03 Jan, 2019

There’s plenty of fish in the sea.

Ever heard that expression? It’s usually something mom or dad says to us when our first date goes horribly wrong or our crush likes somebody else. The phrase is sort of like a pat on the back. It’s meant to give us some hope. And we should have hope! There are lots of wonderful human beings out there that are worth getting to know.

There’s plenty of fish, and some of those fish are clown fish. They’re friendly, safe, and fun. But others are more like sharks or piranhas…not so safe. When it comes to dating, how can we tell the difference? Are there any standout characteristics of a good date?

Yes, my friends! There are some basic qualities that every healthy person should have. Of course many of us might not be ready to date, and that’s okay! Waiting until we’re older and mature enough to take a relationship seriously is sooo important. Dating when we’re too young can cause us a lot of hurt for everybody involved. Whether dating is in our near or distant future, let’s take a minute to think about what to look for when that day comes.

Four defining features of a solid potential date!

A healthy partner should be…

  1. A FRIEND. Any person you’d date should be someone you could be friends with. The best relationships are built on friendship. Sure, you don’t have to have been best friends with someone for years in order to date them. But starting a dating relationship off with the goal to get to know each other not just romantically but as friends is the healthiest and most fun way to go. And all of the other important qualities of a date below are also qualities of a good friend. That’s no accident! A potential bf or gf should be someone who encourages you to be yourself, enjoys some of the same activities as you, and is easy to talk to.
  1. RESPECTFUL. A healthy person respects themselves, friends, family, teachers, authority figures, neighbors, strangers…everybody. They speak and act kindly. And not just to people they want to impress, but to all human beings. If your crush treats the people in their life with respect, chances are that’s how they’d treat you if you started dating. Similarly, if your crush calls their parents bad names, talks back to their teachers, or pressures their friends to do things they’re uncomfortable with, they’ll probably do the same to you.
  1. HONEST. A date-worthy person speaks truthfully. That doesn’t mean they say every little thing that goes through their mind. It does mean that they don’t lie or try to hide anything that should be shared. It’s okay to keep some things private, especially early on in a relationship, but two healthy people should be able to be their true selves around each other and talk about what’s important to them. Even if your crush or partner is telling little white lies, that’s a sign that they don’t value the truth and could lie about bigger issues in the future.
  1. LOYAL. Good friends stick by your side, stand up for you, and don’t go behind your back, right? The same should be true with a dating partner. If you see your crush being loyal their friends, that shows awesome character necessary for any relationship. But if you’ve heard your potential date gossiping about their friends or family or anybody else, see that as a huge red flag! A healthy relationship is also build on two people being romantically involved with each other only, not chasing after other crushes. If one or both parties in the relationship wants to date someone else, they should at least have the guts to be honest and end their current relationship before moving on.

This is not a complete list for everybody, but these four qualities should be on everybody’s complete list. You might have some other preferences or values. Maybe your parents have a rule about getting to know your date before you go out, or perhaps you’re looking for someone who likes to be outdoors as much as you do. But regardless of anyone’s individual situation, these four characteristics are vital for any relationship to thrive.

One last piece of advice…

Don’t just expect these behaviors of others, expect them of yourself! Even if you’re not interested in dating right now, you’re waiting until you’re older, or there just isn’t anybody on your radar, ask yourself: am I a good friend, respectful, honest, and loyal? The answer to this question isn’t just important for any future dating relationships. It’s important now! Practice being a healthy friend, family member, student, and neighbor. Life is so much more beautiful when we intentionally care about others, with or without a date!

By Kath Crane