Bemoaning to a psychologist friend the tale of a recent particularly jarring breakup, he said, “You need to ask better questions early on.” He was right. I thought I was reasonably good about asking important questions, but I hadn’t asked the one he suggested.
I painfully learned that my beau of many months had no interest in working out anything that wasn’t exactly what one of us wanted. He barely tolerated my bringing up any of my unmet needs and finding a mutually agreeable solution. However, in this breakup I learned that if something wasn’t as he wanted it, he just called it quits. No attempt to discuss it or explore a solution. I couldn’t imagine how anyone would expect a relationship to be perfect without any modifications, but that apparently was his perspective.
My psychologist friend suggested asking within the first few dates, “What do you tend to do if something in the relationship isn’t working for you?” This would tell me if the guy had any interest in bringing it up and discussing it, rather than just calling it quits or going poof.
I don’t know how my now ex-beau would have answered if I’d asked the question, as I felt sometimes he said what he thought I wanted to hear. So conceivably he could have said, “We’d discuss it.” But since he was a master sweet talker, I can also imagine him saying, “We are a perfect match, so I don’t see anything that wouldn’t work for me.” He was very good at evasiveness, even when I pressed him.
I can understand not wanting to approach working it out if someone is abusive or emotionally unstable. I have had two beaus who I learned were so defensive that I couldn’t bring up issues without them flying off the handle. But I made sure I let them know we wouldn’t be continuing, even if I didn’t say, “…because you are wacko.” That would not have been good. So I just said that I was clear we weren’t a fit, that I enjoyed the good times we shared, and I wished them the very best. So in these cases, I, like my recent beau, was not willing to work it out. But that was only after some tumultuous attempts that showed me it was an uphill battle.
What have you learned are good questions to ask early in dating someone that shed some light on his philosophy about working out any kinks in a generally good relationship?