Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Love & the Black Professional…

October 6, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) The college experience can be a wonderful thing.

As my fraternity’s song goes: “College days swiftly pass, imbued with memories fond, and their recollection slowly fades away.”

One of the most beautiful things about the experience is the socializing. In a manufactured environment, young men and women begin to explore sex, love and relationships. Young adults are socializing with people from late teens to early twenties, giving the impression that dating will always be easy.

But once the college experience is over and the real world comes around, things begin to change drastically.

The question at hand is dealing with love after college—balancing an intimate relationship while becoming a professional.

And the immediate answer for some is to delay relationships until after a career is established.

That may not add up.

It’s a simple calculation, really. If things are difficult in your twenties, they will not magically ease up when you enter your thirties or forties.

Let’s examine some of the reasons why marriage is easier when young people grow together, even though that does not always appear to be the case.

At 22, we are still searching for our place in the world. Our principles, dreams and outlook on the world are all fairly pliable. If we create a partnership with someone while still in our twenties, the likelihood is that we will grow into each other as we grow into ourselves.

At 32, and as we get older, we have more concrete ideas that are more difficult to merge with someone else’s. We have habits and likes and dislikes and we want to hold fast to them. As we get older, the likelihood is that we will hold stronger to what we have learned, making it more difficult to find someone to merge with.

All that having been said, how are we to know what to do inside of a relationship when we are still young and relatively inexperienced?

Well, there is something to be said for college. You learn how to prepare for challenging situations, and you learn how to properly analyze the challenge so that you can create a plan to meet the challenge.

Well, then it should make sense to apply that same approach to the challenge of finding and maintaining love while pursuing a career.

You have learned to manage internships while still studying. Some of you have been doing that while working, or even caring for children. You have learned to multi-task and I submit that you can maintain such a program even after college.

You see, after college, your real life begins. And just as in college, you must decide what is important, what can be delayed and what the risks are for delaying things of importance.

That having been said, if a relationship is not really important to you, disregard everything I have said thus far.

But if you plan to pursue a supportive relationship that can make the oncoming career struggle easier to handle, then I’d like to provide some crucial advice.

Dating is a complicated venture and difficult to launch properly. In my book, my syndicated column and in my lectures, my most salient piece of advice is to step outside of your comfort zone. If the world is changing, we must change with it.

For single women, my best advice is to be unafraid of initiating contact and be open to sharing the burdens and responsibilities of dating.

Initiating contact and sharing the responsibilities of dating provides you with more control over your dating experience. The days of sitting back and allowing dating to happen to you are gone with girdles and the burning of bras.

For men, you must be open to a woman who wants to share the dating responsibilities, because you are ultimately seeking someone to be a partner for your life, right? Why not start the partnership early?

Some of you will be lucky enough to join solid companies that will groom you from the start to be an executive. They will examine you closely and properly analyze your ability to meet challenges. Please believe that they won’t wake up one day after you have been with the company for years and suddenly decide to make you a vice president.

Much like employer and employee in the hiring and training process, the dating process should allow two people to get to know each other, ostensibly before making a commitment. In both cases, you want to be promoted and become an executive. A relationship is about partnership and dating should not be any different. In a partnership, both parties must compromise and share. But more importantly, they must communicate effectively, because a communication breakdown can destroy everything.

Too many people just run out and start dating but are really unprepared. Loneliness and/or pain prompt people to seek connection and human contact, regardless of whether a person is prepared.

You can not simply be demanding—you must also become what is in demand.

That means that you must take inventory of self and realize your own value. Then you must be prepared.

Again, it’s the same process required for entering the corporate world.

Next week, I’ll provide some exercises that are useful for self-evaluation and evaluating potential mates.

Written By Darryl James

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