We go so deep so fast because we’ve been taught that surprises down the road are a bad thing. We have to know this person inside and out before we could ever consider a life with them. So we quiz each other over mundane things like favorite superheroes or first baseball games attended, not because we wonder, but because we feel we have to know to make the relationship valid.
And you know what? It’s bullshit.
It’s bullshit because they tell us to know everything and that’s impossible. They know it’s impossible. But instead of helping us to figure out what the important things are to learn early on, they say “everything” and turn away chuckling about divorce rates.
I would love to know his favorite super hero. Mine is Captain America, so I mean, a Marvel guy would be cool and all, not that it’s a requirement. And I’d be thrilled to hear the story of the first baseball game he got to go see. Who was playing, who took him, what the score was…it’ll be a great thing to watch him re-live the experience as he talks about it. But will the answers really effect our relationship? Are they going to set a tone that will help us decide whether or not we have a future together? I doubt it.
If I ever get married, and I someday find myself at the kitchen table with a newspaper wondering whether or not my husband took an art class high school, I suppose I’ll ask him. When he shrugs and says “I think so?” it isn’t going to ruin anything or fix anything between us. Just because I took a similar class, we won’t suddenly gain a few compatibility points.
Sure, we should be asking these questions as they float into our minds. But they aren’t the sort of thing to drill ourselves on. They aren’t something to fret about. Knowing X number of answers doesn’t guarantee a happy future.
Ask him about his family and his childhood. Ask who inspires him and what worries him and how he plans to tackle days ahead. Ask about what scares him. Ask him what he dreams about. Ask him what he misses. Use your questions to figure out what makes him tick. Learn who matters most to him, and decide if you fit the criteria. Learn who he really is on the most basic, human level, and decide if he fits your criteria.
If he does, figure out how you’re going to fit into his life and how he’ll fit into yours. You’ll learn the other things with time, and soon you’ll know more about this person than you could list. You’ll know just how he takes his coffee and exactly where he misplaced his keys. You’ll be able to swap stories with his mom about his youth and watch his face redden as he sits beside you. He may be the one you end up knowing better than anyone else. But that doesn’t mean you have to learn it all on day one.
We’ve been taught to gather all the information we can, but no one has been around to help us sort through the important things. That’s why people are diving in headfirst, putting every detail on display. But a successful, lasting relationship is about compatibility and compromise. It has so little to do with how quickly you memorize his middle name or favorite color.