… Not So For Sex and “50/50”
As another Valentine’s Day approaches, we are once again bombarded with “love.” Its misuse and limitations in the English language are never so apparent than at this time of the year.1 But the search for love is not restricted to the month of February. To be fulfilled in our relationships as couples, there are two key points to remember:
1) “True love,” not just physical attraction is critical. For decades, we have been swamped with the notion that flaunting one’s sexuality for attention is the key to amorous success. Seeing pre-teen and younger girls wearing make-up in public is common unfortunately. We are doing a great disservice when we promote the fallacy to the younger generation that sexiness takes priority over the innate person. This is never more obvious than when a couple separates because they’ve “grown apart.” They were never really “together.” The spark of physical attraction, without a foundation of deep personal and spiritual closeness, will be snuffed out when another person catches our eye or as we begin to show physical ageing.
2) Going into a relationship with a “50/50” mentality is also doomed. That approach inevitably leads to “keeping score” subconsciously. When we’ve done what we consider to be our part, we’ll wait for the other person to reciprocate. A lasting relationship will ensue if the prevailing attitude is one of mutual love, not a reciprocal arrangement. If “90/10” is each person’s attitude, then there won’t be time for scorekeeping. (“100/0” is rejected as it causes enabling behavior and “sacrificing” which is not redemptive; and therefore, effort and pain for naught.)
Secret to Success: Find Your “Front Porch” Partner
When I was returning to the dating world three years after my divorce, I reminded myself that I had been out of circulation for over twenty years. Not only had I proven that I didn’t get it right the first time, but I knew that society had changed in the 23 years since I “retired” from dating. Basic morality was not the issue. That is everlasting despite secular propaganda to the contrary. But what were the expectations of the 21st century woman?
Fortunately for me, the internet had been developed since the early ‘80s. I investigated the thoughtful sites where women gave mature, common sense input (please take note, guys). One point which stayed with me was the advice that we should be searching for that person with whom we’ll be able to have meaningful conversations years from now when “we’re on the front porch.”
Sure, a physical attraction needs to exist, at least minimally, for most of us. However, it must not be the basis for a relationship because it is fleeting. No amount of exercise at the gym, or Viagara or facelifts can defeat Father Time. We’ll age faster just by being preoccupied with not ageing.
Finally, Does Our Relationship Pass the “Eternity Test?”
We often hear about the importance of things passing “the eye test.” When it comes to our relationships, we need to be focused on the “eternity test.”
True love is more than a warm, fuzzy feeling or a long-lasting “high.” This life is not our ultimate existence. The highest priority for a healthy relationship is that each person is focused on helping the other get to heaven. Moral relativism, which can even distort the meaning of a virtue like “tolerance,” doesn’t pass the eternity test.
We take our attention away from ourselves and the tendency to be selfish when we focus on eternity. When we do that, true will follow! 2
1 — Greek, unlike English, has more than one word to describe the important variations of “love” (as Fr. Matthias Wamala of St. Joseph’s parish in Cold Spring, KY reminded the congregation on 2/3/2013). With a little help from Wikipedia (I didn’t have any way of taking notes), the three he mentioned:
a) “Eros” – “is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate love;” however, eros does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship. It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage.”
b) “Philia” – “a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. In ancient texts, philos denoted a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity.”
c) “Agape” – “In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros… Agape was appropriated by Christians for use to express the unconditional love of God.”
2 – And, I’m happy to report, this is from personal experience not just theoretical niceties. 🙂