It seems like we just met yesterday. He was tall, had an athletic build, and charmed me off my feet. We conversed in English, French, and Spanish. We spent hours watching movies, laughing about silly things, and talking about our future. I enjoyed every moment of our time together; it just felt right. However, we broached a topic that brought my happily-ever-after fantasy to an end.
“By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men.”
Fellow navigator, please hear my heart. I’m not condemning those in mixed-faith relationships. If you are able to make it work, then more power to you. My purpose in telling that very real story is to illustrate a situation I’ve found myself in on more than one occasion. I meet a man. We hit it off. Then, we end up at a crossroads because our beliefs don’t align. By choosing to stick to my convictions over all others, I’ve said goodbye to many men. They were decent guys who would make just about any woman happy, but they were not for me.
If I say that my faith is a major part of who I am but hide it from the one I claim to want to spend forever with, then it never really held such a high place in my life. If I openly profess Christ to total strangers but fail to talk about him to my partner, then I am no better than Peter before the crucifixion. If I continue being with a man who denies the existence of a God I know to be real and true, then I am just like Judas and lead a double life.
“There is grace.”
There is grace, fellow navigator. God can change the heart of anyone at any point and time that He so chooses. I don’t doubt this. My apprehension comes when I knowingly enter into a relationship with a man who is at enmity with God or has his own views about faith that completely differ from mine.
There must be something in the water, fellow navigator, because I hear similar stories of women who’ve had to choose between a seemingly good man and God. Based on those I know, the ones who chose the former live good lives but have strayed from the faith. The ones who chose the latter continue to live on their own terms but have yet to say “I do.” It begs the question of why God would allow women who willingly choose Him to remain single…but that’s a post for another day.
Fellow navigator, have you ever found yourself in a position where you had to choose between God or a guy? What did you do? If you’ve tried having a mixed-faith relationship, how did it go? Tell me about it!
When you’ve been single for any amount of years and believe you’re ready for a serious relationship, there’s no getting around the topic of commitment. A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work. It’s sacrificing precious sleep after a day of only texting just to hear his voice. It’s banging out items on your to-do list so that you can give him your undivided attention. It’s having open, honest conversations with him about your concerns when he says or does things that don’t sit well with you.
“A committed relationship is one in which both parties agree to put in the effort necessary to make the union work.”
If truth be told, I’m the only one who can determine whether I’m ready for a commitment or not. Sure, a therapist or trusted friend can ask thought-provoking questions and give me objective feedback or insight into my responses. However, I must make the final decision to move forward and step out or hang back and continue working on myself. There’s no shame in either decision because, ultimately, I’m the one who will be putting my heart on the line.
Being transparent, I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of commitment. I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others. It’s not a problem for me to carve out time in my schedule to make him feel like a priority. There’s no issue with allowing him to see me fail, cry, or lash out in anger about something that hurt me. Staying true to one man and seeing if the relationship can turn into something more has never been an obstacle for me.
No, I’m not afraid of commitment. I fear the hurt and pain that comes with choosing the wrong person. Because I seldom pick my head up from my books or work to give a man my time, dating can be quite challenging. Despite being a good judge of character when it comes to my friends’ boyfriends and love interests, I don’t always make the best choices for myself.
“I have no qualms with remaining loyal to one man and forsaking all others.”
Since I’m not active in the dating scene, I don’t always know the latest lines or schemes men try to pull on women. I see what I believe is a good man and allow him to pursue me until he proves me wrong. While this may not be the best method when it comes to dating, it’s what I know. As a result, my naivete has led to some dead ends.
Now, I’m not out in these streets dating a ton of men. But the ones who have been granted access to my heart, only to break it into pieces, really did a number on me. They’re the dudes who cause a woman to enter into a new relationship with all sorts of walls up, leaving her vigilant of any and all possible red flags the next dating prospect displays. Even if this new man is truly who she desires, she may make him jump through several hoops just to prove he won’t hurt her like the last one she let into her world.
This is all to say that, fellow navigator, we must get to a point where we face our fears of possibly getting hurt or choosing the wrong person before giving another man permission to pursue. If we do so, without becoming whole, the relationship becomes doomed from the start. It is built on a shaky foundation that’s likely to crumble at any moment because we enter into it anticipating that the man will fail us in some way. We desire to give him a chance, but we stand guard for that one moment when his humanity shows that he’s not a perfect creature.
While I can honestly say that I’m not afraid of committing to a man. I can’t honestly say that I’m ready, willing, or able to trust a man with all that is me simply because he makes his interest known. He hasn’t earned my trust. He hasn’t proven that he’s worthy of my devotion. Short of approaching me and expressing his desire for a relationship, he has done nothing to make me believe that he will love me, honor our union, and protect my heart. As a result, I don’t give him all of me. Instead, I sit and watch as he steps up and shows up. I observe his behavior when he’s discouraged, mad, happy, and even depressed. I allow him to get to know me on a deeper level, little by little, until I’m comfortable opening my entire heart to him because he’s shown that he can handle it. That’s what all those frogs from my past have taught me; the real man is easy to spot when you know what you don’t want, need, or deserve.
Fellow navigator, am I alone in this way of thinking? Have you come to the realization that you’re not afraid of commitment but fear choosing the wrong person? What insight have you received about yourself that makes dating just any random man who calls you beautiful hard to do? Tell me about it!
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!
“When you practice self-care, you allow your mind, body, and soul to reset.”
“Self-care” is a term that’s become quite popular over the last several years to describe the process of allowing oneself to detach from life’s stressors and embrace relaxing activities. In many cases, when I hear what other women do to practice self-care, it typically includes spa days, trips to the mall for retail therapy, spending time outside of the kitchen, and a slew of other events. The idea is to pamper oneself in a way that doesn’t necessarily happen on a regular basis. When you practice self-care, you allow your mind, body, and soul to reset.
I’ve been terrible at practicing this whole self-care thing either because I didn’t have the funds to treat myself or time just wasn’t on my side. Let’s be real: exercising self-care can be expensive. It doesn’t have to be, true. However, if I’m really going to allow myself to indulge, I’d need at least a $100 each time to do anything worthwhile. Especially in these days of coronavirus, I have no desire to shell out that kind of money on a massage, facial, or new outfit just for the sake of it.
Next, self-care requires my time. If I’m going to properly allow myself an escape from the everyday stressors of life, I need at least 4-5 hours to do it right. Who has that kind of time these days? Not me. Going 30 minutes without having to check my phone for a new email, text, or message on social media is challenging as is.
Because no one can run on a full tank 24/7, there must be other ways to practice self-care without breaking the bank. Right? Yes!
I view self-care in regards to the physical and the mental. About a month or so ago, a friend asked for my address under the guise of wanting to update the contact information she had for me. Because this was an odd request, I suspected she was planning on mailing me a card or something. This woman sent me an assorted pack of face masks with a note attached that I should take care of myself. At the time, I needed a reminder to relax and break away from work every once in a while because coronavirus had impacted my business significantly.
You’ll be happy to know that I did heed her words and treated myself to mini-facials. They have been amazing! My skin looks clearer and feels great. I’ve found that I enjoy at-home facials because I can do them on my own schedule and don’t need several hours at a time. I just lie down on my sofa or bed and let them time fade away. My mind isn’t cluttered with thoughts of work, relationships, or responsibilities. For those 30 minutes, it’s just me, myself, and I.
“I view self-care in regards to the physical and the mental.”
The other type of self-care that has really made an impact in my life involves paying more attention to my mental peace. Recently, I stopped working with a client due to a string of conflicts that had arisen. What stood out to me, as I drafted the service termination email, was my reasoning for this decision. I wrote something along the lines of no longer wishing to continue the relationship because it disturbed my mental peace. Wow! Talk about growth. I don’t think I would have cited that as a reason for walking away from a business partnership a few years ago.
Since my last romantic relationship, I’ve spent a healthy amount of time paying careful attention to my mental health. While I am usually quite happy and bubbly, I have had my bouts with moments of feeling like I’m less than. After further introspection, I saw that those times almost always happened because I allowed someone deeper access to me than they should have been trusted with or granted. That’s what happens in relationships, though. People sometimes push the limits of the boundaries we’ve put in place to see how far they can get.
“I saw that those times almost always happened because I allowed someone deeper access to me than they should have been trusted with or granted.”
You may have heard it said before, but I ask that you allow me to say it again: guard your mind. Not every toxic relationship presents itself as such in the beginning. However, when you begin to lose who you are because of someone, it might be best to reconsider the role that person plays in your life. I can honestly say that I have not given the individual I referenced earlier a second thought since sending that service termination email. I no longer clinch my jaw when their name pops up on my phone out of fear of what the text or call is about. If I’m spending so much negative mental energy on someone, I think it’s safe to say that I need to reorganize my priorities.
Fellow navigator, self-care is not just about pampering what’s on the outside. It’s also about ensuring that our minds and spirits are in a good place. As someone who is known (good or bad) for being busy and a workaholic (by some), I’ve come to recognize that I must ensure I have peace in all aspects of my life. No, I may not be able to afford a spa day once or twice a month. But I can spend a few hours with myself to look at my life and see where there’s room for positive, meaningful improvement. I can take stock of potentially toxic relationships, or ones that produce more stress than peace, to assess if there’s hope for positive growth or not.
Joyce Meyer wrote Battlefield of the Mind years ago, but I believe there’s a reason why she had an entire book devoted to this subject. The Bible talks about us guarding our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) and later says that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds (Philippians 4:7). These two actions must be important, right? Fellow navigator, what do you do to practice self-care? How are you maintaining your mental peace? Tell me about it!
Disney did me dirty. I’ve definitively decided that my daughters will not be exposed to Disney princess stories during their formative years. Why? Because I am absolutely sick and tired of the way young girls are conditioned to believe they’re in need of saving. Of course, Disney is not the only guilty culprit in this atrocity against girls. No, there are other companies producing content that teaches girls that they are the inferior sex. I wasn’t born in this country, but Disney’s reach goes far beyond the United States. From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side. He was my protector, source of financial security, and only hope in avoiding a life of utter loneliness (aka being an old maid).
“From a young age, I was informed through fairy tales that my life was incomplete without a man by my side.”
After spending some time in introspection, I realized the lessons I learned from princess stories took root deeper than I’d known. As a young, impressionable child, I was taught that girls were dainty, well-mannered, prudent, homely, and soft-spoken. We were to wear beautiful dresses, perform our domestic chores, and remain silent in the presence of men. I was shown that our fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers had final authority over us. It was acceptable for us to be locked away in a room somewhere to only enjoy the company of animals and imaginary friends, and it was perfectly alright for us to sacrifice our dreams to make another’s come true.
Arguably the biggest lessons princesses taught me were about romantic relationships. In books, TV shows, and movies, I saw that girls were expected to be married at a young age. Many of them were not educated or did not pursue higher education. A proper young lady was also trained in domesticity and had very few friends outside of family members. She never explored foreign lands or conquered dragons. No, she stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.
She waited patiently for a man to come and to rescue her. She didn’t question his decisions, wonder why he never asked for her opinion, or consider that there was more to her life. When conversing with a suitor, the young lady never inquired about his goals, fears, past relationships, or plans for their future. She didn’t want to know whether he was kind to his mother, had character flaws that might make the success of their marriage challenging, or cared about what she wanted in life. There were no discussions about children, religious affiliations, or political sidings. To make matters worse, there was never ever any talk about finances or how money would be handled in the relationship. These are all important things young girls must learn prior to marriage to avoid becoming stuck in relationships where they are unheard, unloved, and unappreciated.
“She stayed in her father’s house until a man came to take her to his.”
The fairy tale was filled with smiles, laughter, music, dancing, and colorful outfits, but it always ended before the real relationship began. The man endured adversity and braved whatever obstacles came in his way to get his human reward, but that was all she was—a prize. Once the rush of the pursuit was over, the story ended. After he won her heart, things miraculously became spectacular. We were told they lived happily ever after. This is not reality, and it’s far from what I desire.
Relationships are messy. People are fickle. We’re hot, cold, and wishy-washy when it comes to just about everything. I’m not waiting on a fairy tale because it is riddled with untruths. I’m not helpless. I’m unwilling to always be the one to sacrifice what matters most when my partner consistently gets what he wants. I’m more than my cooking, sewing, and cleaning skills.
I wish someone had told me fairy tales weren’t one-size-fits-all from the very beginning. This isn’t what I want my daughters growing up to believe. It’s probably safe to say that the dream of obtaining the fairy tale, as presented through the lens of Disney, no longer applies to me. Nevertheless, I continue to proudly reject its stereotypes and stand as a dissident. Life was never meant to be lived according to a specific blueprint. Quite frankly, outside of serving God and representing Christ well on this earth, everything else is up to me.
Fellow navigator, which fairy tale did you enjoy growing up? What love story did you secretly wish would become yours? When did you have the realization that life was not a fairy tale? Tell me about it!
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!
“Because of French, I have received prizes and honors.”
When I was younger, I was obsessed with the cartoon, Madeline. Even now, as an adult, it’s one of the few children’s programs I can sit down and watch to my heart’s content. I love the show so much that I still have some books about the title character and her adventures. Honestly, I don’t know why I loved Madeline. Growing up, I was what many would consider a “tomboy,” so maybe I felt I could relate to Madeline because she didn’t always do what was expected of her as a “girl.” Regardless of the draw to this program, Madeline exposed me to French life and culture. I believe that this is where my love for the language began.
In middle school, I began taking French classes. My teacher of two years was a soft-spoken woman who clearly loved sharing her language and culture with her students. Don’t get me wrong—she was strict. However, I learned enough in her class that I continued my studies well into my undergraduate years. Because of French, I have received prizes and honors. I was able to study at a prestigious language school with some of the best professors in the world. Also, I have received opportunities to utilize my language skills for financial and professional gain.
Arguably the greatest thing learning French has done for me, as a single woman, is allowed me to learn about other aspects of my personality. When I begin speaking and switch to my francophone alter ego, I experience a freedom that isn’t easy to explain. It’s almost as if I embody French culture the minute I open my mouth. The woman who has grown up in the West disappears and another with a different outlook on life replaces her. If you’re a language enthusiast, I’m sure you can relate. In any case, I see myself taking risks and doing things with my francophone friends that I would never do with my English-speaking ones.
“The woman who has grown up in the West disappears and another with a different outlook on life replaces her.”
Now, as I embark on improving my Spanish, I see another personality taking form. She’s sensuous, chatty, and eager to please. She’s not the first to initiate conversations, but she tries to hold her own. I started studying Spanish years ago in undergrad because I entertained ideas of becoming a UN translator or diplomat. Those dreams faded as my passion for teaching grew; however, I never lost my love for languages.
Brushing up on my Spanish was triggered by a string of conversations with friends over the last two years or so because of all that’s happening with globalization. On a practical level, having multiple popular languages under my belt makes me more marketable. When I go to sit at the table with other major players (primarily men), I don’t have to rely on someone to speak on my behalf. Also, I am a firm believer that I will gain more respect from those I come into contact with if I speak to them in their language. Not everyone shares this viewpoint, but it’s one that I’ve always held near. There are a few other personal reasons for me wanting to master Spanish, but I’ll save those for another time or post.
“When I go to sit at the table with other major players (primarily men), I don’t have to rely on someone to speak on my behalf.”
Fellow navigator, if you can, I encourage you to learn another language. Yes, this is America and just about everyone speaks English. But there is an entire world out there with people of every race, ethnic group, and tongue who have incredible stories, jokes, and thoughts to share. If we only limit our conversations to English speakers, we miss out on the richness and beauty our brothers and sisters have to offer. Now, you don’t have to be like me and aim to master seven languages. But I think that shooting to acquire a second language will grant you access to a life you never knew existed. Who knows? Maybe your Spanish alter ego is sassy, free-spirited, and holds nothing back. Perhaps your French persona is refined, soft-spoken, and reserved.
It’s 2020 and globalization isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s probably best that we embrace those who are different and find a way to get along with each other. Maybe, in this process, we’ll find a beauty in their language that sets us on a journey of our own self-discovery.
Fellow navigator, since many of us are still living under quarantine, have you considered learning a new language? Which language have you always wanted to study? What’s holding you back? Tell me about it!
It’s taken a lot for me to get to a place where I’m confident in who I am and what I bring to the table. That’s why it’s so easy for me to walk away from a man who doesn’t value me. It’s not that I’m some callous woman who entered the relationship with the intent of breaking his heart. No, I didn’t mean to start something I couldn’t finish. The truth is that somewhere along the way we lost ourselves. I’d most likely sat around watching and waiting for him to step up and treat me the way I deserved, but he never did.
While I don’t speak for all women, I can say that it takes quite a bit of messing up on a man’s part to get me to walk away. It’s not a decision I take lightly because, to some degree, it means accepting that I also played a role in the failed relationship. Walking away also means that I made the wrong choice. Maybe I was too infatuated by his captivating looks, intellect, or witty humor to see that we were incompatible from the start.
Regardless of the rationale for getting into the relationship, walking away is a step that indicates my desire for more. Yes, me walking away means that I wanted more. More of his time, affection, attention, and respect. Oftentimes I hear conversations about women who are portrayed as heartless individuals because they walked away. Their intentions are called into question, and the men (usually) in the group get upset and wonder if the women ever expressed their unhappiness in the relationship.
After kissing some frogs, I’ve learned to be upfront about what I need from my romantic partner to make the relationship work. As a result, I have no problem telling a man I’m interested in or dating how I receive love. I do it for two reasons. First, I want him to know what makes me happy. Second, past experience has taught me that I’m not the most communicative when I’m about to check out from a relationship. If I’m upfront with this man about some of my quirks, he can at least know what signs to look out for. Maybe I’m doing the most, but I don’t want a man to say that I didn’t give the relationship my all. As someone who’s been accused of being a workaholic, too busy for a relationship, and a slew of other things, I want the person I’m with to know I’m going into the relationship intent on making it work.
I’ve read tons of articles about why women walk away from relationships. I’m not proud to admit this, but I am definitely guilty of walking away once my threshold for nonsense has been crossed. Yes, it really exists. What’s the fastest way of losing me? Ignoring me. That’s it.
After kissing some frogs, I’ve learned to be upfront about what I need from my romantic partner to make the relationship work.
— Ethleen Sawyerr
I understand busy. I lead a pretty busy life at times, too. But I am capable of carving a few minutes or hours to spend exclusively with the one I’m with. Whether we’re texting throughout the day or talking on the phone before going to bed, that is his time. I make sure to do what I need to on my end to give him my undivided attention. That’s what I expect from him in return.
When we go days without speaking, I feel like I don’t matter. When he sends a good morning text and is silent for the rest of the day, I begin to question my worth in his eyes. When I tell him I miss hearing his voice and he continues the conversation as if I hadn’t just poured my heart out to him, I feel like a fool. It is at that exact moment that the walls around my heart begin to go back up and my mind starts to rationalize life without him.
It’s not that he’s a bad man—he just isn’t the one for me. I promised myself a long time ago that I would not beg a man for his attention. If he doesn’t give it willingly, knowing that that is one of the few things I ask of him, then I know he isn’t for me. No, fellow navigator, the man God has for me will understand the importance of this ask and strive to please me in that area. Even when he’s had a long hard day, he’ll pick up the phone and spend a few minutes with me before calling it a night.
Fellow navigator, what’s the final straw that causes you to walk away from a relationship? Do you give the one you’re with advance notice before you leave? After leaving, have you ever looked back and regretted your decision? Tell me about it!
Call me conservative, old-fashioned, a prude, or whatever term you want, but I still believe in monogamy in a relationship. For decades I have watched the older generation in communities I’ve been part of at various times in my life exert the energy needed to make their relationships work. Yes, some of those marriages ultimately fell apart. However, the vast majority are still alive and kicking to this day.
As an observer on the outside looking in, I’ve often wondered if either partner ever had the urge to cheat. I mean, some of the relationships appeared to be so bad that I wouldn’t have blamed one partner for filing for divorce and walking away in search of love in another’s arms. Watching these couples work through their mess, I learned some valuable lessons about love, marriage, and why side chicks and mistresses are so common these days.
If our earthly unions are supposed to be representative of Christ’s love for the Church, then I think we fail miserably when we throw our hands in the air and give up on each other too quickly. Believe me, I am the first to admit that I am guilty of walking away from people and relationships too often. At the first sign of conflict, I am usually ready at the door with my bags packed. It wasn’t until a few years ago that God and I had some real conversations about my aversion to conflict, resulting in my inability to grow in this area of my life.
“If our earthly unions are supposed to be representative of Christ’s love for the Church, then I think we fail miserably when we throw our hands in the air and give up on each other too quickly.”
I believe the Bible when it says that marriage is intended for one man and one woman, meaning we shouldn’t have multiple marriage partners. It’s 2020 and people live all sorts of lifestyles, but I choose to hold firm to this belief. I trust that when my husband finds me, he will leave his family so that the two of us can become one. It is in that union that I pray we will walk alongside each other on good days and bad ones. Call me an idealist, but I want to be with one man “until death do us part.” Those aren’t hollow, meaningless words—they represent a love that I believe people long for but seldom desire to work toward.
Some years ago, a guy asked if I would consider being his side piece. True story. Of course, those weren’t his exact words. No. He only stated that he wanted me to remain in the picture as a romantic interest even though he was about to marry another woman. Clearly, he didn’t love me or this woman. I had finally decided to give in to his pursuit, but the timing ended up being bad. But I learned more about this guy’s character in that brief phone call than in the years I had known him. I also recognized that his reason for asking me to play a romantic role in his life was not because he was madly in love with me; he had no intention of calling off his wedding.
Rather, this man didn’t want me—he wanted victory. I was the woman he couldn’t charm for years, so he jumped at the chance to finally say he landed me. It really is true that men enjoy the chase. To him, me saying that I was open to the idea of a relationship (prior to learning he had become engaged) was a sign of status because he could flaunt his trophy to the world. Yup, I said it. That’s what I was to him—a trophy. At that time, I was leading a different kind of life, so people knew my name and my ambition was my driving force. After that call, he made several attempts to contact me and start something romantic, but I blocked them all. Eventually, he must have realized he didn’t stand a chance and went away.
“That’s what I was to him—a trophy.”
The thought of sharing a man with another woman makes me cringe. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that so much is exchanged in a romantic relationship that I wouldn’t want my man to be intimate in that kind of way with someone else. No, I’m not just talking about sex. Being with someone means being intellectually, emotionally, and physically vulnerable. When it’s just he and I, it brings me some comfort to know that the connections we share are just between us. However, when he is that same way with another woman, I question the authenticity of what was exchanged.
To sum it all up, I don’t think I would ever become a side chick or mistress. I love too hard and too deep for that. If a man can’t or won’t commit to me, then I’d rather walk away from the relationship before it gets too serious. What about you, fellow navigator? What are your thoughts concerning polyamorous or polygamous relationships? Tell me about it!
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.
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!