Ciara's controversial advice telling single women to 'level up' has some truth, experts say

Ciara is almost as well known for her relationship ups and downs as she is for her music. Perhaps that’s why over the weekend she was inspired to post a controversial clip from Pastor John Gray that came from a sermon directed at single women. The idea that women should “#LevelUp” to find happiness in love caused quite a stir on social media. The message was problematic to many, but it did in fact have a grain of truth, according to relationship experts.

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

“[A] wife is not the presence of a ring, it’s the presence of your character,” Gray said in the sermon. “Too many women want to be married, but you’re walking in the spirit of ‘girlfriend.’ When you carry yourself like a wife, a husband will find you.”

#LevelUp. Don’t Settle.

A post shared by Ciara (@ciara) on Jan 20, 2018 at 7:17am PST

Ciara, now married to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, went through a trying time when former fiancé Future allegedly cheated on her. Knowing this, many Twitter users thought Ciara was being hypocritical for putting all the onus on women to find a committed partner. Others took issue with the idea that being married was necessarily a “level up” from being single. At the same time, many defended her for simply sharing how she felt she grew after her heartbreak.

“[Gray’s] message is judgmental and confusing,” Jane Greer, a New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. One particular issue she has with it is the sexist nature of directing this advice to women. “A relationship is about two people. Two people determine its beginning, its longevity, and its end. To assume the start of a relationship is contingent on the woman is to look at a relationship from a single-minded perspective.”

Still, Greer agrees with Gray to some extent. “If you can get past the blurring of the distinctive roles [of wife and girlfriend], the message is that you should carry yourself with a certain regard so when you meet a man, then you hold yourself to expectations of commitment.”

Samantha Rodman, a psychologist in Maryland, explained what single people might be doing to sabotage their goals of meeting a life partner.

“A lot of people nowadays are scared of looking like they’re trying too hard or looking awkward or being vulnerable, so when they go out on dates, they kind of sell themselves as just a hookup,” she tells Yahoo. “People should be honest about what they want.”

After receiving backlash for her initial post, Ciara — who is on the board of advisors of Yahoo’s parent company, Oath — wrote another explaining her own epiphany about her self-worth after her breakup with Future. “That’s when I realized married or not married… I needed to love myself,” she wrote.


A post shared by Ciara (@ciara) on Jan 21, 2018 at 1:14pm PST

However much the phrase “walking in the spirit of a girlfriend” might make some cringe, both Rodman and Greer say there is a mindset that makes it easier to get what you want out of a relationship.

“If you’re not confident, then you’re waiting for who decides to pay attention to you,” Rodman says, adding that many people stay in bad relationships just because they’re worried they won’t meet someone else. “If you have self-confidence, you very much increase the odds of meeting somebody that’s good for you, because you’re not interested in the people who are rude, dismissive, or not that into you.”

That doesn’t mean strutting around like you own the world makes Mr. or Mrs. Right fall out of the sky.

“Meeting the right partner is a combination of your own behavior and luck/timing — no question about it!” Greer said. “Put yourself out there, extend yourself, and give yourself the opportunity to meet people. Then be open-minded and receptive to that person coming into your life.”

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