Not too long ago, while doing a podcast interview, the host asked me why it seems that so many women have a pattern of picking the wrong kinds of men. As she went on and on about how it seemed to be that there were less good guys out in the world which was resulting in women feeling like they had to settle for less, almost instantly, I could feel one of my trigger buttons being pushed.
And just what trigger is that? A lack of personal accountability. As someone who, believe you me, has made some not-so-stellar choices in my past when it comes to matters of the heart — and mind and libido — if there is one thing that self-introspection, time, healing, humility and wisdom have taught me, it's what the brilliant Confucius quote says up top. It's something that seems to be what a lot of people simply don't want to face about themselves. It's the fact that indeed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, everywhere you go, there you are. And when it comes to relationships, this means that if there is one thing that all the men you've dealt with have in common, it's the fact that they were once involved with you. So, if you're always in something "less than", pardon the pun, but in order to make better choices, you've got to be willing to take some ownership and responsibility and admit that you are the common denominator. And gee, sis…why is that?
This kind of topic can go all kinds of different directions. Boy, could it. However, I think the best way to simplify it all is to do for you, something that I wish that I had done for myself years ago — and that's offer up a straight shot of how you know a man is right for you vs. being wrong for you. Because, again, the moment you decide to stop blaming everyone and everything else and opt instead to look deeply within, that is when some patterns can be broken, some real change can happen and you can get to the kind of love that is meant — meaning good — for you. You ready to take the first step?
The Right Man Brings Out the BEST in You
Best: (adj.) of the highest quality, excellence, or standing; most advantageous, suitable, or desirable; (adv.) most excellently or suitably; with most advantage or success
Lawd. Can you imagine, how much heartache, pain and drama we all could bypass if the mission, straight out of the gate when it comes to being in a relationship, is deciding to ONLY commit our time, effort, energy and parts into someone who brought out the absolute BEST in us? Someone who was good for our mind, body and spirit, without compromising any of the three, as we used the actual definitions of "best" as our standard?
Someone who was most suitable for and not just desirable to us (check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?"). Someone who encouraged and supported us to get to or remain in a true state of Black excellence, no matter what. Someone who helped us to become even more successful as an individual. Someone who reminded us, by the way they lived their own life, what it means to be (here come some synonyms for the word best) a champion for ourselves, to excel as a human being, to raise the bar of what we expect and deserve, to outdo the goals that we've already accomplished and to have documented evidence that our life has only been further enhanced by the folks who choose to allow into our intimate space.
Sounds over-the-top? If it does, that's a part of the problem. It kind of reminds me of something I recently heard someone say. It was something along the lines of, we need to stop convincing others that we deserve to be loved. When I hear that, the thing that immediately came to mind was, when we love our own selves well (check out "What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like"), that ceases to be so much of an issue. I speak from very up close and personal experience when I say that too, because when I wasn't living out my BEST life, when I wasn't prioritizing all of these definitions of the word "best" in my own world, I was sho 'nuf in some real stupid stuff with guys. If I wanted to, I could hem and haw about how it was all their fault yet, isn't it interesting that, when I treated my own self with honor and respect, my taste in and tolerance for bullshishery diminished? Not only that but there was no need to get on that "men are trash" raggedy ass bandwagon because the quality of men that I chose spend my time with shifted too.
Best complements best. Best doesn't want any less than that too. Best can't help it.
It's not about being cocky or even unrealistic either. What I mean by that is, once you are truly ready for the kind of person who will bring about the best in you, you get that "best" doesn't mean perfect (I mean, are you perfect?). It just means that — dates have a different agenda, sex isn't just about getting off and you are able to spot dead-end-potential (check out "Are You Wasting Your Time With 'Expiration Dating'?") very quickly. You become unapologetic about the fact that if he can't improve that quality of your life, in some really substantial and significant ways in comparison to what you've already accomplished on your own, why spend — or is it waste? — months and years of time that you can never get back doing what R&B singer Mya once said in what may be my favorite song of hers. Why would you give "The Best of Me" to others who aren't giving the best of themselves to you?
And a man who is going to give his BEST? He's not interested in lowering his bar, wasting his time or compromising his standards either. Best tends to beget best. And you know what? I know couples who bring out the best in each other. People who it is abundantly clear that, before coming together, their life was already really good and then, when they met their complement (check out "If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life"), things just went to a whole 'nother level. Professionally, they prospered more. Personally, they improved. Sexually, things were more fulfilling. Financially, life stabilized (if you're dating someone who puts you in debt or you're putting them in debt, that is not what "best" looks like). Because they were in such good shape prior to getting together, they only chose one another because they saw clear indicators that linking up with advance them.
That is what being with someone who brings out the best in you looks and lives like. And what about the worst? Whew, chile.
The Wrong Man Brings Out the WORST in You
Worst: (adj.) bad or ill in the highest, greatest, or most extreme degree; most faulty, unsatisfactory, or objectionable; most unfavorable or injurious; (adv.) in the most evil, wicked, severe, or disadvantageous manner; with the most severity, intensity, etc.; in the greatest degree
There is a quote that I happened upon, not too long ago that, as soon as I read it, it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. I don't know who the author is but it simply says, "Relationships fail because people take their own insecurities and try and twist them into their partner's flaws." Preach. Remember how I said earlier that people who lack accountability come to the convenient (is it, though?) resolution that when relationships don't work out or they find themselves in a toxic hamster wheel of guy-after-guy-after-guy (check out "Are You Dating The Same Guy Over And Over Again? Maybe."), it's everyone else's fault but their own? Goodness.
How is that when no one forced you to choose the men you've chosen, over and over and over again? And why is it that you're all about selecting those who are ultimately and holistically unsatisfactory, injurious (even neglect is a form of injury; check out "Neglect: The Form Of Relational Abuse That Isn't Discussed Enough"), are capable of doing things that can be seen as evil and/or who can cause you to feel some really severe and intense things about men, relationships and/or yourself? Because again, no one is making you do all of this? You are making decisions that lead to this particular kind of outcome.
I know it might be hard to take all of this in because it would be so much easier to act like there is some conspiracy that the universe has against you that causes you to get into relationships with guys who seem to bring out the absolute worst — inferior, substandard, mean, sad and low-quality — in you. Yet I promise you my next two checks from this platform that when you really get sick and tired (sometimes literally) of being connected to anything or anyone that brings out the worst qualities in you, you will remove yourself from them — person, place, thing or idea. On the romantic relationship tip, I don't care how long you've been together, how good the sex is or how afraid you are of being alone, when you get that no one can "make you worse", especially if you're not around for them to attempt to do so…life immediately elevates. You really do start to thrive on a whole 'nother level.
I've been involved with men who've brought out the worst in me before. It's kind of a long story yet, in hindsight, my (main) issue was the so-called love that I was tolerating from them was a reflection of the kind I got from many of my relatives (check out "Why You Should Be Unapologetic About Setting Boundaries With Toxic Family Members"); their BS was familiar to me. Oh, but when I got away from the DNA that was also bringing out the worst in me, while it took me a hot minute, I can't believe how much abuse ("abnormal use of") I used to take vs. how little I will tolerate now. I don't like how much "the worst" feels and so, I don't engage it — therefore, whenever I see signs of it, I remove myself…quick, fast and in a hurry. Not because I fear it. It's because I now loathe it. Life is too short to be with someone who, as one of my girls said in her recent visual, can "rearrange my box" and yet has me spiritually unstable as literal hell. Or has me in tears from laughter on Tuesday and then from devastation on the follow Sunday. Or has me out here dishonoring my own time to the point where I'm just…relationally stagnant because I've lost sight of what the best of me should look and live like.
Did you see all of the "I's" that were in that last sentence? I PLAY A ROLE IN WHO BRINGS OUT THE BEST OR WORST IN ME. SO DO YOU — and yes, I am yelling it. That's why I say that what the right and wrong man have in common is me. Or you. Because they need us to be present in order for either outcome to play out. The good and super empowering thing about all of this is, the moment that we see what we don't desire, whether it feels like it at the time, we absolutely have the power and ability to switch up and create another narrative.
You will never get this day, this week, this month, this year — this moment in time back. Why would you allow someone the privilege of you and your time if they aren't gonna bring out the absolute best in you? Only you can answer that question, sis. Think it through. Be honest with yourself. Change up if need be. It's all up to YOU. Not "him". YOU.
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