I was talking with a coworker recently about the single women we know, and we came to the conclusion that it’s not a lack of “good person”‘-ness that’s an impediment to finding a spouse, but rather that “something is missing” that is a necessary component to being good marriage material. We all know good people with generous, kind, servant hearts and the best of intentions…who, deep down, we know have an uphill battle to find someone who will commit. There’s just something missing.
I think this is what I find frustrating with Christian and mainstream advice – the focus on “be an amazing person! you’re amazing! own your amazingness!”. As I said in my previous post, there is a practical, mundane component of marriage, and that is having to actually live day-in and day-out with another person. Being an amazing person doesn’t mean you’re automatically amazing mate material. Many people with impressive accomplishments and character traits still get passed by for marriage because they’re not so amazing at the relational component of relationships.
Below I have listed ten things that I think can be hold-ups for otherwise functional, intelligent, accomplished adults (which means I have excluded obvious things like “is fatty fat fat,” “is a slutty slut slut,” and “life is a drama-filled wreckage”). List also applies to men, though I was thinking of women when I compiled it.
1. You don’t listen. In conversation, especially when trying to build rapport, people want to feel that the other person is listening to them, not merely waiting their turn to start talking again. If you’re not giving signals in conversation that you have heard and understood and empathized with the other person, you’re going to have a hard time convincing that other person that they should keep you around.
2. You talk AT people, not TO them. This often correlates with point #1. Good conversation is largely about empathy. If the other person doesn’t think you’re relating but rather just waiting so you can unleash your (superior) point of view on them, it’s not going to bode well for a relationship.
3. You’re always trying to get in the last word/one-up other people. In college, there was always that annoying person in class who always had his hand in the air, DYING to impress the professor with his vast knowledge and proof of having done the reading. If you made a good point, that person had a BETTER point to follow up with. It was annoying then, and it’s annoying now. Let other people be the ones to shine sometimes, even if you have a legitimate claim to the spotlight.
4. You don’t pull your own weight in conversation. Relating to others is a give-and-take. I get that there are a lot of shy and/or introverted people out there, but if you are depending upon the other person to be the entertainment, that’s going to get really old, really fast for that other person.
5. You lack a sense of humor. If everything offends you, or you can’t delight in absurdity, it’s going to be hard for you to find someone who wants to be with you for life, because so much of life is offensive and absurd.
6. You don’t read social signals well (or at all)/you don’t observe social graces/conventions. If you can’t tell when it’s time for the conversation to move on, or the other person is trying to bow out gracefully, or you’re constantly hijacking someone else’s project or idea, or you’re always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, it’s going to be harder for you to find a romantic partner. Most people only have so much graciousness for social awkwardness.
7. You’re a complainer. I can’t stand to be around complainers. My free time is precious; why should I spend it with someone who gets off on griping about everything? How is that beneficial to me? The occasional venting session is one thing, but people who always have something to complain about are just not worth the time.
8. You’re too social. Being social and having your own life going on is good for singles, but not when you’re so social that other people aren’t sure if you have room for them in your life. If you’re constantly fielding text messages and coordinating activities with friends and ALWAYS have something going on, a new person might decide you’re not going to be able to prioritize a relationship – that getting on your schedule is going to be too much of a hassle.
9. You haven’t cut the cord with Mommy and/or Daddy. It’s good to have a relationship with your parents when you’re an adult. It’s bad to be so close to them that their presence in your life is a disincentive to find a mate.
10. You don’t dress the part. Everyone knows at least one single person who wants a top-drawer caliber mate, but the person dresses frumpy/is overweight/is poorly or boringly groomed/doesn’t dress at the level of their target. Now, how does this person think he or she is going to attract sexy people of the opposite sex? What are those sexy people going to notice first, the hardware or the software? See where I’m going with this? Your appearance brands you. If you want a certain kind of person to pick you up and take you home (METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING, THIS IS A CHRISTIAN BLOG AHEM), then you need to look like the kind of product they’ll be attracted to. Sure, you can pray that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes to your inner beauty, but in most cases it’s a lot easier to just look better.