How Do I KNOW and THE ONE Make it a Loaded Question!
“How do I know??” is a critical question, and everybody has to grapple with it at some point in their dating.
Let me kick off by saying that if you frame the question that way, it becomes far more stressful and less productive than it has to be.
Getting lost in math about basherts and THE ONE – “Did I hit a 1/100,000 chance?” – is a nail biting question that makes already bad Jewish stomach issues even worse.
Here’s a better approach: “Can I build a life, family, and future with THIS person?”
When that’s your question it’s a lot easier to clearly and methodically think through and arrive at an answer.
Does S/he Meet My Needs – Not My Wants?
One of the most critical exercises I take clients through is the deep work of teasing out what their relationship NEEDS are vs. their WANTS.
We’ve all heard about the guy that needs a blond or the girl that needs an Ivy League Yeshiva/University education. We’ve also probably never met anybody that was a better communicator because of hair color or a better parent because of the rank of their educational institution.
This is just a single oversimplified but very real expression of how the Needs/Wants dynamic confuses dating. This Need/Want smoke screen is there from the very first stages of dating research all the way down to questions about engagement.
If you want to know whether you can build a life with somebody, make sure it’s the life you need – not the life you think you want. Otherwise you’re going to discover the truth in what legendary NY Yankee Yogi Berra once said “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else!”
(He also said something else super relevant to dating: “In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”:-)
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else!
The One Should Have a Four Fit
I believe there are four absolute necessities that every relationship must have if it deserves the green light. I insist on going through this exercise with every client that drops “The ONE??” question on me.
Here they are:
Do You Respect Your Date?
Respect can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Word has it that there’s lots of respect to go around in the mob, but you’d hardly want to marry a well respected crook.
Here’s my rule of thumb for respect: How would you feel if your child turned out to be like the person you’re dating?
If that’s a question that makes you hesitate, make note of that.
Do You Share Similar Goals and Values?
What do I mean by goals and values?
Goals: Things you want in your future.
Will your date be supportive/encouraging of those destinations? Does s/he want to go there with you? Do you believe they’ll be a good traveling companion on that road?
Values: What you rank as important – really important.
Do you have similar ideas of how to build a home? What will be the priorities in that home? What’s non-negotiable when raising children? What sort of community do you want to be a part of and how do you want to place yourselves in that community?
You don’t have to be on the exact same base as your date with all of these questions, but you’d better be in the same ballpark!
Are You Attracted, Is There Chemistry?
Attraction: Are you physically/emotionally/intellectually drawn to this person? Remember that attraction goes well beyond looks.
Chemistry: What is the personal dynamic between the two of you? Do you get along well, enjoy each other’s company, look forward to going out, think of one another when apart?
Even if we are attracted to someone, the chemistry can still be off.
One of my clients was dating a guy who in many ways was great, but their interactions were epically off. On every date they wound up getting into one or more arguments about everything from restaurant food to dynamics in the Jewish community.
While a date like that may look great on paper and can be a thrill in the moment – even the intensity of the interactions – but it’s not a recipe for shalom in the bayis.
I have yet to work with somebody who prefers bad middos.
Remember though, a middah is a “measurement.” We need to find someone to balance our middos with the proper proportion of their middos.
We also need to be drawn to and attracted to those middos.
A guy can come to a date with 3 main dishes, 3 desserts, 4 drinks and flowers. Some girls would love the preparedness and some would think it was over the top or cheesy.
Your reaction to him/her will determine if you are drawn to their particular character. This is a highly individual thing. The shadchan, your parents, and well meaning friends might all be right about your date’s middos. They aren’t you.
Also, don’t be thrown off by your differences. The very reason we marry someone is often for the balance they provide to us. Common opposites are: intense/chill, expressive/quiet, intellectual/emotional, and planned/spontaneous.
This same imbalance might drive us crazy down the road. That’s normal. That’s why marriage is a verb. It takes years and hard work to blend, refine, and arrive at loving interdependence.
Now You Know…How to Ask
Rather than “How do I know?” ask yourself the more pointed and thought provoking questions:
- Does this person fulfill my relationship NEEDS, if not my WANTS?
- Do we get high ranks on our Four Fit?
Just remember, until you’ve dated enough to have a meaningful relationship and connection DON’T ask yourself “Can I see myself marrying this person?” That’s not the criteria. There’s only one question in front of you right now and that is “Would I like to see this person on ONE more date?” Just one.
Clarity happens at its own pace and in time.
If you go through this thought process thoroughly, you’ll have considerably shortened the distance to your longest relationship!