Approaching the topic of dating in the Youth Group can be a snake pit of misconstrued ideals, worldly concepts and our own sporadic histories. We need to fundamentally challenge the build up on nonsense that’s sewn into the fabric of Western Society before we can get anywhere.
Our modern, 21st-century view of dating can be summed up in these five immortal words: “snag the best you can!”
This clearly has more to do with you than the one you want to go out with. You, sir or madam, are a certain build, a certain character, a certain group of personalities, a certain hairline, a certain waistline and a certain punchline. Put all those characteristics into the magical food processor of life, and out pops a concoction with a very specific formula that only certain suitors will drink.
Effectively, this ranks potential partners into a devastating hierarchical pyramid. The PHD supermodel at the top, and the receding, skinny ginger (myself) at the bottom buried under a foot of peat. A young person learns very quickly how high on that pyramid to aim – and then they stick there. Anyone above that level becomes ‘out of their league’ therefore ‘out of bounds’ and ‘not worth the effort.’
This means they start looking for the wrong things in a partner from the get-go and they lead this search with a stupid and an immensely low view of human value.
Plato’s Guide To Dating
This is the exact opposite of the eminent, classical philosopher Plato. One of Plato’s key theories was, ‘you should always allow your lover to change you.’
The way this works out in practice is that rather than looking for someone ‘just like you’ or ‘at your level’ or ‘in your league,’ you instead look for someone who possesses characteristics that you want but do not have. You aim for the stars!
Your lover should be more than you. By virtue of being with you, they will help you develop those characteristics that you want in yourself. They should help you become more than you already are and drive you to being a better person. You should always reach beyond your ‘league.’
We need to teach our young people to value personal growth in relationships, and to seek the best in people in a way that draws the best out of themselves. This means what the world values in a mate, is fundamentally flawed and bankrupt as you might not want those things for yourself!
It Worked For Me… Kinda
I met my wife at Uni. She was four years older than me, a poet, and an incredibly smart philosophy student with some history in modelling. She was totally beyond my reach. Yet by the grace of God, we ended up together, despite my best efforts to trash it.
After we’d known each other for a month she asked me directly, ‘Are you interested in me?’ And I – subscribing of course to the ‘not in my league’ formula – lied through my buckteeth. ‘No, no, no! Of course not. We’re just friends!’ Little did I know how much that would break her heart, and how close we came to utter disaster. Salvaged only by her fierce tenacity and my simple ineptitude. Eight years later, I still wake up dumbfounded.
So aim above, don’t aim below. Don’t settle for ‘the trick is to aim for the 2nd prettiest.’ Don’t believe all the nonsense that the media feeds you about what you deserve and what makes people compatible. Reach for the stars and do not settle.
Keep A High Standard
Teach young people to have a really high standard for a partner, and to no allow themselves to settle for anything less.
Of course, this will also take some serious soul searching and consistent teaching about what human values are the most long-lasting and valuable – but you were doing that anyway weren’t you?
This will take more time and more self-improvement and more confidence on their part. This will take more waiting and more self-control and self restraint. Yet this is the only way to a happy partnership that really grows a couple and develops individuals.
Thank you Plato, you dog.