This post is about evaluating someone‘s personality and character before getting romantically involved with them, so I’d say it is most relevant for people who are totally single or starting to go out with someone already
It recently occurred to me that it would be quite helpful to write a post on the difference between personality and character and how they interact for this main reason:
On this blog I am always saying that it takes 2 years to get to know someone. Yet I realised that there are some aspects of someone’s nature which can become apparent very quickly. Personality is one of these aspects. And then it is very possible to fall for someone’s personality very quickly.
There are a few different aspects to someone’s make-up, that is, what goes into making someone.
Some of these include:
Psychologists might disagree, however I would say that none of these listed here are fixed, but they are all largely fluid. For instance someone might work hard to develop new skills, which will then round out their abilities.
On this blog I talk a lot about character. So here then is the difference between personality and character, and here is why it is important.
Character is made up of things like: someone’s commitment to honesty, to telling the truth, to integrity, to treating other people with courtesy and dignity. Character also includes things like determination to persevere through hard times, to keep doing what is right, even if this seems impossible. Perhaps someone’s character can be defined then by their determination to do what is right because it is right and how determined they are to align their lives and their chosen path with what is right.
Personality however is made up of things like: how someone dresses, how they wear their hair, whether or not they can be considered “cool”, the type of music that they listen to; their sense of humour.
In general, I find that someone’s personality does not necessarily give the slightest indication to their character, except if their outward appearance indicates that they do not make any effort. So someone might dress beautifully, they might wear their hair flamboyantly, be easily the “coolest” person around, dazzle everyone with their brilliant sense of humour – and yet still have truly beautiful character. They might go out of their way to help other people, they might strive to live their lives with truth and sincerity at all times, they might even write Bible blogs chronicling their struggles to pursue holiness and righteousness, for instance!
Sometimes hanging around Christian circles, there can be this mistaken belief that if someone is beautiful on the outside, then that automatically means that they must have poor character especially If They Wear Make-Up! Conversely I have also met many Christians who are not particularly striking in terms of personality or appearance on the outside and equally uncompelling in terms of inner character.
And yet obviously the point of this post is to talk about those situations when people do appear falsely attractive because of their personality. Because personality is something that is seen on the outside, it can be very easy to see what someone is like in terms of personality straight away. You can take one look at someone and see whether they are physically attractive, whether their outfit is attractively put together, whether they have a broad smile on their face. On talking to them for a few hours you could also get to find out their sense of humour, and a few other things about them. After knowing someone for only a few hours, it is so easy to judge whether you might find them attractive, at least in terms of their personality.
The mistake comes though when people go ahead to act in terms of this initial attraction. This is what this entire blog is primarily about. The single most important point that I am making on this blog is that it is someone’s character that will truly make them a joy to live with; not just whether they look good, but whether they are determined to treat you good from the inside out. Sometimes on meeting people, we can see that they have a great attractive personality, and because of that we also take it for granted that they also have great character. And yet character takes time to make itself seen. Character is about who someone consistently chooses to be. Not just what they might say in the spur of the moment to try to impress you, but how they will consistently choose to act, when you are not looking, and no else is looking either. It is about how they keep pushing themselves to apply discipline to think on correct things, embrace truthful mindsets. This is why it takes so long to truly evaluate someone’s character.
And yet, I guess I’ve finally realised/accepted that personality is also important, because it is an important part of being attracted to someone. It is what will make me look in someone’s direction in the first place, to work out whether they are worth evaluating for the next two years. Perhaps this just demonstrates that I am tremendously superficial, however I think that no matter what great character someone has got, I don’t think I could consider him romantically unless I was utterly captivated by his sense of humour, and his smile. I really feel that we have to engage on that emotional plane. In my dreams about my marriage, I always dream about things that are personality-based, or based on how our personalities intersect: smiling at one another, talking deeply, pouring out our hearts. And yet character is the secret unseen pillar that will keep it all hanging together; without excellent character on both our parts the whole thing will quickly crash and fall away. So it will be because of his personality that I will be attracted to him in the first place; how much that personality corresponds to my dreams. And yet it will be his character that will truly make him worth marrying; if he does not have great character then the marriage will not last. If I wanted to get married for the sake of getting married, because that is “the done thing”, then character would be even more important, because I would not have to consider those deeply held dreams of emotional intimacy.
So in practice, perhaps this is what will happen: I will meet someone, be totally carried away by the personality that they demonstrate, then have to sit patiently, checking them out for two years, praying that the character is even more outstanding than the personality on show. Hmm. Even to my own ears, that does not sound good. I wonder if there is a way of inverting this so that I don’t get carried away by personality before getting to know their character? Reflecting a little more deeply, it is also based on what I have seen of their personality that I might make the effort to get to know someone better…
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
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