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JENNIFER'S GEMS
by Jennifer Brown Banks

12 Ways to Avoid "Road Rage" on the Highway of Love!

Love can be a joyride. Or it can be an accident waiting to happen. It all depends on how you choose to travel.

A friend of mine recently had a terrible "road trip" in her latest romantic journey. It happened, unfortunately, because she failed to heed the warning signs. Despite her initial suspicions, she chose to become involved with a guy whom she was devastated to discover was married. And when he later chose to let her loose, she lost her peace and her self-respect.

And she’s not alone. Too many of us women go into relationships with our eyes closed and our fingers crossed. And then we become furious and frustrated for the many detours on the road to true happiness.

We settle for less than we deserve. We speed when we should be operating with our emotional "emergency brakes" on, and we travel amidst slippery conditions.

Here’s how to put less mileage on your heart, have fewer detours, and avoid “road rage” on the highway to love.


12 Ways to Avoid Road Rage on the Highway of Love

1. Pay Attention to the Warning Signs
Even if you’ve “been around the block” a few times, it pays to keep your eyes and ears open. Does your new love interest anger easily? Have unexplained absences? Gaps in his story? Proceed with caution. “Better safe than sorry” is more than a cute saying, it should be a mindset in the early stages of dating and mating.

2. Remain in Neutral
Don’t size him up for a tux just yet! Until the situation merits it, don’t be overly expressive, don’t pledge your undying devotion, and definitely don’t use the “L” word. Take your time, and be governed by his consistent actions, not just his words.

3. Check Out His Record
Does he have a lot of “violations”? Observe his lifestyle and his habits. Things like baby mama drama, abusive behavior, bitter ex-girlfriends, etc. If so, it should certainly be taken into consideration.

4. Steer Clear of Potential Problems
Like men who are in the middle of divorce, have substance issues, can’t keep a job, and those who have a history of being unfaithful or commitment phobic. Your heart will thank you. Don’t go into the situation thinking you can change him, it rarely happens. Your time and efforts would be better spent working on self-improvement.

5. Keep a Spare
No, I don’t mean cheat. I mean date around until this guy has earned the privilege of being your “one and only”. A lot of times when we’re really excited about a man, we burn the numbers of other potential suitors, and then find ourselves feeling foolish when things end early, and we’ve kicked some other cuties to the side prematurely.

6. Don't Be a Back Seat Driver!
You should have an equal say in what direction the relationship goes. Be up front. Speak your needs, be a partner, and give pointers when helpful.

7. Buckle Up!
Don’t think that things will be smooth sailing, even if he’s as fine as Denzel, and you’re as compatible as a pair of bookends. Truth is, even in the best unions, outside forces can wreak havoc—his friends, your shopping, job stresses, etc. If you wanna’ go the distance, having realistic expectations helps.

8. Avoid "Hit and Runs"
Don’t share intimacy with someone just to beat out the competition, or to win him over. It’s a far too common way to create unsafe conditions.

9. Know the Limits
What are your boundaries? How far do you want to go? And how fast? Having a clear sense of what you’re looking for, and how to reach it, makes the path a little smoother.

10. Get Directions
Whether you choose to consult the Bible as your “operating manual” or the input of sage friends, don’t venture out without getting advice from other more experienced travelers along the way.

11. Don't Tailgate
Never follow too closely. Give your guy needed space and freedom to pursue other interests and friendships. It will add dimension to your union.

12. Know When to Exit
Heed the signals. Avoid emotional wrecks by knowing when to say when!



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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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