Well, I guess I blame the creators of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. My search for Prince Charming all started with my love of princess movies. They taught me that girls grow up to be beautiful and then meet an amazing, handsome, perfect prince who loves them unconditionally. As I aged, I fell in love with Zack Morris and dreamed of being as beautiful as Kelly Kapowski. “Wow, one day I am going to have a boyfriend like that, and it is going to be so great.”
Not only did dating sound fun, but being old enough to date sounded just as fun. I wanted to be older – a classic only-child trait – and the highest compliment anyone could pay me in those days was, “Wow, you are so mature for your age!” Tall twelve-year-olds who are taught to be polite are often mistaken for mature. (No, I was not mature.) It is a myth!
And bring on the romantic comedies! If princess movies and Saved By the Bell did not do the whole job, then Runaway Bride, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, and The Cutting Edge finished me off! Ahhh, they love each other! I knew they did. I knew they would get together. I want to feel what they are feeling.
It Is All About You and Your Love
As entertaining as these visuals were, they sent me a powerful message. They spoke to me, “Once you find the right guy, your life will be great and you will be happy,” and, “You and this special person will live happily in your little romantic world.” When I started dating, I most definitely did live in a romantic bubble – to the chagrin and disgust of others. Friends took a backseat and adults tried to admonish us, but we contentedly floated along in our ocean built for two.
Though it is natural for couples to long for alone time at the beginning of a relationship, it is dangerous if they ostracize themselves from the outside completely. Friends only wait around for so long before they make permanent “other” plans. No one wants to be on the backburner indefinitely!
Are You Open to a Challenge?
So, I have a challenge for you. If you are currently in a relationship, or you are preparing for your next one, consider breaking society’s expectation of young couples in love – which is to be glued to each other and absent from what is going on around you. Talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend about practical ways you can use your unity to benefit others. Two people can get more done than one – and, in less time. It will get you both into the habit of loving your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31) and give you a chance to observe working together. You do not have to spend every hour of your free time taking care of someone else, but sacrificing some of your alone time to make a difference in the world is a well worth it.
Where Do We Start?
What do you and your significant other have in common? Eric and I love studying personality, and we enjoy working with couples who are seriously dating, but not yet engaged – that is our niche. We have been able to bless singles and couples with this common bond we share. We can also give up a Saturday morning to help someone move or run errands for people when they are sick or extremely over-extended.
Do you and your partner enjoy games? Can you use that common love to benefit others? Are you both musical? Do you enjoy service projects? Would you be open to bringing a little cheer to nursing homes or hospitals? Talk about it over coffee or dinner and jot down some options.
The more of our relationship we devote to seeking someone else’s best, the better off we will be too. Self-centeredness is a disease. It grows inside our hearts and bones until we are bitter and easily annoyed. The smallest disturbance gets under a selfish person’s skin, but a giving person often endures significant inconveniences with a smile.
If we team up with our sweethearts to be more selfless to others, that giving spirit will wiggle its way into our relationships as well. Doing something for someone else, without expecting anything in return, feels good. (It feels stinkin’ good!) And, when our hearts are full and happy, we tend to relate to our loved ones with more kindness. It makes sense!
How can you and your boyfriend or girlfriend use your relationship to bless someone else?
Picture: iStockPhoto/Alexey Kuznetsov