Something that I grew up around were worry warts. It wasn't until I grew up and was able to create my own energy oasis that I realized how toxic that space actually was because worrying really does tend to create issues/problems that don't exist. I mean, just think about what the word means—"to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret". What about that sounds healthy, beneficial or productive? Exactly.
As a marriage life coach, I oftentimes see people literally manifest their own drama in their relationships because they worry about things that, at the end of the day, they really shouldn't worry about—either because it's not that big of a deal or they couldn't really change it if it happened anyway. That's what I want to touch on today. If you want to keep your relationship in a good space, long-term, start by not tormenting yourself—and ultimately your partner—by choosing to have fear, anxiety and/or doubt about things that…really aren't worth it at the end of the day.
Titles are an interesting topic. When it comes to romantic relationships specifically, on one hand, they can help to bring about clarity. On another, if you're too consumed with them, they can create a lot of unnecessary drama. As someone who has said, many times, that I am too damn old for a boyfriend (check out "Why I'll Never Call Someone A 'Boyfriend' Again"), a title isn't that big of a deal to me. What I need to know is that we're on the same page (check out "The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have"), that the page isn't a secret to those who know us, and I'm all good. Besides, titles typically only come up when folks are being introduced to other people, right? It's like the title is needed in order to validate the relationship and, trust me, if you're being treated well and right, you will automatically feel confident—both in and out of the presence of folks.
The only real caveat to this is when a man refuses to put a title on your relational dynamic when it's something that you actually long for. I know a married couple like this. While the wife claims that she and her husband were a couple for many years prior to jumping the broom, her man is adamant that nothing "official" ever transpired before they said, "I do". Hmph. That low-key sounds like, "If I say you were my girlfriend and you find out all of the dirt that I did, I can't excuse my way out of it by saying we were never a couple in the first place." SMDH.
Still, people like that tend to be the exception and not the rule when it comes to this particular point. Besides, a title means nothing if the actions aren't backing up the words. For instance, I know another guy who, when he's asked if he has a girlfriend, he sometimes says, "She might think I'm her boyfriend but I don't have a girlfriend." This ninja. So yeah, why spend a lot of time worrying about if there's a title to your situation or not? Because it has to matter as much to the person who you're in a relationship with as it does to you, anyway. Instead, focus on if your needs are being met. If they are, chill. And what if the "need" is to have a title? If so, ask yourself why. Then discuss it with your partner. You might realize that you wanted one only because it's so-called what everyone else is doing and not really because it's that big of a deal to you. Or, you might discover that you and he want different things and it's time to do some shifting because of it. Either way, you win.
2. Social Media
If any of you have been watching the current season of Ready to Love, you know that there's a two-time divorced guy on there by the name of David who said that he believes that long-term couples should give each other full password access. While I do think that a marital dynamic is different than two folks who are dating, this is still something that I've never personally desired in any kind of relationship. I mean, for what? When I think of other situations where passwords are shared, it's automatically parents and children that come to mind and it's usually because either a parent doesn't fully trust their child's online actions or they don't think that they're mature enough to handle social media without their guidance.
Adults aren't children, so what's all of the grown folks monitoring about? And if someone isn't your actual spouse, I really don't get why you should have that kind of access.
Being in an intimate relationship doesn't mean that someone has to give up their individuality or privacy. Besides, if you can't trust your partner when it comes to how they interact with people on Instagram (or they can't trust you), why are the two of you together to begin with?
Some folks cause worry to make mountains out of molehills when there shouldn't be one. That said, just because some attractive woman likes your man's page or he's friends with folks you don't know online, that doesn't mean that you need to hop into his DMs or "check" anybody. Geeze. Things grow when they have space (more on that in a sec). Not when they are being suffocated. Your partner doesn't need you monitoring them. If you disagree, the issue is probably way bigger than social media. Real talk.
3. Your Partner’s Opposite Sex Friendships
Do I think that men and women can be "just friends"? 1000 percent. I've got a few male friends—single and married—to prove it. When two people are truly platonic (check out "The Word 'Platonic' Is Sacred. Literally."), there really is nothing to worry about because a "spiritual love-based relationship" oftentimes takes on a very different kind of energy. Like me? I adore all of my male friends and they each bring something very special into my life. Yet lawd, the thought of anything sexual or romantic transpiring with any of them basically makes me want to throw up in my mouth. I'm not exaggerating. That's why I'm so over the myth that just because someone has a penis and you've got a vagina, there is an automatic temptation there—even if it's dormant—between two people. Who said?
Case in point. I just went out with a very close male friend of mine not too long ago. He is adorable and hella photogenic. And yet, we can talk about him and all of the women who want him 'til the cows come home because I can't even get my mind around us being anything more than what we are. He listens to me. I listen to him. We provide each other with a perspective that our same-sex friends are unable to provide and that's about the extent of our connection. That's all that it ever will be.
Unfortunately, some people get into relationships and think that a part of their job is to get their partner to "clean house" when it comes to their opposite sex friendships when what they're actually doing is putting an expiration date on their relationship (at least 8 times out of 10). Listen, unless "she's" hella disrespectful (check out "What If Your Guy Friend's Girlfriend Isn't Feelin' You?"), she seems to be trying to influence you man to distance himself from you or she's putting strain on him to the point where he can't take care of the other priorities in his life (none of these instances sound very "platonic" to me, by the way), who cares if he's got female friends in his life? If they were gonna be together…they would've been together. Don't create problems that don't exist, just because you've heard too many times that men and women can't be "just friends". That is absolutely not the truth.
4. Not Seeing Everything Eye to Eye
I personally think that one of the biggest mistakes people make in relationships is expecting their partner to become their clone. Shoot, worse than that, they put themselves in the position to become the "clone trainer" when no one (especially their partner) asked them to do so.
You know, a part of what comes with being emotionally intelligent in a relationship is understanding that people who are different than you are can help you to evolve in ways that folks who are similar never could. So, if you're out here worrying that you and your partner won't work out because you're not in agreement about everything under the sun, what is it that grandma used to say? You're just borrowing trouble.
How can you know if the differences are potentially problematic? That's a fair question. If you don't share similar values. If you don't have the same long-term goal(s) for the relationship. If you communicate in a toxic way. If you don't respect one another's religious and political points of view. If you don't complement one another. If any of this is going on, you shouldn't shrug it off. However, everything else? You're far better off being open-minded when it comes to why the two of you have different approaches to matters than assuming that you're doomed, just because y'all are not Bobbsey Twins. A lot of marriages end, unfortunately, because one or both spouses don't get this very point. Your partner isn't supposed to be just like you—again, they are to complement you. Oftentimes, differences are what do that because they challenge you to grow. RELAX.
5. Being on Other People’s Timetable
A couple of years back, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, "Experts Say You Should Date This Long Before Getting Married". If you're rushing and you want the bottom line answer, many relationship experts say that it shouldn't take longer than two years for two marriage-minded people (check out "One Overlooked Yet Obvious Indicator That A Man Is Husband Material") to date and at least get engaged. For the most part, I agree with that (by the way, it's also not the wisest thing to stay engaged for more than two years; engagement really should mean that you are in a period where you are planning your wedding not sitting around forever with a ring on your finger). What I will also say is this is a generalized conclusion—and each couple is different.
If you and yours live in two different cities, states or countries. If you and yours are trying to get your finances together (lawd, PLEASE get your finances together). If the both of you know that you love each other and still would like to take out some time to do some self-work (via therapy, etc.) in order to heal some issues before taking things to the next level. If there are certain things that you know would be easier for you to accomplish as a single person before getting married. If you've got kids and you want to make sure that things will "blend well"—don't let what relationship experts, your mama or your married girlfriends think deter you from what your gut instincts say is best.
It really is sad, how much a lot of us worry about things that we're really not all that worried about; it's just that people and their opinions come in and try to plant seeds of fear, confusion or doubt. So long as you and your guy are clear about your relationship short- and long-term goals and you're both working to meet them, give the clock a bit of a rest. Haste makes waste. That's not just a random saying. There is a ton of truth to it. Just ask a lot of the divorced people that you know.
6. The Need for Space
I honestly don't know anyone who doesn't want their own space from time to time. I take that back—yes, I do. Needy people. Controlling people. Insecure people. Folks with a low-key love addiction. Yet one thing that all of those individuals have in common is they typically look for their relationship to fill voids that they need to work on as individuals. So, if you're someone who knows that you kinda suffocate your partner, I say this in love when I say, "heal thyself".
While I get that sometimes there can be challenges in this area because, for instance, your primary love language may be physical touch when your partner's isn't or you enjoy spending as much time as possible with the ones you care about while your partner is cool with you only seeing each other a couple of times a week, tops, it's not fair to assume that someone who wants space is someone who doesn't care about you, isn't being on the up-and-up when it comes to what the two of you have agreed to do and not do out of each other's presence or that he can't be trusted on some levels. Right as I'm typing this, I can think of a woman who is constantly finding ways to not be out of her husband's presence. I mean physical presence, online presence—you name it. And you know what? It's taking a major toll on the relationship because while she's calling it "love", he's calling it "annoying AF" and "hella insecure".
I believe that we've all heard the saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Deeper than that, being a couple doesn't mean that someone doesn't want their own "me" time.
Encouraging your partner to have time alone. Being cool with them spending time with friends when you're not around. Not feeling like all of your free time needs to be spent together—you'd be surprised how much that can make him feel like you are secure in the relationship. And that kind of confidence is sexy as hell.
7. That It Won’t Work Out
I've got a friend who, right at this very moment, is going through the grieving process of a break-up. Something that's a bit fascinating about the situation is he basically saw red flags in the dynamic and blatantly ignored them. And so, although he knew that there was an expiration date to the relationship, he kept putting off the inevitable which led to him becoming more attached, which caused the break-up to ultimately become more painful. Still, in the midst of it all, he's seeing some personal growth and lessons that he may not have learned any other way.
My point? I don't know many people who go into relationships with a plan to end them (some folks are narcissists, users or commitment-phobes which is why I couldn't say that I don't know any). So yes, if/when the relationship comes to an end, it can be really difficult. Sometimes, even devastating. I've been there. Believe that. Yet when it comes to myself and the folks I know who've shared their relationship and break-up stories with me, only maybe 10-15 percent have a lot of regrets. The reason why is because they see that some things naturally run their course after a season, that sometimes breaking up is a pruning process that helps us to grow and/or that if they hadn't ended that relationship, they wouldn't be with the person they're with—someone who is far better for them—now.
Besides, sitting around worrying that a relationship could end could play itself out to be a form of self-sabotage because you end up bringing so much fear, negativity, confusion, testing (you know, testing someone to see how loyal or committed they are; that gets old) and/or drama to the situation that it ends up running its course—even if it wasn't supposed to.
So, STOP WORRYING. As long as you bring your best self to the relationship, that's all you can do. Let the universe handle what you can't control. If you remain in this head and heart space, you'll realize that there really isn't all that much to worry about anyway. What will be, will be—and ultimately, it will be for your better good. If not immediately…eventually. Amen.
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