First of all, if you think there is a perfect mate out there, you’re probably also searching for a unicorn-riding leprechaun carrying a golden egg-laying goose. Believe me when I say this does not come from a place of cynicism but of reality. Too many of us have a glamorized view of what our potential mate should portray. Hollywood movies have done their share of skewing our views of what true love realistically embodies. And is true love the only requirement when searching for a spouse? Interview long-term married couples and most would say true love is just the tip of the iceberg. When probed for more details, they usually list less-than-fairytale attributes that lay a firm foundation for choosing a mate. Qualities such as integrity, honesty and loyalty may produce a yawn, but it is these characteristics that make the biggest impact for a successful marriage.
Whether you write one down or simply have one archived in your mind, most mate seekers have a list of must-have qualities. The list may range from generalities of “good guy” to extremely specific “must live in Delray, drive a 2017 Mercedes, makes $1.2 million, stands 6’2” and weighing 185lbs.” Be careful in being too detailed as it tremendously lowers your chances of meeting the person of your dreams.
So what should be on your list?
Focusing on values and character traits rather than material possessions and outward appearance will provide the foundation on which to build. We’ve all been witness to a relationship that, being based solely on “hotness,” ended in a “hot mess” because the pursuer overlooked the fact that this woman had a meth addiction, a restraining order against her, and checks that bounced as often as a basketball during a Heat game.
For a Christian, finding these traits are peppered all throughout the Bible. A man can go to Proverbs 31 to find a godly woman. Proverbs 14 (as well as other chapters in this book) depicts both the sought after qualities of a man as well as those to avoid.
But what do these traits look like when manifested? How can we be sure a person possesses these attributes? Here time and experience are our friends. Giving ample time to spend with each other in a variety of situations will unveil a person’s true identity. In the beginning of a relationship, we all tend to put on our “best face,” which sometimes turns out to be just that — a façade. But most of us can only do this for so long before our true colors start to emerge.
How does a person react to disappointment or to stressful situations? What is their relationship with their family and friends? Do they treat them with respect? What about your family and friends? Does this person try to alienate you from them? And most importantly, how does this person treat you? Is he belittling, distrustful, jealous, abusive?
For Christians, we will also want to take into account what their spiritual life is like. Are they a Christ follower? The Bible warns us of the dangers of being unequally yoked with someone who is not a believer. Though we may see it as “ministry dating,” more than likely it will be us bending in belief to align ourselves with their lifestyle. This can lead to more serious problems later on, such as how to raise children or morality within the marriage. Keeping God as the fortress in your relationship and praying together and for each other gives your marriage a greater chance of weathering the inevitable storms that will ensue.
With what appears to be an onslaught of dating sites out there, is this a worthwhile effort in the search for the future mate? We hear of those couples who were matched successfully and are now living the happily ever after. But those are the exception, not the rule. It also depends on the dating site. Some are geared more for those searching for a commitment whereas others tend to be more about “hooking up.” If the vetting can only be based on looks and an advertisement-type bio quip, chances are it attracts those who are not looking for something long term. As with any type of dating, be cautious and do as much “interviewing” of the person even before the actual date.
In order to find like-minded mates, position yourself at events/places of your interests. For instance, if you are a huge sports fan and want someone who enjoys sports too, go to games or parties/venues geared to watching sports. Want someone who is charitable? Try volunteering at a shelter. Going to Bible studies or church-related events will hopefully narrow the choice down to believers. Let friends and family know you are open to meeting someone. Because they have your best interest at heart and know your likes and dislikes, they could be a valuable source in introducing you to someone.
The perfect matchmaker
So whether you choose a marriage partner through a grocery list of qualities, a dating site, or through a blind date, the number one aspect to remember is to ask God for discernment and trust that he will bring the person who is, though flawed, “perfect” for you. And in the meantime, become the best person you can be so you’ll be ready when your mate searches for you — the “perfect mate.”
Chris Alexander is a freelance writer. You can reach her at [email protected].