Are you bothered by Rihanna’s approach to dating? You shouldn’t be. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with shedding boyfriends like winter weight in March. And, as much as I hate inserting myself into the story, I must say that as a heterosexual cis male, I’ve never had to shed boyfriends. I have, however, broken up with many girlfriends, leaving a trail of broken, confused and some unbothered hearts. I’ve been described by my peers as a “serial monogamist”, hopscotching from one relationship to another, and as unsavory as the term may sound, I’ve never truly had to bear the full burden of the slight in its use and agency. Somewhere deep down inside, I suspect that we all expect men to jump from one relationship to another, but women are not afforded the same luxury. Guy has two girlfriends in one year: player. Girl has two boyfriends in one year, well, the list of three and four letter words is too long for this 6 min read.
So, here we are, back at line one. Does Rihanna’s approach to dating bother you? I hope not, but it is bothering a whole host of folks. In a recent Vogue interview, Rihanna told the magazine that she broke things off with some guy she was dating because she “got tired of him”, and naturally, a specific group of people seemed to be offended by this news. Rih Rih’s billionaire ex-boyfriend is the latest in a string apparent failed* relationships, and her unattached approach to dating is rubbing folks who are blindly committed to the idea that women need relationships, the “You should be grateful for a good man” crew, the wrong way. Let me clear my throat:
You should not be offended by Rihanna’s approach to dating or any other human who decides to handle their love life in this manner.
If you are offended, allow me to offer a bit of help to cure your ailment. To be unbothered by Rihanna’s dating behaviors, you must accept three simple truths. Don’t worry about jumping over to Google. Lucky for you, I’ve provided them in a list below, because we just love lists.
Relationships are not a requirment
My mother has high hopes for me. She hopes that one day I’ll experience relationship nirvana, maybe get married and live happily ever after. But Momma always told me, “You ain’t married until you’re married”. Relationships are a choice, not a requirement, and we can dissolve these relational contracts just as easily as we bind them.
We get blasted with images of idealistic monogamous relationships our whole lives, and it’s not hard to see where we get these expectations from. Beneath all of our ideals, though, is our choice. Regardless of what you’ve seen, heard or believe about women, they have that choice as well to opt in to these ideals or do the opposite. Accepting this will bring you one step closer to letting go of your frustrations with Rih Rih.
Women can be serial monogamists too
To many, Rihanna’s dating history may stack up to look like a pile of failed relationships, and maybe that’s why this latest love casualty may be rubbing folks the wrong way. They analyze her love life and say to themselves, “She’s causing all this trouble for herself by leaving good men”. Here’s a thought. Maybe she hasn’t met a good catch. Maybe she wants to see other people. Per the last point, it’s her choice. I know. It sounds crazy, but women can have strings of relationships just like men!
Also, relationships that don’t climax at the altar are not “failed relationships”*. They may be old news, but orienting relationship “success” to one singular moment in a long relational journey that may very well span beyond a wedding, limits the omnipotence of love to a civil union. Love is love. Marriage is marriage. Rihanna seems like someone who values her individual happiness and peace over frameworks and social expectations.
What a novel idea to seek your own peace before searching for it with someone else. Women can be serially monogamous too, should they so choose, until they find who and what they want.
There’s no right or wrong
Finally, underneath the social constructs of relationship success, there’s a gut-punching moral debate about Rihanna’s dating approach. Is it right for her to go about relationships in this manner?
Some of this comes from patriarchal, misogynistic bullshit. Frankly, it doesn’t matter. There’s no right way to date. You can date traditionally, polyamorously or wherever you land in the love spectrum. No one approach is more right than another. There is, however, a right way to be a good partner.
We get so wrapped up in complex frameworks and expectations that we forget relationships are simple and only require two things: consent and communication between the people involved. When two people communicate their ideals and consent to whatever they decide works for them, then it’s a relationship. Take one of those two things away, and you have nothing. We don’t know the inner workings of Rihanna’s past relationships, but somewhere in each case, consent and communication were no longer present. Once those are gone, relationships dissolve.
There’s nothing to get your boxer-briefs in a bunch for. Rihanna and women like her will be just fine and honestly, if you’re that concerned about Rihanna’s love life, then you probably have a lot more to worry about than she does.