The right fit
So you want to take me out to dinner? You want to flirt with me and make my heart go pitter patter? You want me to hand you my heart, body and soul on a shiny platter? If you want inside my heart (among other things, yes, that’s what she said), I will need you to answer a few questions before we can proceed. In other words? If you want to tap this, you need to take an entrance exam first.
A few years ago, I stopped dating. I was exhausted from basically dating the same person over and over and over. I was repeating patterns and I knew something had to change. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what exactly had gone wrong in the first place. So I took a Dating Time Out to figure out how to avoid repeating negative patterns of behavior in the future. My last relationship ended in 2007. Since then, I’ve been able to figure out the root of why all my previous relationships failed.
A friend and I joked back then about how we wished we had an appropriate entrance and exit exam for every relationship we had in the past. If we could just ask a series of questions about a potential lover before launching into a relationship, we could have saved ourselves quite a bit of trouble. And we could have learned so much about ourselves and the other person in the relationship if we had concluded a break up with an exit exam.
Think about it.
Often times before you can launch into a graduate program of some kind, a program assesses your skills in that field with an entrance exam. Or you take the GRE or LSAT or some other entrance exam before you can begin that kind of commitment between two parties. Some jobs require extensive interviews in which a supervisor assesses your skills, knowledge and abilities before selecting you as the right job candidate.
When you choose to part ways with a company, you generally complete an exit exam to determine the hows and whys of your exit. To earn an advanced degree, you must sit through a painful qualification exam consisting of oral and written exams to determine if you actually are an expert in your field and are capable of exiting the program.
An entrance exam enables one to enter the right program or job for him or her. A company and an employer (or a program and a student) must be the right fit for one another for the relationship to be successful. An exit exam allows the program or company and the exiting individual to have piece of mind, to understand what went wrong and what went right and to part ways in a professional manner.
A relationship is a full-time job. It is a commitment not to be taken lightly. So why don’t we require an entrance and exit exam for love?
I think the main reason is we don’t know what to ask. We don’t know ourselves well enough. Our cognitive blueprint is well established, so it is difficult to notice when patterns are actually red flags indicated dangerous roads ahead.
My demons don’t play well with your demons
As I mentioned previously, I noticed a few years ago that I had been dating the same person repeatedly. I really only dated this one guy multiple times over ten years, but you get my point. Even if I dated different men over the years, they shared common demons that did not make them available, stable or respectful partners*.
I had demons of my own that did not mesh well with their demons.
Clearly, if we had just asked each other a few simple questions, we could have avoided the catastrophe that ensued while dating. An example: If one person breaks up with another because he or she “not ready for a commitment,” it would have been nice to know that before launching into a seemingly monogamous, exclusive relationship.
It’s not you, it’s me
Often people part ways with the phrase: “It’s not you, it’s me.” This may actually be true. That is, one person may have made most of the mistakes in the relationship. Unfortunately, the person who utters such a phrase most likely would never take responsibility for his or her end of the deal. It takes two to tango just like it takes two to screw up something. The problem is that we often do not look within ourselves to see how we are contributing to the disintegration of a relationship. We rarely ask ourselves why we are unable to find the right partner. We also often do not communicate honestly about the root of the problem when things are not working. If things end, we rarely talk things through which means we cannot possibly learn from our mistakes.
You may even find yourself in a situation where one party breaks up with the other with an email, sticky note, text message or some other passive aggressive method. Such a move completely isolates the dumped party because he or she cannot initiate a conversation about what happened. This is wrong on so many levels.
My Entrance Exam
Here are some example questions I might ask in my Entrance Exam. I would also answer his Entrance Exam. This exam could take place on a first date in Interview format.
- Are you married?
- How old are you?
- Is your name Chris, Matt, Tom or Eric?**
- On average, how many alcoholic drinks do you consume daily?
- How do you feel about being in a relationship with a woman who is going to have a PhD? Be honest.
- What do you do to make a living? (How do you feed and clothe yourself?)
- What do you do when you are not making a living? (What do you love to do that is not related to work?)
- What are your dreams and goals for your future? Are you content doing what you’re doing right now?
- Please explain your relationship with your parents in the space below. Here are some questions to start you off: Did your mommy spoil you so much that you can’t take care of yourself? Do you hate your father? Are your parents divorced?
- Are you currently serving or have you ever served in the military?
- Do you have children? If yes, please explain in detail your relationship with the mother of your children.
- Are you interested in a long term, committed relationship or are you still enjoying the single life wherein you date multiple people at the same time?
My Exit Exam
Here are some example questions I might ask in my Exit Exam. I would answer his Exit Exam. I would answer my own exam before we shared our answers with one another.
- Did you cheat one me? Please also define what you believe cheating to be in the space provided.
- Why do you think we are not successful as a couple?
- Please list ten things you think I could have done differently in our relationship.
- Please list ten things you think you could have done differently in our relationship.
- Would you prefer that we stay in touch or would you prefer that we no longer engage in any interaction together?
- What did you learn about yourself while we were together?
We have to be honest enough with ourselves to know ourselves. We need to know what we are doing wrong. We have to be honest with the other person in the relationship. We have to communicate. And we have to stop repeating the same mistakes. At some point, you will get tired to dating the same person. Trust me.
Disclaimer: This is all in good fun, people. Mostly I am kidding about this whole exam thing. Mostly.
*This one guy is excluded from this blog post because he is one of my BFFs and is married to another one of my BFFs and we only dated for a short time period and really he was supposed to be with her and it’s just silly to think of him as an ex-boyfriend when he’s a BFF. And that one guy I dated multiple times for real is also excluded from this just because that was a clusterfuck on every level. Just wanted to clear that up to any friends in real life who may be reading this.
** It’s a running joke that I’m not allowed to ever date another Chris, Matt, Tom or Eric because I’ve dated too many guys with those names. Seriously.