Let’s call the fictional characters in the story above Ryan and Eva.
Just like Ryan and Eva, this is the type of interaction that you’re most likely to have. Maybe it’s not at a bar – maybe it’s at your pottery class or the golf club. That’s not really important. The point is you’re doing something you enjoy doing, and you’re more likely to meet someone who enjoys the same thing.
The more you talk, the more you realize you have in common with the other person. Your conversation is spurred on by inquisitive questions, but what do your lines of questioning look like? Are they more like:
1) What food do you love to eat? Do you like cats? What’s the top place in the world you’d love to travel?
2) What is your plan? Your ambitions? Do you like kids? Do you have a relationship with God?
The beginning of every relationship is going to have a combination of the two, but one of those lines of questioning is monumentally more important than the other. If you stick mostly to number one, without even realizing it, you could find yourself fully attached to someone who has a completely different outlook on life.
Disclaimer: Deborah and I will be writing about dating and creating relationship foundations. Anything beyond that is beyond our personal experience, and we’ll be relying on published works and experts in the field to fill in blanks.
Knowing Who You Are and What You Want
Deborah and I have written down values that we share and hope to employ in our daily lives. There are three that relate to the theme of this article. Those three are as follows:
1) We believe you must develop yourself until you know exactly who you are and what you want before the right person will come around.
Before entering into a serious relationship, it’s important to be completely happy in yourself. You shouldn’t be looking to fill a void, or expecting any other single person to make you feel more complete. Leslie Parrot, co-author of Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts, says that one of the biggest marriage myths out there is that there exists someone who was meant to make you whole. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” — Proverbs 27:17. As people inside a relationship, we’re meant to stand alone and be comfortable alone, but that a partner is meant to make each of us better than we could have been without the other.
What gave me the intense confidence to really begin was the grace of God, the faith in my life. And, I knew if anyone was to enter my life, he would have to manifest that love – he would have to love Jesus.
All of a sudden, things became clear and I became more confident. I remember distinctly the day I felt empowered to leave and set off on my travel journey. I left knowing that the journey would be life changing, because when you’re ready, willing, and able and you love yourself, you will attract the mate that has those same positive qualities. The purpose of a relationship isn’t to fill loneliness but to grow yourself with the another individual.
I myself have dug my head into many blogs and books to figure this thing out. Not just to figure out how to grow and evolve confidence, but nothing has helped me more than the wisdom I’ve gained from the personal relationship I began with God before I set off to travel.
At a certain point, I made a conscious decision to get myself together. I had put on a lot of weight and had “settled” into a life I thought I wanted – sedentary, professional, etc..my first step was getting back to exercising. Some three months later, I was 25 pounds lighter and the local high school’s newest wrestling coach.
From a physical to an emotional transformation
When I was 14, I went away for three months to work at an orphanage in Mexico. That point was when I really discovered my faith, which for the next couple of years, was my purpose for living. This is when my eyes were opened to the world of travel and the world of missionary work.
At the age of 21, I was tasked with rediscovering my faith. I left home again, this time for longer, with the primary purpose of figuring out who I was and what I wanted. I did some great things, fun things, stupid things, I got into some trouble, and by the end of it, I turned out to be exactly the same person I was all along. But, I became much more aware of just who that person is.
Then comes Deborah who has gone through the exact same transformation at the exact same time, but on the opposite side of the globe. Our paths happen to cross for only a single moment, and everything fell into play exactly as it was supposed to.
It’s really quite simple. It’s about you understanding who you are on a deep level..the true you, so you can attract someone who’s meant for the true you.
Knowing Who Fits Your Needs and When
2) We believe a successful relationship only happens through open communication from the very beginning.
Steve Harvey, comedian and author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man says you (mostly women) should ask the other person on the first date, “what are your short term goals?” immediately followed by “what are your long term goals?” You’ll get two very valuable pieces of information from these questions: 1) You’ll know if they have a plan or not. 2) You’ll start a conversation about what that plan (or lack thereof) looks like.
If they can’t answer your question, it means they either don’t have a plan or that they do not want to share it with you. You shouldn’t attach yourself to someone who does not have a plan, and if they have a plan but are reluctant to tell you what it is, no you’re not being too nosy, you have every right to know what their plan is before you buy into a future with them.
Questions sometimes aren’t enough. A guy/girl always knows what you want to hear. With another nugget of wisdom, Steve Harvey says don’t just look for words, look for evidence. I didn’t just tell Deborah that I was a family oriented person, I showed it to her (albeit unintentionally) when I brought my little brother on a trip to Mexico. I didn’t try to impress her by telling her I was close to my siblings. Instead, I asked her about hers, and when we had established some common ground as oldest siblings, I asked her advice on how I might be able to engage my little bro a little bit better. The fact that I showed her I was doing my best ended up being a very important factor.
Too many people are more worried about how tall he is, the color of her hair, or what kind of pants they wear. Being picky about the wrong things, stops you from listening and communicating in the moment and being present, which allows you to get to talking naturally about values. It’s difficult to talk about meaningful things early on if you don’t have a connection.
Discussing Your Needs/Plans Before Things Get Serious
3) We believe that you should know the values you hold most dear and identify the crossover (or lack thereof) with a potential partner as early as possible.
It may sounds counter-intuitive to ask personal questions on the first date (or otherwise very early on), but if what you want is love, rather than obsession, if what you want is a partnership, you need to know the other person’s idea of what that means and how that relates to you and your future with them. It’s important to note that if a partnership is not what you’re looking for, at least you know that, and this blog is not for you.
When you’re in love, “love is blind”. This is a heart-warming quote from multiple works of Shakespeare, but it’s also an ominous warning. If you enter into a relationship with someone without having made a conscious choice based on all the info you could get, you may grow bonded to someone without a clear plan on how it could work long term. Once you’ve done that and you learn later that the other person’s plan doesn’t quite match up with yours, you begin to compromise.
What’s wrong with compromise? Well nothing in and of itself. Deborah and I have, of course, compromised on some small things, but nothing compared to our previous relationships, where we’ve changed or defined entire life plans to make another person happy. The thing is that if you don’t discuss important points before you become really attached to someone, you’ll end up 1) changing your plans without realizing you’re compromising, and 2) going along with almost anything. When the “In Love” phase dies down, those compromises could create a lot of friction.
Having an aligned vision is not something you can/should leave to chance. It entails direct communication.
Politics Meets Fashion
Deborah studied fashion at Uni. I studied politics. In our first conversation, I droned on about politics for an hour. If that was our first “modern city date”, I don’t think I would have gotten a second one. It was clear from the beginning that our interests weren’t quite aligned. Deborah is playful, fun, and fearless. She would walk into a building asking for a job in a language she didn’t actually speak, while knocking on someone’s door in the US gives me anxiety.
Luckily for me, Deborah and I didn’t begin our relationship with surface level interests. After that politics discussion, we began having deep conversations about everything from family to favorite colors to relationships with God. We would talk for hours every day, and we realized pretty quickly that we had so much more in common than we thought originally.
Our values and visions -that is, the things we find most important in life- were/are aligned. We only have a few interests in common, but we’ve learned to take our non-mutual interests and turn them into complementary skills. Deborah really enjoys video production and design, for example. I enjoy writing and business development. They may not quite overlap, but they’re key ingredients in a potential business. We’ve taken our mutual value of entrepreneurship, and created something brand new.
We make a pretty awesome team.