"If he ain't putting his hands on you, don't leave."
"All men cheat, at least he is taking care of you."

"Well what did you say or do to make him hit you?"
"What you won't do, another women will."

Raise your hand if you've ever heard any of those statements. If you've ever said or thought any of them. If you have ever been told any of them. If you heard these words as a child directed to a woman who was heartbroken over what the man she loved did to her.

Hands down.

I've heard all of them.

I've identified with all of them.

I've empathized with the person saying these words at one point and I've been disgusted that anyone would think them at another.

I've grown.

I've been down those roads and I've watched other women do the same thing, so when I saw Keri Hilson's recent IG post, I was so happy that someone finally said what many won't.

As we grow older, we are taught to put up with bullshit to keep a man in our lives and in that case, we settle.

While we weren't looking, dating became a race of who can put up with the most and still wear a smile on her face. Who can be cheated on the most often without leaving? Who can be hit and disguise it the best? Who can I lie to without being left? Have the world tell it, love isn't love if it isn't painful or enduring. And really, who sold us that lie?

I've been the girl who has put up with b.s. I've accepted lies when I knew the truth for the sake of moving on and not hurting myself more by asking questions I already knew the answer to. I've been the woman who has chosen loving a man over myself. I've been the one who has followed paths that I knew led to disaster but kept walking because I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to be seen as a quitter. I didn't want him to hurt himself.

I didn't want someone else to have him, the man that I had helped become greater than he'd been when I met him.

I wanted to be the cool girlfriend. The understanding one. I wanted the reward that I thought was at the end of the illusion of a rainbow so I and, so many other women, stayed.

But just as Keri stated, if a man is not going to treat you right, no amount of "punishment," break-up/divorce threats, time apart, or counseling, is going to change him if he doesn't want to change.

It doesn't matter how understanding you act in the situation when deep down your heart is breaking. Nor the amount of phones you break, tires you slash, girls you fight. Either way, when you stay with a man that doesn't deserve you, you are sending him the same message: that you are weak and he can do whatever he wants. Despite your temper tantrum or lackthereof, you show him that are going to stay and he has no reason to change. He can buy a new phone, a new car, find a new woman to cheat on you with, and come back home to ride or die you.

So how do you compete in a world of women who have been taught that settling for less than you deserve is the norm?

The quick answer is: you don't.

What you do is simple. You love yourself and the people who deserve to be in your life will flock to you and give you the same beautiful positive energy that you exhibit. You continue being the woman God called you to be, loving yourself fiercely and loving others with the same ferocity. You let your partner know that you are not his or anyone else's doormat, that the love you have for yourself is so deep, it wouldn't even allow you to continue to be disrespected. You use your intuition to navigate through who is worth being with and who is only wasting your time. You don't allow one man's mistakes to stop a new man from loving or getting close to you.

You won't be with every man you thought was the one and you won't put up with the trauma and tragedy that comes with losing your self-worth by staying with a man who wasn't the one. But you will find the truest of love within yourself and maybe even a partner who sees it just as clearly.

I hope the next time anyone confuses you with a "weak woman," you show them just how strong you are by walking away.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissons@xonecole.com

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