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.