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Here's How To NOT Lose Yourself In A Relationship
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Here's How To NOT Lose Yourself In A Relationship

Dating

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)

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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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What I Learned From Oprah's Advice About Attracting Your Best Partner –Read More

Honey & Spice Author Bolu Babalola’s Hopeful Romance

Some may see romantic comedies and dramas as a guilty pleasure. But author Bolu Babalola indulges in the genre with no apology. “I love romance,” Babalola tells xoNecole. “I’ve always consumed romance. I’ve always read romance. I’ve always written romance,” she says. “It wasn’t even a conscious decision, it’s just a part of me. It’s just what I enjoy reading.”

In her debut romance novel Honey & Spice, Babalola follows up her debut anthology Love in Colour by once again allowing her love for all things love to bloom into a world brimming with vibrant and lively characters. In Honey & Spice, we are introduced to the character of Kiki Banjo who Babalola describes as “the resident romantic adviser” at the university where Kiki also hosts a love advice radio show for Black women on campus called “Brown Sugar.” When a mysterious man arrives at the school and sows discord amongst the ladies, it threatens to undo the work that Kiki has put into trying to lead them all down the right path in their love lives. “A confrontation ensues, an entanglement ensues, and eventually they find themselves having to fake a relationship to save both of their reputations,” Babalola says.

Babalola says that creating Kiki allowed her to write about a Black female character that is flawed. “She is messy. And she is giving romantic advice to women at the university but she doesn’t have it figured out,” Babalola says. “And it was really freeing for me to write a young Black girl like that.”

Babalola is joining a recent wave of writers who are allowing audiences to embrace Black women to be their whole complicated and imperfect selves on screen and in books. Along with debut author Raven Lelani’s hit book Luster (that Babalola describes as one of the books that made her heart beat fast,) and Insecure’s Issa who Babalola describes as a “delight” and “messy.” “She’s so gorgeous, but she’s not exactly smooth,” Bablola says.

Of course, romance is one of the many genres that suffers from its share of anti-Blackness, both with who gets to write them and the kind of characters we constantly see being loved and desired. It’s the Julia Robertses and the Meg Ryans of the world who are seen as the kind of women that society deems to be worthy of affection. While those women as some of her fave on-screen leading ladies, she also cites Vivica A. Fox in Two Can Play That Game and multi-hyphenate entertainer and rom-com queen Queen Latifah who Babalola says is “beautiful, self-possessed, sexy, deep brown skinned, and fully aware of her beauty.”

During our conversation, I was reminded of when Toni Morrison famously said that she “wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” That was one of my favorite Toni Morrison quotes,” Babalola says when I brought it up to her. “It’s a compulsion. Maybe it’s a little bit narcissistic, but I love writing those stories for my younger self,” she says. More than just herself though, Babalola feels a sense of pride every time young Black girls tell her how much her work impacts them. “When they come up to me and say they felt seen, they felt held, ‘You made reconfigure my idea of romance, and gave me hope about it,’ that makes me really happy.”

Despite the cynicism that many critics have of the romance genre, Babalola says that she doesn’t let that impact her love for the genre. “I really believe that people who think love is a weak or frivolous thing are –” Babalola pauses for a second. “–I’m trying to say they’re dumb but in a nice way,” Babalola jokes. “They really don’t have an awareness of the kind of complexity that’s within that genre, what it takes to forensically explore emotions and human vulnerability.”

While binge-watching television when she was in university, she got the idea to expand her writing skills and her love of romance to the screen. Last year, the pilot for her 30-minute hangout comedy Big Age, aired on Channel 4 in the UK. It follows the life of a Black woman who quits her lucrative law job to pursue writing all the while juggling the prospects of a budding new romance and an old flame.

“I’m a storyteller,” she says when I ask her if screenwriting was always in her cards. “Books and novels were just the first things that I gravitated to because I read books so I’m gonna write books.”

Be it on screen or in a book, Babalola’s love for stories about love and messy Black girls will always find a platform.

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