By Valencia Fowler
Ok so....about this dating life.
Let me start from the beginning. I married young. I was 21.
And then I divorced 12 years later.
Then I took some time off to heal. Because I totally think that's totally necessary.
So now, I'm 37 and catapulted into this world of dating, because apparently Mister Right ain't gone just up and ring my doorbell. And let's face it, if he did, and I didn't know he was coming, I'm probably not moving from my couch to go answer the door. So I gotta learn how to date. In my 30's. Ya'll that are married should really be in constant prayer for those that are not, but desire to be. It's a struggle.
TD Jakes tells us to make a list of what we want. DeVon Franklin tells us to the throw the list away. (I think it was him who said it, don't quote me). And every woman is trying to get a transcript of the exact prayer that Ciara prayed, VERBATIM, to God right before she got with Russell Wilson, her current hubby. Should I adhere to dating rules or make them up as I go along? Do I kiss on the first date? At what point do I let him know where I live so he can pick me up vs us meeting for dates? When does he meet my kids? And vice versa? When do we start drinking out of each other's glasses or eating off of each other's plates? And Lord when can I stop wearing Spanx while we are out because it's way cumbersome?
And so forth and so on.
I don't have the answers. And I certainly have a book-full of questions.
But here are a few things that I have learned that I think may be helpful my sistergirlfriends:
1. We give our power away. And I don't mean sex. I mean we show our hands way too soon. And showing your hand to the wrong person can result in years of unnecessary pain for you. It's one thing to say "I want to be married" for example. But it's a whole other thing when we treat that want as a need and then wear it as a badge of desperation. Manipulators and narcissists know how to use this information as ammunition. So for me, I've made it no secret that I want to be married again, and to have one more baby. What I've noticed is that a lot of guys throw in "I really want a family" or "I want to settle down...I don't like this single life". The first couple times I heard that I as just gushing with romantic scenarios in my head of how he would propose and where we would honeymoon and what kind of breakfast would I make him each morning before work and how I'd remind him to take his vitamins. Then I had to grow up. These are all just words, but did his actions line up? Nope! There was no progression in the relationship or movement in the right direction. I learned that for some, it was just a line used to try and get what they want, and that's usually sex.
I run a relationship question post on Facebook on Tuesdays and Thursdays called Vee's Q's. Recently, a woman who definitely desires marriage wrote in. Her "boyfriend" said that they couldn't date anymore because they had varying opinions on the spiritual gift, "speaking in tongues". It's known in the Christian faith. Anyway, he told her he really wanted to marry her, but this one issue was so divisive to him that it made him feel like they were unequally yoked. But he really did want to marry her. After this discussion, he offered to meet her for closure. And they had sex. And they are still not in a relationship. His need got met, and her's did not, primarily because she showed her hand, too soon, to the wrong guy.
2. We put up with way too much crap, way too early. And this sets a precedent. Now he knows that no matter the type of crap, or the amount of it, we will stick around. Because of point number #1. We'd do just about anything to be married. He doesn't call for a couple of days, and if he responds to your texts, they are one-word answers. But when he decides to finally call us, we are over the moon. We answer before the first ring fully rings. We bend our schedule to accommodate his. If he needs something we automatically provide.
I had a friend who dated this guy who came with more crap then the septic waste guy. I mean, he lied about his age. He lied about his family. He lied about his job. He lied about his money. He lied about his whereabouts. He lied about other women. He got mad at her over imaginary things in which she 1) knew were imaginary and 2) kept apologizing for. And this was all in the first month of dating! Her friends did not recognize her anymore. It angered me. But now that I'm typing this out I realize her fear of being single (alone) was greater than anything else. For some women, any man is better than no man. Don't be that kinda sis.
3. Sex does not equal love. Ok so you slept with him. Now what? I don't know but I know what it's probably not and that is true love. Sis we gotta stop acting like sex means love. They are two totally different things. If done right, they can be awesome, dope, beautiful together. But the truth is sex does not equal love. Stop tryna plan a wedding or move into his place. See things for what they are. And if you both agree that there is more on the horizon for your relationship, then AWESOME! But make sure you both agree.
4. Sometimes, we just plain ole don't value ourselves. And it shows. And it causes us to settle. I've a friend who has been infatuatedly in love with a man for years. She "likes" everything he does on social media (he's not that spectacular if you ask me), she shares his posts and shouts him out all the time. I mean, it's darn near worship. And he acts like she doesn't exist, both on social media and in real life. I think maybe she thinks if she sticks around long enough, that will show him that she is stable and reliable. And one day he will wake up and think "Hmmm I need stability and reliability...where can I get that? Oh wait...I know.....HER!" Doubt it. What this kind of blind faithfulness to a man that is not your man teaches that man is that he's allowed to be as selfish as he wants. When you realize that you're a woman of worth, you won't allow people to treat you any kind of way. And sis, when you realize that you are God's daughter, aint no way can stay in a relationship where the good stuff isn't reciprocated!
5. We don't own what we really want. Let's just keep it very real. For example, not everyone shares the same moral ideas and spiritual faiths. Some of us think sex before marriage is ok. And others of us think sex should only be shared between a husband and wife. To each her own. But whatever your "own" is, own it! I think there are plenty single women out there who want and need sex. Like, right now. But because they are doing what's "expected" of them, instead of living in their own truth, they end up doing this song and dance of "no sex" until they accidentally on purpose fall in bed with a man, further complicating things. We must be honest with ourselves so that our emotions can honestly emote! If you are going to be a consenting adult, then be that.
If you want a guy to hold the door open for you then don't settle for one who says "I have to walk all the way to your side of the car to open the door?!". If you want a guy to call you, then stop settling for a man that only texts. You will never be happy ignoring your truth.
6. Dysfunction is not normal. But for some of us, dysfunction is the only place we know how to function. For a lot of us, because of past experiences, this is the most comfortable place. This is where therapy comes in. if that last relationship kinda threw you for a loop, or you are still dealing with daddy issues or you still can't quite figure out why your momma don't like you....or....well you fill in the blank, then go get some help before you dive into the dating pool. It's too cess of a pool as it is. And sis you're gonna need all your wits about you to navigate through. Learn what healthy relationships look like. It'll help you better identify what you want and don't want.
Like I said, I don't have all the answers. But I've been watching my sistergirlfriends, both near and far, make some bad decisions. And I don’t think all guys are bad or manipulators. Quite the contrary. I know some really good dudes. But I do believe in the vetting process. You have to be honest with yourself. You gotta weed through the dating garden to find the good ones. And those are the guys that should fill the dating pool.
Just my two cents. See ya later...I'm going on a date :-)
Do you agree? What have you learned about the dating scene? Share your thoughts in the comment section below
Valencia Joy is a divorced single mother of 2 young kings. As the boys are getting older and more self-sufficient, Valencia has been allowed to pursue some of her dreams and discover new joys of adulting. She is the writer and creative curator at www.heysis.org, where broken women heal and healed women help. Her desire is that women break away from the stereotype that we can't get along. She fosters a safe space for women to gather, share and heal, using her testimony as proof that there is life after heartbreak. She is the host and mastermind behind HeyVeeTv, her youtube talk show, where she delves into deep discussions that affect women. She conducts Vee's Q's, a relationship column on Facebook, twice a week.. Like/follow her @sisheysis on IG and Twitter and @HeySis on Facebook, and also @heyveetv on all social sites.