Recently, a single female friend was telling me why she has given up on dating. It turns out for whatsoever reason she keeps picking the wrong guys; they all look promising at first, but after some time things fall apart. Now she’s done with having her hopes dashed so she’s no longer interested in dating unless it is the right person.
The conversation played on my mind for some time and I asked myself, how can we tell if a total stranger would be Mr/ Mrs Right? Truth is that you don’t, well not at first anyways.
Looking at my relationship journey as well as that of some married couples I know, I figured there are stages you can go through and at each stage it should become clearer if who you’re dealing with is Mr/ Mrs Right or Wrong
So that these stages are easy to digest, I’ll liken it to the process of filling in a job vacancy.
Stage 1: Selection for interview
This initial stage is where various potentials are assessed; some relevant, others not so much. You should already know what you are looking for; what you can compromise on and your absolute nots.
This stage sets the tone for the rest of the process so it’s important to make some good judgements. Attraction is certainly a selecting tool here, but unless you’re a psychic there no way of telling someone will be right for you simply based on outlook. So don’t be too quick to move to the next level because the hottie you’ve been eyeing eventually approaches you.
Try to gain some substance beyond outlook, see how he/she approaches a conversation, observant and listen carefully to what they have to say then assess accordingly.
Another selecting tool is referrals – introduction by a mutual friend, most married couples I know were introduced by a mutual friend.
Stage 2: The Interview
This is the ‘Getting to know/ seeing each other’ stage, and it’s ideally a combination of telephone (speaking, not texting) and face-to-face (dates, not booty call). This stage is about gaining as much insight about your selection as possible to see if they fit what you are looking for. Your job here is to ask lots of questions, listen intently and be observant.
The key things I feel should be taken out of this stage are:
- What are they looking for – Does this match what you want or would you have to settle? Are they in a right mental and emotional state to give you what you are looking for?
- What value can they add value to you – What are their life and relationship goals? What are their beliefs? What are they passionate about? Can their character inspire yours?
- How trustworthy and reliable are they – Observe the consistency or inconsistencies in their behavioural patterns, how do they respond to your questions? Are they open and honest in their approach?
- What is the chemistry like – What are your conversations like; can you spend hours talking to them or you get bored in 10 minutes? Do you feel connected or are you just going through the motion? In what ways are you compatible and do you share similar interests. Do they make time to spend and talk to you?
- Their history – What was their past relationship like? Why did they break up?
I’ll say take your time on this stage, until you have are confident that your selection is competent enough to meet your standards. That said it should not take forever, if they are not completely satisfied or you have major doubts, do not settle and certainly don’t go offering benefits because your ‘feelings’ tells you ‘You Only Live Once’. You can give them more time or cut your losses and consider other selections to interview.
Stage 3: Job Offer
This is the stage you both mutually agree to be in an exclusive relationship. However it’s still early days so don’t get carried away just yet. It is possible some snakes may have slipped through the cracks in the interview stage. This is why you should put in the ‘Probation Period’.
The Probation Period is about observing their competence and character to know how they’ll actually perform in their new role and how it correlates with what they showed at the interview stage.
This is not the time to drop all your guards and begin giving full benefits; maintain your standards, set your boundaries and stick to them, this will earn you respect and increase your worth in their eyes. You may have to do some coaching to bring them up to speed with how you operate, and this will bring up differences and some disagreements but it is all part of the process. Even through the disagreements, the fundamentals should still be present – good communication, trustworthiness, openness, chemistry, life and relationship goal.
When you feel it’s time, evaluate their performance and proceed accordingly. Ideally both of you should both be operating beyond just attractions and start seeing each other more as close friends.
The mistake I’ve seen and heard many people make with this process is getting caught up in their feelings, and as a result give away too much too soon. When this happens, they lose leverage and end up chasing a worth that’s rightfully theirs to salvage the situation. It’s best to take your time at each stage and let them prove they are actually interested in you.
I would not say this process is foolproof, but I do feel it certainly stack the odds in your favour in knowing whether someone is right or wrong for you.