What Tiny and other ride or die chicks teach us about relationships
Tiny Harris (maybe not a Harris anymore because …divorce) is the very long time romantic partner of Atlanta rapper, T.I.P Harris. We have been watching the Harris family for years off-screen, and then the last few years on-screen. On-screen, their TV show highlights their cute kids and T.I.P is the Huxtable-like dad but, off-screen, we see the many mug shots, other women, and rumors of drug-fueled alterations. As much as their manufactured message was confusing, there was one thing we are absolutely sure of – Tiny was “ride or die” (this is not a compliment or an insult). This woman gave up her career as a singer, raised 7 kids, took a charge or two, and endured countless affairs and other scandals. It’s shocking what women will forgive for love knowing their men would never do the same for them.
We all know women who do this? #HurtBae, Amina and Tara, Tori Spelling, Huma Abedin, karrueche Tran, Porsha Williams…your mama, your sister, and your friends the list is long. It happens to everyone. The fascinating part of this is not the staying but it’s when they finally leave. The glow up is too real. You start to wonder if this the same person as before. We watch them fall in love with themselves again and plug into life like never before. I love it. I am here for it but how can we never lose ourselves in the first place? After observing them flourish after the break-up, I have a few ideas on how we can maintain that personal happiness and balance without the break-up.
Be very honest about what you want and the kind of girl you are. Whether we realize or not we let a lot of bs cloud our perspective. Media tells us we should be everything to everyone.We have to be Olivia Pope, Whitely Gilbert and Rainbow Johnson all at once. It is a constant struggle to find your own baseline again and again. Turn off the TV and find out who you are and who you want to be independent of anyone else. Be completely selfish and unapologetic. If you want to stay home and nurse kids? Do it. Wanna travel full-time with a few lovers in a few continents? Do it. Are you independent or do you need a sidekick? The worst mistake we make is trying to find ourselves through another person – it is not fair to the person and it leaves you open to other people’s ideas of who you should be and what you should want. It’s exactly what leads you to…waking up 15 years and many kids, feeling regret.
Have conversations about relationship identity with your partner. When you are in the beginning of a romantic relationship and you are discussing the big stuff – kids (or not), money, family, goals…also talk about roles and identity within the relationship. Talk about independence, parenting, and how you want to feel personally in the context of this new love. Is it important for you to have time and experiences with friends independent of him/her? Are you a family person? Are you looking for a true partnership like a Bey and Jay or are you ok being in the background like Denzel and Pauletta? Do not assume he feels the way to you feel and one conversation will not be enough – you have to keep enforcing who you are and what you want over time.
Take a solo day/weekend to just focus on yourself. (I like to call these “baseline” days thanks to a singer I love, Choklate.) Whether it is quarterly or bi-annually take some time to march to your own beat – no friends, no bae, and no hard set agenda. I am not talking about a day watching daytime TV and running errands. This is a day for you to personally reset. You want to do things like Yoga, long walks, hikes, coffee shops, personal pampering and/or just some light music and a journal. The idea is live in your own head, be silent, and think about what is important to you right now. Because we live so much of our lives on the go and at the whim of bosses, kids, lovers, partners etc – it can be hard to “Just Be”. But do it! Put it on the calendar right now, send in that time off request and enjoy!
Hold on to your friendships with intention. This is hard for everyone because when you have a great boyfriend/husband/Partner, it’s really easy for them to be the default friend. Single friends think it’s on purpose – it almost never is. We fall into it, like all bad habits as you get older and busier. You have to get intentional about connecting with people. Set up standing brunch dates, schedule girl’s nights, and take “staycations” together. Make time for your great girlfriends. They are just as important as your romantic relationship – these are the women who will call you on your shit, remind you of the dreams you gave up on, plan all your showers (bridal, baby, and sometimes divorce) and be there to catch you. Unlike a romantic relationship, the agenda for them is just about you not how you make them feel within a commitment. They know when you have lost yourself and how to get you back.
Love yourself more than anyone else. I am not going to go into the story people like to tell about the oxygen mask on airplanes but it’s the same message. You have to love yourself first. It’s the broken record of self-help but it’s a classic. #Keepthatshitonrepeat Fall in love and give it freely but love yourself more. Loving yourself more gives you freedom. When you know who you are, take time for yourself, and understand your value, the love you give is better and clearly focused. You are not showing up to a relationship needing a better half – you are a 100% whole and a happy girl seeking another 100% whole and happy partner. And since you are emotionally healthy, you can see the 48% person coming a lot sooner and avoid some drama.
Relationships are never perfect. People are never perfect. We enter them at different stages in life. At 20ish, you think about love completely different from you do at 30ish – mistakes are made by all. Beating yourself up will not change anything so “let that shit go” (my favorite phrase these days) and start today. If you are thinking the relationship you have right now is not healthy – this is not a call to break up or be ashamed. This is a call to take some baby steps towards the life you want and who you want to be. Start with a journal, record your feelings day-to-day – go back and read it after 6 months. The decisions you need to make will become unavoidable the more you focus on your own happiness. If you are single, you have a game plan. And if you are happy, *high five girl*! In the comments below, tell us how you keep it centered and blissful.