Photo via @diddy
I struggle with what and how much we should share on social media. I over-stand that everything ain’t for everybody and there is something perhaps unnatural about sharing your personal emotions for the potential consumption of thousands of people, many of whom are strangers. But the beauty of social media is that it highlights our interconnectedness as human beings. It allows us to have conversations. In sharing our thoughts and feelings, other people feel less alone in the similar emotions they feel.
With that connectedness though, comes the opportunity for people to misinterpret and misjudge not only your emotions but your character and life as a whole. I’m concerned when people, and celebrities in particular, share their feelings of grief and mourning on social media. Sharing this type of vulnerability with strangers who will offer ignorant, uninformed, and callous commentary in response can’t be healthy.
The passing of Kim Porter, model, actress, mother, and longtime girlfriend of Sean “Diddy” Combs, was a shock. This was a 47-year-old woman who enjoyed some level of wealth and privilege, who seemed to be devoted to raising the four children she shared with Diddy.
Diddy waited three days after her passing to share how he felt with the world.
I would be lying if I said it wasn’t something I was personally waiting for. His thoughts on the death of the mother of his children while real for him and his family, was content for us.
And the posts continued.
Somewhere the conversation in the comments shifted from people offering Diddy love and condolences to questioning him about his decision never to marry Porter. Diddy even acknowledged that he “played himself” by not marrying Kim. To be honest, I understood the inquiry. From the outside looking in, there were more than a few instances where it seemed like he was playing her more than he was playing himself. One minute the world knew they were a couple and then the next, he was out, gallivanting with J. Lo. One minute they’re on the cover of ESSENCE, and the next, he’s welcoming a child with another woman, months before the couple’s twins were born.
There are people who feel Diddy is re-imagining his relationship with Porter, that he is forgetting or absolving himself of the hurt and pain he caused her throughout the course of their on again, off-again relationship from 1994 to 2007.
That’s a possibility. I imagine the pain of knowing you hurt someone who is no longer here can be hard to acknowledge. And, to the credit of folk on social media, there is something dishonorable about neglecting to tell the truth of your relationship now that you’re the only one who can speak about it.
Still, there’s a difference between recognizing that Diddy might be remembering his relationship with Kim as more idyllic than it really was and making the decision to go in his comment section in an attempt to heap on more regret and guilt by demanding that he do the impossible, go back in time and marry Kim Porter.
Sadly, Diddy is not only seeing these comments, he’s responding to them.
I understand all of Diddy’s posts have highlighted the sacrifices Kim made for him and speak very little about what he did for her in return. It’s toxic and points to the problems of one-sided relationships. But people are acting like him marrying her would have been a concession he needed to make to make all of her sacrifices worth it, to ensure that she was treated properly in their relationship. And that's just not true.
Diddy’s posts about Kim represent that ways in which so many men undervalue women to the point that it takes losing them to understand how much she contributed. But I know in my heart that marriage wouldn’t have changed that dynamic. If anything it would have exacerbated it. I’ve seen it time and time again in real life.
A woman bends over backward, stifles herself, shrinks and morphs herself for the sake of proving that’s she’s wife material. And the only thing she requires her man to do is propose with a ring. Let’s say the couple makes it down the aisle. Perhaps the woman feels like now that she’s been “elevated” to wife, this man who has been doing nothing but taking in their relationship, will suddenly turn over a new leaf and become the generous reciprocal lover she’s always wanted. But that’s not how it goes. If anything, the man will believe the woman should be doing more because he gave her this highly coveted title and a ring. He ends up doing even less than he was before. They continue the pattern and the woman realizes that the title didn’t come with any additional emotional perks. It doesn’t make him more loyal, more of a partner than he was before, None of it. Instead, in the words of Judge Lynn Toler, the woman is becomes more like a live-in appliance.
This is what would have happened to Diddy and Kim. Nothing about his behavior would have changed. I find it hard to believe that the people in his comment section honestly think that the Diddy of the early 2000s would have been faithful to her. She just would have gotten played as Mrs. Combs without the ease of leaving like she did as Kim Porter.
And the both of them knew this. In 2009, Porter told ESSENCE why she packed up all of her things and left Diddy’s home when he was out of town. She also spoke about the notion that Combs was disrespecting her because he wouldn’t marry her.
PORTER: "Do you know how many rings I have? I don’t even have enough fingers (laughing). That’s not why I left.
ESSENCE: So if he called you today and said, “I want to get married, right now.”?
PORTER: I would say “No.” And not because I don’t want to get married, but because he’s not ready to get married. When I get married, I want to stay married. I want both parties to be on the same page at the same time, and to leave a certain type of behavior behind. That’s a commitment I don’t think he’s ready for… I left because at this point in my life I want something different for myself. I invested ten years, I have children, and I’ve always stood by him. But now it’s time for me and what I want to do for Kim."
That was ten years ago. Knowing what we know now, it's a good thing she did take that time for herself instead of spending the last ten years of her life being in a relationship that left her unhappy and unfulfilled.
What was even more telling is that Porter said Diddy's inability to be forthcoming about the child he had on the way caused her to lose respect for him as a man and as a friend.
Why marry someone like that?
There’s no doubt that Kim wanted to marry Diddy. Still, she knew it wouldn’t have solved anything. And the insistence from strangers that marrying Kim would have changed their relationship makes me question the expectations we as a society place on the institution of marriage and not the two people involved in the union. If you're not happy as his girlfriend, you won't be happy as his wife.
No doubt Diddy was disrespecting Kim by cheating on her, not being entirely honest, and likely leading her to believe that they one day they would marry. But his decision not to marry her just to continue whoring around, point to the love and respect he did have for her. It’s probably the reason why the two were able to maintain a deep friendship, despite not being together as a couple.
In that same interview with ESSENCE, Porter said, “Sean and I have this bond, this friendship. It’s not about ‘if you’re faithful to me, if I’m being faithful to you.’ We’re friends. I’m the person he can tell his inner most thoughts to and he’s that person for me. He still calls me everyday and we talk. There’s no ill feeling or ‘I can’t stand you, I hate you, don’t call.’ There’s none of that. We have three children together so that’s just not an option. We’re committed to our children even if we couldn’t commit to each other.”
Quiet as it’s kept, there are a lot of married women who don’t share this type of relationship with their husbands. And if Porter were expecting certain types of behaviors to cease in a marriage and they did not, the bitterness that would have birthed could have caused her to lose the connection they did share.
I understand the idea of wanting to be married. But in society we have to get over false notion that in order to be fully worthy, you have to be bound to another human being. It’s just not true, especially when a marriage would have left you more depleted than you were alone.
I don’t know this to be true but I can imagine that if I were Kim Porter, I would have deeply resented the fact that every time my name was uttered in the public sphere, it was in reference to Diddy. I would have detested feeling like people somehow regarded me as “less than” because I was never married. Whether she felt this way or not, what is particularly sad is that even in death, Kim Porter's legacy is being reduced to her never being a man's wife.