Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Think About It

Brender said this over at Happy Catholic:
I am usually the "glass half empty" kind of guy but you don't even have a glass.

Not at all. Its just that I don't like the glass that modern society uses. Give me the right glass, and I'll fill it past overflowing.

"Forget ever thinking of being happy in a relationship with a man. They will just leave you for a newer one when they are done with you."

If it is merely a "relationship," ABSOLUTELY in 99.99 percent of the cases, it will end and he or she will leave. And that is almost certainly the case when both persons are in college. At my college of several thousand, I know of only one couple that married while still in school (and they were quasi-Evangelicals, not agnostic-secularists like everyone else), and none married the people they were dating while in school. People today simply do not get married while in college. Consequently, although there may be a rare exception, college relationships are almost certainly going to end.

The problem is when you have a disparity of understanding and expectations. Both parties need to agree on the parameters of the situation at the very beginning and throughout. Both need to realize going into it that it is either (a) a relationship of temporary companionship and superficial enjoyment or (b) a relationship of potential marriage and authentic love. Both need to be on the same track. The problem is one is superficial and the other is serious. If one is on the fun track and the other is on the potential marriage track, disaster is certain to happen.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with a relationship of fun and diversion, so long as it is mutual and not exploitive (including, among other things, sex). I've seen older people "date" and go out and spend time with each other without getting at all serious. And I get the feeling that, in the past (50s and 60s), people could go out and date, meeting and testing the potential for a possible mate, without getting serious (and certainly without getting sexual). Today, not so much. Today, all too often, one person recognizes it as a merely for fun/diversion/companionship, with or without sex (which is by its very nature exploitive when extra-marital), while the other person is, or thinks they are, "in love," and wants to continue to be with that person forever, even if they really don't like anything about the other and believe that they can "change" him or her.

Give me -- give society -- the right glass, so that we can fill it all the way. Give us a glass of honesty and sincerity. Either both understand throughout that it is merely temporary, so that when it inevitably ends it is not devastating to one or the other; or both understand throughout that marriage is a possibility and when they say "I love you," they actually and sincerely mean it.
And I say, "Bravo!" to Brender for most of that post. I would most certainly disagree with the lack of marriages coming out of college simply because most of my 'adult' friends were married out of college or are about to be BETROTHED while one or both are still in college. Are these a few rare cases? I don't think so. Perhaps... but I don't think so.

I agree though that all too often in society today people view (dating) relationships as being something fun to do and nothing more. They want to have a 'special someone' but they don't want to even think about the possibility of marriage. They just want the tag for looks or feel without any kind of commitment or maturity that it takes to actually have a (dating) relationship.

I believe that this trend is all too greatly aided by the parents of these children. Certainly many children will learn that dating relationships are for experimentation and "just for fun" from friends but if they aren't getting the proper lessons at home, who really expects them to know better? We must teach them from a young age the importance of friendships and the beauty of dating when they are emotionally, spiritually, and physically ready.

One thing that was mentioned recently by a friend was the 'age restrictions'. (Just to let y'all know, my age restriction is 35...) How often do parents tell their kids while they're growing up that they 'can start dating when [they] turn 16'? It's all they hear until that birthday and when it comes... what? Are they supposed to date? Are they just 'allowed' to date? Are they expected to date now that the restriction has been lifted? What? What do these parents expect to happen?

Children need to know that it is not necessary (and certainly not expected) that they date from a young age! Think back to when you were 16... were you emotionally, spiritually, and physically ready for a potential marriage? Perhaps you were physically ready (this of course comes before the others) but I would dare say no one was emotionally or spiritually ready. So why do we push them out there into that 'scene'? Why do we make it seem as though they need to start finding someone, especially if we do not expect them to find someone permanent? Are we seeking thrills for them? Are we trying to provide for them the fun times we had? Were those times really all that fun? Are those times necessary? Certainly not!

In all relationships there come times when you have to 'take it to the next level' (and I certainly do NOT mean physically). Relationships are meant to progress. You start with friendship and, ideally, head in one of two directions: 1)marriage or 2)life-long friendship. Of course marriage is also a life-long 'friendship' but it's so much deeper than any other friendship could ever be. When we throw kids into dating at 14, 15 and 16 we are setting them up for failure. They will generally not be ready to progress very far in formal relationships. This means dramatic and 'heart-breaking' splits. That, of course, will not preceed some kind of awkwardness which in some (I dare say many) cases leads to physical exploration. What else is there to do but mess around? Well... lots! But they don't know that for a number of reasons. Are they totally to blame? No. I think most fault lies with those who are encouraging, or condoning, such relationships at their age.

It's just not appropriate.

When you ask the majority of high school students that are in relationships if they are thinking about marriage, what do you think they say?

"No way! I'm too young!"

Hmmm... I think they're on to something! .. Hah.


Blogger Tammy said...

Although I agree with much of what you're saying, but there is a contrarian view. Relationships, if appropriate, in the teenage years can be a learning experience too. Personally, I've learned from past dating experiences more about myself and what I expect in a guy. Also, there are those who can date, seriously, but not necessarily be ready to get married tomorrow. My sister for instance started dating a guy in high school (she's in grad school now) - she knew she didnt want to get married until after college. But, the thought that he is the type of guy she could marry is something she has thought about throughout the relationship. I dont know if that makes sense. They are still together. This takes a mature person however.

I must agree with you regarding dating in our parents years. From what I understand going on a date with one person one night and another person another was no big deal. Just part of meeting people, learning about them etc. Now, its taken more seriously from date #1.

8/10/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Laura H. said...

I agree with what you're saying. :) There are instances in which some would be mature enough to carry themselves appropriately in these relationships at a younger age. However, this is not all. (We all realize that.)

The example of your sister is a very good one. I'm sure she was at a level of maturity that would foster a healthy outlook on everything and would not, in the end, hurt her. (These are assumptions of course.) After all, I'm not saying that a person needs to be ready to marry 'tomorrow' but that they need to be in a place that they ARE ready to grow together with another person and move together with him or her towards a potential marriage. What kind of time frame are we looking at? Well, it depends on the couple. But there still has to be some level of maturity and readiness for that.

It's certainly a complicated matter as we are all so different in so many ways. Some 'grow up' faster than others and some simply do not. There is no way to set in stone a timeline for dating. It's just impossible. These are simply my views for the majority of our society. For MOST teens, dating can and should wait until AT LEAST college. (It forces you out of a shell and challenges you to be who you want and need to be. It forces you to GROW UP.)

8/10/2006 11:54:00 AM  

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