We just witnessed another heart wrenching season finale of Insecure on HBO. Season 2 was all about the messy middle of these characters’ transition from the relationships they once knew into an uncertain future, and it made for really good TV that was often uncomfortable to watch.
The struggle is real for Issa, Molly, Lawrence and, it seems, for the millions of singles who have been feeling like Insecure is a mirror reflecting the tender spots in their own search for love and significance. There are some deep lessons around power, sex, and love that you probably missed, and so, as a dating coach, I’d like to share what I think can help you succeed in your journey.
Lesson #1: Sex doesn’t equal power
Issa feels like her life is spinning out of control, and so she decides that having a “Ho phase” will make her feel empowered after her heartwrenching breakup with Lawrence. But our girl doesn’t do a good job with the “no-strings-attached” approach to sex because she’s not in it for the pleasure. She is in it for the power. Unfortunately, she chooses men and situations that make her feel powerless. For example, when Daniel accidentally takes aim at her face during a hookup, Issa suspects it was deliberate payback for her dissing him after their romp in the recording studio during season 1. Her suspicions are confirmed when he later tells her “I guess we’re even then.” In this case, Daniel takes what Issa was using as pleasure and turns into payback for rejecting him in the past.
Issa’s ex, Lawrence, uses sex in his search for significance after his pride is crushed when he finds out Issa cheated on him. He has sex with Tasha who was stroking his ego while he was with Issa, and for a while, he feels like he’s back on top. He gets a job, and stays with Tasha, letting her take care of him while he gets back on his feet. But he hurts Tasha in the process because he’s not honest about not wanting anything serious with her. Even after Tasha tells him off, he still doesn’t seem to get that you can’t claim to be a nice guy and use women to prop up your fragile masculinity at the same time. So he brings his new “situation” Aparna to Tiffany’s dinner party when he knows Issa will be there to prove he’s moved on (and up).
When Issa and Lawrence argue outside the restaurant, the insults they hurl at each other deflate whatever temporary power they thought they’d feel from their sexapades. Issa reminds Lawrence of his failed business venture (and his failure to provide for her emotional needs for security) and Lawrence calls Issa a “ho.”
These characters need to face the fact that they’re searching for something deeper and that casual sex isn’t going to give it to them.
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Lesson #2: The One Who Loves The Least, Controls The Relationship (But Loses The Love)
The second lesson is a direct quote from Dr. Robert Anthony and it’s about the principle of least interest. This concept explains power struggles in relationships because the person who cares the least about the relationship, often controls the other person through the fear of loss by making demands, threatening to leave, withholding love, and other dysfunctional behaviors.
I think this fear of being out of control in a relationship comes through in a lot of bad dating advice:
- Don’t act like you’re too interested or you’ll look “thirsty.”
- A woman should NEVER initiate. If he’s interested, he’ll call, plan, and pursue.
- Don’t be too available.
- He should say “I love you first” otherwise he’ll take advantage of you.
- Never let a man know you need him.
But treating love like a game always ends up with somebody winning and somebody losing, and it prevents real intimacy and vulnerability from happening.
For example, Molly is looking for love but ends up in an open relationship with her married, childhood friend, Dro. The power dynamics in their situation are supposed to be clear (she will always come second to Dro’s wife), but Molly soon feels like she’s losing when Dro summons her for a quickie in the bathroom at Tiffany’s party, the same party he brings his wife to, only to tell her he doesn’t want them walking out together. Molly pretends she’s about that life and she’s cool with being second, but it’s Dro who cares the least about Molly’s feelings (and perhaps isn’t being honest with his wife about being in an open relationship with Molly).
Molly doesn’t learn her lesson, though. The drama of trying to convince a man to choose her feels like chemistry, so when presented with a relationship with a nice guy or a late night booty call from the married man, guess who she chooses? Yup, the booty call! She doesn’t seem to get that love isn’t about who is on top (in the bedroom or boardroom). It’s about sharing and trusting, and compromising, and committing to the commitment. To Molly, that feels boring.
If you feel like Molly, you need to know that the only way you’ll stop losing in love is to stop playing the game. Choose partners who are invested in the relationship. Consistency trumps chemistry every time!
True power in a relationship is found when both partners can be open and vulnerable with each other. Issa and Lawerence discover this at the end of the episode when they finally get honest about their fears and failures.
Lawrence: “I’m sorry for not being who you expected me to be, who I expected me to be.”
Issa: “Lawrence, I wanted to be better for you, because of you. But somewhere along the way, I depended on you to be better for both of us. And when you were going through what you were going through, I didn’t know how to handle it. “
They exchange tears, hugs and even “I love you’s” and Issa fantasizes about what happily ever after would look like with Lawrence. It doesn’t happen, however, at least not this season. Instead, we see Issa at Daniel’s door claiming she’s just gonna sleep on the couch and Molly dressed in lingerie for Dro. Hopefully, the singles whose lives were mirrored by the characters in the show, get the lessons.
BMWK, do you get these lessons?