One of my new “guilty pleasures” is grabbing the Magazine section of the Sunday Boston Globe and going straight to “Dinner With Cupid,” which my husband has rechristened, “Dinner with Stupid.”
It is a microcosm of the dating game. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Globe, this feature pairs people (mostly young, mostly straight), matching up their list of attributes and interests in the hopes that they might promote a match of some sort, or at the very least, an enjoyable blind date.
Contestants fill out forms stating what they like to do on a Saturday night, who would play them in a movie, what is their favorite way to spend downtime, and more. The magazine shows pictures of the two people, usually a man and a woman, with their descriptions on the side. Then — and I’m not quite sure how they do this — there is a narrative of the blind date with both parties talking about how comfortable they were, times when the conversation flagged, when it took off, and at what point either of them knew they would want to date again or conversely knew that this blind date would be flushed down the toilet. (They must be running off to the restrooms to take notes on their smartphones.)
What continues to astonish me is how quickly we make judgments about prospective dating partners, and how those judgments are based on fairly shallow things. Some typical examples of comments I’ve seen in “Dinner With Cupid” include: “He didn’t seem interested in me.” “She didn’t get my sense of humor.” “I didn’t like his manners.” “She seemed pretty and well-dressed, but there was no spark there.”
That’s the crushing blow, the decisive comment: There was no spark there; even worse than, “I didn’t like his hair.”
Excuse me, but how do you know there is no spark there based on perhaps two hours of contact over a dinner in a crowded restaurant at the end of a long work day? What happened to the idea of actually getting to know someone? As in: spend time with him or her; go for a walk in the park and feed the ducks; go visit a museum together; take in a football or baseball game; introduce him or her to a close friend; maybe even invite him or her to, gasp, Mass. What happened to that?
So, I have come up with the Ten Commandments for Falling in Love:
Thou shalt not undersell thyself.
Thou shalt respect the dignity and uniqueness of the other human being.
Thou shalt not discard thy date after one encounter, due to “lack of spark.”
Thou shalt share parts of thyself.
Thou shalt tell stories with humor.
Thou shalt be interested in the other’s life and ask questions about him or her.
Thou shalt not leap into judgment.
Thou shalt consider him or her a prize before considering yourself a prize.
Thou shalt be willing to try again.
Thou shalt hold no grudge if it doesn’t work out.
This probably does not entirely cover the territory. I did read of one woman who said she always gave a man a three-date try before making up her mind about him. This seems like a rather sensible way to go. And maybe after reading this list, you’ve thought of a few commandments of your own. Please add them in the Comments section below!
In case we have forgotten, let’s remember what Aristotle said, something I learned from watching Fr. Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” series: In every relationship there is the presence of a third who helps that relationship to flourish and grow. It’s never just two people on their own.
Thank God, because I can mess up so badly when it’s just me making the decisions.