A Good Match is Not Enough for a Relationship to be a Good Match
This can also be titled “When can I know to trust someone I am dating.”
We date to “move towards” someone special. This is what Dr. Henry Cloud has to say about the basicness of trust:
“Trust sends a signal to our entire being that says, ‘Move forward.’ When we trust, we move toward a person, a group, a deal, a company, or whatever the object of our trust may be, and invest our hearts, time, energy, love or wallets. When we don’t trust, we get a strong internal message in the opposite direction: ‘Move away.’” –Dr. Henry Cloud, Trust: Knowing When to Give It, When to Withhold It, How to Earn It, and How to Fix It When It Gets Broken, p. 2
We have to date people to know who to move towards. This is a brave dating practice. Read more:
“Only Date Someone You Would Consider Marrying.” (Bad advice.)
Maybe Coffee is Just Coffee (And Not Your Love of a Lifetime)
The wise Dr. Henry Cloud has created these five essentials which can help you determine if you can trust someone. This can be a new friend, a business partner, or maybe a love for a lifetime. These can also be applied as you are learning to trust God again—or to trust God for the first time.
Intent — You’ll trust when you know someone’s motives are good.
Understanding — You’ll trust when you feel someone understands you.
Ability — You’ll trust when someone has the ability to do what you need them to do. A surgeon, for example, should know how to perform an operation.
Character — You’ll trust when someone’s character reveals traits such as honesty, love, compassion, mercy, courage, patience, etc.
Track Record —You’ll trust someone based on their past behavior. –Dr. Henry Cloud, Trust
So when you actually go on a date with someone, like a coffee date, you are getting to know this person’s intent towards you and to see if you are understood. This is what those first conversations are about.
It is so wonderful to have someone’s full attention! It is so wonderful to be heard! Often we so appreciate the attention to our stories–or are enamored with the attention–that we start trusting this person we’ve had more than one date with. But as you can see from these very practical essentials this is only the beginning of trust. Each one of these essentials build to the next one.
Intent builds to understanding.
So hard question for you: Have you ever dated someone who you were attracted to, had good conversations with, but when you went home you still felt alone?
Is this because you are not understood? Is much of your conversation about you trying to be heard but this person is not really listening? Or putting you into the box he/she wants you in? Or is conversating with you to persuade you? You have his/her attention but it is not with any understanding of who you are. Pay attention to that loneliness. This is a red flag.
Understanding builds to ability.
You may have a wonderful connection with someone but here is where things can go awry. Because this person may not have the ability to be in a relationship with you. It may be as simple (and painfully difficult) as a location problem. It may be that this person isn’t a Christian. It may also be that this person does not have the ability to resolve conflict in a healthy way. Or does not have the ability to be resilient under stress. Or does not have the ability to be financially responsible.
Love is not enough for a relationship to be a good match.
I think ability is the one area we (too many of us) excuse away to keep a relationship.
Thus we feel heartbroken when we should have seen the red flag. And that red flag doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. He just doesn’t have the ability, for one of 100 reasons.
Ability builds to character.
You are now getting to know this person. You are growing to get to know this person beyond the rush of the attention of those many first dates. You may be thinking that you wouldn’t be dating this person if he/she didn’t already have good character. That was important to you before you had the first date.
Character is more than morality or good ethics. As Dr. Henry Cloud repeats often, not lying, cheating and stealing are “permission to play” traits. You need to know about this part of someone’s character before you start dating. But this is not enough.
Time reveals the rest of a person’s character such as virtue, self-control, perseverance, godliness, responsibility, and kindness.
Someone can have those “permission to play” traits and you can still have the feeling that this person can’t be trusted. This is because this person doesn’t really understand you. Trust is the confidence that someone will guard what is important to you, what you need, possess, or desire. Whatever your interests are, someone you trust will safeguard the interests you entrust to them.
The last essential is track record.
Time is needed for this one too. This is having the ability for a relationship and having the character and track record to back that up.
Your team can also help greatly here. They know you and want the best for you so they will tell you the things you are lying to yourself about to stay in this relationship.
It was my team that convinced me to marry John. His track record was two divorces and I had never even been engaged. Why would I be interested in someone like him? I wasn’t, honestly. We were friends and my friends knew him. They were the ones who convinced me that his divorces were no longer a part of his track record, mostly due to the work God was doing in his life because they knew him too. Time was allowed for that. My friends were obviously right and I’m so grateful for their persistence and willingness to say the things I didn’t always want to hear.
Because this is all about trust, right? Trust is so core to finding your love for a lifetime. Trust is essential for a thriving marriage in so many many many ways.
You need to have each one of these essentials and to build on them which takes time to know if this is a good match. If something is off, pay attention to that–now.
Stop playing this this trick on yourself–I will only think of the good parts of him/her trick. That feeling in your gut that something is off is likely because something is off. When you ignore that feeling and start remembering the only good parts of him/her trick, you begin to miss someone who does not exist. You focus just on the parts that you like and fail to look at the whole of the person, which includes the negatives which time has revealed to not be a match for you. Time has revealed that you can’t trust this person. Sometimes even if this person is a really good guy. So you never make the ending because you feel like you are losing something wonderful. But this person you are really in love with does not actually exist. This is the lie you keep telling yourself, probably because you do feel so understood–at least sometimes and you hope that this will always be enough.
Time and trust issues will reveal that this will never be enough. You will become even lonelier after you are married to a bad match.
There is some hard truth in this article. Sorry/not sorry. I hope you have other people in your life who will also tell you this hard truth. You can trust those people–probably because of their intent towards you, their character, their ability and their track record.
We see you and think you are pretty special enough to tell you these hard truths.
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