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by Jennifer Brown Banks

How do You Spell "Commitment"?

Maybe it’s me, being “old school” and all. But when one of my close male friends suggested that we be “friends with benefits”, I was beside myself with excitement! Here I was thinking that he was about to add me to his health care plan at work. Then he broke it down for me… like a fraction reduced to its simplest terms.

What he was proposing was that we have “sex without the strings.” Or as the more enlightened would call it, become “booty buddies.”

He confessed that he had always found me cute and curvaceous, but didn’t want the hassle of any rules and regulations. And, he pointed out, other than great chemistry, and a fondness for one another, we had very little in common.

“Do women really do that?” I asked. He laughed and promised that I wouldn’t be disappointed if I decided to join the ranks. He assured me that performance wise, he wouldn’t let me down.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my friend (a few years my junior) is as tempting as two scoops of Tom and Jerry’s on a hot summer day! He’s tall, dark, and handsome, with “bedroom eyes” you wouldn’t believe. And truth be told, one of the most charismatic men I’ve ever known.

But I didn’t want to complicate a friendship that I greatly valued. Nor did I want to compromise myself. So I declined and he decided to prey on some other unsuspecting female, I suspect.

But this situation got me to thinking…

What ever happened to commitment?

Hollywood headlines constantly remind us of how “disposable” relationships have become. Here today… tomorrow gone. Ben and Jen, Jen and Brad, Brad and Angelina, Tom and Nicole, Tom and Katie, Hallie and Eric, and Terry McMillan and her muse. It’s hard to keep up!

Has commitment become old-fashioned? Uncool? A thing of the past? Are women, due to ratio woes, allowing men to create their own terms for intimacy? Are guys enjoying unlimited “perks” without the work? To quote my friend Gail, “nobody seems to want to work at relationships anymore. If there’s a challenge or problem, people just walk away.”

Webster defines commitment as “to pledge oneself as to a position or an issue.” To give in trust.”

How do you define it?

When it comes to relationships, many women mistakenly believe that commitment occurs once sex becomes part of the equation. For many men, it’s when they officially tie the knot (and for some, not even then). Some couples discuss it at great length. Others kinda’ fall into it like a comfortable lazy chair.

How long should it last? ‘Til the going gets tough? ‘Til something better comes along? Or as long as the sex is good?

We each define it differently. Governed by our own value system, lifestyle, and emotional maturity.

But one thing’s for certain - not enough people are clear on it! And even fewer are equipped to handle the give and take that commitment requires.

Are you ready for commitment? Here are some things to be considered:

» Do you live the type of lifestyle that will allow you to be an equal partner? In other words, if you’re a workaholic, or believe that “variety is the spice of life”, maybe you should reconsider. Don’t be selfish by straddling the fence, which often leaves a partner frustrated and feeling cheated.

» Do you have the emotional maturity and spiritual discipline to be with just one person? With the many temptations that confront us each day, it takes a “true grown-up” to say no to other opportunities.

» Are you carrying excess “baggage” from a previous relationship? Unresolved issues, divided affections, etc.

» Do you have a clear idea of what type of person makes you happy and with whom you are most compatible?

» Do you bore from “routine” easily?

» Are you on the rebound?

» Do you have reasonable expectations of a relationship?

» Can you compromise in order to fulfill the other person’s needs?

» Can you keep a promise? Which essentially is what a COMMITMENT is.

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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