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Love & the Black Professional
Finding someone with which to establish a meaningful relationship is hard while launching a career, but it can be done. In fact, people are doing it every day.
The problem is holding on to the relationship once you find yourself in the middle of it.
The thing I discovered consistently is that many people who have difficulty maintaining relationships haven't properly defined what they want--they start dating without being properly prepared. It's like driving on the highway without a map--unless you have directions, its hard to get to your destination.
Why not have directions in dating?
I developed the New Relationship Workbook to help singles begin to identify some basic elements of a relationship, so that they can at least be better prepared to meet their desired mate.
The Workbook provides a roadmap.
And, when/if you follow the map that I'm going to lay out for you, remember, honesty in planning will lead to honesty in foundation and possibly finding your true North.
This first step is designed to get each person to create their own relationship roadmap. When you do the exercise, it's important to be as honest with yourself as possible.
The exercise may seem simple, but the reality is that most of us date and even marry without giving perfunctory thought to the basics of a relationship.
You can create your own relationship roadmap by making a series of lists, including:
What I want: How are you going to find what you want without first defining what you want? Make a list of things that you have seen in men/women you like, not just the things that you hear about from other people. Focus on things that you have had in previous relationships that worked well for you.
What I offer: List things that are really a part of you. It's important to be honest because if you only imagine yourself to be something, rest assured the other person can see what is really there.
Negotiable: These are things that you don't like but can tolerate. Or things that you want, but will still be okay if they are not there. These are things that you don't mind negotiating (maybe one person is into eating healthy and the other person isn't--they can negotiate on meals).
Non-Negotiable: Please don't play with these. These are things that can't move. You already know that there are some things you simply can not deal with. Don't go falling in love, or even before that--falling in like and excusing things that for you, are inexcusable. They will come back up, and for some relationships, they will never leave until both people do. Examples are religion, geography (one person lives on the East Coast and the other lives on the West Coast).
After you've made the lists, you've begun to construct your roadmap. You are better prepared to get where you want to go, because you're laying out the plan.
Now, you have to ask some basic but serious questions that single people should ask each other. For the most part, they will bring out simple answers, but you should deliver as much detail as possible. It would be more productive to also be as honest as possible, or the exercise won't work.
The questions include:
Desired age of potential mates. Why did you choose the age range?
What is your occupation? What do you do for hobbies? Where do you socialize? What is your chief complaint in dating?
Number of relationships. Length of each one.
Is there a common reason why your relationships end? What part did you play in the ending of your last relationship? What complaint(s) did your last mate lodge against you?
What am I looking for in a mate? (Not just physical, but qualities of character.) What is my goal for a relationship? (i.e. marriage, dating, friends, bed buddy, etc. Be Honest!) When does sex begin?
For women: Am I old fashioned or a "modern woman?" Define your answer.
For men: Am I old school or an "evolved man?" Define your answer.
Based on the above question, am I prepared to step outside of my comfort zone?
Here's a question that should be obvious, but it's not. How many times do we date and not ask this simple question: Are you single?
You should make certain to ask and then you should ask--why? If you know the reasons why a person is single, you can better decide if this person will merge well with you.
There are more questions, but since I have limited space, I chose the most important ones.
Now, some people say that you shouldn't have certain discussions with people you date. I think that's just stupid. You're trying to merge your life with someone, but you won't talk about things that will have to be merged.
For the following topics, list what your views are on the topic, in addition to what you would like your mate's views to be:
Religion, Politics, Sex, Economics/Career, Children and In-Laws.
To round out the exercise, there are a few topics of discussion that should be thrown on the table for both parties to openly communicate around:
Describe your relationship with the parent of the opposite sex. We form our concept of the opposite sex based on our first relationship with a person of the opposite sex, which is our parent. Asking a man about his relationship with his mother can give you a good idea of how he will look at you and how he will treat you. Asking a woman about her relationship with her father will give you a good idea how she will deal with you.
Describe your ideal first date.
Describe the roles of men and women in relationships as you see it. You don't want to get into a relationship with a guy, only to find out that he doesn't want you to work. And guys, you may not want to be in a relationship with a woman who doesn't want to work.
What do you do after a breakup?
What do you do during arguments?
Much of this may seem simple and none of it is new. But these are the things that are all too often overlooked as people leap into love.
It requires some work, but what doesn't?
If you do the work up front, you can enjoy the playtime, which is what a relationship should be--enjoyable--a respite from the rest of the world--a supportive situation that brings us comfort when the struggle of work-the struggle of life threatens to bring us down.
In order to get to a place where we can love and live in happiness, we have to first believe in it for ourselves. There are so many negative things being said about Black men and about Black women and some of those things come out of our own mouths.
We say these things and believe them, even when a shining example of the opposite is right in front of us.
We're giving power to some things that may be true for some people, but those things don't have to be true for us all.
If we think poorly about each other, our thoughts become reality, and prevent us from raising our condition.
Whatever problems exist are the problems of us all. If we continue to talk about each other as opposed to working with each other, then what is left of our community in any nation will disintegrate and vanish.
We need to be successful in our careers, but we also need love. And if we look at each other in the right way, we can find love and still find success. Part of the secret formula is to accentuate the positive and reduce the negative.
The other part of it is to simply be prepared.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology "Notes From The Edge." Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 8-10pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at