The pleasure begins where my insecurity ends.
What are the rules of love really made of? Tradition? Societal standards? Religion? Preference? Who are we and what do we really know about each other?
The fight in every relationship is the power struggle. I want this from you and or you want this from me but I don’t wanna change and you don’t wanna change. The question I have is why should or shouldn’t we change? What’s the reason behind the power struggle? If we knew each other and loved each other the right way, would we still seek to manipulate others into changing?
Well there are questions that have to be answered about our significant other so that we can have a full scope of who they are. We can only answer these questions over time. And once we discover these answers, the desire to change them should not be as strong. Below are some of the main entities of relationships. If we knew where we stood on each level, we’d find that its enough work just to mange ourselves and that maybe our desire to change others stems in a lack of self knowledge as well as knowledge of and compassion for our companion. So lets see what we know about ourselves and our partners.
Social Media Power Struggle: When we become an item, we generally take on the idea that everything we do has to have our relationship in it. And that a person’s identity leaves them and he or she must always be “us.” Some women don’t like it when their significant other flirts with other women or posts other women that they find attractive. Some men don’t like it when their significant other is too revealing or when the nature of the photos are too sexual. Both may struggle with the attention received from “fans” or admirers. The question is, was this person exhibiting this kind of behavior before the relationship? (If not, that may be another article) And if so, why do we expect them to change? Were we attracted to that before? Are we afraid we will lose the one we love if their beauty or sexuality is exposed, or if they have harmless fun?
The internet is very scary place for relationships because the insecurities we all have come to the surface much faster and much more consistently if we’re not digging into them to heal them and seeing the bigger picture and overall perspective of the relationship itself.
I think the way to look at it is, does the activity on the internet affect the way our actual relationship works? Are the girls on his page harassing me? Is there any indication that the relationships leave the internet? Am I being disrespected personally? Is this really important to our relationship or are these just uncomfortable feelings that I need to face and heal within?
If we require our companion to switch how they use their personal pages, let’s just count that as trying to change them. Especially if the person uses it for their business. It’s quite annoying to be pestered about how you run your social media when in real life, you’re not crossing the boundaries of your relationship and when you can’t control other people’s response to you. It sucks to have to change your content for someone else’s comfort. That means, it’s not your choice and it’s being imposed. So if things ever go wrong and the relationship ends, you’ve lost a big chunk of your personality and self expression already.
I think it’s dope to discuss it first and ask what are reasonable expectations and then decide if this is the person for you. And furthermore, it’s so much more rewarding if a person makes a positive adjustment on their own without being coerced into doing it.
Quality Time: How often do I have to spend time with you? When you’re single, you spend time whenever you want. You come and go as you please. You’re attracted to that person knowing you can’t have them all the time. So when a relationship begins, why do we assume we can have all the time we want. Yes, I believe more time should come naturally. But how much time is required?
What if you have things to do? What if you’re a student? Or you’re hustling for your dreams? Or you work-out, or you have a schedule of your own and if you start to switch that up, it’s going to throw off your entire balance?
How do people in a relationship balance out the amount of time they spend together without over-doing it or under-doing it?
I think it’s all about getting what needs to be done, done first. If your life is not right individually, your life won’t be right as a pair. So it sounds horrible, but the left-over time you have after doing everything you need to do to be straight as a person, thats what you have to work with. And all of that time can’t go to a relationship. People need time alone, time with family and time with friends. So maybe it’s a bit unrealistic to assume that every waking minute must be spent together.
Maybe a person can’t talk on the phone with you all day. Maybe you can’t have every single weekend. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to have space. Quality time is super important, but all things within reason.
Intimacy: Are you getting enough? Too much? Not enough. This is always a rough one. The rumor is that once people get married, intimacy goes out the door. Especially if a baby is in the picture. And the reason why is because there’s so much to balance out now, that its easy for intimacy to miss the schedule. But whether you’re married or not married and you’re in a serious relationship, how much is enough or not enough.
I think it has to be discussed. Each person is different. But maybe an average can be agreed on. Doesn’t this sound all business-deal-ish? It is! At least know how often it’s expected and what are the things that please one another. The worst is to find out months or years in that you won’t be satisfied or that you can’t give a person what they want. Of course, these needs/desires may change over time, but maybe this is a conversation that shouldn’t be swept under the rug. Adult films and such are also things that can cause problems later on, so why not just discuss it and see what you’re in for?
Fun: What’s fun for me might not be fun for you! You ever want your significant other to go somewhere with you or do something with you and in your mind it’s the perfect idea but when you present it to them they’re less than thrilled? There’s a thing called compromise here, but it only goes so far. He might want to play video games and enjoy a joint. You might want to get dressy and go out to dinner. He might want you to go camping with him. You might want to see a chick flick. It may be important to you that your companion be with you at certain events but those events may not be as enticing to them and that can cause big problems. What do you do?
Talk about it!!! What are the things this person likes and dislikes? Are they social? Are they introverted? Are they private? Do they like outdoor activities? Are they into thrills and risks? Are there certain events that mean more than others? Can the importance be decided on? Can there be somewhat of a plan? Will you be pissed all month if you have to see Sex & The City with your girlfriends? Will he be pissed if you miss the graduation for his Masters Degree?
I think sometimes we assume that what’s important to us and what’s fun to us is universal. It’s not. Hopefully, there are common interests, but there’s no way both people in a relationship will always want to do the exact same thing. Maybe it’s worthwhile to find out what activities a person does & doesn’t like and to try to plan around them.
Self Maintenance: You’ve been in love, on the couch on Saturday’s watching movies and eating Edward’s Creme Pie. After 3 months, you’ve gained 20 pounds. You haven’t been to the gym. Your hair hasn’t been done. Your nails haven’t been done. He’s in sweat pants. His hair hasn’t been cut. You’ve been lip locking and you let yourselves go. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
Jada Pinkett-Smith once said “No woman wants a man that no other woman wants.” It goes both ways. Maybe there will be an age when beauty/physique doesn’t matter. Maybe that age is the age when we start losing our eye sight. Attraction is definitely mental & physical, but I think we can all agree that men are much more physical and are more prone to be attracted to what’s pleasing to their eye than even women may be sometimes.
I don’t think we can get fat and lazy. There. I said it. No one has to look like Victoria Beckham everyday. But there’s something about being well kept and maintained that keeps relationships working. Do you want to see your man in old sweats every single day? Do you want him to get that pudge and stop working out? No! It might happen anyways because life happens. But it’s not what we want. I don’t think they want to see us in cotton underwear and old raggedy leggings everyday. Sometimes the hair has to come down and be done. Sometimes the nails might need a new coat of polish.
The gym is the best friend of both people. I think it should be utilized by both members of the relationship for as long as possible. I also think maintenance doesn’t require a lot of work or money. A simple hair cut. A pair of nice jeans. A clean crisp shirt. Scuff-less sneaks. A nice summer dress. A new lingerie set. A good shampoo and condition. A fresh blow-out, twist-out, braid-out, wig or weave here and there goes a long way. A new coat of nail polish. Shaved/waxed legs and in other special places (If you guys are into that, I know some men prefer it the other way around.)
Maybe a few nice night gowns to walk around the house in. Maybe a night without the headscarf & face mask. Just maybe.
Each group of people are different so again, maybe this can spark a great discussion. But it’s nice to know what’s expected in the looks and self-up keep department.
Gender Roles: Here’s when it starts getting touchy touchy!
You gotta find out what roles you’re intending to play based on your gender and or just overall what’e expected of you.
For instance, are you expected to cook, clean, obey, be subservient? Are you expected to stay home and take care of children should there be any? Are you expected to play the role of mother/father for their kids from a previous relationship? Are you expected to be independent? Are you expected to split the bills 50/50? When there’s a conflict, are you expected to help resolve it? Is this a job he wants to himself?
Who will pay the bills? Will you put your money together? Will it remain separate? Will you spend the holidays in any specified manner? Are there personality traits you possess that defy the other person’s preferred gender role?
These are good things to find out. Men tend to be more prideful. Women tend to be more emotional. But there are exceptions to the rules and sometimes the gender roles become an issue.
What if the woman makes more money than the man? Will he feel emasculated? Will she pay more of the bills because she can afford it? If she pays for the things in the home will he still feel like a man? If she carries the financial weight will she still feel like a woman? You gotta find out.
Money Management: Do you like to eat out? Is he a shopaholic? Does he have to have every new sneaker? Are you in debt? Does he know if you are? Does that affect him if you guys get married? Do you have to spend $400 a month on your weave? Can you afford your lifestyle individually? Do your vices and preferences affect the relationship? How do you feel about borrowing money from each other? Is everything mine, yours? Is everything yours, mine? When we go out to eat, who pays? How do we manage money?
This is a huge one!! If you’re frugal and he’s a big spender, you gotta know!! If you’re a big spender and he’s frugal, you gotta know. If you’re irresponsible and he needs to take care of you, he needs to know. Money is a gigantic part of a relationship. It has to be discussed and or decided early on how you will manage funds. Especially if you guys plan to invest in something together and own something as a couple.
Talk about money!!
Monogamy: Oh Monogamy!!! Nobody likes to talk about this. It’s so super duper taboo. So I’ll keep it simple. If the deal breaker is cheating, you don’t need to explore this. You can state it and that can be that. But if you want to discuss it and understand what commitment means to each person, you might discover more about each other. If infidelity does occur, what would you like to happen? Do you want to know? Do either of you believe two people can remain faithful to each other for an entire lifetime? What do you plan to do to keep yourselves out of the way of infidelity? What do you think would be the reasons you would not be monogamous? Can you satisfy your companions needs for the full length of your relationship? Are the repercussions the same whether the man or woman “cheats?” Are you going to have an open relationship? Have you thought about how this might affect your union and or friendship?
Commitment is a great thing to discuss. Even if you’re certain you won’t stand for anything less than 100% commitment, it’s nice to know where the other person’s head is with regards to this subject. And most importantly to decide if this is something you believe is possible for a relationship that will last until you’re ghosts. (I think it is possible. But I also believe in discussing things.)
Religion & Moral Compass: Who do you believe in? (Tupac voice) What’s your religion? Do you have one? Are we expected to be the same religion? Are we going to be going to church every Sunday? If we have a kid are we passing down our religion? Are our morals the same? Where do they differ? Can we deal with that? What is right and what is wrong and how do we decide? How do we treat other people? How do we treat each other and is it based on our morals or tradition or religion? What is our view on dating? What is the purpose? What is the goal? This is good to know.
Privacy: How much of our relationship belongs to our friends & family or to the world in general? How do we balance out remaining private and being around friends and or family. Are there certain things in particular they shouldn’t know about? What are the things that we absolutely keep between us and what are the things we don’t mind sharing? How do we behave in public? How much of our relationship is on the internet? These are good things to know.
Ambition/Dreams: What are the long term goals of the individuals involved? Are they ambitious? Are they complacent? Will one person be away traveling? Is one person’s life inconsistent? Is there stability in the career choices? How do the careers work together? Can both people handle all that comes with (or doesn’t come with) the career choices of the other person? Are you willing to move across the country to stay together? Could that be required? Will you have to spend months alone while the other person is away working? Can you handle a long distance relationship? Does one person’s schedule dominate the relationship? Are you turned on or off by the state of someones current career? Are you investing in the relationship expecting the other person’s career to change? These are good things to think about in general but especially when dating someone in the military or someone who is an artist.
Picky! Picky!: Is your companion a neat-freak? Do they hate pets? Are they allergic to the dog you can’t live without? Are they Vegan and can’t eat at any of your favorite restaurants? What makes them tick? Do they hate peas? Are they prideful? Can they adapt quickly? Are they a slow learner? Are they sensitive to something you’ve noticed? Is their relationship with mom and or dad and or family good? Do they want (more) kids? Are they insecure about their body? Are they prone to certain illnesses? Do they take medication? Does it bother you if they drink, or smoke, or do drugs? Are they messy? What are their particulars? You gotta find out!
Overall: There’s no way I can cover the scope of a real relationship in a one page blog or truthfully in general. However, these are all things I learned from experience. If it comes across as preachy, ignore that and just see if you can use any of the information. There’s no way to find out everything about a person in advance. But during the time of dating someone these are some of the things I found to be very important to discover. In the beginning of a relationship, the excitement fills us up. We are floating on the romance and freshness. But as time goes by and we get to know each other, insecurities arise, power struggles emerge, arguments start and the hard work that has to be done begins. I’ve failed at relationships several times. These are some of the things I learned about and some of the obstacles I faced. The important thing is that you are with someone who genuinely cares for you and is a nice person to be around. The chemistry you have and the intimacy you share is important and having common interests is important. But beyond that, knowing the answers to as many of these questions above as possible, helps. To be complete on your own gives you a head start. I know, because I’ve started behind so many times.
Be working on yourself. Always. Be realistic about what you expect. Be patient and kind. Learn as much as possible and love as unconditionally as you possibly can within reason.
A relationship can’t necessarily cure a broken person. It can’t be a way out of pain. Or an escape to help cope with bills and or sex. Every relationship I’ve seen fail, started there. I want to have the relationship that lasts until I die and I want everyone who wants that to have it too. This is my contribution to making love last a lifetime. Use whatever you can and disregard the rest.
Thank you for reading. Listen to #iWantU below: