Dating Culture: Do We Treat People Like Products?

by Faith & Life, Family, Love and Relationships, Self-Knowledge

When was the last time that you were honest, truly honest? How many of us keep holding onto that delusional aspiration of a safe and comfortable relationship built on external smiles, hollow dialogues, and cheesy silence-fillers. Isn’t it obvious that it is destined to fail? How many times are we swayed and dominated by the stupefying fear manifested in the recurrent thought: “What will he/she think of me?” And why is it so difficult to present ourselves openly–without recurring to a variety of masks and camouflages that are so common in our daily interactions­– to the other person?

We all tend to cast out towards the others, hoping to find some source of self-affirmation. We look for a reaffirming smile, look of understanding, an encouraging nod. But, what is it that we are really seeking? Do we even know?

We are all seeking acceptance, friendship, and, ultimately, love. In the end, nothing else will satisfy us. It is a desire that permeates everything we do. Unfortunately, the answer to that desire has been advertised as a 99-cent, caffeine-free, no calorie, no sugar, great-tasting beverage that includes free refills. It is supposed to be something pain-free, low-risk, and full of smooth sailing.  And we gullibly believe it.

Fr. Leo On Treating People As Products

But, in reality, every authentic relationship requires those tough and uncomfortable honesty moments, those moments when the mask is removed, and the real person comes out into the light. It is a moment of risk when we sacrifice all control over our image and offer our true identity to other people, placing ourselves vulnerably in their hands, knowing that they are free to accept and love or to reject and despise. It is a moment of courage and sacrifice that is absolutely indispensable. 

Those who are unwilling to take this step must resign themselves to daily superficiality. They must become chameleons, changing their colors according to the desires they perceive in others. Every gesture, every look, and every laugh is organized and used to reconstruct themselves so as to incarnate the other’s expectations. And while this road might promise an active social life, numerous acquaintances, and plenty of text messages, it is, nevertheless, one of inner loneliness and great sorrow, as one day you must face the fact you sacrificed your true self for a delusion of approval.

Let us then take advantage of today’s video’s message: the only relationship that’s really worth it, is one based on truth. This doesn’t mean, of course, that we must recklessly blurt out all sorts of private information to everyone we know. Rather, between the two extremes of an inflated self-exposure and a lock-tight self-enclosure, we need to live a healthy openness whose ultimate criterion is charity: revealing our own interior, our weaknesses, and our strengths, to those who are adept to receive and to whom such action would be beneficial.

Questions for Dialogue

How many of my relationships are based on the truth? Do I tend to be honest with those around me? Do I tend to demand the same of my friends and loved ones? What fears or defects keep me from being real with others? What do you consider to be a model relationship? Is it one based on the worldly values, or those found in Christ?

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