With Valentine’s Day approaching, perhaps now is a good time to give the men of Georgetown some advice for their dates.
Since it is Saint Valentine’s Day, I do not know anywhere better to turn than the great source of knowledge that is the Catholic Church — after all, as Pope Benedict said, to be a Catholic is “to live, to love and to be loved.”
First things first, gentlemen: Make sure you listen to your date. Although midterms are coming up and your mind might be preoccupied with this terrible season of Georgetown basketball, all of that should take a back seat on Valentine’s Day. When you listen, what you are doing is communicating through your actions that you care about your date.
“But,” quite a few male friends of mine have interjected, “isn’t it obvious I care about her? Why does she get annoyed when I zone out for a couple of minutes or check my phone when I’m with her?” Here, Catholic thought would reply that every one of your actions demonstrates an ordering — that is, your actions align with your broader priorities.
Demonstrating that you are prioritizing your significant other is not enough, however. It might get you through the first date and the early part of your relationship, but it will not make you or your romantic partner sustainably happy. So what does long-term happiness require? Again, when it comes to romance, the church would point out that what people really want is to love and be loved. Caring about someone or “loving” someone, as we commonly understand it, is only one piece of the puzzle.
Loving is more than telling someone you love them and care about them. True love requires vulnerability and intimacy. Can you be there when your partner has a problem or is going through a hard time? In my experience, this is usually not the hardest part for men.
Being loved is the oft-forgotten corollary to loving, but it is just as important. You will never be able to have an enduring relationship if you do not allow your partner to love you fully, because you will always be holding back.
This is the nugget of wisdom the Catholic Church has stumbled upon. Every strong relationship, romantic or otherwise, requires both people to love and to be loved. It is impossible to complete one component successfully without also fulfilling the other.
But, if you do let yourself be loved and you love your significant other in return, then what comes next in the mind of the church? Well, one would expect that the relationship would “overflow,” which means its love and joy would benefit everything and everyone around you, including family, friends and even strangers.
In other words, “love will change the world.” Who said theology cannot be romantic? After all, for Catholics, all human romance really points to the greatest love of all: God’s love for us. Everything required for deeply loving your significant other — listening, intimacy, vulnerability, willingness to love the other and allowing oneself to be loved — is precisely the same as that which God calls us to embody in our relationship with Him.
This Valentine’s Day, may all relationships here at Georgetown be glorified by the light of God’s love, and may that love overflow into our entire community so as to promote its welfare and secure its happiness.
Mitchell Tu is a senior in the College. The Round Table appears every other Friday as a rotating column by members of the Knights of Columbus.
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