It is quite common while single to gripe about that very fact: why am I still single, why are there no good men/women, why can’t I just meet someone I click with? However if we did deeper, are we truly ready to even take that step?
Being ready isn’t a matter of job or career being set, finances right, or reaching the age when society tells us we should be settling down, buying the house and having the 2.5 kids. Being ready isn’t even a matter of desiring love or a partner. Being ready, really comes down to being emotionally and mentally in a place where you are able to receive - and give - love in a healthy way.
Wishing & willing for something takes a whole different energy than being able to receive that very thing you’ve been wishing for. For years I’d wish for a “good man” to come along, a larger pool of eligible black men to date, more men that caught my interest, but as soon as one came along, asked me out, and I stepped out with that man, all my “stuff” would bubble to the surface and I’d sabotage any potential. It usually showed up around date 2-3 (I didn’t take long!). Not only would I not want my date to know I liked him, but my defense mechanism would go so far that men often thought I couldn’t stand them. I put my guard up and let my insecurities tell me that I need to make the man “chase” me so I knew he really liked me, but with no foundation, most men are going to run. We all want a man to work for us, and they are willing, however if we make it impossible and refuse to show them any emotion, the result will never be what we hope for.
Fellas, the same goes for you - although it maybe manifests differently. I have seen too many of my male friends have a great woman that has everything he has prayed for, only to cheat on her on the side, talk down to her, etc. Sooner rather than later, these women move on, knowing they are worth more. While you guys pretend you aren't hurt, these actions are indicating a deeper issue.
All of these actions, pretending I didn’t have feelings that way they couldn’t be hurt, the men who go out and find multiple woman, pretending that all these people don't affect us, are indications that we are just not ready for love. I was not ready for a healthy partnership and relationship because I still carried baggage, and I could not be vulnerable. A lot of these men who feel the need to have a side chick are not ready for love because they do not value themselves enough to believe that their "main chick", the one they really want, would actually want them.
Carrying baggage with us into relationships will always get in the way of the goal you are trying to achieve. That is not to say forget your past. But rather to say face it. Embrace it. Handle it. Whether it is a cheating ex, weak father role model in your life, witnessing a dysfunctional relationship between your own parents – face it, acknowledge the impact it has on your perception of relationships, and use that as a guide to move forward. If you need to talk to a professional to get over the hump, do it! We as black people feel too much shame in tending to our mental health when there is nothing wrong with seeking the advice of a professional. Think about it….if you are only getting advice from your girl who can’t keep a man or your homeboy who is still playing the field, you are likely going to not end up where you want to be.
Vulnerability is a little tricker. What a price we pay by not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, but vulnerability takes HARD WORK! It is a natural human reaction to defend ourselves from hurt and in practice, exposing yourself to vulnerability is pretty terrifying. Brene Brown defines vulnerability in her book Daring Greatly (worth the read, I highly recommend it!) as a weakness, an uncertainty, risk or emotional exposure. However, not allowing ourselves to be vulnerable often manifests as defensive behaviour which alienates our relationships and disengaged attitude which hinders the ability to truly connect with others. As stated by Brown, “When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our back on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make”.
I look back at my own experiences and can see so clearly now how I pushed so many away. All the experiences that I hadn’t had yet so deeply desired were just outside of my willingness to let someone in, be vulnerable, expose myself.
While so many of us are still on the search for the perfect someone, I encourage you to pause and ask yourself if you are really ready. Can you catch yourself when you feel old habits resurfacing, have you done the work to ensure your mind and spirit are healthy? Have you gotten to a realistic realization of what you are looking for in your partner, and what you bring to the table? Remember: like attracts like in a relationship. In order to be with someone who is happy, healthy and willing to open their heart to you, you need to be in a place where you can offer the same.