There's an image of Aladdin standing on a floating carpet. He asks, "Do you trust me?" with an outstretched hand. Then before you know it we're sweapt up onto the carpet with him, and we're on this magical ride through the desert during a musical scene that has captured the hearts of millions of little girls everywhere. It is that moment, however, with the outstretched hand, that we seem to glaze over completely. We want the magic. We want to fly. We want the fireworks. We want to fall in love. But that all starts with the question. The invitation.
When I was younger I created a checklist. Girls would have to meet these specific items before I would even consider them dateable.
- Is she attractive?
- Does she hold similar Values and Beliefs?
- Can she tolerate me?
I held on to these questions with strong convictions. I stood by them - even if there was something slightly wrong with that last one. Over time my requirements became compromised. Attractiveness was still there but the values and beliefs would soon become non-existant. And number three went from "Does she tolerate me?" to "Did she give me any sort of attention whatsoever?"
It wasn't the strongest of foundations.
No don't get me wrong. There WAS magic. I did fall in love a few times. We definitely shared some fireworks. But looking back over the past decade it was clear I was missing something. Now - relationships are complicated - and you could easily point out many factors as to why one doesn't work out in the end, so I don't want to confuse the matter by making anyone believe that I can simplify the process in any way. Yet as a freshly single 28 year old male I have to wonder if I wasn't botching the approach just a little bit, and consider what I can do differently for the future.
I came to the conclusion that, somewhere along the line, I began to extend my invitation towards anyone I believed would take it. I never stopped to consider if it was the right idea. I didn't take the time to ask myself, "Is this someone I truly want to invite into my life?"
The beauty of that moment described in the first paragraph is Aladdin was giving Jasmine the choice. He was asking a very loaded question. I don't think it should be taken lightly. How often have you gotten yourself into a relationship without knowing, "Do I trust this person?" Have you ever given yourself over to another because you wanted the ride, the magic, or the fireworks? Or have you ever extended that invitation yourself and not known if you trusted them yourself?
The invitation matters. We have to stop and consider it.
Today when I look at my checklist it looks more like this:
- Is she attractive? (I still stand by this 100%)
- Do we share the same values and beliefs?
- Is she worth inviting on the journey?
I believe this is a little more sound in it's establishment. I believe it causes myself to look at my current life as well and ask, "What exactly am I inviting them into?" We are messy people. I am always willing to admit that I am a flawed human being. So when I am considering who to invite into my messy life, I have to be very selective, otherwise I may bring someone in who can't handle it. Too often I've gotten into the infatuation stage and figured: This is something - I can't let this pass me by - and I'll figure out the rest as I go along.
Inviting someone into your life, however, means you have to know what your life looks like. What are you pursuing? What are your goals/dreams? Are you going after what you were created for or are you simply waiting for opportunity to come your way?
I admit. The system isn't perfect. Many of you may be asking other questions like, "What about common interests?", "Shouldn't some values and beliefs matter more than others?", or "What if she doesn't like Star Wars?"
I think we should leave some room for discovery, otherwise the process of dating is rendered invalid and we would simply jump into marriage without a second thought. Some of these answers you have to figure out little-by-little over time. I think the importance here is knowing what you're looking for in life, in a relationship, and not compromising just because someone catches your attention on the offset. You may not find the one by sticking to this checklist, but it's possible you might save yourself some future heartache - and that could be just as important.
The next time I'm floating on that magic carpet, with my hand outstretched, having just asked the question "Do you trust me?" I want to know that this moment didn't come without consideration. I want to know that the woman I'm asking hasn't just caught my eye, but has piqued my curiosity again and again. I want to know that I can trust her because I've seen her character - and that has attracted me as well. I want to know that she won't just take my hand because I asked, but because she has seen me as well, has gotten to know me, and would consider the question wholeheartedly and give me an honest answer.
Maybe then, when the ride is over, neither of us will find ourselves wanting to get off.