It’s not you, it’s me: Thoughts on dating in high school

The other day I drove past a car that had a plethora of old campaign bumper stickers on it. There was the “Bush-Cheney 04” sticker right next to a “Reagan-Bush 84” one, divided by a “Clinton- Gore 96” sticker.  In my head, this conversion van was driven by a church librarian who let her hair down in the mid nineties, only to trade her heels back in for the comfort of orthopedic shoes.

Political campaigns, much like dating relationships, are surrounded by lots of fervor that are supposed to preempt an event, not be the event itself.

When we elect a President, we don’t really know what it will be like until that person is actually president, and when we date someone, we don’t know what they will fully be like either until we actually marry them.  If you don’t feel like you are very good at dating, and it feels like a lot of heartache, hang on, because the goal isn’t to be good at dating, the goal is to be a good husband or wife. I have found that people who are really good at dating have a hard time being a spouse, and people who love being a spouse generally really hate dating.  By the way, it is really possible to be with someone you like a lot, but not like the process of dating. Perhaps even obstacles you hit in your relationships have nothing to do with the person you are with, they have to do with how hard and unnatural the dating process itself is.

Rosanna and I used to have arguments when we were dating that we now realize were because we were dating.  I do not mean this to say that marrying someone will fix all of your problems, I mean it to say that dating someone is a bit of a goofy process, and well, it is supposed to be. It’s a campaign. It’s not the presidency.

I say all this of course, because I spend lots of time with high school and college students, many who hate themselves because they can’t make relationships work.  They assume that failed dating relationships translate into a lifetime of relational misery.  That’s just not true.

I spent lots of time talking with students who feel immense guilt for letting someone they trusted take advantage of them and break their heart. Relationships are tricky at any age, so it’s important to remember you will never have it all mapped out, especially not by the time you get a high school diploma.  If you’ve walked thru heartache, wondering what went wrong, wondering how you could have been fooled by someone you knew so well- don’t beat yourself up. There is no detailed path for ending up with someone you love, and you may think of yourself as upside down, but you are quite possibly right where you are supposed to be.  Remember, it just takes one.