WHAT DO YOU WANT from a relationship (another prerequisite)
If you don’t know by now, I am a sex and relationship therapist. I spend a whole lot of my time talking and thinking about relationships, sex, sexuality, mental health, (anti-) Blackness, women, etc. Even though it can be hard, especially in the Washington D.C. metro area, what I really find astounding sometimes is how much I love what I do. I think that can be a bit of a rarity, especially now, with what can feel like a B.S. job market, gentrification, and the compulsion to get as many jobs as possible so ends can almost meet. Not to mention racism, sexism, and classism, which coalesce to make people feel unsafe and like they lack security--none of which is great for the mental health of Black folk. But folk will do what they have to do, right? Millennials (born between the early 80s and mid 90s) are especially not often doing the work they really desire because we want to eat and live, and not be in tremendous amounts of student loan debt. Those simple truths often mean having a couple of jobs. I definitely can understand that. But what I am finding is that, not living your life the way you want in one area, can often lead to not living the life you want in other areas. Like...maybe a B.S. dating market?
Last week, we talked about how self love is a prerequisite for a successful relationship, in Do You Even Love You. Specifically, covering what can happen if you don’t love yourself first and some ways to start that self loving journey. We are building on that conversation. So, if you have not yet read or listened to that one, catch up! Anyway, there are many people who are not in the romantic situation they want to be in. Some feel like they only manage to attract fuck bois and fuck girls. Others feel like they are settling into relationships they would rather not be in (some of which are abusive, though not physically). And even more others are concerned they will end up being single for the rest of their lives because the formula to dating seems to be off for them. When dealing with this in session, with friends, or with strangers on the street, one of my most pressing questions is: “What do you want from a relationship?”
What Do You Want From a Relationship?
I know it may seem silly, but when I ask this question, what I discover is that most people have no friggen clue. Like, at all. The Black women I speak to know they don’t want to be alone, but other than that, they don’t have any other goals. Some have decided that they want to be married and have children, and others aren’t sure about either of those things, but they know being alone is not what they want out of life. Now, I am all for knowing SOMETHING. I like that folk at least know that they don’t want to be single, but knowing what you DON’T want is not the same thing as knowing what you DO want.
The fear of being lonely is palpable, especially for hetero Black women who want Black men, but feel like Black men do not want them in return. A study was completed some time ago that talked about the most and least desired partners, though OKCupid. The results showed that fewer people were checking for Black women and Asian men. Probably because of all the stereotypes. For Asian men, the stereotypes basically say they don’t have large penises, sexual prowess, and are fairly feminine. For Black women the stereotypes are that they are emasculating, difficult, won’t be as adventurous sexually, but at the same time are hoes who cannot control their sexual desires. The point being, that the messages of you are NOT WANTED, you are NOT DESIRED, and you are NOT WORTHY of partnership, gets internalized. When that message is held on to as a true to god belief, some folk will forget that what they want is important at all. Instead, that they have to take what they can get. That takes us back full circle to self love. If you are feeling like your worth is less than, then being in ANY relationship starts to look like more than. Now you don’t even know what you want from a relationship, other than what society has told you makes you a worthwhile person: marriage and kids.
**chill, I am not saying that being married and having children are not worthwhile pursuits, I am saying that they have bamboozled us into thinking it’s the only way we can have worth.
What now is both simple and difficult. Now, you start at the beginning of loving you. That list for how to start on that self love journey was in the last post. As for how to figure out what you want in a relationship, I will treat you like some of my clients, and give you a little homework!
1. Think about all the movies, tv shows, books, etc. that you have read and pick out your favorite three couples. These can be the people you think of as #relationshipgoals. When you have them in mind, write out a list of all the things you like about their relationship.
2. Consider what YOU have. At this point, you have picked out the qualities you admire in the relationship of others. Now pick out the qualities you have admired within your own relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but familial, friendships, etc. See which of those qualities are shared from the #relationshipgoals list to this one.
3. Finally, consider the qualities you want in a partner. This may require you to think about what you bring to the table, and what you wish you had more of. You partner is not meant to fix you, but rather to compliment you. You are a complete person on your own, not someone who requires another to make you half into a whole.
When you have all the lists together, think about what you value overall, and how those values are reflected, or not reflected, within the various lists. Why did you pick the qualities you picked? What makes them important. Then pick out those top qualities that are most important to you. And just like that, you know more about what you want!
Granted, knowing what you want is only one step, but it is an important one. You know what you want in a partner, but do you know what you want out of a relationship? Do you know what your goals are for you, and then for the relationship? These are all important and should reflect your values and what you have picked as important qualities in a partner and in a relationship.
SHARE!! What is a quality you want/like for a relationship?