What should be on your relationship (or love) checklist? Philosophers, clinicians, researchers, and theologians have all had their say about what love is and what love isn’t. Celebrate great health! LIKE BlackDoctor.org on Facebook!People are quick to throw all all sorts of terms and theories when they are feeling “warm and fuzzy” or need a rationale for why they did not do what they are supposed to do in their intimate relationships. As a marriage, family, and sexuality therapist and educator, I’ve noticed that many of my clients either do not have a relationship/love checklist or if they have one, they allow their boundaries to become blurred when they begin to have amorous feelings. Here are a few “relationship/love” tips you should consider before entering into your next romantic encounter: 1. Be happy with yourself and be ready to be in a relationship. There are three essential components to being happy and ready to be in a relationship: A. Identify what you need to be happy with yourself. B. Identify what you may need to do to enable your partner to be happy. C. Identify what your expectations are of being in a relationship. Being “ready” to be in a relationship means that you are physically, emotionally, intimately, and spiritually open to sharing who you are with someone else. Likewise, you also need to be receptive to who you partner is and where he/she is at across all four of those dimensions. Many people want to be in love or in a relationship but most people either aren’t ready, or ready to have a partner who is ready. 2. Never forget how special you are. If your partner minimizes, negates or judges you as a person, or your actions, you may want to proceed with extreme caution…or not at all. Sometimes we fall in love with people at the expense of forgetting/neglecting who we are. Instead, it’s important to be with someone who doesn’t prevent us from remembering and honoring those traits that allow us to be the special individuals that we were put on this Earth to be. 3. Take your time. Too often when couples begin relationships, they don’t take enough time getting to know one another across different contexts. People behave differently in front of their peers, their families, and their co-workers, and it is important to have an understanding of how they interact with the different people in their different circles. Moreover, people behave differently over time. The way that a person treats his/her parents today may be significantly different from the way that he/she may have interacted with his/her parents growing up. One of your relationship tasks is to allow the relationship to move slowly enough to learn who you are really are giving your heart to. Here are seven additional traits that you may want to add to your love/relationship checklist. Remember, it is important that you define what all of these mean to you personally. 1. Companionship: How much time do you want to spend with your love interest? What will you do when you two are together? Apart? 2. Honesty: Honesty by open disclosure or by soliciting for responses? 3. Trust: How dependable/predictable are you? How predictable/dependable should your partner be? 4. Openness: How open/flexible are you? How open/flexible do you want your partner to be? 5. Reciprocity: Do you expect for your partner to give to you as you give to him/her? 6. Good communication: Does your partner share what is REALLY going on with him/her? Do you share? Do either of you listen? 7. Considerate: How considerate/attentive are you to your partner’s feelings? Should he/she be as considerate or attentive of yours? Feel free to include your relationship/love checklist items as well. GOOD LUCK!!!