You Can't Play Like That If You Expect To Win

by Gregory L. Towns

Contrary to the title, this article is not about the Washington Redskins losing season or the scandal in the White House, although our nation's capital is a fertile field for interesting subject matter. I'm here to speak to men about the rights and wrongs of today's relationships. Hello again from Chocolate City...Washington, DC, the nation's seat of rules, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Congress. Where more apropos to research this issue of rule to govern everyday life?

The game, as it is sometimes referred to, has some rules. I don't subscribe to the "60's" adage "reject and question authority." Rules are important to the order of life, hence, the Golden Rule, rule of thumb, rules of the game, Cardinal Rule. I spent 4 yrs in the U.S. Navy. The "Bluejackets" manual was our bible; everything a young man should know about the service, discipline, structure, regulations and orders; there's even a section on the correct use and length of stay in the bathroom. Everything's a regimen, a social order.

A young reader wrote to ask me "Who make the rules for a relationship?" My answer, “Who runs your house?” He said his dad, I asked if he believed that, then I've got a bridge to sell him, the only bridge used to cross the Atlantic. Like parenting there are no easy answers for his question, maybe O.J.T (on the job training), each relationship is different and takes observation, commitment, understanding, and a willingness to adapt.

The first meeting and courtship is usually overwhelming and has been known to perplex and confuse both parties, hormones are rushing about with no particular directions, the process, tends to lull the participants into a false and sometime misleading sense of euphoria. We confuse lust with love, passion for compassion, the muscular contractions in our lower body for the feelings of real love.

Consider this. Your eyes meet, a sweet love song is playing softly, it seems the oxygen in the room becomes thin and you feel lightheaded. Your stare is fixed, your body is numb; you can hear your own words, but your mouth doesn't move and when it does you emit an inaudible sound. You try to move in the direction of that person but your feet are weighted and feel as though they're stuck in cement. The world moves about you but you are oblivious to the movement. Then there are those bells and fireworks. All this time you want just a hint from the person that they feel remotely the same. Until then, you're both "Waiting to Exhale". What seems like an eternity was just a minute or so, describe these feelings as love or a reaction to bad meal.

I'm convinced that love does have some strange beginnings. My dad met my mother at a jitterbug contest (a dance contest, for my young readers), when she made a fancy acrobatic step and he was hooked for 40 odd years. My best friend was driving to, work one morning and had a minor fender bender; his account, he wasn't paying attention and rear ended her, and that's been his position that's lasted 30 years. I've heard some bizarre first meetings but love comes later when boundaries and guidelines are shared decisions between two people. As in the "BIBLE...the first and cardinal rule is DO UNTO OTHERS (HIM /HER) AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU; treat your significant other as you expect to be treated.

Number two, when in doubt ask questions, never assume (ass-whom) anything. "I didn't know "is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior. Leave nothing to chance, this breeds contempt, indecision and puts the security of the relationship in jeopardy.

Number three, an open mind is a fertile field when the seeds of a good relationship is planted it will yield a large harvest; a closed mind yields nothing but contempt and discontent. Be open to new thoughts and ideas.

Number four, RIGHT IS RIGHT, WRONG CAN GET YOU HURT. My dad's favorite rule was you can learn more with open ears and a closed mouth; it's hard to hear if you're talking at the same time, you might miss something good.

Number five, assume the burden of responsibility. I hear so often "It's not my fault" when there is a problem and each party involved is busy blaming the other. Ask yourself "what is the real problem?" There is a right side and wrong side to every issue.

Number six, each person in the relationship should be accountable to the other as a matter of respect and concern for the others’ feelings. Never accuse on the grounds of conjecture or rumors, get the facts, discuss them openly, never point a finger (or do that head bobbing thing ladies), body language can kiss an other wise intelligent discussion away, the key word is to discuss issues or problems openly and honestly yelling and screaming is for fools, which one of you wears that hat? When a problem arises, try a proven therapeutic exercise try on the other persons’ shoes put yourself in your significant others position; walk awhile see if there is an alternative solution to any problem.

Number seven, don't allow outside interference or advise to influence your decisions in your relationships, leave your business at home and your sistah's advice at "yo' mama's house" or the corner bar where the fellows hang out. If yo' sistah had a man, she'd be using that advice at home, and if yo 'boyz had a real woman, they wouldn't be "hangin out" - simple logic.

Number eight, believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see. All you see can be easily explained. Dispense with those fragile ego's and petty insecurities, talk to him or her about your issues. I'll repeat never assume anything. Save yourself some emotional stress. Save the drama for yo' mama, she had you, she has to listen to you, unless she's got a life then you'll need to hire a psychiatrist, your significant other will grow weary of solving the same insecurity problem over and over. Ego's are like chocolate kisses, enjoy it for the moment then swallow it, and move on. Nothing good comes with a quick fix; a relationship is like the finer things in life it needs time to grow, mellow, season and should be savored and tasted a little bit at a time.

Number nine, to be able to love another, first find self-love. Self esteem is critical to the success of your relationship. It is very difficult to give the attention and care or be intimate without knowing how to feel these emotions about yourself.

Number ten, be patient, slow to anger, kindness goes the distance be sensitive, nonjudgmental or too quick to form an opinion take time to know your other half. The rules are made by two reasonably intelligent people, who have gotten beyond the lust and whirlwind, to find the substance in a relationship. It should be tailored to fit your individual situation and each party agrees the rules should govern them both, then the relationship will survive.

Number eleven, always, but always tell the truth. A relationship will not survive if one or both parties lie, deceive, mislead or hide the truth. Always be up front and honest with your significant other; avoid an ugly scene down the road. Honesty keeps the stress factor in a relationship to a bare minimum and saves heartache in the long run.

And last but not least, don’t go into the game if you don’t want to play by the rules!

You Can't Play Like That If You Expect To Win by Gregory L. Towns

© Copyright 1998. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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