When I last wrote about Honest Conversations, I didn’t get far into the questions one should ask if you want to get to the heart of the matter. One of those questions is, “What do you want from me?” While everyone may have an answer prepared for, “What do you want?” or “What are you looking for?” It’s not nearly the same as, “What do you want from me?”
The first two questions are general and require little in response. I’m looking for a soul mate, someone to hold hands with on long walks, someone to share my life with, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The more specific, “What do you want from me?” is the beginning of a discussion that will shape or at least inform your relationship, possibly end it.
It’s not necessarily a first date question because odds are you don’t really know each other yet. The best answer you could hope for is, “I don’t know yet! I’m getting to know you and I have hopes that you will be what I’m looking for. Maybe even what I didn’t know I was looking for until I discovered you.” If you get a specific response as to what they want, know you will be shoehorned into a fixed set of expectations which you may not be able to meet.
“What do you want from me?”, will let you know whether your prospective partner has been paying any attention. Have they allowed for your strengths and weaknesses? Are they looking for someone to be like their mother or father or the one that got away? Try repeating back what they say, e.g. “You want me to stay at home and cook 6 days a week? Do you know me?” The question is designed to be the beginning of a discussion, not designed to head one off. Perhaps you give some notice that you intend to ask that question? It’s probably not one to ask during a heated discussion.
The primary thing this discussion requires is honesty, from both sides. People will surprise you with their capacity to accept things when given the chance to make that decision for themselves. If you want to date others while looking for “the one.” more people than you imagine might accept that for a time. If you’re looking for a friend with benefits, that may work too but one or the other may eventually want more. Others will dump you on the spot but wouldn’t that be better than leading someone on and giving false hope?
In the not too distant past. Someone I started dating around December, told me in January that she needed a decision by Valentine’s Day if I planned to marry her. We’ll give her credit for directness and honesty but to my mind, it was way too soon. She didn’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to get my response. Yes, the relationship ended but was that really a bad thing after all? Neither of us is wasting time or blocking the others blessings. Damn, that was quick though! I did learn what she wanted although I’m not certain it mattered whether it was me that provided it.
It is not at all unreasonable to establish early on what your standards are and what constitutes deal breakers. But when it’s time to have “the talk” about where the relationship is going. Don’t forget to ask, “What do you want from me?”