OPINION: With Nathan’s mental health needs, is this the best move for him right now?
I know I was supposed to feel butterflies while watching Issa and Nathan be honest about their feelings for one another. I know I was supposed to love the very grown, very adult-like clear and direct communication they shared in this episode. I was supposed to love that Issa was moving forward and not staying stuck on Lawrence. I know that that was my assignment.
All I could think was, ‘Damn, my boy Nathan ‘bout to go through it when this thing doesn’t work out’ (And I know I can’t be the only one who was thinking that). I was sitting there with my fake Chrissy Tiegen award show smile trying to be happy for them.
But I felt like one of those old Black grandmas from down south who knows that your relationship ain’t sh*t before you do (Not saying this relationship ain’t sh*t — far from it — but your girl has some concerns.)
I wanted to pull Nathan to the side and say, ‘this ain’t it.’
I love Issa. And I love Nathan. Separately. As friends. They need to mutually mosey their asses back into the friend zone. Every attraction doesn’t have to be acted on. Sometimes the friend zone can be a beautiful safe space that allows a relationship to blossom without the pressure and ‘expectations’ that relationships bring.
A few weeks ago, I explained why Nathan probably isn’t the best choice for Issa. This week, it’s Issa’s turn in the hot seat. Her red flags are blinking, and I need Nathan to pay attention. She may be the star of the show, but as Chey so eloquently put it, “everybody can get it” (Ain’t sh*t changed).
So, first things first is red flag number one: homegirl cried over an ex in his mouth. It’s clear that Issa is not ready to date (Somebody say that louder because our boy Nathan is in the back). Issa is not emotionally ready to date right now. That is the most glaring, obvious, low-hanging red flag that Nathan surely should have grabbed — but here we are having to spell it out for him.
Her feelings for Nathan may be real (more on that later), and his feelings for her definitely seem real, but a relationship needs more than feelings to work. It needs to occur in a healthy environment. One where both parties are actually ready (emotionally and otherwise) for what they are about to embark on.
Issa crying in his mouth screams she’s not ready. Furthermore, it says she’s still emotionally caught up on her ex.
Red flag number two: Issa needs more time to process the Lawrence breakup. Processing doesn’t have a time limit. For some people, getting over an emotional break up can take a few months, some a few years. It all depends on the severity of the break up and the effectiveness of the work they are putting into processing the break up. All I know is that Issa isn’t there — yet.
Red flag number three: Issa already had the opportunity to pick Nathan last season, yet she chose Lawrence. And I’m not saying that this is a cardinal sin, nor am I saying that that’s some sort of unforgivable mistake. It’s not. But I am saying that it’s telling of something. It’s telling what someone does when they have options. It’s also telling what they do when those options are no longer available. It may not be a stop sign, but at the very least, it’s a signal to proceed with caution (a yellow flag perhaps). It’s a sign that he should gather more information before jumping in with both feet.
But the biggest red flag of them all — especially when coupled with all these other flags and given Nathan’s mental health battles – -is that our girl Issa has demonstrated (and Nathan knows) that she’s capable of breaking a man’s heart deeply (I hate to bring up that pesky little sex-with-Daniel-in-the-studio-while-she-had-a-man-at-home situation but …).
I’m not saying once a cheater, always a cheater. People absolutely change and grow, but I am saying that once a cheater, whoever you date next for damn sure better keep their eyes open until trust within the confines of the romantic relationship has been fully gained and established. And that’s for anyone.
Together, these red and yellow flags should be enough to give Nathan pause. They should be enough to signal that waiting until they each are ready might actually be their best option. A ‘no’ doesn’t have to mean no forever. It can just mean, a ‘not right now.’ Or maybe it’s not a ‘no’ at all. Maybe it’s a delayed ‘yes.’ A ‘yes’ to them getting themselves ready for what they both want in the future. What’s the rush?
Issa and Nathan can commit themselves to experiencing each other in the space that they’re in. They should allow themselves to be honest about where they each are, what their intentions are, and commit themselves to walking down the path of getting ready for trying romance in the near future, once they’re ready. That takes trust, honesty, and work, but it helps you to ensure that what you’re building has the proper foundation to sustain itself.
In the meantime, they can just be friends. Because even with everything I’ve said about the potential issues Issa and Nathan may have as a couple, they do have a very sweet friendship. And friendship is really the foundation of any relationship. They can continue to build that.
Behind the scenes of this whole saga, the fan in me knows that we are only in episode four – -not even halfway through the season. Lawrence’s ass is definitely popping back up. And don’t be surprised if it’s in epic Dwayne Wayne, “please, baby please” fashion (This type of romantic display is a non-negotiable requirement of romantic comedies).
My spidey senses are telling me that something is brewing. I might be a fake Ms. Cleo, but I bet all of my little coins that we see Lawrence again. And when that happens, I see Issa being torn. And although my crystal ball isn’t telling me exactly what she’ll decide, I see a hurt Nathan. A Nathan, who’s already trying to manage his mental health, being dealt a blow. And while I’ve written about Nathan’s mental health issues before, the show doesn’t really give us a glimpse into exactly what he’s doing to address his mental health needs, so it’s hard to determine how this will affect him.
He says he’s in a better place, but what does that mean exactly? What is he doing — exactly — to address his mental health needs? (I’m a woman. We like to ask questions and know things). He may be doing A-plus work in that regard, but they don’t really give us a clear picture of all he’s doing on the show. Without knowing that, I can’t really tell how something like Issa grappling with a decision to return to Lawrence will affect Nathan. Does he have systems in place to deal with setbacks? Does he have a support system to lean on? (Questions that need answers).
I don’t know the answers, but I do know that I’m worried for him because I think he wants the situation with Issa to work. And I think he wants it more than she does. Not that she doesn’t want him – -just that her feelings and his may be on slightly different levels. And I’m still not too sure that this isn’t just a rebound that Issa doesn’t realize is a rebound.
I believe Nathan has always wanted more with Issa. I just think his struggles with mental health have gotten in the way at times. But I feel that he’s a respectful and patient guy who would rather be her friend than nothing at all. And honestly, those are the best types of boyfriends. I just don’t think that the situation is ripe at the moment for them to move forward.
And maybe I’ll be wrong. Maybe Issa will choose Nathan. Or maybe they’ll mutually decide that they’re better off as friends. But I really truly meant what I said when I said I’m watching this situation unfold with the Chrissy Tiegen fake smile. That smile masks fear, hesitation, uncertainty and a lot more.
I love my girl Issa, but I think it needs to be said … Good luck Nathan.
Kamaria is an attorney, poet, writer, and lover of all things created #ForTheCulture. She runs a blog, ‘Words of My Mother,’ has lived all over the DMV (heavy on the V), and enjoys skating, debating, and car karaoke. (Because, why not?!) She can be reached on Twitter at @like_tha_moon.
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