentioned.
Eventually, my friend’s sometime man, who seemed to be in a perpetual state of “separation,” finally got a divorce. And soon after his divorce, he wasted no time in getting hitched again — to someone else.
My friend, who thought she had been “unattached” in their relationship, realized she had indeed become very attached, and was heartbroken.
Women become involved with married men for a myriad of complex reasons. I just wish Fanstasia the best, and if I could talk to Fantasia today I would say Fantasia, please take care of yourself, and your child, and let that man stay where he is until he’s legally free.
Because when a man is truly ready to leave a woman, he doesn’t just get separated, he gets divorced.
What do you think about women dating married men? Is it ever ok?
Do you think black women date more married men than women of other ethnicities?
Do you think Mrs. Cook is right in pursuing a lawsuit against Fantasia?
Other thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear from you.