There comes a time in any dating situation where you have to decide whether to go to the next stage or the next relationship. Going to the next relationship is exciting and can re-create the fun early days of getting to know someone. But if you're not careful, you may find yourself doing only dessert and never the meal, because in dating the dessert part comes first. If you're looking exclusively for excitement, it always makes sense to move on. If you're looking for intimacy and even semipermanence, sooner or later, you have to trade off novelty for depth. How can you tell if you're settling or steering?
\DE4 The following questions help you evaluate your relationship. The list of questions is divided into particular areas. Answering these questions can help you decide whether it's time to move on or move up. Keep track of your answers in your dating notebook (see Chapter 1).
• How much time do you spend together?
• How much do you enjoy your time together?
• Is your time together increasing or decreasing?
• Do you fight a lot or a little? 1 Common interests
• Do you have friends in common?
• Do you like each other's friends, family?
• Are you each willing to try something new together?
• Are your religious convictions and behaviors compatible?
• Do you like the same kind of music, sports, and so on?
• Do you have the sense that you want the same things in life?
• Are you both headed in the same direction?
• Do you want the same thing from a relationship?
• Do you have similar ideas about money and time? I Background
Note: While opposites can attract and then aggravate the daylights out of one another, common backgrounds allow the two of you to respond in similar ways.
• Are you equally comfortable talking about feelings, friends, work, external events, and so on?
• Do you both come from screamer families or sulker families?
• Do you share religious, educational, and economic backgrounds?
• Do you both spend about the same amount of time and energy with your families?
• What part do family traditions play in your interactions, and are they compatible?
• Do you both feel essentially the same about alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex, and rock and roll?
• How high do each of you rate leisure time?
• Do you do fun things together?
• Do you share a sense of humor, adventure? I Energy
• Are both of you morning people? Night people?
• Are you both couch potatoes or exercise freaks?
• Are you both healthy? I Problem-solving
• Are either of you control freaks?
• Are you able to negotiate?
• Are you afraid to be angry or make the other person angry?
• Is jealousy clouding your discussions of other things?
• Are you able to solve problems and move on?
• When you argue, do you insult each other?
The purpose of these questions is not to tally up points so that you can fit your relationship into one of three categories, like the two of you are okay, need a couples' counselor, or are toxic for one another. The purpose of these questions is to help you understand what you should be asking when you think about your relationship. When you evaluate your answers, try for the middle ground:
1 Don't settle for a lousy dating situation because you're afraid to be alone. Being lonely because you're not seeing someone is one thing; being alone in a bad relationship is a lot worse and even lonelier.
1 Don't jettison a perfectly good relationship because it's not perfect.
There aren't perfect people, so it stands to reason that there aren't perfect relationships. If you took a job and never learned new skills and kept doing the same old thing, you'd get either bored or fired or both. Why should relationships be any different? You need to grow and change and work to make love rich and powerful and rewarding.
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