One of the first ways to date with intention is to figure out what it is you personally are looking for.
Having a base for yourself is a crucial first step. What things make up who you are? What’s important to your life now and what will be meaningful for you in your future? This is why I have often encouraged those who are young to give themselves time to figure out who they are before they jump into exclusive relationships. I realize that this is hard when you are a teenager and it feels like everyone around you is coupling up. This can be hard even as an adult, but you need to at least have a general idea of where you are going if you want to have someone else come along with you for the ride. Maintaining close friendships with the opposite sex is a good way to grow and learn more about yourself when you’re young without being in a relationship. There are just some things you will not know about yourself until you are in a relationship, but having deep friendships is a good step to learn more about what you like.
Once you have an honest idea of who you are and where you would like to go you will be able to choose. Physical attraction is an important part of the process but don’t let that be the highest on your list. Physical attraction can grow as you get to know someone on an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual level, but it can also diminish if you’re based on the shallow.
Asking questions is one way I like to find out more about how someone looks at the world. This is always fascinating to me. It’s so interesting how two people brought up in similar ways might look at something differently and vice versa two people that come from completely different walks of life can be so similar.
Compatibility isn’t as straight forward as we’d like to believe it is. It extends further than similar interests. It’s possible to experience compatibility with someone who may enjoy very different things than you. If you share the same values and those hold more weight for you then that will be a deeper place of connection and compatibility than your interests. For a simple example, you may enjoy reading and video games and he may enjoy musicals and romantic movies, but you both hold a greater value in the necessity of spending quality time together or mutual respect. This will enable you to enjoy time and activities together without complaining even though it may not be an activity you are crazy about. On the flip side, if you value a life of adventure and travel and the thrill of constant change and your partner likes to travel but values consistency, predictability and saving money then although you both like traveling you’d have some issues.
I’ve found that the weight you and your partner put on specific values is what determines your level of compatibility. Shared values usually outweigh common interests but sometimes interests are wrapped up in the values. You really just need to be able to figure out the difference for yourself and it can be tricky. That’s why you can sometimes meet someone and enjoy all the same things and then realize later you still don’t get along or get along really well even though you don’t like the same things.
Communication is your gateway to this knowledge, provided you’re both being truthful. Interests and even some values may change as people age but generally, values are the foundation for most people and not as shifting as interests may be. Finding out each others’ baseline is needed.
Create intentional moments together, mix it up. When you’re dating have fun, but do things that will allow you to understand the other’s personality in a deeper way like serving and doing projects, trying new things, and challenging each other. Next week we’ll look at some specific topics that I think are important.
Have you ever noticed the difference between interests and values in relationships? Let me know in the comments!