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Commentary on The Ultimatum, choice, and other feelings

Disclaimer: This may just be one of the most vulnerable and transparent blog posts that I have ever written.

As I am writing, it’s currently 2:26 AM, and I just finished watching two episodes of The Ultimatum on Netflix.

If you’ve been watching this show, then you know why my butt was up so late like I didn’t have a dissertation to work on in a few hours. For those who aren’t familiar with this new show, basically, one person within a couple is given an ultimatum: marry me or watch me walk away with someone else. There are six couples in season one, and for three weeks, each person is spending time with someone else. In other words, the person that one entered the show with has chosen someone else to connect and spend quality time with.

And like every dating or relationship show, this one made me hella emotional. My emotions ranged from confusion to aww to sadness. On the topic of choosing someone else despite expressing love for the person you believe you are supposed to be with—I cried to my friend three nights ago about a guy I once dated (whose name shall be Antonio in this story) not choosing me. It has been nearly two years since we’ve stopped dating, yet everything still feels fresh. The crazy thing about it is—that fresh feeling comes in cycles. I could go months without thinking of him, but then something would trigger a memory and, boom, I’m on his Instagram page twice a day for a couple weeks. If “healing isn’t linear was a person,” it would be me. Whenever I am confident that I’ve fully moved on from him, more issues that I refused to address in the beginning rises to the surface level.

On the day when I cried to my friend about Antonio moving on and not choosing me, I told her that I must have some deficiencies. Do I believe that, deep in my heart? Not entirely. But my relationship status and dating experience constantly reminds me that I could “check off all the boxes on a man’s list (as I’ve been told, many times) and still not be chosen at the end of the day. So, it must be me. Right?

Now, I know that some of y’all may read this and say, “Girllll. Why are you measuring your worth based on these inconsistent and indecisive niggas when you know how amazing you are?” This is literally what my friend said to me. But because I’ve been socialized to believe that I am not fully a woman until a man marries me and gives me children, it’s hard to not tie my entire worth to that dumbass lie. Let me make it clear that I am not a pick-me nor am I desperate. I will never say to another woman, “this is how you should act and treat a man to get chosen.” Absolutely not. What I do want to be clear about is that I have a desire to experience love. I want to find my person and build a life and family with him. I want to choose someone and want someone to choose me without having to give an ultimatum. In episode two of The Ultimatum, each individual (who came as a couple) chose another person that they wanted to get to know more deeply and gave a reason why they made that choice. Two men were terrified about the possibility of their partner being with someone else and immediately proposed and left the show. One couple that got engaged had a major, unresolved issue, such that one person wanted children and the other did not. Yet…they got engaged.

Before Antonio and I parted ways, I knew that we had some issues we never really addressed. I was aware of the things that I wanted him to work on, and he also expressed things he wanted me to work on. And I tried my best to be a better person for him because I wanted to be the woman he chose to make his wife and have a future with. In some ways, I think I did give him an ultimatum. I reminisced on the times when I would tell him that I wanted to be married in two years and didn’t want my time wasted. Again, healing is messy, so just hear me out on these next few sentences. While watching this conflicting show, I began to wonder if I made a mistake of sharing all of my future plans with him when we were only three, four months into dating. Did it overwhelm him? Were we moving way too fast? Did I make him uncomfortable? Was us breaking up all my fault? These were all the thoughts that ran through my mind while I had this show on pause. The thought that proceeded was: Should I text him and pour out my feelings? Thank God sleep took over my body immediately after that thought. I am not a reactionary person, but this show has brought up many feelings for me as it relates to ultimatums, love, and choice. Feelings that I felt I needed to address right away (this is the last time I’d ever watch a show about relationships so late at night).

I did not realize that my desire to be loved and chosen by Antonio was so robust until I, unintentionally, heard he was dating someone else. I couldn’t quite tell if it was me having a bruised ego or those deeper issues I mentioned not addressing. Still, knowing that he moved on, even though he expressed envisioning a future with me, hurt. It would be so easy for me to hate him and then rant about me hating the entire species of men, but this entire 1.5 years of healing has taught me so much about what I love about love, and what I don’t love about love. I do not view our relationship as a failed one. I believe we’ve grown each other up in many ways. I’ve done therapeutic healing work and I could only hope that he has done the same. Once I gained this new, profound insight, I've started to (slowly, but surely) shift my thinking from him not choosing me to him choosing someone who best meets his needs in this moment.

It’s so funny how timing works. Perhaps I needed to hear about Antonio moving on, and then I needed to watch The Ultimatum to remind me that grieving the loss of a relationship is okay. And, if you’ve done the healing work, every relationship after gets better because you grew and got better. Everything gets better. New and healthier relationships can be formed. Growing should not end even after your relationship with a person has ended. I've also learned that it's okay to choose no one but yourself. There's this unspoken fear of losing someone we have grown to love and know because we don't want to start over, and we especially don't want to be alone. Sometimes being alone is just what we need. I have not yet finished watching The Ultimatum; I don’t know if the couples decided to stay with each other or chose the person they connected with for three weeks. But I am grateful for the perspective this show has given me thus far. Granted, I may feel great today and sad tomorrow but again, the healing process is very unpredictable.

I am proud of myself, though. Self has done so much transformative healing over the past four years. Self has opened herself up to love knowing that she could also be opening herself up to heartbreak. Self has grown. Tremendously. Self welcomes new insights and perspectives daily. Self has never taken ten steps backward on the journey to healing; she only turned around to clean up the remaining shattered glasses she missed. Self will experience true, authentic, and free-flowing love. Self’s story is still being written.

Here ends my commentary on The Ultimatum, choice, and other feelings

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