Similarity and Dating
by Wyatt Fisher, Psy.D.
Dating occurs at all ages and stages of adult life. The high school and college years are typically periods of intense dating, often leading to serious relationships for the first time. Others may unexpectedly re-enter the dating scene following a divorce from an unfaithful or abusive spouse. Still others may re-enter the dating scene after the heart wrenching experience of losing a spouse through death. Regardless of what creates the desire to date, people often wonder what type of helpful advice they should follow. How people answer this question can greatly influence the success or failure of their future relationships.
Christian singles may need to re-examine their values on the importance of similarity and dating. Men are often tempted to value physical beauty and attractiveness above all other qualities and date accordingly. Unfortunately, while this may by visually gratifying, it's very short-sighted and is not a solid predictor of future compatibility. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting…" (Proverbs 31:30, NIV). Women are often tempted to value financial wealth and prosperity above all other qualities and date accordingly. While this may meet their need for security, it is also not a solid predictor of future compatibility. Sadly, these attributes for women and men are glamorized in our culture, often making people desire them above all else. In addition, the courting process has been pushed into "fast forward" in our culture, compared to 50-100 years ago. This acceleration often results in rushed and prematurely involved relationships that have not established a healthy foundation filled with thoughtful consideration of one another's compatibility. Based on my experience with numerous couples in my private practice, one of the best predictors of future compatibility is how many core attributes couples have in common. "Opposites attract" may be true in the short-term, but often leads to severe relational strain in the long-run.
For example, a couple where both partners have similar values with money will have much more financial harmony compared to a couple where one is a "spender" and the other is a "saver." In addition, a couple where both partners have similar levels of extroversion will tend to enjoy more relational intimacy compared to a couple where one is an "extrovert" and the other is an "introvert." Furthermore, a couple where both partners value fitness will have more respect and admiration for one another compared to a couple where one is in "great shape" and the other is a "couch potato." Again, the more commonalities we share with our partner, the more likely we'll have relational harmony and future compatibility. Therefore, be sure to search for similarities with those you date, especially in the areas that are most important to you. Moreover, be sure to slow down the dating process and the progression of intimacy to provide plenty of time to learn about the other person's likes/dislikes, values, and so on, to determine if the relationship is worth moving to a deeper level.
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What are the main similarities you want to find in a spouse and why?