The school of life and relationships Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Oct. 08, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

It may not sound like fun, but let's face it, healthy relationships have a lot in common with school. Just as your education began with kindergarten, a personal relationship begins with an introduction. At some point, everyone you've ever met was someone you didn't know.

During that first introduction, you didn't yet have a friend or rival. You didn't know if that person was trustworthy. And, they didn't know if they could like or trust you. All you had was a name.

For those you liked, becoming friends was like the first years of school. Just as students learn reading, writing and math, friendships develop through learning trust and strengthen through shared experiences.

Who are the people you always laugh with? Who always has a shoulder available to cry on? Who can you trust to not share your secrets?

Most people go on many first dates because they need multiple experiences to decide what values they hold most important. An adventurer and a homebody may be best friends, but they may not be compatible for a relationship. Or, they could be soul mates with a bond few others can understand.

There's no test for relationships to decide whether those involved are ready to move to the next level. Relationships, like school, progress with maturity as well as knowledge.

If you're not mentally ready to take the next step, it may be best to stay back a grade until you're prepared, until you have a good idea of what you want and you're ready to set your path. Realistically, you know that path may change several times.

Just as you consider a school to earn a degree, you consider the possibility that the person you're dating may eventually become the person you marry. But how can you tell if your relationship is ready to mature?

It's not a question of age but rather a question of self-reflection. Can you spend a day just being in each other's presence without wanting to cause bodily harm? Is being together and quietly doing your own thing enough? Or, to put it another way, do you want a relationship that goes beyond dinner?

You're ready to graduate when you fully understand relationships of a lifetime are not about the spectacular but the mundane.

Do you enjoy helping each other? Are you content to stay home and watch the latest episode of your newest show? Can you support the activities that interest your partner, even if they don't interest you?

Put more simply, are you ready to transition to a world where you are not always the top priority? If you can answer yes to all of those questions, you're ready to get married and join the relationship equivalent of being a college graduate.

It's a big step, but one worth taking. That's when you know you have someone to share your life with.

Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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