There’s a huge difference between carrying your burdens into new relationships and dating retrospectively. The former implies zero growth while the latter implies the opposite.
If you can be open to future experiences and navigate them with lessons you’ve learned from the past, chances are you can probably save your self some time–and heartbreak. As a black gay man, I’ve made it my mission (in dating) to try to maintain that balance.
We understand dating in theory, but we fumble in numerous areas in practice. A lot of how we maneuver with romantic connections stem from our introductions to it, and it’s quite common as a black gay male to experience rejection and hatred much sooner than love and acceptance.
Black gay men generally have so much unlearning and relearning to do about what love and acceptance is. Some of us indirectly discover what those concepts are by living through examples of what they are not.
I’ve been trying to exemplify the purest iteration of love and acceptance as I’ve come to understand it–exercising patience, doing tons of reflection, practicing communication, etc. In tandem, I’ve been following self-preserving impulses and finding that it actually makes me happy: learning when to say no, mastering the art of discernment, and protecting my energy.
In a nutshell, self-love is a secret weapon, and you sort of have to build it from scratch. Learning lots about yourself and being patient with the pace at which you learn gives way to making clear decisions on how you want to control your love life, and your narrative overall. Understand that, to various degrees, we’re all doing the exact same thing. We’re all unlearning sabotaging behaviors and relearning healthy ones, making young adulthood an even more pivotal time in our lives.
Above it all, just take it easy. We’re all trying to figure it out.