Seek so much as a kernel of advice on the internet in 2024 about conflicts in a relationship, a situationship or even an affair, and you may find yourself inundated with recommendations to “stand on business.” A Hinge match asks to reschedule your first date with 30 minutes’ notice? Stand on business. Your ex continues to hit you up months after the breakup? Stand on business.
After being friends with a man for about two years, Sigourney Norman received a flirtatious direct message from him on Instagram. Once she had confirmed he was indeed interested in dating, she suggested they meet for coffee.
The man said he had to travel for work, Ms. Norman recalled, but instead of getting in touch again in a few days, as she expected, he didn’t reach out for three weeks. Here was an opportunity for Ms. Norman, 33, to “stand on business.”
When he got back in contact with her, “I didn’t curse him out or just not respond,” she said. “Instead, I said, ‘Hey, it’s really nice to hear from you, but it made me really sad I didn’t hear from you for three weeks.” Her business? Stood on.
Put simply, to “stand on business” means to stand by the boundaries you set for yourself — to put your self-respect, business and personal values first.
Of course, it’s perfectly fine — in the name of self-preservation — to ditch someone who’s asking for yet another chance. Too often people are dragged along in unhealthy situations that don’t serve them, and standing on business is one way to avoid that. It asks that you be less “weak in the knees” and instead plant your feet firmly on the ground. But is it always that simple? And how does one effectively “stand on business”?
“When people say they stand on business, what they are looking to say is, ‘I understand my own needs and I advocate for them, and when someone shows me they cannot meet those needs, I’m willing to remove myself peacefully,’” Ms. Norman said. “But that is not how it plays out.”
Instead, Ms. Norman continued, people will immediately cut the other person off because it’s “ultimately quite scary” to vocalize their needs.
In one video on TikTok, a woman gets a call while hot-combing her hair and is immediately asked by the man on the other end of the line to “hold on.” “Ain’t no hold on — you hold on,” she replies as she hangs up the phone. “Ooh, I’m standing on business,” she says proudly.
In another video, a woman shares her tips on how to stand on business “like a pro.” If someone gets under your skin “before you’ve even had a first date,” reads one, “they’re done.”
“It will only get worse from there,” she explains, adding, “Don’t invest any more time.”
Although the phrase, which has its roots in African American Vernacular English, has become popular online in recent months, the concept itself isn’t new. It finds peak expression in Drake’s bitterness-ridden song “Daylight” from his latest album, “For All the Dogs,” in which he uses the term repeatedly to describe how he ignores all his exes who have wronged him.
Imposing a cold and rigid approach to dating (and love in general) can leave little room to be vulnerable or to weather healthy conflicts that can strengthen interpersonal bonds. And breakups often aren’t linear: It can sometimes take a few conversations before both parties realize the relationship isn’t working — or that it wasn’t as broken as they thought. While we should strive to maintain the boundaries we’ve set for ourselves, we shouldn’t shame ourselves or each other when we fall short.
For Ms. Norman, she tries to be honest with herself and flexible with her feelings. Recently, she was getting to know a woman whom she liked a lot but who had crossed her one too many times. Instead of carrying that burden on her own, she let her friends know that things were dicey, but that there was still a chance she would be willing to see where things go.
“I’m not going to lie, y’all: If she can act better in a month from now, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she told them. “It just doesn’t feel final enough to let it go.”
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