continuation from part 1
There’s no such thing as a ready-made Prince/Princess Charming
Catholics living in accordance with Church teachings on love and sex are an absolute minority, so for those individuals finding a partner who share views on non-negotiables – yes, it will be harder than it is for some of those living by societal standards. Conceded. However the self-generated pressure such difficulty seems to place on Catholics to find the “perfect fit” is unnatural, unrealistic, and essentially unhealthy. Without cutting short on needs, we must remain open minded about wants! Compromising one’s faith for another leads both partners to draw further from God and therefore eventually from one another.
One can fall into the trap of either despairing and compromising completely on what one needs from a relationship, or beating one’s chest and wailing about the lack of Catholics out there. Neither nurture faith or happiness. Just because someone is Catholic doesn’t make them perfect and regardless only God is perfect! One must walk the line between needs and wants, be hopeful, and look for love in unusual places.
Be patient. Que sera, sera.
Use the word genuinely
Throwing around “love” is like not finishing antibiotics- for the sake of humanity, please. Let’s just… not. The language of the Western World has unfortunately not provided the means to distinguish how one feels about coffee from how one feels about one’s life-long partner, therefore we must avoid further watering-down of the L-bomb by using it flippantly in a relationship context. When someone offers a declaration of love, it can (unjustly) produce guilt in the receiver, and lead to dishonesty. Articulating genuine feeling should invariably be rewarded not shamed. One of the most difficult but also the most formative experiences can be waiting to return someone’s love, or conversely for them to return your feeling. If one does not feel love for the other person, why compromise trust and say you do? As with all of life, honesty is the best policy.
Know what it means
I remember when I was 17 being told “I love you for how you make me feel”- my thought being “Yeah…Thanks buckets.” Straight from Aquinas, love is defined as willing the good of another, notably dissimilar to infatuation, concerned primarily with the pleasure oneself experiences from a relationship. JPII offered unchecked desire as deforming and replacing love, “if predominant… it (desire) can rob them both of it.” Too often the strength of feeling can distract from discerning the nature of the same; behaviour rather than feelings can serve as a more reliable indicator of when one is beginning to love. Self-sacrificing actions, concerning oneself with one’s partners welfare rather than functioning off a hand-to-mouth mentality (i.e. replacing “I want him/her now” with “what’s best for him/her?”), and attempting to grow for their sake are all positive indicators of healthy relationship development.
Above all, be bold. We cannot despair at the enormity of the task- it is worth it. We must have faith, love, and never losing sight of the beauty of ‘one-day’, embrace the beauty of sharing our perfectly imperfect reality.