Out of all the women I know, most of them express frustration with their romantic relationships. Even though most of the women I interact with are black, it would be silly to chalk it up as a “black woman problem” though, because as I’ve said before, I don’t believe that black women have it any “worse” in the relationship department than any other race of women do. People are people. We are ALL flawed in some way. It’s really all about what perspective you take. The problem, if anything, lies with the nature of most of our conversations in that they focus on what’s wrong with men in general or what was wrong with our previous partners.
It was all his fault! He was crazy! Deranged! He never wanted to go out! All he wanted was sex! He lied to me! He was broke! He played too many video games! He . . .
But what we often miss in these conversations is that the other person is just 1/2 of the equation. Like Rob Base said so wisely, it takes two to make a thing go right.
The other person will do what they want to do. But you get to do what you want to do.
When you look at it that way, relationships are just experiences.
You get to choose how you want that experience to be. You get to choose what you want that experience to look like. You help set the tone for any relationship and give the other person the opportunity to respond in kind (or not). If you want more romance, be more romantic. If you want more honesty, be honest yourself. We often complain about how men lie, but can we really sit here and say that women are always 100% truthful in our relationships? Really? Even a “little white lie” is a lie. We are all human. And it’s not fair to expect from others something that you cannot offer yourself. (It also sets the stage for a lot of unfounded resentment down the line.)
What I’m learning about myself and my own relationships is that it is more useful to think of them as flexible experiences rather than absolutes that I must control or they won’t “work out.” Here is what I recently wrote on my updated life map for the relationship area:
I wish to attract positive, open-minded men who will enrich my life, not take away from it. I want my experiences to be meaningful, romantic, light and fun. I am willing to create the internal and external environment to support my ideal relationship.
Instead of expecting everything to “fall in place” right away, I want to learn from the other person and explore what we have in common and where we can grow together. I do not want to be with someone I want to change. If I feel the urge to change him, it is a clear indication that I believe he is not “good enough” for me, which is an unhealthy way to start off a relationship. I wish to see my partner as an equal, not as “less than” me.
By thinking about relationships as experiences - not absolutes – I think we can be more intentional about how we approach them. We get to design the kind of relationships we want by bringing what we want to the table in the first place. Instead of skepticism and mistrust, we have the choice to bring optimism and understanding that the other person is not perfect and neither are we. In this way, we recognize that we are all evolving. We make room for each person to grow.
What kind of relationship experience do you want to have? What part can you play in cultivating that experience instead of waiting for the other person to create it for you?