When Bad Relationships Happen to Good People

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  • Relationships ain’t easy. The ups and downs of love drive most of reality TV and in real life, they can end up in pain, disillusionment and sometimes violence. Even money and fame provide little protection from the problems that challenge people in intimate relationships. In Best Picture director Ben Affleck’s now famous Oscar acceptance speech, he thanked his wife, Jennifer Garner, for “doing the work” with him for the last decade. Singer Fantasia, distraught over reports that her boyfriend’s estranged wife was suing her, once attempted suicide, while the internet tormented her for sleeping with a married man. Will Smith told an audience in Philadelphia that money and fame didn’t mean he and his wife of 17 years,  Jada Pinkett Smith, don’t have their issues.

    There are  plenty of good people who end up in bad relationships.

    Author/healer/TV personality Iyanla Vanzant says in her books “The Value in the Valley”  and “In the Meantime” that relationships are only as healthy as the people involved in them.

    Dr. Robin Smith, a recent guest on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show”, promoting her new book “Hungry,” says that what we are hungry for more than anything else is believing in our own self-worth.

    If you look at posts on black women’s websites, one of the most common relationship questions is some variation of “I’m in a relationship with someone who doesn’t treat me right/cheats on my repeatedly/is married/is dysfunctional, disrespectful or abusive but I can’t leave them.”

    Most of the time, responses to this question go this way: Pick up your self-esteem, sister, and move on. Pack your bags, leave him now, stop sleeping with him, love yourself, etc. etc. What no one says is how hard it can be to leave even a truly dysfunctional relationship. There is usually something that keeps you there – whether it’s emotional, financial or sexual security – no matter how crazy it looks to the outside world.

    The problem is that relationships cannot resolve your life’s issues. If you were not loved as a child, if your parents, the people who you counted on for love and support, did not provide you with necessary nurturing, you will not be able to get that later from a life partner, no matter how loving or caring he or she is. That is not a relationship’s role. For African Americans still dealing with the legacy of generations of slavery, trying to fill the lack of wholeness in another is just too hard when they are often not whole themselves.

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