Getting to know someone as a potential friend/ partner/ life mate is a process that can and should occur over months. We may, however, get an initial feeling or rush instantaneously. We want to be a friend/partner immediately. We want to spend time with this person. We want a forever situation. We may even place this person on a pedestal and disregard signs or signals that are red flags, that we are building a relationship on wishful thinking. We are making this person someone we want them to be, not who they really are.
How do we get to know and understand this person? Simplified, it is identical to how we can know and understand characters in literature. As students some of the things we are taught to pay attention to is what the character says and does and how they interact with others. We can certainly apply this to real life.
This can take a great deal of time and observation. There are definitely shortcuts we can take as adults. What a person does for a living or is studying can reflect their interests, education, and values as well as their hopes, dreams, and aspirations, unless their current position or situation does not reflect what they ultimately desire. However, when someone new enters their life there are several questions which can be asked and discussed which quickly leads to a deeper and more authentic understanding of a human being.
What are three adjectives that best describe you?
You would think that this is a pretty straight forward question. I actually used this as a dinner party question to stimulate some interesting conversation. There were a few people present that thought this to be invasive and were palpably uncomfortable. This, in itself, might tell me two things. One, the person is not reflective or possibly they are very private. Or they may not want people to understand how they see or view themselves. If people do answer the question, it is quite fascinating to interpret the adjectives. Are they using adjectives that reflect morals/values or physical abilities/attributes? Are these characteristics something you wish to explore further in your knowledge of that person? How much do you value them on a score of 1-10? Do you believe they are on target with their self-evaluation?
What is something you would like to change or improve about yourself?
I love this question because it is actually asking someone what they view as a weakness within themselves. This weakness can actually be an attribute if viewed in a certain light. For example, if the person stated that they wish they were tougher, they probably have a very soft and kind temperament. Remember, every characteristic is double-edged. If someone says they wish they weren’t a gambler, that can definitely be seen as a red flag for many people. On another note, if disorganization is an issue, it can be compensated for and improved upon, but no surprise if the person’s desk is a mess and they have their own “organizational method.”
Who is a famous person in history you admire and why or which famous person dead or alive would you inviter to dinner? What questions would you ask him or her?
This question essentially asks the same thing. You can tell a great deal about someone’s values from their answers. It is interesting to note if this person is a famous entertainer, politician, hero in history, someone who had to overcome many struggles, athlete, etc. Their answer tells you who and what they value in life. Is it money, bravery, academic or cunning prowess? Is it someone who totally dedicated their life to helping others or made a major imprint on this world? Who a person admires says so much about a person and reflects core values within.
What do you enjoy doing with your leisure time? What are your hobbies/interests?
This is a simple question which says so very much about someone with whom you are looking to spend time. Are they very athletic and enjoy competitive sports? Do they enjoy reading, the arts and theatre? Do they spend hours gardening? Do they love to research and question? If there are several commonalities, this is a major plus for any relationship. Enjoying similar activities, brings sincere joy and engenders natural bonding. If however, for example, skiing/snowboarding is a major activity in one’s life and the potential friend/partner has no wish to learn or participate, this can become a major point of difference and contention. You get the picture!
What are your goals/dreams now and in the future?
Does this person think about the future or do they live in the here and now? Are they future oriented or do they take each day as it comes? Are they looking for the same type of life/lifestyle that you are? A person’s goals and dreams delve into their life’s wishes. Do they match yours? Do you have any desire to know what their passions are? Do your paths match and/or complement each other? You need to know and question this extremely essential answer because it may be a waste of time if your lives are going in completely different directions.
What is your pet peeve?
What a person finds annoying or appalling is quite fascinating and revealing. It could range from chewing loudly, to being in crowds, to rudeness and road rage. It can be small or large; major or minor. Pet peeves say a lot about who a person is and what they value.
If you can change something in the past, what would it be and why?
We all make mistakes. The point is learning from them. Does this person want to learn and grow? What mistakes did they make and how did it change them? Some people say, never have regrets, because the past is the past and we cannot change what is already done. The truth is, we all have regrets or at least should, because none of us are perfect people. To want to change something is an indication that learning and growth has occurred. It is an interesting indicator of character to learn what this person would change and place as an intrinsic value on the situation. This question always creates deeper conversation and understanding.
What are your favorite top five movies or series?
This is one of my favorite and fun questions to ask. Most everyone watches movies and streams series. Are they into thrillers, action/adventure, comedy or love stories? Do they enjoy deep discussion or move onto the next one? Are there any dealbreakers? I have definitely heard a few people speak negatively about certain reality shows for example. What a person finds entertaining says so much about who they are.
Knowing the right questions to ask a potential partner in the initial stages is of the utmost importance. They immediately give us a mental x-ray into whom they are and what they value.
Our time is a precious commodity and to waste it getting to know a person who does not ultimately meet our personal criteria, can lead to disappointment and disillusionment resulting in lost weeks, months or even years that can never be recovered…