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“You can’t begin a healthy relationship with the right guy if your heart is still busy making excuses for the wrong one.”

Sep, 11, 2017

Raise your hand if you’ve ever accepted less in love when you could have had so much more.

It’s a tale as old as time: A smart woman makes the dumb call to knowingly ignore exploring romantic possibilities with a good man she’s not that into in favor of speeding down a dead end road with the bad-for-her guy she just can’t quit. This week that woman is Molly on Insecure’s phenomenal season 2 finale “Hella Perspective”—and we hate her for it!—yet meanwhile in real life we know that woman too. We’ve been her before and we may even be her today; she’s hella real to us. I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t have a story to tell about a moment in her life when she found herself at a similar crossroads and she went left while desperately trying to convince herself she was in fact doing right by her heart.

When Molly opened the door, I really wanted her well-intentioned colleague Quentin to be on the other side, but I knew we’d be looking at Dro’s slippery self. Molly doesn’t get it yet, but I knew because, I remember a time during my early 20s—before I met my husband—when I was somehow able to convince myself that choosing the guy with potential to have potential made more sense than being open to the very real possibilities right in front of me.

Back then, it was easier than I’d like to admit to blow off the kind, generous, and emotionally mature guy right in front me in favor of fantasizing about being in a relationship with a dude who I couldn’t even lay eyes on half the time, nevermind count on to call me back. I realized later on that many of the guys I overlooked and cast aside then actually saw my crown before I realized I was wearing one. When I was still distracted playing jester for some fake king I’d made out to be a great catch (who actually wasn’t), all the while these guys treated me like the queen that I later understood myself to be.

It’s fascinating how when we don’t yet know our value or truly understand ourselves, no amount of success or education can protect us from making the wrong choices in love. When I chose what I thought was love, based on my wants instead of my needs, my heart was repeatedly broken and my pride wound up bruised. Afterward, like Issa when Lawrence walked out of their apartment door for good, I was left with a lot of “what ifs.” They were tough pills to swallow. It was only after I grew through that pain that I began to better understand that dating smart means dating on your worth level.

We're not always proud of these bad choices after we make them and the proof is in our actions that follow. Molly isn't telling her girls that Dro's back in her bed again because she doesn't want them questioning her about a decision she's already questioning. Instead, she sold them a Quentin storyline that even she doesn't believe. that's what we do. It's how we dodge and evade our truths when we're still learning the ways of love.

Choosing wisely means understanding when there’s really no choice to be made at all because the answer is clear as day. You can’t choose a man who has already chosen not to make you a priority. Although, in fairness to the human condition, you can’t begin a healthy relationship with the right guy if your heart is still busy making excuses for the wrong one.

Even In TV land, it still stings to watch a sister choose toxic repetition over new beginnings. For women, in so many ways this poor choice phase is an inevitable dating rite of passage we must encounter, endure and then grow from, but I really wish we could all just skip the heartbreak that comes with it and get to the point. You can’t choose the right partner until you choose to put yourself and your needs first. It’s that simple.

Poor Quentin. Even with his listening ear, good jokes and go Molly pep talks, he never stood a chance with her. Molly has yet to appreciate the Molly he’s falling for, and until she does, trust and believe, Dro’s “open marriage” ass will be at that door. Sure, watching Molly halt her emotional healing and growth once again to go back down a familiar road with a man who won’t (or can’t, depending on how you look at it) put her first, wasn’t the season ending fans hoped for, but it is how life goes.

When it comes to messy matters of the heart, sometimes we just have to grow to know, and when we do, the wins will follow. Molly will get there eventually, like most of us do, but not without casualties like Quentin left behind. He definitely shouldn’t wait on Molly to get the message, but as I start counting down the days until season 3, it looks like we will have to.

Charli Penn is the Senior Relationships and Lifestyle Editor at ESSENCE.com. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram to continue the discussion.