Madame Noire: Despite the violent incident between Rihanna and then boyfriend Chris Brown back in 2009, an emotional Rihanna admits to Oprah that she still loves Chris and that they are friends. Should she continue a friendship with her ex?
Hasani Pettiford: Rihanna’s interview with Oprah was amazing and it really told a story of forgiveness and redemption. Unlike most women in abusive relationships, Rihanna had three years to reflect, forgive and embrace a much needed personal transformation. Restoring the relationship with her father was the catalyst that allowed her to release the anger, bitterness and grudge she held for Chris. Her love and attraction seems to come from a healthy place. It’s not based upon need, desperation, fear, and low self esteem.
However, developing a friendship with Chris, at this time, may be pre-mature. Relationships are a two-way street and it’s important to know that Chris has gone through a similar personal transformation. If not, the same issues can continue to flare up. If Rihanna wants a genuine friendship with Chris it can only be done once her obvious love and attraction for him wanes. It is virtually impossible to have a platonic relationship with a former lover if one or both are still harboring intense feelings for one another.
Madame Noire: Why do many women like Rihanna still have an attraction to their abusers?
Hasani Pettiford: Often times, in many cases that abuser is charming, he’s intelligent, he’s attentive to her needs, he’s able to find her weaknesses and exploit them, and he is able to bring her right back in again. There’s nothing unique about Rihanna. She’s a woman. As a woman and as a man, often times we allow our emotions to dictate our behavior, our decisions, our choices, and when you are emotionally wrapped up in someone, even when the relationship is abusive, you will stay, because there is no logic and reason involved in a feeling. So while your mind is saying: “Get out he’s beating you, he’s no good, he’s manipulative, and he’s controlling,” your heart says: “But I love him.”
Women are emotionally wired. I know women who go through cheating, physical abuse, and all types of drama, and won’t go. (They say) “I just love him”, “I don’t know what it is?” I just can’t let him go”, “I know he’s not good for me but there’s just something about him”, “I see his potential”, “I see what he could be”, “I just see something within him that is good and so I am not focusing on all the bad stuff,” “I’m focusing on the true nature of who he is, because I just love him,” And there is nothing logical about what I just said. It’s all emotional.
I think that men and women need to develop emotional intelligence in their relationships. There’s a phenomenal book called, Emotional Intelligence and it talks about why certain people succeed in life, and why certain people fail. It has nothing to do about your education, with your degrees, with your experience, with your any of that. It has everything to do with your emotions. So if fear is consuming you, it will stifle you, and keep you from pursuing something that you may not be familiar with, because if I do it I may fail. Insecurity, procrastination, doubt, whatever of those internal things that are going through your mind, those are the things that cause people to fail.
Likewise, in a relationship, if we don’t develop emotional intelligence, and turn fear into faith, doubt into confidence, reverse these emotions in a positive direction, it will make us end up in these poor relationships, that have no future that have no potential, that destroy us, and tear us apart, and thats why were seeing a lot of men and women who are not emotionally intelligent.
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