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Why Date?

Is it really worth it?
Nov. 6, 2011

St Augustine once said, “Solviture ambulando,” which in Latin means, “It is solved by walking.” In other words, life’s pain and dilemmas are not solved, nor are its lessons learned by waiting for someone to show us where the answers are in the back of the book. The answers are found by walking the path before us.

And nowhere is this more true than in relationships. Spend some time at online dating sites and you’ll be struck by how many profiles sound like resumes or job descriptions. “Here are my qualities, here's my experience… and here is what I want…” “Gee… I’ve got the job, the happenin’ uptown flat, the big screen TV… All I need now is a relationship… I’ll just swing by Best Buy on the way home and get one… with a full-refund warranty of course…” As though mutually nurturing, loving relationships were a consumer commodity rather than a shared journey—a journey that requires as much investment, risk, and responsibility on our part as it does "customer service" on someone else's. “Is there someone out there for me…?” “Is he/she the one…?” “Are our differences workable…?” “Can I, will I, be happy with him/her…?” The answers to questions like these are not in the back of the book, and no online profile or shopping list is ever going to answer them for anyone. The answers can only be found by walking the path before us with someone, hand in hand… one day, one problem, one joy at a time… learning along the way to field dress each other’s wounds, including the ones that we will inevitably inflict on each other because we’re all fallen, mortal human beings stumbling heavenward together. If there is someone out there for me, I will never find her or get any of these questions answered unless I walk the path before me, disappointments and all. Solviture ambulando…

Last, because choosing to date on the terms I believe in, in spite of disappointment, is the best way I know of to say NO to the status quo.

Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I believe that ultimately, this is the only responsible and rewarding path there is in life.

Modern dating sickens me. I’m sick of all the stories I hear about men who lie to women online, hiding behind deceptive online profiles, manipulating women and gratifying their own selfish desires to avoid manning up and confronting the demons in their own hearts. I’m sick of the legions of women who encourage this by turning their backs on genuinely loving men to pursue those who are emotionally unavailable, but “exciting” and “mysterious.” Women who incessantly bemoan the alleged dearth of tender, sincere, and trustworthy men even as they conduct their love lives as though these things were rat poison—all the while refusing to examine their own hearts and reflect upon the “chemistry” that drives their choices lest they learn enough about themselves that they end up having to be responsible for them. I’m sick of living, and dating in a consumer society where everyone expects the blessings of intimacy and true passion without any of the investment and risks they require.

And as a man, I refuse to let this status quo have the last word. If I must choose, I’d rather stand for what is right.

It’s been said that the best defense against a bad idea is a clear demonstration of something better, and so it is. Futile or not, choosing to engage the dating world, doing what I can to be the change I long to see, is the best way I know of to stand up to it all. Perhaps someday I’ll find a woman who is as disgusted with all this as I am and will choose to be with a man like me. Rare as they are, I do believe such women exist, and they’re worth waiting a lifetime for. But even if I don’t… even if worse comes to worse and I end up going to my grave alone and celibate… it’ll be worth it to know that I did my best to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem… to know in my own heart that I did not go quietly into the night. That I died fighting the good fight.

Am I being overly melodramatic? Well… perhaps. But that said, I’ve yet to meet any single man or woman who hasn’t shed his or her share of tears, and I’ll bet good money that few of them can’t identify with what I’ve written here and doesn’t long for the dating world to change as much as I do. In the end, blame for the sickness that pervades modern singlehood cannot be laid at the feet of women or men. All of us are trapped in a dance—one that is fueled by loneliness and fear, and controls us in ways few of us understand. Men and women alike contribute to that dance and suffer from it, each in their own unique ways.

And the dance will never end unless we choose to end it.

It’s too easily forgotten these days that relationships do not just happen to us, the way thunderstorms or landslides do. They are no more or less than the people who enter into them and the choices they make. All vapid chatter about the “mystery of chemistry” notwithstanding, we alone have the power to create and sustain the kind of loving, nurturing, and passionate relationships we desire.


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