Is This Person Right for Me?
Take a moment to complete the following quiz:
What qualities would you currently view as essential in a potential marriage mate? In the list below, put a ✔ next to the four traits you feel are most important.
□ Good-looking □ Spiritually-minded
□ Friendly □ Trustworthy
□ Popular □ Morally upright
□ Funny □ Goal-oriented
When you were younger, did you ever develop a crush on anyone? In the list above, put an × next to the one trait you found most appealing about that person at the time.
THERE’S nothing wrong with any of the above traits. Each of them has its own appeal. Wouldn’t you agree, though, that when you’re in the grip of a youthful crush, you tend to dwell on the more superficial qualities, such as those in the left-hand column?
As you mature, however, you begin using your powers of perception to examine deeper issues, such as those in the right-hand column. For instance, you start to realize that the cutest girl in the neighborhood may not be all that trustworthy or that the most popular boy in class may not be morally upright. If you’re past the bloom of youth, you most likely look beyond the superficial traits to answer the question, “Is this person right for me?”
Know Yourself First
Before you can consider who might be right for you, you need to know yourself well. To learn more about yourself, answer the following questions:
What are my strengths? ․․․․․
What are my weaknesses or vulnerabilities? ․․․․․
What emotional and spiritual needs do I have? ․․․․․
Getting to know yourself is no small task, but questions like those above can get you started. The more you understand yourself, the better equipped you will be to find someone who will amplify your strengths rather than your weaknesses.* What if you think you’ve found that person?
Will Just Anyone Do?
“Can I get to know you better?” That question will make you either cringe or leap for joy—depending on who’s asking. Suppose you answer yes. Over the course of time, how can you tell if your boyfriend or girlfriend is right for you?
Suppose you want to buy a new pair of shoes. You go to the store and find a pair that catches your eye. You try on the shoes, only to find that—much to your disappointment—they’re too tight. What would you do? Buy the shoes anyway? Or look for a different pair? Clearly, the better choice is to put the shoes back and look for others. It would make little sense to walk around in a pair of shoes that just didn’t fit!
It’s similar with choosing a marriage partner. Over time, more than a few members of the opposite sex may catch your eye. But not just anyone will do. After all, you want someone you’ll be comfortable with—someone who truly fits your personality and your goals. (Genesis 2:18; Matthew 19:4-6) Have you found such a person? If so, how can you tell if that one is right for you?
Looking Beyond the Surface
To answer that last question, look at your friend objectively. Be careful, though! You might be inclined to see only what you want to see. So take your time. Try to perceive your friend’s true nature. This will take effort on your part. But that’s only to be expected. To illustrate: Imagine that you want to purchase a car. How thoroughly would you research it? Would you be concerned only about the outer appearance? Wouldn’t it make sense to look deeper—perhaps learning as much as you could about the condition of the engine?
Finding a mate is a much weightier issue than choosing a car. Yet, many who date don’t look beyond the surface. Instead, they quickly point to the things they have in common: ‘We like the same music.’ ‘We enjoy the same activities.’ ‘We agree on everything!’ As mentioned earlier, though, if you’re truly past the bloom of youth, you look beyond superficial traits. You see the need to discern “the secret person of the heart.”—1 Peter 3:4; Ephesians 3:16.
For example, rather than focus on how much you agree on things, it might be more revealing to note what happens when you disagree. In other words, how does this person handle conflict—by insisting on his or her way, perhaps giving in to “fits of anger” or “abusive speech”? (Galatians 5:19, 20; Colossians 3:8) Or does this person show reasonableness—a willingness to yield for the sake of peace when no issue of right or wrong is at stake?—James 3:17.
Another factor to consider: Is the person manipulative, possessive, or jealous? Does he or she demand to know your every move? “I hear of dating couples who fight because one person can’t stand that the other hasn’t constantly ‘checked in,’” says Nicole. “I think that’s a bad sign.”—1 Corinthians 13:4.
Issues such as those raised above focus on personality and conduct. However, it’s just as important to learn something of your friend’s reputation. How is that one viewed by others? You may want to talk to those who have known this person for some time, such as mature ones in the congregation. That way you will know if he or she is “well reported on.”—Acts 16:1, 2.
It might be revealing to jot down your personal observations as to how your friend measures up in the areas discussed so far.
You will also benefit by consulting the box “Would He Make a Good Husband for Me?” on page 39 or “Would She Make a Good Wife for Me?” on page 40. The questions raised will help you determine if your friend would make a suitable marriage partner.
What if after considering the matter, you conclude that this person may not be right for you? In that case, you’re faced with the serious question:
Should We Break Up?
Sometimes a breakup is a blessing. Consider the experience of Jill. “At first,” she says, “I was flattered that my boyfriend was always worrying about where I was, what I was doing, and who I was with. But it got to the point where I couldn’t spend time with anyone but him. He even got jealous when I spent time with my family—especially my father. When I ended the relationship, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders!”
Sarah had a similar experience. She began to notice that John, the young man she was dating, was sarcastic, demanding, and rude. “One time,” Sarah recalls, “he came to the door three hours late! He ignored my mother when she answered the door, and then he said: ‘Let’s go. We’re late.’ Not ‘I’m late,’ but ‘We’re late.’ He should have apologized or explained himself. Most of all, he should have shown my mother respect!” Of course, a single disappointing act or trait doesn’t necessarily doom a relationship. (Psalm 130:3) But when Sarah realized that John’s rudeness was a pattern rather than an isolated incident, she decided to end the relationship.
What if, like Jill and Sarah, you determine that the person you’re dating wouldn’t make a suitable marriage partner? In that case, do not ignore your feelings! Hard as it is to accept, it might be best to end the relationship. Proverbs 22:3 says: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself.” If, for example, your friend exhibits one or more of the danger signs found on pages 39 and 40, it would be best to end the relationship—at least until the problem is corrected. True, breaking up may not be easy. But marriage is a permanent bond. It’s better to live with short-term pain now than suffer with lifelong regret later!
Breaking the News
How should you go about breaking up? First, choose a proper setting for the discussion. What could that be? Well, think how you would like to be treated in such a situation. (Matthew 7:12) Would you want the announcement to be made in front of others? Likely not. Unless circumstances make it advisable, it would be best not to terminate a relationship by means of a telephone answering machine, a text message, or an e-mail. Instead, choose a time and place that will enable you to discuss this serious matter.
What should you say when the time comes to speak up? The apostle Paul urged Christians to “speak truth” with one another. (Ephesians 4:25) The best course, then, is to be tactful yet firm. State clearly why you feel that this relationship won’t work for you. You don’t need to recite a laundry list of faults or let loose with a barrage of criticism. In fact, instead of saying, “You don’t” do this or “You never” do that, it would be better to use phrases that focus on how you feel—“I need a person who . . .” or “I feel that this relationship should end because . . .”
This is no time to be wishy-washy or to yield to another’s opinion. Remember, you have chosen to break up for a serious reason. So be cautious if your friend attempts to change your mind through subtle forms of manipulation. “After I ended the relationship,” says a young woman named Lori, “my ex-boyfriend started acting depressed all the time. I think he did it to make me feel sorry for him. I did feel bad. But I didn’t allow his reaction to alter my decision.” Like Lori, know your own mind. Stick to your decision. Let your no mean no.—James 5:12.
Aftermath of a Breakup
Don’t be surprised if you’re deeply upset for a time after the breakup. You might even feel like the psalmist who said: “I have become disconcerted, I have bowed low to an extreme degree; all day long I have walked about sad.” (Psalm 38:6) Some well-intentioned friends may try to help by encouraging you to give the relationship another chance. Be careful! You will have to live with your decision—not your well-meaning friends. So don’t be afraid to remain firm—even though you may feel sad about what’s happened.
Be assured that, eventually, your painful feelings will pass. In the meantime, why not take positive steps, such as the following, to cope with the situation?
Express your feelings to a trusted confidant.* (Proverbs 15:22) Pray to Jehovah about the matter. (Psalm 55:22) Keep busy. (1 Corinthians 15:58) Don’t become a loner! (Proverbs 18:1) Get right back into group association with those who will upbuild you. Strive to keep your mind on things that are positive.—Philippians 4:8.
In time, you may well find a new friend. No doubt you will do so with an even more balanced outlook. Perhaps this time your answer to the question “Is this person right for me?” will be yes!
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 1, CHAPTER 31
Once you are dating, where should you draw the line when it comes to expressing your affection for each other?
You can learn even more about yourself by considering the questions in Chapter 1 following the subheading “Are You Ready to Get Married?”
Your parents or other adults, such as Christian elders, can help. You might even find that they went through similar painful experiences when they were young.
“Even by his practices a boy makes himself recognized as to whether his activity is pure and upright.”—Proverbs 20:11.
Engage in activities that reveal personal qualities:
● Study God’s Word together.
● Observe each other participating at congregation meetings and in the ministry.
● Participate in Kingdom Hall cleaning and in building projects.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Research consistently shows that marriages between people of different religions are much more likely to end in divorce.
If I am attracted to an unbeliever, I will ․․․․․
To find out about the reputation of the person I’m dating, I can ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● What positive qualities would you bring into a marriage relationship?
● What vital qualities would you look for in a marriage partner?
● What complex issues could arise if you were to marry someone who didn’t share your faith?
● In what ways could you learn of the character, conduct, and reputation of someone you’re dating?
[Blurb on page 37]
“The way your friend treats his or her own family is the way he or she will treat you.”—Tony
[Box on page 34]
“Do Not Become Unevenly Yoked”
“Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” That Bible principle, found at 2 Corinthians 6:14, likely makes sense to you. Still, you might find yourself drawn to an unbeliever. Why? Sometimes it’s just physical attraction. “I would always see this girl in gym class,” says a boy named Mark. “She would go out of her way to come up and talk to me. It was not hard for a friendship to develop.”
If you know yourself and have confidence in your spiritual values—and if you’re mature enough not to be ruled by your feelings—you’ll know what you should do. Really, this person—no matter how attractive, charming, or seemingly virtuous—will not enhance your friendship with God.—James 4:4.
Of course, if a romance has developed, ending it won’t be easy—something that a girl named Cindy found out. “I cried every day,” she says. “I thought about the boy constantly, even during Christian meetings. I loved him so much that I thought I would rather die than lose him.” Soon, though, Cindy saw the wisdom of her mother’s counsel against dating an unbeliever. “It’s good that I broke up with him,” she says. “I have every confidence that Jehovah will provide for my needs.”
Are you in a situation similar to that of Cindy? If so, you don’t have to deal with it alone! You could talk to your parents. That’s what Jim did when he found himself infatuated with a girl at school. “I finally asked my parents for help,” he says. “This was a key to my overcoming these feelings.” Congregation elders can also assist you. Why not talk to one of them about what you’re going through?—Isaiah 32:1, 2.
[Box/Picture on page 39]
Would He Make a Good Husband for Me?
□ How does he handle any authority he may have?—Matthew 20:25, 26.
□ What are his goals?—1 Timothy 4:15.
□ Is he now working toward those goals?—1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.
□ How does he treat his family?—Exodus 20:12.
□ Who are his friends?—Proverbs 13:20.
□ What does he talk about?—Luke 6:45.
□ What is his attitude toward money?—Hebrews 13:5, 6.
□ What type of entertainment does he enjoy?—Psalm 97:10.
□ How does he demonstrate his love for Jehovah?—1 John 5:3.
□ Is he industrious?—Proverbs 6:9-11.
□ Is he financially responsible?—Luke 14:28.
□ Is he well reported on?—Acts 16:1, 2.
□ Is he considerate of others?—Philippians 2:4.
□ Is he disposed to anger?—Proverbs 22:24.
□ Does he try to involve you in sexual misconduct?—Galatians 5:19.
□ Is he physically or verbally abusive?—Ephesians 4:31.
□ Does he need to use alcohol to have a good time?—Proverbs 20:1.
□ Is he jealous and self-centered?—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.
[Box/Picture on page 40]
Would She Make a Good Wife for Me?
□ How does she show submissiveness in the family and the congregation?—Ephesians 5:21, 22.
□ How does she treat her family?—Exodus 20:12.
□ Who are her friends?—Proverbs 13:20.
□ What does she talk about?—Luke 6:45.
□ What is her attitude toward money?—1 John 2:15-17.
□ What are her goals?—1 Timothy 4:15.
□ Is she now working toward those goals?—1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.
□ What type of entertainment does she enjoy?—Psalm 97:10.
□ How does she demonstrate her love for Jehovah?—1 John 5:3.
□ Is she well reported on?—Ruth 3:11.
□ Is she considerate of others?—Proverbs 31:20.
□ Is she contentious?—Proverbs 21:19.
□ Does she try to involve you in sexual misconduct?—Galatians 5:19.
□ Is she verbally or physically abusive?—Ephesians 4:31.
□ Does she need to use alcohol to have a good time?—Proverbs 20:1.
□ Is she jealous and self-centered?—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.
[Picture on page 30]
Not just any size shoe will fit; similarly, not just anyone will make a good partner
[Picture on page 31]
Do you think it’s important to look beyond outward appearance when choosing a car? How much more so when choosing a marriage mate!