Read most popular romance novels, and you’ll be deep in the middle of an “instant relationship”. It’s the norm in these books to have sex after barely being introduced and be discussing marriage after a couple of weeks of the best sex ever. How about a reality check?
“I definitely think people should take the time to get to know somebody’s character strengths and weaknesses,” says Eric Garrison, 42, a single dater in Virginia. “Dates must occur in all venues to do that. I usually like to see how my partner interacts with their own family. That can show me a great deal.”
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How your partner gets along with the parent the same gender as you is definitely a key for how he or she will behave towards you over time. Does he or she also get along with other family members? Signs of family conflict may be a warning sign.
Amy Schoen, a dating and relationship life coach in Washington, DC, (www.heartmindconnection.com) advocates to some clients that they get involved together in sporting activities like bowling, hiking, softball, and biking. She says, “Some people are very competitive and yell at you for missing a ball. Others are supportive and say, ‘That’s okay--you’ll get it next time!’” She also encourages clients to participate in www.Meetup.com. “I suggest my clients pick a handful of groups and become active in them so they see the same people again and again. (Her group is at http://budurl.com/DCMMGroup.)
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Janice Christopher, a relationship coach who refers to herself as a “relationship attraction alchemist” (www.whatsidealforyou.com), encourages individuals to slow down and assess the character qualities they must have and must never have in a partner. She says typically clients who spend the time to do this will list these important qualifications: emotionally healthy, family-focused, honesty, faithfulness, financially secure, believes in God, and is an excellent communicator. Then when they are out with a partner, “I ask them to be detectives. I ask them to notice what they love about that person, and write it down on their list. Even noticing negative traits is useful, as they can add the opposite trait to their list.”
Character strengths and issues will play a role over and over again throughout your relationship. You can begin observing character qualities from the first contact. Perhaps you experience courtesy and respect but spot the opposite when your partner interacts with a restaurant server. You hear an attitude of love and caring when he or she talks about family members. But, this is all just the beginning…