-By Jontae Grace
I bet you already have your dream car picked out, don’t you? Of course you do, the one that you smash, whip and dip all throughout your future reality. I do, mines is a souped-up Charger SRT8, nearly 500 horses of American muscle. Yall can have the luxury brands, I just need leather guts and a big engine. I’m very similar in my taste in women: I don’t need a high-maintenance centerfold – I need a team player who will choose her steps with us in mind. But I digress.
We love to see ourselves in that car. In fact, we focus so much on obtaining that new whip that we forget to learn the skills needed to maintain it. We don’t fantasize about changing them damn sparkplugs or keeping our payments up. But the upkeep is just as crucial as the lease – and just as our dream cars need a higher level of maintenance than average, so do amazing mates. Attracting them requires one skill set; keeping them happy and enriching your lives together requires quite another. It is essential that you learn the difference, and begin to focus your efforts in both directions.
One reason we neglect to perform upkeep in our relationships is that we do not realize the quality of the mate we’ve chosen, or the responsibility that comes with them. Like a high-performance sportscar, some people have premium requirements that extend beyond the base. It is not your place to judge whether or not their terms are valid; you can either agree to them or walk. But nowadays, people want high-quality goods and services but aren’t willing (or able) to pay the costs associated. So they try to get a cut-rate for next to nothing, and will attempt to shame you into renegotiating your asking price by making you feel unrealistic.
Never let someone question your right to demand a premium for your affection. This journey is full of potholes and dead ends that can be multiplied many times over by the partner you choose to accompany you. You have every right to demand that that man comes correct, that that woman gets her shit together before you sit her on the throne.
You have to live in the now, not the past. People will try to keep you under their spell by virtue of their past status. They don’t take the simple expedient of improving daily, feeding life into their mates and stepping their game up to new levels. Instead they try to command respect and obedience based on some old work that they put in. Viewed another way, they stop giving a fuck, get complacent and try to run their mates into the ground without so much as an oil change. And at that moment, even the most expertly-crafted creation will falter – machine or (wo)man. Which is why you have to be careful who you choose to trust with all of you. Their vision for your future is just as important as their track record in the past.
Another way to develop quality is to teach someone how to love us, both physically and emotionally. In our microwave culture, we sometimes get frustrated that they don’t come fully trained, and we push them away without attempting to train our mates to do the things we like. But remember, you didn’t enter this world walking, talking or deep-throating; someone had to teach you how. We are not as transparent as we think – people cannot just see through you and determine what you like and what you need. And if you aren’t willing to show them, then you deserve the isolation garnered by disqualifying those who might have been able to learn, given a little time. There is a difference between someone who doesn’t know, and someone who doesn’t want to learn.
Begin to understand that your mate, like your car, is a direct expression of you. As such, you want to send them into the world as well-equipped as you can manage. Once you begin to reclaim the oneness of love, you will reject the individualism promoted in our society. You know that people look at your car, friends and lovers, and see YOU. Do your part to reflect royalty and luxury. This doesn’t mean that you’re only looking for top shelf, it means that you inject quality into whoever you’re involved with. You have to have an eye for potential, able to identify people and situations that have the ability to become something with the right touch. Maximize the value that you give to the people around you, and they will bring you significant returns on your investment.
In the end, understand that items of value carry with them ongoing costs and a commitment to upkeep them if they are to retain value. You can’t get it and let it fall to shit. In love then, our goal should be to establish and foster a productive relationship, one that is mutually beneficial to both of you. You have to understand the direct effect that your effort has on shared reward – and as such, your behavior should focus on enriching your team in order to elevate yourself. The star player may win MVP, but the team wins the ring.