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Are You In Love Or Are You In Need?

The Difference Between Loving A Man & Being "Needy" For Him

Love & Relationships

Disclaimer: Here's the heads up on what I'm about to share. It'll be really easy to read what this woman allowed a man to send her through and call her "crazy", "desperate" or "stupid" but, before you do that, try and reflect on if there's any relationship you've ever been in where you were needy for a man. Personally, while things may have never gotten quite this extreme, I know there have been times when I put myself through more than I ever should have in the name of (so-called) love.


I'd say for the past 6-7 years or so, about twice a year, I'll hear from a woman who claims that she's still in love with one particular man. A man who won't commit (or even really claim her in public). A man who brings her in but won't take her out (that's my way of saying he sexes her but doesn't date her). A man who's told her that he doesn't feel the same way she does, not by a long shot. Yet, she still claims that she completely adores this guy—a guy I don't know (because I don't use "know" loosely), but a guy I certainly know of.

He's not a bad person. He's really not.

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Anyway, she's sooooooo into him that she even told me that one time, after she came to his house unannounced (for the umpteenth time), he let her in, had sex with her, and then put her out. I mean, literally picked her up and put her out. Even after that, she still claims to love him.

Yeah. I already know that some of y'all read that and immediately got H-O-T. But who are you the most upset with—him or her? If it's him, what are you mad about? That he made the decision to get some before he humiliated her? If it's her, is it because she 1) disrespected his space by not calling first; 2) had sex with him even though he had already told her what the deal was, or 3) she allowed her "devotion" to him to get her to the point of getting put out yet she still professes her love for dude?

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No matter what side of the fence you're standing on, I promise you I get it. When we're not emotionally involved in a relationship or situationship, it's easy to see the crazy for what it is. But I remember discovering that a guy I dated rotated me and six other girls in the same picture frame and my still deciding to date him. I remember finding out that my first love had me and another girl pregnant at the same time and still calling him my boyfriend. I remember going above and beyond for a guy, running into him and his girlfriend (even though he told me he didn't have a girlfriend) and not immediately cutting things off. I also remember thinking that my sticking around was an act of love when really, just like ole' girl, it was nothing more than unadulterated neediness.

Needy. It's such a dysfunctional word.

Whenever I think of it, one of the definitions that immediately comes to mind is impoverished. An impoverished person is someone who is deprived of strength. So, you know what that means, right? You can't really be needy if you're a strong and courageous individual—if you're someone who is mentally, emotionally, and spiritually empowered and powerful. (Now bookmark that for a moment while I make another point.)

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Even if you can't relate to the instances of neediness that I just shared, here are some other examples of what being needy in a relationship looks and lives like:

  • People who move too fast in relationships are typically needy.
  • People who are clingy in relationships are typically needy.
  • People who are jealous and overbearing are typically needy.
  • People whose lives totally revolve around another individual are typically needy.
  • People who diminish their value unless they are with someone are typically needy.

Now here's where it all comes together. How is it that so many of us—men and women—can find ourselves being needy and calling it love? I think the answer lies in a definition of power:

Power: ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something

Back when I was being a needy chick, it was due to so many things—my dysfunctional upbringing, abandonment issues; being a words of affirmation person while hearing relatives and racist educators say some pretty damaging things; being in so-called friendships that lacked reciprocity; doing most of the work in most of my romantic relationships and growing up in a church that taught very little about self-love (love your neighbor AS YOURSELF, y'all—Mark 12:30-31).

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Lord have mercy. I can look back now and see that because I lacked the ability to love myself I was constantly looking for someone else to do it. And since I wanted a man in my life and I lacked self-love simultaneously, that want turned into a need. And the longer I went without loving myself, that need turned into bonafide neediness.

'Cause here's the thing. When you don't have a healthy and clear understanding of what love is, you'll let some of the most toxic imitations of love define it for you.

You find yourself thinking that tolerating abuse—neglect is a form of abuse, by the way—is being loyal. That sharing a man is being patient. That not requiring what you want is being low maintenance. That sacrificing yourself in order to keep "him" around is nothing more than a normal act of compromise. You find yourself believing that having something is better than having nothing when sometimes that "something" is, ironically, less than nothing. All of this will have you out here doing the absolute most, all the while believing that it's love when it is nothing of the sort.

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It wasn't until I developed the ability to see me, to honor me, to LOVE ME that I was able to tell the difference between loving a man and being needy for one. And what's the main difference? I don't NEED a man.

Now, I'm not meaning this in the extreme sense. God made men (and men are not designed to think or act like us; otherwise, they'd be women…but that's another message for another time). All of God's creations serve a divine purpose. For that reason alone, I need men in my life. What I'm saying is I am not gonna die if I'm not in a relationship with or even dating someone. I will die if I go without food and water for too long. Those are needs.

At this stage in my life, having a man in it is literally like the icing on the cake. It will add something very sweet and special to it—but the cake is pretty delicious all on its own.

Now that I have developed the ability to love myself—to apply the Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13) to how I treat even me—the power that I thought I could only get via another person, I now hold. I am strong and courageous (which basically means not afraid) enough to be alone. Why? Because I don't need someone to love me. I LOVE ME. Everyone else is a bonus.

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For me, that's the true difference between loving a man and being needy for one. When you love yourself, you've got the Miki Howard effect. What I mean by that is, back in the day, she released a song entitled, "Come Share My Love". When you love a man, he's coming into an abundance of love you've already got. When you're needy for one, you want him to give you something that you don't even have.

The woman I mentioned earlier? She's not crazy. She simply doesn't love herself. Enough. Yet. Once she's capable of loving herself, she won't be looking for that dude (or any man) to do it. She'll realize that no truer words have been spoken than when writer Maureen Dowd once said:

"The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."

Love is healthy. It's godly. It's empowering. It's honorable. It causes you to thrive—mind, body, and spirit. Continually so. If you can't apply these words to the situation you've got going on with a man—be careful. What you're thinking is love may be disguising itself as nothing more than mere neediness.

The good news is…now you know the difference.

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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