Fierce Women Dish

an artist, a journalist, an activist, a psychologist, a student, and a diva place a cup of nourishment on the table.

Unhealthy relationships– with ourselves and with others August 21, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — fiercewomen @ 12:21 pm

From Janine: 


Ok, I have a dilemma. I’m finding it more and more difficult as a responsible woman to help my younger sisters overcome the ‘drama’ of unhealthy relationships. I’m not so sure they’re listening. As founder of a non-profit character-building organization for girls (ages 11-16), I see our young ladies headed down the road of destructive and unhealthy relationships so many times. We have numerous conversations about what a ‘healthy’ one looks like. What I’m finding is many have no idea of how to even begin to define a ‘healthy’ relationship. And what’s worse, I’m not so sure we as adult women know what it is either.


I just sent my 25-yr-old assistant home after she came to work with a swollen eye. I asked her about it and she told me without flinching that her boyfriend ‘elbowed’ her after he didn’t agree with her wanting to go out the night before. I asked her if she thought she deserved it? Her response: “Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to go out.”


I just got off the phone with a homicide detective who’s attending a teen summit I’m hosting tonight on teen violence. He told me the 14 yr old girl who was shot and killed by an 18 yr old girl this week (in Charlotte) had been arguing over a man. A twenty plus year old man!


My dilemma is how long do I keep talking and what do I say now? I know the right thing to do is to explain to the young ladies you are NOT to be defined by a boy; you are to surround yourself with positive people; you need to set a positive example for younger people around you like your sisters, cousins or even your own kids.


I got the script down pretty well, but I’m running out of things to say, especially now when one of my good friends, who is 40+ by the way and is supposed to know better, is ‘in love’ with a man who can never see her on the weekends, and can only stay at HER house.


The rarity of healthy relationships has to be linked to the lack of individuals who are at peace with themselves. I believe it’s impossible to be in a healthy relationship or teach others how to love you if you haven’t learned to love yourself. Should this be our new lesson to teach? Maybe we’ll have to adjust the curriculum on ‘healthy’ relationships and start with ourselves first.  Hey, I may be on to something there. 


What are your thoughts?  How do we empwer each other– those we love, mentor, teach, etc– to be in health relationships?  How do we teach that it is better to be alone than abused or ignored or played or whatever?  How do we teach men how to be in healthy relationships, too?     


4 Responses to “Unhealthy relationships– with ourselves and with others”

  1. fiercewomen Says:

    Amy here:

    Ah, Janine. I hear you! Loving yourself is the key. Sometimes I think tough love from girlfriends is essential. I have heard from many women that they have gotten out of negative relationships because they were afraid to tell their girlfriends that they were with a man their girlfriends knew had mistreated them. Girlfriends are sometimes able to love us fiercely, in a way that we ideally would be able to love ourselves but sometimes struggle to achieve. I can think of a guy I dated at one point that was kicked to the curb after he offended one of my girlfriends. Whenever his name came up my friend would just mentioned the tag line from their conversation and he NEVER got a call back.

    As you said earlier, we have got to teach young women NOT to be defined by a boy, by having a boyfriend. How about defining ourselves by the quality of our girlfriends, of the circle of women that we surround ourselves with. This circle if fully developed and celebrated will not stand for negative, harmful men to join as a partner of one of it’s members. This circle can only help young women love themselves and find partners who are worthy of their time and attention.

  2. Big D Says:


    As a consequence of loving ourselves we should be kinder custodians of our lives. not just making better decisions but giving ourselves a break about the bad ones. Admitting a mistake should not be a crime. I stayed in bad, dangerous relationships in my youth because I didn’t want to admit I had made a bad choice.

  3. JD,
    Thanks for sounding off on this.
    I hate to go back to what I always go back too, but I believe It does start early with self acceptance, the idea that you are WORTHY and DESERVING of the best life has to offer. If we do not learn to be comfortable in our own skin with ourselves…we make many bad relationship decisions ( because we’put up with things and situations that should neve rbe endured…all because we don’t completely understand or give ourselves the props that we derseve better. The body image component is not just ‘navel gazing’ but is a crucial part of this initial development that gives us the where-with-all to WALK AWAY from these situations, heads held high, instead of staying and making excuses. This goes all relationship situations-work, friendship , family, etc. Big D is right, we should acknowledge our mistakes and move ahead–it’s good to learn from this.
    And Amy….WOW! What a lovely testament to good, strong girlfriends!
    Great stuff ladies!

  4. Janine Says:

    Thanks ladies!! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my thinking. Sounds like we really have our work cut out for us in making sure our younger sisters have a better sense of who they are. But with all the junk they’re fed on a daily basis (videos, lyrics, magazines, etc.) that seems to always bring into question how they define themselves, it doesn’t make our job easy. We have to compete with so much!!! Does anyone agree?

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