Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself for Love
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Is that the light of love at the end of the tunnel? Or the light of an oncoming train wreck? Living in the Grown Zone means learning to tell the difference before your life is devastated by poor choices you may have the adult right to make, but are in no way in your best interest—in other words, neither healthy nor Grown.
Unfortunately, too many of us have been taught that love is dangerous and destructive, and that recklessness is a natural byproduct of the kind of out-of-control passion that true love is supposed to be all about. As a result, too many of us take an ass-backward, fire-ready-aim approach to relationships.
The fire is attraction, sexual chemistry, the initial, intoxicating euphoria of a new romance. This becomes false evidence of being ready: prepared to allow access to body, money, heart and home. Last, comes aim—deciding what kind of person is wanted or needed, which often has no resemblance to who the prematurely selected object of affection turns out to be. It’s the equivalent of trying to catch a moving train in a dark tunnel, with no idea of its destination or whether it is traveling safely or is a runaway headed for certain destruction, treating love like a game of “chicken.” What are some common results of this approach? Here are just a few:
The woman who doesn’t find out that “her man” is married with children and a serial philanderer—with no intention of divorcing—until after she’s become pregnant with his child.
The man shocked to find himself the victim of domestic violence—on his honeymoon.
The woman who learns only after she’s moved her lover into her home that the source of his “self-employment” income is illegal activity, and that he failed to mention that he has a lengthy criminal record.
The man who marries before learning that the reason his former fiancé couldn’t keep up with her bills—and why his finances are now being drained—is that she’s feeding an addiction.
These and other consequences are the result of accepting powerful “feelings” and “true love” as substitutes for taking the time to learn the truth of who a person is (not who they have the potential to be, or who you want them to be) before choosing to bond with them and journey forward in a relationship together. Our advice: Check yourself before you wreck yourself for love.
The Grown approach to relationships requires you to recognize that healthy relationships don’t happen by chance, but by choice. They require a commitment to self-loving decisions, backed by your enforcement of standards for what is good and healthy for you, and boundaries against what is harmful and unwanted by you. That means approaching relationships with a sense of first, who you are, and second, your desired destination—where you want to be—before committing to any relationship journey.
First, are you ready for the journey? Grown people prepare by always focusing on self-love and personal growth, on establishing a relationship of honor, esteem and respect of self. Self-love is the foundation of all healthy, loving relationships; you cannot be truly ready for the love of others without a faithful love of self. Readiness is about learning what is healthy for you, and refusing to compromise or to accept anything less from anyone, regardless of the power of your initial attraction. It is impossible to determine where you need to go in relationships, without continuously learning and unconditionally accepting who you are at all times. Self-love is your compass; without it, you are lost.
Next, Grown people know where they want to be; they choose their destinations deliberately, not at random. Where do you need to be to thrive? Grown people, informed and aware of what’s truly healthy and good for them (not to be confused with what might feel good in a given moment), have a clear picture of the qualities a person must demonstrate in order to be qualified as a potential relationship partner. Furthermore, they don’t go by assumptions or what they are told; they take whatever time is necessary to learn who people are by their actions, habits and track record. Grown people never commit before they are clear on who the object of their affection is and where a relationship with them is likely to go.
Finally, Grown people check for safety before committing to the journey. When you have sex, you’ve paid the fare and are committed to the ride. The same for when you expose yourself emotionally (sharing your dreams, hopes and fears), co-mingle your finances (by giving or lending money or making joint purchases), or choose to cohabitate. The difference is, because you’ve operated with uncompromising commitment to what’s healthy for you, and you’ve taken time to learn exactly who you are dealing with, you can commit to the journey freely and securely, instead of in fear and insecurity, and you can safely change the direction of the relationship (together, or alone if necessary) if and when you decide that another destination is healthiest for you. Any relationship that does not offer freedom and safety is unhealthy and cannot sustain love, no matter how strong your feelings for one another.
There is a saying that goes: Success is when preparation meets opportunity. This also applies to loving, healthy relationships. If this is what you want, stop opening your legs, checkbook, heart and home prematurely in response to “feelings.” Stop blindly chasing love into dark tunnels. Give a potential relationship time to come out into the open, slow down long enough for you to decide whether it’s safe for you to board, and allow you to determine that it will take you where you want to go, and that you will truly enjoy getting there with your partner. Healthy love does not require you to deliberately risk making a train wreck of your life.
Live in the Grown Zone.
For a FREE copy of 9 Keys To Living In The Grown Zone, click here.
Zara Green and Alfred Edmond Jr., named to Black Love Forum’s “14 Most Inspiring Black Couples” list for 2014, are co-principals of A2Z Personal Growth Enterprises, producer of The Grown Zone. Zara is a speaker/trainer & author. Alfred is an award-winning journalist and expert on business and personal finance. The couple, both “Do-Better Fanatics”, lead sessions on personal growth, self-love and resiliency, healthy relationships and “grown” decision-making at live events across the country.
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