I was on Twitter a few weeks ago when I came across a tweet that advised people to date someone that likes them – I find this statement so funny because surely no one would knowingly date someone that doesn’t like them?
I’ve always been interested in human psychology and for the last year I’ve been going to therapy so of course I started to psychoanalyse myself and my past relationships. Let me quickly break the down for you:
Boy 1 was black. We were very close friends for 1-2 years before we started to toy with the idea of dating – this guy eventually started telling me what to wear so safe to say, that didn’t turn into anything.
Boy 2 was white. We were best friends for a couple of years before we started to date. This guy subtly put me down when I talked about wanting to start my first business (thank God I didn’t listen) and dumped me out of nowhere after just over 3 months.
Boy 3 was Asian. I met him through a friend and we quickly started dating. This guy spoiled me, money wasn’t an object and for the most part, he supported my goals of being an entrepreneur. I could write very long blogs about how this relationship messed me up but ultimately, we were together for about 2.5 years and he cheated on me in MY flat whilst I was looking after my dad who had cancer.
Boy 4 is Sean who you’ll see all over my blog. We met on Tinder and have been together for nearly 5 years with a few months break in between.
I grew up the fat black girl who was predominantly surrounded by white girls so I was used to not getting a second look. I’d say I was confident – I got on well with everyone and even though I was overweight, I loved watching/playing sports and could run really fast so whilst my friends talked boyfriends, I saw myself as one of the boys. Honestly, that was probably what I told myself to feel better when I didn’t get attention and it worked. I’ve now also come to realise that any time I would question my beauty, I had a dad who spoke words of affirmation to me constantly. Any time I questioned the lack of Eurocentric features, I’d be reminded I was beautiful just as I was mind and body, to the point where even today at 27, my dad is the only one who cuts my hair because I don’t trust anyone else to take as much care as he does.
Boy 1 came along when I was 16/17. I’d just lost a lot of weight and felt really confident in myself. Boys 2 and 3 came along when I was going to the gym regularly and I found myself embracing more than just my personality. By the time Sean came around I was broken and trying to put the pieces of my heart back together. I was used to being alone again and fed up of being fetishized so I was very frank and made it clear I didn’t want my time to be wasted.
Whenever I tell people we met on Tinder we get a funny look but I knew that if I was on there looking for someone a little bit different, like I was, I just had to hold out till I found him. It would have been easy for me to date many guys after boy 3 broke my heart but something in the back of my mind knew I wasn’t going to get the validation I needed from anyone that wasn’t my dad or brother.
Looking back now, I’ve come to realise that it wasn’t just that these guys didn’t like me. I was friends with 3/4 before we started dating so that wouldn’t really make sense. I’ve come to the conclusion that those guys didn’t like themselves and they projected that onto me. Somewhere deep down, I was fighting with whether I liked myself or not too so I ignored red flags. I can’t really work out where that dislike on their parts came from because my experience with them is just a memory but I understand myself a lot better now.
I’ve spent months reflecting and analysing mine and Sean’s ups and downs, our break up and where we are now. Being long distance is just about one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced but it’s also been a massive learning curve. When you have issues, it’s easy to blame the other person for everything right from the onset or to gradually grow to resent them. When I look at our break up/issues, it would have been easy for anyone to say that our actions pointed towards him not liking me and me not liking him. However, looking back now, I’ve come to realise that my traits as a people pleaser who can’t set firm boundaries meant I didn’t demand to be treated with respect and his own issues meant he couldn’t find a healthy way to communicate. We started a cycle where disliking ourselves meant taking it out on each other but never walking away because somewhere subconsciously, we mirrored each other and it was familiar…
Only black women will understand what I mean when I say it’s exhausting to just exist sometimes – we have to be strong, resilient and the voice of others, yet it’s hard for us to find a safe space. Growing up, my dad outlined what my safe space would look like and over the years, Sean has gone above and beyond in giving me not just what I wanted from a safe space but what I needed.
Sean respects my culture, my parents and me to the point where even when I didn’t know how to love myself properly and would lash out from not knowing myself, he had my back and carried on doing his part – there are many instances where it would have been easy for him to walk away because of cultural differences. He makes me cry with laughter, he hears me and he supports the goals I’ve had that have made other men feel so emasculated they’ve hurt me. We’ve grown together as people and as a couple.
This last year in therapy has helped me understand where my traumas, anxiety and depression comes from and it’s also helped me see that even if Sean and I were to break up, it wouldn’t be because he didn’t like me, it would 99% be because he was working through his own stuff and I’m comfortable knowing and loving myself enough now to know what my hard limits are.
I’m still learning to love myself enough to not feel guilty every time I put my needs first (when I need to) however, I now don’t need to rely on my dad’s words of affirmation as much as I used to. This last year has been the worst of my life mentally but the best of my life as a whole. Liking myself, understanding how others see themselves and learning not to take everything personally has brought me even closer to my family, Sean and most importantly myself. That’s also reflected in the business success I’ve had. That’s no coincidence!