Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


Navigate / search

10 Right Questions to Answer About the Person You’re Dating

A few weeks ago I received my favorite text message ever:


Since then, we’ve talked a lot about healthy relationships, pacing things, guarding hearts, et al.  The only real difference between college and now is that today I have the benefit of having been married for seven years.  So, GAME CHANGER.

One of the things I told my anonymous friend, and something I really believe, is that time and pace are just tools to make sure you get real answers to the right questions.

So – we’re having this conversation and I’m feeling maybe a little too enlightened when my friend says,

“So, what are the right questions?”

Yeah.  Here’s the thing about that.  NOBODY KNOWS.

But I spent a few days thinking about it, and I asked some married friends that are smarter than me, and so, together, we give you:

10 Right Questions to Answer About the Person You’re Dating

1. Listen to him eat a bowl of cereal.  Is that sound something you can tolerate for the rest of your life?  THIS IS NOT A DRILL.   Treat this issue with the respect it’s due.

2. Does he exhibit self-control?  You do not want to be married to someone with no self-control.  Think finances, think housework, think fidelity, think EVERY AREA OF LIFE.

Look for: Does he put off or blow off other responsibilities to spend time with you?  If so, it’s easy to feel “Yay!  Chemistry!  I’m a PRIORITY.”   But it can be a red flag.  Does he push boundaries physically?  If he does, don’t think, “Yay!  He can’t get enough of me!”  Instead, ask yourself, “Is he exhibiting self-control?”

Now substitute “self-control” with another character trait – maybe kindness, or patience, or courage, or honesty.  All the right questions will point you to character.  Chemistry and compatibility matter just as much, but they’re easy to see.  After just a few dates, you know.  The right questions don’t answer, “Do we fit?  Do we click?  Is there something special here?”  Because, duh.  The right questions answer “What kind of character does this man have?  What kind of habits?  What is he made of, on the inside, through and through?”

3.  Is he investment-minded?  Relationships die if they aren’t tended.  Committed to stay and committed to work are two totally different things.  It’s very 2014 to “chill” and “hang out” and “do something.”  But listen – if someone asks your guy “What are you going to do this weekend?”  and he says “I’m going to spend time with my girlfriend, because that’s important,”  MARRY THAT DUDE.

Look for:  Does he ask intentional questions?  When you’ve told each other all your stories, will you have made your own, together?  Is he relationally intelligent?  (When I asked my married friends what questions they would recommend asking/discovering/settling at least 85% of them said:  ”DOES HE SPEAK HER LOVE LANGUAGE?  DOES HE VALUE SPEAKING IT?  WILL HE TRY TO LEARN HER LOVE LANGUAGE?  IS HE EVEN PHYSICALLY CAPABLE?”  So, that’s kind of a huge deal.)

4. Do you respect his decisions and his decision-making skills?  Not whether or not you can influence them, or whether he is willing to defer some things to you.  I mean, THAT, obviously, but don’t stop there.   Ask, as my very wise friend Sarah suggested, “Left to his own devices, does she trust him enough that she can respect and submit to the decisions that he makes?  If not, don’t marry him.”

Look for:  The things he values, the way he spends his time.  If you can’t get on board with his life decisions so far, do not pass go; do not collect bridal shower presents.

5.  Does he apologize?  This question is the one that garnered the most vociferous, vehement, visceral reaction amongst my married friends.  Does he apologize?  How?  It speaks to humility, respect, self-confidence, and a willingness to work at relationship.

Look for: Does he apologize to other people?  (I only recently learned that there is a “Languages of Apology” book/assessment, in the same vein as Love Languages.  Worth looking into.)  And listen:  apologies are sexy.

6. How does he fight?  Hot or cold?  Right away or the next day?  In straight-up specifics, or in softer generalities?  Does he call names?  Is he sarcastic?  Because IT’S GONNA HAPPEN, LOVE BIRDS.  And you need to know, is this the man I want to fight with for the rest of my life?

7.  ”It’s no good pretending that any relationship has a future if your record collections disagree violently or if your favorite films wouldn’t even speak to each other if they met at a party” -Nick Hornby   If you had to listen to his music on a road trip, how soon into the drive would you try to throw yourself from the window of a moving vehicle?

8, 9, and 10. The three things that couples fight about the most (and the worst) are money, sex, and kids.  That’s it.  The trifecta.  Money, sex, and kids.  There are one million questions wrapped up in money, sex, and kids, and one million blog posts that explore them.  I’m not adding to that number today.  Google it, find a list, ask them all.

What you really need to know is, when you’re all twitterpated, and in love, and your hormones come out to play, you can’t think clearly anyway – so if you’re reading this you’re probably already screwed.  But it’s okay.  It can be pretty wonderful.  :)

 What would you add?  What do you think is the most helpful, absolutely-must-settle-before-progressing, dating question?  My anonymous friend and I want to know!

  • Adeline Gonzales

    What’s his relationship with God? Is there a relationship or does he just know of him. Does he just attend church or is God important in every area of his life.

  • Virginia Sauley

    2 Corinthians 6:14

    Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

  • Travis Jackson

    My wife and I lived long distance for the majority of our relationship. When we had been married for 30 days we had spent more time around each other than in our entire dating relationship. We were forced to be intentional and find ways to say we cared outside of physical closeness. Touch and Quality time are my wife’s languages, and mine are words of affirmation. We got really good at communication, care, and support over Facebook, text messages, phone calls, Skype, and Letters. For two years we kept this up. I would find out how/if they communicate well outside of a physical connection. If you take away the physical closeness, can you still come close to the one you love? How can you lift them up and come along side them when miles or hours separate you? Then I would ask, can you communicate this without a need for it? Are you willing to communicate that way within your relationship when you DO have an opportunity to be close? For example, I spent some time yesterday finishing off the bedroom. It needed to be done, no pictures on the walls, clutter in the corner from the move. My wife has been feeling a bit overwhelmed with four jobs and a husband in ministry. I took the time to go through the clutter and hang some of her favorite pictures on the wall. It was what she needed. She needed faces of people she loves staring back at her in the morning. She needed someone to organize the bedroom so she could feel better equipped to take on her day. I have spent years learning what subtle things my wife desperately needs. She probably would have been fine with a kiss (which she got anyway). I could have fallen back on the physical closeness I know she wants. I wanted her to get the whole deal. Also, sports analogy, living in Green Bay Wisconsin has given us a front row seat to football mania. Aaron Rodgers is the man up here. One of the things people say about this MVP Quarterback is that he can communicate with a look. His teammates know exactly what is coming without a word. They work on this intentionally. They want to put their team in the best position to win and there are opponents who don’t want that to happen. What is this couple doing to cultivate THAT kind of communication? The kind that puts their relationship in the best position to succeed with all of the junk that come their way? If you find out they aren’t willing to work on that kind of communication consistently, they may not be worth your investment.

  • Jessie

    What is worth fighting for? Are there qualities I see that would drive me crazy? Are they worth fighting over?

  • Rebecca Sims Dale

    Man this is a GREAT discussion. And one every parent should have with their kids many times before they even begin dating or courting… My ‘slice’ of advice comes from 19 years of marriage plus three and a half years dating/engaged to my husband as well as numerous accounts from close friends and family about their own adventures in dating and marriage.There’s so much more to consider, but for what it’s worth, these things came to mind today: Parents should also make their daughters & sons read all of the Jane Austen novels (with Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility & Emma covered & discussed at least twice). For those who are grown and already neck-deep ‘in it’, I’d still say read the books if you haven’t already. There’s a wealth of info there about reading character in the opposite sex. I would also say that you NEED to get to know that person’s parents and siblings as soon as possible—before the love haze clouds your judgement. If this person has fantastic parents that are still together, there’s a good chance he/she will want to recreate that life with their mate & will have some basic idea about how to do that. There’s also a good chance if they rarely saw their parents fight and subsequently resolve conflict that they’ll have a hard time doing so with you. On the other hand, if they grew up in a completely dysfunctional family, you need to look for scars that have not yet healed, forgiveness that hasn’t yet been granted and whether or not this person has learned from their parents’ mistakes or is on track to repeat them. All these things CAN BE MENDED by the grace of God. They are not deal breakers, but you need to be aware of them early on. Their parents & siblings may very well one day be your in-laws. This matters most, I think, for mother-in-laws & sister-in-laws. One day ladies, your MIL/SIL may be the best friend you’ve got and biggest supporter of your marriage or your worst enemy. If there are signs of trouble there, make sure your guy is the kind who is willing to settle a comfortable distance away from his relatives. I know there may be backlash over that comment. It sounds harsh. Sometimes though, peace can’t be maintained unless it takes at least two hours to drive to your house. Last, but not least, observe him/her from a distance for as long as you can before you start kissing. I mean it. Look at their habits, friends (especially the ones they’ve known longest), job performance, church attendance, everything. Be as objective as you can. It is a kindness to you both…..

    • Kate Conner

      I agree with all of this, Rebecca! I am thankful for both my MIL and SIL – and I lived close to them for many years. Looking at the friends they’ve kept the longest is a GREAT indicator, too!

      • Rebecca Sims Dale

        I, too am very grateful form my MIL & SIL’s. I won the lottery on that one. They are my dearest friends now. I was very young though, when I got married, so there were bumps along the way. The distance was a buffer for us all as we learned to love each other.

  • Melissa

    Great list! I remember getting a “teen creed” prayer card or something before confirmation and one of the items was “only choose a date who would make a good mate”. I can’t say I followed it 100% of the time, but it was always in the back of my mind. I love #2, it was part of my own “list”. And I would add to #4: Can you imagine this person raising your children without you; either short term (such as due to illness) or long term (divorce or death)? It’s a rough way to look at it but it happens and it seems some folks are more particular about choosing a babysitter than a spouse.