Relationships are usually the most rewarding experiences of your life. They can also come equipped with their fair share of challenges. Disagreements caused by loved ones appear to be the most difficult to repair, but everyone knows if anyone can fix a broken relationship, it╒s Iyanla Vanzant. This month, EBONY reached out to the accomplished author, inspirational speaker and talk show host to help EBONY readers with their love, friendship  and family issues.

Q I don’t get out much. I’m considering online dating, because I know many people who’ve had great success finding a mate that way. What are your thoughts about online dating, especially in the wake of shows such as Catfish?

Beloved, does Catfish come on at the same time as Law & Order? If so, that explains why I have no idea what it is about. Online dating is just as viable an option as running into someone in the produce aisle at the supermarket. But trust me, the same people on the dating site do have occasion to visit the produce aisle. You have to be aware of your levels of comfort and safety no matter where you meet someone. But the real question here is not about online dating. I would offer that you should explore why you don’t get out much. Is this a choice you are making because you want to be at home? Or are you too tired, lazy and disinterested to make yourself available? When you meet a potential partner, do you want someone who does not get out much, either? One of you will have to make a different choice if you are going to spend any kind of time together. Or is it that you do not get out much because you are waiting for someone to get out with? If that is the case, get out now. Go to the places you’d want to go with your partner. It’s OK to take a platonic friend for company. The important thing is to start living the life you envision with a partner right now. Who knows? You may run into someone doing the same thing.

Q I am trying to “wait” for the right person to come along, but I’m growing impatient. What can I do to divert my energies from wishing, waiting and hoping?

Beloved, your question itself is a great start because it suggests you know that “trying to wait” is not serving a higher purpose for you. Wishing, waiting and hoping are future-focused fantasy activities that are not guaranteed to produce results. As long as you are ”trying to wait,” you are not being prepared. So what is your higher purpose? What is your vision for your life? What are you choosing to create other than a relationship with the “right” person? And, when that person comes along, what will you have available to offer and share? All too often, we are attracted to people who are living their vision, doing their thing, riding the wave of success. We don’t stop, however, to consider how attractive that would make us if we were to do the same thing. Consider “Right Person No. 1” who is living life fully, pursuing dreams, taking risks and experiencing the best things in life. Chances are, you would jump at the opportunity to be in a relationship with this person. And let’s be honest, if his or her success came with financial benefits, you’d be all the more excited. Now consider “Right Person No. 2” who is as sweet as homemade apple pie as she or he sits at home fantasizing about meeting “The One.” BORING!!!! Wouldn’t you rather experience the world with Right Person No. 1? If so, the question becomes, which kind of right person are you? You focus your energy by living your vision. Start living right now as if everything you desire in life is already in your life, including the right person. Get into the feeling nature of being the best you that you can be. Find out what matters to you, and do something about it. It can be anything from saving stray kittens on the street to creating world peace. Your contribution in and to the world is what makes you attractive. When you are attractive, you don’t have to wait; you create and draw to you what you desire. Be sure that when the right person shows up, you have something more than TV Guide to share with him or her.

Q How long should you date someone before considering getting

intimate? Are there time parameters?

Beloved, I am not aware of a hard-and-fast rule or specific parameters that address this matter; however, I do wonder if you are using the word intimacy as a code for being sexual. As I see it, these are two very different things.