First dates are always nerve wrecking. A little excitement mixed with a little nervousness, mixed with a little, “do I have spinach in my teeth? Also, will this affect the rest of my life”. Good times, really.
My first date with my husband, Andrew, was no different. We met an Italian restaurant and sat at a table by the window. Honestly, I hadn’t been out on a proper date in a long time. I had hung out with or been “talking to” a couple of guys in the meantime – but no one was banging down my door to ask me on a real-life date. I wasn’t super sure what to expect, but something along the lines of small talk and random conversation. We’d known each other for quite some time already, so I wondered if we’d get deep about our childhood, would we discuss favorite movies?, favorite colors?
I was in for a bit of a surprise. A quite unconventional one….
By the time desert came I think we had already discussed the following:
Marriage. Did I want to be married?
Kids. Did I want them? How many?
Parents. Were we close? Did I ever see them living with me?
Ministry. Did I see my life including it in a significant way?
Location. Did I see myself living in Minnesota for a long time? Did I have intentions of moving?
Faith. Could I ever see myself not being a part of a church family? What was the role faith played in my life?
As you can see, we went ahead and skipped the kiddie pool section of first date territory and cannonballed right into the deep end. He was asking me these questions – almost interview style. And they didn’t stop coming. The ambiance was romantic. The restaurant was fancy. The food was delicious. The inquiries were plentiful.
Now, you may be reading this going, “wow. Who does that on a first date?? That’s like, down the road stuff. That’s 10th date procedure. That’s “we are officially boyfriend & girlfriend” already questions. That’s weird.” And you know what, up until that point, I thought that too.
Most people date the way I had in the past:
Talk or text for a bit.
Go on first date.
Go on 2nd/3rd/4th dates.
Figure out you really like spending time together.
Become FB official.
Get super attached.
Meet each other’s friends/family.
Begin finding out you differ in some values but it will probably be ok.
Fall in love (you think)
Begin to find out you differ in more values.
Go to each other’s office Christmas parties.
Disagree on fundamental issues.
Realize you want to be married in a year and your bf wants to wait 5.
Life as usual.
Realize you are headed in two different directions.
Reconcile – You know, because love or whatever.
Painful Break up.
Proclamation of how hard it is to find a good relationship.
All the ice cream.
This is why it’s so hard to find a good relationship – because, many times, we are not actually looking for one.
We are looking for companionship, not compatibility. We look for butterflies before we consider what building with someone looks like. We don’t define our own values or inquire what those of the other person are. We simply attach to a human we like and hope it will be a match.
We favor the idol of companionship over investing in the work of compatibility.
I later found out that, before our date, Andrew met with a mentor and came up with the list of questions he would ask me. Over the course of our first few dates – we dove into the list. What seemed weird at first, I came to really respect.
There was enough foresight to want to value both our time and our calling. I didn’t have to wait until I was emotionally attached to figure out if one of us did want kids or the other didn’t. Or if I was dead set on my parents living with me later in life and he wanted to live just the two of us. And then endure a painful separation after spending months or years of my life investing in something that wouldn’t yield the return I was looking for. We found out, before we invested time and emotion that we were, in fact, on the same page. That I felt my calling fit with his. That we wanted to walk similar paths in life.
So what can you do about it?
Figure out what your values & desires are. Where do you see yourself? What has God revealed to you about what He wants you to do? Have you prayed about it? Do you want to be married? Soon? Do you want kids? Do you plan live your life by Godly principles? Is a church life important to you? Is one of your values serving in church with your family? Do you believe in letting mentors into your life/relationship?
Define the answers and don’t be afraid to ask someone who is interested in you romantically to do the same. Don’t apologize for having expectations. Some things may flex for both of you- but it should be by conscious decision, not by careless default.
If they shy away, think it’s too much, or can’t answer your questions – that’s ok. It’s a free(ish) country. But now you have important information that tells you it’s not a fit right now, keep it moving.
It is actually not that hard to find a good relationship if you are intentional. It may take time – it did for me, but once my focus changed from seeing “what if” to defining what was it made a world of difference.
Do you think it’s hard to find a good relationship? Are you in the stage of dating right now? Don’t know what questions to ask of yourself/your date?