As Andrew and I progressed in our non-dating relationship together, not everything was romance and red flowers. It was hard not to go on dates or kiss. We only added very small amounts of touch to our relationship after about a year (hugging, holding hands), when we decided it would not be healthy to have no physical element to our relationship even if we weren’t dating. Did we have rough moments where we didn’t understand the purpose of what we were doing? Absolutely.
In fact, I was still growing into my understanding of what love is. At times I would doubt my feelings towards Andrew, and I wondered if this meant we were not meant to be together. I was open and honest with him about it. After all, I would be hurt if I knew he wasn’t certain of his feelings for me, and I thought it only fair. There are many kinds of love, but the love between a girl and a boy is meant to have romantic feelings, isn’t it? Otherwise what is the point? What sets it apart from friendship?
I think this conversation was important, and it may be important for you to understand too. I want you to know that it is okay to doubt your feelings and test them out when you are in the beginning phases of a relationship, and that your questioning doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship wasn’t meant to be. It is okay to not always feel “in love,” no matter what stage you are in a relationship. It is part of the normal cycle of feelings that come along with human emotions, and you need to discern not only with your heart, but with your head. Andrew told me about how all feelings are temporary, and they can be used to either guide us to good or bad things. “We need to base our actions off of decisions and commitments rather than just feelings or (in my previous case) just logic and knowledge,” he said. “A decision should be made out of the combination of the two. What you feel and what you know. The feeling is like a guide, but it shouldn’t be followed unless knowledge and conscience mark it as good.”
I am glad Andrew understood this. To my nervous questions, Andrew gave me a really great metaphor about driving a car across the country. He said, “You fuel your car with feelings, but when you run out you don’t stop. You have a commitment together to get to that destination. And you work together to push that car by hand until the next gas station shows up. Then your feelings will be that much stronger. You will be that much stronger. Your muscles will have grown from pushing such a heavy burden so far. This will make you more and more ready for the challenges that lie ahead, allowing you to stick to the commitment you made with the one you love at the beginning of the road.”
What does this metaphor mean? Andrew explained, “Love is a decision, not a feeling. Feelings can be the result of love and they can be used to fuel love, but love remains a decision.” Love is working together to get your car to Heaven. Feelings sure do help, but you don’t stop when you run out of feelings. As Andrew told me, “The harder you stick to your commitment the closer Heaven comes into view over the horizon. And when the sun finally sets upon your life, you can stand firmly before Christ and say, ‘I have loved.'”
Andrew gave me one more metaphor: “Love is a house, feelings are what heat it. Will you take care of that house even when the heat shuts off? Will you work to put a fire on to reheat it?”
This all sounded like pretty strong stuff. Love was not something to be trifled with if it called for so much hard work and commitment. I didn’t know whether God would want me with Andrew in the long-term. But I knew that the fruit of our relationship was good so far, and that God was not calling me to end our relationship just yet. My lack of feelings could not be followed, because my knowledge didn’t mark it as a good guide. I was called to this next step forward. To discern. To try. In these moments I was glad that I had not given away my first kiss to Andrew, because I wanted to give it only to someone I knew I loved with knowledge and commitment and not just feelings. I was glad I didn’t have the extra confusion of a physical relationship to add to my mixed up emotions. My own commitment was not to be married to Andrew forever, and it wasn’t even to date him, but to find out if he was someone I would want to spend my time and energy courting, or seriously considering marriage with–that was my destination, and I couldn’t give up.
When my feelings would return, I would tell Andrew, “I think we hit a gas station.”
- Waiting for Dating- A Different Kind of Relationship (catholicsinglelife.wordpress.com)
- Red Flower- the Love Poem that Won My Heart (catholicsinglelife.wordpress.com)
- Waiting for Dating Part 2- One of God’s Most Precious Diamonds (catholicsinglelife.wordpress.com)
- Poems: Your Love Gives Me Strength (catholicsinglelife.wordpress.com)