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Is Your Relationship Complicated? Simplify It With These Questions

Dating

There's a writer by the name of Fredrik Backman who once said something that, I think, is the perfect way to start all of this off— "Everything is complicated if no one explains it to you." Believe you me, if anyone has the T-shirt, bumper sticker and coffee mug for what it means to be in a complicated relationship with a man, it is I.


But as I sit and reflect on a semi-recent conversation that I had with a man who had once broken my heart into a million pieces—insert "Why You Should Be Grateful 'He' Didn't Choose You" here—after he reached out and I asked him, "What do you want?" (at this point?) and he had no answer (dude…really?!), I get that a part of why I had been hurt is because our relationship has always been complicated (difficult to analyze, understand, explain, etc.). The reason why that was the case is because I was more interested in being involved with him than focusing on what I should do to make my life—including my love life—simpler.

Back when I was all caught up in his and mine's hamster wheel, I didn't have enough sense—or even self-love, really—to look up articles like this one. But sometimes, life allows things to happen to us so that we are able to spare others the heartache, drama and wasted time.

Sis, if "complicated" (or some variation of that) is the best way to currently describe what you're in, love yourself enough to ask yourself the following six questions. Trust me, once you have the right answers in tow, you'll realize that things aren't nearly as complicated as you thought. You just have to decide if you want more/better or…not. It really is just that simple.

Did Things Start Off Complicated to Begin With?

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You know what they say—how relationships start can oftentimes provide a forecast for how they will remain. When it comes to what makes a relationship complicated, I'd say that some of the dynamics that top the list include friends with benefits, dating an ex, messing around with someone who's already in a relationship, getting involved in a long-distance relationship and seeing someone without having a clue about what you want (or don't want) from them or the relationship as a whole.

If you and "yours" happen to fit the bill as it relates to any of these dynamics, the first thing that you should do is sit down and have a chat about if how you started is how you want things to stay. If it's not, it's time to A) take things to the next level; B) take a step back and reevaluate or C) end things altogether. Something that all of these choices have in common is they simplify matters. Significantly so.

Are You Getting All That You Truly Want in a Relationship?

I haven't been on Facebook in years, so y'all would have to tell me if you can still state whether your relationship is complicated or not. What I do know is back when I was on social media and people would inbox me about their complex situations, more times than not, what was "difficult to analyze" is if they were truly getting what they wanted out of their situation or not. And, if they were willing to wait it out to see if things would change…or not.

If this is what has you stumped, a while back, I wrote an article on here entitled "Are You in Love or Are You in Need?" One way to tell the difference between the two is if you are remaining in something that isn't truly fulfilling you, just so you don't have to be alone (or without "him" on some level). Trust me, when you are staying with someone who isn't giving you what you desire, that is a form of self-betrayal. To keep ignoring this reality is complicating your life, to say the least.

If You Aren’t, Are You Compromising or Settling?

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A female writer by the name of Elizabeth Kostova once said something that definitely garners an "ouch" response—"Recently abandoned women can be complicated." I don't know about you, but I know there have been times when the pain of a break-up was so excruciating that I would get involved in "something" with someone else, just so it could serve as a distraction. Usually, that something was a form of settling. And, since I knew I was settling, the relationship was complicated. Settling is always complicated.

How can you know the difference between compromising in order to make a relationship work and settling just so you don't have to be alone? Compromising usually involves being with someone who isn't perfect but, in many ways, is perfect for you. They add to your life, you add to theirs and you both work together to make it work. Settling is when you know, out the gate, that you're not getting all of what you need or want; still, you're putting up with "it" anyway because you've somehow convinced yourself that something is better than nothing. (See the drastic difference?)

Although Titles Aren’t Mandatory, Why Don’t YOU Have One?

I once read that couples who are into PDA aren't really doing it because they don't know how to keep their hands off of each other. It's actually because they want to show off; they want to prove to others that they have someone or that someone finds them attractive and appealing. Well, when a person pressures their partner to put a "title" on their relationship—especially once they are over 35 or so—sometimes I wonder if there are some deep-rooted insecurities going on there too. If both folks are clear about what's going on, is a title really all that necessary?

There is one exception to this. It's if what you're in is so confusing that you need a title for clarity's sake. If when you present this very point to the guy that you're seeing and he finds every way underneath the sun to deflect from the issue at hand. If that's what's going on, there's a big possibility that he doesn't want a title because he doesn't want the accountability that comes along with it. And if you choose to stay involved with someone who doesn't want to be held responsible for much, sis, "complex" is just the tip of the iceberg of the problems you've got in store.

When Friends Ask What Y’all Are Doing, Can You Easily Explain It?

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A telling sign that a relationship is super complex is when the two people in it can't explain what the heck is going on in two sentences or less and/or there's a whole lot of awkward silence, followed by "I mean…", "It's kinda like", followed by sighs and other sounds of frustration.

When two individuals are on the same page about what they are doing and why, there is no confusion. Therefore, when one of their friends asks what's up, the answers are simply "We're dating", "That's my boyfriend", "We're taking it slow while we're figuring some things out" or even "That's my 'blue light special'" (my love uncle says that's someone who creeps in after dark and slips out before dawn). If you're not able to give a basic reply or you find yourself low-key poppin' off on your friend who's asking because you're basically embarrassed that you have no idea what's going on, it's time to ask your own self what you and he are doing. Then follow that question up with if that's good enough or not.

Is It Complicated? Or Are You Simply in Denial?

As I already shared, the last man to break my heart, in many ways, we were the walking definition of complicated. In fact, it wasn't uncommon for him to refer to me as "a complicated bird". Anyway, we had a recent chat, just to get everything out and see if there was anything worth salvaging, even on the platonic tip. Now that the rose-colored glasses are gone, as I was listening to him, I realized that our relationship wasn't complicated; I just didn't want to see everything for what it was. As relationship coach Derrick Jaxn recently said—and by "said", I mean warned— about men who tell us that we are too good for them even though they don't really want to let us go, "We confuse the presence of a conscience with the presence of a good person." (LISTEN.)

If you like a guy but all that he's giving you is sex, is the relationship complicated or do you simply not want to admit that you're not going to get much more out of him?

If you are seeing someone who told you that he loves you and he's not interested in anything serious, is the relationship complicated or are you simply refusing to take him at his word?

If you've been with someone for a couple of years now and nothing is progressing, are things complicated or do you simply not want to accept that things are stagnant because he has no long-term plans for you?

I know what it's like to think that something simple is complicated simply because I'm in denial. But you know what? The moment I started accepting the facts, truths and realities of what I was doing and what wasn't doing, the grey clouds in my head cleared up and life got oh-so-much simpler. Brighter too.

Ask yourself, point blank—is your relationship (or situationship) really all that "complicated"? Or are you not wanting to deal with your own facts, truths and realities? The answer to that will change everything for you. It will make things simpler too. I guarantee it.

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
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