If you immediately had Miss Mary J Blige running through your head when you opened the blog today - you are welcome :-). She's right and she is not alone, most of us are looking for a real love. Some of you may have found it already and some are still out there looking. Whatever the state of your romantic relationship, real love is what the majority of people crave and are in search of.
If you have found your version of real love - I warmly tip my hat to you, as that is no easy matter. Getting, keeping and inspiring love takes patience, warmth and tolerance of and towards another person. Not so simple. When two people commit to one another the decision to grow together is a decision to ebb and flow with the others emotional growth rate. When you meet someone who makes your heart sing and you get to the down and dirty of really loving that person that's when shit gets real.
Loving another, real love, requires you to stay in the ring, all 12 rounds. You make a choice to keep both the relationship growing and to continue to grow as an individual. Let's say you've met your person and you have both decided you are in it to win it. You've established some ground rules; like your ideas on (1) marriage and (2) kids and you're on the same page. Your ideas about the direction of your careers are discussed and honored. Next you establish a form of communication that allows for you to bring up all of the above again at a different phase in your life to check in that you are still moving on the same path. Same goes for (4) sex and (5) money. Talk about it, keep it real and keep it movin' forward. Nothing that I have suggested is easy. All of those subjects require you to take a risk, listen, and to tolerate an idea which may very well be different from your own and also requires you to make space for uncomfortable feelings to come up.
5 Conversations to have with your partner to keep the Love Real
1) Marriage (or whatever type of commitment you want long term)
If you want it long term and you want to keep it real you have to talk about what commitment looks like to you. Maybe you want marriage, maybe you want a domestic partnership, maybe you want separate apartments across town and you see each other once a week for a super sexy sleepover. Whatever level of commitment you want, be clear about it. You may be hit with a period of ambivalence from the other person involved (and you may have made a choice in spite of your own ambivalence) but give her/him time and space to digest what you are looking for and see if you can make it happen together.
2) Kids or not
If you want kids keep it real and keep it in the conversation. It may not be a first hour of a first date conversation but if you are sitting on the idea of wanting to have a family let the person you love know what's on the table. You want them but maybe not now, if it is going on the shelf make sure both of you know where you left it. When kids come into the conversation keep in mind to talk about what your expectations of each other will be in regards to actual parenting.
You gotta eat, so knowing where the money is coming from is something to talk about. Whether you have lofty career goals, or not, talk about what you want your work week to look like and where you want to be in 5 years. Do this periodically as this will shift and change with the changes of industries, shape of relationships (kids/marriage) and various other factors.
Wanna keep having it? Then keep the conversation movin'! This takes nerve for some of us to have this conversation. It's messy and intimate and super, super personal. In the real love scenario it's not really that much easier. Even long term couples have to reinvent their sex lives over time and find new ways to have this conversation. Talk about what you like and what you don't like. Find out what turns the other on. Give and receive with grace.
5) Money $$
No matter how much you have there is never enough and then there is always plenty. Talk about spending habits, expectations of where the money should be spent and on what, who pays the bills, and what it feels like to be the one in charge and the one who is not. Money is another one of those topics that couples avoid. Real love scenarios are ones in which even when the times are tight and money conversations suck you have them, you duke it out and you find ways together to create more abundance.
I could (and will) write intensely on all 5 topics. These are just teasers to get you thinking about keepin' it real. Real love is an on going, sticky at times, process. It needs to be watered and cared for. It needs lots of sunshine and as with with every living thing there will be periods of regrowth and periods that will be brown and brittle.
No matter if you are coupled or single and still looking, Keep the Lovin' real - if you haven't already download Miss Mary J, (keep it old school - "what's the 411" ) crank up the headphones and sing along to Real Love -
Happy Valentines Day