Here are a few questions I would want my children to ask themselves, before they decide to get into a relationship. Now, this is in no way an exhaustive list of questions, nor is it a foolproof way to determine compatibility or relationship longevity. It’s simply a few questions that I would hope to impart on them as they think seriously about being with someone.
Question #1: Could I be friends with them, if we weren’t in an intimate relationship?
If you didn’t know this person intimately, could you be friends with him/her. I mean, could you be really good friends with them. A true friend isn’t afraid to give honest advice and stays in touch, regardless of distance, new friendships, or a new boyfriend/girlfriend. If you can’t envision your partner as this type of person, then a red flag should go up. I used to think my father was being a bit corny when he used to say “you have to be friends first,” anytime I told him about some new girl I had a crush on. Now I know how right he was.
Question #2: What do I know about my significant other’s family?
There is a good chance that this goes without saying, but if you don’t know anything about your significant other’s family or close friends, another red flag should go up. Everybody knows somebody and its human nature to develop and maintain close relationships with people. Save for an orphan or an adopted child, everyone has some kind of family (real and make believe). If my child’s significant other isn’t close to their family, I can understand that, however, if they can’t explain why or state that they have no family, I’d be a bit concerned. Likewise, if they don’t have any close friends, then my radar is really going to go off.
Question#3: What are your significant other’s ambitions?
I pride myself on not being an elitist or judging people based on my life and my values. But, and this is a big but, if they are young and satisfied with their station in life, then I would be a little concerned. What are their goals and aspirations? Maybe they have realized them already, but if they are in their 20s or 30s and they don’t have any goals or aspirations beyond what they are currently doing, then I would probably ask more questions. Hell, I am almost forty and I dream every day about changing the world or inventing something new. Now, if the significant other is satisfied and my child is satisfied, then I would leave it alone. After all, it’s not my relationship.
Question #4: How well do I get along with your significant other’s family?
Okay, let’s assume your significant other has a family, they’re close to them, and you’ve met them several times. If you have any reservations about your relationships with their immediate relatives and friends, beware of a very tense future. By this I mean that you are potentially headed for a lifetime of tension and arguments. “Why do we always have to go to your mother’s for dinner? You know she hates me,” you’ll say and the response will be something like, “No she doesn’t, she is just icy towards people she doesn’t know very well. She told me she adores you.” Personally, I couldn’t make myself like someone who didn’t like me. Moreover, I couldn’t face a lifetime of hard feelings and tension every time I was around my significant other’s relatives. If you’re dating a mama’s boy and mama doesn’t like you or you’re dating a daddy’s little girl and daddy doesn’t like you, then get out while you can. Relatives are a constant, so make sure you look for signs early on.
Question #5: Does my significant other have any habits that I just can’t get used to or live with?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to address them before you get to the proverbial “for better or for worse” speech. I am referring to habits like a lack of punctuality, failing to say thank you, or even forgetting to put the toilet seat lid down (though I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why women don’t look first). If you have issues with any of their quirks, then talk to them about it. Now some may be a deal breaker, while others may just be things that make them who they are. For example, I personally couldn’t date or marry someone who had really bad hygiene or kept a dirty house – deal breaker. But, I could date someone who is occasionally late. My mom is constantly late, so I just developed the habit of telling her that a play starts at three, when it really starts at five. See how smart I am. My point is that, while some things are easy to get past, others aren’t. You want to address these things up front and resolve them.
Question #6: Has my significant other ever done anything in his/her past, that if found out now, could be a storyline for the TV shows “Scandal,” or “Who the Bleep did I Marry?”
Now we’ve all done things in our past that we aren’t proud of. Some people may have a sex tape floating around somewhere, a tattoo they don’t want mom or dad to see, or a senior thesis they plagiarized because they really wanted to graduate. However, there are some things that are just really embarrassing and could be hard for you to deal with. For example, if you walk into your significant other’s high school reunion dinner and everyone is staring at you as if to collectively say, “Wow. She got married?” Or if you’re walking in the park and somebody says “Hey Craig, when did you get out?” To some folks, these things may not be a big deal, but to others, they could be very troublesome. It erodes trust and makes one question everything about their partner. Likewise, if they have been upfront with you from the start and you accept them as they are; don’t hold it over their head for the rest of the relationship.
Did I leave anything out? Are there any other issues or topics that you would want your children to think about?