The Limits of Dating
It is a wonderful experience to be attracted to someone. The mere sight of him or her makes us feel, all at once, tenderness of heart and a strong physical attraction. The pleasure we discover in just being close to the other makes us want to live things all the more intensely and to go even further in the relationship.
Even holding hands or kissing is a big step. Gestures of tenderness and love commit us to one another. No such gesture is without meaning, regardless of the feelings behind it. This is why it is important to take the time to consider if these gestures have the same meaning for both of us. Are they motivated by love or by the desire for pleasure, or by a need for tenderness? These tender actions commit us to one another more than we think.
Once a couple in a committed relationship have experienced all the various expressions of love, can they still clearly make out the true nature of their feelings?
Paying attention to the reactions and feelings of the other person allows us to be more tender. In addition, we need to exercise a certain degree of patience. Many marriages fail because the husband and wife did not take the time to get to know each other. To choose one another in complete freedom, one needs to know who that person really is.
Temptations often arise, especially in a long-standing relationship, which becomes increasingly more intimate. What is it that really takes hold of us in these circumstances? Is it the desire to express our affections? Is it our longing for the other, or is it a profound love? If we are truly attracted to each other, and we feel true love, isnít the time right to consider marriage?
In a society where advertising slogans are full of words like instantly, immediately and where everyone wants to have everything, at once, remember that it takes time to build the relationship between husband and wife and that the test of love is in the enduring commitment.
(Pope John Paul II to the young people of Mauritius, October 15, 1989)
Like many girls, at the age of 16 or 17, I dreamed of meeting the Ďidealí man. One day, I met Eric and everything was wonderful. Our relationship very quickly took off. We were in the same class and so we saw each other every day. In the evenings we would spend hours on the telephone talking about ourselves and the latest class gossip. In short, everything was going great.
But one day, Eric made it clear that this wasnít enough for him any more. He wanted to go further. This hit me like a sledgehammer. Sure, everybody around us was doing it, but I just couldnít bring myself around to the idea - it would be against my faith, my family, all the things which I couldnít drop just like that. I began praying that Eric would understand me, but Eric wasnít interested and our meetings went increasingly from bad to worse.
I couldnít bring myself to break up. I was afraid; afraid of being alone and not having any one to love me any more. Eric criticized my religious beliefs and began to talk about it to other people. I remember that one day, a girl came up to me and said, I think Eric is really brave staying with you! You have no right to deprive him like that. You should just go on the pill and get it over with.
This situation continued until the following summer. Then, finally, I couldnít stand it any longer and decided to break up. It wasnít easy. I went through some really bad moments of loneliness, because I didnít dare to see my old friends again. Then, some months later, I met Alexis. Our feelings for each other grew quickly; it turned out to be really serious and we got engaged.
I have a lot of respect for girls. That is, I want to be able to get to know them, without the usual hidden agenda. What interests me above all is to really be able to get to know someone. Having a physical relationship is easy when it comes down to it, but to really be able to talk to someone, thatís not so easy...
And so I would prefer to wait until I find the right person; this helps me fight the feelings in me and to control my desires. I get a lot of comfort out of knowing that I havenít fallen into the trap of my own instincts... that would be a disaster. I can say this out of personal experience.
I know that my attitude makes me a better person and I feel more at ease with myself. I know that when the right person comes along our relationship can be real and that it will be built on a solid basis.
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