Long before the term took up residency in the “Urban Dictionary” and became part of the Millennial’s lexicon, I understood the true meaning of being “ride or die.” Growing up Italian, you learn early about the importance of family, Sunday gravy, not being a “snitch,” and loyalty. It sounds cliché but it is the way I was brought up. Now I am not suggesting we were anything like the Sopranos, far from it, but there are certain traits that Italians share, and for my father, being the first generation to be born in America, the son of Immigrant Italian parents, this was all but ingrained in him.
When I began dating, it never occurred to me to be anything but ride or die. If someone had my heart, they had me, all of me. Body, mind, and soul. I didn’t share the intimate parts of myself freely, so if I felt a connection, there wasn’t any question on my part if I was all in! I was! I’m not just talking intimate in the physical sense, yes that was a given, but more important to me, was that if I was in a committed relationship that person understood that I was with them through thick and thin, and that I would walk through fire for them. I was the Bonnie to their Clyde. Ok, maybe that’s extreme, I never broke the law, I was never arrested, and I never robbed anyone. However, on more than one occasion I did perhaps commit to some risqué and impulsive behavior, knowingly rode dirty, all in the name of love, or my perception of it. Totally my doing, I am not asserting blame, nor will I ever, to any actions I knowingly entered into.
Being “ride or die” is admittedly, wildly noble, but it is not without repercussions and unrequited reciprocation. What one person deems loyalty, “ride or die” the other may view as dutiful. This certainly changes the dynamic and perception of things dramatically, and there is nothing more disheartening than realizing that your efforts, as well-meaning and well-intentioned as they are, are expected, encouraged, and met with little appreciation or worse, unreciprocated.
Truth is, as loyal, as badass “ride or die”as you are, for as much as you are, not everyone will share your same ideals and see the importance of it as being such. Maybe these values were of little importance to them as children because they weren’t taught, maybe they are now cynical from past relationships, or maybe, just maybe, they are unaware of the role this plays in a relationship. I have a theory about this, and I can tell you that from my experience, most of being “ride or die” is innate to who you are as a person, if you value relationships, understand the true meaning of love, and instinctively follow the path of loyalty, you are already “ride or die”. For many people this get lost in translation, and they don’t see relationships in this way. For one thing the culture that the “ride or die” mentality came up in was Rap, and while I do love the genre, this is still a very sexist culture, that feels that it is the woman’s job to be all in, ride or die till the end. It is that whole male machismo mentality, that perpetuates the idea that men can be middle of the road, all in or all out, and this is acceptable.
Not that the concept of ‘ride or die” is new, loyalty has been around since the dawn of time, but I mean the generational perception of loyalty. While it is less prevalent in “Gen Xers” as being one-sided, there are still some men out there who because of generational ideals, believe that loyalty is earned and that it will be granted when someone has proven their worthiness. I do understand this to some degree, but for me, I see loyalty as being the cornerstone to a solid relationship, and coming from a place of sincerity, honesty, and integrity. I don’t truly believe you can be in a loving, lasting, relationship without these things. But in truth, being “ride or die” is not just a philosophy for how you should conduct yourself in a relationship, it is a philosophy for how you should live your life. For me, I have been “ride or die” for many causes just as I have been for my relationships, such as, Women’s Rights, including the Right to Choose, Gay Rights, Children’s Advocacy programs, and for community programs that I felt compelled to rally for.
The reality is, being “ride or die” is so different in so many people. For some, loyalty is broken the moment there are secrets among couples. For others, it is broken when the alliance is to a career, an addiction, or another person, more so than the family and marital obligations. For me, one of the worst breaches of loyalty comes when I feel a person doesn’t have my back and betrays me. I can accept many things, but when you are giving you are all to someone, not necessarily a partner, but even in a friendship, and the other person begins to show their true colors, and you can see that their heart is truly not the same as yours, that for me is the beginning of the end. A true deal breaker.
So I guess in the end, being “ride or die” is the fiber of who you are, in the confounds of what you believe, and the part of you, that you give to another, in the hopes that you will receive the same. It is human nature to seek out what we feel will complete us on our journey to self, to understanding, to our higher purpose, and in doing so, sometimes we learn some of the most insightful, impactful, and most profound lessons, and it is in those moments that I will always be,”ride or die”.