Dating 101: Never Date a Chameleon
Can you name the most important thing your future spouse must have to be a worthy marriage partner? The answer: A track record of godly living. (In other words, a history of at least a few years of living a life of integrity.) Why is this so important? This is incredibly important because as soon as your typical admirer identifies what you are looking for in a future mate, that person will “miraculously” morph into exactly what you are looking for. This type of person is what I like to call a relational chameleon. WARNING: Mr. or Ms. Perfect may not be all they portray themselves to be.
Looking at Three Years of History
The Bible brilliantly establishes some principles for determining what is truly in a prospect’s heart of hearts: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16) You see, there is one thing a relational chameleon cannot change: his or her history over the last three years. A careful look backwards in time will reveal the good fruit or the inner thistles of their lives, and by looking at their behavior over the last several years you will recognize who they truly have been. (Note: This is also how your prospect can get to know the “real” you, so make sure to live with integrity in your own life.) When a wise employer sits to do interviews with candidates for a job, he or she realizes that applicants will say whatever they think the employer wants to hear. With this said, the wise employer will pay less attention to what is promised in the interview and more attention to the job references. The true character of a person (or lack thereof) cannot be hidden when a person’s history is analyzed.
A Good Detective’s Work
Like a good detective, you can and should dig into a prospect’s track record to see what they’ve been up to. If you don’t, your prospect may put on the mask of the person of your dreams just long enough to get a ring on your finger. When you’ve walked the aisle and the honeymoon phase ends, Mr. or Mrs. “Perfect” may magically morph back into their real, less-desirable self. But by this time it would be far too late! So you better get serious about doing your due diligence now before you make the biggest decision of your relational life. If you apply the following tips, you will greatly increase your chances of avoiding the dangerous relational chameleons and identifying a true gem.
5 Tips For Relational Due Diligence
- Talk to Their Pastor. See what they’ve been up to at church. Have they been attending faithfully? Have they been serving as a mature believer should? Would the pastor trust let his oldest child marry this person? The pastor has likely seen their character (or lack thereof), and will have the maturity to make a trustworthy assessment. Although the pastor may not feel comfortable divulging all the information you desire, he may be willing to hint to an answer if asked: “Do you feel any caution regarding me getting into a serious relationship with this person at this time?” Listen carefully to the verbal response as well as the non-verbal cues.
- Check Their Social Media. Go back three years in their social media and see if you see godly character. People can definitely change for the better over time, but unless someone has been practicing what they preach for a solid three years they aren’t really ready to tie the knot. There is no substitute for allowing God the time He needs to refine you.
- Their Friends Reveal. Who are the friends your prospect has been hanging with over the last three years? Name the top three people he or she has spent the most time with. The Bible counsels: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) A person of wisdom would not likely bring fools into close relationship; on the other hand, a person of wisdom would likely be attracted to other wise people. Your prospect’s friends are a subtle reflection of who he or she really is.
- Ask For Their Passwords. If things start to progress, it may be time to ask for the password. Picture it like this: You find them at a time when they are sitting by their computer. You say: “What I am about to ask you is very important to me. I would like to check your character by seeing who you are behind the curtain of your passwords. Will you log me into your email and Facebook accounts? I must know that you are a person of character if I am going to be able to seriously consider spending my life with you.” See how they respond. But know that you will only get one change at this. If you don’t get in the first time then all objectivity is gone. If they had something to hide then they will likely delete it forever, so the first time you ask counts.
- Relationship Hopping. Has your prospect been jumping from relationship to relationship just prior to meeting you? If so, let them go. They are not ready for marriage, and you should know that this is a tell-tale sign of immaturity. If you need to, watch them from a distance to see if they mature over time (and by time I mean a couple of years).
In summary, there are many chameleons out there — people who lack character but can act out the part long enough to fool someone into marriage. But NOBODY can perfectly fake years of godly character. So if you want to make sure you don’t fall for a chameleon, start digging into the details over their last three years of activity (and don’t forget to make sure you. If this person wants to get serious with you, you have a right to know who this person is. Good luck, Sherlock!
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