I have often wondered if the fact that I was raised by a single mother and did not see an example of a relationship or marriage in my home, had any effect on my actions in relationships as an adult. I have no point of reference on how a relationship or marriage should work and my preconceived notions based on what I have seen on television, heard in music and learned from the streets have not worked out very well for me.
Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, rap music was a very big influence in my life and I tried to mimic a lot of what I saw in the music videos and heard in songs. Everyone wanted to be a “fly girl” in the 80’s and date the guy who had the Nissan trucks with the sounds back then.
I went to an All Girls High School for my freshman year and your boyfriend needed to have a car to pick you up from school in. Thus the notion of a guy having to have money came into play. All the girls wanted to date someone who couldn’t buy you things like Turkish Earrings and chains from the Slauson Swapmet? I laugh at the thought of that now, but then, you couldn’t tell me anything!
When Gangsta Rap hit the scene it was all about dating the gangstas and the dealers. Again, the perception was that you had to have a guy who had money and status. Although. I was not allowed to “date” until I was 16, what my mother didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt her was my theory. I talked to older guys, the gangsters and dealers because those were the guys that had it “going on.” I don’t ever really remember having a discussion with my mother about the type of guys that I should or should not date. I am sure that she would say that we did have that discussion, but being a teenager, it probably went into one ear and out the other. I have to say that I was never been “mistreated” by the guys that I dated. I have never been in an abusive relationship and learned very quickly to get what I could from them, because that was taught by the older girls in the neighborhood. Their examples stood out to me at the time and I took heed. I grew up fast and gained a lot of street knowledge from people who I shouldn’t have even been associating with at that age.
Let’s fast forward to my 20’s when I “really” began to have relationships and the guys that I choose were not always the best for me. I may have dated them because of what they could do for me, what their status was, etc. Again the music that I listened to influenced the way that I thought about men and relationships and that’s where I took my examples from. If you asked any of my friends, they would tell you that I don’t take mess from any guy. If you asked any of the guys that I dated during my 20’s, they would probably say that I acted like the guy in the relationship. Not meaning that I took care of them, but I pretty much ran everything. If things weren’t what I thought they should be, I probably wouldn’t leave based on what you were doing for me, but I most def would see if the grass was greener on the other side.
Now that I am in my 30’s, I still have a lot of preconceived notions about what the man in my life should be like and my older sisters are always tell me that I am “not going to find Jesus” AKA ‘the perfect man.” My laundry list is pretty long and I have tried to ‘compromise” on some things but I still find it hard to know how to “be” in a relationship, now that I am at an age where I really want to be in one.
Growing up the way that I did and dating the guys that I dated could really be a book in and of itself of what not to do. Sometimes you don’t realize how something affects you until you are faced with certain situations and it is then that you may realize that you have absolutely no idea what to do because you don’t have an example to draw from. Thus, you make all sorts of mistakes in an effort to do what you “think” is the right thing to do or by mimicking what you have learned from television and music. At times, you may make it through those situations unscathed and other times, you may carry the baggage from those mistakes with you for a very long time.
Being raised by a single mother, my example was to be a strong woman who took care of her children on her own by whatever means necessary. My mother taught me to always handle business, so that I didn’t have to depend on anyone else. To make sure that you kept a roof over your head, utilities on and food on the table. There were never men coming in and out of our house. My mother didn’t run the streets and party and she was home every night. I can imagine that there were times that my mother may have been lonely and may have wanted to talk to someone other than us kids, but she never voiced it.
As a single mother now myself, I have followed the example of my mother in a lot of ways. I am very independent and have never had to depend on a man for anything. My son is very well taken care of and I am pretty much a homebody. I don’t bring men in and out of my house for several reasons:
1. I respect myself and my son
2. I don’t want to set that kind of example for my son
3. I don’t want my son to become attached to someone who I may not like for long.
Like my mother, I don’t hold my tongue and in relationships, that tongue has often been the straw that broke the camel’s back. I have often said things in moments of anger to hurt the other person and once those words were spoken, the relationship was basically at the point of no return.
I am not afraid to be by myself. Sometimes, that can be a good thing and a bad thing because in a relationship, I don’t want to be smothered. I need my space and because I think like that my friends believe that I will never get married. Something to think about, huh?
Today, as a 38-year-old woman, who has never been married, I have to wonder if the fact that I didn’t have an example of what a relationship or a marriage should look like has affected my decisions in relationships and men. I have to believe in some ways that it has. It has affected me in that I have learned to be so independent that I find it hard to be able to depend on anyone else. I think that it has also affected me because I have this belief that if things go wrong in a relationship, you can always walk out. I find it very hard to be able to discuss things when I am upset and often times say things that I really don’t mean in the heat of the moment. The concept of “talking things out” is a bit foreign to me but I am working on that. I wonder if I had examples of what to do in a relationship when things got tough besides throwing up my hands and walking away or if I had learned to not use my tongue as a weapon in the heat of an argument, would my life be different today? But are those things that are learned from actually “seeing” the dynamics of a relationship or are those personality traits that I just never developed? I wonder….
Ty Knighten knows a thing or two about relationships and dating. A single mom from Calif., Ty decided to turn her experiences in love and relationships into a blog. Written with plenty of sass, her mission is to help women empower themselves to realize love, success and confidence through her articles. She writes about dating and relationships from the perspective of a single mom but adds insights that will help women and men as they maneuver through the confusing world of dating and relationships. You can reach her on Twitter @UHeardMeRight, on Facebook at The Sexy Single Mommy or connect with her on Google+ and Instagram at chocoty.