Have you ever had a friend who began a relationship that had disaster written all over it from the beginning? Right away, it’s clear to you that Mr. or Ms. Wrong is a catastrophe waiting to happen. You know, for example, that your friend is unlikely to have a satisfying long-term relationship with someone who drinks too much, flies off the handle at the slightest provocation, is overly involved in someone else’s life, or never seems to shoulder any responsibilities whatsoever. Your friend seems to be thinking only with the heart, not with the head.
If you are looking for your own potential sweetheart, you want both your heart and your head involved in the decision. That’s usually easier to do if you identify your “must-haves” ahead of time and try to take an objective look at a dating partner before you get too involved. Here are a few things to ask yourself. Choose the ones that make sense to you.
- Does Potential Sweetheart have a steady job or a regular activity (such as volunteer work) that reflects some effort and meaning?
- Can Potential Sweetheart take care of basic daily needs (like meals and laundry) independently, if physically able to do so?
- Does Potential Sweetheart meet financial obligations?
- Can Potential Sweetheart manage the stresses of everyday life without turning to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other self-destructive behaviors?
- Does Potential Sweetheart manage emotions successfully most of the time?
- Can Potential Sweetheart deal with anger without shouting, cursing, blaming, hitting, or pouting?
- Is Potential Sweetheart appropriately independent of family (or does 90-year-old Mama have to make a wake-up call every morning?)
- If Potential Sweetheart is a parent, are parenting responsibilities handled with love, appropriate boundaries, and realistic expectations?
- Does Potential Sweetheart take care of health matters and value wellness?
- Has Potential Sweetheart set long-term goals and achieved them, even though it was difficult?
- Will Potential Sweetheart do necessary chores and duties without being nagged?
- Can Potential Sweetheart set aside his or her own needs when someone else’s needs legitimately should take priority?
- Is Potential Sweetheart fair in dealings with you and others?
- Can Potential Sweetheart speak up and identify what is needed from you?
- Does Potential Sweetheart treat others with respect and consideration, even when there is nothing tangible to be gained?
- Does Potential Sweetheart tell the truth?
- Does Potential Sweetheart think you are very special, and treat you that way over the course of time?
If you look back at failed relationships, you will probably find that your partner didn't meet some of these important criteria. (Or perhaps, at a less mature phase of life, you yourself had difficulty with these standards.) Many of these items are the basis of responsible adult behavior, and if you are looking for a partner, it never hurts to seek a responsible adult. If a “bad boy” or “bad girl” appeals to you, ask yourself honestly if you are trying to be a rescuer or deluding yourself that you can make another individual change.
If Potential Sweetheart passes your selection of “must-haves” (and feel free to add your own), you have a decent chance of creating a fulfilling relationship with each other. Have fun!
Northwest authors Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck, PhD, a psychologist and her husband Charles Peck, had to explore introvert/extrovert differences in their own relationship. You can participate in the creation of their book "Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40" (and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card) by sharing your experiences in a survey: www.surveymonkey.com/s/MidlifeRelationships.
Previous Magic at Midlife Columns:
Sex in Midlife Relationships: Complicated but Wonderful!
Upgrade Your Communication Skills
Tending Your Relationship as You Tend to Aging Parents
Learning from Your Relationship History
When Extrovert Meets Introvert
What Do You Want in the Long Run?
Creating Holidays for Changing Families