Take the time to determine if you are on the same page about how much togetherness is too much. You can save yourself a lot of loneliness by identifying how your partner likes to interact, checking in with yourself to make sure that will work for you.
Feeling at a loss as to how to get past useless banter to the really important stuff? Here are some questions you can ask to get to know each other better. Start off by taking some time to think about how you would answer the same questions, so that you know what you are looking for. Also, decide which issues are very important to you, and which you could live with as differences. Remember, sometimes it is the ways in which we differ that adds that special spice to a new (or even long-term) relationship. The Hot Topics:
How important is family in your life? Do you have a big extended family? Do you prefer to spend time with a family of close friends? Think about the role of family in your life and if you know whether or not you hope to have a family yourself someday. It’s amazing how many couples stay together for years and then are suddenly shocked to discover their partner expects to get pregnant anytime! I’m not saying you have to bring it up on the first date, but if you already know you want to have children, it may behoove you to find out whether your date has similar life plans.
What are your dreams or aspirations in life? Who were your role models, your hero/heroine growing up? Who inspires you now? If you are an ambitious person you might not do well with a partner who is not motivated. Try to find someone who will encourage you in your dreams and life goals, and whose goals fit well with your own. If you are like most people, you will do best with a partner that you can respect and even admire.
What is your educational background? Where have you studied and what level of education do you plan to achieve? It is hard for most people to relate to a partner that has a vastly different academic background. Also, if you have a family together some day, you may disagree as to how important your children’s education is.
Are you an avid sports fan? If one of you is wild about sports and the other has no interest, it will be more difficult to relate to each other. Being dragged to baseball games is no fun, and it’s equally distressing to be the one who’s forcing their hobby on you. Many people find that shared hobbies bring them closer together. If you have a few interests that overlap, then having some that you don’t share may not be a problem. But if your checklists have nothing in common, you need to make sure there’s a lot more to the relationship. Or at the very least, that you and your date are people who see new experiences as fun and exciting, not something to be endured.
Do you have a favorite author, or favorite book? Or maybe you have a favorite film or TV show? It’s always pleasant to be able to share interests, but it is not necessary to have the same favorites. It is very common for men and women to differ in the entertainment they prefer. The important thing is that you and your date respect each other’s choices. It does not bode well for a relationship if your date ridicules your preference in movies, for example. Mutual respect and understanding is a vital requirement for any healthy relationship, even when it comes to deciding between an action flick or a romantic comedy on Saturday night.
Do you like to travel, or are you a stay-in-one-place homebody type? If you hope to travel a lot over the course of your life, you may not be suited for someone who wants to settle down in one place. Conversely, if you are set on making a home in one place, it might be difficult for you to maintain a relationship with a partner that is always traveling. Career choice, children, and financial aspirations are all key factors here, so it’s not a bad subject to use as a jumping off point to get to the heart of a person’s lifestyle preferences.
People have very different feelings about how much time they prefer to have to themselves. It is best to find a partner who has similar ideas about independence. For a person who prefers to share everything with their significant other, it can be very painful to be in a relationship with someone who prefers to spend much of their time alone. Take the time to determine if you are on the same page about how much togetherness is too much. You can save yourself a lot of loneliness by identifying how your partner likes to interact, checking in with yourself to make sure that will work for you. Of course, this may very well change over time, but there are many clues that are easy to pick up along the way regarding personal space preferences, and you don’t want to enter into a relationship already hoping for change.
How do you relate to food? Are you a vegetarian or vegan? Are you an omnivore? Do you have food allergies? Do you keep kosher? There are many ways in which people differ in how they prefer to eat. If your choices are very important to you, you may want to look for someone who either shares those choices, or at the very least supports them. Imagine sharing a kitchen with your date—does your vision involve a lot of conflict? If so, he or she might not be right for you.
Are you a religious person? You might already know that if your date doesn’t share your religion, then it might be fun but you could never raise a family together so the relationship is doomed from the get-go. Then again, maybe you can live with religious differences. It is important to determine how important this issue is for you. If you are not a religious person, you may want to think about your philosophical ideas. Do you have a set of principles you live by? What is your perspective on life and meaning? If you have conflicting values it will cause problems down the line.
Not all of us are political animals. I can’t stand politics—can’t we all just get along? But, many people have strong political leanings that run deep. Do you really want to start a relationship with someone whose socio-political values are at odds with your own? Think carefully about how important your political ideals are to you, and how well you could tolerate a difference in opinions. Will you be constantly fighting about the way the country is being run? Will you be at each other’s throats every voting day? It could be that your opinions that are intolerable to your date! Find out how important political views are to your date as well.
Keep in mind this is far from an exhaustive list of the elements of compatibility, but these are some of the most common points of conflict. If you keep these issues in mind as you navigate the dating world, you will have a better chance of making a happy match more effectively, and hopefully with less pain and frustration along the way.