Courtesy of HBO

Insecure regularly reminds me of the lessons I am thankful to have learned in my late 20s and early 30s about relationships, sexuality and owning my womanhood. As the second season gets off to a hard and fast start, I am reminded that I have been Issa, I have been Tasha and I have fucked my fair share of Lawrences over the years.

It’s hard for people to admit that they have cheated. No one wants to look like the bad guy or the asshole in the retelling of their relationship, but there I was, living 300 miles away from my boyfriend at the time and carrying on a whole other relationship because I was lonely and bored and couldn’t wait for him to be done with school. I have been Issa.

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It’s not that he wasn’t a good guy; he really was. I loved him with all my heart, but the distance and his inability to step out of his own comfort zone made it hard to reconcile that with my needs and desires as a woman. I let another man step in.

In my mind, it wasn’t a big deal because I knew that in the end, I would always belong to my long-distance lover, but Mr. Right Here and Now was filling up a space and making it easier for me to deal with only seeing Mr. Far Away on holidays and summer breaks.

Things came to a head when Mr. Right Here and Now found my journal and read it. Inside, I had penned all my thoughts, yearnings and desires for Mr. Far Away and my promise that as soon as his grad studies were done, I would let Mr. Right Here and Now go and resume my relationship without any outside complications.

Issa and Lawrence (HBO)

Mr. Right Here and Now didn’t let me know right away that he knew what was up. Instead, I found out the very next time I opened up my journal to write in it. Inside was a note, scrawled in Mr. Right Here and Now’s very recognizable sloppy scrawl: “Go your ass back to [S—].”

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I was shocked and horrified that he had read my journal because there were so many thoughts in there that didn’t involve him or Mr. Far Away. I felt as though my privacy had been invaded, and I also felt stupid for getting caught in my own scheme.

I went to Mr. Right Here and Now and tried to explain to him, but he wasn’t trying to hear it. He was hurt, just like Lawrence, and my excuses weren’t going to make it any better, only worse. I had used him, and all my protestations to the contrary only made him angrier.

We haven’t spoken since.

I was dead wrong, and I can admit that. It was a hard lesson to learn, but an important one nonetheless. Maybe if I had been up-front with him about what I was looking for, it would have been an easier pill for him to swallow. Maybe if I had told him the truth sooner, it wouldn’t have hurt as bad.

Maybe if I had known and understood myself a little better, I wouldn’t have dragged him into my bullshit in the first place.

I have been Tasha, too. I have been the girl who knows the man isn’t shit, but lets him in anyway. I have been the woman who knows he doesn’t want a real relationship with me, but I give him all the benefits of a relationship anyway in hopes that he will recognize the good woman in front of him and pick me.

Tasha and Lawrence (HBO)

Yes, I have been a “Pick Me.”

It never worked out in any of those situations. There’s no need for any man to commit to you when you have given him the keys to the kingdom without a commitment. I had already shown them that they could have it all with their worst effort; why would they put forth their best?

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The fact that Tasha was hoping that doing the most would make her win the prize that is supposedly Lawrence is something a lot of women can relate to, including me.

We let them have it all, and they take it, and we end up worn from the effort of it and the emotional expense. We have to stop doing this to ourselves. It is oftentimes an exercise in futility, and we will always lose that game. Even the best “good dude” is going to take it for free if you let him have it.

We have all had a Lawrence.

The problem with dudes like Lawrence is that they never intend to hurt you. In fact, they never intend anything.

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They come to women, do everything to get their attention, and once they have it, they don’t know what to do next because they didn’t think it through.

Lawrence (HBO)

These are the dudes who come to you on the rebound from a breakup, not having fully resolved their feelings for their ex but insistent on having you now and in this moment.

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They are looking for someone else to give them attention, someone else to make them feel good. They aren’t thinking about what comes next because they are focused only on the moment. They can’t see past the blinding field of emotion they’re still trying to sort through, but they aren’t man enough to tell you that.

When you hit them with that “What are we?” conversation—or, worse yet, call them out the way Tasha called out Lawrence—they want to hit you with the whole, “Well, I wasn’t really looking for anything serious.”

The only problem is, they never made that clear from the start.

For some of them, the reason they don’t make that clear from the start is simple: They know that in doing so, they risk not getting the level of attention from you that they could get if they simply lie through omission or mislead you.

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That thought pattern is problematic. Even the ones who know they only want a roll in the hay or four or five are afraid to tell you.

And that sucks because there are a great many of us women who are down for the smash and dash. Many of us will let you fall through, get that quick nut and kick you out before the candles burn down.

The problem is, a lot of men can’t handle that. For those men, it only feels good when they think the woman has some sort of deep emotional attachment to them—that she wants him more than he wants her.

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So they engage in a practice I like to call shoplifting the pussy. They are emotionally dishonest. They withhold facts and lie to get what they want. All because their greatest fear is that they will be Tasha. They are scared to be on the losing end of that “What are we?” conversation; their fragile egos can’t handle it.

So, instead of being honest, they dress up their indecision in relationship clothes in order to get something for nothing and then blame the woman or fall back on “I really didn’t want something serious” when it blows up in their faces.

It’s time for all of us to cut the shit. It’s time to stop being Issa. It’s time to stop being Tasha. It’s time to stop being Lawrence.

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Own your feelings. Be up-front with people. Stop shoplifting the pussy with your bad intentions.

Tell people what you want and let them decide if they want to be that for you. If they do, cool. If they don’t, move around. There’s more to be had out there.

Just stop being so fucking insecure.