Your Own, Real Life “Dating Project”

Say it with me, “Would you like to go on a date?” I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath.

Some of you are cringing at the thought of asking such a question (or maybe even having someone asking you that question). The thought of possible rejection or having to tell someone, “No, thank you” can definitely feel overwhelming. Yet, there is still a widespread frustration with the way romantic relationships (or lack thereof) are going. We live in extremes that bounce between vague SnapChat conversations and elaborate promposals. We can’t find the middle ground. It’s more intimate (and, therefore, more serious) to have a face-to-face conversation over coffee than to “hook-up” with a random person at a party.

Sure, it’s easier to keep things vague rather than risk being disappointed if you’re on a different page. It’s easier to “ghost” someone or make up excuses as to why you can’t see someone, instead of telling the person you are not interested. As we have seen and experienced, though, the “easy” route tends to result in frustration, drama, and hurt.

Clarity in dating is difficult because it is virtuous… and virtue is never easy. Virtue is a firm disposition of doing what is good. It’s a habit — a muscle we have to exercise — meaning the more we practice, the better we get.

That being said, here’s a thought: There is virtue in a good, old-fashioned date. “What is that?” you may ask.

It starts off like this…

Totally kidding. Don’t do that. Simply ask, “Hey, would you like to go on a date? I was thinking we can grab coffee at Coffee Bean after school on Friday and get to know each other a little better.” Also, if you ask, you pay (your date doesn’t have to know you got the money from your parents).

And none of this…

Stay focused on the conversation. Enjoy getting to know one another and don’t confuse things with premature physical affection. Finally, follow up. Let the person know whether or not you would like to go on a second date.

Although not exhaustive, the following are a few reasons to embrace this apparently rare phenomenon:

1. You learn to see a person as more than an object for your pleasure

Asking someone on a date isn’t a marriage proposal, it’s an opportunity to get to know him or her. We all desire to be known and loved. So often, though, we use and manipulate others to fill that longing. If you find someone attractive, see if the two of you can grab a cup of coffee or some french fries after school. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Get to know them, not for what they can offer you, but for who they are.

2. You learn how to communicate effectively

Even beyond dating, so much of our frustration in life can be boiled down to poor communication. Instead of clearly expressing ourselves, we resort to unhealthy outlets, such as passive-aggressive behavior, gossip sessions, and explosive arguments. In regard to dating, it’s important to let a person know your intentions. Be clear that you aren’t just asking to “hangout.” Be clear about your boundaries and expectations. Be clear about whether or not you would like for the relationship to continue.

3. It builds courage and leads to deeper peace and joy

It’s completely OK to admit that dating can cause a little anxiety. It takes courage to ask someone out. It takes courage to navigate an (sometimes) awkward first date. It also takes courage to let someone know that you don’t want to go on another one. All of these moments, though initially difficult, become easier the more we experience the peace and joy that follows. Don’t let fear cause you to miss out on an opportunity to get know someone; there are really amazing and delightful people out there who make life an incredibly worthwhile adventure.

If you, like me, are over what “hook-up” culture has to offer, if you are convinced (or on the edge) and want a few clear cut rules to help navigate the dating world, or if you simply want a good pep talk to ask out that cute crush of yours, I highly encourage you to check out the Dating Project on April 17th, 2018.

Grab a few friends, enjoy dinner and a movie, and discuss the following:

  1. What are my frustrations with the way relationships currently work?
  2. How can I actively work against “hook-up” culture?
  3. What are some concrete steps I can take, today, to move in that direction?

About the Movie:
Half of America is single. The way people seek and find love has radically changed. The hook-up, texting and social media culture have profoundly altered the dating landscape. Traditional dating has become “outdated,” yet men and women still seek meaningful relationships. People are frustrated in love, but does anyone really know how to connect in today’s virtual world?

THE DATING PROJECT is a new non-fiction film from executive producer Steve McEveety (The Passion of the Christ, Braveheart), produced by Paulist Productions, Mpower Pictures and Family Theater Productions that follows five single people, ages 18-40, as they search for authentic and meaningful relationships. There is no script. There are no actors. These are real people trying to find love and happiness in an age of swiping left or right.