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Don't Be A Wife To A Boyfriend: 10 Lessons I Learned When I Was Single

Love & Relationships

People often ask me questions about dating, love and relationships and I had an epiphany about my own single life when I was still single and dating. In my latest book, Don't Be A Wife To A Boyfriend: 10 Lessons I Learned When I Was Single, I share some of my experiences as a single woman and reflect on some of the decisions I made and the growth that took place, with the hope that I will inspire others going through similar situations.

Now, after recently celebrating seven years of marriage, I felt led to share something passionate, real and from my heart for my single sisters but in a shorter format. I don't claim to have an answer for every question, and even as a happily married woman, I'm still learning. However, I'm older now and have learned a great deal through my personal experiences and even through the experiences of others.

Of course I could go on for days, but for now I decided I'd share with you my personal top 10 list.

1. Practice self-love before you accept love from someone else.

It's difficult to love someone else if you can't first love yourself. Usually, the way we allow others to treat us is a reflection of how much, or how little, we love and value ourselves. I realized a long time ago that my unhealthy search for love was because of my own lack of self-love and self-esteem. I relied on others to do what I couldn't do for myself. Learn how to be single and satisfied, so you don't end up totally dependent on someone else.

2. Let it flow.

“Every potential date is not a potential mate." We don't have to be so serious so soon especially if it's only been a few months, let alone a few weeks. I used to think, "Oh, since the date went well then maybe he's my husband," or I would obsess about the status of our relationship only after a short time.

Sometimes we psych ourselves out of a good thing by trying to force something to happen, and sometimes it's a turn-off to guys. Just let the conversations and natural progression of the relationship flow. That's not to say that you should wait on someone forever; but if it feels right and it's flowing right, then play it cool and let it happen.

3. Don't think of him as a piece of clay that you can mold into what you want him to be.

"How can I get him to go to church?" "How can I get him to settle down?"

I'm a living witness that people can, in fact, transform their lives over time. Understand, however, we can only change those things we have the power to change. While we have the power to influence change, we can never force change.

When I first started dating my husband, he wasn't going to church or as spiritually connected to God as he is now, but I didn't harass him or force him to do anything because we all have different journeys. I just prayed for him, talked to him about certain things, and ultimately he made the decision to make some changes.

If someone keeps saying they're going to do things differently but you're not seeing the modifications, that could mean it's time for you to change your role in the situation instead of wasting your energy trying to change them. At the end of the day, if he's really into you and wants to keep you, then he will prove it to you – not just through his words but through his actions.

4. Don't expect different results using the same habits.

In the past, I found myself repeating this pattern over and over - dating the same type of guy and/or doing the same type of things. Sometimes when you're used to being treated a certain way, you start to think that's how it's supposed to be or believe that's what you deserve. But when I started dating my husband, I decided to do things differently and refused to accept anything less than what I deserved. Basically, I made him work for my love. Like they say, “the woman you want is usually the one you have to work for."

5. Make yourself a priority while you can.

Don't allow your single status to keep you stagnant. Invest in yourself and your relationship with God. Invest in your career, your future and your brand. Invest in your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Invest in something fun; travel or see the world! That's not to say that you can't when you're married, but just like the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 7, “…An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband..." So, while you have the opportunity and the time, focus on what you can do right now as a single woman.

6. Don't make excuses for people who need to be excused out of your life.

There are two types of people you should apply this to: 1) Dead weight – the ones who seem to stay around but constantly hurt or mistreat you or bring you down (they make more deposits than withdrawals), and 2) Pop-ups –the ones who stay running in and out of your life when it's convenient for them but they're never consistent. Unless you're content with these situations or aren't really looking to settle down, then you will find yourself hopelessly waiting or chasing. You will be waiting on them to get it together and come back, or you will be chasing after people who aren't chasing after you.

Trust me, I've had to use the "block" and "delete" functions on my phone to ensure I didn't keep falling back into the trap and answer their calls or respond to their text messages. Sometimes you have to take extreme measures when you know you can't trust yourself to resist and to show yourself, and others, just how committed you are to moving on.

7. Don't be a wife to a boyfriend.

"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

It's an old saying but it still holds true today. For some of us, it's natural to want to take care of our boyfriends and show them how good of a wife we could be if they chose us, but be careful giving away too much too soon. I used to give of myself so freely, both physically and mentally, and to people who usually didn't deserve it. Relationships should be 100/100 - each person giving a 100%. However, if you give up too much too soon without any reciprocation, then he stands to benefit the most and you risk losing everything; only to end up with heartache and disappointment.

8. Don't confuse love with lust.

Many of us have ruined countless relationships or ended up with broken hearts because somewhere along the way we concluded the presence of sex automatically meant the presence of love. Trust me, physical appeal, sex, and intimacy - they all matter, but don't allow physical attraction to become a major distraction.

I know without a shadow of a doubt, much of my past hurt and pain was due in part because I either gave it up too soon or I assumed that he would love me because I had sex with him. Sometimes, you have to discern between what feels good to you versus what is good for you. Thankfully, you get the best of both worlds when you experience real love, but that's not always the case if you're with someone who isn't meant for you. Don't overlook future necessities just to satisfy your present desires and don't confuse love with lust.

9. Nothing happens overnight. Things take time.

For some people it can take a few tries, a few months, a few years or even what may seem like a lifetime. I've learned that you can't rush love and I didn't go from being single to married overnight. I had pain before pleasure and heartache before happiness but in the end real love came along. It may sound cliche, but what God has for you is for you and if it's in His will for your life (whether married, single, etc.), it will come to pass. Through my own experience and the experiences of others, I have learned that the moment we stop worrying and looking, is usually the very moment when it happens.

10. Don't be that girl - "over thirty and worried."

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There's something about turning thirty. It's like a switch goes off and tells us that we have to become obsessed and evaluate our lives and analyze the progress we've made, or lack thereof, as it relates to relationships, careers and family. I will admit that oftentimes it's brought on by the pressure of society, but sometimes we place the pressure on ourselves.

Realize, however, that you can be any age (20, 30, 40, 50 and so on) - and still have the “over thirty and worried" mindset. It's the woman who is OVERLY obsessed with trying to find a man or CONSTANTLY sad about not having one. So she finds herself desperate, settling and/or overwhelmed with sadness because she's so consumed thinking about what isn't instead of what is. We either know her, we are her or like me at one time or another we were that girl.

My mom, who is obviously over 30 because I'm in my mid-thirties and who has never been married, is the epitome of how NOT to be that girl - “over 30 and worried." What I love about her is the fact that even though she's single and she's been through a lot, she hasn't given up on love and she doesn't allow her single status to keep her stagnant. She's learned how to be single and satisfied. She's not sitting around desperately waiting or chasing after men. Instead, she stays on the go and chooses to live her life to the fullest, while still managing to give so much of herself, time and resources to help others.

Life is short. So, take a lesson from her and learn how to live, love and appreciate your life. I understand it's easier said than done when you're single and have been for a long time. I used to have my days when I would feel lonely and cry myself to sleep wondering if I would ever happen for me. I know you will have your days too and you will have your moments, but you can't stay there. Take your moment, dust yourself off and keep it moving and focus on what you do have. Besides, if you can't be happy by yourself, then you'll likely have a hard time being happy with someone else.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." May you be encouraged through my experiences and through God's word and realize that IT IS all good and IT IS working for your good no matter what your relationship status may be.

Featured image by Getty Images

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.

Reparations

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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Featured image by Shutterstock

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