“It’ll happen when you least expect it.”
“Build a friendship, first.”
“Never frown because you never know who is falling in love with your smile.”
“He’s out there somewhere.”
“The right man/woman will love you just the way you are.”
Man, those are annoying.
Even more so when you learn they’re true.
This week we gathered the teens for an informal talk about the most applicable and relevant Theology of the Body chapter for a teen:
Dating with Purity
Like a champ, my boyfriend (Kevin) joined me to be the example for the teens. We told them about our background, our two-year-old friendship, and the natural progression to dating.
One of my co-teachers is Kevin’s best friend and one of my best friends. He testified that watching our relationship develop so naturally from friendship, to a brother/sisterhood relationship in Christ, to a romantic relationship was beautiful to watch “from the sidelines.”
…He said “from the sidelines,” but my seminarian friend played a few minutes of the game when I shared with him my feelings for Kevin. Always the good teammate, he promptly reported to Kevin, who was already laying the groundwork to court me — now with the confidence of its potential success tucked safely in his breast pocket.
I will never undersell the importance of building a solid friendship before dating someone. I know that is not the path for everyone, but consider these advantages:
- Confidence. You build confidence in one another without worrying about stepping on your romantic chances.
- Comfort. You build a latter to a sturdy comfort level in a friendship. When I went directly into romantic relationships with men in my past, the giddy feelings felt great. However, it was hard to distinguish the giddiness from newness and the giddiness about the man.
- Opening up. You share more with your close friends than you do with someone you’ve dated for a few weeks. You protect your heart when you enter into a friendship first, rather than trying to share a lot with a new romantic other.
- Time. Becoming friends with someone first gives you time to learn about them without falling victim to the “standard” timeline in a “typical” relationship.
- Respect. You grow to respect each other for who you are instead of solely the generic reason: because you should.
We also suggested to the teens to wait to date until they find someone they can see themselves marrying.
|(I don’t own the rights)|
This doesn’t mean you should only date when you know you have found The One, or that you can only date one person in your entire life. But you should see the core values and “-isms” in the people you date that you’d wish to see in your future.
Before entering the classroom for TOB class, Kevin and I joked about telling the kids to never kiss anyone until their married. “Just avoid the temptation all together,” we said, because it is really tough to live a chaste life with someone for whom you feel strongly.
However, as the adage goes, who said life was easy? And as James goes:
“Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Finally, we stressed the value of every stage of a couple’s physical relationship.
The first “intimate” moments Kevin and I shared were the countless Our Fathers we said at Mass while holding hands.
“Holding her hand was a big deal because I had liked her for so long,” Kevin said to a chorus of teenage Awwwwwwwwwwws.
At the end of our first Our Father as “a couple” (as if we had that tattooed to our foreheads), we did the cute, movie-style linger and squeeze of the fingertips. Awwwwwwww.
We both said that we could consider each other one of our best friends for several months before we started dating. Neither of us wanted to spoil that by entering into a casual relationship, so we remain alert and conscious rather than apathetic and robotic.
Kevin and I have fun together, whether at a sporting event, cooking dinner, or going to Mass. We are also individuals walking toward God on separate legs of the triangle.
Next time you hear one of the cliches I listed at the top of this post and you feel the pang of frustration, recite a prayer asking God for patience and clarity. Pick up a copy of How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul, while you’re at it.
If it’s His will, you’ll get there. And if you work on your relationship with Him, you’ll notice.