You’re walking down a path and come to a rickety bridge, but off in the distance you spot this beautiful golden tree that stands out from the rest of the scenery.

You’ve made the rules and contingencies to cross the bridge and know there is no way you should step out onto the unsafe bridge, but you do.

Suddenly, the darkness envelopes you, and as you fall screaming to your doom, you wonder why you didn’t pay attention to the warning signs. You ignored your rules and find yourself mired in the middle of the twilight zone.

Unfortunately, we all find ourselves in that same situation sometimes, but, I guess that is where we “live and learn.”

The problem is, not everyone lives and learns. We may live, but some never learn, even when they recognize the warnings.

I have always tried not to divulge personal stories, but in this case, I believe I should say, I too, have ignored warning signs before.  And, just like the pitfalls of walking out onto an unsafe bridge, it collapsed and I fell to my doom.

My particular rules concerning relationships and love are simple ones.  Unfortunately, love and relationships are one area where most of us are more prone to mistakes. Sometimes we charge ahead blindly and don’t listen to the warning signs or obey our own rules.

I know most are saying there are no rules in having a relationship and loving someone, but before one gets to that point, the point of unconditional acceptance, there just have to be rules to evaluate your compatibility with someone prior to reaching that point of commitment.

Rules like: Don’t date your best friends girlfriend or boyfriend ― and although I would never have done something like that, I do have rules ― I think everyone does.

I won’t divulge my rules, but to make a long story short, I knew my rules and I made decisions that, in the long run, proved to me that I should have followed my time-tested rules on relationships.

And yes, I violated every one of my rules and I should have not gone out on that bridge ― just because I truly cared and wanted it to work..

I paid attention to the glimmer out of the corner of my eye and thought I could navigate the “bridge” ― I was wrong not to have trusted my own rules and instincts.

But, unlike some, I have learned my lesson and have vowed to always follow my rules and to never put myself in another such scenario.

Do I hold a grudge or judge everyone from that particular instance? No, not at all. Am I jaded because of it, absolutely not? I am just more aware of similar future occurrences ― and sticking to my rules.

It’s always important to remember that all people are not the same and because one person chooses not to value you, doesn’t mean someone else won’t, or that you don’t deserve to be valued.

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, honesty and openness, not secretiveness to where trust becomes an issue.

Trust is the core of relationships and love.  Without trust, there is nothing, which is why it’s probably one of the more important aspects of a lasting and thriving relationship.

But, when your situation becomes untenable, then have the courage to walk away.

There are so many clichés on the subject, but two of my favorite ones is one by actor Will Smith that reads, “If I have to chase and fight for your attention, eventually I won’t want it anymore.”

Another quote I read on reads, “Fall in love with someone who deserves your heart. Not someone who plays with it.”

Both quotes are typical examples of what can happen when you don’t follow your own rules or stay on the lookout for the early warning signs.

There are several morals to my story:  Look before you leap (or fall), all that glitters is not gold, and for goodness sake, pay attention to the signposts up ahead or you might find yourself falling to your doom somewhere in the darkness of the twilight zone.

Stay alert, always know your worth and find a way to shine.