Are you looking for that special someone? Are you in the dating process? Aside from this sounding like some gimmick advertisement, I promise you I will not be offering you a special recipe to make all of your wildest dreams come true. However, over the past couple of months as I went through a “dating process,” I learned a few things from both experience and people much smarter than me about things to look for before you commit to a relationship.
I understand that there are 50 million blogs out there on relationships so it is important that you understand that the goal is to give you a list of things to look for that you may have never heard of before, not necessarily what I think is most important. If you are looking for a list of what I think is most important, check out 10 Tips for Successful Relationships. Otherwise, the following is going to challenge you to think deeper and ask tougher questions before you commit in a relationship.
Seeing as most of my readers are under age 30, I recognize that our attention spans don’t…I’m hungry. Is Breaking Bad still on Netflix? I hate laundry. Ahhhh, you get the point. I also realize that their might be a lot of content here. If you hate reading, I would suggest scrolling through and finding one of the things in bold that interest you, and read that one. And for all of you blogworms out there, enjoy!
I wouldn’t say any one of these things are deal breakers (but they could be), however I think these are awesome things to consider before entering into a committed relationship with someone.
1. Past Relationships
This is often one of the best indicators of whether or not this is a person you should be dating, but we are always too nervous to talk about it. Nobody wants to bog a relationship with drama from the past and nobody wants to hear information they weren’t ready for, but this is often the best way to find things out about the person you are with.
Why did their previously relationship end? Was it because of their lack of communication or unfaithfulness? Maybe one of them was overly insecure or controlling. Or maybe it was because it wasn’t a good fit with where each other was at in their current career path. Whatever it is, pay attention to what they say and asked them what they have learned from it. If they haven’t learned anything from their past relationships other than “he was a tool,” well six months from now you might just be the next “tool.”
Lastly, pay attention to how they respond to “who is at fault.” It’s easy to point out the flaws in the person you used to be with. It is more noble to own up to your mistakes and shortcomings and showing what you are going to do to change it.
Being honest, I am always the first one to say “our past is behind us for a reason, we don’t live there anymore.” So, I am in no way trying to condemn someone for mistakes they have made in the past, but I am very intentional in figuring out whether they have learned from those mistakes. We’ve all got baggage from our past, lets be sure we have learned from it!
2. Work Ethic
Are they willing to work and work hard? Life is work. Relationships are work. Marriage is work. Are they willing to work? A bro with a six-pack is nice, but a man with a job is much nicer…and a lot more sustainable…and provides security…and is more attractive. What is their work ethic like?
I remember going on a date one time and asking the career question, “So, what do you see yourself doing in five years?” The response, “being a stay at home mom.” Now, to give you a little understanding of who I am, I hope to get in the point in my career where I create the opportunity for my wife to stay at home with the children if she chooses to do so, so I am not in any way against stay at home moms. But, having that be your focus and not doing anything in the meantime is something that raised a red flag. It is one thing to be pregnant and have that as a dream, it is another thing to be single and basing the next 20 years of your life on finding a man who can provide for you so you can stay home with the children that you don’t have yet. This person was literally telling me her life is on hold until she gets pregnant, then she can fulfill her dream. That may be an issue.
I’m interested in ambition. I’m interested in people who dream. I’m interested in people who work hard to make things happen. If that means my wife is going to be a stay at home mom, I know she is going to have worked hard to get there because that is apart of who she is rather than just buying time until I can take care of her.
3. How do they feel about education?
I love learning. It doesn’t have to be in a classroom, but I love learning. I love reading. I love growing. I love doing things that I never thought I would be able to do. I love being better than I was yesterday. That is important to me. I wasn’t the best college student, but I am getting better.
How do they view education? Is it a waste of time? What kind of grades did they get? Is learning easy or hard? Did you have to pay for your education? These things seem to be a little tedious, but it reveals a lot about how goal oriented people are. If someone never had to work hard or pay for anything, that may reveal certain things about their character.
Their view on education is by no means a deal breaker, but it is an important thing to know about the person you are with walking into the future. The more important thing for me is how they feel about self improvement. If they are awesome now, imagine how awesome they are going to be in the years to come when they are committed to self improvement.
4. Core Values
I think this might be obvious for most of you, but it is important all the same. What do they believe? How do they view marriage? What is the goal in life? Are they optimistic or pessimistic? How do they feel about money? How do they view family? Do they want kids? How many? How do they maintain relationships with people? What is important to them? How involved do you want to be in certain things?
This may seem tedious or over-the-top, but I would hate for you to be in a relationship for 6 months only to find out that the person you are with doesn’t want to have children and you are now devastated because you don’t know what to do. You have one life, you should spend it fighting next to a person who wants to take over the world in the same way you do.
5. Can they be intimate?
Honestly, this is one of my weaknesses. I think it is a weakness for a lot of guys. I have this inert manly montra that I can’t be soft, I can’t share feelings or fears, and I have to guard my heart. While this mostly comes as a protection mechanism, it also pushes away intimacy.
Both men and women have a desire for intimacy and it is important that the person you are with can give it. Talking sports, music, and food is great, but if that is as deep as your conversation gets, there isn’t a lot of depth in that relationship.
6. What is their job history?
While the place of employment isn’t really that important here, the duration and reasons they left are. If someone can’t hold a job for longer than six months, that might give you some hints about their character. Obviously, there are special circumstances for every situation, but if someone is getting a new job every six months because they are “bored with it” or it “doesn’t challenge them,” then odds are your relationship will be added to that same list at some point in the future.
Also, if they hate every boss they have ever had, this might also be an indicator of some character issues in their own life. I, like most of you, don’t necessarily love being told what to do. However, I do show honor and respect to those in authority, whether they deserve it or not. Because of that, I have had a great relationship with every boss I have ever had. A bad relationship with a previous boss might mean they have trouble listening or showing honor and respect, all of which are important in an intimate relationship.
7. How do they handle disagreement?
Everyone fights. Everyone. Some people don’t call them fights. Some people call them disagreements or altercations or whatever else you want to say to fluff it up, but everyone fights. If you don’t fight, refer back to point #5 because you probably aren’t having too many “real talks.” With that being said, how does this person fight? Do they get explosive whenever they are mad? Do they always have to be right? Do they shut down? Are they willing to see your side of things or meet with you in the middle? This is an important thing to know before you get into a committed relationship because this is something with a 100% chance that you are going to deal with.
For me, I have a very analytical mind and I fight logically. I like to break things down, articulate what each person is saying, and then show why I am logically correct. The princess I get the pleasure of being in relationship with doesn’t operate like that. She doesn’t want to get into a logical argument, she wants me to understand her emotions and why she feels the way she does. This is why it is important to understand the way people handle these disagreements so you can meet each other and find solutions as they come up. I work to understand her emotions, and she works to try and explain things logically.
8. Who do they look up to?
Who has had a major influence on their life? Ask questions. Find out who they look up to and why these people are important to them. In doing this you are going to find out a lot about their character, what is important to them, and who they want to be like. There are several different people on my lists for several different reasons, and thats okay. This shows that they admire awesome things that they see in the people around them, which is a good thing.
9. Are they organized?
Was their car clean? Was their apartment clean? If you are like me, you probably clean before you know you are having guests, so this isn’t always a good indicator. What is their schedule like? Do they plan it out or do they go day by day? Do they have a routine? These kind of things give you good indicators of what is going on in a persons life. I find that the person who is organized with their home, is also organized in their schedule, and in their finances, and their relationships…etc.
This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, I am definitely not the cleanest person ever and more often than not you will find my laundry on the floor of my bedroom. But, it is important to recognize these things in advanced so you aren’t in love six months later asking your OCD self “what happened? I thought you were so clean?” You just missed the clues!
10. Who are they trying to become?
I am interested in people who are committed to personal growth and being better than who they were yesterday.
This is an important thing in any relationship. The unfortunate, or fortunate, truth is that people change. As time goes by, experiences happen, information is learned, and people undoubtedly change. So, we have a choice to be with someone who is controlling their change and aiming for the better, or someone who is allowing themselves to be changed by the world that they live in. We know for a fact change is coming. I choose the person who is focussed on controlling the change rather than the person who is just letting things happen, every time.
This also lets you know whether or not they are willing to learn and adapt. I will be the first to tell you that I am not perfect. Sometimes I get upset over silly things and sometimes I am wrong. If someone is going to be with me, they have to share the attitude that I am going to learn to love this person in the way that he or she needs it, as well as learn to solve conflicts in the way that is best for him or her. A lot of times people go into relationships thinking, “This is who I am, deal with it.” When saying that, you are making no effort to take who you are and fit it with who I am. Nobody is perfect, so we are going to have to adjust the way we do things if we ever want to live in healthy relationship with someone else.