With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I thought I would take a moment to share five quick notes on things you may encounter while in love, that ain’t got shit to do with being in love. These are quick truths I encountered while crafting–and often crashing–my own love practice.
If you are chasing him/her/them, you’re running the wrong way. When I mentioned crafting–and crashing–my own love practice, I wasn’t speaking of engaging in the Olympian task of sprinting hurdles. All exercises needn’t end in bloody shins. I say this to say, that if you’re chasing someone that means that two things are happening. 1) They are running away from you and 2) You are running away from yourself. Neither of these is healthy, or necessary, and will leave/lead you far from the love practice you need to soar and deserve to receive.
If you don’t feel good, it ain’t all good. Relationships ain’t all roses and Rosé, but if you are consistently feeling down or that something isn’t right; then you are down and something isn’t right. Take this time to sit silently and listen to your soul speak, and for the Lorde’s sake, don’t censor its lessons.
Be partners not pets is a wonderful phrase to live by. While I love a good “pet name”–I’m into all that mushy shit–there is never a reason for your partner to treat in a way that violates or curtails your autonomy, your ability to be heard, to come and go as you please, and to have a social life apart from them. While it is true you have to learn each other, you are not called to submit to each other. Partners unite for a common good, without coercion, with the freedom to (re)negotiate an agreement and exit it swiftly as well.
If you/they can’t communicate, you can’t cooperate. I think that speaks for itself and I could leave that alone, but that would be a terrible example of exemplary communication. We all have needs in relationships and those needs will be expressed one way or another: either through direct conversation or through a closed mouth and open fi(s)ts. The method of communication–and the ability to do it well–is not simply about one’s feeling about their partner but a deep and clear-eyed reflection of one’s own regard and love practice toward themselves. When we love ourselves, we become masters of the art of expressing not only our needs but our desires: we become artists, illustrators, and translators of the erotic or our (dis)pleasures. When we are practicing love with another–not to be confused with willful distraction or lust or #WasteHisTime–we will also attempt to become seekers, uncoverers and understanders of the myriad (dis)pleasures of our partners. The absence of these desires and practices–both as routine and ongoing attempts to get better at translation and interpretation–foreshadows an ability to cooperatively live and construct a life together and when such desires are not communicated and negotiated with openly, they are done so through myriad forms of violence through silences, passive-aggressive acrobatics, and physical manifestations.
Silence can be violence, or peace. Remember that old phrase silence is golden? Sometimes we all need space and time to recharge, configure our thoughts and hear the rhythms of nature; beyond that which is required of us. Other times, we need to cool down and create space to think clearly, remember the sounds of our desires or revisit thoughts that only whisper in private. However, silence can often be a tool to manipulate, punish and well, silence. The best way to know the difference is to communicate both your needs and concerns.
Bonus Tip. Be a flower this Valentine’s Day and every day. Yes. I’m encouraging you to be soft and vulnerable and beautiful. I’m imploring you to feel the wind and earth about your limbs as if they were petals. But I am also calling you to be strong. To bend when the wind and rains are too heavy; to drift, when the soil you have rooted yourself in will no longer suffice; to know when to turn to and from the sun, and to have the good sense to collect your dew at all times. Be a flower. Bloom only when the moment is right. Share your beauty when the climate demonstrates it is ready. Flex your thorns, when the undeserving seek to seize you.
Tabias Olajuawon, JD is an award-winning author, scholar and creator. They are the founder of BlaQueerFlow and can be reached @BlaQueerFlow on twitter. If you’re feeling this piece, shoot a payment for the knowledge via venmo (tabias-wilson) or cashapp ($tabiasw). Tabias is a graduate of Howard Law and a PhD student in African & African Diaspora Studies.