Time won't give me time

And time makes lovers feel like they've got something real

But you and me we know we've got nothin' but time

And time won't give me time


C'mon on self-professed music experts. What y'all know about that Culture Club, tho? As I sat down to pen this piece, their song "Time (Clock of the Heart)" automatically popped up in my head and kept playing, on repeat. I get why too. I mean, just re-read the hook. Virtually all of us have been in a relationship where, at the end of the day, the only thing we knew for sure about the situation is that we were spending valuable and precious time. Lots and lots of time. So much time, in fact, that it caused us to wonder if we were investing time or wasting it.

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If there's one thing that none of us can ever (ever, ever, ever) get back, it's time. And so, as someone who honestly spent more years of my life wasting time in basically fruitless relationships than I've got the time to write on and you've got the time to read about, I want to do all that I can to make sure that you don't make the same mistakes I did.

If you're currently in a relationship with someone and something is tugging at your heart (or brain) to inquire about whether or not you're wasting your time, check out the following five points and then decide (and by "decide," I mean determine if you are and then prepare to make some major adjustments ASAP, OK?).

Compare Where Your Relationship Is Now with Where It Was a Year Ago

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I've got a lil' love sister (you know, a sis that's connected by love, not blood) who's been with her boyfriend for like 7-8 years now. When things started off, he was courting her pretty strong—taking her out, coming by her grandma's to do things around the house (I even remember him cutting down a Christmas tree for them a couple of times), and being intentional about getting to know her family members and close friends. When I met him, I flat-out asked what his intentions were and he said "marriage."

Now? She's the one always going over to his place, he barely speaks to her family, and a few of her friends have met someone and gotten married in the amount of time she's been dating ole' boy. Hmph. 22 (the age she was when they started) and 29 (the age she is now) are very different, time-wise. Plus, when I ask her if she still wants to get married, these days, it's less of a priority. What all of this boils down to is their relationship isn't making progress. It's doing the very opposite of that.

There are 365 days in a year and 24 hours in each day. That is a lot of time for two people to get to the next level in their relationship…if they really want to. If you've been with your man for a year or more, you look back and you honestly don't see much of a difference between this time last year and this very moment, how do you feel about that? Just sayin'.

Forget What He's Saying. What Is He DOING?

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If you are a Words of Affirmation person like I am, please—for the sake of all that's beautiful and sacred about you—take heed to what I'm about to say. When you're someone who is moved by words, sometimes you forget to require action to follow what is being said. So long as someone tells you how they feel about you, you're not always or necessarily looking for them to execute their sentiments.

When that's the case, it doesn't take long for certain types of guys (charmers, commitment-phobes, etc.) to catch on to the fact that so long as they are verbally-engaging, they don't have to actually do much. Meanwhile, a man who's "bout it bout it" is gonna say what he means and mean what he says. Even better, he's gonna say less and do more.

An immediate example that comes to mind is a male friend of mine who just told me over the holidays that, after dating his girl for a few years, it's past time to propose to her. When I asked him when he planned on doing it, he said, "Oh, I'm taking her overseas this year. I'm gonna do it then." I just found out he booked their flights last week.

Words. Then action. Back to back. As it should be.

What Are You Doing More of—Bragging About or Defending Your Relationship?

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Another thing that can keep you from totally wasting your time in a relationship is having your male friends offer up their insight on what they see in your situation. I say that because sometimes, we as women view things as we want them to be rather than as they actually are. Guys? If they see a red flag, they're not gonna call it pink. They're gonna say it's bright, blood red.

Here's a personal experience example. There's a guy I was once seeing and about 75 percent of my male friends were basically like, "I mean, he's cool but you're a good woman. What is that dude doin'?" As I was trying to come up with every excuse (that I thought was a reason at the time) in the book—he's had a hard childhood, his first love devastated him, he's always on the road, he needs a little more time—my male friends were looking at me like, "Girl, if you don't move on somewhere." Literally.

Who ever finds stagnation to be something to brag about? If your relationship is moving forward, if your man is doing things to show you that he wants you in his future in a very significant way, you'll probably find yourself bragging about him (and your relationship) quite a bit. If he's doing the complete opposite, you'll probably end up like I was—defending him and your situation more than anything. Yeah, that's not good.

Is Your Relationship in a "Line" or a "Web"?

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A few days ago, I read a quote about the internet. A man by the name of David Foster Wallace simply said, "It is named the 'Web' for good reason." Hmph again. Have you ever watched how an insect acts when they first get caught into a web? They are moving around…A LOT. But 1) they aren't getting anywhere and 2) it's only entangling them more into the web.

I once told a guy years ago that if he didn't leave the crazy chick he was seeing alone, he was gonna find himself caught up in a web that he wouldn't be able to get out of. She's so off the chain that I'm gonna leave the details out, but let's just say that, since then, they've created at least four Lifetime movie scripts together. SMDH.

Even if you and your man aren't on any crazy train, a sign of a truly healthy and productive relationship is the fact that you both will be moving in a line, a line that points forward. There won't be a ton of crooked straights or even cul-de-sacs. You both will be in agreement about where you want your relationship to go and you'll be both taking steps to get there—together.

No ultimatums, nagging, or manipulation from you needed.

Remember, True Love Is ALWAYS About Making Progress

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I dig word definitions and quotes. They both help me to keep things in their proper perspective. As far as the definition of progress, what I like so much about it is there is no grey area—either you're making progress or you ain't.

Progress: a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage; advancement in general; growth or development; continuous improvement

Take a moment and assess your relationship.

What goals have the two of you made—and reached?

What are some examples of how you're moving up, together and as individuals, as a result of your relationship?

How are you advancing—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—in part, by being involved with this brotha?

How has the relationship grown and developed over the past six months or so?

How have things improved?

Someone who truly loves you will show it by valuing and honoring your time as well as their own. If you can't honestly say that progress is continually being made, mutually so, it's time to confront the situation head-on. Ask him the questions I just asked you and accept the reality of the answers.

You know the old proverb—it's later than you think. It really is.

Love yourself enough to not allow a man to waste any of your precious time. Amen? Bet.

Featured image by Getty Images.

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