Women do so much. To be noticed, to be liked, to be accepted. Society is incredibly demanding of women to look a certain way, to act a certain way, to behave a certain way, and on top of all this (it’s a lot of work, and it ain’t cheap, fellas), women are expected to provide and nurture, without expecting much in return.
We spend so much time trying to nail all of the above that we often forget to make demands of our own. The result? Forgoing so many of our own needs just to be loved. By society, of course, but mostly, by men. And so often, these relationships are unfulfilling and unhealthy, yet the pattern of tolerating or even ignoring that lives on.
Michelle Afont, relationship expert, divorce lawyer, and multi-published author whose most recent work is The Dang Factor, is incredibly passionate about exploring this concept and changing it. “Why do women sometimes choose convenient love over respectful love? When I ask women why they accept and tolerate so little love from their partner, the answer remains consistent. Simply put, we accept the crumbs out of fear. When it comes to our relationships, fear is our four-letter word.”
To Afont, the fear when it comes to relationships is a unique type that presents itself in many ways: fear of being single forever, of not finding anyone better, of the unknown, of not getting married or starting a family, of being alone, and/or of constantly having to start over. “We tend to consider a breakup as a setback rather than a bounce forward, so we stay in the relationship and settle for less. And we always regret it.”
Afont sets the stage, which may seem old fashioned, but it’s still prevalent: “We live in a world full of couples. If we choose to uncouple, that leaves us single, and being single sucks … or at least that is what we are led to believe.” But, Afont points out, being single is actually a fabulous place to be in life. “Being single is a relationship do-over, something we get very few of in our lifetime. It puts us in control of our next relationship as an older, but more importantly, wiser woman. It gives us a blank white canvas on which to draw our new life, with new standards about what we will and will not accept in our next relationship.”
But we aren’t just here to reiterate the problem. Afont has some theories about how to change our mindset, and it starts with changing the way we love. “We need to acknowledge the power we have over our love lives and the choices we ultimately make when choosing our partners. We need to learn to love on our terms.” The bottom line is that we cannot continue to choose convenient love over respectful love, in a desperate attempt to cling to any form of love.
Clinging to love for the aforementioned fears may sound calculated, tactical, and downright survivalist, but Afont sees it as lazy, in a way. “We need to be strong and diligent when it comes to our future. We must be content with the fact that being single is a better position to be in than a miserable relationship with a partner who gives so little. Women deserve better than that.”
While starting over is a terrifying proposition, allow yourself the time, energy, and effort to invest in finding a new partner. Afont acknowledges that it’s hard to part with the previous time and energy investments you may have made in a toxic or unhealthy love, but your resources continue to dwindle the longer you stay. Don’t waste another day of hunger when a fresh-baked loaf might be wafting over from the next windowsill if we only allow our senses to take it in.
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