Hot New Romance? Only Fools Rush In
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This summer, at a Fourth of July cookout, John will meet Shirley and make a love connection. At the same time, at another barbecue, Tiffany and Osman will meet and fall in love, too. Over the next four months, each couple will become inseparable, with each person feeling that they have found their perfect match — their “soul mate.” Their friends and acquaintances will both admire and envy them as the cutest couple in their respective circles. Family members will quickly come to see each couple as made for each other. Each pair of love birds will feel totally compatible and in harmony with one another; instances of disagreement or discord will be rare and dismissed as unimportant. Love conquers all, right? And there’s nothing like the magic of a new romance. What could go wrong?
Three years later, Tiffany and Osman’s relationship will be healthy and going strong; they’ll be engaged and planning their wedding and life together. Meanwhile, John will have obtained a restraining order against Shirley, who has repeatedly stalked him and harassed the women he’s attempted to date since their relationship came to a messy and drama-filled end two years prior.
At the beginning, both relationships seemed ideal, even magical. Yet one new romance produces the lasting, healthy love that most people dream of, and the other results in the kind of relationship that nightmares and true-crime cable channels are made of. How can this be? How do two relationships start out with the same potential for success and end so differently? More importantly, how can you tell whether the spark of a new romance will fuel an eternal flame of devotion; an intense, but short-lived flash fire of passion — or a violent, destructive wildfire? What’s the difference between real love and a relationship disaster?
The inconvenient truth is, there is no difference — at least not in the beginning and for at least the first several months of a new romance. This is why we so insistently and persistently repeat the Grown Zone principle of withholding access to your body, money, heart and home for as long as it takes to learn who your “perfect” love truly is — not who he or she could be, who you want that person to be, or who you believe your new honey has the potential to be. You also need time to clearly and honestly communicate who you are and your standards, boundaries, goals and priorities. A new couple’s commitment to educating and truly learning about one another is the key difference in whether a relationship will be a healthy, lasting and loving one; end without harm to either person; or result in significant damage to the lives of one or both parties.
To be Grown is to recognize that in the beginning of a new romance, when a relationship is driven by factors like physical attractiveness, personal charm and sexual chemistry, our initial infatuation (or intoxication) with a person causes us to focus on and exaggerate what we like most about them. At the same time we minimize shortcomings, differing beliefs, irritating habits, and even dangerous warning signs — if we acknowledge them at all. You risk potentially disastrous adult-and-messy results when you throw caution to the wind in the name of love by making major commitments — sex and procreation, signing a lease on an apartment, involving your minor children, assuming financial obligations — with your partner while still in this “honeymoon” stage of a relationship.
Will your next romantic interest be The One? Nice, but forgettable? Or the one you will never forget — for all the wrong reasons? Time, and only time, along with open-eyed, honest observation, will tell. In the meantime, hold off on making major, life-altering decisions and commitments. If the relationship is a truly healthy one, like that of Tiffany and Osman, you have nothing to lose by waiting and nothing to gain by rushing a new romance. On the other hand, if the relationship ends up like John and Shirley’s, you have plenty to lose if you commit too quickly. There is nothing Grown about gambling with your life for a chance at love when you can take the time to be sure. Remember, when it comes to relationships, time is your friend, and anyone who tells you otherwise is not your friend.
Live in the Grown Zone.
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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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