Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Finding a Mate

Oy veh. Dating. Those two syllables are enough to send shivers down my spine. As a young teen, if you asked about my relationship status, I probably would have told you dating was a fate worse than death. Even today, my response is usually to laugh in someone's face and make a snarky comment about not wanting to commit incest (as my male friends are "brothers" to me). Honestly, it scares me. It's not because I fear commitment. I've come to realize it's because I want it too much.

In reality, I don't want to date lots of people for fun. I'd rather learn about people, discern if there's a mutual attraction, compatibility in personality, values and life goals and, once I find that in a person, marry him. However, I find that I simply am not ready for marriage. I have hobbies, talents, and dreams I'd like to pursue first and I find my life simply moves too fast. After graduation, I don't know what will come next and I'd like to make a decision without a relationship deciding for me.

Then there's the issue of my "dude friends." I have a lot. People say the ideal person is found in someone who is already your best friend. Here's the issue. Some are truly like your brothers in the sense they may be good buddies, they may be attractive, and they may be someone you mesh with but you feel related to them. You don't feel a romantic context is possible. For friends that have the potential to be "something more", the prospect is terrifying. Especially if you are emotionally close, the risk of losing a dear friend to a bad breakup can seem too costly. Or, you may put yourself out there only to realize your feelings are completely unrequited and then it's just too embarrassing to try and go back to where you were. Though many couples are together because of a friendship, getting past that first barrier is a wee bit difficult.

Then there are my values. On the one hand, my Catholic faith is important. I attend Mass every Sunday, I do believe in things like Confession, I want to marry in the Church and raise my kids in the faith. I also don't want to have premarital sex. For some people, this is a problem. At the same time, I am very liberal politically and believe in gender equality (I probably won't take a man's last name when I marry). I've found it difficult because I know guys who will respect the faith aspect (as in, they'll go to church with you or couldn't care less if you did and wouldn't mind marrying/raising kids in church), are liberal themselves or respect a liberal viewpoint, but still expect premarital sex. On the complete opposite side of things, there are guys who would respect the premarital sex decision, go to church and practice the faith, but they'll tend to be much more conservative about even non-political issues. For example, there are those Catholic guys who think girls shouldn't take birth control pills for their periods (a situation I am currently in). Or there are those who insult other faiths which, as a descendant of Protestants and Jews and as someone who has friends of all faiths, would not sit well with me. And, I'm sorry, but I can't be with someone who defends the Pope in cases of sexual abuse committed by clergy yet thinks a woman who makes a difficult decision to abort a pregnancy due to health or caring for other children should be excommunicated.

My conclusion? I do hope to be with someone at some point. In truth, I'm not a complete cynic about romance. I understand the time will come and I will be ready to pursue it. I'm just realizing why, even as my friends are marrying, I find it so hard to cross the first bridge.

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