Ever Wonder If Your Man Is Actually Holding You Back In Life?

"Know the difference between being patient and totally wasting your time."—Unknown

Love & Relationships

I don't know about you but, a lot of times, whenever I read books or articles on relationships, when it comes to signs that you're in the wrong one, oftentimes it has to do with things like abuse (neglect is a form of abuse, by the way), being taken for granted, always giving your all to someone who does very little giving in return (check out "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife")…you know, stuff like that. But what happens when you're with a guy who, for all intents and purposes, is pretty close to greatness? You like each other. The chemistry is cool. If someone were to ask you for a list of 10 things that you appreciate about the connection, you could state them with a fair amount of ease. Problem is, for the past few weeks (or even months), you've been feeling like something, somehow, isn't quite right. It's like, while you feel like you're currently on a path to soaring, for some reason, your relationship feels like it's in the way—although you can't put your finger on why you feel that way.

If what I just said somehow scratched an itch somewhere in your psyche, take out about seven minutes or so to check this piece all the way out. When it comes to being in the kind of relationship that is truly best for us, it's not enough that the relationship is cool; it also needs to be one that is helping us to progress, clearly, in life. If you can't say that about your own, real talk, it's probably doing the opposite (holding you back) which isn't a good thing. So, how can you know for sure if your man is holding you back in this season of your life?

Let’s Start with “If You Have to Ask” (and You’re Reading This Article)


So, usually when I'm writing something where I feel like this particular point needs to be mentioned, I will save it for the end. But, in this case, I'm going to switch up a bit. Have you ever heard the saying that oftentimes, we're looking for someone to tell us what, in the back of our mind, we already know? While I'm sure that some women clicked onto this article, just for curiosity's sake, I've been writing (and relationship coaching) long enough to know that some of y'all clicked on here because you are seeking confirmation that your man is indeed a "stumbling block" of sorts. It's not that you don't love him. It's not that the two of you don't share some good times together. It's not even that he doesn't have some awesome qualities. It's just that—it feels like you're not at a place in your life that you thought that you would, once you finally met "the one". Because of that, you've been looking for a sign to let you know that the eerie feeling that you have in the pit of your stomach is spot-on.

While this first point may not be the huge blinking neon sign that you've been looking for, if you keep reading, something tells me that you'll have the clarity you seek in just a few more moments. Let's keep going.

Reflect on the Concessions You Made in the Relationship Since Day One


There is no way that a relationship is healthy (or is even going to last long), if both parties aren't willing to compromise along the way. Since none of us are perfect, there are even certain concessions that are usually made in order for a relationship to flow smoothly. But when it comes to this particular point, what I do encourage you to ponder is what it literally means to concede. When it comes to "acknowledging what is true" (like maybe your man doesn't look exactly how you thought your dream guy would or he doesn't check off on every single thing that's on your "what I want in a man list"), it's realistic to accept that it's rare that any of us get all of what we want and that's OK. But when it comes to another definition of concede which is "yield to pressure or circumstances", you really should think about if you are currently conceding a hell of a lot more than you should; perhaps because you've been doing more than you ever have, ever since the relationship began.

  • Did you always overlook some of his traits that you can never seem to really mesh with?
  • Have you always ignored the fact that he's not really the best complement for your life?
  • Did you let your family members or friends talk you into starting what has felt more like a hindrance the entire time (just because it hasn't been the right time)?
  • Have you always wanted a relationship that has more passion, more drive—more something that is lacking in the one that you're in?
  • Did you do what I've done in a few of my relationships—go into it convincing yourself that you would eventually like the guy as much as he liked you? Only, that still hasn't happened…yet?

Maybe you're staying in the relationship simply because you've been in it so long that you fear the thought of starting over. Maybe you're remaining because you don't want to hurt your man's feelings. Maybe the relationship is good but something in you knows that there's a man out in the universe who you can actually be great with.

If this is hitting close to home, just remember that a concession in the form of compromise is one thing. But if you are sacrificing your own core needs in the process of remaining where you are, that is unhealthy. It's also not very fair to either one of you in the long run.

Ask Yourself What About the Relationship Reminds You of Past Slip-Ups


There are some movies that, you're not really sure why you are intrigued to check it out, but something just draws you in. That's how I feel about the film The Worst Year of My Life. It's about a guy who thinks he's found the one but then he finds out his live-in girlfriend has been sleeping with someone else. When he goes to therapy, he starts to connect some dots that he never saw coming. In case you want to check it out, I'll leave it there when it comes to offering up details, but what I will say is 1) the movie is a great commercial for why therapy following a devastating break-up can be a really beneficial thing, and 2) it is also a vivid visual reminder of why paying attention to your patterns can help you break them.

Last year, when I wrote the article, "Are You Dating The Same Guy Over And Over Again? Maybe.", a huge part of what inspired it is, I used to be that kind of person. It wasn't until I got really honest with myself about, not only what my "type" was but why, how my toxic family background played a direct role, and what I needed to do in order to master how to love myself before loving any guy that I was able to actually stop choosing guys who were preventing me from growing and maturing.

Another good sign that your man is holding you back is there are certain things about him that remind you of your ex (or exes). Not only that, but when you reflect on what caused you to end your relationship with "said ex", you see some of those same issues in your current situation. They might not be as big. They might not be as bad. But they are indeed there. And trust me when I say that when a current has similarities to your ex that aren't positive characteristics, eventually they are going to rear their ugly head. Oftentimes, it's once you realize that you're not so much with the right man as someone who is merely familiar to you. Good and familiar are not synonymous. Please always remember that.

Do You Feel Like You’re Going Forwards, Going Backwards or Staying in the Same Place?


Not too long ago, I was talking to a male friend of mine, who is going through a season of shedding some of the dead weight from his own friendships. The reason why I use the phrase "dead weight" is because, something that life teaches those of us who are paying attention is to how to value our time and ourselves; that if a relationship, of any sort, either keeps us stuck in the past or it makes us feel so stagnant that we can't fully and easily move forward into what the future has in store for us, it's really not the healthiest kind.

A good example of how a relationship can keep you going backwards is you find yourself reliving the same mistakes and/or lessons over and over again. Or, you realize that, whenever you're around certain people, you resort back to how you were 2, 5 or even 10 years ago. An example of being stagnant? I'll pull from my own life. One of my longest relationships was also one where I wanted it to transition into marriage. Meanwhile, my boyfriend kept promising that if I just gave him one more year (after several years), that would come into fruition. It never did. He wasn't a "bad guy" for not being able to give me what I wanted. At the same time, I wasn't exactly being very good to myself because, all of the energy that I was putting into waiting on him and even trying to convince him to speed up the clock, was energy that I could've invested into other ways that would help me to get further down my own life's pike.

Make no mistake about the fact that, if you want to know if a relationship—whether it's professional or personal, platonic or romantic—is a good one, one way to know for sure is you're going to be able to document clear indications of where it helped you to become, not just a better version of yourself but a bigger and more progressive version too. Anyone who isn't doing that is either using their influence in your life to push you backwards or to keep you stagnant. Life is too short and precious to settle for either of these scenarios to be the case.

Where Do You Want to Be This Time Next Year?


When it comes to this last point, if you're someone who is contemplating getting into a new relationship, I promise you that if you read (and apply) the article "The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have", it can actually spare you a lot of "Is my man holding me back?" internal conflict and drama. The reason why that is, is because a lot of us find ourselves in relationships that are going absolutely nowhere, mostly because we assumed that our partner was on the same page as us when it came to where we ultimately wanted things to go. Never get caught assuming because, believe you me when I say that, there are a lot of people who are perfectly content being in a relationship (or situationship) with someone—day after day, month after month and year after year—without it ever becoming anything more than what it already is. The only way you can avoid being caught up in this kind of holding pattern is by getting clear on what you want for your life in time increments (like six months from now, a year from now, etc.), sharing those thoughts with your significant other and then deciding if you're both on the same page (or are even in the same book) or not.

So, if you are already in a relationship, this is my final piece of advice. First, make a plan for what you want for your life. Then think about how much closer you can get to manifesting those plans over the course of the next 12 months. Next, get serious about if your current significant other is able to support those plans or if they will somehow hold you back. If you're not sure, bring all of this up to your man, so that you can both speak freely. If he conveys that he wants to help you with where you want to go and that he also wants to be in a different/forward movement space, with you, by this time next year—and his character in times past has proven that his word can be trusted—stay. If he's not sure, give him some time (just not all the time in the world) to figure it out. If he doesn't believe that he wants what you do, to tell yourself that he didn't mean what he said or that he will change his mind? Not only is that a sign of you being held back but—get this—that it's not him who is doing it. It's you.

Bottom line, the best relationships are always progressive. They move forward. They get better. New things happen. Set goals are met. Growth transpires. If you're not able to confidently say, without a shadow of any doubt, that your relationship is in this kind of space, it is worth pausing things and asking yourself, "Is my man holding me back?" and then making some major changes if the ultimate conclusion that you come to, sis, is…yes.

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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
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