As a formerly single person, I have flashbacks about my dating years every now and then. It's triggered when I speak to my siblings or girlfriends who are still looking for their life partners. I'm convinced the dating scene hasn't changed much. In fact, it may have gotten worse. The more I listen, the more it occurs to me that women need a dating exit plan. When we are on airplanes, in theaters, and in stadiums, we have emergency exits to ensure our safety. 

Dating. Is. No. Different.

The emergency is always the preservation of your sanity and your peace. So here are three parts of your dating exit plan that will keep you from investing too much with little return.

Have an expiration on dating.

So often, I have heard "Just go with the flow" when meeting someone new. I have even said it to a few of my loved ones. I stopped doing that. If women aren't careful, we will be the ones flowing while the person we're waiting on is cruising in the Caribbean with someone else. We must be intentional, which means having a timeline or, better yet, a deadline if the relationship gets stagnant. 

I'm not here to tell anyone how long they should wait before being exclusive, getting engaged, or getting married, but I am saying whatever time you have determined BEFORE dating, this person must not be compromised. One compromise usually leads to another, and two years down the line, you're still asking that dreaded question: So what are we?

Quick story: I was in a long-distance relationship about ten years ago. There were no titles, but I was traveling to see him, sleeping with him, and we helped one another financially, so it was a relationship. He kept postponing his visits, but what he didn't know is I had a six-month deadline on our love affair. If I could not get the physical contact, emotional support, and communication I needed, I would end it. Needless to say, that ship sunk long ago.

Practice your exit conversation/text.

When the clock strikes midnight and that dating contract has expired, make sure to be transparent and forthcoming about the status of the relationship. Just because ghosting has become a permanent fixture in the dating world, don't let that dictate your behavior. Be an adult and communicate this is not the relationship for you. For example, you can write something to the effect of:

"We have been dating for the past three months. I enjoy your company and appreciate our conversations and your vibe. Unfortunately, there has been no indication that you want to elevate this relationship. I am seeking someone with positive intentions and knows what (s)he wants because I have been clear about what I want. Thank you for the time we've spent. Be blessed but next time, be intentional." 

This is not a race to be the first one to do the dumping. That's petty energy, not evolved, dope, Black woman energy. By sending a message or having a conversation, you are ensuring your sense of agency and self-care.

Make your next move YOUR best move.

After you end it, self-assess! Determine how emotionally, financially, and physically invested you were and decide if you want to return to the dating scene or simply take time for yourself. Often, we don't do this, and we create negative patterns when we don't heal. The game of love is chess, not checkers. Make sure you are laying the foundation for the love you want to manifest.

They say all good things must come to an end, and they're correct. Good things end to make room for the great things and the great relationship you deserve.

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