As I watched Rihanna’s recent interview with Oprah, while most focused on the Chris Brown revelations, there was a moment that stood out to me even more. As the Bajan pop star discussed fond memories of her grandmother Dolly, she shared a bit of advice her grandmother gave her that has stayed with her ever since. When it comes to love, her grandmother told her she should marry “someone who loves you more than you love him.”

This caught my attention because it seems as though when it comes to relationships these days, there is always some sort of mind game, competitiveness, or strategic methodology involved to keep oneself from getting hurt. From a female perspective, I believe part of what may be perpetuating this on our end is the advice passed down between women in our families and communities. No one wants to be made a fool, but there is some common advice I find problematic when seeking a healthy relationship.

Remember when you used to listen in on those girl talks around the table at auntie’s house? Or maybe you had an older cousin who tried to school you to the game from time to time. Wise words have their value, but people can’t help but speak out of from their own experiences. So if some or much of what mommy, grandmom, or auntie taught us came from hurtful experiences, their advice may be jaded by that as well.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the potential harm some age-old “jewels” may have on achieving a healthy relationship and why we may want to take another look at some of the things we’ve been advised over the years …

He Should Love You More Than You Love Him
This is a concept that makes me scratch my head. First how do you measure the amount of love you too both exude or have for one another? And if one person is noticeably more in love, is that healthy? It’s true that no relationship is always 50/50. There are times when one is giving more effort than the other, but what I think is really the issue here is vulnerability. No one wants to be the one too open, which can lead to unnecessary mind games. I say be honest about your feelings and the intensity of your feelings, because if your relationship is based upon mind games chances are someone will get hurt.

Have ‘Boyfriend No. 2’ on the Side, Just in Case
It may sound extreme, but I’ve heard women give this advice–even married women. It speaks to a larger issue of infidelity. Point blank if you enter into a monogamous relationship, you should strive to uphold your commitment. Don’t keep someone in your back pocket. If you have that much doubt in your relationship, it’s not worth being in. Don’t go dipping out to the McDonalds parking lot to be with the side guy, it’s not worth it. All of the thrill and excitement will soon wear off once reality sets in and you find yourself in an emotional mess. Be honest, be faithful and true to the one you’re with. If he doesn’t reciprocate you have the choice to move on.

Don’t Let Him Think You Need Him
The Independent Woman syndrome has been touched on so many times. The reality is that many woman are not trying to spray man repellent by being independent, it’s can simply be a source of pride and personal achievement. And other women have had no other choice but to hold things down on their own, so sometimes it’s not easy to internalize the whole idea of interdependence when it comes to relationships. However I believe if you open yourself up to it, it can be a pleasant experience that will benefit you both.The idea of “I want you, but don’t need you” is nothing more than a defense mechanism in my opinion. As long as he is treating you right, there is nothing wrong with showing or articulating appreciation for having that special someone in your life.

All Men Cheat
No, they don’t. Do not passively accept this as a fact and allow the nonsense. This is coming from a girl who has observed a fair share of marriages fail due to infidelity. Yet I still have faith in monogamy and marriage. I believe that if both people are committed to making it work, it can and will. If you set your expectations low for your partner, he may very well see that as an opportunity to do as he pleases. Yet if you’re clear and firm on what you what, you have more chances to produce those results. No one is perfect of course, and people make mistakes. But don’t let gender be used a crutch for stepping out.

Once a Cheat, Always a Cheat
I actually agree with this in a way. If someone has a record of cheating ( repetitively) on you especially, chances are they are going to continue. It’s all in the manner in which this advice is given that makes the difference. If you are being advised to just accept things as they are and go along to get along, think twice. Don’t be persuaded to comply with things you know in your heart are not right. On the other hand, if your friends and family are trying to help you wake up and smell the roses about your partner, you may just want to put a little more Folgers in your cup.

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  • Jane

    Eve destroyed the world… now it is women’s role all over the world to save mankind by loving responsibly, because the men of today are lost… but do not follow them to try to save them… let them take responsibility and learn on their own
    I completely agree with you on this one …
    From my experience, I have been through hardship for a while, when I was little i recognized that my mother had chosen a man she loved more than herself, he was a narcissist and she was codependent. You see the men who are good with their tongues, those who can seduce a woman and play games with her heart, most of the time are the most insecure and those who want to destroy the confident caring woman because they know she is better than then….And by this i mean MORALLY, i connect religion to all of this because i realized I kept falling for narcissist, but I always refused the abuse because i had seen my mom suffer since she loved him more than herself. her compassion was so great she wanted to save him, because she knew his ego was trying to take over him….. The truth is women around the world try to save these men they feel a need to rescue them and that makes them love them. however it is no woman’s responsibility to do such things. these men need to find their way on their own, they have to be responsible for their actions, because form the time they were children they were taught that they could get away with anything, which is why many get away with breaking a woman’s heart. We need to learn as women that we will not let them get away with playing with our hearts.. So I say NO it is not wise to love a man more that he loves you, because many men out there are irresponsible and we need to let them know that they cannot abuse us or confuse us…. In the bible eve fell for the lies of a snake, men that we start idolizing more than ourselves are just like that snake trying to seduce us into taking the road of lust which are those butterflies we feel is love…. but that is not love, Love is letting the men find their own way, not giving in into their demands, and loving ourselves a little more than we love them… Loving them the way we would love our children by teaching them right form wrong and disciplining them to understand that in life in every aspect there are boundaries that they should not cross… Because when a man really loves you, he might not be good with words, but he shows you compassion and shows you respect, and many women fall for the snake who if many of you have not noticed, always find it fun to mess with your head, they think it’s a game and they feel powerful and happy that they can cause us to go crazy… they will always control the dumb women with lust… so when you think of true love… think of the love you would have for a son… do not spoil them to the point they become irresponsible… love responsibly and always choose a man who loves you more, because that is how your children will grow up to see the compassion that both men and women have for one another… there is no other way to fix this world and fight against that snake….
    Only women are able to love more responsibly, and if they make a big effort they can become more giving but only with those men who show them responsibility and respect ….when you idolize a man… it’s always a red flag….