I was 22, recently graduated with a full-time job, and way too young to be engaged when my fiance told me I “thought I was all that now that I had a lil’ master’s degree.” Wait, what?

I actually didn’t think enough of myself at the time. In fact, I must’ve thought so little of myself that I brushed it off and stayed with him. It was a week before the wedding — the dress was bought, plane tickets were purchased, and maybe this little sign didn’t feel right. But damn it, I was getting married anyway.

And because I did, I learned a hard but valuable lesson: It’s hard for someone else to love you correctly when they’re struggling to feel good about themselves. And watching Yasir on Love Is___ lately reminded me of that very essential idea.

Nuri is a giver. If she were to take one of those love language tests that everyone talks about all the time, I bet she’d get “acts of service” — giving Yasir all the things she knows he needs: a place to stay, an office to work out of, whatever. She even knows he needs his son, who he’s missing terribly, and takes him to go visit him in episode 8, “Rose (Going Home).”

She sticks around with Yasir for all of his mama’s questioning and tries to be there for him during his ex-wife drama, but in the very next episode, “A First Script,” she doesn’t get that kind of grace. Yasir, who’s dealing with his own feelings, strikes out against Nuri while she’s trying to make strides in her career. He loves her, yes, but he’s struggling to balance the pride he has in Nuri with what he wants for himself. It’s making him very sensitive and seeing issues where there aren’t any.

The latest two episodes of Love Is___ by Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil are the realest and could be the most memorable of the season as both Yasir and Nuri face their pasts and the challenges that could make or break their relationship.

In fact, the creators did not shy away from confronting these issues that are the kinds of hurdles that often turn relationships upside down: money and career, family and drama, past experiences and trauma.

How to deal with exes who you have kids with is an issue that often changes things in your current relationship. And if you’re the other partner, do you stay around and deal with the drama?

If your career isn’t on the up-and-up, can you still be there for the other person’s or will you let your own insecurities hinder their growth? And if you’re walking into your own success, how much of that are you willing to let someone else interfere with? 

Here’s a breakdown of what else happened in episodes 8 and 9, leading up to the season finale on Aug. 21:

Caught in the crossfire

A lot happened when Yasir goes home with Nuri. First, Yasir’s mother questions Nuri, warning her not to be a distraction for Yasir. Yasir, his mother says, can’t afford to be distracted. A confident Nuri tells her that time will show her how deep her dedication for Yasir is.

“Time will be your measure for me and how I show up for Yasir,” she tells her.

Meanwhile, Yasir is on a warpath because his ex-wife, Destiny, hasn’t been taking their son to the piano lessons Yasir had been paying for.

Things come to a head after Yasir went storming out to find Destiny, and they have an all-out argument at Yasir’s mother’s house that almost turns physical. Destiny even turns her anger on Nuri and gets in her face before Yasir steps in. His mother breaks it up, though, telling Yasir that he better respect the woman who takes care of their son 24/7 and telling Destiny that she also needs to chill. It’s an emotional moment that anyone who’s ever been in or seen a similar dispute can relate to.

After the fight, Nuri lets Yasir know that she’s still down for him. With everything that happened, she’s even more ready to help him and gives him a room in her house for him to use as an office to work. Nuri believes in him and she really wants him to have anything he needs to make it. Instead of being pushed away by recent incidents, she’s pulled in even more.

A making or breaking opportunity

The script that Angela fought with Nuri about in episode 7? Well, it wasn’t too hot after the other writers put in their input. In fact, Norman says it made him vomit. (Yikes!) But he’s giving her a chance to rewrite it and he’s helping.

This job just isn’t for her, though. She cries when she goes back to her office to finish rewriting the script. Now, it’s late and she still isn’t coming up with anything. Norman is in his office and has pretty much decided that he’s going to have to fire her when he gets an opportunity to write a pilot for a famous black woman. He’s going to need someone to help him, and when Angela comes into his office to quit, he offers her the job.

Leveraging opportunity

Now that Angela is working on her new show, Nuri gets the opportunity to work on the episode that Angela had. Yasir tells Nuri he’s proud of her and shows her how he put a note in his prayer box that she’ll get her first “written by” credit this year. She’s super happy and says that when the show tapes, Yasir should come and bring his own script. He says that he doesn’t want to interfere with her night, but she insists.

At this point, they both have a ton of work to do, but Nuri and Yasir are distracting each other at her house. She goes into the office to work on her script, leaving Yasir there to do his own work. While she’s at the office, she dives right into what she needs to do and forgets to call Yasir. She’s up working and doesn’t see that he’s paging her a gazillion times.

When she gets home, Yasir is pissed that she didn’t call him. He says that two of his friends were raped — one was raped and murdered — and that’s why he was so upset. They make up to see another day, but things are definitely not mended.

Who ‘wears the pants’?

Yasir and Sean are talking when Yasir says he feels like Nuri is “wearing the pants in the relationship.” Sean tells him he doesn’t know how to accept what she’s offering: she has a lot to give, he says, and Yasir should get better at accepting that help.

When Yasir goes to the studio, the security guard at the gate says he’s not on his list. They have some back and forth when the production assistant that Nuri used to date (but turned down completely once she met Yasir) is bringing a new list of names. A quick “you’re the boyfriend”/”you’re the guy who gets the lunches” pissing match persists between Yasir and the assistant before the security guard finally lets Yasir in, saying he has to park in the overflow lot.

By the time Yasir walks to the entrance of the studio, another security guard stops him because he says his name isn’t on his list. Yasir starts to argue with this security guard, too, and the commotion reaches Norman and Nuri who are in the control room waiting for the taping to start.

Nuri says she’ll go and take care of it, missing her big moment to walk out on stage when her name is called as the episode’s writer. She goes outside to see what’s going on, and Yasir brings up her “missed promises” like her forgetting to call. (We’re on this again?) They argue and argue, and Yasir storms off. But you know what’s the worst part? The cameras have started rolling now, and Nuri can’t go back in until after they say “cut.”

‘I’m sorry’

Later, Norman tries to give Nuri some advice as a mentor — and as a boss: Be careful about people in this business trying to get money. And, he tells her, he needs her to show up at work. She apologizes, saying that she’s sorry for her absent behavior. But then, Norman tells her to give him Yasir’s script because now he’s curious, and it better be good. No matter what happened that night, Nuri still believes in Yasir’s talent.

Back at Nuri’s house, she tells Yasir that he embarrassed her in front of her coworkers and her boss. Someone misspelled his name on the list, she says, how is that her fault?

But Yasir says she should have never put him in that position to fight with security. He doesn’t take any blame for what he did.

“I’ve overlooked so much,” Nuri says. She needed him to have her back, she adds, and says they need to take a break because love isn’t supposed to be this hard. And although she believes in him, maybe it’s too hard for him to watch her live out her dreams.

While they’re sleeping, Yasir wakes up and whispers that he’s sorry to Nuri and starts to feel on her and kiss her. It triggers something in the half-sleep Nuri who hops out of bed and goes to hide in a corner of the room, yelling “don’t touch me” and crying.

She tells Yasir that when she was a child, her stepfather molested for years. That must have triggered that memory. Yasir, realizing that Nuri is not perfect and has her own past hurts that’s similar to his own, says, “We’re more alike than you think, Nuri.”

But why it took all of that for Yasir to realize that Nuri’s life isn’t 100 percent peachy is beyond me. Nuri may be in a better position in life as far as career goes, but that doesn’t negate her traumas — the kind of traumas that many black women have. She even told Yasir before about some of her other issues with men, like her father being in prison for most of her life, and it’s like he forgot. He forgot that she was a person who still has her own issues and own past, and no matter how well her career is going, she still needs emotional support. She still needs healing. I don’t know; maybe it’s my own personal history with men who didn’t see the healing that I needed.

But Yasir’s frustration is real, albeit misdirected. He knows he’s worth more than the cards he’s been dealt. He’s stocking shelves at a bookstore and even that job’s hours are being cut. He knows he can do more, and that fact is making it hard for him to be there for Nuri and understand how focused she needs to be — not to just keep progressing at work but to not lose it all.

“Some people spend a lifetime running from their past,” the older Yasir says as they look back on that night. “Sometimes, it’s your past that needs healing so that you can launch into your destiny,” Nuri adds.

Are you excited for the finale? Let me know below or send me a tweet at @arialyssa.

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