In the show Love Smart, Part 1, Dr. Phil helps three single women quickly find out important information about the men they meet on three-minute dates. He uses his techniques from Chapter Nine, Infrared Dating, of his book, Love Smart: Find the One You Want – Fix the One You Got.
In this chapter, he empowers women with information-gathering tactics that will start real, substantive conversations and set up key situations for them to observe, in order to get the real scoop on where they are and could be headed. Dr. Phil has developed a series of questions and guideposts that women can, with considerable reliability, use to predict where these guys will come down on the issues that really matter to them — marriage, family, respect and values.
When asking these questions, you have to listen for subtleties, make simple inferences and watch for patterns. While they are good predictors, these indications are far from 100 percent accurate, so you have to rely on all the information available — your observations of his tone, body language and behavior. And trust your own instincts.
The following are five critical areas of interest:
1. Will he marry me or is he commitment-phobic?
In order to find out the answer to this question, you will have to ask indirect, “softball” questions that will allow the man to reveal his thoughts on marriage without panicking. Some areas to ask about are:
- His social life:
When asking about his social life, you are listening for whether or not he makes excessive use of the word we – meaning him and his group of friends. A guy who uses the word “I” a lot, is in a different space than a guy who is constantly saying “we.” “If you are talking to somebody immersed in the “we” mode, you’re not talking to somebody who is likely to make a commitment to you,” Dr. Phil says.
- His past:
Like Dr. Phil often says, “The best predictor of future behavior is relevant past behavior.” Ask him how long he has been at his job, in his career, living in one place, and had his car. Has he ever been in a committed relationship before? For how long? Weave these questions into the conversation, and take note of the answers.
- His key people:
Ask him about his parents, siblings, other respected adults and closest friends to see whether their experience with commitment has been good or bad. What has he observed from their relationships? “This is critically important information because those are associations in his head. Those are the role models and influencers who are likely to mold his values and influence his views about committed relationships,” Dr. Phil says.
2. Will he be a loving and nurturing father?
Ask and pay attention to the following areas:
- His family legacy:
Find out what kind of relationship he had with his parents, especially his father. How often does he talk to and visit them? How does he prioritize the events that are happening in his family? “While he looks to his mother as the model for the mother of his own children, he considers his father’s behavior as a standard of how the man of the house should behave,” Dr. Phil explains. Pay close attention to how he perceives his father’s or stepfather’s role as a parent.
- His reactions:
One idea is to take your date to a restaurant with a lot of families and kids making noise, to see how he reacts to the children. Or, introduce him to your friends who have children. Also, pay close attention to how he treats his pets, and/or your pets.
- His general ideas on parenting:
Ask him the following questions or bring up situations that generate answers to them or observations about them, to see what kind of parent he aspires to be: What responsibility should a parent take for the misbehavior of a child? Were you ever bullied? How would you treat a child who hurt himself or herself or was ill?
The answers to these questions will demonstrate the type of parenting style he admires and intends to follow.
3. Will he treat me well?
Use some of the observations you’ve already made to figure out what kind of husband the guy will make, and analyze the following areas:
- His family background:
One of the questions you want answered is how his father treated his mother and how he treats his mother. Also, ask questions about how his parents got along. The kind of home the man came from will determine his behavior in a future home.
- Interpersonal behavior:
How does he behave with you? Does he listen to what you say to him? Are your thoughts and feelings important to him? Can he share in both your misery and your happiness?
- His relationships with women:
Look at his relationships with the women in his life – his coworkers, sisters, friends. Does he have female friends?
4. Does he have any major flaws?
The following questions will help you determine if you are dealing with a man of integrity or with a man who will become a nightmare. To see how well-balanced a guy is, take note of the following:
- His attitude toward his relationships:
Does he have any chips on his shoulder from past relationships or family members? “If he has a sense of entitlement, that is a dead giveaway that this guy is trouble,” Dr. Phil warns.
- Destructive habits:
Does the guy drink too much, chain smoke, or use drugs? “Normally self-destructive people do not limit their damaging behavior to themselves,” Dr. Phil says.
- Moral issues:
Watch out for consistent patterns of behavior. Does he often tell white lies? How does he react to not getting his way? “Left unchecked, character flaws tend to get worse, not better, so you need to be really clear about your zero-tolerance policy,” Dr. Phil advises.
5. How well does he fit my needs for the Character of Him?
In chapter two of Love Smart, Dr. Phil has women figure out what they need and desire in a guy. Going through the areas of personality, social skills, relational style, spiritual compatibility and appearance, she will discover what qualities will make up her Mr. Almost Perfect. You want to feel like the guy is worthy of you and has a lot of what you want in a partner. Use the information you learned in chapter two and pay attention to the following:
- Him without you:
“He’s going to put his best foot forward when you’re around, so you may want to watch him from a slight distance to keep your vision from being distorted by emotions,” Dr. Phil suggests. Bring him to a party and watch him from afar. Collect feedback from friends and family who have interacted with him.
- His resume:
What is his level of education? How successful is he in work? How successful is he in terms of the goals he wants to obtain? Be on the lookout for a pattern of failure.
- His values:
Ask him questions like: If he could change something he did in his life, what would it be? Is he religious or spiritual? Does he fulfill promises? Does he show up for commitments?
- His moods:
A person’s real character comes out when they feel bad. How does he act when he’s feeling low? How does he respond to you when you’re in a bad mood? Does he have patience? How do you argue and how do you resolve conflict?
If you want to learn quickly about the guy you’re dating, these lines of questioning and observations will get you there. “Not only will talking about things that matter advance the relationship at a record pace, but it will distinguish you in his mind as a substantive individual,” Dr. Phil explains. These questions open meaningful topics and help you see which men meet your agenda. They also help you find out intimate details about his life. Remember, act natural and don’t make it an oral exam. Start by mentioning something about your life and show some vulnerability, and then ask him some of these questions. “If you listen, just listen, not only will he tell you exactly how to close the deal, but will help you figure out whether it’s a deal you want to make in the first place.”
To learn more, go to Chapter Nine in Love Smart: Find the One You Want — Fix the One You Got. To read an excerpt, click here.