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10 Dating-Related Promises To Make To Yourself Before The New Year Begins

Make this the year that you date...differently.

Dating

Sometimes, I will sit down to pen a piece and the Universe will be on some, "Yeah…let's wait a couple of days. I've got something to show you." Such was the case with this article. When I saw a particular tweet that seemingly came out of nowhere, I was like…how do y'all say it—"That's it. That's the tweet." And indeed, it is.

The tweet itself is probably something that A LOT of women can relate to. But the reason why I'm using it as the intro for this is 1) it serves as a warning to go with your gut on stuff like this (if it took 10 years, you probably didn't really want him) and 2) because of so many of the messages that were underneath. Here are five of 'em.

Hmph two times. Actually, five times. Nobody said that dating was easy; that's why I thought it would be important to encourage you to make some dating-related promises that can help you to navigate through dating's sometimes treacherous waters. The first one that you should declare? That you will value your guy friends and seek advice from them more often in the new year. Because while so many women are out here guessing how a man's mind works, a lot of men already know straight up. As a bonus, they have absolutely no problem putting you on game so that you won't have to tweet out something similar to what sis did.

And with that hopefully lil' pearl of wisdom out of the way, here are 10 other promises to hopefully help you to date effectively rather than regrettably in the year of our Lord.

1. “I will be clear on what I am dating for at this point in my life.”

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Not everyone dates for the same reasons and honestly, no one should be penalized for that. If you want to date next year in order to find your husband, that's cool, but a guy is not automatically a jerk simply because he'd prefer to casually date (perhaps indefinitely) instead. Typically, the drama comes in when two people are attracted to each other, start hanging out and then, a few months up the road, they realize that they want two totally different things. That's why, it's best for you to know what you want and, on the second or third date with someone to bring that up. That way, you can both know, pretty early on, if you're on the same page with one another—or not.

2. “I will not allow my past experiences to jade my future opportunities.”

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a woman say she hates dating when, what I really think she means that her past dating experiences have been less than stellar. Personally, I think that a well-planned date with someone I'm attracted to is a beautiful thing. But no one can enjoy new dating experiences if they have a such a bitter or jaded perspective that they aren't open to new people and opportunities.

One way to prevent sucky dates from happening quite so often is to have a few thorough conversations with a prospective date on the front end. It's OK to ask what his ideas of a perfect date are and to share some of yours too. If during the planning process, you already see some red flags (like he's dragging his feet on coming up with a clear plan or he mentions you coming to his house or him coming to yours and it's the first, second or third date), either bring them to his attention or cancel.

Just don't manifest a negative self-fulfilling prophecy by focusing so much on your past that you're not even remotely open to what could happen, in the best way possible, in the future. Even if that "future" is with someone else.

3. “I will know what I require upfront.”

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Earlier this year, when I penned a piece entitled "5 Things That Are OK To Require On A First Date", some people thought that "requiring" anything was being unrealistic. Clearly, I don't. Let me tell it, a lot of us end up settling for less and it's all because we don't require certain things as much as we should. A requirement is a need. And yes, if you need chivalry (for example), it's OK to require that. Now, can you "make" a man open doors for you or pay on the first date? No. But if chivalry is important to you and he doesn't meet your standards, you can refuse to go on another date. Simple as that.

The reason why it's important to know where you stand at the beginning of a date is because, just as the Good Book says, "charm is deceitful" (Proverbs 31:30). If you don't have a personalized list of requirements in tow, a guy's looks and/or personality could talk you into lowering your standards and, as I tell people often—"You only end up bending over backwards when your bar is too low." When you know what you need and don't waver on that, it will keep you from getting so attached so soon that you start to waver in the very places where you should stand firm.

4. “I will be open to dating outside of my ‘type’.”

When it comes to this particular point, I encourage you to check out "According To Experts, We All Have A 'Type'" and "Should You Consider Dating Someone You're Not Attracted To?" When it comes to the second article, let me tell you—there were some people out here who were triggered. Automatically, they took that to mean that I was encouraging them to settle when, really, if they actually read beyond the title (or did more than skim it), they'd get that what I was actually saying is if all you go by is someone not totally being your physical type, you could end up missing out on a really good man. My late fiancé was attractive but absolutely not my physical type. My first love was totally my type and about took my uterus out (relatively speaking). I actually just saw him recently; he's still my type and still…not a good fit (to put it mildly).

You know what they say—insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Allow this to be the year when you open yourself to guys who may not be totally your type but are still appealing individuals. A wise man once said, "If you only peep through keyholes, everything is keyhole-shaped." Your type might expand if you date people who are little more outside of your typical…type. I'm just sayin'.

5. “I will also be open to going on dates that are outside of the box.”

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Maverick Movies is an independent Black movie channel that sometimes features some cool films. One day, I caught one entitled Sure Looks Good. One of the main characters reminded me a lot of Regine from Living Single in the sense that she only dated men with money. Then she met a guy who took her on a picnic; that turned her off. Then she was totally outdone when she found out he also didn't have a car. What she didn't know was he had a pretty good job, but he sold his car in order to invest in his photography business. Hmph. While she was out here dating rich men she wasn't really into, the "broke" guy that she actually liked was building an empire. He actually reminds me of who Joan (from Girlfriends) ended up getting engaged to. Remember how Aaron rode the bus, lived in a tiny ass apartment, and also didn't do a lot of initial wining and dining because he was trying to save up to buy a house?

I'm not trying to convince you to date a man who wants to only eat ice cream on a metro bus. But what I am saying is if a guy wants to do something that is a little different from what you are used to and his approach to life isn't quite what you'd expect—so long as you dig him and he treats you right, don't be so quick to shut the door. Some of the best things happen when we don't have such a tight grip on how they are "supposed" to go. I'll also say that some of my best dates have consisted of doing things that I never really thought I would do—or even like to do.

6. “I will not talk myself out of the red flags that I see.”

If you don't adhere to any of these other dating-related recommendations, please hold on to this one. Instead of seeing red (stop) flags as yellow (caution) ones, take them for the color that they are and MOVE. ON. And what are some of the dating red flags that you shouldn't ignore? A man who has a temper. A man who is too prideful to admit that he's wrong or to apologize when he is. A man who has a serious bout of commitment phobia. A man who has no problem with you being his wife without him being your husband (see "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife"). A man who sits back and lets you do all of the work to make things work. A man who doesn't make you feel emotionally safe. A man who is selfish. A man who is a narcissist. A man who knows your triggers—and constantly pushes them. A man who is great in bed but nowhere else.

Red flags exist so that we can see them and pump our brakes, not see them and talk ourselves into turning guys into our own personal projects. No one is perfect; that is so true. But if you happen to see any of the flags that I just mentioned, don't use that as a justification to stick around longer than you should.

When it comes to the red flags I shared, guys are better off working on those alone than us staying with them and enabling their weaknesses. If you choose to stay anyway, don't say you weren't warned. Again, red means "stop", not "pause". Always remember that.

7. “I will actually listen to what he says.”

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Have mercy. I know a lot of people who think they are good listeners when they actually totally suck at it. How can you know if you are one of those people? You don't listen to what it being said; you only focus on what you want to hear. You take over conversations. You interrupt people while they are speaking. You don't pause to process what was said before responding (or reacting). You make everything about you, even when it's not. Ugh. There really is no telling how many relationships could be saved if both people listened better.

Make it a point to be a better listener while on your dates. This means doing the opposite of what I just shared. It also means that if a guy says, "I'm not interested in anything serious", you don't translate that into, "If he spends more time with me, I can change his mind." Listening is about hearing and accepting what is being said; not hearing and then finding a way to "edit" it to suit your purposes.

8. “I will not rely on dating to make me feel good about myself.”

This one is a biggie. Some women have told me that they hate dating because, whether it's the guy or the kind of dating experiences that they end up having, the end result is they always end up questioning their value or self-worth. First, let me say this—a guy who is a simp date or who totally lacks creativity and forethought is not a reflection on you; that is all on him. Second, if you are going on a date to seek confirmation of your worthiness, that is the absolute wrong reason to be doing it in the first place.

Anyone who has the privilege of spending time with you, they should feel honored. You are a prize. A prize. And third, looking for dates to make you feel good about yourself is giving them way too much power. Dating is about getting to know someone better. If things work out, awesome. If they don't, he wasn't your right fit and discovering that is a good thing.

The key to keep dating from totally damaging your self-esteem is to always keep in mind why you're doing what you're doing. What I mean by that is, don't date because some guy wants you to. Don't date because all of your friends are doing it. Don't date because you hate being alone. Date because it's an experience you want to have with someone, knowing that no matter how it turns out, you're going be OK. Better than that even. Why? Because—say it with me this time—you are the prize. Hmph. Ole' boy should be so lucky.

9. “I will embrace each date as a learning experience, whether it’s good or bad.”

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I'm a quotes girl and one of my favorites is "You're either a blessing or a lesson." So true, so true. Another reason why some women swear off dating is because they refuse to look at dating from this perspective. No one wants to go on a date with their hopes up, only to come home feeling like someone was a complete waste of their time. But if you choose to have a more positive and purposeful outlook, even the bad dates can teach you something; especially something about yourself.

And what if you've gone on so many bad dates at this point that you've totally lost count? Well, you know what they say—everywhere you go, there you are. What are the common threads on the front end that you could stand to switch up on? I'm telling you, if you see dates as experiences rather than potential fairy tale endings, all of them can work for you in the long run—whether the date was "good" or…not.

10. “I will maintain the balance of high standards, a gracious spirit and living in the moment.”

One more. The funny thing about dating is, nothing reminds you more, just how human nature works. What I mean by that is, whenever you go out on a date with someone, the point is always driven home that the only person you can ever control is you. Yet a lot of us return home totally pissed, put off or outdone, not because of our actions but the actions of someone else. That's why, I wanted to end this dating piece by encouraging you to remember to keep your standards high (not unrealistic but high), to have a gracious spirit (rather than a rude or entitled one), and to not be so focused on trying to turn a first date into a potential future marriage proposal; instead, live in the moment.

Relax. Have a good time. Use each date to get you closer to understanding what you want and what you don't want. Allow this to be the year when you cultivate how to make dating work in your favor. Because, you know what? If you keep these 10 promises to yourself, you can do exactly that. Then…who knows what 2021 will have in store. Ya feel me? Something tells me that you do.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Dear Men, I'm Good On The "WYD" Texts

The 'Pre-Commitment Interview' Every Dating Couple Should Have

Here's Why You KEEP Not Getting What You Need In Your Relationships

7 Ways To Have An Incredible First Date

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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