A lot of this will sound like common sense, but there are many factors that can get in the way of what we know to be true. Family history, old patterns, and strong romantic feelings can cloud judgment. So what does a healthy dating relationship look like? Let’s assume attraction, chemistry, shared interests and hobbies are already there. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is there mutual commitment? Does he/she want what you want in a relationship?
- Who are you in the relationship? Do your best qualities come out as a result of spending time with him/her? Are there ways in which you don’t behave like your true self? Are there parts of you that you’re afraid to show out of fear of rejection? I am not suggesting that in the early stages of a relationship, you lose all boundaries and share your most intimate secrets. But over time, there should be a sense of safety with the other person – you and all of your personality quirks!
- Consistency over time: Do actions line up with words? Is there a sense that you can rely on each other?
- Emotional maturity: have you had the opportunity to see the other person during stressful times? How does he/she react to change or to factors outside his/her control? How are your own responses in these situations?
- Respect and kindness: it’s important that this is mutual, but does your partner extend this same respect toward the other important people in your life?
- Shared values and goals: This doesn’t mean that you’ll see eye-to-eye on every issue, but if you are thinking of a future together, a common vision regarding things like how you spend your time and money, or parenting is important.
- Conflict resolution: do you address major issues, or minimize problems for fear of your partner’s reaction? Can you each take responsibility for your part in a problem?
When I listen to people, whether it’s professionally or personally, singles, couples, or married, they often wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. The truth is that each season of life has its own unique joys and challenges. It is dangerous to make relationship choices out of loneliness or desperation. It can be equally damaging to make choices based on the initial infatuation inherent in every relationship. Having the courage to look below the surface can put you in the best position to choose a committed relationship for the right reasons.
Many men and women have a list of requirements for their date—but sometimes this list has more to do with physical attributes, education, or status. The areas we’ve discussed above have to do with character. How might your “list” change after what you’ve just read?