December 6, 2013

“When vetting a potential new partner… How far is to far I.e. Facebook stalking, asking friends, getting friends approval, to extremes like back ground checks?”

I have a series of steps used to describe the relationship status between me and another person, and because “partner” is only a couple steps below “husband” by the time a person is a “potential new partner” they are well and truly vetted! Most of the things you listed are things that happen organically, in the process of someone moving from stranger to partner.

My ladder of relationships goes like this: Knowing someone, seeing someone, dating someone, boyfriends with someone, partners with someone, engaged to someone and then married to someone. Usually in the “knowing” phase, we become connected on social media (e.g. Facebook) and so the so-called “Facebook stalking” starts. One day I might scroll through their pictures, another time I might get invited to an event they are going to, and I’ll probably be seeing their posts as we proceed to get to know each other. This will give me a clue as to what their interests are, and how closely they align with mine.

As we move into seeing each other, we start going places together and having conversations with each other. This gives me a clearer understanding of who they are and what we have in common, and in the dating phase we are (or should be) meeting each other’s friends. I don’t know about you, but my friends are my friends for a reason. They are a lot like me, and so are pretty honest with me when it comes to their thoughts and feelings, and they’ll let me know right away if they approve or disapprove of someone I’m dating. They’ll also let me know if their approval has changed to disapproval as things progress.

Also, I have friends and acquaintances who are, well, busybodies. They will be more than happy to talk to someone I’m dating and tell them about me. My friends will say things that are true, even if they exaggerate a tad or embellish the details a smudge. I certainly don’t sleep with a new guy every day, or even every week. Once a month might not be as far off, and is certainly more than most people, so when my friends say I’m very prolific in my conquests, they wouldn’t be lying. In my experience dating, the same has been true for the friends of the people I’m dating. For some reason our friends like to talk to our romantic interests about us.

This person isn’t even my boyfriend yet, and already I’ve Facebook stalked, asked his friends, and gotten my friend’s approval. Background checks aren’t simple or cheap for the average person to perform on a sporadic basis. The only time (I know of) that I have been subject to one was when a boyfriend’s family member worked for a business that routinely used background checks in the course of their business, and somehow my name got added to the list of people they were running that day. I daresay that is not common for most people.

The larger issue implied by your question is what I can “Cinderella Syndrome.” Disney has taught us that love at first sight exists, and that there is a person we are destined to spend the rest of our lives with, and that we will live happily ever after with that person once we meet them. Because of this delusion, we assess every person we meet who makes our heart beat faster as a “potential new partner” rather than getting to know them to see if we are mentally compatible, and dating them to see if we are romantically compatible, and being boyfriends/girlfriends with them to see if we are sexually compatible. We mistake mutual attraction for complete compatibility and want to skip all the necessary steps to verify it. Because of this we end up in relationships where our ideologies, sexual appetites, romantic connections, etc. are different between the partners. We stay in these relationships because we believe that we are supposed to fix the things that are broken rather than ending the relationship and trying again. Breaking up with someone is considered a failure, and so we avoid it.

This is, obviously, not the best way to conduct our romantic lives, but the staggering divorce rate, and number of breakups posted on Facebook tell me that this is what is happening. My last relationship ended because we wanted different things out of a relationship. That’s not a line, that’s really what happened. My husband and I can’t blame him for what he wanted, and he shouldn’t blame us for wanting what we wanted. All three of us tried to make it work as long as we could, and when we realized that it was never going to work, we broke up.

I think more people should take relationships slower, and go through all the steps. They should stop going through the steps when the relationship stops working, and not blame themselves or the other person/people in the relationship. If more people did this, then the relationships that lasted would be more stable, and the relationships that didn’t last would leave fewer scars on the people in them. It would also cut the divorce rate in half, at least. So go, get to know lot of people and if you think you’re compatible with them, date some of them, and if you think that works, get a boyfriend or girlfriend (or two, or three if that’s your fancy.) If it doesn’t work, give yourself permission to stop trying.

To make a long story short, there is no such thing as too much vetting for a potential new partner. However, there is also no reason for all that vetting to take place overnight.

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