Part 3 – Figuring Out Who We Want To Be In A Relationship With

This is the final part of the relationship Series.

If you haven't read the other 2 parts, you can read them here:

Read Part 1 - Figuring Out What We Want In A Relationship here.

Read Part 2 - Figuring Out Why We Want To Be In A Relationship here.

To recap, let's ask ourselves the following questions once again:

  1. What character traits have I valued in the past? What traits do I value now?
  2. Do I know myself enough to be able to meet new people and know which ones to give further emotional investment?
  3. How am I growing to be better at healthy relationships? 
  4. Do I love my life? Would I be proud to give a person I was interested in, a grand tour of my life

 

GETTING TO KNOW THEIR SOUL

 

Do we want to be in a relationship overvaluing beauty of the outside or beauty on the inside?

Do we want to be in a relationship overvaluing beauty of the outside or beauty on the inside?

My girlfriend Anna* has been with her long term boyfriend Nigel* for just over a year. With every respect for their flourishing relationship, it truly is a Beauty & The Beast arrangement. She is the show-stopping, front-and-centre cheerleader, and he, the overlooked, extremely average Joe

I love listening to her talk about Nigel, because it is proof of the onion-layers theory: judge their appearance all you like, but it is their soul that actually matters. 

I am guilty of judging Nigel. Anna is objectively - beautiful

While formerly she had dated the easily handsome, community-approved-based-on-appearance male, her recent social media photos of him + her together sent my judgments spiralling. "What was she doing with him?" "She can do so much better."

Until we caught up as two girlfriends alone in my car, I experienced a peaceful, brimming-with-happiness Anna, from being adored by a man who genuinely cared for her and understood her. 

"He's quite dull and doesn't talk as much as I do, but he'll put on our favourite comedy band and start randomly singing to me. He makes me laugh so hard."

"He wasn't sure if we'd be able to get the same time off work for my birthday, so he bought me a voucher for Quay restaurant and told me I could take whoever I wanted. Of course I wanted to take him!"

It is a snuggly fit for our movie-influenced-stereotypes that the "Nice Guy Gets The Girl". Not to say that good looking, smooth-talking males are all douchebags, it just seems to be a common experience amongst myself and any of my physically attractive girlfriends that most of the handsome-prince types tend to make crappy boyfriends. (We'll dig deeper into why this is in another post).

Remember:

COMPATIBILITY OF PERSONHOOD

EQUAL INTENTIONS

MR or MS RIGHT

 

As 2 people pedal slowly to assess the other's character, taking responsibility for their own happiness and being honest and upfront about who the other is, I want to share the following questions I ask myself whenever a Suitor crosses my path. 

I have phrased them as concretely as possible.

Arguably, compatibility of personhood is complicated. However, it can be broken down into these following categories:

CONFIDENCE & ATTRACTION

IMPLICIT COMPATIBILITY

TRUST & CHARACTER

FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

EMOTIONAL RESPONSIBILITY

This is not an exhaustive list, but a much-thought-out, curated one, true to my own life and road tested on a few others.

Some are self explanatory, and others will receive a tagline explanation.

FIRST STAGE:

  • Could our conversation go on for hours without me looking at the time? 

Assessing: Implicit Compatibility, connection.

Drinking coffee, chatting about life, not looking at the time...

Drinking coffee, chatting about life, not looking at the time...

  • Am I genuinely impressed by what he has made of his life so far?

Assessing: Your admiration and respect of the other.

  • Do I want to sleep with her?

Assessing: Physical attraction, chemistry.

In any relationship leading towards marriage, friendship love needs to prequel this. It sounds obvious but I know of a few people who believed physical attraction would grow over time, and it unfortunately never did!

 

SECOND STAGE:

  • Would I ever have to babysit her at a social gathering?

Assessing: Confidence level, trust, social (extrovert/introvert) compatibility. 

When you start taking her to your friend's birthday parties, drinks nights and Poetry Slams, it's comforting to know you can catch up with other people after introducing them to a few new faces and trust they can spark conversations independently.

Happy to sit and hold her own, independent of you.

Happy to sit and hold her own, independent of you.

  • Does he pass the Do Nothing Together test?

Assess by: Catching the train together from Sydney to Wollongong (1.5 hours). Just the 2 of you. Alone. 

Does it result in: effortless banter and comfortable silences OR pulling teeth for something else to talk about? I have used this test on many of my friends unbeknownst to them. I am sure they have also used it on me. 

In the words of Tim Urban, "marriage is not made up of Valentine's Days or your 3rd Wedding Anniversary; marriage is the 324th boring Wednesday evening."

If there is no agenda and you both frolic successfully, creating fun out of the unsuspecting ether, you've got great potential for an enjoyable, happy long term relationship.

  • Do we think the same jokes are funny?

Assessing: Humour style, implicit compatibility, connection.

  • What was the last book he read?

Assessing: Intellectual compatibility, curiosity.

This is important for thinkers like us. S personality types tend to be less inclined to read for pleasure, and while I pass no judgment, I am less likely to believe they will make an appropriate match for me. 

 

  • Can she follow my train of thought and random tangents?

Assessing: Implicit compatibility and understanding each other. 

THIRD STAGE:

  • Could I depend on him if my car broke down on a highway?

Assessing: Trust and reliability of character.

Can you depend on him in a crisis? 

Can you depend on him in a crisis? 

  • How does she treat wait staff, homeless people and street charity strikers?

Assessing: Humility level and character.

Another way of saying this is"how does she treat people who can offer her nothing?"

  • Does he genuinely apologise when he is wrong? Is he gracious and merciful when I am wrong?

Assessing: Humility level, character, trust, ability to forgive and give grace.

FOURTH STAGE:

  • Does he actively pursue good relationships with his family?

Assessing: emotional responsibility, resilience, perseverance, proactivity with involuntary relationships.

Basically: no one gets to choose their family, only their friends. So if the state of his family is in a mess, but he attends counselling, takes his Mum out to lunch once a week, and tries to make amends with his absent Father, that is a good sign.

  • Do I get on with their closest friends?

Assessing: Their identity and self-perception. If we are the average of our 5 closest friends, it is a reflection of who we have chosen to influence us deeply, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

  • Is he following a plan for his career? (May not be as important to men as it is to women).

Assessing: Financial responsibility. Can he take care of you? Is he driven? Does he take initiative? 

I'm very passionate about work as a tool to restore dignity and instil purpose. Work ethic is a reflection of a person's character and understanding of how to take responsibility.

  • Does he relish in taking care of me?

Assessing: Trust and character.

For women - watch out for his attitude toward acts of service. Little deeds of thoughtfulness like taking the cheque at dinner, buying you a macchiato when you're tired, remembering your big presentation at work will prove that he cares about what is going on in your life.   

  • Do we share the same expectations for where this relationship is going?

Assessing: Trust, character, equal intentions.

I am pro-clarity and honesty. Once I have been on a few dates with a guy, I expect him to honour my emotional investment by letting me know whether we are just friends or more than that.

Not to say you are only befriending him for an outcome, but high volumes of exclusive time usually equals intimacy. It's just how we're wired. 

I hope these articles have been helpful in your personal journey towards finding the love of your life! Being single should be fun; a period of self-exploration and building identity capital. 

Once we truly know and understand ourselves, we will have clarity about the kind of person we will want to spend the rest of our lives with.

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