I was talking with a friend some weekends ago about items we have on our “future husband” and “potential boyfriend” lists. We were saying how it would be nice if we could find out more easily whether or not a guy was someone we would like to date before we agreed to go out with him, and I suggested (half-jokingly) “I say we prepare a detailed questionnaire for potential boyfriends and ask for at least 3 character references.” The more we talked about it, the better the idea sounded. After all, when you apply for a job, you have to answer a whole series of questions and you’re expected to provide references that can attest to your good character. Relationships are more important, and hopefully more permanent, so why wouldn’t we give as much consideration to finding out whether or not someone is right for you and you are right for them?
On the other hand, I’ve talked to more than one girl who was approached by a guy who was clearly working his way through a list of questions as they talked. They felt like they could see him putting mental check-marks down as he covered each topic. Ew … that’s creepy! We certainly don’t want to end up like that.
As I continued to think about this idea, I realized it would be less helpful to run people through a “prefect person checklist” than to have some kind of guideline for clarifying what we need in a relationship. There are certain things I think of as non-negotiable, such as a having a relationship with God. If I don’t clarify what that means to me before I meet someone, though, I might find myself making excuses for a guy because I like him, even if his beliefs differ from mine on significant points.
Before our conversation about surveying boyfriends, I came across something titled “My Little Book of Whether Or Not He’s Worth It” by Brittany Baily. There is much to like about her points, particularly her emphasis on not settling for a guy who treats you with disrespect. But I feel this kind of guide misses two very important things: 1) it ignores the importance faith plays in a relationship, and 2) it focuses entirely on what I need/want in a relationship. For my list, I wanted to address the need to have God as the center of your relationship, as well as the fact that a relationship can’t be all about what you want — you also have to think of the other person’s needs and be the kind of person they are looking for.
I’ve presented my list in a questionnaire form, mostly because of the conversation which prompted this post. I would advise against actually passing them out to potential boyfriends or girlfriends (but if you do, be sure to let me know how it goes!). Think of it as a guide to learning important things about the person you are considering, or in, a relationship with. You might want to fill one out with the answers you think you would like a potential dating partner to fill-in, and then answer one for yourself. Would your ideal match like the way you filled out your survey? If you meet someone who would answer one of these questions differently than you think you would like, will you be irritated by that or learn to live with it?
- How would you describe your relationship with God? (you can’t expect someone to love you the way you deserve/need/want to be loved if they do not love God even more than they love you)
- What do you consider a good amount of time to spend in prayer and study on a daily basis? (how much time they give to God is an indication of whether or not they are worth your time)
- How important is fellowship with other believers to you? What influences your decisions about which church group(s) to attend?
- What kind of boundaries (physical and emotional) would you want to set in a dating relationship?
- How much time do you envision spending together in person, online, or on the phone while dating? Will you write letters and/or emails?
- What would make you mistrust someone you were dating?
- Why didn’t your previous relationships work out?
- How do you handle money? Are you a spender? a saver? some other money personality?
- Are you typically introverted or extroverted? would you be comfortable spending time with someone who is more introverted/extroverted than you are?
- How do you express anger?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Do you know what your primary love language is?
- Is there anything in your past that you wouldn’t want to tell someone you just started dating, but probably should before you get married?
- What do you consider your positive characteristics?
- What do you consider your negative characteristics?
- Do you want kids? How many? Would you consider adoption, and if so under what circumstances?
- If you want kids, how would you like to educate them? Home school? Public school? Private school?
- Would kids be encouraged to pursue higher education, if that’s what they want?
- What do you consider appropriate discipline for young children? for teenagers?
- Is it important to live near the extended family? Why or why not?
- What kind of influence, if any, should our parents and family have over our relationship?
- Are you closer to your mother or to your father? Why?
One Last Note
I hope you find these helpful. Feel free to add suggestions — I can continue to edit this based on feedback.
I also want to add that I talked about these questions with the friend who first gave me the idea, and requested feedback from a couple who has been happily married for almost 27 years — my parents. I’ve also been reading about psychology, love, and relationships for years, and drew upon that information for some of these points.