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Hi Dr. Aesha

I follow you on Instagram & I have been meaning to get in contact with you regarding my relationship with someone who I don’t think is good for me but I have grown so attached to him. I have prayed about it so much, but I think God wants me to serve some type of purpose in this man’s life. I just can’t tell what it is. I have been raised in the church all my life so I know about being equally and unequally yoked, but as far as he is concerned, sometimes he just tugs on my spirit man & I can’t avoid it. I just wish that I had more scriptural guidance and spiritual sound advice regarding our relationship.

He doesn’t hurt me, or hit me, or disrespect me or anything like that. I just think the nature of how he was raised & how I was raised presents a contrast at times & that’s where the spirit man tug begins. I have love for him, but I don’t like this feeling of being emotionally drained. I sense how empty he is & can be sometimes. I have love freely to give but it seems as if sometimes he is only a source that I pour into and not one that I can also drink from. He sometimes makes me feel like I’m asking for too much when I know it’s just that he doesn’t have that much to give (emotionally & mentally). He is very “street* smart,”( I’ll let you fill in the blanks there lol) but as far as being what I need him to be 75% of the time he is not. I just am tired of going man to man looking for something & not finding it.

I am happy with him but then I think, maybe I am asking for too much? Should not be so needy? Why do I crave so much attention/affection? I just don’t know. Please help! I don’t want to pray him away but I also don’t want to waste time & get my feelings hurt loving on an empty vessel.

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My Dear Sister,

No, you’re not asking for too much. In fact, you’re not asking for enough!

If you were my coaching client, I’d ask you this one question: Do you believe you deserve to be loved? I’m not talking about giving love. It sounds like you’ve learned how to do that. I’m talking about receiving love. Do you believe that you deserve for someone to cherish, adore, respect, and honor you?

Because what you’re describing to me is not a love relationship. It is attachment, and you’re confused because you haven’t had anyone in your life tell you that as a Black woman, your job in a romantic relationship isn’t to try to convince someone to love you, nor is it to try to love him into changing into a better man.

A man doesn’t change because you love him. He changes because he loves you!

I see you suffering from a particular manifestation of the Strong Black Woman Syndrome: the Black Woman As Martyr. With this cultural narrative about our value as sisters, we’ve been taught to believe love is self-sacrifice. If we truly love someone, we will sacrifice our needs, desires, health, and well-being to take care of them. You may have learned this in church with sermons teaching you to “be faithful” and “be a living sacrifice” by giving all  of your time, money and energy to church related activities. Maybe they reiterated the scripture which says “no greater love has no one than this: that a man would lay down his life for a friend.” But believing that you need to love someone to the extent that you lose yourself is an incorrect and harmful theology.— God does not require you to literally lay down your life to save other people. Jesus already did that. And if you try to be a savior, you will end up with emotional, physical and spiritual exhaustion. Some people literally do lose their lives because they end up with illness and diseases because they didn’t take care of themselves.

I can hear that you’re running on empty. But because you haven’t been taught how to see and embrace your value apart from what you do for other people, you feel like you’re “asking for too much” being “Needy” or “craving for attention and affection” and, you believe that it’s a bad thing for you to feel this way.

The truth is, we feel needy when needs aren’t being met. This man is feeding you crumbs. That’s why you craving for attention. You’re in a dry relationship. That’s why you feel “thirsty.”

You don’t need to pray this man away sis. You need to walk away! You need to resign from this role of being the Martyr. You need to release the worthlessness you feel and stop defining your value by what you give and do for other people. You need to stop equating love with self-sacrifice. You need to stop settling for being needed when you deserve to be loved. You need to seek relationships that mutually fulfilling where each partner doesn’t sacrifice themselves for one another, but rather give themselves to each other.

You deserve to be loved sis. It’s time to believe that.

Love,

Dr. Aesha