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An Extremely Underestimated Sign That You're With The Right Person

A key to a thriving relationship is a five-letter word.

Love & Relationships

"Black men, we're in constant warfare. Every day is a fight outside of my house, so why would I want to come home to more fighting when that is the very place where I should be resting? There are loved ones who I don't speak to as much anymore because they aren't peaceful people. A huge part of the reason why I am happier without my ex is she was rarely a source of peace. The older I get, the more I realize that peace really is the foundation of everything; especially relationships, because how can I nurture anything if I'm in a constant state of influx and chaos? Guys don't care how fine a woman is or how great the sex may be if she's not peaceful because there is nothing more valuable than peace. If the closest person to me is not a source of it, that can ultimately play a role in all kinds of disruption and destruction. No man wants that."


My ever-since-college friend Anthonol recently said that as I was talking to him about a conclusion that I have firmly come to after having countless conversations with men about what they prize more than just about anything in a long-term relationship. Yep, you guessed it — peace. I don't care if the guy is 18 or 60, single or married, I can't tell you how many times a man has told me that they have remained with someone or left them in a heartbeat and it was all because that individual, for them, was not a very peaceful person and/or did they cultivate an environment of peace.

And honestly, I get it. The older — and hopefully wiser — that I become myself, something that I too value is peace. I want to be a haven of peace. I want the people around me to cultivate an atmosphere of peace. And yes, I will be quick-fast-and-in-a-real-hurry to remove myself from people, places, things and ideas that do not bring peace to my space and psyche.

Personally, whenever I think of the word "peace", the Hebrew word for it comes to mind — shalom. One of my favorite things about the word is it has so many meanings. Today, I want to touch on five of them in hopes that, if someone reading this is looking of a bona fide and surefire sign that they are with the person who is truly right for them, they will 1) come to understand that peace is absolutely essential and 2) gain even more clarity on what peace is — and requires.

Tranquility

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The reason why I picked a GIF that has the ocean in it is for this particular point is because that type of environment is what immediately comes to my mind whenever I think of tranquility. To be tranquil is all about being peaceful and calm. That's already dope; however, there is more to it than that. Did you know that another definition of tranquil is "free from or unaffected by disturbing emotions"? That said, another male friend of mine (who prefers to be off the record) said something that really stood out to me — "Women don't mind feeling a wide range of emotions throughout the day. Some of y'all will literally be like, 'I want to cry. Let me find a movie that will make that happen.' Your emotional focus and sometimes even resilience is wired like that. We like to remain as even as possible because there is so much going on that we know we need to remain centered and focused. So, anything or one that constantly triggers us to be upset, bothered or angry, we'll avoid that."

To me, here is a great place to start. When you're in a healthy relationship, it will not consist of you constantly feeling disturbed, confused or unsettled. Typically, when we're feeling that way, it's alerting us to the fact that something is…off. And if things are always off, something is…really off. No relationship is perfect and there are going to be times when things are a little disruptive. Still, if you can't use "calming" as a way to define what you are currently in, don't ignore that reality check. Please ponder what's really going on.

Agreement/Harmony

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Another word that defines peace is agreement. Here's the thing about that, though. To agree is "to have the same views, emotions, etc." and "get along together". This speaks to having similar views, values and to some extent, even communication styles. Still, don't sleep on another definition of the word which is to "come to an arrangement or understanding". You know what this means, right? People who are in peaceful relationships, even when they don't have the same views or feelings about something, they are able to negotiate. Peaceful people are the folks who are far more interested in keeping the relationship healthy and moving forward than being right all of the time. They can compromise. They are open to hearing someone else's point of view. They can even agree to disagree when needed.

Another definition of agree is harmony. I'm a huge music fan, so that makes me think of a choir. Sopranos, altos and tenors all sound different yet when they come together and everyone knows and does their part (which is so key, y'all), the collective sound is beautiful. Men and women aren't supposed to be the same. There are proven scientific differences that help us to come together and cultivate a balance — a beautiful sound, so to speak. When it comes to your relationship, do you have similar views? Do you get along more times than not? When there is discourse, can you come to an understanding that you both can feel good about? If not…why not?

Wholeness

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Something that I shared not too long ago is I'm a firm believer that no one should expect another person to make them happy. Humans are fallible; they tend to be pretty fickle too, so there are going to be times when they disappoint you, hurt your feelings and straight up piss you off. If you feel like they should never do that, because they should be the source of your happiness, you really should stay single because that expectation is unrealistic as all get out. I mean, do you make yourself happy all of the time? Exactly.

Same thing goes for another definition of shalom-peace which is wholeness. While a partner can help to cultivate a sense of wholeness, it shouldn't be expected of them to "make you whole". No, the focus here should be more along the lines of "containing all the elements properly belonging". Healthy relationships are better able to go the distance when they contain the "core ingredients" that make a relationship work and last — love, respect, patience, support, consistency, attentiveness and similar relational goals are certainly a great place to start.

I can't tell you how many couples I've worked with where the love is there yet so many other things are lacking. You can't ever truly be at peace in a relationship if what it takes to make one work is fractionated on some level. Is yours? It can never hurt to direct this same question to your partner too.

Completion

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While it might seem a bit redundant to have wholeness and completion listed as signs of peace, even when shalom is broken down, the words are separated. I get why too. It's because while complete does mean "having all the required or customary characteristics, skills, or the like", it also means "thorough", "consummate" and "uncompromised". Let's break all three down a bit, shall we?

Thorough. When it comes to relationships (really, when it comes to almost anything), very few words are literally gonna make me literally tingle more than proactive and thorough. A thorough person pays attention to detail. A thorough person isn't negligent. A thorough person is extremely careful when it comes to what they say and do. And a person like that? How can they not be seen as a source of peace?

Consummate. You wanna know why couples can get their marriage annulled if they never had sex? It's because sex is considered to be what completes their wedding day. Yes, to consummate is to complete. It's also to fulfill and to fulfill is to satisfy. It's very easy to feel peaceful in a relationship when you also feel satisfied with the person you are with. Not that you are needy (needy people are like a bottomless pit); that your needs are being met — the needs that you've clearly expressed and your partner has verbally agreed to meet.

Uncompromised. Whenever I think of the word "uncompromised", I think of character and stability. While again, no human being is perfect, someone who operates from a space of being uncompromised is someone who says what they mean and means what they say. You can trust them because they are dependable, reliable and steady. And how can you not feel totally at peace with a person like that?

Restoration

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One more. Y'all, let me preface this final word by saying, it is no one's job to save or restore us. EVER. That is God's task and even then, we've got to be willing to do a lot of work, along with his help.

So, when I say that a sign that you're with the right person is that they will bring you peace and that a definition of shalom-peace is restoration…"encourage" is what I think of. The right guy will encourage you to come back to a place of health or vigor if you haven't been there in a while. The right guy will encourage you to return to an original state if you've felt lost or like you've been unclear about some things. The right guy will encourage you to improve, repair and strengthen (all words that are synonyms for restore) the areas of your life that need them. There will be something about that man that will always motivate and inspire you to want to be better — to get back to what makes you your absolute best.

Y'all, there's a reason why I entitled this article using the word "right" instead of something like, "a sign that you're in love". It's because loving someone doesn't mean that they are right for you (trust me, I've got a few T-shirts on this point). When someone is right, they are good. When someone is right, they line up with facts and truth. And when someone is right, a part of what comes with them and your relationship is peace. Loads of peace.

I'm not sure why peace is so underestimated in relationships. Hopefully, you're reading this and possibly sharing it with others will help us to maintain the healthy relationships and release the unhealthy ones. 'Cause chile, if you ain't at peace…if your relationship isn't bringing you peace…what in the world is "right" about it?

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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