Photo courtesy of @thugnanny_

I saw this photo the other day and the shadiness of it hit me like “well dang, tell us how you really feel.” It’s typical to see inspirational quotes about relationships, or those “I can do bad all by myself” quotes. But this was different — it made me stop, read it again and start reflecting on my own relationships. As harsh as the words sounded, each time I read them, they started to make more and more sense. I kept thinking — Cher is talking about the same thing Cheryl used to warn us about. Our mother would say “so-in-so fell for the okey doke” and, back then, I had no idea what she meant. I just accepted it as another one of those “-isms” you hear growing up in a southern family. But now, as an adult, life has shown me exactly what my mother was talking about.

In case you’re sitting there with the thinking emoji face, to “fall for the okey doke” means to be tricked, duped or in millennial terms, played. Now, I know it sounds like Cher is calling out women for marrying Mr. Nothing-to-Call-Home-About, but this concept really applies to any relationship whether it’s family, friends, or business. And there are several different ways you can fall victim to the okey doke. Beyond the obvious ways like being cheated on, lied to and blatantly disrespected; Cher’s talking about what’s going on beneath the surface. Sure, their personality may be on point, you guys could look great together, and they might have the nice job and money in the bank, but what you are really getting out of it? How are you being fulfilled? Are you thriving in this partnership or is your growth being stunted? Is this something that uplifts you or are you doing all the lifting? What about compromise — is it a two-way street or are you always the one to give in? Beyond looking good or even feeling good, what else is there? We owe it to ourselves to look within for the answers to these questions before committing ourselves to any relationship, romantic or otherwise.Settle for Nothing, Single Not Stupid quote

As women, we are told we’re nagging if we make a point to say what we want (or need), so it’s not surprising that some of us stay quiet about our own desires, and give in to the point where we receive nothing of what we want in return. There’s this “appreciate what you have” mentality that has us second guessing whether we’re just unappreciative a-holes and undeserving of more or if we really are in a lackluster relationship. There’s a very fine line between appreciating what you have and settling for all you’re going to get. On top of that, we’re bombarded with images of perfect couples on perfect vacations and harassed about when we’re going to lower our standards, settle down and have kids. So, I get it, we could blame the outside world for having us conditioned to trust perception over reality. Or, we could remove the wool from our eyes long enough to see clearly and not settle for anything less than what we want or need.

I was talking to a friend about certain behaviors each of us exhibited in previous relationships and when I asked him how his previous partner felt about his lack of flexibility or consideration in certain situations, his response was “she never challenged me, she let me do whatever I wanted to do and be whoever I wanted to be”. In my opinion, she never set the standard for how she wanted to be treated or what she wanted out of the relationship. This created a free-for-all type of environment where he didn’t have to sacrifice anything or make any adjustments on her behalf. As innocent as it sounded, or as flexible and laid back as she thought she was being, this is yet another example of falling for the okey doke. You’re playing yourself if you think you’re the only one that needs work or the only one that needs to bend a little to accommodate the other person. It’s ok to speak up, it’s ok to have standards for how you want to be treated and how you want to be loved. More times than not, it’s necessary to make adjustments for your partner, but make sure you’re not the only one making changes. Regardless of how “easy-going” you think you’re being, a healthily functioning relationship will never be one-sided.

Settle for Nothing, Single Not Stupid quote

Before you enter your next relationship, or even as you continue in your current one, think about what’s important to you and what you really want. Determine your weaknesses when you’re in a relationship. What are your deal breakers? What’s an area you want to grow in? Once you have a clearer view of your relationship priorities, what works for you and what doesn’t — write them down and tweak them as you change over time. We have to stop convincing ourselves that the pool of available companions is so small that we have to give up everything we want just to be excited about the little we’re getting in return. We have to stop convincing ourselves that we  have to settle for anything just to have something that looks good on the surface. Yes, relationships are hard work and no, you’re not going to get everything you want all the time, but everyone should be getting some of what they want most of the time. At the end of the day, we deserve trust, love, loyalty, effective communication and sacrifice more than we need a diamond ring, a white dress or just any old somebody hanging on our arm.

There’s a lot more to unpack from this one quote alone, but we’re going to save that for another time. Join the conversation and let us know what you think below and make sure you’re on our mailing list to receive updates from our dating + relationship series – “Single, Not Stupid.” We’ll be sharing our top dating lessons so you won’t be blind-sighted in your current or future relationships.