My husband and I met while I was on Maui on vacation and spent the next five months on the phone, back in the pre-Internet days. While “dating” long distance between Maui and California, we decided to ask a lot of questions to see if we were really compatible. (This is how my book, Intellectual Foreplay: Questions for Lovers and Lovers-to-Be was conceived.) Initially, I was focused on asking the right questions, paying close attention to his answers, trying to determine if he was the right partner for me. Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that how I answered the questions was helping him determine if I was also the right partner for him.
In relationships, especially when we are seeking one, it is common for us to look for the right partner, seek someone who is our “soul mate” and ultimately hope for someone to come along who is the answer to our prayers. Even when we are already in a relationship, we tend to look to the other person to be what and who we want. The kicker is, though, that we must pay equal attention to whether we are the answer to someone else’s prayer, as well. We seek the “right partner” for us, but are we, also, the right partner for them?
While it is very valuable to make a list of and to have clarity about what you want in a partner or relationship, it is also very important to know what you have to offer. This is true not only of your personal qualities and characteristics, but also of your time. Consider: What is in it for them?
When I do self-development workshops, I see people squirm uncomfortably when I ask the question, “What do you like, love, admire or appreciate about yourself?” Imagine you were at a job interview and the would-be employer asked you what your strengths were, only to observe you squirming uncomfortably while you searched for an answer. Or, they offer you the job, but you are thinking, “I can’t believe it! I wonder why they chose me! I don’t deserve this!” This lack of confidence is clearly not a strong foundation for gaining employment, yet it is often the platform from which we seek (or attempt to build) relationships.
Another challenge we face is simply how we define that which we seek. Consider two people seeking a relationship in the hopes of starting a family, but the definitions each of them have of “marriage” and “family” are totally different. One thinks it means that they will be constant companions, inseparable at all times, while the other thinks it means that they will divide and conquer getting twice as much accomplished. While this may seem extreme, we often have completely different definitions of what it means to date, to have sex, to be in love, and to be faithful. Most of us don’t bother to ask the other person what their definitions are or how they feel—and worse yet, many of us haven’t even asked ourselves what we think these things mean.
Take a careful honest look at yourself. Let’s start with some self-inquiry and relationship readiness questions:
1. What are your best qualities?
2. What is the evidence that your self-assessment is accurate?
3. Are there aspects of yourself that you are uncomfortable telling the truth about?
4. Are you willing to work on either changing your self-perception or changing your reality to better align the two?
5. Is the timing right in your life for you to be dating or in a relationship now?
6. Are you available—physically and emotionally?
7. What do you have to offer in a relationship—in terms of personality, lifestyle, quantity, and quality of time?
8. What does being in a relationship, marriage, or family mean to you?
While self-reflection and inquiry are not always comfortable, they are always valuable. Start with being the right choice as a partner—healthy and complete. You will then become a better magnet for attracting the right partner, and a healthier ingredient in your relationships.
Eve’s Love Tip: Relationships require a lot of work, and rarely is any of the work on the other person.
Intellectual Foreplay Question: What steps can you make to be a healthier choice as a partner?