[Please click HERE to skim over a post I wrote based on a homily I heard on dating.]
Since writing the previous post on dating, I've had a lot of time to think and experience different and new kinds of relationships. And because I'm a trustworthy Listener, I have heard even more about relationships than I ever care to face myself. Although I agree that in our world today, society takes dating too seriously, we need to take that into account when we consider where we think our relationships should go. Not everyone views dating the same way. I know one guy who is not going to date this semester because he doesn't want that responsibility just now; but when he decides to date, he will ask a girl out on eight increasingly expensive dates and then ask her to be his girlfriend on the last one. I respect this method very much – but what about the girl?
You see, when two people come together, both have to be taken into account. I would not have thought of the dating process in that way until he explained it to me; but that was the way he intends to approach dating. Knowing him, he probably will not easily change his mind if the girl he crushes on has a different idea. So should he stick to his guns or should he be willing to bend a little bit when a girl comes along?
It would be easy for me to say that I'm not going to date anyone with whom I'm not already good friends. In fact, I've said before that any guy worth dating is worth having as a friend for life. But not everyone looks at getting to know the opposite sex that way. Some consider dating as the way that you get to know whether a guy is worth knowing. My perspective on relationships does not work that way, however, since I tend to cling with a passionate concern to people I know. If I've spent time on you, you will always have a bit of my heart in your pocket. So if a certain way of dating prevents me from being on good terms with you afterward, I don't like it. "I'm a person; you're a person; let's treat each other with respect."
(I guess I operate on the Catholic principle of ultimate unity in God. We are all one. How can there be dissension between us? I'll, please God, be with them in Heaven someday.)
So while I've often meditated on relationships, and while many have written books, and while Christianity has set many guidelines and rules to live our romances by – I think these are all inherently flawed. Relationships are between two people; and although there are certain things that are just wrong and should be avoided in relationships, each relationship is different, because each person is different. From listening to many stories of how couples got together, it would seem that there is no one way to find the perfect someone. Sometimes it's a guy who just knows at first sight and wants to take you out, and sometimes it's your best friend. Long distance and online relationships work, too, I've heard. But the point is, it will work out between the two of you – it'll be right on both ends.
I'm not talking about what "feels right." I'm talking about what is right to create a solid relationship between two people. So I think you can read as many authorities on relationships as you want, but I think the search for your spouse – assuming you are in that search – is just like the creation of any other relationship. It requires time, patience, openness, true love for the other person, and a willingness and ability to do what is best for the both of you.
Emotional chastity comes into play here, as you experiment with where you can be with different people. Again, I don't think there is any one spot that you should be with all members of the opposite sex. The more I live, the more I'm convinced that how emotionally involved you are with a person depends on that person. Some guys are amazing friends – girls, don't let your emotions get all tied up in a guy just because he understands you. (And ladies, do not neglect your girlfriends whatever you do. The truth is, no matter how much guys and girls were made to complete one another, guys just don't get it.) As for the gentlemen, well, I can't speak for you so....
But seriously, the more you leave to mystery, the more the other person will have to invest back in you. On the other end, it is possible to be too mysterious and standoffish. It takes a balance. But if we depend on God and make our priority the health and happiness of the other person, I am sure we will succeed in life.
Pray for God's love for man to become yours – keeping in mind what that Love did for us.