Queen Bey really hit on something when she made her hit song “Single Ladies.” While she eloquently narrated this “know your worth” anthem, I would like to add my two cents.
Ladies, I don’t know about you but I’m tired! Actually, I was tired of being sick and tired! It may surprise you that it wasn’t the guys that I was tired of. They prompted my frustration but I was tired of me. I’m good now, but I realized I was the one setting myself up for failure in relationships. I was naively hoping for a different outcome, while doing the same thing over and over again. That’s insanity, literally.
See, where it all went wrong for me was that I was only raised to be a wife. My parents are both active leaders in the church, so marriage is the only concept there is. Preparing for marriage is essential, but what I really needed to know was, how do I go from single to married? There’s a major gap in between. While my parents were only doing what they were taught, I had to learn about dating through the world’s eyes.
My generation is much different than my parents’. What they taught me is not wrong by any means, it just needed to be a little more well-rounded. The reality is, there’s a single season before there’s marriage. In this generation, marriage is no longer the goal in relationships. Marriage is “unnecessary,” “only a document,” “only benefits the women,” and a long list of other negative connotations. I wasn’t prepared for this type of shift in the mindset of men today because my end goal has always been marriage.
I was 18 when I had my first real relationship, and because I was raised to be a wife, being a “good girlfriend,” reflected being a “wife.” I did everything I could do to make sure that he knew that I was “wife” material. I cooked for him. I protected him from the police. I watched porn for instructional purposes. I was inexperienced, and wanted to do what the porn stars did, so that he wouldn’t get bored and cheat on me. This was my first real relationship, but instead of enjoying the freeflow of being young and in a relationship, all I could hear was the voice of my parents in my head, telling me that I needed to get married. My boyfriend and I talked about marriage, so I just knew that we were headed in the right direction. He got into serious trouble with the law our 5th year together, so it never happened. Thank God for His mercy, because I could have went down as well, because I was a “rider.”
My other relationships also followed the same type of narrative. For one of my ex’s, I put a car in my name, as well as an apartment. For another ex, I bought him gifts, cooked him meals all the time and brought it to his job, all before we had a title. Luckily, I was in the process of knowing better and doing better, so that relationship only last 8 1/2 months.
Looking back, I asked myself “how could I have been so stupid?” I came to the reality that sometimes it’s not that we’re stupid, it’s that we’re misinformed. Yes, there are some things that you just shouldn’t do, but when you were raised to be a wife, how can you truly know the difference?
When a friend told me how she dated her fiance before they got engaged, changed my whole perspective. She said, “until you are married, you are still single.” She was dating her fiance (before he proposed), while dating other guys. She didn’t give her all to only one person, until he showed her that he wanted a commitment (by proposing.) I had heard this plenty of times, but this time, it hit me differently. This was because I was in a place in my life where I wanted to do better. My life was getting ready to take off, so I no longer felt the pressure to prove myself to a man. I was doing the work that I needed to do, in order attract the kind of love that I deserved. Previously, I had been operating out of desperation and I didn’t know it. Because, I wasn’t in the career of my choice, financially stable, and a little too round for my liking, I sold myself short. I thought that marriage would cover up my shortcomings. I didn’t realize that I should have been working on improving the things that I was insecure about, instead of trying to force myself into marriage with people I wasn’t meant to be with.
Now, the concept of dating and relationships have taken on a whole new meaning for me. Even when you are dating, you are still single. And single means just that, you are single. It’s just you, until it’s us. Ladies, where we often fall short is once we get into a relationship, we start thinking as if we are one with our partner. Your partner on the other hand, is still operating as if the two of you are individual. We like to blame men for this way of thinking, but he’s absolutely right to do so. He recognizes that he hasn’t made a commitment to you by marrying you, so his options are still open. He is still free to entertain other women, get them pregnant and so on, while dating us. We have to take this same mindset and now use it to our advantage. It is for our own protection. We are the ones getting stuck, used and abused because we don’t think about ourselves aside from our partners, not realizing that they can’t see us until we let them. It is our job to let the man see us. We don’t have anything to prove to him except that we are emotionally intelligent, loving and caring. The way to do this without doing too much is by letting him see you. He sees you by noticing how well you take care of yourself. Is your hair done? Are your nails clean and groomed? He sees you when you start standing up for yourself and not allowing him to run all over you. Do you allow him to call you out your name? Do you hold him accountable for being inconsistent? He sees you when you are setting goals and reaching them. Do you have a job that you love? Have you lost that 10-20 lbs you’ve been complaining about?
It’s 2020, and the Rona has us re-evaluating everything as we know it. I challenge you to also re-evaluate how you’ve been dating, and how you do relationships. Ladies, we set the standard for what we want in our lives, from relationships to careers and everything in between. Our men won’t treat us better until we treat ourselves better. When we stop getting mad at them, and start getting mad at ourselves for not elevating and setting the standard at which we want them to meet us, that’s when we’ll see a change in our relationships.
Be the change you seek, and watch how everything else around you changes as well.