By Jontae Grace
If love is our native state, why does it feel so foreign at times? Inner-city American environments can seem like a Darwinian experiment gone wrong: warped affection, love from multiple sources, suppressing our will for another’s, and more. These mutations can produce abnormal arrangements that we accept for no other reason than because we see no alternative. How then, do we achieve harmony in an unruly realm?
We must acknowledge that there are rules to every facet of life, and we are not exempt from them. From the laws of nature, to the laws of love, there is an order to everything. What is ancient wisdom and scripture if not a set of rules to apply to your life? The most celebrated scholars, scientists and philosophers dedicated their lives to defining the rules of the universe we live in. And yet, we still think we can get a different outcome disobeying rules set long before us. It is time to stop trying to defy laws, and learn how to thrive within them, using them for our benefit.
Nowadays, we have a variety of romantic arrangements to choose from. It is impressive how far we’ve moved away from the cookie-cutter relationships of old – into modern, flexible thinking in romance. But new-school tools are not exempt from old-school rules; the game doesn’t change, just the players. Love is still based on giving, and a shared effort to build a peaceful, loving journey together. People are so focused on what they can GET from love, that they’ve forgotten that in it’s purest form, love is service.
Once you are aware of the rules of romance, you can identify the romantic arrangement that best suits you. Whether you want companionship, a committed relationship or an open arrangement, you must identify it. Take inventory on yourself to see what type of lover you are, which type of mate you wish to be, and then take steps to transform yourself. It begins with the self: establishing your core ideals, and having the self-discipline to stick to them.
Next, set a personal ethos that you will abide by- the moral compass you will use to navigate the murky waters of modern relationships. Don’t look at anyone else – your rules should be based on what feels true to you. This is your life, your love, and your happiness. You must live by your code on purpose, and not hide it from others for fear of losing them. Disconnects happen when a person professes one set of ideals, and lives by a different set. You want to be as true to your principles as possible, so that your mate knows what (s)he is getting, should they choose you.
Enforcing Rules and Setting Boundaries
In today’s landscape, we give people more mental and emotional access than we should. With the advent of social media and technology, people can be as close as you wish to allow. This form of access has blurred the barrier between our social and private lives, so it is important to set boundaries in different areas of your life. Not everyone deserves an all-access pass to your intimate self, your operation, or your secrets.
Along with boundaries, you must also set rules for the one(s) you invite behind the curtain to see the whole show. Your personal realm is sacred space, and your mate must know that there are requirements that come with being Authorized Personnel. After all, if you don’t set rules and expectations, you can’t get upset when your mate violates them. Sometimes we think certain rules are common sense, but a relationship is much like raising a child, in that you must show them the path you wish for them to follow. So take time in outlining your rules, and be clear in expressing which type of behavior gives you joy.
Familiar faces can sometimes put you in strange situations. It is important to understand that while rules, guidelines and principles may remain the same, people and circumstances do not. Pay attention to the directions people grow in. and be aware of the current reality of an old situation. You may have to turn a fresh set of eyes on a familiar situation or person, to evaluate whether (s)he is still good to you, and good for you.
Sometimes this analysis can reveal unfortunate realities. If you see that a person has not maintained the conduct needed to keep all-access status, you have to be willing to walk away. Far too often, people bend their moral compass for several reasons, from money, to good sex, even emotional manipulation. But you have to stand by your beliefs: a violation of your core rules must carry a penalty, up to and including termination of the relationship.
Once you begin to enforce your requirements, you will notice is that not everyone plays by your rules. It gets downright scandalous out there, thinking back on the things we’ve gone through, through no fault of our own. It can force you to question your ideals, and wonder if you should play by a more gutter system.
Things happen. You will not always be able to detect betrayal in every circumstance. But snakes and fakes will almost always reveal their true nature, given enough time. Don’t give them the victory; they don’t win when you move on with your love intact, they simply become a fleeting memory of a lesson learned. It is only when you become a scarred, jaded ex that they’ve won, because their deeds live on in your life.
In a world gone mad, it can feel futile to hold yourself to a set of principles as outdated as chivalry itself. Honor, integrity, respect and faithfulness seem like ancient relics of a bygone past. But remember that you cannot control the actions of others, or the rules that they will play by. You can only do your best to establish your position and follow your principles. That will help you see into situations in their making, instead of your rear-view. No one ever said love was foolproof, only that it was worth it.