Love Actually... Self-Accountability in the Process of Mating
Honey… let’s get into it.
With our highly interconnected lives that revolve around digital social engagements, many self-taught, self-help coaches have decided that based on their Google research, they are experts in human behavior and that they can take a few characteristics and diagnose a person with a personality disorder based on said person’s unfavorable behavior. They create these mantras and catchy memes to describe behavior in very narrow terms, creating harmful narratives of the people they’ve chastised and have empowered label makers to go around diagnosing others without the responsibility that comes with accurate diagnosing. This mislabeling is, in itself, toxic and harmful… and alleviates the labeler of any and all accountability for how their behavior may contribute to whatever dynamic they are engaged in.
I am writing this article to be read, identified with, and internalized by people of all genders, but as we are growing and evolving, I also want to specifically address this dynamic with women. We have been privileged as to avoid being held accountable for some of our poor decisions where men are concerned, but the tides are shifting and men are not here for it anymore, nor should they be. Men are hurting, feeling unappreciated, and wondering why they are sacrificing for women who do not even recognize the sacrifices they are making because women are so protected that they are not obligated to see. I’ve been addressed so often, by men, wanting me to share, publicly, my perspective. So, as a woman, it is my duty to bring awareness to our own shit. Ladies, despite what we think, our shit stinks, too.
Men protect women so much that women have been privileged enough to shit on men, to hold men to expectations they never agreed to or specifically said they will not or cannot meet, to manipulate men into obligatory behaviors in exchange for sex or our bodies, and to vilify men rather than accepting responsibility for our own poor decisions. Our privilege in doing this comes from men desiring to protect our feelings so much that they would rather take the bad reputation than to argue with you, make you feel less than, or make you sit in the responsibility of your own manipulative decisions. When you are ready to receive, this message will make perfect sense.
We have come to label everyone that doesn’t do what we want them to do or behave how we expect them to behave as toxic or even narcissistic. Now, there are some people who are, by definition, narcissistic. These people truly have no awareness of other people nor do they care about their impact on other people. These are the pathological liars, the people who skew the truth to get a desired outcome, the people who agree to certain terms and conditions, but then go on about living a double lifestyle, maneuvering independently despite agreeing to move in unison with their partner, deceiving and rendering their partner a true victim of their lies. Today, we aren't talking about those people.
Then, you have people who have told you, clearly and directly, what they can and cannot offer. For example, I once dated someone who I told up front, “I do not see you and I as lifelong partners or as a married couple. I do enjoy engaging you, spending time with you, and being intimate with you occasionally, but I can offer nothing more than that.” And this person proceeded to engage me in a love affair, whilst always expecting something different and holding me accountable to providing something I never once agreed to give. A few of my lady friends judged me, often holding me responsible for my lover’s emotions even though I was always crystal clear that I did not agree to be emotionally committed to person. I even lost a friend or two, as they judged me for taking advantage of this person because I was supposed to let this person go rather than believe that this person was adult enough to consent to the terms I provided and proceed in our relationship with the verbal agreement we both agreed to… and I always requested that what I had stated was understood, fully, accepted, and consented to before moving forward. So, there was no accountability on the other end, I suppose…
Now, ladies, we have heard a man say this to us before, and then, we have decided to continue dating him, imagining we will fuck him so good or be such a great woman that he will have no choice but to fall in love despite that he has already made a decision and has explicitly said this to us. We have shared ourselves sexually, gotten to know their friends and family, and we have done everything to perfection with the expectation that at some point, this person will change their minds.
In six months, after our relationship has been fun and fulfilling, full of excitement and intimacy, we check back and ask, “hey, what are we doing? We are spending a lot of time together. I love you. Are you going to commit to me, yet?” and the man looks back at you, befuddled, and he says, “hey, I thought we discussed this. I’m not ready for a relationship [the with you part is silent]. Maybe we shouldn’t do this anymore.” and we get upset for a few days. Then we ask, “hey, do you want to me to come over? I want to see that new movie, and I got a new negligee…” he says yes, and we indebt ourselves to another six month cycle. Years go by, and we finally realize that he was clear and truthful when he said he didn’t see us as a partner; yet, instead of accepting that he told us, and we decided to proceed anyway, we start to pick him apart.
We research everything we can to validate that he’s a narcissist, that he was just using us for our fun times, our bodies, our gifts, all that we willingly gave him that we thought should have made him see that we are the perfect partner… and because he didn’t see that after three....long… years, this makes him toxic!
While this is a very specific example, there are so many other ways we engage people that we know we have no business with and blame them for their shortcomings. This happens when he has three children by two other women, who he doesn't respect, nor take care of and for some reason, we lay with him, have his children, and feel resentment that he showed up as he did in previous situations, and isn't a good father or co-parent to us. It shows up in choosing to date a man who is verbally or emotionally abusive, or a man who is clearly a pathological liar... it shows up in continuing to date a man who doesn't care to learn your love language, doesn't value or respect you the way you wish to be valued, but you stick around hoping he will change. It shows up in wanting him to be someone he has shown you, time and time again, that he simply isn't or doesn't even have the capacity to be and then being angry that he can't meet your expectations.
We have to learn to practice discernment, take our time, evaluate, and learn people without being so anxious to commit ourselves to relationships or entanglements with people we don't truly know. We have to take accountability for the people we allow to access us, for the people we spend time with. At some point, we have to get very clear about what we want, how we want to be treated, how we want to engage with others, and we have to be comfortable and confident enough with ourselves to not make exceptions nor allow people into our homes, bodies, or personal spaces who do not honor what we value. We have to be patient and listen to what we need... we have to hold ourselves accountable for holding others accountable when they don't or cannot show up the way we wish for them to.
We cannot betray ourselves for an IDEA of who someone is rather than the reality. We cannot hope for someone to be something they have SHOWN us they are not, and then hold them to standards they cannot meet. We have to get still and learn to practice discernment. We are 100% accountable for the relationships, encounters, and interactions we choose to continuously take residence in our lives. Fool me once... shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!
There’s harm in blaming and mislabeling, mainly because it alleviates us of our responsibility to make wiser choices about how we approach loving relationships and whether or not we can facilitate healthy relationships. Operating from a place of ego, fingerpointing, and blaming may cause us to enter each relationship without taking ownership of the people we allow ourselves to invest in and build with. It also causes us to miss out on opportunities for growth and self-reflection.
Too often, it is easier to look at people and categorize them in a particular way rather than to engage a person as an individual, truly getting to know whether this person has good character, similar values, similar principles, is honorable, honors us, is a person that has the capacity to build a fulfilling relationship or even wants to. We often see what we want out of people rather than asking and learning whether our wants are the same as their wants. When we do this, we operate in a self-serving way, seeking not to make authentic connections but to dominate and control the way our relationship unfolds to get a need met for ourselves.
Without expounding too much on this (because it will be thoroughly explored in my upcoming book), men and women love very differently, and if we begin to dissect this and have very real conversations with ourselves, we may be able to love more fully.
On a biological level, women love out of the necessity of securing our needs for our offspring. Women see men as objects and tools to be manipulated into giving us security, protection, service, love, and support when we are pregnant, birthing, and raising children. Remember, we are evolving beings and although we are very intelligent and are shifting into a place where we don’t need these things in this way as much anymore, the facts are that we are still very basically animalistic beings.
Women tend to give sex as an exchange for love, security, and protection. We provide this, and then we expect to receive these things as an unspoken, biological agreement. Therefore, our sex is given in exchange for love, protection, security… this is whether or not we have truly determined whether or not we really have the capacity to love a man. He is often a means to an end… protection, support, security. We seek to make him weak and subservient by providing our bodies. This secures us to birth babies (what we innately, not always consciously, feel is our biological duty to humanity). This, even though we feel connected to or attachment towards him, does not mean we love or have the capacity to love him as a person, an individual, outside of ourselves. Love is not duty, obligation, impatient, unkind, controlling, etc. Love is very free, accepting despite the terms of service or not.
Biologically, men give and receive sex because they are primed to reproduce as many seeds as possible. This is their biological obligation. They know women want and need their seeds, so they spread seeds. Because of which, men do not attach sex to love unnecessarily. Healthy men, when they love, love from a self-sacrificing, protective way. When they choose to love, they have studied you intently. They are not attempting to control you. They do not criticize you or try to change you. They do not enter into the relationship imagining how they will upgrade you (because they believe you, in your current state, are good enough). They do not attempt to modify your mindset… they just accept you as who you are, where you are… but that is because they have made a conscious, calculated, well thought out decision about whether or not they can truly love you, independently of what you can provide them, well before they decided to commit to you. They are patient with you. They mind their words. They take space away as to not hurt you with their temporary or fleeting emotions… they love. This generalization is a generalization based on my experiences, and my interpretations of what a healthy man is and how he loves. In this sense, my definition is narrow and not to be held for unhealthy or dysfunctional interactions.
Women love their children… men love their women… and maybe, eventually, women learn to love men. Often, what we think is love is an overwhelming biological attraction or infatuation disguised as love. Love is 1 Corinthians 13.
When we enter into or exit out of relationships, it’s imperative that we evaluate our roles in our life experiences, rather than diagnosing people who don’t do what we want, the way we want, when we want. It’s important to ask how we showed up, what we could have done differently, what we have learned, and to always practice the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We need to apply the knowledge that we have learned towards our relationships. This is wisdom… know better, do better.
In my humble opinion, we must approach romantic relationships with the same love, patience, kindness, and appreciation that we provide our platonic relationships. How much more fulfilling would relationships be if we stopped viewing them as transactional exchanges, and started viewing them as encounters with people who are sent to help us grow and learn? How much further could we grow if we only had expectations that were agreed upon, discussed, clarified, understood, and developed in unison? What if we stopped looking at love as a black and white thing and understood that it consists of a beautiful range of colors? What if we focused more on friendship and allowed love and marriage to simply be a byproduct, an answer to a question we didn't know we were asking of such a beautiful interaction?
When I, too, master this idealistic way of loving, I will be sure to let you know what I’ve found.
My new book is coming soon!!! Stay tuned!