What is This Thing Called Love?

In my most recent book, “Stand Up! A Message to the Black Man,” I discussed why relationships matter by asking men and women—through a survey, their views on relationships, marriage, and the value and sustainability of both. Gathering their thoughts and opinions was very important to me. You see, I believe two people together going in the same direction is better than one person going alone in that direction. Likewise, I believe in prioritizing the institution of the family—family as the natural result of relationships because, potentially, it enhances the family name and family legacy.

While I am highlighting some of the benefits, there are costs involved in being in relationships. I think people inherently want to be loved and in love. Sadly, it seems as if many of the costs outweigh the benefits in relationships. That is the reason why so many relationships and marriages fail.

Pinpointing why relationships and marriages fail is difficult because individuals are very complex. No two relationships are the same. But while no two relationships are the same, the patterns of behavior could be. Consequently, this article intends to highlight both positive and harmful practices of individuals to facilitate making more informed decisions in relationships.

Everyone has an agenda, whether good or indifferent

 When discussing relationships with my friends and family, I often say everyone has an agenda. They immediately take my comment as something negative. Then I explain to them that the agenda is not all bad and could be good. For example, wanting to get married within a specific time frame is not a destructive agenda. It shows that that person has a vision for where they want to be. On the flip side, what could make this agenda bad is if this person is not being themselves and deceptively shows a side of them to lure their mate in. Then, when they marry, their true colors come out. This could be devastating to the relationship because truth in the relationship took a detour. My solution to this is to keep your eyes open to clearly see the people in your life.

If a person shows you something, believe them

While I was growing up, my parents use to say to my siblings and me, “If you argue while dating, and you don’t correct it, your arguing will increase if you get married.” What they were saying is you must be mindful of how you interact with your mate. We often perceive negative signs before we grow deeper into relationships and marriages. We ignore them for a plethora of reasons, such as our insecurity within ourselves and relationships. For example, some of us are in love with being in love, which is not a bad thing. However, what is wrong is when we fail to speak up on our behalf because we are afraid of upsetting our mate. This is problematic because one of the keys to a relationship is honest communication. If you cannot honestly tell your mate how you feel, you are opening a widening door of misunderstanding and miscommunication.  

You have to start out like you can hold out

 When prospecting or in a relationship, it is always best to be honest and straightforward with your mate because it is the right thing to do. It saves heartache, headaches, stress, and discord. In doing the right thing, it is always best to be your authentic self and know how you can contribute to a relationship. Going out on a limb to impress someone is a recipe for disaster because it establishes a pattern of expectation. For example, if you know you can only afford a $50 meal, why do $250 meals consistently? I am by no means suggesting you should never celebrate and show acts of appreciation for your mate. What I am saying is you should never present yourself as someone whom you are not. It is always best to know where you are financially and your financial capabilities, because relationships are a financial investment.

I have had successful and failed relationships, and just because those relationships no longer exist does not indicate they were failures. With some relationships, even though you may no longer be with them, they still could be classified as successful because of the value they brought to you in your journey. I tend to consider all my past and present relationships as learning moments for myself, integral to my walk in life.  As I close, I would like to leave these tips as you pursue your Mr. or Mrs. Right.

  • Maintaining and growing a relationship and marriage requires work – the work of communication, visioning, sacrificing, and accountability.
  • Always take care of yourself in a selfless way.
  • If your mate doesn’t want to work within the relationship today, chances are they don’t want to work within it tomorrow.
  • Couples should discuss and map out where they want to be in five, ten, fifteen years.
  • Sex alone does not sustain a relationship, but love, understanding, and commitment to the team does.

Alan D. Benson is an author and entrepreneur. He has published three books, with his most recent being, Stand Up! A Message to the Black Man!, A Message of Hope and A Call to Action! His goal is to empower individuals and companies to unleash their untapped potential. To learn more about Alan, please visit his website www.alandbenson.com. To learn more about his book, click on Stand Up.

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