Security Breaches of the Heart

Donnie Belcher
9 min readJul 15, 2020

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Our “spidey senses,” our gut, the tingling feeling we get on the back of our necks… our intuition is one of the survival mechanisms installed into our beings to help us navigate life. I have been revisiting some of the poor romantic decisions I have made in my life, starting with my Relationships Are Experiences, Not Achievements article to examine where and how things went wrong in an effort to avoid placing myself in similar situations in the future.

When a security breach occurs, the first question investigators ask is “how did they get in?” The answer to that question reveals so much about the intruder, highlights a weakness that we didn’t even know that we had and hopefully provides a path forward for preventing a similar breach from happening in the future.

“I have loved…

  • Men who wanted to keep our relationship a secret.
  • Men who cheated on me.
  • Men who were misogynistic, and I knew it before partnering with them.
  • Men who were of a different faith than me.
  • Men who were significantly older & more experienced than me.
  • Men who I allowed to pass off my ideas or words as their own.
  • Men who made me feel unattractive.
  • Men who had not yet met and been filtered by my family.
  • Men who were jealous & verbally abusive.
  • Men who were controlling.
  • Men who were “getting out” of one relationship and transitioning into a relationship with me.” (Source: Relationships Are Experiences, Not Achievements).

For the intruder who wanted to keep our relationship secret…

He “got in” because he exploited my desire to protect him. I also believed that keeping our relationship a secret would protect the relationship. I thought “people can’t ruin something that they don’t know about.” The truth is, people also can’t respect something that they don’t know about. In this situation I also left the “window of insecurity” wide open. My insecurity was running rampant at the time, and I was worried that others would criticize our relationship because they felt I wasn’t pretty or smart enough. Ultimately I learned that our relationship had very little to do with anyone else, and everything to do with us. I had to “seal up” the hole that allowed others thoughts & opinions to influence how I felt and operated within the relationship.

For the intruder who cheated on me…

He bypassed my alarm system because he convinced me that “all men cheat.” He convinced me that everything else — his ability to provide, the amount of time we spent together, his desire to not cheat should all be weighted heavier than his cheating. He said that he didn’t love the women he cheated with, so it didn’t matter. He said that he wasn’t committed to the women he cheated with, so it didn’t matter. He promised that he wouldn’t leave me no matter what. He said that multiple times and multiple incidents of cheating… I realized that I had abandonment issues. I started asking myself “why am I so afraid of him leaving?” It was at that moment that I decided to REPROGRAM my alarm system. I started following the mantra — if it/he comes… let him if it/he goes… let him. If someone makes the decision that they don’t want to be with me… life goes on. He also had no reason to leave because he was able to do what he wanted (cheat) and still be in relationship with me. It was a classic example of what my mom would call “having your cake & eating it too.”

For the intruders who were misogynistic, and I knew it before partnering with them.

The misogynist made me feel special because he convinced me that I “wasn’t like other women.” His hatred of other women seemed to amplify his love for me. Anyone who tries to make you an exception is only reinforcing his/her problematic and dangerous ideology. It is only a matter of time before the logic that they use to harm others becomes harmful to you or others that you love and care about. I also thought that I could influence his thinking, and while I believe that I was a positive influence on his thoughts and feelings toward women — I caused myself harm in the process. Also, it is not my responsibility to “help” a misogynistic man stop hating women, in the same way that it’s not my responsibility to “help” a racist stop hating black people. That was really his mother & father’s job, but that’s another story for another day.

For the intruders who were of a different faith than me.

When you are in a relationship with a person of a different faith, both parties are always seeking to “convert” the other. Faith is also a question of values and character. This intruder wanted to have multiple wives which was not something that I was interested in before we got together and my stance on that never changed. Another intruder wanted to change the way that I dressed, so it was constant battle of him questioning what I put on, and me pushing back asserting my autonomy and my independence. Needless to say, neither of the relationships worked out long term. What a man believes is important, and if we believe the same or similar things — we can support each other in helpful ways and we can be aligned in behavior, future plans and ultimately in life.

For the intruders who were significantly older & more experienced than me.

This started when I was pretty young. The age gap in dating for me has been consistently, 5, 6, 7+ years. I am currently dating someone who is just 6 months older than me for the 2nd time (this same gentleman was also my High School Sweetheart and the first guy I dated who was my age). On more than one occasion, these guys who were older mentioned something about being able to “mold” me. For some reason, I also felt more of a sense of security with them, because of their experience and perceived “maturity.” People can be problematic at any age, and it should have been a red flag that so many of my romantic partners ONLY DATED younger women.

For the intruders who I allowed to pass off my ideas or words as their own.

I have never been a person that LOVES being in the spotlight. I have always been more comfortable being in the background. This also comes down to self-value. In those situations, I did not advocate for myself and what I wanted. A reluctant “yes” can be just as problematic as a cautious “no” because it gives the receiver the perception of willingness and consent. Even if they can pick up on the reluctance, the “yes” can be just what they need to move forward. Also the notion that “what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is yours,” is real cute… until you break up or get divorced. Whatever you’ve given them that is yours, will still belong to them, long after you part ways ESPECIALLY when it comes to intellectual property.

For the intruders who made me feel unattractive.

It is hard to be a black woman with “African Features” in America. There used to be a saying “if you’re black, get back, if you’re brown, stick around, if you’re white, you’re alright.” I have spent the better part of my 30s, unpacking my notions of beauty. I have had a lifetime to develop my feelings on beauty. I cringe when I hear someone say “she’s a pretty girl” and their definition of “pretty” affirms anti-blackness. I cry real tears when celebrities (most recently Ari Lennox) talk about people pressuring them to get a nose job or other plastic surgery. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw a celebrity with my features (shout out to India Arie & Viola Davis) cast as a love interest or celebrated for her beauty. And then when we add body type to the mix, it just becomes even more complicated. Men have made comments about how pretty I’d be, if it weren’t for my nose. Or how big they’d allow me to get before they wouldn’t want to be with me anymore. I have decided that I am not available for those types of relationships anymore. I have also been working hard on reframing my ideas about beauty and using alternative and independent media sources to consume content and support brands that are reflective of me in all ways.

For the intruders who had not yet met or been filtered by my family.

When we are in love, we can have blind spots. In more cases than one, had my family had the opportunity to meet some of the men I dated early on, we would not have been together for as long as we had. My family and my close friends have known me for most of my life. They are going to have my best interest at heart overall, independent of a single relationships. They are also going to be there when and if a relationship crashes & burns. Now there are always going to be those individuals who feel like NO ONE is good enough for us, or who have their own trauma that they project onto others. We have to use our discernment to determine which family members can and should do the filtering and take it from there.

For the intruders who were jealous & verbally abusive and/or controlling.

Understanding the difference between healthy concern and constructive criticism and gaslighting, narcissism and abuse is important. Just because someone is controlling or possessive DOES NOT MEAN that they love you. It also DOES NOT MEAN that they will not harm you. The most important thing I did was build my communication and conflict mediation skills. I am able to articulate clearly and effectively when something is hurtful. We also tend to bring all of our habits and skills (the healthy & the not so healthy) from previous relationships. It is important to STOP doing that, and to create the necessary boundaries, norms and structures from scratch, with our partners. Just because it was normal to scream & holler in a previous relationship, does not mean that should be the norm in every relationship.

For the intruders who were “getting out” of one relationship and transitioning into a relationship with me.

Sometimes beginnings and endings of relationships are not as smooth as we’d like for them to be. In EACH case where I started a relationship with a man who was transitioning out of another, I later found out that certain details were being omitted from either the other woman or from myself. In one case, he had told her that “he needed space,” but ultimately planned to eventually reconcile with her. That’s a totally different thing than BREAKING UP with the person and not promising something else. It is an entirely different thing when you are dealing with men who are co-parenting, ESPECIALLY men who are co-parenting younger children. Ask me how I know? One of my “security weaknesses” is patience. In some of those situations, I wish I would have had the patience, and the self-respect — to WAIT until those loose ends were tied up. I wish I would have held some things back and not been so willing to give it all and give my all when he wasn’t able to do the same. I have also never cheated on any man I’ve dated or been married to. If and when it got to the place where I was mentally or emotionally entertaining even the thought of another man, I ended those relationships.

Security Breaches happen when we make decisions that go against our best interests. They are the times we ignore our intuition, get too wrapped up in external perceptions or misrepresent our true feelings. Security Breaches ONLY HAPPEN because intruders identify cracks, holes or weaknesses, and they seep through the cracks, crawl through the holes and exploit our weaknesses for their own interests. As evidenced above — I have been working really hard to identify my cracks, holes and weaknesses so that I can actively monitor “the premises.” So that I can take the necessary precautions to not be invaded, stolen from or harmed again. The only men I want in my life and in my heart are those who I invite in, not those who manipulate, finesse, or scheme their way in.



Donnie Belcher

Donnie Belcher (IG @donnienicole84) is a life-coach, business strategist & the owner of wellness company Whatever we say comes looking for us.