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When women are girls, our perception of love and marriage is not rooted in reality. Honestly, we were never properly prepared for all that comes with love and all that comes with marriage. The men have all the power. They decide when they will date us exclusively. They decide when we will marry with a proposal. We’ve been trained to be passive, not in a subservient way, but in a “I’ll follow his lead” kind of way. There’s nothing wrong with this. It’s not wrong. It’s just incomplete.

The trouble becomes when we follow his lead and the love goes awry, who then is in control of our lives? Who will then move our lives forward? There’s something about women between age 30 to 40 and after when the tides of love often change and we find ourselves suddenly single or unhappily married or divorced, either due to infidelity and in most cases, when the marriage or long term relationship has simply  run its course. Women at this point are now at a place where they’re trying to take control of their own lives.  They’ve been trained to follow his lead. Now they have to follow their own lead. When you’ve spent half of your life in a partnership, you have so much to relearn and begin to do for yourself. It’s like starting life all over again. It can be frightening, but we have no time to be afraid.

The middle-age woman cannot afford to allow fear and insecurities to dictate her choices nor does she have time to go find another man to follow. She must now, by the grace of God, anchor her own life. She must now follow her own lead. She can longer afford to be passive, nor play the dating game. She must know what she wants and demand it without apology or exceptions. Her next relationship, whenever that time comes, must be what she wants and how she wants it. This is not about selfishness; this is about self-assurance.

Whether you’re a middle aged woman, married or divorce, don’t wait for a breakup to develop a backbone and awareness for what makes you happy. No more should you accept the drama of your 20s as part of your dating or love life. No longer will you put up with the struggles and long suffering that often comes with failed marriages and relationships. You’ve been there. You’ve done that. It’s time to take control, time to stop living in our feelings and take an pragmatic approach to matters of the heart. It’s time to stop believing that we should feel blessed because a man looked our way; it’s time to stop settling for what we don’t want because we think it’s all we can get. If you think mediocre is all you can get, mediocre is all you’ll ever have. There’s so much more in life. You won’t find more while settling for less.

At this stage of life, challenges should not be a part of our love journey. We’ve loved. We’ve married. We’ve had our families. We’ve made our mistakes. We’ve learned from our mistakes. At this stage, we should no longer seek, find or remain in relationships that don’t grow us. When it comes to love and relationships, the Golden Rule is wrong: he shouldn’t treat you the way he would like to be treated. He must treat you the way you want to be treated. He must love you the way you want to be loved.  So tell him from the door how you’d like to be loved. Tell him from the gate what makes you happy, content and satisfied.

Great companies don’t hire people who can’t meet the responsibilities of the position. If he can’t meet the needs you have, don’t give him a place in your heart, no matter how cute, charming or great he looks on paper. You’ve already been there. It didn’t work then. It certainly won’t work now. So when he comes with all his words and promises, tell him the following and say it with your chest: THIS is how to love me…

1. Don’t lie to me EVER

Nothing destroys trust faster than lies. Without trust, we have nothing. Without trust we’re just contestants on the Bachelor. I don’t have time to be a detective. Nor do I have time to see who you’re texting, calling. Tell me the truth. Trust me with the truth because lying to me is a deal breaker. and there are no second chances for cheaters.

2. Be deliberately thoughtful

I don’t care if you feel like it or not. I want to be thought of, often and always. When you wake up in the morning and you’re not next to me, I want a good morning call or text. I’m not asking for a two hour conversation, just ten seconds. I want to be your first thought in the morning and your last thought at night. Honestly, I’m not conceited. I just know what it’s like to settle for being overlooked and undervalued. I know what it’s like to be treated like a piece of furniture instead of a valuable gem. Find ways to let me know you’re thinking of me: bring me flowers (find out my favorite flowers), write me a rhyme, leave me a note, buy or make me sentimental jewelry, pick up a piece of art or quote you know I’d like. Just find ways to keep your heart connected to mine, deliberately, intentionally and purposely.

3. Talk to me openly and honestly

Women are communicators. I need to connect with words. Going a day without talking is a no no. If you’re not deployed overseas, there’s no reason we shouldn’t talk daily. There’s no reason you shouldn’t want to talk to me everyday. Our conversations are what keep us connected. When we stop talking, we stop connecting. We must laugh together. I want fun. I need fun. I want to laugh often and regularly. I want to do important and unimportant things. I want to have silly conversations and go on silly adventures. We must make time to be light-hearted and silly together. I want to be your friend, not just your lover.

4. Sex must benefit us both

Women are sensual beings. We love kisses. We love to be kissed and caressed. We don’t want to rush. This is not the draft, and we’re not on the clock. Tell him: pleasuring you should bring him pleasure and joy (insert what that means for you). Our intimate encounters must be anticipated, and made a priority where both of us are satisfied, pleased and protected.

5. Designated time together is a must

Setting time aside to be together must be a priority. (Whatever you do, don’t call it date night; date nights are obligatory events couples employ because they feel they have to. It becomes more of a job than something anticipated freely.) Our relationship must be a priority, not a sidebar. Whether it’s a night out or a planned and organized night in, time specifically carved out for us to connect and enjoy each other’s company is paramount. After years with others, it’s time to create our own memories and our own magic. To do so, we must both be present, passionate about our love, where it is and where we’d like it to go.

Ladies, if he can’t meet all of these requirements, keep it moving; unless you have time to waste and tears you’d like to cry.