“You shouldn’t have to create a space for yourself in someone’s life. If they want you there, they will make room.” This was a “homemade quote” shared by Erin Harper on Facebook this morning. On a news feed filled with “you shall be great” quotes this one jumped out at me because it was so closely related to a discussion I’d heard on The Bert Show today. How did you know you’d hit rock bottom in a relationship? Co-host Kristin shared her experience of climbing through a doggy door to find evidence her boyfriend was cheating, while a caller told the story of her boyfriend lying behind her car tires. Talk about a living speed bump. Because I don’t believe in coincidences, I took these two incidents as the universe reminding me to remember my worth.

I’ve always found it awkward how some of the strongest and most intelligent women I know become pathetic, cowardly idiots for the men in their lives. I would be completely incapable of understanding how such a transformation was possible if I had not been the victim of love’s foolery myself. When I look back over those times in my life where I went completely dumb for love, I’m completely grateful for those experiences. I’m grateful because the shame and embarrassment that accompany those memories are so powerful they keep me from ever journeying back into that territory.

Over the weekend, Candice, one of my high school BFFs, asked Facebook, “Why is it that people, including me, settle for less when we know we deserve more? I think my problem is because I fear having nothing. Is something really better than nothing?” This really struck accord with me because I’ve been there and done that.

Back in 2008, I made a decision not to date anyone who didn’t recognize my worth and treat me accordingly. In the beginning it was empowering, whether I was enjoying the company of someone who deserved me, walking away from someone who didn’t or spending time alone. But after spending a significant amount of time alone, I was ready for some company. Enter Diva Dude. That’s the nickname my friends and I gave him because he always does way too much for absolutely no reason at all, but I digress.

On paper, Diva Dude was this ish. Educated, nice-looking, confident, well-dressed, well-spoken, well-traveled and “abundantly blessed” with a nice 401(k) to match. Shawty also had a mouthpiece on him with the hands to match. He would say and do all the right things at exactly the right time. He appeared to be any woman’s dream man. Most women would’ve simply been pleased to be in his company, and he knew this. In fact, on one occasion, when I wasn’t falling for his “charm” and sweet nothings, he told me, “I mean, shit, you could do a lot worse than me.” That was a red flag. And because I was determined to only be in a relationship with someone who acknowledged and appreciated my worth, I took notice.

It turns out this dream guy was enjoying his self-constructed pedestal a little too much. In his mind, he was God’s gift to women and they should just deal with whatever he decided to give them (or not give them) because he was just that fly. Eighteen-year-old Kia would’ve been with this. Hell, 24-year-old Kia probably would have been happy to oblige as well, but 30-year-old, I’m going to be happy for real not for pretend Kia didn’t have any time for his bull crap. I was too grown, too mature, too determined to be in a truly loving relationship to settle for someone who would impress my friends and my momma them, while constantly playing me to the left. I didn’t have time for the fake “you didn’t get my text?” conversations when you and I both know you never sent a text. I didn’t have time for the “give me a call when you’re free” from someone who had no plans of calling me and wasn’t attempting to make me a priority in his life. And I really didn’t have time for the “I’m in bind, so let me throw a few ‘babes’ in the convo to soften her up. Bitches, love to be called babe” moves. I could’ve settled, at least temporarily, for some decent company, good laughs and an amazing lay. But I recognized that I deserved more and allowing Diva Dude to occupy space in my life would just make it more difficult for the right man to enter.

I tell all of my business to say, I understand lonely, but I also understand the unnecessary hurt, pain and disappointment that comes with settling for less than you deserve. There’s a certain peace that comes with walking away from a person that is no good for you. There’s a certain peace in being alone and waiting for someone who truly appreciates you. And I’m sure there’s a certain peace that accompanies being in a loving, reciprocal relationship with someone who adores you. Personally, I’m prepared to wait it out until I get what I deserve because I believe a piece of a man is actually worse than no man at all.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to be crazy in love. I want to desire my man like Erykah Badu does in “I Want You” (see video below)…but I refuse to give that much of myself to anyone unless their feelings and actions are reciprocal.