Have you been in a situation where you have to give marriage/relationship advice to friends? Have you been put on the spot numerous times by friends who wanted to know the filters you used to shortlist your perfect soul mate?
Many a time, the decision to enter, stay in, and grow a relationship is considered luck. A lot of us take pride in our ability to read a person, understand them and make a decision on the type of relationship we want to build with the other person. We humans are emotional decision makers, despite fooling ourselves into thinking that we make very rational decisions. However, getting to understand a person, perhaps has room for a methodical process if we wish to open our minds to that aspect. There are a few fundamental things that we need to understand about the other person, especially if we are looking for a long-term relationship or marriage.
Munna Bhai, in the movie ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’ helps a caller decide if the guy she is about to meet as a prospective husband for an arranged marriage is good (or not) by evaluating his behavior with a waiter – someone who is presumably from a different social and economic class. That idea was one of the cornerstones of Mahatma Gandhi’s beliefs, that every person deserves equality and due respect, no matter their circumstances. While that was an engrossing sequence to watch as part of a movie, how can we use simple thoughts and beliefs to figure out if the person we are meeting can potentially be part of our life?
Here is a list of questions that will probably open up your thoughts in different directions, and help in thinking about the answer.
Long term goals – After the initial phase of love and romance, shared long-term goals act as a glue towards having shared initiatives well into the future.
- What are his/her long-term goals? Is he/she interested in charitable causes, or an ambitious career, or environmental concerns?
- What does he/she like to pursue as a career? How does he/she see herself in the next 3 to 5 years?
- Is he/she ambitious? How much money is enough?
Interests & Passions – The most common myth is that there need to be common interests. But in reality, it is more important to know whether he/she is open-minded enough to try new interests and explore together.
- What are his/her interests? Does he/she like listening to music, travel, reading, etc.
- What does he/she make time for, despite hectic work schedules?
Nature – Some primary behavioral elements are shaped from childhood and will stay as traits in the person through their life. It is good to know of such characteristics to figure out our own boundaries.
- Is he/she willing to compromise on luxury, or comfort, or privacy?
- What is luxury according to him/her?
- Is he/she dominating with friends? Is he/she an argumentative person?
- Is he/she very emotional?
- How often does he/she fight with friends? Does he/she insist on having the last word in such scenarios?
- Is he/she indecisive? Or can he/she make independent decisions?
Behavior in a relationship – A different side of our personality comes out when we are in a relationship with someone. Knowing this persona is extremely essential from a romantic relationship perspective.
- Does he/she get asked out many times? How does he/she feel about it?
- Is he/she possessive of you, your time, and your attention?
- What is his/her idea of an ideal marriage? Why does he/she want to get married?
- What is his/her thinking on having children?
- Why did his/her previous relationships end, without going into specifics of the person?
- What does he/she think about in-laws? What type of in-laws does he/she want?
Culture – Like behavioral traits discussed above, culture and value system are also ingrained in us through our upbringing and cumulative life experiences with our families.
- What are his/her values towards life? Hard work, shortcuts, contentment, etc.
- Is he/she orthodox or contemporary in her thinking?
- What are her beliefs towards God?
- How have her parents treated him/her – protective, pampered, realistic, controlled, disciplined, independent?
- Who does he/she confide in? Who does he/she trust the most?
- Is she a sharer?
This post is not intended to help you evaluate or judge your partners. Having said that, being aware of all the dimensions, and understanding what is important to you as a person is the best starting point when you want to get to know your potential partner.
Ultimately, Mother Teresa put it best – ‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them’. The answers to these questions are only to be listened to, with due respect and an open mind. The objective is never to judge the person, but to simply see the world as it appears to them.