I had a conversation the other day and the subject of self-honesty came up. Being not so honest with ourselves in regards to the relationships we find ourselves struggling in, tends to be overlooked. So let’s unpack this, shall we?
Sis, are you really mad at him, or is he not living up to the fantasy you concocted in your mind about who he is and how he should behave? Can we discuss this fantasy building tendency we have? We need to unpack why we do it and the inevitable emotional fallout it causes. We need to discuss it in order for us to avoid the pitfalls that will always follow.
Oftentimes, we as women tend to tie our self-worth and identities to a relationship. We don’t see ourselves as complete unless we are in a relationship. Many times we see being in a said relationship as a way to validate our existence. Societal pressures play a big part in forming this mindset. Statements like: “What do you mean you don’t have a man yet?”; “Why are you still single”; “No one’s scooped you up yet?”; “Stop being so independent so you can settle down!” Sound familiar? From the time we are young, we begin to dream of the time when we walk down the aisle to get married. We dream up scenarios about the perfect boyfriend. We not only daydream about his looks but we also daydream about how he will treat us, the adventures we’d share, how much money he’d make, and how he will make sure we want for nothing. These teenaged-girl dreams subconsciously follow us into adulthood.
However, what awaits us as we become women are timelines and more intense societal pressures to achieve the perfect career, home, and relationship. We begin to actively seek out ways to accomplish each goal. We have an idea how we’d like our homes to look, so we diligently put our dollars aside and start to look for just the right spot. We decorate it much in the way we had dreamed of. We craft our resumes in such a way that we will land that perfect job so that we can easily finance our lifestyle. We plan everything, every detail of our lives. We even plan our relationships, and this is where we can get stuck if we aren’t careful. We are so accustomed to planning how we want things to be that we forget that we can’t plan how someone else will behave.
When we enter a relationship we have preconceived notions about how things will be. However, we are still influenced by societal pressures for perfection. We expect that our partners will live up to the ideals we’ve had since childhood. We expect that knight in shining armor who will sweep us off our feet. We expect to be showered with gifts and to be spoken to in dulcet tones. We expect that once in a relationship, your partner’s drive and ambition will match or exceed your own. You expect your dreams to come true. But sometimes it’s not that simple. Sometimes we enter into a relationship with someone based on sexual compatibility, yet we failed to date them long enough to discover if they are:
1. Emotionally available
2. Financially stable
3. Emotionally stable
5. Ready to be in a relationship
6. Intellectually compatible
7. Raised on love or survival
We are so excited to be in love that we fail to discover how they show love. They may profess love with their words but not know how to do so with their actions. So here you are arriving home from a stressful day at work expecting your partner to greet you with a hug, a kiss, and soothing words. But what you find is him sitting on the couch playing his game system where he’s been all day. He looks up for a split second and asks, “What are you going to cook, I’m hungry.” This isn’t the first time or even the second and now you’re mad. Sound familiar?
How about this: For his birthday you bought him a gift that he’d been eyeing for quite some time. He was so hyped that he called his boys to brag about you. Months later, your birthday (or any other gift-giving holiday) rolls around and all he gets you is a card. Now you’re mad, hurt, and feel unappreciated. What is the common denominator in each scenario? Lack of clear communication early in the relationship. It’s not him you’re mad at. You’re mad that he’s not living up to all of the preconceived notions you formed years ago? You’re angry because he didn’t abide by the non-existent conversation you should have had from the beginning. Did you fall in love with who he was or did you fall for who you hoped he’d be? Falling in love with an idea or with potential, as opposed to who he really is, can be disastrous.
Let’s be real, having various in-depth conversations during the dating phase is a crucial step that we often miss. We base an entire relationship on sexual compatibility without even once asking important questions. The answers to these questions could very well be deal-breakers, so skipping this step is a huge mistake. So, what can you do if this is the situation you are currently facing? You can rectify it by having a serious heart to heart/face to face conversation with your love interest. Discuss what’s upsetting you. Talk about what you need from them but also be willing to listen to what they need from you. Be patient when having this conversation. Allow it to flow naturally as opposed to you controlling the narrative so it can move in the direction you hope for. If you two can make compromises and work the kinks out of your relationship, then great. If not, respectfully part ways and chalk it up to a lesson learned. And PLEASE learn the lesson! It’s not good to move on to a new relationship holding the same hidden expectations that ended your previous one.
Take your time dating. Date him for several months until you’ve exhausted your list of questions. Date him for several months to observe how he handles stress, his money, and how he treats the women in his life, among others. Find out if he’s kind-hearted and note if he was raised on love rather than survival. If he was raised on survival, chances are he won’t know how to love you properly and his responses to everyday scenarios will be askew. Your love languages matter, Sis!! Go into a relationship fully informed about who he is and what he is about, as opposed to holding on to the fantasy you want him to fulfill. There’s no rush. Societal pressures will be there whether you jump into a relationship or whether you don’t. But which is better? Getting into a relationship that adds to your joy or one that disrupts your peace? I want you to choose joy. Why? Because you deserve it.