How Judgement Ruins Courtship
You’ve met someone you’re attracted to. They seem nice, friendly, and you’re open to a conversation. Initially the conversation is kind of a tit for tat exchange. You ask a question. They ask a question.Though the questions feel a little too personal for the first or second encounter, in your opinion, you continue getting to know them. It’s an awkward 8th grade dance that’s more like a job interview than a getting to know you conversation. Both of you tend to meet questions and answers with a bit of defensiveness, silent pauses, curled up lips, and side eyes. After a few conversations interest has been lost. You’re annoyed you’ve revealed personal information to a stranger, and it doesn’t seem like you’ll ever talk to this person again. Even more than that, the entire courtship process is leaving even more of an awful taste in your mouth.
After speaking with tons of singles and newly married couples, it’s clear two issues are commonly met and tackled in ways that can truly make or break relationship outcomes. These two issues are judgement and vulnerability.
First, understand during the initial phase of courtship you will have to pre-qualify someone as a potential match. You should most certainly have clarity on what you’re looking for and who is a good match for you. However, clarity isn’t to be confused with judgement.
The second part is knowing how to give and receive vulnerability. It’s become clear that many lack this exchange during courtship. Lack of vulnerability blocks singles from meeting quality matches. This often becomes a major issue during marriage as well, if the couple makes it that far.
Judgement takes place in two ways during courtship. Typically, people lead with judgement or they fear judgement. Let’s explore how this manifests during courtship and marriage.
For those who lead with judgement, the lack of vulnerability results in a lack of depth and relationship development. They seek to “X” someone off their list and move on without examining and self-reflecting. Any immediate signs of danger, their fight or flight senses go off, and they get ghost - ASAP. This often occurs when there’s an intense focus on someone’s past experiences or choices. It’s a shallow way to quickly create a judgement of a person as simply good or bad, and to place people into types or categories. What’s really going on is your subconscious mind has taken over and has begun filtering from your limiting beliefs around relationships or the opposite sex. Your shadow self projects itself onto your potential partner and it’s causing you to feel emotionally triggered by the reflection of yourself you’re seeing in them.
The second form of judgement often takes place out of fear. Instead of firing off intimate and personal questions without exploring depth and understanding, fear ensures vulnerability doesn’t occur. This means either a lack of transparency out of fear you’ll be judged, or shallow questions out of fear of judging the other person and being dissatisfied (which means you’ll have to end talks with someone you really want to be with).
The latter comes from a lack of confidence or even scarcity. If you ask deep questions and are disappointed, you may miss out on an opportunity to make a match. Therefore, it’s easier to keep conversations light and easy and deal with the real stuff later. However, putting off important conversations to avoid judging and being let down often makes newly married couples feel deceived or tricked into marriage. They suddenly wake up and feel like they’ve married a stranger. That’s because they have.
For those who fear judgement and hold back, offering little transparency, it reeks of insecurity and falsehood. They haven’t come to grips with their true selves or past, and are afraid they could never be loved or accepted. This group of people must learn to take accountability and trust that what’s for them is for them, and could never miss them.
Judgement is a reflection of the void of vulnerability. Either you’re withholding out of fear of judgement and refusing vulnerability, or you’re overly judging others and not only blocking development of vulnerability, but also guarding your own capability of being open-hearted.
Courtships that lack vulnerability either are prematurely cut off, or often result in a couple struggling with vulnerable transparency in their marriage. There’s always an air of mistrust and feeling as though they’ve only scratched the surface of their relationship. Most of all, there’s a true lack of friendship between the couple. They’re so afraid their shadow self will show they’ll try everything to mask and protect it. This can continue for years in marriage. Many couples, well past the newlywed phase, struggle or lack a friendship in their marriage. Ultimately, they lack vulnerability.
What to change
So how can you improve these two issues during courtship for improved relationships?
1. Stop judging. Come to grips with your own past, imperfections and bad choices. It’s okay for someone to not be a good match for you. Just don’t focus on their past more than their present or future. Figure out what about their flaws or past experiences have made you so judgmental? Are you seeing traces of yourself and have projected your flaws onto them? If so, doing the inner work to become your authentic self will help you to overcome this behavior.
2. Seek a friendship and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Lead with vulnerability. As you’re getting to know someone, come from a place of understanding who they are and their path to development versus drawing a conclusion and tucking that judgement into a box. If you’re seeking to understand who a person is from a sincere and compassionate place, you’re less likely to offend and more likely to develop a long term respect for the person, regardless of courtship outcome.
3. Pay attention to transparency. If you’re typically the open one, allow yourself to step back and notice if the person you’re getting to know is being equally transparent with you as you are with them. Do they struggle to answer questions? Are they defensive? Have you shared with them but you feel as though they’re holding back? Acknowledge this lack of vulnerability and discuss it. If it doesn’t improve this may not be a good person for you.
4. Let your guard down and let someone in. If the courtship doesn’t workout, that’s okay. Being guarded will either cause a disconnect now or a disconnect later.