This year so many people around me seem to be floating above the clouds in their relationships. Even though I’m not in a relationship, something in me must be glowing because more and more men have been approaching me lately. Even my friends have started having fewer of those “there are no good black men” conversations, and drama episodes have been few and far in between. With everything being so calm (and promising) in the relationship arena, I’ve started reflecting on my own personal journey and how I’ve gotten to a place of happiness with myself and with relationships. I’ve learned so much in my short time here on earth (through personal experiences and those of others), so I’ve decided to share with you a few of the lessons that are important to me.

  • Love yourself. Truly. It doesn’t matter how you feel about your outward appearance, if you’re not happy on the inside, a man will be able to pick up on it a mile away and will treat you as badly on the outside as you feel on the inside.
  • Respect yourself. No man will ever treat you or respect you in the way you deserve if you don’t respect yourself. Carry yourself the way you want to be seen and treated. If you don’t want to be looked at as a piece of ass, then stop giving head in the lounge bathroom to strangers. Respect yourself!
  • Think for yourself. It’s ok to seek advice from girlfriends or family every once in awhile, but not all of your friends will give advice with good intentions. Misery loves company and chances are, if your girlfriend isn’t happy, her advice will be laced with salt simply because she misses her wallowing buddy. People that have the same problem as you most likely don’t have the solution. Learn to solve your own problems or, at the very least, seek counsel from someone who has been there and has ANSWERS, not guesses.
  • Trust yourself. Your first instinct about a man or situation is usually right.
  • There is no such thing as the perfect man, only the perfect man for you. We are all a work in progress, so how can you expect a man to have it all when you don’t? This doesn’t mean settle for someone with no obvious goals or determination; it means that when you meet a man with these things, respect that he is working towards a goal the same as you are and be open to progressing with him. There is someone for everyone.
  • Be yourself. There is no way a relationship can survive if one or both people are putting up appearances. Stop trying to be anything other than who you are. Be open to growing and changing for the better, but always stay true to you. No need to try and be someone else, if your man wanted who you’re pretending to be … he wouldn’t be with you.
  • Take the walls down and let the baggage go. Life is so freeing once you stop carrying around the hurt and mistakes of relationships past. Take the lessons learned and forge ahead with a better view on life. You will see love in a new light and realize that you’re a better person for your mistakes because you made it out on the other side with the knowledge to never go back to that place again. Also the new man is not the old man. Put the walls down and open yourself up to new possibilities. No one wants to love someone consumed by bitterness; you only become a target for more bad treatment.
  • Communication is the key. Communication builds trust. If there’s no communication, there’s no trust, and if there’s no trust … why are you there? There are very few relationship problems that simple communication can’t fix. If you’re in a relationship where you don’t feel you can openly communicate with your partner, maybe it’s time to reevaluate.
  • Never apologize for your feelings.
  • Actions speak louder than words. Words mean nothing unless they are followed by action. If he says he loves you, he’ll show it. If you say you’re leaving, then leave. Words without actions are just empty promises.
  • Have a life outside of your relationship. Get a hobby, go back to school, do something that will better you as an individual so that you have something to bring to the situation.
  • Know when to admit you were wrong and apologize. Wrong and strong will get you no where but alone in an empty bed.
  • If it’s broke … don’t fix it. Stop forcing a relationship that’s clearly not working. If you have to force or manipulate someone into giving you the love, respect, and treatment you deserve then it’s not working. Learn to let go! Cry, scream, rip up pictures and then … move on. Make room for someone that will come to you ready to give you the world. It’s ok that the relationship didn’t work. Every relationship isn’t supposed to last forever. Some are just here to teach us and help us grow in some way, nothing more.
  • It’s ok to be alone. Stop tying the success or failure of a relationship to your self worth. Having and keeping a man doesn’t make you a complete person. Don’t hold on to an unhealthy relationship because you’re scared of life without that person. They don’t determine how far you can go, so don’t let the fear of being alone keep you from living your best life now. You’re stronger than you think, and life without that person can turn out better than you’d imagine.
  • All men are not dogs. Sometimes, it’s not the man. Sometimes, it’s YOU. If you’re not finding the love you desire or you keep ending up with no good men, maybe you need to look in the mirror and find out what it is you’re doing wrong. Point the finger at yourself for a change and reevaluate you.
  • Love doesn’t hurt. Period. (Gotta thank Oprah for that one!)

What lessons have you learned?

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  • Shannon

    Love is about giving. More importantly , about WANTING to give. WANTING to be the companion that your partner needs. Took a bad relationship for me to figure that out, but I’m glad I did. If you don’t have the DESIRE to be everything for your mate, you’re with the wrong person.

  • Be patient with yourself and your partner. It takes time to build a lasting partnership.