By Veronica Wells
My friend of nearly twenty years was visiting me this past weekend. So naturally, we were reminiscing over our middle and high school years. As she was describing how our classmates’ lives had turned out, she said, “Remember when the worse thing we thought a man could do in a relationship was cheat on us?”
I responded, “Yeah girl. There were only two things. Cheating or hitting us.”
But what we didn’t know was that there was so much more that men could do, the things they would do, the things we would allow because we didn’t know better.
My friend has a helper complex. I call it her gift and her curse. She overextends herself for people–and more often than not they’ve been men she was in a relationship with. Men who did not reciprocate and disappeared once they’d gotten everything they came for.
I was in a years-long on-again, off-again elevated situationship where I was afraid to express any grievance because I knew it would result in a months-long, or year-long disappearance. I’d hear words like “I love you” or “I need you.” But whenever I asked for consistency or accountability, the response was the same, “You’re not my girlfriend.” Not to say that the treatment would have been any better if I’d been bestowed such a title.
We didn’t know anything about men who secretly and not-so-secretly hated women but kept them around for sex, status, or free therapy.
It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I came to the realization that there were levels to the way a woman could find herself disrespected in a relationship. And because it wasn’t as blatant as him hitting her or stepping out, so many of us failed to recognize that we were being played.
I think most of us eventually find our way. Still, for the sake of future generations, here are a few things we can do or say to prevent the young ladies who will come after us from suffering.
Share your stories honestly
Tell young men to be impeccable with their word
Tell young women that they can’t save them
What are some other ways we can prepare young women to navigate dating and avoid toxic relationships?