I remember dating a guy who would always tell me he wasn’t sure if I could hold him down as a lady (whatever that meant I still do not know). He would tell me stories of how a cousin of his would get back home most of the time drunk to his fiancee, who was the only one who understood him and accepted him that way; but whenever she reprimanded him in that state, he always got back to his senses (thinking of it now, is it even possible for a drunk person to get back to his senses within few minutes)Anyway, that was his perfect example of what he called ‘couple goals’.

The mistake I made was trying to contain all his flaws and making it my point of duty to always solve every kind of problem he faced. In my head, I was being the ideal ‘ride or die’ chick, holding it down as every strong black woman should and totally trying to get him to see that we were also ‘goals’. But unfortunately, the relationship ended after he complained that ‘I didn’t look like I was ready to take risks with him’.

As black people, we do many things extraordinarily well. From our food, our culture, our language, style, art and intellect (Honey! we slay). However, when it comes to love, black love, in particular, we still have quite a way to go. How we have defined love for ourselves for so long, whether we care to admit it or not, has for the most part been unhealthy. Instead of glorifying this, we need to start being honest with ourselves and each other.

I think it’s time we redefine our definition of black love and abandon the unhealthy ‘ride or die’ model 

Ride or die simply means you are willing to do anything and go any length for someone you really love in your life; you are always present in every situation and always a part of everything they engage in. The ride or die archetype is commonly used in the hip-hop world; we have heard lots of artist sing about this, a typical example is Jayz in his 2003 hit song, Bonnie and Clyde where he says ‘All I need in this life of sin is me and girlfriend‘.

The ride or die mentally would make you do things you naturally wouldn’t do just to prevent other parties tagging you a snitch. It would make you tolerate events you never imagine you could; it creates room for you to be vulnerable to negative vices. It hinders your ability to say NO when needed.

The ride or die mentality is not only visible in relationships with our husbands or partners; it can be seen in our churches, workplaces, amongst our friends, our homes and relationships.

The most important thing I believe we should be aware of is that:

We are not expected to show love in ways that kill us because love isn’t a form of punishment.

We really cannot understand the concept of love and value until we learn to appreciate ourselves.

Every relationship involves two individuals and it is never in the place of one person to own it.

No individual should be tagged strong by the amount of pain they go through.

Finally, love shouldn’t limit you.

We need to change this narrative. But first, we need to acknowledge that there is a problem with the ‘ride or die’ narrative before we can move forward.


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