We've all got that one girlfriend. The one who is the best friend ever when she's single, but once she gets caught up in some guy, suddenly 85 percent of our calls get pushed to voicemail, she's canceling dates at the last minute and when you do actually get around to catching up with her, she can't go three minutes without bringing her man up…again.
Then we've got those other friends. The ones who, when we find ourselves venting about our girlfriend, they chalk it up to us hatin' or wishing that we had what she did. Deep down, we know that's not the case. We're happy that our girl found love. What we don't like is the fact that it seems like every time that she does, it's at the expense of losing herself in the process. It's as if she has no real reason for living her best life if she doesn't have some dude in her life.
If you can totally relate to where I'm coming from, there are two things you should do. First, lead by example. Meaning, make sure that you're not the kind of person who is prone to doing what your friend does. You can do this by skimming this article, just to see if any of the points hit home. Secondly, forward this on to your girl. Sometimes, when we're all Anita Baker-ish (you know, "Caught Up in the Rapture" of love), we don't realize what we're doing to ourselves until someone who loves us tell us.
Show your girl some love today by bringing these points to her attention. Pronto.
5 Ways To Avoid Losing Yourself In A Relationship
1. Get into a Relationship for the Right Reasons (and Motives)
Sometimes, I'll have my television on as background noise as I write. Recently, an episode of Living Single came on. The one when Regine was dating a married man and didn't know it. When she finally found out, she stuck around a bit longer than she should have; however, when the situation ultimately blew up in her face, one of her girls (the character escapes me at the moment) said, "You keep looking for a man to carry you" to which Regine asked, "What's wrong with that?" to which Khadijah quipped, "They keep droppin' your ass."
The fact that Regine asked what was wrong with looking for a man to carry her sheds a lot of light into why 1) she probably overlooked signs that dude was married in the first place and 2) she decided to stay with him after she found out.
See where I'm going with this? If you're getting into a relationship because of what you're hoping some man can do for you and not because he will simply add to your life that is already pretty dope, you could find yourself losing yourself—whether it's your standards, your morals, your integrity, your needs…it kinda runs the gamut.
2. Remember a Good Man Loves a Woman's Sense of Identity and Independence
While binge-watching a web series called The Marriage Tour, there's an episode when one of the main characters is trying to get rid of all of his chicks so that he can commit to one woman; one of the gals' names was Tiffany. She was attractive. She could cook her tail off. And she was sooooo accommodating that she came off like a crazy psycho. Example—when she ran (literally) to warm up a plate of food that he didn't even say was cold, ole' boy looked into the camera and said, "OK. It's good to cater to your man but damn. No need to buy the cow, when she gives me all of the milk I want for free. Don't make me work for it or nothin'? She even pulls the tit out for me sometimes." (That's hilarious and sad—simultaneously.)
Keep in mind, this isn't the woman he kept around; it's the woman he left behind. It's a great reminder that a healthy man doesn't want to come into a woman's life and become it; he simply wants to add to what she's already got going on. A healthy man is really drawn to someone whose life is SO BIG and world is SO FULL that he feels honored that she would decide to "fit him in."
The cool thing about this kind of woman is, if he leaves, while it might sting a little, she's got too much going for herself for the lack of his presence to stop any show.
3. Do Some Things Totally Apart from Your Guy
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for me to talk to single women who have a list of things that they want to do with their life. Unfortunately, they are intentionally putting those things on hold until they get into a relationship.
I want to go to Cape Town…maybe I'll do it for my honeymoon. I would love to talk a salsa class…once I get a dance partner. Wine tasting sounds fun…for a first date.
The problem with having this kind of mentality is—actually, there are two issues. One, tomorrow is not promised and yet you're choosing to put your life on hold as if it is. And two, you're conditioning yourself to think that you can't/shouldn't do certain things without a man being in your life. Then, as a result of feeling this way, once "he" does come along, you end up overwhelming him with all of these plans—things he may or may not want to do (or has already done because he didn't need a woman to do them).
Moral to the story is this—if you're already used to doing things BY YOURSELF or with your girls, then you'll still be used to living that way once a man comes along. Not only will that keep you from becoming the clingy chick, but it will also give him the opportunity to suggest some of his own quality time ideas.
It will also help you to love in a way that the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said, "Love in such a way that the person you love feels free." For someone to feel free, they need their space.
4. Make Him A Priority Not THE Priority
There's something about Judge Lynn Toler's delivery that makes her constantly sound like her pearls of wisdom are totally off of the cuff. Take the time I heard her say, "A man is not a plan; he's a perk." BAM!
If you've read even a couple of my articles on relationships, you know that I am a HUGE fan of them—when they are right, healthy and full of purpose. I also adore men; especially Black men. Whether we as women are in romantic relationships with men or not, they are important to have in our lives.
With that disclaimer on the table, yes, I totally get where the judge is coming from. If all we have on our bucket list is get married (and possibly have kids), that makes having a man the only real plan we've got—and that is all kinds of unhealthy. Toxic even.
When you make a man your ultimate plan, he becomes the only real priority. If you're not careful, that means he'll come before your needs. You could even mess around and turn him into your personal idol (not good). But when he's a perk, he's a great thing that happens in addition to so many others. As a result, he's a priority but he's certainly not the end all to be all. That's a good thing.
5. Embrace, Don't Force, the Seasons as They Come—and Go.
Some of us get so consumed in our relationships, we give so much so soon that we automatically assume that it will last forever, even without any evidence of that being an actual fact. Then, because we got so caught up, once it does come to an end, we're utterly devastated because although we were taking good care of the man and the relationship, what we didn't maintain was ourselves.
One of the best ways to love someone else is by making sure you love yourself. That you make sure your needs are met, that you pamper yourself and that you do things that will remind you of your worth or value OUTSIDE of the relationship that you're in.
Relationships are oftentimes a lot like seasons. They come and they go. But the one thing that will always remain a constant is you. Love you best and you will never lose yourself…should your relationship with ole' boy somehow take a turn for the (so-called) worst.
Featured image by Getty Images.
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