As my daughter prepares for college, she asked me, “What’s the difference between a good boyfriend and a good husband?” Her question literally stopped me from folding laundry.
“Actually it depends on what you’re looking for.”
In fact, with the advent of Tinder and online dating sites, I don’t envy how both young women and men are pressured to look model gorgeous in their pics or having their initial conversations through texting. Hopefully though, most of them will be exploring their own values to know what they want in life as well as dating several people before they commit to one guy or gal and the most important part – having fun while doing both.
But beware of infatuation while dating --- thinking that this person “could be the one” or “he will make my life better” or “she’s so sexy that I could spend my life with her” or “once we’re dating, he’ll stop drinking.” Wrong.
INFATUATION destroys judgment in the best of people.
So even when you’re dating, look for good people, men and women who have a life outside the relationship, who are not needy but independent, emotionally available and not just for the midnight booty call or casual hook up. Date different people and see what YOU need in a relationship – honesty, a good sense of humor, etc.
And run from anyone who borders on unstable… i.e. blames everyone else for their failures, no job, active alcoholics or drug addicts, talks trash about women, minorities, has a criminal record, disregards basic decency or laws. Trust me, you can’t fix crazy.
However, many things that we look for in a committed dating relationship are similar to the things we look for in a spouse such as:
- Does he/she share your values? That could be religious, ethical, educational, or political. You have to decide. For me, it is treating all people with respect, behaving honestly and honorably with each other and the world at large, giving my children the best education possible, being discreet and modest and not engaging in immoral behavior such as lying, cheating or stealing and trying in a our way to make a better place for the next generation. Those are some of my core values but you have to decide what your non-negotiable values are. And what you will let slide in a relationship, what you will be flexible with and what you will not.
- Look at their friends. If they are good people, honest, fun loving and respectful, typically the person you’re involved with will be similar (but not always, that’s why we date people for a while). However, if he/she has no good friends, don’t get near them. They will not have the capacity for emotional intimacy.
- How do they treat people of the opposite sex, bartenders, waitresses or anyone who will never help him/her in life? Do they speak badly of other people in general – other religions, countries or race? If they treat all people with respect, generally they will treat you with respect.
- For girls looking at guys - What is his relationship with his mother, sisters, aunts and former girlfriends? Is he tied to his mother by the “apron strings?” If he has a healthy relationship with his mother, usually you’re in the clear. But if not, be careful. You don’t want him consulting her about what you should wear to dinner…
- How do they view money? Are they responsible and thrifty or do they have a shopping addiction and 20 credit cards? In marriage, it is one of the biggest factors of contention. Make sure you’re on the same page or it could destroy you financially.
- Is a man flexible or rigid in his views on women? Does he try to control what you wear? Does he think a woman should be only the way he wants her to be? Is he happy when you succeed in your endeavors or is he jealous of your success? Never choose a jealous, inflexible partner.
- Look hard at their family. Do they have loving relationships between each other? Do they espouse racist or sexist views? Are their goals and dreams similar to your own?
- In marriage, make sure that they are good conversationalist and possess a wonderful sense of humor. Looks don’t last. No one is 20, 30, 40 forever. And you’ll need a friend and confidante in your partner that supports you during the ups and downs of life, who knows you and loves you despite your warts and all.
- And finally, all love is a choice. A choice to be kind to another human being. To consider their needs and wishes. To grow a life together with integrity. To have fun and to cry together if necessary. And finally, despite being careful if you get a dud, get out and cut bait.
People can change, can hide addictions and infidelities, and can actually be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde without your knowledge. They can turn out to be physically or mentally abusive or worse. Remember love and marriage doesn’t mean sacrificing your well-being…ever. It’s about becoming the best person you can be while helping your significant other do the same in a loving relationship.