Where are we riding and why do I have to die?

A friend of mine asked me this very question when I brought up the topic and apart from making me laugh it did also make me think…should we aspire to find ride or die relationships?

I’m pretty sure that the first time I heard the term, Timbaland was rasping that he needs a ‘Ryde or Die Chick’ but as we all know finding a partner who’s a Ride or Die seems to be a common goal for many.

It may be a surprise to learn that the term originally came from the biker community and meant that if you couldn’t ride, you’d rather die. But over time it’s evolved to signify a person who will ‘ride’ and face absolutely anything with/for another person (usually a partner but sometimes a friend or a family member) or ‘die’ trying.

Being a Ride or Die essentially means you’re loyal to a fault. Honestly, I value loyalty very highly and consider myself to be quite loyal but I do have some slight concerns with the concept of being so loyal that you’ll face absolutely anything, without question, for another person.

Why being a Ride or Die can be a problem…

The concept of the Ride or Die became quite mainstream through songs by artists like Jay Z & Beyonce and Ja Rule in the early 2000s. Which meant that it was, and is, especially prevalent and bought into by the Black community.

Unfortunately the expectations placed on a Ride or Die can sometimes be synonymous with unhealthy relationships.

People who aspire to be Ride or Dies may feel as though they need to prove themselves as worthy by accepting anything their partner puts them through and not feel that they’re able to question or leave if they’re forced to do something that doesn’t align with their values. It may also mean that one party in the relationship has all the power while the ‘Ride or Die’ partner is just expected to go along with their partners decision-making without having their wants and needs considered. In addition to this because one partner knows that the Ride or Die is exceedingly loyal they become complacent and take advantage of their Ride or Die because they know that no matter what, they’re not going anywhere.

In really extreme cases it may even mean that the Ride or Die partner ends up having to compromise their own safety and/or freedom. Often films, TV programmes and songs depict the ride or die relationship as a man who’s chosen a life of crime and his Ride or Die is the woman who’ll conceal the weapons/drugs and lie for him among other things that would more than likely threaten her safety, not to mention her life.

It’s all well and good demonstrating loyalty in the face of minor issues such as, a difference of opinion or forgetting something important to someone or making a genuine one off mistake. But the sad truth is a ‘true’ Ride or Die would probably also be expected to show unwavering loyalty in the face of major issues too like continuous dishonesty, disrespect, betrayal and abuse. Sometimes we use the idea of being a Ride or Die as an excuse to continue in unhealthy situations we really need to walk away from for our own mental, emotional and physcial protection.

Having said all that, there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be a Ride or Die if the person you are riding and dying for is reciprocating your efforts. The second most important question to ask yourself (after figuring out what exactly you’d be expected to ride and/or die through) is, are they also willing to ride or die through the same for you?

Why finding a Ride or Die can be wonderful…

Having someone in your life who you know always has your back and will always be there. Throughout our lives we meet a lot of people and one of my favourite quotes is “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime” and while most are for the former two even they impart something that will aid in your personal growth. However meeting those who you just know will be with you for the rest of your existence is truly something special.

As well as being there for the good times Ride or Dies are with you through the lowest of lows, whether it’s taking care of you when you’re sick or being by your side through a difficult period in your life. You know you’ve found a good’un if they don’t run for the hills when s*** gets really real, and they demonstrate their love by supporting you even when it would be much easier to walk away.

You have someone to go on adventures and have amazing experiences with. Probably my favourite thing about the people in my life who are Ride or Die are the fact that my most memorable moments include them. They will do things with you because they know it’s important to you and even in instances where they aren’t necessarily able to join you they encourage and support you to do the things you want and to be your best self.

Also having someone in your life who knows you better than you know yourself, that remembers the little things and makes you feel seen and understood is a true connection and can be an invigoratingly validating experience.

Being a ride or die is a complex notion and one that is perceived differently by different people. One persons expectations of their Ride or Dies may vary greatly from another’s. If you believe that you should sacrifice your needs, always concede your desires to prioritise someone else’s or endanger yourself to protect another fully grown adult (or these are your expectations of those in your life) you may need to reconsider the concept.

However if you engage in ride or die relationships where boundaries are set and maintained, there are no extreme expectations that compromise anyone’s values or safety and love and care is shared, reciprocated and directed towards oneself, then being and having a Ride or Die is absolutely delightful.

As I said before loyalty is an extremely admirable quality and one I personally value quite highly but ultimately the most important person you need to ride and die for is yourself!


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