Tag Archive | relationships

Learning to Love

“When you really take the energy to pay attention to your relationship. And really put your all into that relationship and love him in a way that your mama didn’t teach you how to love a man.… Sistas listen…treat him like a king if you want to be treated like a queen—it works. ”

 ~Monique (the comedienne) 

A few days ago, I watched Monique’s interview where she talked about a variety of topics including her dramatic weight loss, the cancellation of her late night talk show on BET, love and relationships etc. Her comment above is in response to the interviewers questions about her “open” marriage. The open relationship was her idea because she was constantly on the road, but it backfired when “she realized the king she had at home” and decided to preserve her marriage.

 The part that intrigued me the most is when she spoke about learning to love a man the way your mother didn’t teach you. It resonated with me because what I know about love didn’t necessarily come from my mother. She gave me advice on how to deal with men and carry myself around them, but there wasn’t anything in particular that I learned from her about how to love a man. Do parents have a responsibility to teach us how to love a man or woman?

I think parents do more modeling (observational) than teaching (intentional) when it pertains to love (or lack thereof). In many ways, what is modeled before us is inherently teaching us about love (both positive and negative). Sometimes there is a clear line of distinction. For instance, I do not look to my parents’ marriage as a healthy model for love (what they modeled). However, my expectations about how I am supposed to be treated by a man come from the standards that have been set by my father (what he taught me).

 I think it’s definitely possible to learn about the nature of love from your parents, but learning how to love a man or woman is unique to the individual. It requires navigating through relationships and realizing what works or doesn’t work. It means not viewing love through the lens of the broken relationships that abound in families. It means not looking to society’s distorted view of love as the standard. It requires some soul searching to discover the ways you experience love, and in turn, show love to others. All those factors combined with putting in the work and energy that Monique was referring to influences how you love a man or woman.

Stop Giving….

“Stop giving”

That was a recent text from a family friend. Here are the series of texts that led to that response:

Family Friend (FF): Hope you enjoy your long Easter weekend. Hope you meet the love of your life soon…(additional stuff not related to this post)

Me:  Thanks for your message! I think I’ve given up on meeting the love of my life. I just want a fulfilling life. (additional stuff not related to this post)

FF: You are too young to give up. My cousin’s daughter married at 42 and is having a baby at 44. Life will happen. Love you.

Me: LORD! That’s a lot in her 40s. I just don’t know if I will meet someone of quality who will do the work. I always end up giving more of myself. It’s exhausting. Love you too!

FF: Stop giving. (additional stuff not related to this post)

Stop giving. That has really stuck with me. What would it be like if I stop giving? I’m a giver at the very core of my being. I’m not sure if I don’t know how to stop giving.

I’m a giver. I sometimes don’t like that about myself but it’s in my nature to be a giver—I give of my time, my resources, my love, my talents, etc. Like I love hard, I give equally as hard. I don’t give to necessarily receive to win the affections of people. I give out of my being because I have so much to share and offer.

To be honest I’ve shut down. I’m shut down from men. I’ve shut down from friends (I’m currently not friend shopping). I’ve shut down from people. I don’t trust anybody at this point. I’m just tired of giving so much of myself and people not giving in return.

Maybe I need to adjust my expectations or know whom to give the appropriate amount of myself to. I’m not sure. This is where I am right now. I’m aware of my feelings and I own them. I’m not trying to stay in this place forever but I need to take a time out from giving. What does this look like? I’m extremely intentional in the people that I invest in right now. I’m sticking to my inner circle of close friends. I’m very protective and not willing to let new people in my life.

If you’re not investing in me then I’m not investing in you. I’m not interested in being in large groups for long periods of time. I’m taking “me time” as needed. I’m also just really careful about opening up to people as I’m in a fragile state. (I know that this is totally ironic that I’m writing all of this for people to see but writing is different. As a writer, you it’s necessary to provide a certain degree of openness to connect with others.).

During this time, I’m learning about boundaries and how it relates to giving. I want to be able to have open communication about giving in my future relationships/friendships. Let’s just put it out in the open. I don’t want to get to this exhausted state without doing some work to prevent it.

I know being shut down is an issue—it happens. I’m prone to it because I’ve been hurt a lot in life. However, I don’t want this to be a common practice or a way of life. Guarding your heart is a very wise  but there is a difference in that and being shut down. We’re made as social creatures and quite honestly I know the value of social interaction. I also think that I can’t fulfill my dreams being closed off to people because they are central to what I want to do in my life.

So I’m just taking this time to heal, keeping it in prayers and receiving the love and support from those that I treasure. These issues are very prominent in life as I’ve recently had a deep conversation about this with my bestie the other day. I also went up for prayer after church and the thing the minister focused most on was HEALING FOR MY BROKEN HEART. I wholeheartedly received that prayer as tears rolled down my cheeks. I know that this is something I need to deal with.

Will I stop giving? Yes, for the time being but I don’t think I’ll never be able to stop giving.It’s not who I am.

Disney Lied to Me: Why Love Isn’t Enough…

This entry was difficult to write but very cathartic at the same time. I hope you appreciate my transparency.

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‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

~Alfred Lord Tennyson

I wish that I could believe that love is enough. If so, I’d be married by now. Unfortunately, that’s not how things unfolded for us but I will always love him.

 We have a lot of history. I met him when I was 24 and he was 32. He is different – a little quirky. I like that. He is brilliant. I can be 100% myself with him – I don’t let my guard down for many people, but I know that I can say anything to him and feel comfortable.  I’m just amazed that we know each other so well. He recently told me that he needs to guard his heart with me because I change my mind sometimes. He knows I’m fickle and very indecisive. I know how he will respond in certain situations. It’s like we were made for each other.

 Things were going well for a while, but then I realized that the relationship was draining me because of circumstances that are out of his control (people who are close to me know what I’m talking about. I don’t feel the need to put his business out there like that). I stayed because I wanted to make it work. Then one day I woke up and realized that I couldn’t do it anymore – not because I didn’t love him, but because I saw a glimpse of my future with him and it was not what I envisioned for my life.

That didn’t stop me from going back to him a few times even though I always ended up with the same outcome. It’s not in the cards for us. It’s not fair, but it’s life. I still communicate with him. I try to be a friend to him because he doesn’t have many people in his life, but it’s complicated because we’re friends who love each other. I admit that our communication sometimes opens the door for my feelings to resurface.

I know I can’t go back. I know that is not those close to me would want for me. More importantly, I don’t think that is what I want for me. The important lesson that I gained from our doomed relationship is that love is simply not enough. Yes, I want love. I also want stability, a partnership, and security just to name a few things. I want to say I will never get back together with him but I don’t know what the future holds. I do know that a relationship is a not an option right now and I’m not waiting for that time to come. I’m fine with that. I have not idea what is going to happen but I definitely want God’s best for me.

 

Love Series: It’s Impossible to Love You

 A friend requested that I do a post on dating unavailable men. That led me do a series of posts on love. I’m no relationship expert nor do I have tons of dating experience, but I picked up a few lessons along the way. 😉 This is the first post in the “Love Series.” Enjoy!

 It’s impossible /It’s impossible to love you / Impossible to make it easy /If you always tryin’ to make it so damn hard/ How can I, how can I give you all my love, baby / If you’re always, always puttin’ up your guard

~ taken from Christina Aguilera’s “Impossible”

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I’ve encountered a few unavailable men on my love journey. Sometimes they were unavailable because of internal issues and other times it was caused by issues that were out of their control. Whatever the cause, I’ve learned a few things through my experiences:

You can’t change people. You can only change yourself and personally I think you can’t even do that without God’s help!  I’ve learned that you can’t change people – it’s a choice they need to make. In that same vein, you can’t make somebody be with you — either they’re going to do the work or they’re not (no excuses!). There are some key ingredients to making a relationship work (e.g. trust, communication, respect, effort, etc.). If they’re not willing to push beyond what is holding them back and do the work then it’s time to let it go. You can’t be in a relationship by yourself – that’s just called being alone (whether you’re technically in a relationship or not). I’ve learned that the hard way.

Don’t let your loyalty keep you in a relationship. I’m definitely a ride or die chick *cue the song*. I’m extremely loyal. I think it’s cultural to an extent, but it’s also just who I am. Sometimes I think that is to my own detriment. I overstayed my welcome in previous relationships even though it wasn’t working because I wanted to try to work things out. I reiterate what I’ve said before: you can’t be in a relationship alone. If he is not unavailable then don’t feel as though you have to stay in a relationship to make it work. It’s not worth it. Save yourself the time and the tears. Go be a ride or die chick for someone that wants to be with you and do the work. You can’t expect something from somebody that they aren’t capable of giving you.

You can’t take on his baggage. Where in the world do I begin with this? I’ve done this so much! I’ve dealt with things that perhaps I shouldn’t have. For example, I have albinism, which is a genetic condition. I dated someone with another type of “condition” because we both have very misunderstood conditions (even though they are very different). I was really naïve. I don’t regret that relationship because it taught me a lot, but I was definitely in a relationship with him and his issues. It was very stressful. I was going through my own growing pains AND helping him deal with his issues. It was so exhausting! I couldn’t be a martyr. I couldn’t be his savior. I had to let it go. His issues began to impact me and I couldn’t take it anymore.

Don’t become jaded about love.  Appreciate all the lessons that you learned in previous relationships: good or bad. They inform you of what you want and don’t want to deal with or what you can or can’t handle. I realize there are some VERY real deal breakers to be mindful of as I consider entering into a relationship. I used to be very hard on myself because of the choices I’ve made, but I know that is was all lessons learned and I’m grateful for that.

My final piece of advice is to be open because if you’re not then you’re continuing the cycle of being “unavailable” for the next person that walks into your life.

 

Check out my other posts on love/dating/relationships until the next installment of the Love Series:

Sitting on the Sidelines: I’m Taking a Hiatus from Dating

Black Women and Dating: Is Not Smiling Costing Us Dates?