Dear Navigator, This is the Kind of Love I Want

I’m not seeking perfection, but…

Once upon a time, I wanted it all. I sought success, wealth, notoriety, and all things luxurious. My idea of love was being with a man who could take care of me financially and pamper me with the finer things in life. We’d drive luxury cars that would make people stop and stare. Our primary home would be like something only found in magazines. I decided our happiness would be based on how many things we possessed, including vacation homes around the world.

It took a chance meeting with someone to open my eyes to see what love really looked like. Although our relationship never evolved into anything romantic, he showed me that there was more to life than a six or seven-figure salary. Simple acts of care and consideration took the spotlight as he made sure my basic needs were met. When I was cold, he offered his sweater. When I was hungry, he fed me. When I was tired, he let me sleep in his bed. Value was placed on the mental stimulation he offered me, as well as the time and attention he gave me.

Our friendship eventually came to an end due to distance and choice of differing paths. Nevertheless, from that single friendship, I embarked on a journey to find out the kind of love I wanted.

I want the kind of love that makes me feel safe to express myself openly and honestly. A love where I’m comfortable asking questions, regardless of how ridiculous, stupid, or embarrassing they may be.

I want the kind of love that listens to me attentively. A love where, despite how nonsensical the topic may be, I can speak and feel heard.

I want the kind of love that tells me I’m beautiful even when I’m at my worst. A love where I’m made to feel desirable on days when I want to hide my hair under a hat and wear baggy clothes to mask the bloating.

I want the kind of love that fights for us when I don’t have the strength to continue. A love where we can come together after an argument and calmly discuss our viewpoints, without casting blame or pointing fingers.

I want the kind of love that sees me for me. A love that doesn’t compare me to former lovers or make me feel inferior for not measuring up to another.

I want the kind of love that honors God. A love where we grow together in a relationship that pleases Him.

Value was placed on the mental stimulation he offered me, as well as the time and attention he gave me.

It’s crazy to think about this sometimes. The friend previously mentioned was the catalyst to bringing about all of these realizations. My journey has been filled with loves that never offered me everything I desired, but each one taught me something valuable about myself and my heart. One taught me to never downplay my intelligence. Another showed me that a relationship cannot last when critical information is withheld from the other. Still another taught me that the lack of mental stimulation will lead to resentment and unhappiness.

Now, my list is not exhaustive. I’ve left room for many other things to be added. But, when I think about what I really desire from someone in order to feel cared for, I recognize that it’s less about money and material possessions. The things of this world will eventually fade away. People can get to the point where they’ve amassed so much wealth that they no longer know what to do with themselves.

Fellow navigator, learning about our specific needs in a romantic relationship might take kissing a few frogs to discover what we don’t deserve. It could also mean spending extensive periods of time in deep introspection. If you had to pen the kind of love you want, what would be on your list? Tell me about it!

Not I: The Ideal Woman?

Let’s take a minute to discuss our flaws. It may seem a little odd to start a post this way, but I need you to allow me to explain. Growing up, I took it upon myself to try to be as perfect as possible. Well, sort of. I pursued academics with all I had within me because that was a world I understood. Not too concerned about those around me, I joined clubs, participated in other extracurricular activities, and volunteered in my community. The aim was not to get into an Ivy League school, but it was at the same time. I enjoyed studying, clubs, and volunteering. If those things just so happened to be what the top universities looked for, then it was a win-win.

“Growing up, I took it upon myself to try to be as perfect as possible.”

It was probably in high school that I began to see myself as different from my peers. The distinction was noticeable—not bad—just noticeable. I enjoyed serving at the local soup kitchen and taking part in charity walks on the weekends. It was easy to get so engrossed in a novel that half my day was spent reading about fictitious people in faraway lands. What’s more, I found satisfaction going to church and rehearsing for an upcoming skit instead of planning what I would wear to a party. In those days, my priorities were different. I was different.

The thought of becoming a “perfect woman” didn’t enter my mind until college. While on the grounds of Howard University, I could be any person I wanted to be. College was the time to reinvent myself. I could go by a different name, switch up my personality completely, or fake a backstory about being from an exotic country (accent included). The point is that the possibilities were endless once I set foot on that college campus. Nevertheless, while some minor things changed, I still basically remained the same. The biggest difference? My desire to achieve perfectionism reached its peak.

“College was the time to reinvent myself.”

I sought to become the kind of woman a man couldn’t resist. I desired the lifestyle of international travel, dinners with dignitaries, and more than enough money in my bank account. Like a shapeshifter, I found myself conforming to what I believed would appeal to my love interest at the time. Has that ever happened to you, fellow navigator? To read more, I talk about it in my book. The constant twisting and bending left me feeling like I had no identity. To be even more transparent, I felt like my identity was closely connected to my crush of the week.

After college, everything changed. Again, I changed. It was not until an event led to me abandoning many of my worldly possessions that I realized what was most important. Instead of trying to be the ideal woman, I pursued God with all I had within me. More than just going to church almost every day of the week, I spent time in intimate prayer and Bible study. It dawned on me that the ideal woman is one who finds her value in God. Eventually, I’ll have to part with my money and the things of this world. But, when it’s all said and done, my soul will have to spend eternity somewhere.

Fellow navigator, I no longer desire to be anyone’s ideal woman. It’s taken some time, but I’ve come to a place where I am content being me. Upon entering a dating relationship, I make my flaws and imperfections known. Sometimes, my strong sense of self-awareness leaves the other party taken aback, but I’m not concerned. I’m tired of wearing a mask—tired of the show we so often put on to get someone to like us. Yes, this approach has blown up in my face and caused a few men to turn around and leave quickly. However, the one who stays will be worth it.

What do you say we stop with the charade? I’m not suggesting we lay all our cards out on the proverbial table the very minute we meet someone of interest. Rather, I’m saying let’s be intentional about showing our real selves to those we encounter who we believe could be good life partners. Fellow navigator, do you play a role when around a dating prospect? Did you end up showing your true self? How did that unveiling go? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, I May Be Good for Him, But is He Good for Me?

This is a question I ask myself often after meeting a man I’d like to get to know better as a romantic interest. I sit and wonder if this man adds as much value to my life as I do to his. Does he support me? Are his words kind? Is he considerate of my feelings? Does he take the time to make me a priority? Quite frankly, I wonder all of this because these are the things I do regularly for him. He may not be my forever yet because we’re still learning each other, but I make it known through my actions that he is held in high regard.

Unfortunately, after kissing a few frogs, I’ve come to learn that not all men enter into serious relationships with the intent of giving it their all. Let’s be real: some just want to see how much they can get and how quickly. These are the ones I like to call “bamas.” This is a term I learned in undergrad that refers to men who aren’t really about anything. They have no problem mooching off a woman because they are narcissists at heart who have zero desire to commit. If it sounds like I’m being too harsh, it’s because I’m keeping it real. Whether we call them “bamas,” “narcissists,” or some other term, one thing remains true: they aren’t good for us.

These guys are sometimes difficult to detect because they hide their intentions well. I’m no expert when it comes to dating and relationships, so I can only speak about my own experiences. If I have to ask myself if I’m too good for him, then I probably am. I am beautiful, smart, kind, and loyal. I give a relationship my all and refuse to look at another man because I wish to stay true to the one I’m with. He’s not perfect, but neither am I. Yet, there’s something in the back of my mind that periodically wonders if I deserve more.

When trying to determine if I’m too good for a man I’m interested in, I almost always look at how he leads in the relationship. Yes, he’s nice to look at and appears to be hardworking. However, if he’s more focused on doing his own thing than building something together, I lose interest. If he never stops to ask me about my affairs, I lose interest. If our arguments and misunderstandings span several days into weeks, I lose days. Finally, if he can go days without communicating with me, I lose interest.

I’ve come to realize that I, like many other women, possess qualities a good man desires in the one he would ultimately wish to settle down with. If truth be told, any man would be blessed to have me as his wife. However, I may not be an ideal match for every good man. There are other things that must be taken into account for the pairing to really be magical.

Nevertheless, I acknowledge that, for my own happiness, I should focus more on what the man brings into the relationship. I’m not talking about his job, wealth, or status. Rather, I ask myself if he brings out the best in me. Does he encourage me? Does he support my endeavors? When I’m down, does he offer a listening ear? If I’m having a bad day, does he comfort me? When I’m ready to give up, does he cheer me on? In as much as I would race to do these things for the man I’m with, I believe that he must be ready, willing, and able to do the same for me. We won’t always get things right, but we must be able to set our own individual agendas aside for the ones we claim to love. Otherwise, I have to stop and wonder if the love is genuine.

We won’t always get things right, but we must be able to set our own individual agendas aside for the ones we claim to love.

The Bible teaches that love is patient, kind, and a host of other things (I Corinthians 13:4-7). As a woman desiring a man who fears God, I’ve come to a place where I want a man who shows his love for me by demonstrating these attributes because I strive to do the same for him. I no longer chase or long for just any man because I know that I need a special kind of man. I want a man who is good for me.

Fellow navigator, I think it’s safe to say that those of us who’ve dated have all had missteps. Whether we rushed to be everything to a man at once or became too serious too quickly, there’s a story to be told. Regardless of the mistakes, there was growth that took place. What have you learned along your journey about what you need in a man? When did you realize you were good for the man you were with, but he wasn’t good for you? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, There’s Always a Choice.

Admittedly, being told I have a choice is not what I want to hear when I’m in a relationship that’s falling apart at the seams. No, I want to wave a magic wand and return things back to how they used to be. I want him to initiate contact and make me feel like I matter. I want us to go back to our long phone calls and deep conversations about our beliefs. Instead of facing the reality that is in front of me, I want to hide and pretend like my only option to is to ride the storm out.

The truth is, this is an all-too-familiar scenario. Last month, I wrote about being in a relationship where I nearly lost myself. If I could add to that post, this is the follow up to what I wish someone had said to me during that time. I wish a trusted friend would have pulled me aside and let me know that I didn’t have to go as deep to almost reaching the point of no return. I wish a sister, friend, or random stranger on the street had told me that, when it comes to dating relationships, I always have a choice.

In any relationship, even in marriage, we have choices. If God, the Creator of the universe, gives human beings free will to choose whether or not to accept His existence and follow Him, then I am able to decide if I want to remain in a toxic relationship. Granted, not all relationships appear toxic at face value. We, as humans, have gotten incredibly good at hiding the truth from the rest of the world. We post our best and happiest moments on social media to maintain the façade of our false reality. As a result, it becomes easier to transport ourselves to that alternate world when what’s in front of us appears grim.

Even though we don’t always remember, we can choose to walk away from men who no longer love or respect us. We don’t have to endure listening to their harsh words and criticisms. There’s no need for us to stay and be used as punching bags. We can come out of the kitchen and enjoy the company of our guests. We are more than just pairs of legs spread to give them pleasure when they so desire. As women, we are not sex slaves, cooks, washing machines, childcare providers, or any other position that has been assigned to us by men who don’t appreciate us. We are visionaries, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, politicians, diplomats, revolutionaries, and freedom fighters.

After nearly losing myself, the epiphany came that I didn’t have to stay with the guy who claimed to love me yet stopped communicating that love in a way I understood. I stopped trying to make a relationship work when he began making me less of a priority. I ceased being vulnerable as he continued to stray far away and make less time for me. I allowed the walls around my heart to go up when he decided I was no longer worth the chase. I chose to walk away the day I cried because he made me feel unworthy.

I stopped trying to make a relationship work when he began making me less of a priority.

It’s a vicious cycle we have to go through sometimes to truly understand our value, but I’m honestly glad it happened for me. While I don’t wish to be in a place where I no longer recognize myself because of a man, I am proud beyond words to have come out victorious. There’s always a choice. I am the daughter of a King, and I deserve to be with someone who will treat me as such. No, our lives won’t always be filled with mountaintop experiences. But the man for me will wake up each day eager to find ways to express his love for me because he doesn’t want to lose me. I will rise each morning ready to show how much he means to me because he’s a good man trying to make it in a world that’s constantly tearing him down.

Fellow navigator, I want a love so real that we both work to make it work because we understand each other’s value. If you’re in a position right now where you feel like you have to stay, allow me to be the one to say that you always have a choice. You don’t have to entertain abuse–ever. The relationship may dissipate, but it’s better than losing yourself. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like you couldn’t get out? What made you finally end things? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, I Nearly Lost Myself.

Growth is what happens after we make a conscious decision not to go through the same thing while expecting the same outcome. If you’re like me, this can be quite challenging because you find yourself becoming numb to the impact of the end result after experiencing it time after time.

Fellow navigator, you may grow accustomed to being called out of your name, shamed because you don’t look like the next top model, and ridiculed because your skills are not as sophisticated as the one he dated before you. His words pierce because they are said from a place of hurt and pain. He is unsatisfied with himself or the surrounding circumstances, so he takes his frustration out on you and verbally assaults your abilities, character, and physique all in one fell swoop. And you, not wanting to go back to life as a party of one, dwell on his words until you begin to believe them.

Like a robot.

Despite having entered into a relationship knowing your value and all you brought to the proverbial table, you allow one conversation to strip you of your dignity and self-respect. It might be ok if this had been a one-time thing, but you know it wasn’t. In fact, this is a regular situation you find yourself in. Of course, the lead male character is played by different men, but you are always cast for the supporting female role. Like sandcastles on the beach right before the tide comes in, you’re built up only to be washed away. As you go from relationship to relationship, you become more desensitized to his words. How can all the men you date know so much about your character flaws? Are your insecurities that obvious? You really are lucky he’s still with you, even though you’re not good at many things.

Does this sound remotely familiar? It does to me. While some aspects of the aforementioned story are fictitious, the underlying message resonates to my core because I was that woman. Regardless of all I brought into a relationship in the beginning, those things became less important as I made him and his needs more of a priority than my own. I allowed myself to believe that all relationships required compromise, so I had to put him first. Fellow navigator, this is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves or permit others to tell us.

Until the man you’re with expresses his intent to exclusively pursue you, he gets to be whatever number you assign him on your priority list. Realizing that I was about to go into another cycle, I pulled back.

The first time you find yourself at that fork in the road where you must decide to continue living life as usual or do something else can be rough. At least you know what the outcome will be if you choose the familiar route. Going the other way means potentially losing the one person who seems to get you. But does he? Does he really? If he understood, cared for, or valued you, would he really just stand by as you lost more and more of yourself trying to become what he wants? That, fellow navigator, is what we don’t talk about as much.

In the process of getting to know someone or dating, we see important character traits in them. Whether good or bad, they give us much insight into the true nature of that man. A man who cares for you will not be able to stand watching you lose your joie de vivre, especially if it’s because you’re too busy attending to him. One of the things being single until this point has done is allowed me to spend time with myself to learn about my character. There are things about myself that I absolutely love. I know that the absence of my smile is always a marker when things aren’t right in my world. Because of that, I’ve learned to pay attention when a relationship no longer brings me joy. When the sound of his voice, his presence, or his contributions no longer leave me feeling happy, I know that something is wrong.

To regain control of the narrative, I ultimately walked away from him. It was emotionally painful, but I experienced a freedom that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Once he was no longer my primary focus, I began to laugh and smile. My love for those things I used to do returned, and I unlocked new gifts I never knew I had. There were nights of endless tears and thoughts of going back to him, but I told myself I couldn’t. When I felt weak and like I was going to regress, I leaned on God’s strength to get me through. He wanted better for me; this man was not His best. That singular truth helped me get out of what would have been an otherwise toxic relationship.

Fellow navigator, I’m not suggesting that you become a cynic when it comes to relationships. No, I’m merely asking you to firmly hold on to who you are. While it’s ok to make small compromises for the man you’re dating, you shouldn’t be made to feel as though your needs don’t matter. Have you ever been in this sort of position? How did you pull yourself out of it? Tell me about it!

Mental Musings: Writing to Remember

words Can break cycles

My published words kept me from ruining a relationship that was being tested.

Almost two months ago, I published the book, Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+, because I wanted to document some critical life events that have led me to being 30 and single. What originally started as a series of letters to my unborn adult daughter, reassuring her that being 30+ and single isn’t a bad thing, turned into a manifesto of sorts. I poured a lot of my personal life onto the pages because I needed to get out my frustrations, joys, and feelings of loneliness that I’ve experienced on this journey.

While writing Defiant!, I felt like I was setting myself free from people’s expectations and assumptions about my relationship status. I intentionally chose to write it in the style I did because I wanted it to serve as a reminder of the thoughts and emotions I experienced; I knew those feelings would creep up again during the most inconvenient times on my journey as a single woman. I wrote about the pain of relocating and feeling like I didn’t have friends. In the book, I share about my struggles with my body image and other insecurities.

Yeah…

In as much as I wrote this book for my unborn daughter, if truth be told, I also wrote it for myself. Being single at 30 doesn’t feel the same as other ages. I don’t know if I’ve quite nailed down why this age carries so much weight in the life of a single woman, but I’ve decided not to allow a number to define who I am and what I’ve done. I thought being able to chronicle my experiences was a sign that I had conquered this area of my life; I was wrong.

Have you ever written something, put it aside, then gone back to it only to realize it was just what you needed in your lowest point? That’s what Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+ is for me. I wrote it because I didn’t want my unborn daughter listening to the lies of this world about her relationship status and what it means for her identity.

I’ve decided not to allow a number to define who I am and what I’ve done.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

A few weeks ago, I had a moment where I felt like I was going in a cycle with a particular relationship. A guy friend and I were having horrible communication issues. It was so bad that I had been feeling really low about myself. He made some pretty harsh comments and said things that left me questioning my identity and consistency as a friend. (In hindsight, his behavior was probably triggered out of place of his own pain and frustration with what had happened in our relationship.) The problem was that, though I’d never uttered the words, I had been entertaining the idea of this friendship becoming more. He never knew these thoughts were going through my head, but I had been closely observing our interactions to see if he was someone who could have a more valuable role in my life. Therefore, what he said took an even greater toll on me because I questioned whether I measured up as someone he could be with.

After his painful words, I wondered if there was truth to his remarks. Had I been exhibiting those behaviors? Was I the cause of confusion in relationships? Did I really push people away? The questions kept coming, but I saw no answers in sight. One day, when I was ready to do something that was out of my character in desperation to keep this man in my life, I had a passing thought that I should read my book. I found my copy on my bookshelf, opened to the chapter about not chasing dudes, and read. In those pages, I found the exact words I longed for someone to tell me in that moment.

Totally needed that pep talk!

You know what I did after closing the pages? I pushed pause on moving forward with my plan to communicate with this man, opened my laptop, and allowed my thoughts to fill the pages. I didn’t want to appear emotionally unstable by saying something to him I wouldn’t be able to take back. I’d been in this place before. I know that when my emotions are running wild, my ability to think rationally goes out the window. If I’m unable to break things down into logical steps, I go into panic mode because my brain can’t process what’s going on. This is not the case for everyone. Being single and having more than enough time to get to know myself, I’ve learned to recognize my patterns.

It was then that I saw the value of my book. Whether I sell 20 copies or 20 million, I don’t care. If writing this book was simply for me to have a guide for when life felt like it was going in cycles, I’m glad I did.

Gotta encourage yourself!

Fellow navigator, books, like music, are powerful tools that can bring healing and save lives. Are you an author? Did you ever have a similar experience? What’s the name of a book that has changed your life? Tell me about it!

Dear Navigator, Relationships are Hard.

Recently, in a series of exchanges with some people who have begun playing somewhat significant roles in my life, I found myself being consumed by their harsh words and criticisms. The barrage of what, from my perspective, seemed like unwarranted and unnecessary attacks sent me into a spiral of confusion, insecurity, and frustration.

Fellow navigator, if we were to ever meet in real life and become good friends, one of the first things I would tell you is that I strive to display consistency in my character. This is something that I began intentionally putting forth effort regarding because, growing up, my peers often made comments about how I wasn’t who they thought I was. I think back to one instance in school when a classmate told me (to my face) that she initially thought I was a total witch but was pleased to discover I wasn’t. Now, that’s the cleaned-up version of what she said. In short, because of how I presented myself, she thought I considered myself to be better than others.

Can I tell you a secret? This wasn’t the first time I had heard someone say I came off as being “holier than thou.” In fact, my entire life I’ve been misjudged by people. I don’t know what it is—honestly. Yes, I was very much devoted to academics and performing well in school. Yes, that meant focusing more on learning than being social. I wasn’t antisocial. I had friends and got along with lots of people.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but you get my point.

Nevertheless, this is something I’ve had to face head-on well into my adult years. I guess hearing these similar thoughts expressed now should come as no surprise to me. Well, it still does. I’ve learned to recognize my patterns, identify the root, and distance myself before I have a major case of word vomit.

It was as if some of the people I had allowed to begin getting close to me all banded together to do their worst over the past few weeks.

I mean, it was so overwhelming that I had to remove myself socially, take several steps back from those relationships, and spend time assessing the varying situations. This is something I’ve learned to do because, admittedly, I make unhealthy, irrational decisions when I don’t keep my emotions in check. I needed to see if there was a common thread in their accusations and comments. Was I in the wrong? Did I misrepresent myself? Was I giving off false signals? I needed answers.

Rather than blocking you, I need to process on my own.

Aware that my conscious decision to almost completely remove myself socially would cause alarm, I informed the ones I typically conversed with of the need for space. Uninterested in having to explain myself, I kept the message short and sweet (there was no need for details). It was difficult not speaking to them regularly because they had come to play such important roles in my life, but the space allowed me to see our relationships objectively.

In one case, I saw how our relationship had strengthened over a short period of time. While it was platonic, there were definitely areas that left room for mixed signals. Accusations were thrown around that left a bitter taste in my mouth. How can someone be jealous when they’ve never expressed interest in the first place? Suffice it to say, I needed time to assess if it was worth it to be in a relationship where I didn’t feel truly heard.

So many issues can be resolved when we listen better.

While reflecting on the second relationship, I saw how this friend was projecting feelings of insecurity and fear onto me. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but I was definitely the one receiving the brunt of this friend’s frustration. Because I understood where my friend was coming from, I was quickly able to recognize the projection for what it was. Nevertheless, having someone project his or her insecurities onto me is not something I enjoy enduring. There’s no judgment. Most of us have projected our feelings onto someone unfairly because we didn’t want to deal with what was going on in our emotional world.

Regardless of why we do it, it’s never fun for the person who has to endure our attacks. Because of this episode with my friend and the habits I saw forming, I needed to decide if this was a person I wanted in my life. It’s taken years for me to get to the point where I am mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. While my friend isn’t someone I would consider “toxic,” I began to recognize the patterns and saw that this relationship would require a lot out of me.

The third relationship was similar to the first. We spent time talking about things that mattered in life and became close fairly quickly. It was exciting having this person in my life because I was able to just be myself; there were no expectations. The problems began when promises were made but not kept. After the first time this happened, I let it go. The second time it occurred, I gave in to my emotions and erupted. Now, I have reached a point where I’m ready to give this person the gift of goodbye. Why? Because your word is bond. If a person can’t honor a simple promise to do something, how can they be trusted to come through in a life or death situation. I’ll pass!

I have too much self-respect!

Fellow navigator, I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to figure out if I want these people in my life. They’re not necessarily bad people, but I know my areas of struggle. Some of these relationships will push me to a point where I lose myself. Others, although trying, will allow me to grow into a better human being. However, the real question is determining which ones are worth keeping. I don’t want to run from conflict because it can make a relationship so much stronger, but I don’t want to be someone’s emotional dumpster, either. Honestly, the only thing I got from me mini-social retreat was that I shouldn’t rush a decision about two of the three relationships. We’re imperfect people who are at different places in our lives and levels of self-awareness. While I consider myself to be pretty self-aware, my personality may be too much for those who have yet to embark on that journey.

Have you found yourself in a position where you had to assess the relationships around you? Maybe they weren’t necessarily bad, but you felt underappreciated or like someone was always projecting their emotions onto you? Tell me about it! In the process of writing your story, I hope you experience the catharsis that comes with release.

See Me: Defiantly Single

trailblazer? Me? No, Thank you.

Almost everything in my world seems to scream that marriage is the natural next phase of life. Do you understand where I’m coming from? To say I’m living this single life on my own terms would capture my sentiments perfectly. Trailblazer? Me? No, thank you. I just reject the notion that I can’t be happy at 30 if I don’t have a man.

In a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed our realities and why marriage is not on the table for me at the moment. Although my friend is married, our dialogue proved fruitful in getting to the root of this whole I’m-cool-with-not-being-married thing. By the way, I totally encourage you to have similar conversations with your married friends because it appears that they forget what life was like before someone put a ring on it. It’s not their fault; they just become blinded by love.

Lost in his eyes!

Probably the biggest reason I’m perfectly content being single until God decides to do something about it is because, real talk, the divorce rates these days are beyond nuts. How did we, as a society, get to the point where we are fine with marriages ending left and right for the most minor infraction?

Hear me clearly, fellow navigator, I am not saying any woman should stay in a marriage where some dude (because he’s not worthy to be called a “man”) abuses her in any way, shape, or form. I’m talking about relationships where we just wake up one day and decide we don’t want to be together. In my opinion, because I’m sharing life from my perspective, marriage is too sacred to be entered into lightly. If I’m going to stand before God, my family, and a bunch of friends to boldly declare that I’ll be with a man “until death do us part,” best believe I will work my hardest to honor those vows. On the flip side, if my husband ever steps out or abuses me in any way, shape, or form, best believe I’m gone without so much as a letter or text explaining my actions.

These men aren’t perfect, but they consistently consider their wives before they consider themselves.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

This brings me to my first point: marriage isn’t taken as seriously as days passed. In my book, Defiant! Redefining Singleness at 30+, I share about being a single woman navigating life and some of the issues I face regularly. I mention the topic of marriage because we’re sending the wrong message to younger generations. Order a copy from my website if you want to read more.

Now that we’ve got that shameless plug out of the way, let’s get back to the issue at hand. If I’m honest, after the initial feelings of joy of meeting a potential love interest wear off, my mind goes to figuring out if this is someone I want. Will he stay and fight for the relationship? I watch his character, pay attention to his words, and listen to hear the slightest hint of someone who is fickle, not serious, or untrustworthy. Am I being harsh? Probably. Do I care? No.

Got that right!

When you’ve grown up with the kind of models of husbands who fear God and strive to love their wives as Christ loves the Church as I have, you see what a godly man looks like. These men aren’t perfect, but they consistently consider their wives before they consider themselves. Sometimes that means the man swallows his pride to do something he doesn’t want to, and other times it means his wife coming back to him and apologizing for some action that was uncalled for.

Can I tell you something? I’ve been told in confidence by married friends that they were on the verge of divorce for reasons outside of infidelity and abuse, but both parties surrendered the union to God and sought counsel from qualified professionals. Why bring this up? Because I don’t know if this happens with younger people, which is why I’m concerned about the ridiculously high divorce rate.

Yes, there are many factors that contribute to a marriage dissolving, but we need to start talking about the challenges of marriage beforehand instead making it out to be this idealistic union. A marriage can never be perfect, no matter what those of us on the outside think, because it’s two imperfect people becoming one. Outside of the grace of God, there’s no way that combination ends in perfection. Let’s do ourselves a favor and stop looking to marriage to make our lives worth living.

‘Til death do us part.

Fellow navigator, I think we should end here for today. As I sit at my desk, I realize there’s so much more I’d like to say about the reasons behind choosing to be defiantly single. I think this will become a series to highlight some of the realities of how marriage looks to me, a single woman who has never been in that union. You may not always agree with my views, but I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you as perplexed by the current divorce rate as I am? Let me know!

See Me: A Terrible Case of Insecurity

Insecurity is like a plague

It takes a woman who is truly self-aware to admit to having bouts of insecurity every once in a while. You know who she is. You see her all the time. She walks around with her head held high; she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. When she enters a room, all eyes shift to her because she commands attention everywhere she goes. Everyone wants to know her opinion because they value her contribution. Based on what you see, this woman has it all together. She’s a boss babe who slays at everything she does. Not only are her outfits and hair are always on point, but she’s poised and articulate.

Get it, girl!

By all accounts, she is who every woman aspires to be in life. Yet, she carries a secret that, if exposed, would make her appear just as real as the rest of us. This woman, the one we idolize and want to emulate, has moments where her mental health crumbles. Out of nowhere, after weeks and months of living her best life, a word or comment causes her to spiral into a state of insecurity. She suddenly begins to grow silent and secludes herself into a corner. When asked for her opinion, she stumbles over finding the right words. Something about her is off; she’s not who you’re used to seeing. She calls everything into question because she wonders if any of it was ever real.

It takes a woman who is truly self-aware to admit to having bouts of insecurity every once in a while.

— Ethleen Sawyerr

Insecurity is that annoying whisper that you’re not good enough. It’s the loud voice blaring words of self-doubt and disappointment. Insecurity can break even the toughest woman and make her feel like she is not enough. Its impact can be so strong that is causes her to throw her hands up in the air and give up on everything she’s ever worked for. She dare not speak to anyone about her thoughts of insecurity – how she questions almost every decision she makes – because then the world will know that she’s not who she presents herself to be.

When lies are louder than the truth

Although this woman doesn’t exist, there are pieces of her in all of us. I see myself in her when I step back or hide my brilliance and talents to appear less threatening. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been told that I’m intimating. This notion had absolutely nothing to do with me; rather, it had everything to do with how that individual viewed herself compared to me. While I never asked this person to try to be like me, she felt the need to do this. At the end of the day, she revealed her own insecurities when she disclosed her disdain for me. Little did she know that projecting her insecurities onto me led me down my own rabbit hole of lies and untruths.

The thing about insecurity is that it can go both ways. Oftentimes, the one who feels insecure switches up her behavior so suddenly or severely that it’s quite obvious to others (including the one who unknowingly caused the offense). Eventually, that individual becomes uncomfortable and exhibits her own form of insecurity. The cycle will continue until we put an end to it.

It ends today

Fellow navigator, are you guilty of projecting your insecurities onto another? If you could go back, how would you handle the situation differently? Leave a comment below!

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