A goal in SpeedDating for Marriage is to find out as accurately as possible who the person you're dating really is before investing significant time with them and risk falling into yet another Go Nowhere Entanglement (GONE).
Understand that your date's goal may be to not let you find out who he or she really is! He or she may possibly be motivated to present themselves as something different than who they are. It can be a bit challenging to see through to the truth -- especially if on top of this, the marriage minded single (MMS) is biased (i.e. hoping that the relationship will work out) and thus at risk of misperceptions or fantasies.
There's a Torah idea that a person's true character is consistent. What does that mean? For example, a person is "kind" if they consistently act in a kind manner. Does that mean a kind person will always be kind and never slip? No, but when she does slip it would seem "out of character" to those who know her.
A kind person will express kindness even when they're tired, in a rush, or having a bad hair day.
Taking this a bit further: It means that a truly kind person will be kind toward others regardless of who they are -- whether his parents, boss, an employee, a stranger, or a busboy. The levels and types of kindness may vary depending on with whom the person is interacting -- but his approach is consistently kind in nature. In addition, a kind person will express (or at least try to express) kindness even when circumstances are not convenient for him -- like when she's tired, in a rush, or having a bad hair day.
For the MMS, this idea has significant implications. To start, it means that before you "label" a person as having "character trait-X," and potentially risk your heart or fall into a GONE, you need to be certain that you've seen consistent repetition of behavior which demonstrates this characteristic.
Let's say, for example, that you want to marry someone with a positive outlook on life. Here a few methods of how to evaluate this as a pattern of behavior:
- Listen for the character trait of "positive outlook" when she talks. When she tells you about past or present challenges, do the challenges typically bog her down and overwhelm her in feelings of despair? Or is she more apt to actively look for ways to overcome the challenge - minimizing the time she feels discouraged or that a situation is hopeless?
- Watch how she interacts with you. When her favorite restaurant loses your reservation and has no room for you that night -- does she let it ruin the rest of the date, or does the momentary disappointment fade as she works with you to think of a back-up plan?
- Watch how she interacts with others. When you overhear her talking with a friend who recently lost her job -- does she commiserate with her friend's fear that finding another job will be difficult by continually focusing on how impossible it is to get work in today's downturned economy? Or, after empathizing with her friend's fear, does she pick topics that will give her friend hope -- such as referring her to a great executive search firm, or of an article she read about how her friend's profession is in demand these days?
- Notice how her family and/or friends respond to her behavior. Are they unfazed when she goes into a funk for a week -- "because that's just her." Or are they shocked when they see her feeling down for a couple of days because she's normally so upbeat?
We could go on and on with examples, but this is just "Part 1" of SpeedDating's "Evaluate Your Date" series. Future tips will explore tools that help the MMS obtain information about their date's character as quickly as possible.
So until then, remember the guiding principle: Consistency of behavior equals character.
The entire SpeedDating for Marriage system can be found in the book "SpeedDating - A Timesaving Guide to Finding Your Lifelong Love"