Warning: One of these questions led to a real-life breakup. I am not a counselor. If you want to read posts by relationship coaches who can help you, Eric and Heather are awesome.
If we have made it past three dates, I need to know some things about you beyond your favorite restaurant. No really, if we get mugged on a street corner after eating a lovely meal at said restaurant, I am curious how you think you will react.
I won’t judge you (too much). I just need to be prepared. Let’s face facts. Nothing is predictable. Life is full of uncertainty and adventures.
I know my title asks the ladies to question our men, but I believe we could all use a little self-examination.
1. Are you a screamer?
When an emergency strikes, will you freeze, freak out, or keep it on the level?
On a particularly ill-fated family vacation, we had two tires blow on the same side of the vehicle, at the same time, while hurling down the highway at 60 mph. True story. My mom begins “scream praying.” My dad clutches the wheel for dear life and navigates to the side of the road.
My parents proceeded to argue for no reason before calling AAA like the reasonable humans I know they truly are. Small emergencies can give you clues to how you might react if something big happens. If your companion tends to freeze or “scream pray,” are you prepared to be the designated dialer for 9-1-1… or AAA?
2. If a bear is chasing us, would you trip me?
During a rather odd conversation with a friend, she revealed that if a bear was chasing us, she would trip me and run. She was serious. Did I end our friendship? No! She was honestly expressing that her self-preservation instinct is so strong she would do anything to survive. It was a valuable warning that I appreciate and respect. I also do not go hiking with her.
Is your top priority to help others even at your own peril or live to fight another day? There is no shame in either reaction.
- Earns hero status.
- Companion lives no matter how deserving or undeserving.
- Might literally die trying.
- In extreme cases, suffers from “savior syndrome” inserting themselves into dangerous situations unnecessarily.
- Dies in a blaze of sacrificial glory.
- Earns survivor status.
- Companion lives based on his/her independent actions.
- Conserves valuable energy. Companions who mirror this tactic might survive too.
- Minds his/her own business.
- Eventually dies of old age.
Each style has pros and cons. You just need to know who you are hiking with prior to the zombie apocalypse bear attack.
3. Will you start a fight or finish it?
Are you the bully or defender of the oppressed? Would you insert yourself between your loved ones and a threat?
I’ll make this first point quickly. If your boyfriend is a bully – ditch him. Seriously. Guys, the same goes for your girlfriend. You can thank me later.
I rarely start trouble. But I’ve learned a lot about myself during the times trouble has found me. Add an innocent victim to the mix and I lose all sense of personal safety.
At 6 years old, I went after a bully who was easily three times my size when he mercilessly tormented a boy from my class. The ungrateful boy was so ashamed a girl defended him that he never spoke to me again – go figure. The bully sent his sister after me the next day, but that is a story for another time.
Despite some setbacks early in my career as a defender of the oppressed, even now if my righteous indignation boils hot enough I will forget that you are 6’3” to my 5’4”. Admittedly, I am not built for physical confrontations, so I’m lucky when the shock and awe of a shame-inducing verbal thrashing surprises the attacker long enough to give me time to run defuse the situation.
4. Would you rush home invaders with me?
Are you a lover or a fighter? Do you flee all conflict or stand your ground?
Dr. Phil once said that before you marry someone, you should hypothetically face the fact that your spouse might ruin you financially and know that you could stay married in spite of it. But, I say, why talk money when you really need to talk through home invasion scenarios?
If someone just wants your stuff, money, or car – hand it over. Things are never worth a life. But if the intruder has violent, life-threatening intent, then we have arrived at the heart of my question.
Personally, I’m not going down without a serious fight and would appreciate some help. You might not agree with me. That’s okay. Just don’t let your companion’s reaction surprise you when it’s too late.
5. Would you shoot someone for me?
Are you a pacifist? Or would you take a life to save another?
Yes, dear readers, we have reached the grand finale. The question that caused a real-life, honest-to-goodness break-up. Don’t worry, the couple had only been on three dates.
Do you want to read the break up story that inspired this post? Of course, you do.
The evening began like any other. My college roommate returned home from her second date with a wonderful guy. She was beaming over their most recent coffee shop chat about changing the world, common interests, and life goals (it was the dream date of Christian college girls everywhere).
Roomie: “You know, I learned the most amazing thing about him tonight – he is a pacifist!”
Me: “Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever met a pacifist. That’s really cool.”
Roomie: “Yeah, he owns guns and is an avid deer hunter, but he has vowed to never take a human life under any circumstances. Isn’t that great?!”
Me: “Yes, that is… and very interesting.” *long pause*
Me: “I believe violence and taking a human life should be avoided at all costs. I don’t even own a gun. But if someone broke into our apartment and was going to kill you, and I had a gun and a clear shot, I would take it. And we’re not even family. I never really thought about it before, but I clearly couldn’t marry a pacifist. I need to know that my husband would do the same for me.”
Roomie: “Well, I’m sure he would do something to defend his family.”
Me: “Maybe you should ask him. I know you’re just dating, but don’t you want to know?”
And there it was: an innocent question. Third date comes and goes. Roommate comes home – visibly stunned.
Roomie: “I asked him. You know, about the ‘Would he shoot someone to save his family?’ stuff.”
Me: “Oh yeah?”
Roomie: “Yeah, he would never aim a gun at a human being for any reason. Even if he had access to a gun, he would not pick it up. He said he would talk to the person and try to reason with them.”
Me: “And if that didn’t work?”
Roomie: “He would take the bullet himself, if he could, but then…” *her voice trails off as she relives the moment.*
Me: So, according to his beliefs, he would have to let someone kill his family even if he had a gun and a clear shot to stop the attack.”
Roomie: “Yeah.” *long pause*
Me: “Are you okay with that?”
Roomie: “I respect his beliefs, I really do! A-a-and I really like him. But I-I-I can’t be with him. Honestly, I can’t even date him now! Does that make me a terrible person?”
No. It didn’t make her a terrible person. And I had nothing but respect for this guy. He wasn’t trying to impress my roommate. He was honest and held to his beliefs. That’s a major key – sharing core beliefs. I’m sure he found a lovely, equally pacifist, girlfriend. But that night, my roommate realized that she was not “the one.”
If you are considering marriage, there are many more questions to ask:
- What is your stance on gun ownership? Will we keep guns or other weapons in our home?
- Would you pull me from a burning car?
- Would you move heaven and earth to free me if I was falsely imprisoned in a foreign land?
There are no right or wrong answers here. The real question is how your answers align and if you can accept the differences.
Want a preview of how you and your loved one might react in a crisis? You should.
Here are some activities to do together:
- Take a self-defense class. A real one that includes defense from the ground, like Krav Maga.
- Sign up for survival skills training – nothing compares to facing your own mortality in the wilderness.
- Road trip to an unknown location, but only one of you can use a paper map to navigate.
If you can answer these questions and survive the road trip activity alone, you might be ready for a life-long commitment. But again, I am not a counselor. You can get actual relationship counseling here.
About the author: Lauran is a chronically single INFJ and observer of relationships. She loves food, watches too much TV, and rocks international travel. You can follow her random musings on Twitter or check out her blog at http://lauranwrites.com.