Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?

If you want a successful relationship, there's a big difference between the words "to" and "for".

Love & Relationships

Yeeeeah, baby. Some of y'all might recall the piece I wrote a while back entitled, "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife". Whenever someone hits me up to ask, "How in the world did you get into my head like that?", my response is usually something along the lines of, "I wrote it because I've lived it." You know how a lot of people will go through something and say, "I've got the T-shirt" as a way of expressing how much experience in that area they have? Girrrl, when it comes to getting guys ready for the woman they are going to pledge their lives to, I've got the wedding dress, the wedding cake and the bridal bouquet (SMDH). That's a part of the reason why I wrote, "Why I'll Never Call Someone A 'Boyfriend' Again". Long gone are the days when I'm out here acting like someone's wife when they are barely acting like a boyfriend. Also, gone are the days of being out here living like, just because I'm someone's girlfriend, they should get all of the privileges that comes with being a wife. I promise you, the way a lot of folks date out here, it's not teaching them anything about how to be in a healthy marriage; what it's actually doing is prepping them to be cool with getting a divorce (if not multiple divorces). There's a reason why people should take vows before getting someone's all. I'll leave that right there…for now.

Anyway, if there were to be a follow-up article to the preparing a man for his wife one, I humbly would have to say that this would be it. For those of us who've had a pattern of being in dysfunctional relationships—by the way, if a relationship is stagnant, that brings its own form of dysfunction right along with it—I'd venture to say that a part of the reason is because of the two simple words that are in all caps in the title: TO and FOR.

We tend to care more about if a man is good to us when really, the bigger priority should be if a man is good for us. If that makes sense in theory, but you'd like me to expound a bit more in order to really drive the point home, go get yourself a glass of wine and then we'll get into it. Chile…chile.

When a Man Is Good TO You


Recently, while talking to one of my clients about the importance of grieving past relationships, she brought up a guy in particular who she still can't seem to get over, even though it's been quite some time since they were "together". The reason why I put together in quotes is because, when I asked her to explain the relationship and then follow that up with what she currently missed about him, a lot of what she shared was how she felt about him vs. how he actually treated her. For example, she liked his sense of humor to the point of overlooking his tendency to be dismissive of her needs. Or, even though the sex was good, he never wanted to be in a serious commitment. After listening to her for about 10 minutes, I asked, "So, you miss someone who isn't even all that good for you, eh?" She immediately replied with, "No, we have a good time together. He just doesn't always treat me the way I think I deserve to be treated", to which I echoed, "Again, so he isn't good for you."

Some of y'all probably caught on immediately to what I meant, but just to be sure that I am being as thorough as I can, what she illustrated is the difference between a man who is good to you vs. a man who is good for you. You know, there are several men in my past who could make my toes curl who were also real jackasses when it came to emotional availability and reciprocity. During sex, they made me feel good—or, as Tank once said in an interview, they participated in copulation like they were totally in love with me while, outside of the bedroom, they saw me as not much more than "cool people". But outside of that, I couldn't really tell you how they were truly benefitting my life. They were good to me.

Here's another way of looking at it. Recently, while sharing with one of my male homies (who is a relationship coach) about how I'm now processing a man who I once deeply loved, I said, "It's weird but a part of me is even embarrassed for ever caring for him the way that I did." In true men-will-tell-you-just-how-it-is fashion, my friend said, "Shellie, he's always been selfish and kind of a jerk. Your feelings overlooked a lot of that at the time." Yeah, another way that a man can be good to you and not for you is all based on perception. While your friends, family and even your pet is looking at the person who you're all into like, "What the hell?!", you're somewhere in la la land like, "I mean, he's great to me." Meaning, because I think he's great…he is.

Meanwhile, a lot of the time, the person we are all excited about? He isn't anything to really write home about. It's just that our low level of self-esteem, our profound desire to be in a relationship and/or fear of leaving something/someone that we've invested so much time, effort, energy and body parts into, it will have us out here saying, "TO ME, he's wonderful" even while everyone else is like, "Well, he's not TO us." I'm telling you, coming to a point and place of understanding the differences between "to" and "for" can spare you—a lot.

"To" is oftentimes based on seeing only what you want to see.

"To" addresses surface things—having a good time and having things in common.

"To" speaks to charisma and chemistry more than an actual connection.

"To" is more about emotions and hormones rather than rationality, self-awareness and logic.

"To" typically has an expiration date.

Don't get me wrong—"to" isn't bad so much as it should be seen as "the icing" far more than "the cake". That's why, now more than ever, I'm far more interested in a man who is actually good FOR me instead.

When a Man Is Good FOR You


For. Don't sleep on that little three-letter word. For means "intended to belong to". For means "suiting the purposes or needs of". For also means "in the direction of" and "to the advantage of". When a man is good for you, he belongs to you, he suits your purpose and needs, he's walking in the same relational direction as you are and he benefits you, on so many different levels. Now, remember how I just said that "to" has an expiration date? Peep a definition of that word (when it's used as a preposition): "as far as; until". When a man is good to you, that goodness lasts as far as or until—shoot, he decides not to be that to you anymore. Man, what a stark contrast between "to" and "for". Please tell me that you see it.

Y'all, I know some men who are good for their ladies. It's truly a beautiful (and functional) sight to see! One of the things that I like most about men who are good for their woman (anyone who takes issue with my using "woman" here, that was Eve's original name in the Bible; please don't trip—Genesis 2:18-25) is the fact that when someone is truly good for someone else, that reality tends to be across the board. What I mean by that is, he's not good in one or two areas or categories. Homeboy is good—point, blank and period.

Let's step out of relationships for a second, just so I can drive this point home another way. I really like ice cream. Pretty much any kind that has some form of chocolate in it will do. But the older I get, the less dairy and I are friends, so while the ice cream might be good to me, more times than not, it's not really good for me. Meanwhile, something that I can't seem to ever get enough of are grapes (frozen grapes are the total bomb!). Grapes are sweet. At the same time, they are loaded with water, antioxidants, compounds that fight cancer, plus they help to lower my cholesterol levels and support my blood sugar levels being where they should. Other than making sure that I eat them while they are in season, I can't think of one problem that comes with snacking on some grapes—as much as I want to too. That's because they are good to me and for me.

For a lot of us, we opt for ice cream more than grapes. In other words, we are so emotions- and/or hormones-driven that, so long as a man can make us feel some type of way—even if it's only temporary, even if we see the writing on the wall that's warning of us all of the side effects that come right along with him—we'll stay. We'll stay in something that really doesn't have our best interest at heart…until he leaves. And because of that, we end up becoming way too "full"—full of drama, full of distrust, full of toxic patterns, full of bitterness, full of paranoia, etc., etc.—that we won't even take the time off that we need in order to heal or look at the bigger picture so that we can change our palate over to wanting grapes (or whatever your favorite fruit is) instead. Have mercy—sadly, we are so conditioned to only want what temporarily appeases our senses that we we ignore what our common sense is alerting us to. And it's costing us. Dearly. Know who else it's potentially preventing from coming our way? The man who is waiting to be good for us.

So, am I saying that you can't have the "to" and the "for" in your relationship? All you've got to do is read, "My Eureka Moment For Why I'm Not Into 'Nice Guys'" to get that is absolutely NOT where I am coming from. But what I am saying is, if you are putting the "to" before the "for", it's time to do some serious pondering.

What's the point in having great sex with a guy who is constantly breaking your heart?

What's the point in remaining with someone who gives you extreme highs and lows—continually so?

What's the point in staying in something where some of your wants are granted while all of your needs are constantly being ignored?

It's ideal, it really is, to choose to be with someone who is good to you and good for you—both. Yet there is something that I don't want you to miss about that. A guy who is good for you is going to try his hardest to be good to you, anyway. Meanwhile, a guy who is good to you? Yeah, he doesn't tend to prioritize the "for" very much. Hell, he doesn't even really care all that much who is good for him (but that's another article for another time).

You know, recently, I saw a tweet that was like a shot heard around the world. When it comes to this particular piece, I dedicate it to all of the ladies who settle for "to you" guys because when you settle for that kind of man, one way or another, sooner or later, this is what it all boils down to—"Stop blessing people for hurting you, please."

You deserve, I deserve…we all deserve a man who is more than just good to us. Please, wait for the one who is actually good for you. The differences are literally life-altering. Just ask any woman with a "for you" guy. I'm confident that they'll vouch for this. One hundred-fold.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

He Loves You. He's Just Never Gonna Marry You. Now What?

Should Someone Have To MAKE You Feel Loved?

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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