Today’s topic is one of those topics birthed through a sudden thought that ran through my head and then immediately into my phone. I was hesitant to speak on this topic due to how controversial the discussion could be, but as a writer, speaker, and business person, I know controversy comes with the game. I just gotta be prepared and mindful of my reactions.
With that being said, I want to talk about learned behaviors turned into generational cycles and curses. More specifically, as it relates to the dynamics of black women and their relationship experiences and how it differs from white women’s.
Growing up, I can’t lie; I never saw what a real relationship looked like, my grandmother wasn't married to my grandfather, my mom wasn't married to my dad, and my aunt never seemed to be in a genuine relationship, more like a partnership/business. These were the first three women I had to look up to and learn from, so don’t fault me.
Let me stop playing, these are some strong women tho, but like most of the women around me they weren't married and if they did get married, they were in very dysfunctional relationships, even if it appeared normal to them.
So again, I never really seen what a loving, committed, happy and cohesive union looked like because my grandmother treated my grandad pretty bad and made it clear he was nothing more than the father of her child, which she barely respected him as that.
Now my aunt, I never saw her disrespect a man or vice versa; however, I never saw her show love, compassion, or care in any of her relationships.
Then I grew up not really knowing how to be in a relationship, yet yearning to be in one that wasn’t so full of dysfunction, but filled with love like the ones in the movies. Then I started dating, and it suddenly felt like I’d never be able to experience such love because it seemed unreal, unobtainable, and definitely not meant for me to experience, especially being a black woman.
Just talking about this makes me think about all the many other black women who have grown up subconsciously adopting learned behaviors and attitudes they’ve watched the women around them display because what they’ve observed appeared to be normal.
Like that young girl who has witnessed her mother scream on countless occasions, “ni**as ain't shit, yet turns around and let an ain't shit ni**a lay up on her with no job, no respect or care for her. I mean, how conflicting is that for a child who is soaking up everything and learning as she goes?
Very because those same young girls, if they haven’t learned the proper way to love and be loved, end up going down the same path as they step into womanhood.
Now, I know white people have their set of relationship issues as well, and white women are susceptible to the same experiences and not all black women are doomed in the relationship area. However, statistics show that black women have the lowest marriage rate, and that has to account for something. Plus damn near every black women I know struggle in the relationship department.
From the time little Sarah starts walking, her mother speaks a good husband into little Sarah’s future, saying, ”One day you are going to be the most beautiful bride to an awesome husband.”
Not to mention, little Sarah also grew up in a two-parent home, and any drama between her parents was out of sight and out of mind, so yea, her idea of a relationship may be based off of a little CAP. They still modeled what a husband and wife dynamic should look like, and she is good to go.
Now my good sister, little Tisha on the other hand, grew up watching her mother scream,” Ni**as ain't shit, and you” ll never find a good man out here, they all dogs” as she struggles with sustaining a committed and stable relationship.
I believe the differences can be attributed to cultural differences, learned behaviors and a few other things outside of our control, like the effects of slavery on the black family.
However, we wonder why so many black
women develop these self-destructive behaviors and distorted thoughts, it’s because it’s learned behavior that they’ve subconsciously perceived to be normal. How can she believe that she’ll one day find a respectable, loving man who will make her his wife if that’s not the narrative she knows. Or If she’s been taught that she”ll never get a good man.
With positive influences and the determination to break the cycle, her point of view and her mentality can change. She can learn how to love the most important person that she should have learned how to love first and that’s self.
How were relationships modeled in your family dynamic? Did you have healthy relationships modeled growing up? When do you feel like you learned what healthy relationships looked like? If you haven’t, I want to know your thoughts about healthy relationships as well.
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Verlisa is a writer who has a passion for encouraging others through her story.
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