I remember my last (pseudo) relationship. It was exhilarating, intense and on some days I’d never felt happier. It was also toxic. At the time I used the ‘I’m in love’ cliché as a justification for abiding with folly. In hindsight it was a lack of love for myself, not an overwhelming love for someone else, that made me stick around.
It got to a stage where my life became defined by indecisiveness. I’d constantly veer between mustering up the courage to leave and deciding to stay. Everyday I’d look into the mirror realising I was becoming a woman I didn’t like.
I remember one day I met up with one of my best friends and before I could launch into the latest melodrama he said…
‘Are we really gonna have this conversation again? You know what you need to do, you’re weak!’
As I watched his face contort into that shape men make when they feel repulsed by a woman’s behaviour, I was speechless. It wasn’t his brutal honesty that silenced me, it was the fact he was right. I had become weak.
A few months later, I admitted to my friend that his ‘weak’ comment was a catalyst in me finally ending things. Instead of graciously thanking me, he laughed and said....
‘Mate it shouldn’t have taken that to make you leave, you should have left way before that.Be careful you don’t make the same mistake thrice. You need to learn to act like a lady but think like a man’
His ‘act like a lady think like a man’ logic annoyed me. Firstly, it perpetuates the myth that there’s a vast difference in how men and women think. Secondly, it implies that the ‘masculine’ way of thinking is superior. Finally, it insults the millions of women who thrive whilst embracing their femininity. What’s worse is it’s one of those clichés women are starting to buy into.
I don’t think women find it difficult to leave destructive relationships because of how they think. In most cases there’s nothing wrong with our thought process. We know what we need to do. It’s just that after thinking clearly, we then place a disproportionate weight on our emotions. The addition of our emotions to the equation causes us to behave in a manner that’s not for our benefit. Our thinking isn’t infected, our behaviour is.
Sidebar: I’m aware there’s a link between thought and action. However in this case, I’m arguing emotional will overrides rational thought.
Most women reading this will agree that as a gender we need learn to play smarter. Our actions needs to line up with our thoughts and when necessary our heads must overrule our hearts.
There’s nothing I can write that can inoculate against the inevitability of a disastrous romance. Yet there are methods of reducing and diverting its damaging effects. Here are a few of my thoughts on how we can ‘Play it Smarter’.
Playing it Smarter
1) Don’t chase Men
If he doesn’t seem interested, he probably isn’t interested. Move on. It’s that simple.
2) Stick to your principles
If a new man causes you to challenge everything that's fundamental to you, don’t question your principles, question him. I’m aware that relationships often cause our principles to evolve. However if our principles adjust every time we’re with someone new, how will we establish our own sense of identity?
3) Keep your Power
I don't believe a woman should ever give her all her power to anyone. Keep something for yourself. You may need it. It is possible to love a man without him defining your existence. Unless his name is Jesus and he's from Nazareth, I wouldn't take the risk.
4) Demand respect
On the occasions I’ve been disrespected in a relationship it’s because I've placed myself in a situation where I could be disrespected. I've also cultivated the conditions for disrespect to flourish. In this day and age earning respect is not enough, you have to demand it and ensure it's maintained.
5) Listen to those you trust
If most of the people you trust are wary about a man you’re entertaining, I’d take it as a cue to tread carefully.
6) Avoid publicising your love life on Facebook
(This theory is based entirely on my own superstition ,rather than extensive research)
Making the Farcebook community aware of who you’re in a relationship with is the equivalent of putting a hex on your union. If a Facebook announcement hasn’t cursed your relationship I can guarantee
a) The relationship existed before one of you joined Facebook
b) You’re rarely on Facebook
c) The curse hasn’t kicked in
Keep it simple. ‘In a relationship’ ‘Married’ ‘Single’. Those who need to know who you’re with won’t need Facebook to tell them.
7) Take your time
Being constantly reminded that there are only a ‘few’ good men and pressure from family, can make women feel like the clock is ticking faster than it is. Consequently as soon as we meet someone that seems to match our criteria we rush things.
Though it feels counter-intuitive, taking our time is the best option.
8) Be wary of who and what you fight for
Unless you’re married, have kids or share assets, I don’t see why you’d fight for love if it were going to leave you maimed. In light of the fact there are billions of men in the world, if it’s about to sink, don’t try and fix it. Get off the ship before you go down with it.
9) Remember he’s not your ex
We must never punish a new man for the sins of an ex. Playing it smarter doesn’t mean regarding every man we meet with suspicion. It means we’re more cautious before we take the plunge.
There they are! My thoughts on how women can ‘play it smarter’. The list isn't exhaustive and as ever I want your feedback and suggestions. What's rule number 10? What have I overlooked? Which ideas do you disagree with? As ever your thoughts are appreciated!