No one has ever called me a love guru. Yet I am confident in claiming that four years of observing and participating in relationships at the University of Dallas has given me some perspective on the way these things work … and the ways they sometimes don’t. With spring in the air, relationships are blossoming. Here is some advice for your perusal and consideration.
1. Always be courteous. Not just in the guys-holding-the-door-open sense, but go a step further, keeping the other person’s feelings and efforts in mind. In a community as small as UD, remember that the guy or girl you just broke up with might be dating your best friend next semester. Being courteous and gentlemanly or lady-like — handling gently the kind actions and interest of the other — will allow you to preserve your friendships even if the relationship falls through.
2. Be careful of praying together. “What?” I can hear you think to yourself. “Does this person even go to UD?” Yes, I go to UD. And I have seen too many relationships ruined by people praying together too soon. I am not advocating against prayer (by no means — trust me, we all need it). However, when we pray we are opening ourselves up in a special way, and it can be an emotional experience. By adding another single person into the mix, you risk confusing your emotions for that person with the natural emotions which often accompany prayer. Pray in a group, pray by yourself, pray for the other person and, eventually, pray with the person you love, but be cautious if you are just starting a relationship.
3. Beware the end of the semester. Ah, the end of the semester! When everyone is tired, stressed and emotional. It often feels like relationship “crunch” time: relationships are either formed or ended. This is not bad, but once again be cautious. There is a lot going on in people’s lives outside of UD, and at the end of the semester we often are forced to face a lot, good and bad, which our fellow students don’t necessarily know about. Also: finals, goodbyes and sleep deprivation seldom mix well with big life decisions. Once again, I’m not saying to break up or to not “make it official,” but just to make sure that you are putting everything you are feeling in perspective. Use extra caution in judgement and extra understanding with forgiveness.
4. Say things like “yes” and “no.” And ask questions which can be answered with a “yes” or “no” — especially before leaving UD. It isn’t quite romantic, but it is a great way of making sure that a relationship survives the summer and (should it become necessary) that your friendship survives a relationship. Sample questions: “Would you like to go on a date?” or “Will you be my girlfriend?”
5. Don’t be afraid to try again. And again. And again. People always talk, and they certainly won’t stop for you. People usually forget, too. It would be a terrible waste to not give yourself or someone else a first or second chance merely because of fear of yourself or of other people.
Dear reader, don’t be afraid to fall in love. But be cautious, for the heart is a delicate thing. “I adjure you, Daughters of Jerusalem, do not awaken or stir up love until it is ready!” the author of the Song of Songs warns us (Song of Songs 8:4). And yet at the same time be open, for we might discover, as L.M. Montgomery suggests: “perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one’s life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one’s side like an old friend through quiet ways.”