As I was preparing to write this article, I thought it would be funny to add the “I got Lori Harvey on my wishlist” line that Meek Mill said in one of his songs, since I’m corny like that. As I go on Apple Music to find which song he says it in, I search Lori Harvey and would you believe that nine songs with the title Lori Harvey came up? Most of them had the same premise of a woman being “bad like Lori Harvey” and then leaving, running out or turning on a man and breaking his heart. Clearly, she has caught the attention of many and gained a reputation that seems unfair to place on someone we don’t know personally. Due to the recent breakup between her and Michael B. Jordan, many people are intrigued about the dynamics of their relationship and her motives. Now she’s back in the public eye as a well-known heart-breaker.
Leaving the table when love is no longer being served
Maybe instead of making judgments and assumptions about Lori Harvey, we could stand to learn a few lessons from her. As the late, great Nina Simone once said, “you’ve got to learn to leave the table when love is no longer being served.” So often, people stay in relationships that no longer serve them out of obligation, time spent, fear of starting over or fear of being alone. Lori is a prime example of a woman exercising the freedom and agency to leave a relationship once she feels it has run its course. Even if love is still being served, sometimes the relationship isn’t in our best interest. Instead of remaining unhappy, dragging someone else along, or cheating on them, breaking up can be a healthier alternative in a lot of situations. Plus, breakups don’t always have to end in a tumultuous way. For all we know, she could have cordial relationships with her exes.
Nevertheless, Lori is still seen as a woman who plays men. Yet I’ve never seen any reports of her cheating on the men she’s in a relationship with or leaving them for someone else. From the outside looking in, it appears that she dates someone for a while, is in a public and committed relationship with them, then there is a breakup, and after a while, she begins dating someone new. But when you think about it, isn’t that what dating is? Isn’t that what most of us do? It seems like the only difference between us and Lori is that we don’t live our lives in the public eye. Dating is an opportunity to get to know other people, explore what qualities you want in a partner, and learn about how you function in a romantic relationship.
Marriage isn’t always the end goal
In the patriarchal society that we live in, most of us have come to assume that marriage is the ultimate end goal for women. We as women are expected to dream of our wedding day from the time we are little girls. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie so eloquently stated on Beyonce’s Flawless:
“Because I am a female, I am expected to aspire to marriage, I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?”
It is this patriarchal mindset that is one of the leading factors contributing to why people have so much to say about Lori Harvey’s dating. The assumption is that she and Michael B. Jordan are in a relationship that perfectly exemplifies what “Black Love” should be: they’re both young, attractive, and successful. Why not stay with him and build a life together? But who is to say that she wants that? When news of Lori and Michael B. Jordan’s breakup first surfaced, an inside source had revealed the couple realized they weren’t on the same page about their future. Michael was ready to take their relationship to the next level, but Lori wasn’t ready to commit and still wanted to have fun and be free. Keep in mind, Lori is only 25 years old. Michael B. Jordan is 35. A decade’s age difference can have a huge impact on a relationship. They are in two completely different stages in their life. At 25 years old, there are plenty of people who would prefer to date around as they please and be able to focus on their career instead of settling down and starting a family.
Not to mention, marriage has become less of a necessity for survival for cisgender, straight women, and more of a choice. This isn’t the 1940s and 1950s (even though the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade is making us feel otherwise) where women needed a man in order to open a bank account or own a home. Women, especially Black women, are now earning more degrees and potentially making more money than our counterparts. So to bind ourselves legally and financially to a male partner isn’t necessarily the fairytale ending many of us have in mind anymore. Lori Harvey is already a successful business owner and model. I highly doubt marriage is at the forefront of her mind at the moment. And why should it be?
The Double Standard
Can you think of any 25 year old, attractive, high earning, Black men that are in the spotlight? Do you think they would be shamed or labeled as a hoe or heartbreaker if they dated and had a few unsuccessful relationships with women in the industry? Or would it just be seen as typical male behavior? As the quote I used earlier stated, we teach girls to aspire to marriage, but not boys. That is a key example of the double standards between men and women in this society. Men are expected to be non-committal, so when they date around it isn’t frowned upon. But when women do, they have to deal with judgment. I think we are aware of this double standard, but its impact isn’t always recognized.
A few months ago, I read Communion: The Female Search for Love by bell hooks, which was a phenomenal read. My biggest takeaway from the book was how the idea of women being better at loving is not only an unfair double standard but can also be harmful. She stated when we internalize this belief that women are better at loving than men, we don’t challenge ourselves as women to see if we can be better at loving since we assume we’re already better at it. We also don’t hold men accountable for their actions because the assumption is they don’t know any better. As a couple and family therapist, I see first hand how these double standards harm relationships. Men and women are socialized to behave one way, but once they get into a relationship they’re expected to behave another. Not to mention, these beliefs are generalizations that don’t apply to every individual person.
There are plenty of men who desire to be in long-term, monogamous relationships, and there are plenty of women who are not seeking marriage and want to enjoy their freedom. Relationships are enough work when it’s just two people. I can’t begin to imagine the stress that celebrity relationships are put through when they have to be in the public eye. So before we continue to place judgment, let’s think of how Lori Harvey can be a positive example, not just the latest Black woman to be criticized in the media.