He Should Love You More & Other Problematic Advice

by Shahida Muhammad

As I watched Rihanna’s recent interview with Oprah, while most focused on the Chris Brown revelations, there was a moment that stood out to me even more. As the Bajan pop star discussed fond memories of her grandmother Dolly, she shared a bit of advice her grandmother gave her that has stayed with her ever since. When it comes to love, her grandmother told her she should marry “someone who loves you more than you love him.”

This caught my attention because it seems as though when it comes to relationships these days, there is always some sort of mind game, competitiveness, or strategic methodology involved to keep oneself from getting hurt. From a female perspective, I believe part of what may be perpetuating this on our end is the advice passed down between women in our families and communities. No one wants to be made a fool, but there is some common advice I find problematic when seeking a healthy relationship.

Remember when you used to listen in on those girl talks around the table at auntie’s house? Or maybe you had an older cousin who tried to school you to the game from time to time. Wise words have their value, but people can’t help but speak out of from their own experiences. So if some or much of what mommy, grandmom, or auntie taught us came from hurtful experiences, their advice may be jaded by that as well.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the potential harm some age-old “jewels” may have on achieving a healthy relationship and why we may want to take another look at some of the things we’ve been advised over the years …

He Should Love You More Than You Love Him
This is a concept that makes me scratch my head. First how do you measure the amount of love you too both exude or have for one another? And if one person is noticeably more in love, is that healthy? It’s true that no relationship is always 50/50. There are times when one is giving more effort than the other, but what I think is really the issue here is vulnerability. No one wants to be the one too open, which can lead to unnecessary mind games. I say be honest about your feelings and the intensity of your feelings, because if your relationship is based upon mind games chances are someone will get hurt.

Have ‘Boyfriend No. 2’ on the Side, Just in Case
It may sound extreme, but I’ve heard women give this advice–even married women. It speaks to a larger issue of infidelity. Point blank if you enter into a monogamous relationship, you should strive to uphold your commitment. Don’t keep someone in your back pocket. If you have that much doubt in your relationship, it’s not worth being in. Don’t go dipping out to the McDonalds parking lot to be with the side guy, it’s not worth it. All of the thrill and excitement will soon wear off once reality sets in and you find yourself in an emotional mess. Be honest, be faithful and true to the one you’re with. If he doesn’t reciprocate you have the choice to move on.

Don’t Let Him Think You Need Him
The Independent Woman syndrome has been touched on so many times. The reality is that many woman are not trying to spray man repellent by being independent, it’s can simply be a source of pride and personal achievement. And other women have had no other choice but to hold things down on their own, so sometimes it’s not easy to internalize the whole idea of interdependence when it comes to relationships. However I believe if you open yourself up to it, it can be a pleasant experience that will benefit you both.The idea of “I want you, but don’t need you” is nothing more than a defense mechanism in my opinion. As long as he is treating you right, there is nothing wrong with showing or articulating appreciation for having that special someone in your life.

All Men Cheat
No, they don’t. Do not passively accept this as a fact and allow the nonsense. This is coming from a girl who has observed a fair share of marriages fail due to infidelity. Yet I still have faith in monogamy and marriage. I believe that if both people are committed to making it work, it can and will. If you set your expectations low for your partner, he may very well see that as an opportunity to do as he pleases. Yet if you’re clear and firm on what you what, you have more chances to produce those results. No one is perfect of course, and people make mistakes. But don’t let gender be used a crutch for stepping out.

Once a Cheat, Always a Cheat
I actually agree with this in a way. If someone has a record of cheating ( repetitively) on you especially, chances are they are going to continue. It’s all in the manner in which this advice is given that makes the difference. If you are being advised to just accept things as they are and go along to get along, think twice. Don’t be persuaded to comply with things you know in your heart are not right. On the other hand, if your friends and family are trying to help you wake up and smell the roses about your partner, you may just want to put a little more Folgers in your cup.

  • Stanley

    Girl, you should never let a man take advantage of you! Here are 2 rules to follow for that. (He Should Love You More Than You Love Him) and (Have ‘Boyfriend No. 2’ on the Side, Just in Case.)

    And once you get a man, let him know how much you love him by this rule (Don’t Let Him Think You Need Him)

    Because men aren’t good to begin with as in this rules. (All Men Cheat)

    Girl, you’re pretty much f*cked up! They’re all like that and you should know this rule (Once a Cheat, Always a Cheat).

    WOW! LADIES, I FEEL BAD FOR YOU SOMETIMES.

  • KayG

    This is a great article as I have been on the receiving end of a lot of this advice from more seasoned women ranging from 12-54 years of marriage. Something that my granny has made very clear to me over the years (45+years of marriage) is that you should never make yourself too available to a man, married or not, because he will surely take you ALWAYS being there to meet his every need and want for granted and will find someone else on the side. I will say that I believe that the aforementioned is very true with a slight change of a man will POSSIBLY have someone else on the side versus this being the absolute truth. I will say that as a woman or a man for that matter, it is very important to have a life outside of your relationship so that you will not become so wrapped up in that relationship and ultimately lose sight of who you are.

    As far as the “every man will cheat” concept, we can all agree that it is illogical to say that EVERY man will cheat. However, I will say that if one chooses to enter into the institution of marriage that mirrors those of our grandparents and beyond 20+ years, do NOT allow yourself to believe that infidelity will NEVER be an occurrence/obstacle that you and your spouse will have to overcome (note OCCURRENCE meaning NOT HABITUAL). Never allow yourself to walk around with your head in the clouds placing your husband on a pedestal saying, “CHEATING, MY HUSBAND WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO ME!” because the reality is, he probably will and you do not want your life to completely fall apart due to the devastation and shock of what you firmly believed would never happen . I have learned that people are capable of doing any and everything given the right circumstances. With that said, I’m in no way saying that as women we should ACCEPT AND ALLOW our husband’s infidelity, but what I am saying is that we need to accept the reality that it could happen and that marriage is not a “dating” type of relationship, but something that has to constantly be worked on and through.

  • paul

    Wow

    this is a gem of common sense.

    nice

  • grateful

    i agree with some of these. if there is one thing i have learned about advice it is that you really need to examine who is giving it to you so good job on that Shahida. one thing i have to say though is that i think you misunderstood or in fact totally missed the concept/underlying issue they were trying to pass on to you. let me explain.

    1)He Should Love You More Than You Love Him

    i agree.

    women are nurturers, most of the time very willing to give their all in a relationship. men are not the same. in fact, men see no problem in taking as much as they can while giving as little as possible and sometimes nothing at all for a woman they might have feelings for. compound that with men who play games with women and the guys who make it a goal to “break” as many women as possible and you have a really big problem.

    when a man sees that you love him more than he does you he may use you, think of all the women dating married men for years and years waiting for him to leave his wife, think of all the women who write to advice columns asking why their live-in boyfriend is buying a motorcycle instead of an engagement ring after living together for 10 yrs plus 3 kids,etc. when it is the other way around he makes an effort to stick around and do right.

    2)Have ‘Boyfriend No. 2’ on the Side, Just in Case

    wrong wording, but i agree to some extent.

    the basic principle is ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket TOO EARLY’. for me relationships should start out as friendships ,so get out and meet people even if they don’t strike your fancy ,take their numbers, communicate with them from time to time (AS FRIENDS ,nothing you would be ashamed to show a significant other) just make friends. if and when you do break up 7/10 your next SO will be one of those guys.

    when you date a dude make sure he commits to you before you commit to him (this prevents a lot of issues, trust me).guys (esp black men) have more options than us so don’t worry about them.take your time and date around (needless to say if you find one you like and you are sure he is serious about you then do your thing), don’t date him exclusively if he is not on the same page. when you do get married then ofcourse be faithful.

    3)Don’t Let Him Think You Need Him.

    i disagree.

    the underlying issue in this one is that you have to be emotionally healthy.if you are there is an interdependence like Shahida said , as opposed to a codependence like in an unhealthy relationship. in a healthy situation i think it’s ok to let a person know that they have value in your life and that you need them. ofcourse if they mess up you need to show (sometimes by leaving permanently) that you will do what you gotta do.

    i think nowadays a lot of women have emotional baggage which can sometimes manifest itself as being needy,not to mention there are men who prey on needy, low self-esteem women thus resulting in people telling you stuff like this . fix your emotions and self-esteem and all will fall into place.

    4)all men cheat.

    i disagree, but don’t lax on meeting your significant others’ needs just because it isn’t true.

    5)once a cheat, always a cheat.

    i agree, to a certain extent.

    nowadays most people can’t/don’t want to put the continual effort it takes to shurk off a bad habit.

    i think the older ladies told younger girls this because a lot of women don’t listen to reason and/or won’t use logic when in love. they think they can tame the playboy or do a man better than the wife he was married to when she started an affair with said dude.

    you can’t change him. don’t even try. but alas, he who will not hear must be made to feel.

    sorry for the long post, no class today.

  • grateful

    agree with everything you said.

  • http://itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    As with all advice, dating, fiscal, etc., I think the person on the giving advice should be taken into account first. The same way I would not take financial advice from someone swimming in credit card debt is the same way I wouldn’t take advice from a three time divorcee or serial dater.

  • OSHH

    Live long enough and deal with enough dudes, and the advice Rhi’s gran gave her will ring truer and truer to you. That one is gold and it didn’t make sense to me either when I younger LOL.

    Great breakdown Grateful with this—–>1)He Should Love You More Than You Love Him

    i agree.

    women are nurturers, most of the time very willing to give their all in a relationship. men are not the same. in fact, men see no problem in taking as much as they can while giving as little as possible and sometimes nothing at all for a woman they might have feelings for. compound that with men who play games with women and the guys who make it a goal to “break” as many women as possible and you have a really big problem.

    when a man sees that you love him more than he does you he may use you, think of all the women dating married men for years and years waiting for him to leave his wife, think of all the women who write to advice columns asking why their live-in boyfriend is buying a motorcycle instead of an engagement ring after living together for 10 yrs plus 3 kids,etc. when it is the other way around he makes an effort to stick around and do right.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    I agree I do think that men are way more inclined to take advantage of women, and why shouldn’t they? They are a privileged class in our society, and, like all privileged people, will continue to take advantage of whatever benefits them, i.e. not doing housework or not being completely obligated to take care of the kids compared to women. Not saying all men are like this but it is a culture that exists, and some participate consciously or subconsciously. Women tend to always be there and be supportive even if we’re not feeling the man like that..so I do see the merit in “marry a man that loves you more than you love him.”

  • Hehe

    I agree with you how do you quantify love? When people talk about love their either vague or what they really mean is affection.Tell me how can a man show he loves you more than you him? Doesn’t people show how they love a person in different ways?This concept is so foreign to me. Honestly I don’t take relationship advice from too many people even those whose been in a relationship for many years(decades) because in my experience many of those women put up with things that I could not see myself being okay with(such as constant infidelity).

  • cb

    so sad, no wonder our relationships are in the gutter

  • http://theantifash.blogspot.com The Antifash

    Interesting… A man told me once that he doesn’t want a woman who needs him, he wants a woman who wants him. Showing/expressing to someone that you appreciate them, and love having them in your life is not the same as needing them. Lets not confuse the two.

  • Echo

    Back in my early 20s, my grandfather told us (his granddaughters–my sister who was in her 30s and my cousin who is a year younger than I) that we should find men who love us more than we love them. His logic suggested that a man [who loves a woman more than she loves him] will work that much harder to care for and protect her, and that over time the woman will (theoretically) grow to love that man. I still don’t know if this is true 100% of the time, but when I reflect on my own relationships I recognize that in each one I’ve been the one more in love, more devoted to, etc…and I’m single. So maybe there is something to that wisdom. Time will tell. Maybe next time around I will meet someone who is a little more invested in me than I am in him, and the areas of care left unattended by previous passersby will perhaps be better attended to.

  • http://gravatar.com/rastaman1967 Rastaman

    Much of these relationship advice reminds me of that telephone game we played as children. Where we started with one message and it became distorted or completely lost by the time it made it around the room. I am not going to be lazy and assign this to gender differences because many men also trade in historically bad advice. A too broad application of these maxims to all relationships often fails to address context.

    It would be easy to shoe-horn simplistic solutions for all our issues, relationships or otherwise. But life is damn nuanced and we will alwways err when we seek simple answers for not so simple questions. It is very admirable to establish principles by which to conduct one’s relationships but as anyone with any experience will tell you that feelings and emotions are a MOFO and they can screw up the best laid plans.

    Love and relationships are viewed differently when you are 24 compared to when you are 44. As a comedian noted in his 40′s the digits most attractive in a woman is a high credit score. Our priorities change as we get older and oftentimes that means love is viewed differently. The trouble with

  • May

    @grateful…well said

  • The Comment

    I gave this advice on a board and I stand by what the old lady told me. He should love you more. Doesn’t mean that you are not working at the relationship, are not attentive, blahzay and reckless. It is not saying that one person is putting in more effort than another. @Grateful said it perfectly….women are nurturers by nature. So if a man loves you more it damn near puts him on par with where you are already.

    I admit……..I’m not into mind games and I will never understand why men think or do what they do. All I know is that you have accept people for who they are and if you decided to be in a relationship….know that it comes with heartache.

  • African Mami

    Yes, mama! He should love me more. I actually look forward to when you comment on these kinds of topics. You drop gems, if you didn’t know!! :)

  • simplyme

    perfect

  • The Comment

    Girl….give me your address so I can mail you a Macy’s gift card for X-Mas.

    Meanwhile I’m still looking 4 some organic goat.

  • tayrat

    THAT´S THE SAME ADVISE I´VE GIVING ALL WOMEN I KNOW.HE SHOULD LOVE YOU MORE. I KNOW WHAT I´M TALKING ABOUT.SOMEONE ASKED HOW YOU QUANTIFY THE AMOUNT OF LOVE YOU GUYS HAVE FOR EACH OTHER….NO NEED FOR CALCULATORS, YOU JUST KNOW IT.IF YOU LOVE HIM MORE THAN HE DOES…SISTER,YOU ARE IN TROUBLE.

  • Nubian Princess

    I had a long conversation with my ex boyfriend’s mother and she stated the same thing. A man should love you more but she put it as he should be more attentive to your needs and more affectionate with you because innately men are hunters and they like the chase. That’s where courting a girl derived from. Now days a man does not have to court a women because we give the attention and affection so easily. Men like challenges that’s why so many of them are into sports and competitive games. I agree you shouldn’t have to play games in love but you do have to allow the man to still desire you and not take you for granted.

  • Fuchsia

    My Grandmother’s only advice to me regarding love was to find a man who loves me more than I love him. After much heartache and thought surrounding the men I loved more over the years I had a light bulb moment, and in a flash I completely understood what she was saying. In other words Let the man lead by example when it comes to love. He should be showing me how he wants to be loved by the little things he does while I am in observation mode (the courting period) I was able to map out all the small things as well as the big things that indicated a man’s love for me and by mirroring the things that made me smile I was able to make him happy. To me reciprocity and actively thinking about things to do that will make the other person happy is the essence of love. If he loves you more you can love him longer, and actually get loving him right the first time instead of wasting time doing all the things that go unnoticed.

    Also when it comes to needing a man, as an independent woman obviously I can handle things on my own, but what I do NEED is a man’s loving protection and cover, someone who defends my honor the best he can.

  • Jane

    Eve destroyed the world… now it is women’s role all over the world to save mankind by loving responsibly, because the men of today are lost… but do not follow them to try to save them… let them take responsibility and learn on their own
    I completely agree with you on this one …
    From my experience, I have been through hardship for a while, when I was little i recognized that my mother had chosen a man she loved more than herself, he was a narcissist and she was codependent. You see the men who are good with their tongues, those who can seduce a woman and play games with her heart, most of the time are the most insecure and those who want to destroy the confident caring woman because they know she is better than then….And by this i mean MORALLY, i connect religion to all of this because i realized I kept falling for narcissist, but I always refused the abuse because i had seen my mom suffer since she loved him more than herself. her compassion was so great she wanted to save him, because she knew his ego was trying to take over him….. The truth is women around the world try to save these men they feel a need to rescue them and that makes them love them. however it is no woman’s responsibility to do such things. these men need to find their way on their own, they have to be responsible for their actions, because form the time they were children they were taught that they could get away with anything, which is why many get away with breaking a woman’s heart. We need to learn as women that we will not let them get away with playing with our hearts.. So I say NO it is not wise to love a man more that he loves you, because many men out there are irresponsible and we need to let them know that they cannot abuse us or confuse us…. In the bible eve fell for the lies of a snake, men that we start idolizing more than ourselves are just like that snake trying to seduce us into taking the road of lust which are those butterflies we feel is love…. but that is not love, Love is letting the men find their own way, not giving in into their demands, and loving ourselves a little more than we love them… Loving them the way we would love our children by teaching them right form wrong and disciplining them to understand that in life in every aspect there are boundaries that they should not cross… Because when a man really loves you, he might not be good with words, but he shows you compassion and shows you respect, and many women fall for the snake who if many of you have not noticed, always find it fun to mess with your head, they think it’s a game and they feel powerful and happy that they can cause us to go crazy… they will always control the dumb women with lust… so when you think of true love… think of the love you would have for a son… do not spoil them to the point they become irresponsible… love responsibly and always choose a man who loves you more, because that is how your children will grow up to see the compassion that both men and women have for one another… there is no other way to fix this world and fight against that snake….
    Only women are able to love more responsibly, and if they make a big effort they can become more giving but only with those men who show them responsibility and respect ….when you idolize a man… it’s always a red flag….

  • Jane

    Eve destroyed the world… now it is women’s role all over the world to save mankind by loving responsibly, because the men of today are lost… but do not follow them to try to save them… let them take responsibility and learn on their own
    I completely agree with you on this one …
    From my experience, I have been through hardship for a while, when I was little i recognized that my mother had chosen a man she loved more than herself, he was a narcissist and she was codependent. You see the men who are good with their tongues, those who can seduce a woman and play games with her heart, most of the time are the most insecure and those who want to destroy the confident caring woman because they know she is better than then….And by this i mean MORALLY, i connect religion to all of this because i realized I kept falling for narcissist, but I always refused the abuse because i had seen my mom suffer since she loved him more than herself. her compassion was so great she wanted to save him, because she knew his ego was trying to take over him….. The truth is women around the world try to save these men they feel a need to rescue them and that makes them love them. however it is no woman’s responsibility to do such things. these men need to find their way on their own, they have to be responsible for their actions, because form the time they were children they were taught that they could get away with anything, which is why many get away with breaking a woman’s heart. We need to learn as women that we will not let them get away with playing with our hearts.. So I say NO it is not wise to love a man more that he loves you, because many men out there are irresponsible and we need to let them know that they cannot abuse us or confuse us…. In the bible eve fell for the lies of a snake, men that we start idolizing more than ourselves are just like that snake trying to seduce us into taking the road of lust which are those butterflies we feel is love…. but that is not love, Love is letting the men find their own way, not giving in into their demands, and loving ourselves a little more than we love them… Loving them the way we would love our children by teaching them right form wrong and disciplining them to understand that in life in every aspect there are boundaries that they should not cross… Because when a man really loves you, he might not be good with words, but he shows you compassion and shows you respect, and many women fall for the snake who if many of you have not noticed, always find it fun to mess with your head, they think it’s a game and they feel powerful and happy that they can cause us to go crazy… they will always control the dumb women with lust… so when you think of true love… think of the love you would have for a son… do not spoil them to the point they become irresponsible… love responsibly and always choose a man who loves you more, because that is how your children will grow up to see the compassion that both men and women have for one another… there is no other way to fix this world and fight against that snake….
    Only women are able to love more responsibly, and if they make a big effort they can become more giving but only with those men who show them responsibility and respect ….when you idolize a man… it’s always a red flag….

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