This article is the third in a four-part series dealing with the
dating challenges faced by those of different temperaments. It is
intended as a more detailed supplement to the brief suggestions given
as part of the profile matching feature. This month's piece focuses on
To date, or not to date. That is the question.
Like the noble yet indecisive Hamlet, the high-minded melancholic approaches dating (he may prefer the term “courtship”) and marriage seriously. He is often the one who has a list of qualities of the perfect partner and is checking it twice…and then praying about it.
Your melancholic date is sensitive, introspective, and self-analytical. His thoughts are far-reaching, he is never satisfied with the superficial, he analyses the past and meditates on the future. He loves order, beauty, quality, and quiet.
Melancholics are romantics. They do not wear their romanticism on their sleeves (ala Don Juan or Lola) but deep down they long for the ideal love; they sigh over poetry and classic romantic films, they relish candles and soft music. This can make for a beautiful and intensely romantic courtship–provided they stop day-dreaming long enough to ask you out!
Because melancholics tend to be more comfortable with their own thoughts than with socializing, they can sometimes appear aloof or distant, uninterested, even a tad snobbish. They tend to eschew flirting as “insincere” but as a result, they may not send out those positive vibes that let others know they are available! And this is the key to understanding melancholics: they do not typically cue others that they are interested.
And it’s true, they do have high aspirations. They tend to be perfectionists. It can be hard for them to settle for anything less than their high ideals! As a result they can sometimes spend years waiting for their Prince Charming (or Mr. Darcy).
I was once at a conference when a college student approached me about my book, The Temperament God Gave You.
"In our book club," the pretty young woman explained, "my friends and I are discussing the temperaments!"
I knew right then, she was a melancholic. (Who else but a melancholic would attend a weekly book club in college?)
"The thing is," she hesitated, "I think that I would really like to meet a sanguine boy."
"Honey," I said, "You're going to have to find some parties! That's where the sanguine boys are."
"Oh," she sighed and bit her lip pensively. "But will he notice me sitting all by myself at the party?"
Such is the fate of the melancholic.
Your melancholic date is thoughtful, detailed, and attuned to the interior life. His faith is very important to him and he is drawn to most noble of causes and ideals. For example, he might be a writer, lawyer, teacher, or involved in humanitarian work. Though he is usually more comfortable expressing himself with friends (rather than in large groups or with strangers), he is nonetheless strong in his opinions, and is likely not to mince words when he shares his views.
Melancholics adhere to the rules, read the fine print, and care about the way things ought to be. If you say you are meeting at 5:30 p.m., your melancholic date will expect you to be on time. Melancholics do not forgive easily, either.
Father Hock (The 4 Temperaments) compares the reactions of a melancholic to that of a post that is being driven deeper and deeper into the ground, so that at last it is nearly impossible to pull it out again. Contemporary psychologists describe this tendency as “ruminating.” Ruminators tend to dwell on past thoughts or events, to replay them in their mind, and even to focus too much on the negative aspects. They are more sensitive to stimuli, tend to react more vehemently, have difficulty suppressing negative thoughts, and are inclined to mull over the past and to worry about the future.
To say the melancholic is introverted does not mean he is painfully shy or cannot function beautifully at social functions. Many melancholics are elegant, charming and gracious. However, being adept in social situations doesn’t necessarily come easily or naturally. He will likely find himself rather drained after a large party or social function, and need to refresh his batteries by spending some alone.
On the down side, a melancholic can be inflexible, pessimistic and brooding. His high standards and perfectionism become off-putting. He can create mountains out of molehills, and miss the forest for the trees. He must fight against moodiness, resentment and self-pity. He is reserved, and finds it difficult to make new friends. He can be so reserved that others think he is snobbish. Melancholics are more likely to see the world as a valley of tears, and to yearn for the heaven (or that perfection) that is unseen by mortal eyes. If you are a melancholic, fight discouragement and attain joy by taking Saint Paul’s advice to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! …Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Philippians 4:4-6).
Opposites do attract! The serious, cautious, and introverted melancholic may be mesmerized by a fun-loving, scatterbrained, extroverted sanguine. Misunderstandings may ensue. The sanguine seems to have an endless capacity for parties and fun, and her exhausted melancholic date might be wondering, “When is she ever going to settle down and have a serious conversation?” Or, conversely, the melancholic partner has been taking his sanguine date to all his favorite spots—Mass, the library, the art gallery, home to visit his parents—and the sanguine is beginning to wonder, “Are we ever going to have some fun?” With God’s grace, and a willingness to understand and accept differences of human nature, such temperamental misunderstandings can be avoided.
Once committed, your melancholic partner will be absolutely faithful. He is loyal and deeply thoughtful, treasuring the highest ideals of truth, beauty, and goodness. His depth and sensitivity is peerless. Like a fine wine, a melancholic takes time to reach his full potential; like a fine wine, he will be worth the wait.