Take Flight: A Guide to Checking Emotional Baggage on the Way to Finding Mr. Right

by Saaraa Bailey

We fall in love much like we begin life—naive and full of hope. Like many women around the world, I have experienced certain romantic issues that jilted my perception of relationships. I call these embodiments of my romantic misfortune the five types of “Mr. Wrongs.” Collaboratively, the men of my past paved my road to love and ultimately self discovery in blood, sweat, tears, and heartache.
  1. Mr. Next Best Thing: This guy always wants the girl who is “hottest” right now. He will make you feel unbelievably special, until, oF course, your fifteen minutes are up. 
  2. Mr. Insecurity: This guy has deeply embedded issues. However, instead of working through them, he attempts to break your confidence. This Mr. Wrong will start off strong. In the beginning, he will give extreme compliments and say all the right things to build you up. Then one day you’ll see his comments are more critical than cooing, and eventually break from the contagion of his insecurity. 
  3. Mr. Valentine’s Nay: You think you two really have something special… until Valentine’s Day (or another highly commercialized holiday) emerges, and you see him with gifts for another woman. This Mr. Wrong never sees a future with you, or any woman for that matter, and instead gets some kind of high from leading women on.
  4. Mr. Right Now: This is the guy you settle for to prove something to all the other guys who ditched you. He’s into you for a superficial reason, but you don’t care because you don’t want to be alone. Unlike the men of your past, you know he is wrong from the start. However his eagerness to be with you soothes your battered ego.
  5. Mr. Too Good to Have Just One: This guy sees monogamy as settling, and welcomes you with open arms… and a ticket number. This Mr. Wrong appeals to you because your union is free from labels. However, it is through him that you learn that being someone’s girlfriend may not be such a bad thing.

The Common Denominator

My past endeavors, while hurtful, made it impossible for me to exist in my own oblivion. From being lied to, to being replaced, these relationships were anything but “romantic.” However, it wasn’t until I considered the common denominator in all my past endeavors that I was able to check my emotional baggage. You see, what all these “Mr. Wrongs” had in common was me.

It was me who granted these men power through my involvement with them. As women, we often overlook the power we have in all our romantic pursuits. We teach our pursuers how to treat us. It is only when I truly examined my role in my romantic mishaps, that I discovered that I was the problem in all my past relationships. However, I was also the solution.

Like countless other women, in not being my best self I failed to attract a worthy mate. Thus, it is never about finding a partner who appreciates you; it's appreciating and valuing yourself first.

Society's Perceptions of Black Women and Romance

In addition to considering your role in shaping your present, it is also important to consider the effects of culture and social perception on romance.

As a black woman, the romantic fairy tales Cinderella and Snow White were as authentic to me as Santa Claus. I wasn't surrounded by women who were saved by men; I was and am surrounded by women who saved themselves. As black women, many of us were never serenaded by a "happily ever after.” Instead, it’s much more likely that we have been trained to save the man if necessary.

This strength has come to be expected of us. This expectation counters the availability of other to recognize the under-discussed trauma that results from multiple romantic mishaps. Rather, black women are expected to be stoic in the face of romantic adversity. This stoic disposition is often misread as anger, leaving black women at the crossroads of damnation. We are often deemed too weak if we cry and too angry if we refuse to.

This “strong” disposition, while a silent ode to an enriched legacy, often clouds a black woman’s overt availability for love. Our strength is often worn on our faces and convinces many that we do not want love. This outward image reflects some internal feelings of feeling undeserving of love or simply that a happily ever after isn’t for us.

Manifesting Mr. Wonderful

I, too fell l into the pool of women that internally believed and externally exuded that a “happily ever after” was not for me. However, in the midst of tripping over all this emotional baggage, I stumbled into my destiny. While all previous male promise has been empty, there is sincerity in the eyes of my new suitor when we speak. He reminds me of the true meaning of unconditional love, as I know even our roughest patches will be soothed by his unwavering devotion. While our union is not without flaws, his affection and patience is without limits.

Despite the depth of our bond, I often find my past standing in the way of my present. My heart, which was once eager to love, is now cautious. My once wide and hopeful eyes see love as temporary. My efforts to move past my emotional baggage are often thwarted by flashbacks of my tumultuous romantic past.

However, throughout these challenges, I remind myself that although I am grateful to have found my Mr. Right, it was me who manifested this change. “Mr. Wonderful” emerged from the high regard with which I began to see myself. Thus, everyone in my past prepared me for the very moment where he would ride in on my positive self-esteem.

As the saying goes, “Happily ever after is a choice, not a fairy tale.” The moment I chose to be happy with myself, someone came along whom I could share that happiness with. The key to my happily ever after wasn't finding Mr. Right; it was by being Miss Right. And while this Miss Right may not be” right” all the time, I know that taking flight into happiness begins and ends with me.

Photo: Shutterstock

Saaraa Bailey is a regular contributor to For Harriet.

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