I was recently in the company of my friends, with whom an interesting conversation evolved. They were all comparing what different dating rules their parents had. My family and I believe in the practice of courtship, over dating. Unlike dating, courtship is begun only when marriage is more of a reality, than an absent thought. So, unsure of what my ‘rules’ were, I decided to find out. I asked my dad. He told me that as a man, there were three things that I must accomplish before I embark on such an endeavor.

1: I have to be grounded in the faith, to know what I believe and why.

2: I have to know myself.

3: I have to have a full time job.

I thanked him, and pondered this, slowly beginning to understand what he meant. Before I can spiritually lead someone, I must first be able to guide myself. Before I can get to know someone else, I have to know myself. And before I can support someone else, I must support myself.

I was particularly stumped with ‘knowing myself.’ Sure I know my likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, but do I really understand my very being, en-caged by a facade of flesh and bone, the true identity that outlives it’s shell? Can a man be comprehended or mastered like a machine? Or is he like a natural force, whose habits and curiosity transcend time and boundaries? Know thyself. At seventeen, I hesitate to say, I’m a stranger to myself.

I was staggered at a seemingly random thought I had in my search for myself. An inner voice told me, “Define love.” I resolutely pushed my books aside and pondered that. Define it? At first I was speechless. The best I could do was ‘A natural force experienced between two beings, (in the case of romantic love, a man and woman) that binds their souls together.”

Literature I found on the subject of love pulled at my heart. Under the heading “characteristics of true love include” followed these key elements:

1 excluding all other partners from the heart.

2 sharing your hearts with one another

3 being confidential with what is shared from the heart

4 remaining faithful to commitments

5 cultivating close friendship

6 enjoying romance together, appropriate to the level of relationship

7 laughing together

8 working through problems together

9 making decisions with mutual input according to mutual goals.

One pamphlet in particular caught my attention with their simple logic. “How do you attract the right person? Be the right person. People of similar characteristics are drawn to each other.”

They say love is give and take, and it seems as though this heartache we call adolescence is the period in our lives where we should obtain something for the sole purpose of showing it to others- an unwavering personality that another person will one day vow to love, cherish, and sometimes, put up with, without intermission until death.


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