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You Love Him. You've Also Outgrown Him. Now What?

Dating someone who hinders your growth? It is the absolute worst. Ultimately, for the both of you.

Love & Relationships

OK, so before I even get into all of this, I want to put a disclaimer up first. I am absolutely not speaking to married couples. Here's why it's critical that I put that on record. Not too long ago, I was talking to a single person about an article we both read about a celebrity who appears to be on the outs with their spouse. The single person said, "I mean, if you're no longer happy, you need to move on." My immediate response was, "Boy, y'all sure do be out here acting like husbands are boyfriends."

What I meant by that is one of the reasons why a lot of people have such a hard time staying married is because they don't get the magnitude of their commitment. One of the reasons why that's the case is because they act like wives when they are girlfriends which means they don't see much of a difference in their relationship once they actually do get a husband (some of y'all will catch that later).

When you sign up for "til death do us part", those are some pretty serious words. They need to be treated as such. Besides, when Scripture speaks of "two becoming one" (Genesis 2:18-25), this means that, when it comes to marriage, one of the things that you are signing up for is learning how to master the art of growing together with another individual. Yes, until death parts you is the goal. Not only until you don't feel like it anymore.

But when you're dating someone—because no vows have been made which means that you remain your top priority at all times—it's very different. What Dolly Parton said in that quote up top actually rings oh so very true. You shouldn't remain in something simply because you feel obligated to do so; especially when you take out the time to reflect on what "obligate" actually means—"to bind or oblige morally or legally". When you're dating a guy, what morally or legally binding is involved? For real, for real. If you're having sex with them, those oxytocin surges can make you feel like you've just got to stay, but a part of the beauty of being in relationships when you're not married is you don't have to do…really anything you don't want to do.

I'm not saying that this fact gives you license to be mean, insensitive or irresponsible. I'm simply saying that, until your tax status changes from "single" to "married", single is exactly what you are (a lot of people tend to miss that point too). And, if the relationship that you're in is no longer serving you, it's OK—recommended even—to move on. One clear sign that it is time to do exactly that is when you've outgrown your relationship—or the guy that you're with. Trust me, I've been there.

How to Know You’ve Truly Outgrown “Him”

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One thing that I am a firm believer of is this—oftentimes relationships are a mirror; they show us things about ourselves that we wouldn't look at any other way. When I think back on all of the relationships that I had that were truly significant and consequential, one thing they all had in common is I was with guys who were brilliant, funny—and also pretty unsure of themselves. Because I was the type of person who was so eager to love, they were latch onto me because, well, they were so needy to be loved. In fact, one of my exes told me that, before we started dating, one day he looked over at me and said, "If someone would just love that girl, she would be amazing."

At the time that he told me that, I thought what he said was so insightful and romantic. In hindsight, I think what he really meant was, "That girl is so desirous for love that I can get her to fill in all of the blanks when it comes to what I need as I try and become a better man." Hmph. 90 percent of the time, I paid for dates. Although he was good for writing a poem or song, I can count on one hand how many birthday presents or Christmas gifts that I received. When it came to sleepovers, he was almost always at my house. In short, he wasn't "loving me" so much as I was taking care of him. Looking back, what's really sad is he wasn't exceptional in this way.

This was pretty much my pattern. Not just taking care of a man while accepting his bare minimum, but doing it so long that it started to make me super resentful. And bitter. And eventually, mad as hell.

That too was a pattern because that's what I saw in the second marriage that my mother was in. Hmph again. It really is something, the things that you repeat from your parents, no matter how much you tell yourself that you won't. Until you do some serious self-work to change what has been modeled to us, oftentimes, we simply do what we know. No matter how much we may dislike, disrespect or even loathe it.

Back to the relationship. So, why would I stay so long (well over five years) in something that had me so…tired? No…weary? Good question. While in hindsight, I am fully aware that I wasn't in love with him (even though I wanted to be, basically because I didn't want to be alone; see "Like, Love & In Love: How To Really Know The Differences"), I did love him. Before being boyfriend and girlfriend, we were genuinely friends and there was a lot about him that I did like. Plus, he had already made it clear that befriending exes wasn't really his thing. So, I think that, more than anything, I was afraid to leave. Look at all of the time that I invested. Look at all of the little quirks and challenges that we managed to work through. Although he wasn't my perfect guy, not even close, we got along pretty well, the sex was cool and he did love me (at least, as best as he knew how at the time). What if I don't even get that much from the next dude?

Sis, let me tell you something, right here and right now. If you are currently seeing someone and that's the kind of dialogue that you're having with yourself, not only is that a clear indication that, if you stay, you are straight-up settling, if you pay even a little bit of attention to your words, it's also a sign that you're outgrowing him.

To outgrow anyone or anything is to leave what would impede your own personal behind you. "Develop" is a dope word because it speaks to progress. "Progress" is a dope word because it speaks to "a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage".

Why It’s OK to Outgrow Someone You Love

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A part of the reason why all of us need to be extremely prayerful, discerning and, to a large extent, even logical-over-emotional about who we select as a spouse is because, what we're essentially saying is, "This is the man who is qualified to get me closer to my goals. This is the man who is best capable at helping me to move to higher stages in my life, throughout my life, more than anyone else." (If you can't say that about a guy, don't marry him.)

Yet in the meantime, while we're dating—which is basically all about figuring out who that guy actually is—no matter how long you've been with someone, it is perfectly OK to be like, "Yes, I love you. And yes, I also need to end this relationship because if I remain, you are going to be a stumbling block when it comes to my goals. Not only that, but being so enraptured in you is going to distract me from getting to higher stages in my life."

When I think about the relationship I just shared with you (and even a few others), I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that if I had stayed, there's a pretty good chance that you wouldn't even be reading this narrative right now. I say that because, one of the best affirmations that I've ever received is from a close male friend. Whenever he shares with me something that he's trying to accomplish, I do my best to help him out. It's not because he asks; it's simply because that's who I am. In response, something that he calls me is a "king maker". He doesn't mean that I am literally making him a king (that's the Lord and his job); he means it more in the context of Proverbs 12:4(NKJV)—"An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones." Indeed, all of us should be in the kind of relationships—platonic or romantic—that make us feel like royalty, that help us to become better versions of ourselves….that help us to grow.

Anyway, because my boyfriend had so many needs—emotionally, financially, professionally, etc., etc.—if I had stayed with him, I know me. Or rather, who I was at the time. I would've devoted so much of myself into helping him grow that it would've stunted my own progress. There ain't nothin' good, healthy or heroic about that.

Dating someone who hinders your growth? It is the absolute worst. Ultimately, for the both of you.

So yeah, as much as it hurt (mostly because I allowed the relationship to drag on far longer than it ever should have), one day I called him and I ended it. Because he had become such a part of my life and lifestyle, for several weeks, it was like I had knocked the wind out of my own doggone self. But once the healing process began, I was able to put the time, effort, energy and oftentimes even resources that I once put into him, back into myself. Growth started occurring in places where I didn't even recognize I was dormant. Outgrowing him allowed me the space to grow within myself. No regrets, y'all. I don't have a signal one.

Someone reading this can relate to almost every word that I said. Well, as someone once said, "If you're looking for a sign, this would be it." Never feel that loving someone means you should feel obligated to remain, even after you've outgrown them. Love them—and more importantly, yourself—to see the progress that can be made if you're both out of each other's way.

Never feel so obligated that you aren't able to become a bigger and better version of yourself. If you do think that, friend, that's not love. Not. Even. Close.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

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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

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Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

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