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How to judge your potential matches

We often become judgmental about potential matches, often even resisting them before giving them a chance. It's time to understand these thoughts

To an extent, all of us judge people based on their looks. It is inevitable. This is especially true, of course, when swiping on dating apps.
To an extent, all of us judge people based on their looks. It is inevitable. This is especially true, of course, when swiping on dating apps. (Pexels)

“Please don’t judge me for saying this...” is perhaps the most common disclaimer I hear from my single clients, as a prelude to describing the reasons why they reject/ doubt their decision about being with a potential partner.

To my mind, this statement is really directed at themselves. They know that certain reasons for not wanting to be with someone will be construed as them being judgemental. To an extent, all of us judge people based on their looks. It is inevitable. This is especially true, of course, when swiping on dating apps.

A 37-year-old- male client of mine rarely gets any response on any online dating or matrimonial sites. He blames it on his baldness. When he meets women in person through his parents who search for an arranged match, quite a few of them ask him in the first meeting if he has any plans for getting a hair transplant. He doesn’t. So far he has held his own and hasn’t let his baldness corrode his self-worth. But I can see that if he does not find someone soon and the questions about his baldness continue, it will have a negative effect on his confidence.

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Appearances aside, the other big judgemental issue singles over the age of 35 years face, is that of being still single. This question is asked often with an undercurrent of “so what’s wrong with you that you haven’t yet found a person?” A single person asking another single person about still being single! Who will better understand the plight of a single person trying to find the right person themselves than another single person going through the same experience? And yet.

Most of my clients who either ask or answer this question admit that the only sensible response to this is that “I haven’t yet found the right person”. And that will always be the correct answer, unless they have been in recovery from a serious illness or coming out of a trauma of a tragedy. I mean, what else can one say under normal circumstances when they are asked this question? (Folks, please don’t get defensive about your single status. It’s not a disease.)

The other judgmental aspect that has cropped up in recent times is that of individuals sharing with each other information about their past relationships. As dating becomes normal in India, people will get in and out of committed relationships. Most people will have a relationship history and thankfully most people embrace that part of their lives and don’t try to hide it. However, the reasons why any of their past relationships did not work, becomes a point of judgement by the prospective partner.

Berating yourself for being judgmental is not the right approach. Understanding why you are judging an individual as well as the effect it will have on your relationship with them is what is important.

If your relationship broke up because you cheated on your partner, you risk being categorised as a cheater. If you broke up because you felt that your partner was too possessive about you and gave you no space, then you can get perceived as someone who values their freedom a bit too much. Instead of judging and labelling, I wish one would give weightage to the fact that with each failed relationship we learn how to handle the difficult situations that arise in every romantic relationship. For example, you get better at knowing that you need to call off a relationship when you form a strong attraction for someone else that you can’t get over. Or how to have the conversation around “me time” without making your partner insecure.

When it comes to romantic relationships, it’s best to have a couple of non-negotiables. Anything other than those non-negotiables one must figure out how to handle together. As you get to know someone better over time, there will still be instances that will creep into the judgmental zone.

A client of mine, T is in a committed relationship with V. They live in different cities and T visited V for the first time in his city after being together for six months. For a neat freak T, V’s apartment seemed a bit unkempt and many things were not stored in the right place according to her. It was a big spoke in the wheel for T. How will she live with V? He is clearly is a slob! After many patient conversations and moving of furniture or shoe rack later, they did sort out this situation. T and V are still together and trying to move cities to be with each other.

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Berating yourself for being judgmental is not the right approach. Understanding why you are judging an individual as well as the effect it will have on your relationship with them is what is important.

How can you do that? I am of the opinion that when it comes to someone’s appearances, you can’t really bring that up until you form a deeper connection. Even then, it has to be brought up in a sensitive way at an appropriate time if it really is still a deal breaker for you. In other cases, like any information about their past relationships, I suggest that you do not react immediately. Think through what is bothering you about their past and ask appropriate questions. For example, if the cheating bit bothered you, asking what was missing in their previous relationship that they took this step, will be a much better way of understanding the individual than to sit around wondering if they will cheat on you.

It’s difficult to not be judgmental in our day to day lives. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. What doesn’t work is to hold on too strong to these judgments. By being kind to the other person and to yourself, you can be certain that you will be able to sieve through the unimportant things and keep only what’s valuable to you in your search for the right partner.

This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating and relationship coach, who can be reached on simran@floh.in

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