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Love Is Patient. But Is Your Relationship Just Wasting Your Time?

Love & Relationships

Time won't give me time

And time makes lovers feel like they've got something real

But you and me we know we've got nothin' but time

And time won't give me time


C'mon on self-professed music experts. What y'all know about that Culture Club, tho? As I sat down to pen this piece, their song "Time (Clock of the Heart)" automatically popped up in my head and kept playing, on repeat. I get why too. I mean, just re-read the hook. Virtually all of us have been in a relationship where, at the end of the day, the only thing we knew for sure about the situation is that we were spending valuable and precious time. Lots and lots of time. So much time, in fact, that it caused us to wonder if we were investing time or wasting it.

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If there's one thing that none of us can ever (ever, ever, ever) get back, it's time. And so, as someone who honestly spent more years of my life wasting time in basically fruitless relationships than I've got the time to write on and you've got the time to read about, I want to do all that I can to make sure that you don't make the same mistakes I did.

If you're currently in a relationship with someone and something is tugging at your heart (or brain) to inquire about whether or not you're wasting your time, check out the following five points and then decide (and by "decide," I mean determine if you are and then prepare to make some major adjustments ASAP, OK?).

Compare Where Your Relationship Is Now with Where It Was a Year Ago

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I've got a lil' love sister (you know, a sis that's connected by love, not blood) who's been with her boyfriend for like 7-8 years now. When things started off, he was courting her pretty strong—taking her out, coming by her grandma's to do things around the house (I even remember him cutting down a Christmas tree for them a couple of times), and being intentional about getting to know her family members and close friends. When I met him, I flat-out asked what his intentions were and he said "marriage."

Now? She's the one always going over to his place, he barely speaks to her family, and a few of her friends have met someone and gotten married in the amount of time she's been dating ole' boy. Hmph. 22 (the age she was when they started) and 29 (the age she is now) are very different, time-wise. Plus, when I ask her if she still wants to get married, these days, it's less of a priority. What all of this boils down to is their relationship isn't making progress. It's doing the very opposite of that.

There are 365 days in a year and 24 hours in each day. That is a lot of time for two people to get to the next level in their relationship…if they really want to. If you've been with your man for a year or more, you look back and you honestly don't see much of a difference between this time last year and this very moment, how do you feel about that? Just sayin'.

Forget What He's Saying. What Is He DOING?

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If you are a Words of Affirmation person like I am, please—for the sake of all that's beautiful and sacred about you—take heed to what I'm about to say. When you're someone who is moved by words, sometimes you forget to require action to follow what is being said. So long as someone tells you how they feel about you, you're not always or necessarily looking for them to execute their sentiments.

When that's the case, it doesn't take long for certain types of guys (charmers, commitment-phobes, etc.) to catch on to the fact that so long as they are verbally-engaging, they don't have to actually do much. Meanwhile, a man who's "bout it bout it" is gonna say what he means and mean what he says. Even better, he's gonna say less and do more.

An immediate example that comes to mind is a male friend of mine who just told me over the holidays that, after dating his girl for a few years, it's past time to propose to her. When I asked him when he planned on doing it, he said, "Oh, I'm taking her overseas this year. I'm gonna do it then." I just found out he booked their flights last week.

Words. Then action. Back to back. As it should be.

What Are You Doing More of—Bragging About or Defending Your Relationship?

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Another thing that can keep you from totally wasting your time in a relationship is having your male friends offer up their insight on what they see in your situation. I say that because sometimes, we as women view things as we want them to be rather than as they actually are. Guys? If they see a red flag, they're not gonna call it pink. They're gonna say it's bright, blood red.

Here's a personal experience example. There's a guy I was once seeing and about 75 percent of my male friends were basically like, "I mean, he's cool but you're a good woman. What is that dude doin'?" As I was trying to come up with every excuse (that I thought was a reason at the time) in the book—he's had a hard childhood, his first love devastated him, he's always on the road, he needs a little more time—my male friends were looking at me like, "Girl, if you don't move on somewhere." Literally.

Who ever finds stagnation to be something to brag about? If your relationship is moving forward, if your man is doing things to show you that he wants you in his future in a very significant way, you'll probably find yourself bragging about him (and your relationship) quite a bit. If he's doing the complete opposite, you'll probably end up like I was—defending him and your situation more than anything. Yeah, that's not good.

Is Your Relationship in a "Line" or a "Web"?

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A few days ago, I read a quote about the internet. A man by the name of David Foster Wallace simply said, "It is named the 'Web' for good reason." Hmph again. Have you ever watched how an insect acts when they first get caught into a web? They are moving around…A LOT. But 1) they aren't getting anywhere and 2) it's only entangling them more into the web.

I once told a guy years ago that if he didn't leave the crazy chick he was seeing alone, he was gonna find himself caught up in a web that he wouldn't be able to get out of. She's so off the chain that I'm gonna leave the details out, but let's just say that, since then, they've created at least four Lifetime movie scripts together. SMDH.

Even if you and your man aren't on any crazy train, a sign of a truly healthy and productive relationship is the fact that you both will be moving in a line, a line that points forward. There won't be a ton of crooked straights or even cul-de-sacs. You both will be in agreement about where you want your relationship to go and you'll be both taking steps to get there—together.

No ultimatums, nagging, or manipulation from you needed.

Remember, True Love Is ALWAYS About Making Progress

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I dig word definitions and quotes. They both help me to keep things in their proper perspective. As far as the definition of progress, what I like so much about it is there is no grey area—either you're making progress or you ain't.

Progress: a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage; advancement in general; growth or development; continuous improvement

Take a moment and assess your relationship.

What goals have the two of you made—and reached?

What are some examples of how you're moving up, together and as individuals, as a result of your relationship?

How are you advancing—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—in part, by being involved with this brotha?

How has the relationship grown and developed over the past six months or so?

How have things improved?

Someone who truly loves you will show it by valuing and honoring your time as well as their own. If you can't honestly say that progress is continually being made, mutually so, it's time to confront the situation head-on. Ask him the questions I just asked you and accept the reality of the answers.

You know the old proverb—it's later than you think. It really is.

Love yourself enough to not allow a man to waste any of your precious time. Amen? Bet.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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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.

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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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