Jenny Hudalla | Editor-in-Chief
Published in Issue 12 of The Clarion 2014 – 2015
When it comes to dating, today’s young people are hit with a hurricane of well- intentioned advice. Besides fielding endless questions about relationship goals, post- graduation on plans and marriage, college couples have to sort through a stack of pointers that will supposedly help them achieve roman c success. But some of these pearls of wisdom are not jewels at all — in fact, some of the so-called truths that have been imparted to me and my boyfriend of six years during our time at a Christian college have been unhealthy, untrue and outright dangerous. Here are just a few pieces of advice we’ve learned to stay away from:
You should complete each other.
In a culture that glorifies grand romantic gestures, it’s no surprise that the phrase “you complete me” makes most of us swoon. While it might be nice to think each of us has an “other half,” this fuzzy notion comes with a dangerous implication: that we are not whole to begin with. Despite what an endless parade of rom-coms would have us believe, we must learn to see ourselves as independent, fully functioning human beings if we hope to have anything more than a parasitic relationship. Remember, it’s one thing to let someone fill the empty space between your fingers — it’s another to let them fill the empty space in your heart.
Long-term relationships are doomed for sexual immorality.
Imagine the anxiety that comes with entering a revolving door. Just as you’ve stepped into your chosen compartment, the people around you quicken their pace. The back of your compartment pushes you forward at an uncomfortable speed, but it seems your only op on is to keep moving. This sensation is not unlike the one that many Christian couples feel after being warned of the challenges that come with lengthy relationships. But rather than charge into a hasty marriage, we should examine the damaging assumption on which this lie is based: that humans, especially males, are ultimately incapable of controlling their carnal desires. We spend our entire lives resisting emotional sins like greed, worry and resentment, but we seem thoroughly uncomfortable with the idea of asking God to protect us from the physical sin of sexual immorality. The next me you want to trade your purity ring for an engagement ring, remember that marriage should be more than a get-out-of-temptation free card.
As much as we hate to admit it, relationships don’t work like magnets. When you and your significant other and yourselves on different poles, take a good look at your disagreements. If your biggest squabbles involve where to go out to eat or what to put on the TV, then feel free to bicker till the break of dawn. But if you can’t agree on where to live, when to have children or how to distribute power within the relationship, be careful. Those might just be the same things you cite as “irreconcilable differences” on your divorce papers years later.
A woman’s modesty controls a man’s sexuality.
If there’s one lie the church propagates that makes me want to put a hole in the wall, it’s this one. While I don’t refute modesty as a biblical value, Christians have grabbed ahold of the concept and twisted it to dehumanize men and women alike. To my brothers: I don’t care if your girlfriend’s skirt is short or her shirt is low — she is not in charge of your lust. You are. The idea that men are not responsible for sinful expressions of sexuality is the definition of rape culture. To my sisters: don’t buy into the lie that men are slaves to their carnal desires. The notion that men have only one thing on their minds day in and day out reduces them to simplistic animals instead of human beings.
If it’s meant to be, it will be.
While this lie is disguised as an idyllic belief in fate, it’s really a lame excuse to not try. Relationship success is just like academic, athletic and social success — you get out what you put in. If my boyfriend and I responded to our conflicting post-graduation plans (graduate school versus volunteering abroad) with a cavalier shrug of the shoulders, our six-year commitment to each other would likely crumble like a piece of stale bread. Be intentional about your actions and decision-making, and your relationship will move in the direction you steer it.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these lies are among the most prevalent we’ve heard during our years at college. If you’re navigating the waters of dating in a Chris an context, don’t be too quick to accept every piece of advice you receive — it turns out some myths have fooled the test of time.