In a culture where an individual can find a soul mate as easy as they can create a profile online, many people can be left feeling lonely and anxious about relationships, expectations or dating in general.
This past Valentine’s Day, Greg Baker, director of Campus Ministry, spoke about “dating in the real world” at Wednesday Night Fellowship. He asked the audience to help him develop “a young Christians’ guide to romance and dating” and better understand the relatively new culture.
“There has certainly been a shift for some students towards the ‘hookup’ mindset about encounters in which people seek to divorce physical intimacy from emotional intimacy,” said Baker. “It is worth noting that the majority of students do not participate in such behaviors, but everyone is aware that some peers are sexually engaged in that way. For those who take part in hookup culture, it is difficult to understand where selfless and reciprocal love fits into relationships, both now and in the future.”
Avoiding the technical birds-and-bees conversation, audience members were split into small groups to discuss what romance and dating should look like as a Christian and what they would tell young people today.
Groups were later brought together to share their thoughts and key points.
One group focused on the importance of committing to the other person not just the idea of a relationship.
Another group raised the topic of not comparing one’s relationships to others they may see on social media.
There was also a conversation that revolved around the need to be aware of red flags in relationships, maintaining honest communication with one another and not attempting to fill a void with another person.
Cole Lowe, senior Spanish Education major, was interested in the various points made by each group.
“It was interesting to me to hear the different aspects of a healthy, faithful relationship,” said Lowe. “Among the many and various responses, one word continued to surface, and that word is respect. All healthy relationships spur from one of mutual respect, and from that all positive traits come to fruition.”
Victoria Noker, sophomore Hospitality Management major and Wednesday Night Fellowship leader, further discussed the potential for red flags in a relationship.
“I feel like everyone should have someone to talk to, like a mentor, because it’s very important to note that if someone doesn’t want to talk about their relationship with anyone, then that’s a bad sign,” Noker said.
Baker commented on the extraordinary opportunity that students have today to practice the skill of talking honestly and openly about relationships.
Baker revealed to the audience that one of his biggest concerns is that we attach so much shame to ourselves sexually and in our relationships with others.
“My favorite basic advice about intimate relationships comes from Father Ronald Rolheiser: Approach every relationship with a profound amount of reverence, respect and patience for the other person,” said Baker. “Beyond that, be sure that the amount of physical intimacy in a relationship is matched by the amount of real commitment that the couple has for one another.”