Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I am 25-year-old black single female with no children. I am writing you because I am having a hard time bonding with men. I don’t know where to begin.
I just do not trust men. My father left when I was 12 after he abused my mother for years, and my two brothers are dogs. I want to be in a relationship, but I am afraid of being hurt.
I have tried a few times, but things did not go well. In anticipation that I would get hurt, I usually did something to test them. I would make them upset to see what they would do. I know I play games, but I don’t want to get hurt first. I look for the worst in situations, and sometimes my attitude can be very negative. Sometimes I care and sometimes I do not. At times, I think it is all about me. I tell myself that I don’t need a man because I am a strong black woman.
I have casual relationships but find ways to end them before they get too serious. Life is about protecting yourself because no one else will. I don’t want to be hurt, but I do want to fall in love someday. I don’t want to feel this way and know that my attitude is bad. What can I do about my attitude?
Thanks in advance,
Ms. Single with an Attitude
Dear Ms. Single with an Attitude,
I am going to be straightforward with you upfront. You need to change your attitude. Unfortunately, a large percentage of black women go through life with negative and/or self-defeating attitudes. Through various personal life experiences or observation of others’ experiences, we all develop attitudes.
If your life experiences have been positive or you have high self-esteem, you are likely to exhibit positive attitudes. On the other hand, if your life experiences have been negative or you have low self-esteem you are likely to exhibit negative attitudes.
Women who go through life with negative, self-defeating attitudes are at greater risk for burnout, demoralization and loneliness. Learn to replace negative/self-defeating attitudes with positive attitudes:
- I don’t need a man. I am a strong black woman.
- I don’t care anymore.
- I will not be hurt ever again.
- I have to get mine no matter what it takes.
- I don’t need anybody.
- I don’t have time. I am too busy.
- I don’t need a man to survive, but God created man and woman to be One. I can have a man and still be a strong black woman.
- Caring for others is healthy. Unfortunately, I might not always get it back. I choose to care for others and accept the risk. Bitterness is self-destructive.
- Unfortunately, pain and suffering are part of life. I cannot always avoid them, but I can learn to cope with them effectively.
- I can get my needs met in healthy and productive ways.
- The need to belong is important. Family and friends can be a source of support.
- Managing my time can reduce my stress and encourage positive emotions.
Changing your attitude is achievable and can give you control over your life. But to successfully change your attitude you must be honest with yourself and admit that you need to change. Life will bring challenges, and your attitude will determine how you cope with and address them. Changing your attitude is not the sole solution to solving your problems, but it is a solution that empowers you to control your emotions and life in general. We cannot always change our situations, but we can change our attitude. You have more power than you know!