If you date merely to have fun, this blog is probably NOT for you and I am surprised you read this far! Just kidding. However, if you treat dating as a way of having fun, exploring the opposite sex, learning about relationships etc., then you might be dating as a past-time, a form of entertainment or a time filler. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but some see dating as a serious passage of life in which we prepare ourselves for marriage.
If you treat dating as a screening interview for marriage, however, you will be viewing dating as a stepping stone objective to the final goal of marriage and growing old together as one-till death do you part! Some singles wish to settle down as they believe they are emotionally ready to do so. The loud ticking of their biological clock and/or several failed relationships can motivate one to analyze their dating habits, their criteria for dates and/or analyze themselves for flaws. The emphasis here is simply to focus on our personal criteria for finding that special soulmate.
Assume for simplicity purposes that you have already met someone generally acceptable and reasonably attractive to your standards. Assume further that you both have an acceptable first impression with sufficient interest together so that getting to know each other’s mind, personality and spirituality is next. Do you have a method to your madness which guides your questions or conversation? I have attended several of these so-called 1 to 3-minute speed-dating sessions, single mingles etc. in the last five years and recall very rarely seeing a couple leaving together as a result. On the other hand, I have seen many couples pair off that have met at parties where common friends, interests and expectations were present. The really important issues that serve as reasons to stay together or separate and go our own way rarely get discussed in the first few hours or even the first few dates! It often takes weeks and even months to uncover them!
If we are taking dating seriously there are always certain standards we consider screen-outs and screen-ins even if we are operating unconsciously on many of them. We also have certain measurements we look for in a person that we could consider RANKING criteria on screen-ins. Stay with me here. That is, certain criteria we compare to others and assign a higher or lower rating toward them. For example, we might say: “He/she is a real 10 out of 10 in the money area-a Millionaire!” The screen-in criteria of economically stable sometimes overlaps with the ranking criteria because more as in the case of money, is sometimes better! Right?
Screening Criteria Examples: (Okay, we are ALL broken and a hot mess at times, but look at these below and know that a cluster of these together may often try a relationship to its core.).
Examples of Bad Screen outs that are non-negotiables to many persons:
- Addictions/ingrained habits-past or present (IE. Alcohol/Drug, cutting, hoarding, gambling)
- Unemployed presently or history of
- Chronic or acute physical illness
- Many surgeries performed or scheduled
- Large debt, bankruptcies or poor money management history
- Arrest or conviction history
- Mental health illnesses/challenges
- Special needs for them you or children involved (IE. Mentally or physically challenged which require much time, money, assistance and understanding)
- Poor hygiene/habits (Odor, nails, slurping eating with mouth open)
- Too old or young to share same interests, values etc.
- Incompatible personality traits (IE controlling, selfish, lazy, opinionated, stubborn, loud, introverted/extroverted, nocturnal,)
- Incompatible body types (Unattractive physically though heart, personality and spirituality is acceptable.)
- Children, pets that are dirty or allergic
- Interests are too different (Indoor vs outdoor, active/doing vs passive/watching)
- Values too different (Politics, Conservative vs Liberal/progressive)
- Beliefs and religion are too different (Christian vs Non-Christian)
- Dirty, disorganized living arrangements
- Gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, body hair. (these are preferences to dating and NOT prejudices unless they are treated unequally.)
- Living in car or with parents
- Married too many times (in the eyes of the beholder/each state has limits as well)
- Never married though middle aged (a matter of perception/interpretation)
- No class, sense of chivalry or manners (IE Inappropriate dress or speech, burping and letting gas out in public, treats opposite sex without appropriate respect, etc.)
- Selfishness (Taker), self-centeredness, stubbornness, rigidity of views/beliefs.
Screen -Ins: (Resources, tools and plusses that decrease stress and increase comfort)
- Salary over $____(your perception).
- Employed/stable employment history
- Same religion, values and politics (All are related)
- Home owner or stable housing
- Attractiveness/fitness physically
- Education level is acceptable
- Credit rating is acceptable
- Relationships with family/friends are stable and appropriate (Social intelligence)
- Lifestyle: eating and exercising habits, preferences and flexibility
- Balance of listening and talking as appropriate
- Confidence without arrogance
Ranking Criteria: (Value added factors that add comfort, pleasure and fulfillment to your future).
- Annual income over average or over yours
- Available leisure time/flexible schedule for quality time
- History of emotional, financial and health stability
- Family history of stability
- Local vs traveling career compatibility
- Balanced career, social, personal and spiritual life.
- Clear short-term and long-term goals
Generally, we all ask those questions for which we have the most need. That’s motivational theory class101 in a nutshell! Right? Learning about another’s emotional and financial stability are attractive features and may be the most predictive of marital/family stability that all other issues listed above. It is certainly crucial to the security and future of the family unit. Statistically, they are far more critical to the success of the relationship than most other factors listed above.
Questions Worth Asking Yourself:
- What requirements do you look for in a mate?
- What things do you consider ruling out one for dating?
- Is there a point or a period of time in dating (3rd date, 3 months, 1 year etc.) at which you must discuss each other’s beliefs, politics and religion before getting totally committed to one another?
- How and when do you and that other person know you can announce that you are exclusively dating one another?
- So, what are the red flags that signal you to cut off the dating relationship? (You best have some!)
- List the places, events, activities and venues where you have met the persons more in line with your expectations.
- Looking within, what needs, vulnerabilities and conditions existed that contributed to your past poor decisions in dating?
- What have you learned from the past? How will you adjust your attitude, expectations and behaviors moving forward?
“I’m just looking first for someone committed”, you exclaim! Ok. Start there. Perhaps that’s the toughest question to ask in some circles and age ranges. Do I need a “relationship counselor”, (life coach or Licensed Therapist) as in the movie “Hitch”, you ask? Perhaps yes, if you are clueless, have no friends or they are clueless as you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of today as dating norms are changing fast. Listen to the advice of other successful role models, especially that of the opposite sex! The emphasis of social media, internet dating, “meet-up” groups and the ease of texting with its rules coupled with our busyness of life has changed the landscaping for dating today for most everyone. Whether widow, widower, divorcee, mid-lifer and/or senior, each are now realizing after divorce or death of a spouse that starting over is a monumental challenge today!
There are exceptions to every rule. Marrying someone with less standards than you expected can work if you share enough in common to serve each other’s needs/expectations while having the commitment, willingness and ability (IE adaptability/flexibility) to grow together. The short recipe I have for the successful relationship is built on the continuing three Cs”: communication, compromise and commitment. Caressing and cooking can also help, but are not required. Lol. That topic is, however, left for another day and blog. Until then, pray God send you some qualified applicants or at least some qualified “distractions”!
Happy screening…I mean dating!
By Wayne R. Faust, MA, SPE, HSP
Author of 300 Billion to One, Available at Amazon.com