Dear Sista Friends,
I am extremely grateful that so many sistas found my previous article to be insightful. It is truly a blessing that I was able to encourage someone who may have almost given up on love or feels stifled by their current relationship.
On that note, a sista friend personally messaged me afterward with her concerns. In short, she has found it difficult to decide on whether she should have stayed with the man that was ready to commit to her (although she wasn’t ready) or continue in her current relationship with someone that doesn’t possess the qualities she wants in a husband. This may seem like an easy dilemma, but here’s the catch. The man who wanted to commit was unable to keep her interested. Although she had love for him after 3 years together, she wasn’t in love anymore. On the other hand, she has intense feelings for her current partner that she absolutely cannot control. There is a passion for him that she did not have with her former mate. However, now she’s realizing that she wants commitment in addition to passion. Her question to me was, “How important are these feelings?”
I noticed that her situation is similar to other sista friends that have shared their apprehensions with me, so I read and reread her situation over and over again trying to come up with a response. I immediately thought of Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love which I learned about this past summer in a Positive Psychology course. Sternberg suggests that the combination of certain elements will produce a specific type of love (please click the link for a quick synopsis of the components). After reviewing the types, I would go as far as to infer that most sista friends want consummate love that is reciprocated.
Knowing that, it is imperative to be vocal about what you desire. If you want commitment, you must make that known to your partner from the beginning; however, you do not want to force anyone to commit. That could result in their disinterest or a love built on dishonesty and deception rather than mutual respect and genuine affection.
In regard to the other matter, Sternberg implies that passion alone will not lead to the consummate love that many of us prefer. Eventually that burning desire and “deep love” fades if there lacks substance. Conversely, as a young professional woman, you have every right to only want a relationship involving infatuation and no commitment; but once again, that needs to be vocalized to your partner.
So to respond to my sista friend and any others that can relate to this situation, if what you yearn for doesn’t coincide with what your partner wants, then you run the risk of never being satisfied. You will consistently long for something that your mate cannot or will not give you. In the end, you have to understand that you do not have to settle for anything less than what you value. In order to stay true to this notion, you may want to consider the following:
• Ask yourself questions like, “What do I want out of a relationship right now?”
• Come to the understanding that passion and commitment are not hard to find in someone once both parties decide to maintain it.
• Discuss your end goals with your companion.
o If both of you want the same things then continue to strengthen your relationship.
o If you vastly differ from one another and there’s not a chance that one of you will eventually change your goals, then perhaps it is best for you to move on.
• Give your significant other a chance to show you who they are before immediately disregarding their potential, but be aware that you do not waste your time with someone who has shown you that he will not/ does not want to meet your needs.
I always want to be sure to reiterate that I am constantly learning and growing in my marriage, so my viewpoint is that of someone who is going through a process of discovery. I still have not reached a point where I have it all figured it out. However, because I realize that it can be very difficult for us young sistas to navigate dating while also maintaining our dignity and clarity, I offer these explanations as a means to help you remember that finding love and a soulmate can be complex. Consequently, knowing yourself and standing up for what you want, believe, and need is a great start.
Your Sista Friend,
*Please be reminded that my advice may not work for everyone. I am not a relationship expert and even experts sometimes prescribe guidance that may not be suitable for your relationship. Therefore, use my recommendations as you see fit.*
Bri Smocks is currently working on her Masters of Education at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX where she also received her B.A. of English in 2014. In addition, she student teaches at an all-male school during the day and tutors various students through a tutoring company in the evening. She enjoys reading Jodi Picoult novels, binge watching shows on Netflix and Hulu, and spending time with her husband of one year.