Relationships are like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get. According to Hallmark, they’re like cheesy late-blooming romances with a stranger from a small town that you never knew you needed. The stories are wholesome where most plotlines are cheesy and follow the same formula of a person falling in love after coming from a big city to a small town for business or family matters. It’s almost a fairy tale ending with the inevitable miscommunication and the hurt making up with the misunderstood, but they make falling in love look quick and easy. Relationships on social media, however, are a mish-mosh of everything from couples who only post their happiness to others who post everything from the conception of the relationship to its death. It’s so easy to get lost in the muck of it because even when the happiness you see is authentic, chances are you’re still sitting there trying to figure out why you’re still single or how to bring the spark back to your once vibrant relationship. There is also the chance that you’re like me in a new relationship trying not to self-sabotage due to unrealistic relationships you saw on TV.
A lot of us are subconsciously programmed to look for our relationships to start with the emotions of happiness and warmth we feel while watching a heartwarming film, TV show, or youtube couple. This warmth is something to desire, but it shouldn’t be everything we seek. In the Black culture, I’ve observed an emphasis on emotional intensity in association with the idea of falling in love. There’s a push in the media to look for immediate magnetism when connecting with a potential partner. Also, there’s almost an urgency to hurry up and find a love that is all-consuming in what I believe to be the worst of ways. Songs like Let it Burn by Jazmine Sullivan and Heat by Chris Brown ft. Gunna speaks of the heat one feels while falling for someone. Whether it is in love or lust is yet to be determined. Alternatively, songs like Burn by Usher describe the pain one feels at the end of a relationship. The common thread of intense emotion seems to be the desired symptom of falling for someone. It is what I call a red flame relationship where everyone can see the heat, the chemistry, and obvious attraction. With these relationships, as easy as it is to see the flame is how easy it is to extinguish it. This misconception that relationships need to start with an intensity of emotion and longing to be with another individual overshadows the truth that most sustainable relationships are built slowly on a foundation of fondness and a desire to get to know someone deeply. It is what I call a blue flame relationship or the slow burn. These relationships are not devoid of emotion, but they have balanced the logistics (the mind) of building a sustainable partnership with the emotion (the heart) required to nurture a relationship. All in all, they’ve counted the cost. If only I had had some of this wisdom in my early twenties.
My early twenties and even my late teens were full of what most would call “chance meetings” which led to short spurts of infatuation. I now call those chance meetings purposeful. They were introductions to key players in my journey to emotional maturity. Every lie I was told and every false hope I held onto in belief thinking “oh, he’ll change” were building blocks because I chose to change my perspective. When he didn’t want to choose me, I chose myself, and when my emotional needs weren’t being met, I voiced them. These choices led to the end of those relationships and I thank God they did! I chose to look at each individual as a teacher and I was determined to learn each lesson so I could move on because my cut off game is quick! But it was through those quick spurt relationships that I cleared my throat chakra, developed my voice and boundaries while keeping my heart open to love. I learned that open and honest communication about core principles and values like faith, child-rearing, and politics are the table our conversations about emotions and shared interests rest on. Being armed with all this knowledge and experience I find myself in a healthy relationship that I know I couldn’t have sustained had I not had those experiences and made adjustments to my mindset along the way.
As I mentioned before, there was a period where I almost self-sabotaged because things weren’t progressing how I had seen them on TV or as quickly as I had seen them manifest in other people’s lives. I will be the first to say I had unrealistic expectations. I was looking for the fiery magnetism and instead found a sweet calm and stability. Let me be the first to say that as an ever-adventurous woman, stability is far from boring. I find myself with someone stable who loves their family, makes me laugh from my core, compliments my personality, and shares my values as well as interests. I have such a fondness, appreciation, and love for this man that I can only attribute to knowing what it means to have had a bad one. These nuances are things that aren’t so readily discussed in everyday conversation about relationships. They are the things we hope to figure out and grow from along the way. Community is important to me, so I hope to inspire conversations among other young women who are as lost as I was and are slowly but surely finding their way. I am in no way an expert on all things love, I’m merely an observer and reporter on the subject and I pray my observations find you well.
Yes! The best thing we can do as women is to recognize that relationships are work–wonderful, worthy work that we must enter into with great care and love. Before the chemicals kick in, (any or all of them) we should make sure we’re not compromising on our values, investing within our sphere of influence and manifesting our highest aspirations in relationship. If not, we get stuck it unhealthy and unhappy entanglements with no benefits.