Tara Fass: Clarifying Questions for Dating Singles
After the divorce, when the time feels right to start dating again, there are a few things to keep in mind.
What is going on with another person is not always obvious on the surface. Imagine if you could gather information and therefore pay more attention to the depth of another person with some well-placed and well-intentioned questions as you get to know them.
It’s better to ask these questions silently at first — and to just be observant. Watch your date’s meta-communication behaviors and body-language responses carefully, taking into account respiration, eye-contact and speech pattern. Try to hear and accept their words but verify with actions.
The first and third questions below are the biggies and contain a treasure trove of information in deciding if this is a relationship to pursue. The middle question is informational and more about potential compatibility in terms of daily routines.
The order in which these questions roll out is up to you. All three can be in play simultaneously. Are there too many red flags with any of these questions? If so, bow out as gracefully as possible while you can.
1.Foundational Questions: What is your relationship like with your mother, father and siblings? Chances are the answer is some mixture of a bittersweet work in progress. Even in the best relationships require work. You need to hear what’s good as well as what’s getting better. What’s good and not so good in a person’s family of origin is likely to be mirrored in your dating relationship.
If you progress in dating, you will likely get to know the people in the answers to the question. That’s when you will be tested. What’s working out with one’s parents is only the start. There are also in-laws, and half- and step-children with whom you’ll have adult relationships.
2. Aggregate Questions: What are your rituals? What was the name of and last time that you read a book? How many hours a week do you work, watch sports or business news on television? What’s your faith practice? How about playing video or computer games and hanging out on the Internet? Do you watch or participate in porn? What are your hobbies? Where do you like to vacation?
3. Kicker Questions: Is there anyone else who thinks you are their significant other? A dear friend alerted me to this one. You would think that a person is on the market on if they are truly free, but this isn’t always the case in this age of ambivalence. The person who appears free may be in fact in an ambivalent relationship. Chances are they can’t tell you, but will show you and maybe tell you if you ask the right way.
With all of these questions, listen hard and watch closely for what is revealed and hidden. What is the other willing to tell you, if you can catch it?