Sometimes, when I choose to peek into the world of social media to see what's happening, I'll put in keywords. Whenever I put in "Black women" or "Black men" into Twitter, I always find at least five talking points that are super interesting. Today was no exception. I'm assuming that, at least at the moment, Big Sean and Jhené Aiko are quarantining apart (or at least "social distancing" in separate rooms) and so, they are connecting with each other via going live.
Now let me sidebar this by saying that, aside from being a sex and relationships writer, a part of what made me click on the volume to see what was up is because, more and more, I appreciate Big Sean. Yeah, he's a pretty dope artist but, as I've intentionally checked out some of his latest interviews (for instance, the Hot Ones that he did not too long ago), I dig the current space that he's in as a person. He seems to be quite gracious, ever-evolving and willing to learn. So yeah, I wanted to see what he and Jhené had to share. They didn't disappoint.
Because I pulled the clip from someone's Twitter feed, I didn't catch all of the discussion. Apparently, what Big Sean asked Jhené was would she be willing to compete for his love. Uh-huh. Again, because I've been checking out his head space more and more, I knew he couldn't possibly be serious (at least I hope not). He did laugh after asking. Anyway, it was her "Whaaat?" followed by "Hell no" that piqued my interest further. Anyway, her ultimate resolve is what inspired me to hit up Sheriden (our managing editor) and be like, "Can I please write something on this today?" Verbatim, this was Jhené's response.
"I ain't competing for nothing, OK?...I don't 'compete', I complete."
What It Means to Compete for Someone
I ain't gonna lie. I used to be the kind of woman who would compete for a man. Now, before you get all uppity and profess that you would never do such a thing, let me provide a quick rundown of what competing actually looks like. If you're a side chick, on some level, you are competing. If you know exactly what you want out of a relationship, but you will stay with someone who desires something totally different, hoping they will change their mind, on some level, you are competing. If "he's" seeing lots of other women when you want an exclusive relationship, on some level, you are competing. If he lives in the valley of indecision (which IS a decision), on some level, you are competing. If you are convincing yourself to stay in a relationship that you aren't fully satisfied in, on some level, you are competing.
Competing with what? Sometimes, it's other women. Sometimes, it's time. Sometimes, it's a man's ego. Sometimes, it's with your own conscience and higher sense of self. The reason why I say this is because to compete is to strive to outdo, to put yourself in a contest, or to vie (which is to rival with someone or something else). And strive? Strive is a hard word, y'all. It means "to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance". And resistance? To resist is to oppose.
Now, let's put all of this together, shall we? Say that you're really feeling a dude. He's not on the same page as you are, but he gives you enough attention or affirmations to let you know that he is interested. It could be in the form of communication. You might even go on dates together and have sex. But you're still not getting all that you want and, more importantly, need. Yet…you stay. For weeks…months, maybe even years. The "feeling him" turns into love, but he's still not really doing much more than he ever did.
Meanwhile, you tell yourself that if you just do more, he'll change his mind; that's called striving. Yet it seems like the more that you do, give, love, the less results you're getting; that's because he's resisting. So yeah, ultimately, whether it's because of other women, time, his ego or you're struggling with your own conscience and higher sense of self, you are competing for him. This is what Jhené has declared that she absolutely will not do. Good for her. None of us should.
So, why do we do it? Chile, there's not nearly enough time or space to get into all of that right now. What I will say is some of it is because we live in a competitive world. Because of that, sometimes competition is a good thing. For instance, the article "Why Competition Is Good" (on Entrepreneur's site) shares that professional competition can validate us, sharpen our skills and, can even teach us how to effectively collaborate with others. I get that. Cool. But when it comes to matters of the heart, none of these lessons are really necessary. You shouldn't feel like since you "won a man over" that he was worth having. A romantic relationship's main focus shouldn't be about "sharpening any skills". Also, when you are seeing someone, the only one you should be "collaborating with" is them. Not some other chick. Not their other list of priorities. Nothing but them.
It took me years and years and years to realize this. For example, I didn't realize just how over my first love I finally was until we met for dinner this past December and he told me in one breath that he has always pondered us making up for the child that we lost (my first abortion was his child) and, in the same conversation, turned around and said that he was going to try and make it work with who he has always considered to be the second love of his life (and the mother of his living children). What was he doing? Emotionally, he was setting me up to do what he had done over the years between me and this woman—make us want to compete.
I stayed for dinner; he was paying. But I was good on talking further. There was always gonna be love for him (first loves tend to roll like that) but compete, my ninja? Absolutely not. I will strive for a professional gig. I will strive to pay my bills on time.
I ain't striving for no man's love. Love is a gift; it should be offered voluntarily, not be some "prize" after a competition.
So yes, Ms. Jhené, now more than ever, I feel you on the "ain't competing" tip. But remember, that's not all that she said.
What It Means to Complete Someone
I don't compete; I complete. Some people hate the whole "you complete me" thing. I'll admit that if we're referring to the Jerry Maguire movie line—that gives me cause for pause and a side-eye too. To me, that implies that we're not whole without someone else and, to me, that kind of mentality is a recipe for complete disillusionment and utter relational disaster. At the same time, I do adore the Hebrew language (mostly because Christ was a Jew and spoke fluent Hebrew). And so yes, I am totally down with the word "bashert" which loosely translates into being someone's "meant to be" or "destiny". Yet, even then, I try to look well beyond the Disney or chick flick interpretation of those words.
Let's take the word "destiny", for example. One of my favorite definitions for it is "the power or agency that determines the course of events". A part of the reason why we must choose very wisely who we join our lives with is because their influence has the power to create a course of events—good or bad. That's a part of the reason why I wrote the article, "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life".
If you are looking at someone being your destiny from a mature and well-balanced perspective, they are someone who will inspire and motivate you to live your absolute best life. And in that way, they help to complete you because completion is all about "having all the required or customary characteristics, skills, or the like" to bring about the kind of results that you want.
To me, this is why seasons of singleness are so important. How can you truly know who can support you in accomplishing what you want if you have no clue what you desire in the first place—or worse, if all that you desire is to be with someone? Hmph. I can't tell you how many wives I have counseled who are utterly miserable because their main goal in life was to get a man. Now that they have one, they don't know what else to do with their life—or with their husband. SMDH.
That's why I found all of what Jhené said to be on point. What she basically articulated is, she doesn't strive for a man to want her. She knows that, relationally, she's here to complement someone—and when you truly do "fit" another person's world in that way, competing isn't necessary. There is an ease, a peace, a "gelling" that just…happens. And works. Mutually so.
Oh, there are two other things that I liked in the part of the live that I saw. I dug the acronyms for "love" and "life" that Big Sean and Jhené seem to live by. Love is Living On Valued Energy. Life is Love In Full Effect. Amen and indeed.
I don't know where you currently are, when it comes to your own journey towards your bashert, but please let the soundbite from that live stay with you. You, sis, are too beautiful, valuable and special to compete for anyone. Sit back and let life reveal who you complete—and who completes you.
Thanks for the reminder, Jhené. That was some really good ish right there, girl. For real, for real.
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Featured image by The Blast