Are you relationship ready?

All up and through the internets and mainstream media, in your family, your school, your church and your friends are encouraging you to get out there and find love. Just get on out there and get you some love. But wait... are you even ready for a relationship?

Stop. Before you give me the resounding yes, just stop for one minute and think about what I'm asking. I'm not asking if you're ready to flirt, date, have sex, or mingle. I'm asking if you're really truly ready for a relationship. Grown Folk Style. Okay, let's see, let me just tackle five categories:

  1. Do you even know what you want? I recently asked a few of my single blogosphere friends what they were looking for in a mate. Some gave me laundry lists so implausible there was no way they could find all of that in one person unless they were building them from scratch. Some gave me the most high level vague descriptions ever ("just someone nice", "a good woman/man"). This is something to really think about. What attracts you? What keeps you interested and entertained? What personality traits mesh and blend with yours? What kind of value system? How much does religion fall into play? Hobbies? Looks? Education? Finances? Think on all of that and then…

  2. Figure out what you actually need. Do you really need a 5-star chick, fellas? Ladies, do you really need a 6'4" chocolate god bringing in baller dollars? I'm just asking. What is going to fulfill you? Is it catching the best looking thing you can get on your arm or the best person who looks good to you? Again, not throwing shade… just asking. Brothers, if you feel you must have model quality ladies on your arm to be happy… so be it. But let me tell you that maintaining that model quality means a lot of maintenance and upkeep. So if you must have the model, you must not want the cooking cleaning type, huh? Not that lovely ladies don't cook and clean, we do… but if you want that perfection, something has to fall back. Ladies, before you get all joyful… so you HAVE to have a brother who can provide you with Gucci, Pucci and Fiorucci without wincing? That takes work. So you must not need a man who is around a lot, huh? Cause brothers pulling bank like that are on the grind.

    Are you emotionally needy? Then why are you hooking up with emotionally distant mates? Are you naturally giving? You might want to look for someone who will appreciate that instead of taking advantage. If you are a living paycheck to paycheck person, you need a saver or both ya'll bout to be in the street. You get my trend here? You may want filet mignon and lobster with drawn butter for dinner. But do you need it? Nor do you need to settle for hamburger helper… I know you feel me on this one.

  3. Who wants you? Do you have a realistic view of your own attractiveness? Not just physically, do you have the type of personality to attract the person that interests you? Personally, I tend to be quiet when I first meet people and over time I dial up the sparkle. Men who have been around me for a while say, "You're different than I thought you were when we first met." Yes, I know. Not everybody gets to see the sparkle. This means that if I want a sparkle guy in return, he has to see me more than once or around other people that I unleash the sparkle for. So I don't always attract what I'm attracted to in the beginning… but perseverance wins in the end. Also, for some reason lately I am attracting men that are 10 years younger or 15 years older... not sure why. But that's my story - what's yours?

  4. What are you willing to give? You've gotta give to get, my friends. Are you at a point where you are willing to give of yourself? In a perfect world, the love you give is the love you get. But really, all you can do is give the best you've got and pray it's returned in kind. Money, time, talent, kindness, companionship, warmth, an ear, a shoulder, naked aerobics… what are you willing to give? And along those same lines: What are you bringing to the table? What's in the bank of YOU? Are you a helpmate, a freak, a financial wizard, a warrior, a protector, a homebody? Do you make people laugh? Are you good in a crisis? Do you have patience, tolerance, faith, strength, wisdom? Do you know what the top five things you bring to the relationship table are?

  5. How much baggage are you bringing with you? True fact: You carry your experiences from the past into your future. Period. But are you looking backwards constantly? Are things (people) from your past reaching out and pullin' you back? If your last relationship fell apart, did you take the time to figure out why before moving onto the next? Now I'm not saying you should be 100% over the previous person with your closure all wrapped up in a bow. I'm saying it should manageable enough that you aren't accidently calling Tina by Tracy's name (or Tom by Tony's) at the wrong damn time. Ya feel me. And maybe it's not your last S.O. – have your faced/acknowledged any mommy or daddy issues you might be dragging into relationships? Not trying to get all up in your business, I'm just saying… think about it.

I could go on: Once you've found that person are you willing to do what it takes to keep them? Do you know how to communicate to find out what that is? Can you handle conflict? Are you a good enough judge of yourself and of another's character to know if you should plan a future with them? Do you recognize quality when you see it? Are you in a space where you can put in the time? Do you even feel like being bothered right now? (I can unequivocally answer no to those last two)

I don't believe you have to have 100% of these questions answered in your mind. But you need to have thought about it. So have you… thought about it? And are you… relationship ready?