Strength to stay or strength to leave?


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?

men not worth tears quote

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?


7 thoughts on “Strength to stay or strength to leave?

  1. This is such an important topic to talk about! I believe there is strength in both forgiveness and in leaving but each case is different. A woman needs to look after herself but she also needs to recognise that both of you are humans and no one is above doing the wrong thing. Whatever she decides, the situation is painful and each woman will need to figure out what she can handle.

    Some will forgive multiple times whilst others will dissolve a relationship after one case of infidelity. I think, the appearance of ‘strength’ depends on when one says enough is enough. For example, I would say both of these women are strong but personally I believe the first is stronger. I actually think it’s harder to stay as you have to really let things go and try not be reminded of the infidelity and hurt every time you look at or are in the vicinity of your partner.

    However there is a limit. Two to three times is more than enough in my opinion. If a partner is continuously cheating then you should leave – they clearly don’t respect you or your relationship at all and staying after this would, in my eyes, make a woman seem weak and lacking in respect for herself.

    The aim is always for women to look after themselves and the key to doing so is to (eventually) forgive – not for him really but for yourself and your heart and mental well being. As you said we never truly know what goes on in the relationship so women need to support other women whatever decision they make – both are difficult!

    The main problem with Kevin Hart is that he has done what he did before – how many times do women avoid warning signs because we are so in love with a man (or idea of a relationship)? It would be great if we could tell from the jump what he’s going to do and avoid situations like this in the first place.

    The conundrum is, when do we take something in his past as a warning sign and when do we forgive his past behaviour and trust/believe he has changed? I’m sure in this case she would have said “…but he’s changed” only for him to now do it again, whereas other men really would not do what they did before. How is one to know?

    Such an awesome post Helen! I really look forward to reading your posts.

    And oh, great quote from Ms Villanueva! I LOVE Jane the Virgin! I’m always surprised/excited when someone else knows about it, haha. I watched it from day one before it was ever on Netflix – it is my not-so-guilty pleasure. Hilarious!

    Liked by 1 person

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