[Editor's Note: Tony A. Gaskins, Jr. admits it: he was once a woman's nightmare disguised as the ideal dream man. So what changed him? Meeting the love of his life and now wife, Sheri. From her example, he came to recognize what it means to love and, in doing so, became a better man. He was born the son of a former pastor, raised in a small town where opportunities were limited, but since then he's been featured as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and is now one of the nation's top dating experts. Tony A. Gaskins, Jr. is also the author of several books, including Mrs. Right: A Woman's Guide To Becoming And Remaining A Wife. Here, he reveals his top five tips for finding lasting love.]
1. Heal Before You Deal: A lot of women have been hurt by someone in the past and still carry the pain into the present. It's very important that you heal before you deal. Every time you love, you must love like you've never been hurt before. If you can't do that, you're not ready to love again. It's unfair to punish your next man for the wrong doings of your ex-man. Remember that it's been taught that forgiveness is a gift you give yourself so forgive your ex and forgive yourself for falling for him. You didn't know he would take your kindness for a weakness and abuse your love but he did. Now you have to forgive and move on with your life without looking back.
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2. Prepare For Love: In the preparation phase you must re-learn love. You must learn what real love is and what a real relationship is. Most people repeat the same cycles because in the interim they don't get new knowledge, so therefore the past repeats itself. If you take your mistakes and turn them into lessons by getting new knowledge, then you limit your chances of repeating the past. After you learn from your mistakes, you can move forward and embrace love without any hesitation because now you know what real love is and what a real relationship is.
3. Love Yourself: We often hear the term "love yourself" but usually we don't know what it really means. Loving yourself doesn't mean pampering yourself. Loving yourself means to invest in yourself. By investing I mean work on the 3 B's: the brain, the brand and the body. Feed your brain by getting all the knowledge you can about love and relationships and about yourself. Build your brand because you are more than just an employee on someone else's job. You are the CEO of your own life. Start a blog or write a book and have something to call your own. A man wants a woman that's the boss of her own life—not a woman that's waiting to be rescued. Work on your body because that is your temple. Make sure that you're working out regularly and eating properly so that you can be in the best possible shape. Men love women of all shapes and sizes, so get in your best shape so that when your husband sees you, he recognizes you.
4. Position Yourself: Get out and about and live life. Most women attract their husband when they are just living their life instead of searching for a man. You can't attract your husband by hiding in your cubicle at work and then dashing home to hide there. Get out and join a life group at church, or work in the community to help others. Do something that will get you out of the house. Don't be afraid to just walk around the mall by yourself to look around and treat yourself out to eat. A man loves to see a woman that doesn't mind being her own company. If you're always with a pack of other women, then your husband may never enter that gauntlet to ask you out.
5. Know Your Worth: This is how you seal the deal. If you know who you are and what you deserve, then a man will know as well. You teach a man how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce. Stand your ground when it comes to your self-worth and self-respect and he will reciprocate. When your husband meets you and then finds out that you truly love and respect yourself, he won't be able to let you go. It's the women that give up their ground and let a man walk all over them that end up single. A man wants and loves a challenge, and while he's trying to win that challenge he falls in love. Know your worth and love yourself.
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