Confused and frustrated. Those 2 words best describe how I am feeling at this exact moment. I watched an episode of ‘Being Mary Jane’, a series that depicts the struggles of a Black American woman in her home, career and love life. To say that I am addicted would be an understatement. I am well and truly hooked; not only because I can identify with some of struggles that she faces as a young, single black woman, but the fact that it flags up some fundamental issues when it comes to relationships, ultimately leading you to puzzle over the question: Why do relationships have to be so complicated?
I have always been someone to love being in a relationship. I love the feeling of companionship that comes with it. The feeling of being loved wholeheartedly by someone, and giving that love back ten-fold, completely and selflessly. It is indescribable; fills your heart with so much joy that your chest can barely contain it. I know I definitely want to feel that way about somebody again. And I want it to be mutual and reciprocal, with them loving me with an equal or even greater intensity than I do them. But one thing I must admit is that, I’m scared. I am just so scared of being in a relationship. They are often romanticised, and society constantly makes you feel like if you are not in one then you are really missing out. This is understandable because they can be amazing! But at the same time they come with so much pressure, and it’s this pressure that I am not too sure I can stand.
Even before you start dating there is a slight pressure for you to be the sort of woman a man would want. With this in mind, I don’t mean drastically changing your appearance and pretending to be something that you completely are not, but I mean doing subtle things like spending 5 minutes scrutinizing a text because you don’t want to sound too forward, or give the impression that you are too available but at the same time too independent. People are always saying that you should never act like you are too interested, and that you should play a few games, make the guy chase you. It might sound silly but it seems most guys respond more positively to this sort of childish behaviour, which is sad because it leaves the down-to-earth, hopelessly romantic females contemplating acting like an indifferent diva just to gain the guys attention. Even in the most understated of ways, the idea of being in a relationship already changes who you are from the very beginning, so the question you really need to ask yourself is ‘Is it worth it?’
Right now I am going through a phase where I am not necessarily looking to be in a full blown relationship, but I am definitely keeping an eye out for that guy that I could possibly be in one with. Befriend him. Get to know him, and then possibly take it to that next level. But even the idea of ascending to that next level is scary. I definitely would not say that I am a commitment-phobe, but I believe that everybody should approach the idea of being in a relationship with caution. Why do I feel this way? Because relationships are hard work. Not only do you invest your time, emotions, money and sometimes your body, but you invest your hopes and dreams of the future. In my opinion, for me to do this I need to be completely sure that the man in question is worthy of all of this effort and that the relationship has long-term potential, and could potentially result in marriage.
I feel sad when I hear about women in dysfunctional relationships where the man abuses them mentally and physically, has affairs, and ultimately damages their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. A lot of women enter into or stay in such relationships because they feel that the man is going to change, that they would never be able to find anything better, or they rationalize that maybe they are the problem and the reason for his bad behavior. Understandably, many women are determined to stick through their relationships even when the times are bad, and I mean really bad, but I think that it is important and healthy to take some time and evaluate your relationship, ask yourself some important questions: Is this the sort of man that I want to be in a relationship with? Do I like the person that I am turning out to be? Ultimately, if not then maybe this relationship is not and has never been right for you.
This piece isn’t to discourage people that want to enter into relationships, but it is just to encourage women to be patient and really take the time to think before you choose to make that man your official boyfriend or husband, before you become that desperate woman seeking advice to resolve endless relationship problems.
Take some time to consider these points if you are contemplating becoming his woman:
Make Sure You Know Yourself
I know that my future husband has to be godly, kind, and have the silliest sense of humor. Why? because that’s what makes me happy and something that I cannot do without. What must you have in a man? Do not settle for anything less.
Establish Yourself Spiritually
Religion can really guide you in terms of how to conduct yourself in a relationship; how to treat others and knowing how you should be treated. A godly woman knows her self-worth and the worth of others. Open up to him about your beliefs. A man that will respect you, is morally attuned to you, and strives to build a relationship with you with God at the forefront is definitely a keeper.
You Have To Be Emotionally Mature
Relationships are exhausting. You need to have that emotional maturity to be able to compromise, forgive and work through hard times. Bob Marley wisely said “The truth is everyone is going to hurt you. You just have to find the ones worth suffering for”, thus on entering into a relationship you should be prepared to face hard times, just make sure that without a doubt the man in question is worth it. It’s also important that you hold yourself in high esteem and have a healthy perception of yourself, so if you ever do have to walk away from a dysfunctional relationship or endure through difficult circumstances then your dignity is always intact.
It commands respect: It helps to enter into a relationship knowing that if you wanted to you could leave at your own accord. Strive for personal progression and successes, so that no man would ever be able to take you for granted or use his money or power as leverage. Let him know that you have your own friends, career and interests, and although he is an important part of your life, without him your world will keep on spinning, so he best work hard at staying in it.
Learn More About Him
I know sometimes it’s tempting to snatch that man off the market because he seems to have several of the traits countless women are looking for (e.g handsome, educated, wealthy, god-fearing etc). But really take that time to get to know him. Show him your strengths and weaknesses, and likewise evaluate his. If you can be completely free around him, joke with and confide in him like you’re best friends, then with time it may develop into something more. If he treats you like an invaluable treasure as your friend, then only God knows how amazing your relationship could be as lovers.
I want to leave you with this scenario in mind (taken from ‘Being Mary Jane’): A married woman is confronted by her husband’s mistress about their affair, although deeply hurt, in response she says “I am going to count my blessings that it wasn’t something much worse”. She knew that when she married this man she made a commitment, and whether rightly or not she was determined to fight for their relationship. What I am trying to communicate is that relationships are hard. I know that there is a lot of pressure for women to be in relationships, but we must be patient, take our time and make sure that he is the one.
Because once you are married or in a committed relationship you may have to endure some hardships you never contemplated in your wildest dreams. Just make sure that you are ready.
This article is not directed at only women as some of the points addressed above can be used by men as well. It is important that we all treat each other with the respect we deserve in relationships.
Photo Credit: themagazineclubng.com
Bim Akinmade is a budding writer and Psychology graduate; raised in England but with hopes of one day returning to Nigeria. Communication is key, and she believes that the time is now for people to empower and encourage each other by sharing their experiences and beliefs. Bim recently completed her NYSC in 2012; a tumultuous journey with several twists and turns, all of which are documented in her blog. Follow her on Being Me 360 and on Twitter @Bimmykins2012 to engage in thought-provoking discussions and share your experiences on a vast array of topics.