As a girl in her 20s, I’ve probably had more phone calls and conversations about relationships than those actually hired to give any “professional” advice get. Can you believe that? People are paid to give relationship/love advice. I do it for free! Hm, maybe that’s why they come running to me. But if there’s a job for it, then it must be a real issue. Oh humans and their emotions.
After collecting my mental archive of advice and recalling the situations expressed to me by my “clients” there is one thing that I believe is a major issue: none of them really understand what a relationship demands. This would make sense, because there are more whys, what does it mean, and how can I change it questions than there are answers. There are more times trying to make it work, than it actually working out. There are more doubts then there is trust. There is more intellect than there are feelings. And if there is anything you should take away from this post, it’s this: A relationship will not work if your mind is the only one calling the shots. No, I’m not telling you to let your heart take the wheel in a relationship, but I am telling you to allow it to be the compass; because your mind will know what to do. They are a team, as are you and your partner. So, when I say don’t let your mind call the shots, I mean you have to be unselfish and let your partner in on things.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be emotionally invested in a relationship. It is not a business deal! You absolutely cannot go into it thinking that the outcome will be exactly as you mapped it out to be. It definitely is a learning process, somewhat contractual, risky, rewarding, and overall crazy, but if your heart isn’t in it… then why are you even there?
Let’s take relationships in Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl for example. Dr. Flint tries to bribe Linda for her affection. Now, Dr. Flint is in no ways a real man. He is abusive and unfaithful. Despite having this “fondness” for Linda, he constantly reminds her that she is nothing but his slave. It is obvious that Dr. Flint wants Linda to be another one of his women, but this also proves that he wants to own her completely, not only physically but emotionally as well. He promises to take care of her and even starts to build a home where she will stay. However, Linda already loves someone else and cannot ever imagine being with a brute like Dr. Flint. Let us again note, this guy is married! Remember when I said you need to be unselfish? Yeah, there is no way Dr. Flint understands that idea. The courtship between Dr. Flint and Linda (if you even call it that) is all a mental game. Seeing it that way messes up the real meaning of a relationship. It’s not about a power-trip or how can you buy one’s affection, it is about unity. Because Dr. Flint lacks a real sense of affection for Linda, she does not even entertain the thought of being with him.
As for Dr. Flint’s wife, emotion is the only thing that controls her. She knows her husband is being unfaithful to her, but still she brushes it aside. Marriage is the most important relationship you can choose. Vows made by you and your partner are not just any promises, but real affirmations of love… an eternal agreement. Because Mrs. Flint cannot allow her mind to make the decision to leave him, she is further consumed with jealousy and no longer love. She will always doubt her husband, feel insecure, and paranoid of what Dr. Flint will do next. I can honestly say, I feel bad for her. She knows that the bond of marriage seals her and Dr. Flint together, but that doesn’t guarantee his fidelity.
Relationships themselves can be seen as a form of submission. It’s just another way to be bound to something, someone. But the most liberating thing about relationships is the freedom to really express how you feel to the person you are with. It shouldn’t feel like an obligation. In the context of the novel, slavery proves to be the evil seed that grows to rip not only individuals, but families apart. Relationships, specifically romantic ones, are rooted in love. This love is not solely an emotion but an action to willing do what is best for another. Slavery rejects this, because it, in no ways, works for the betterment of another. It entraps everyone into misery.
In both cases we see that the relationships lack this sense of love. It’s anything but love that binds these people together. With the story of Linda and Mrs. Flint, I can feel like they are desperate for love. The relationship is so one-sided and all about it being a title, that the most beautiful thing about having one is absent. As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango.” However, for a tango to be convincing, we need to feel the spark. The partners need to work as one to make the dance complete.