It’s not me, it’s you.
With the daunting day of love quickly approaching, I think it is inevitable for the topic of love to come up in conversation.
What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Are you spending the holiday with anybody special?
It can be awkward, insulting, and uncomfortable for many reasons. Some of us are unhappily single. (You can be single and happy, by the way.) Some of us are in secret “situationships.” Some of us have “ring anxiety.” Some of us are just unhappy with our significant other.
It’s natural. It happens.
What I find to be unnatural about our society is the pressure placed on women to be the anchor in maintaining “healthy” relationships. Essentially, whether we like to admit it or not, many of us accept the full-time job of playing both roles in our relationships.
We are to be confident despite wandering eyes.
We uplift no matter how reduced we feel.
We comfort when there is no comfort for us.
All of this is to say, we conveniently forget the most common reasons for developing relationships: sharing love, learning/growing from/with someone, companionship, and (one would assume) the safety of a monogamous relationship (Huff Post). Each of these assets require another person to pull their weight, assuring their partner feels loved.
We beat ourselves up for failed relationships. We worry about being alone. We sweep our feelings under the rug. We settle. We blame ourselves and water the seed of self-hate.
Society demands the world from women. It is time we demanded something from those who claim to be worthy of our love, attention, conversation, and space. I am not an expert on relationships. I am a woman that knows how it feels to be loved and unloved. There are three factors I believe we should be mindful of before pressuring ourselves into relationships or beating ourselves up for the failed ones:
Communication – means of connection between people or places
You were probably expecting this one. The way someone communicates with you is like an audition for the role they will play in your life. In a world that is ruled by social media and technology, it is easy for people to have piss-poor face to face communication skills. Folks are always scrolling, tweeting, and updating the world on their fabulous lives. We have all been guilty a time or two, but in real life, it is vital to feel like we are being heard.
We deserve to have conversations about how we analyze movies, songs, and books. We deserve to be able to comfortably discuss the highs and lows of the day without any distractions. We deserve to be comfortable with someone while in a state of vulnerability.
Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, defines a growth mindset as, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment,”
This sounds odd, but as I wrote this, I reflected on my own relationship. Over the past few years, I have frequently asked my boyfriend questions about his goals. Sometimes I will ask where he sees himself five years from now. I ask him what he wants to do and who he wants to be. I ask the same questions multiple times to see if anything has changed. Do you want more for yourself? Do you want more for us? I do not necessarily mean more money or tangible things, but I do ask in hopes that his dreams are never shot down.
We deserve someone that will not only encourage us, but also not allow themselves to plateau. We deserve someone willing to continue to grow as we continue to grow.
The Ability to Love
Love- a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person
Oddly enough, I never looked up the definition of love until I started writing. Although I find the dictionary’s definition to hold some truth, I have always clung to my father’s interpretation. I had to be 15 when he said, “Love is an ability. Some people just can’t.” I have clung to this because no matter how society tries to define love, the feeling itself has no definition, but we know it when we feel it. We deserve to feel loved.
We have to understand, as women, we are deserving. Settling for anything less is not an option.