Ever wonder why some women seem to have an easier time in relationships than others? Sometimes it’s plain as day why a woman’s love life repeatedly play out like a version of an over the top reality show. After all, there’s no way you can have a healthy relationship with an active addict, as their primary connection is to their “drug” of choice (be it alcohol, sex, work, etc). Or, if you can only afford to shop at Mandee or Old Navy and believe that a man should buy you Gucci or Prada, it’s safe to say that your selection process in a potential mate will be somewhat skewed – to put it lightly.
Almost everyone I know says they want to love and be loved. And almost everyone has struggled at some point in their lives to achieve this seemingly basic need. More often than not, the reason why relationships fail is based upon the individual unresolved issues that play out in the way a couple interrelates.And while some of us have very real emotional issues that prevent us from successfully partnering, from what I’ve seen, many of the problems women face in their relationships with men come from the way we position ourselves in the beginning. It’s common knowledge that people treat you the way you let them. This may be a trite saying, but it’s a timeless truth. It’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone else until or unless we love ourselves first.
So in the spirit of levity, I want to offer my sisters the following four common mistakes we make when dating. I know that missteps aren’t limited by gender, but the following are behaviors I’ve seen repeatedly in women who “love too much.” (Or shall I say, love others first):
1. Being Too Available: When he phones, answer. As a matter of fact, keep it with you at all times (even when you’re in the shower) and be sure to not let it ring more than twice. You wouldn’t want him to think you’re with someone else, do you? Also, never turn down any of his invites to spend time together. You can get your taxes done another time. After all, that’s what extensions are for. Message sent: “The most important thing to me is being available to you. My personal life is disposable and runs second to our relationship.”
2. Having sex when he wants, not when you’re ready: On the first date, make sure you drive home how you don’t believe in sex outside of marriage and want to take it slow. By date three, sleep with him but make sure to tell him that it can’t happen again because of your religious beliefs as soon as your hangover fades. Then do it again. And again. And again. While periodically saying “I’ve never done this before” Message sent: “My boundaries aren’t clear & neither is my thinking. My words and my values are subject to change depending upon the situation and how I feel.”
3. Always being the initiator in the relationship: Call and text him twice as much as he reaches out to you. Basically, whenever he comes to mind. For even though he doesn’t say it, you know he really appreciates your nightly 3 a.m. “just thinking of you” texts. And for heaven’s sake, don’t wait for him ask you out…the universe abhors a vacuum and so do you. Everyone knows that if you don’t pin him down for the weekend, someone else will. Message sent: “I’m willing to do all the work. I’m too anxious about my value to let you show me how you really feel through your actions, even if it means fabricating your level of interest.”
4. Failure to speak up: Everyone knows that nobody’s perfect. So when he calls you on Saturday afternoon after “forgetting” that the two of you had plans for the night before, don’t point it out. Don’t say anything either when he texts and answers his phone continuously throughout your date when you do see him. A man’s gotta handle his business. And you don’t want him to think that you’re just another Angry Black Woman, do you? Message sent: “I’m not confident enough in my self-worth to tell you when your actions hurt me. My need for you comes before my self-respect.”
Look, I’m not saying that a woman should never call a man, or that people aren’t entitled to change their minds. I’m also not saying that women are responsible for the tone of a relationship…it’s a two way street and I’ll be posting my list for our brothers next week. If we want to have better outcomes in our relationships however, we’ve got to be honest about how our actions and attitudes are really impacting our love lives. So if you find that you’re consistently having the same problems over and over again in your relationships, maybe it’s time to look within. For no matter how much we may protest, the common denominator in all our relationships is ourselves.
Sil Lai Abrams is EBONY.com’s Relationship Expert, author of No More Drama: 9 Simple Steps to Transforming a Breakdown into a Breakthrough and a board member of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can follow her on Twitter: @sil_lai and connect with her on Facebook. Want her advice? Email SilLai@ebony.com to have your love questions answered in a future column!