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***This is the first of an (at least) two part series on getting real with relationships (or what little I know about it). Enjoy 😀

There are some common disclaimers on products, services, & contests that can be applied to relationships as well. Some, like with any disclaimers, we choose to ignore instead of weighing against the benefits. When we ignore these disclaimers, we smother a relationship’s potential and waste our time.

Have you ever filled out a mail-in rebate, meaning to mail it, but don’t do it until after the rebate period was over? You feel like you’ve been cheated, misled, as if you’ve wasted time, energy, money. My aunt says you never get the money. I’ve gotten my money every time. It’s because I follow the directions and listen to the disclaimers.

The fact of the matter is, most places offer things like mail-in rebates because they count on the fact you won’t heed the disclaimers or correctly follow the instructions, and they won’t have to pay you. Don’t let your relationships be this way!

If you’re in a relationship, it may be helpful to keep these in mind:

1. Offer good while supplies last–I read a title of another blog that read: There are plenty of fish in the sea, but I’m not fishing for mackerel. This is very true. Just because there is quantity says nothing of quality. There are a finite number of “fish”  who fit your taste and other qualifications, and with the recent oil spill, a few of them are no longer with us. If you want a real relationship, get serious about what  you will and will not waste time on, because supplies of good men are indeed limited.

2. Not valid with any other offers: You ever get a really good set of coupons in the mail, if only you could put this one with that one? But almost all of them have the words “not valid with any other offers” typed in tiny print at the bottom. You cannot combine what worked in other relationships into a perfect formula for how to make this one work. Every relationship is different, and besides, the other relationships didn’t work, so why not start fresh? That doesn’t mean throw truths you’ve learned out the window: if you know now from past experience uber athletic men aren’t for you, then pass on the NFL star. But remember, preconceptions, heartaches, bitterness, and regrets not related to this person/relatioship are not valid towards this relationship. Take the necessary time to heal yourself before bringing baggage that doesn’t add anything useful into a  new relationship.

3. See store for details: Men, for all of their group similarities, are all different. There’s no one size fits all. If you want to know what he thinks, likes, etc., old “offers,” the word of friends, and Cosmo are not tried and true methods of discovery; ask him. Let him be the expert on who he is and how he feels. And keep those nosy friends out of all your business (that deserves a post of its own…hmm)

4. Rules subject to change without notice. I always thought they threw that in there just in case too many copies of an instant winner for $1,000,000 were printed and attached to cups in McDonald’s Monopoly game, that it was a way to cover their butts when things didn’t go according to plan, but I cannot be mad at a contingency plan! Now that you have your relationship, don’t get lulled into a false sense of security. Relationships change and evolve in the process of time, just like the people in them. If you aren’t paying attention, you won’t notice, but don’t fool yourself it isn’t happening. Not all change is bad; change is necessary for continued existence. Be aware of it and evaluate the changes as they come.

5. Exclusions apply: Just like everything is not on sale in the store, everything you want may not be in the offer before you. No, scratch that. Everything you want will NOT be in the offer before you. You have to evaluate whether it has what you need and enough of what you want to satisfy/content you despite its failings or shortcomings. You must also separate your childish, petty desires and preferences from things that truly matter to you in a relationship. Maybe it’s time to trade in your height requirement or eleven pack Genuwine abs preference for a truly great guy who is healthy and who’s height you can live with. *Just  a thought* 😀

6. Not available in all areas. There’s an old song title that best describes this: Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places. If you can’t find it, could it be you’re in the wrong location? You have to be at the lake fishing to catch a fish; your apartment complex’s swimming pool doesn’t have any. You have to be in a place where the qualifiers are to qualify. Work on placing yourself in the place where you can find & enjoy what you are looking for, and be content in the meantime.

7. Must be 18 or older. Age is more than a number…it marks the passage of time. If you’re even slightly paying attention, over time you gain wisdom, knowledge, experience. Don’t push aside the assertions of those lightly. Relationships require maturity from you–and time to mature. There is no sell by date tattooed to your forehead, no need to accept the first available man because your eggs are running out and fine lines are coming in.

8. Batteries not included. Have you ever gotten a Christmas or birthday gift you really wanted, and then realized it needed batteries and the gift giver didn’t give you any? Here you have this great gift and you can’t play with it. The battery of any relationship is chemistry, connection and love. If you have no chemistry or attraction, feel no connection, then he can be a fantastic guy that you just can’t use, relationship-wise.  Some attachments take time to grow, while others are instantaneous. Some people we have chemistry with, we will never love or be able to build a life with. Be smart and be careful.

9. Some assembly required. This is usually a lie; it takes a lot of assembly. Relationships are a lot of assembly. You are literally trying to put your life with someone else’s, trying to see if the pieces fit together, make sure the attachments are secure. Don’t expect the perfect relationship to be parked beside the Christmas tree; love is what you make and with whom you make it (via Love Jones–love that movie!) How you put the relationship together determines how it will work. Maybe this is why most people who got together while cheating on others don’t work out; they put the relationship together in a way it couldn’t work.

10. Standard terms/conditions/fees apply. There are some things that are required in all relationships, and you have to bring them to the relationship. A willingness to learn of someone else, the ability to listen, the ability to share and be open, a willingness to trust, good intentions, and commitment (agreed upon levels) are standard to any relationship.

Disclaimer: This advice is only good while good men exist and cannot be combined with any other advice. Subject to availability of good men in your city, state, and zipcode. All good men are not created equal. Exclusions apply. Must be 21 or older. See 2blu2btru for details.

If you have any other fun disclaimers, feel free to add them in the comments!