Primarily, I must begin by saying this post is not going to be delving into the ins and outs of Kevin Hart’s relationship. However, I will say that I was (and still am) a massive fan of his but him cheating on his pregnant wife has undoubtedly made me lose respect for him. I know he doesn’t even know I exist but I am still disappointed with his behaviour (whether I have the right to be or not) and I’ve had to do some forgiveness and healing to be able to entertain his posts on my Instagram feed again.
On the other hand, I also remember laughing – with tears in my eyes – at his stand up show where he confessed to cheating on his first wife, who may not have been pregnant at the time but did have two small children. So I don’t know why that was tolerable, and even comical, but this scenario is totally unacceptable?
But as I mentioned previously, this post is not about Kevin Hart (and his infidelity) at all. It’s about what I’ve highlighted in my screen shot of his Instagram post. That term ‘strong woman.’ It’s a phrase I really struggle with and don’t seem to understand anymore. What does it mean to be a ‘strong woman’ these days? Is our strength in where we place our standards, what we tolerate and how we allow others to treat us? Or is our strength found in our ability to forgive someone who doesn’t honour their vows, even though we’ve remained faithful? Or are we strong when we decide to leave a relationship in order to protect ourselves and maybe our (future) children from a destructive environment?
I remember coming across this quotation as a teenager and thinking “that’s soooo true!” Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re in relationship and are constantly sad all the time and your dude is the cause of your sadness, he is probably not the one for you, sis! But to think that because you’ve found ‘the one,’ you’re never going to cry is pure naivety.
Growing up, I dated a few guys who I knew I wasn’t serious about (even though I tried to convince myself otherwise). I never fully opened up to them because I didn’t want to get hurt – I felt it was my responsibility to protect myself. But when I found my (now) husband, all that had to change. When I knew we had a future, I had to make myself vulnerable otherwise our relationship wouldn’t be authentic – how could he decide whether he could love all of me if he’s only been exposed to some of me?* I had to let him in knowing I would get hurt, not because he’s a monster but because he’s a human being.
If you’re going to do life with someone, they are going to make mistakes… and so are you.
Now, how you respond to those mistakes you make is actually no one else’s business but your own. Unless the situation is harmful, I think real strength is making a decision based on the information you have at the time and sticking with it. Despite what society tells us, staying in a relationship after a mistake like infidelity can be a strong thing. Being able to forgive is, in my opinion, one of the strongest characteristics a person can have. To be hurt, genuinely put it behind you and carry on is nothing short of incredible (and something I aspire to be able to do better).
For society to imply that we are only strong when we stay, though, is preposterous. Not every situation is the same. Life is not a ‘one size fits all’ phenomenon. If then, you are in a relationship and decide to leave because you’ve had enough of your partner’s BS, why do we judge that person as weak? Would Kevin have posted a picture of his wife with the caption ‘she couldn’t handle me at my worst, she doesn’t deserve me at my best’ underneath it? How many likes would it have received? Would you have double tapped? Be honest.
To be able to be completely genuine with yourself about the state of your relationship, and make the decision to come out of it because it’s doing more harm than good is also an extremely powerful thing to do. Even when our partners mistreat us, we normally stay because we love them. Because we know they’re trying to do better. Because we know they don’t mean to hurt us. The list is endless. Nevertheless, our lives have been merged with theirs and leaving means to embrace change and a life without someone whom you’ve grown used to. To be determined and follow through, especially if there are children involved, is absolutely commendable.
I’m going to paraphrase one of Jane Gloriana Villanueva’s** quotes here and end with this: ‘womanhood and relationships are hard enough as it is without us criticising each other.’ Forgiveness is a fantastic thing, and so is knowing yourself, your worth and understanding what you tolerate. I hope when we are described as ‘strong,’ people attribute it to how we respond to a plethora of experiences rather than how we respond to being wronged. Also, I wish people would keep their private lives private; I don’t need a justification, Kevin, because, quite frankly, it’s none of my dayum business.
*I mean that emotionally and not physically by the way!
**If you haven’t watched Jane the Virgin on Netflix, what have you been doing exactly?