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It was a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. I was standing in my kitchen preparing an elaborate six course soul food meal for a young man I was dating at the time. I remember preparing each dish slowly, paying attention to all ingredients carefully, sampling each dish to make sure they were just right and smiling anxiously every step of the way. As I prepared this elaborate meal, I was nervous and anxious about what my then companion would say. I anticipated a positive reaction that would trigger an even more positive reaction that would eventually lead to us living happily ever after.

However, the outcome was different.

My companion enjoyed the meal, but shortly after, we parted ways and have never spoken a word to each other since. As I recall that relationship, and some of the things that transpired, I realized I gave this young man (and many others I was involved with) privileges that should have been for my husband, which led me to ask myself why did I do that? What was my motivation for cooking, buying elaborate gifts, giving massages, etc. to men who were only my boyfriends? I found the answers to my questions when I went on a hiatus from the dating scene. I realized I gave my boyfriends husband privileges because I was trying to prove to them that I was marriage material. I did this because I didn’t see the value of being a single woman, and I didn’t know what it really meant to be a wife.

I didn’t see the value in being a single woman because my focus was on the “American Dream”- having the white picketed fence, 2.5 kids, a dog and a beautiful home. Not only was I focused on the American Dream, but I was focused on all of my friends who were engaged, married or in promising relationships. I wanted the same things they had with their relationships, so I figured if I gave and gave to my boyfriends, they would see my wifely potential, they would propose and my dream would be reality. Boy was I wrong!

When I realized that the more I gave to my boyfriends, that the less of me I had for myself. It was then that I decided to shift my personal focus. When I shifted the focus to reflecting on who I was, learning who I was, and finding my purpose in being single, I realized that I did not have to give my boyfriends husband privileges, but give them who I was internally as a woman and that’s better than any home cooked meal or elaborate gift.

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