A man looks across the table at his date, a quizzical look on his face

Are you a judgemental date?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - February 28, 2012

It is in our nature to be judgemental. We judge how people look, how they raise their children, style their hair and the music they listen to. While it may be useful to be judgemental in some areas of life this natural selection criteria can actually become a block when dating.

When we are using our judgement we are trying to assess the rightness or wrongness of something. We do this all the time as a natural process but there may be some subtler, unconscious processes going on that could be getting in the way of you meeting someone you feel is right for you.

Are you a judgmental date?
The best way to find out is to observe your thoughts as you go through your day. Do you often feel superior or inferior to people? Are you constantly measuring yourself against others to try and gauge how fat, rich, tall or successful you are? We all do this to a greater or lesser degree. When it comes to dates what criteria are you using to decide whether this person is right or wrong for you? If in the first five minutes of a date you instinctively know this person is not for you, you are probably right, there needs to be some chemistry between you. If you get past the first five minutes but find yourself scrutinizing everything they do and say while trying to assess their suitability maybe you are being too judgemental.

Value judgements
Our value judgements are based on our idea of what the people should or ought to do. These are often formed from our unconscious beliefs about roles and gender and the culture to which we belong For example, a woman with traditional values may think a man ought to hold a door open or pay for dinner and if they don’t they will judge them as being the wrong man for them. A man with strong religious views may judge a woman who turns up in full makeup and high heels as a totally unsuitable match for him before she has even spoken a word.

Although this term is most often used to refer to preconceived judgments toward a person because of race, social class, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristic it also means beliefs formed without knowledge of the facts and may include ‘any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence’ – in other words any attitude that closes your mind and stops you looking for evidence which may contradict your original opinion. No-one likes to think they are prejudiced but most of us can be to some degree. Unless we have had direct personal experience of something we usually blindly accept the stereotypes that society holds rather than forming our own opinions.

Discernment is when we determine the value or quality of something or someone and it involves going past the mere perception to make more detailed judgments. This means we note our initial response but shelve it until we find out more about the person. People who are discerning are thought to be wise and have good instincts because they are keeping their mind open to all the possibilities rather than ruling things out too soon.

Challenge your perceptions
A good way to find out what your beliefs and values are is to write a list of what men and women should or shouldn’t be, do, say, wear etc. This is a list just for you so don’t write what you think you should believe but what you actually really think deep down. You could do this in a dating context e.g. On a date a man/woman should:-

When you see it written down you will then be free to examine your attitudes and ask whether you really believe they are true. Many of our beliefs and values have been inherited from our parents and culture and may not be our own at all yet we are letting them dictate our lives and choices. They will remain unchallenged and unconscious until we unpack them and challenge each one individually. For each thing you think is your own belief ask yourself – How important is it? The idea isn’t necessarily to get them to go altogether but to make things into preferences rather than hard and fast rules.

Keep an open mind
Next time you are on a date try to keep an open mind, at least for the duration of the date. It may help to make a pact with yourself to withhold judgment completely until after the date is over, preferably until the next day when you have had a chance to reflect. This will stop you from assessing everything your date does or doesn’t do and judging their suitability moment by moment. Trust your heart rather than your head; it is usually far more discerning and less judgmental.