Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Relationship Market: Quality Control

I admit: one of the things I really get tired about in the Christian young adult world is the incessant need  for a series on "Love, Courtship & Marriage" (or LCM for those who grew up in the 90s). Sure, the "love" market gets crazier with age: a lot of 'prospectable' partners already are matched up or contracted (literally), some have lost their 'appeal' (or in desperate need to reclaim it), and others simply are running out of time.

Yup, contrary to the popular line, "Love can wait forever," let's face it: life can't.

What's keeping me or others from entering into a relationship? And what is pressuring me to enter one? I remember back in my teens how we would be asked, "What's your ideal mate/partner?" but never was I asked, "Why do you want an ideal mate/partner?"

High versus Low Standards

Standards. Everyone has one. In high school, my ideal girl would be the looks of Jennifer Love Hewitt, or a very feminine personality. She had to have very long hair (I'm such a sucker for that haha), soft-spoken, good in house chores and cooking... in short, conservative and old-fashioned.

But as the years went by (and as I interacted more with the opposite gender), I found other characteristics interesting and appealing. The standards that I used to keep were not as it used to be; in fact, I think the only standard that really stayed (but more as a sheepish wish) is the one about long hair.

I also learned that some of my standards were frowned or laughed about by other people. Likewise, some standards that others keep were somewhat immature in my consideration.

Sometimes I hear people complain, "Antaas naman kasi ng standards mo!" ("Your standards are just too high!"). Amusingly, the same people criticize others for having too low standards.

Who has the right to make or dictate the standards? How high is high enough, and how low should be low enough? Should it be determined by what your friends or family agree on? Or what society sets?

What if we need to take a second look at how we look at standards?

Right versus Wrong Standards 

Why do we set a standard for a partner/mate? I think we could all agree on a simple reason: because the rest of your life is at stake. Unless of course you're already considering divorce even before you start the relationship — which I'll try to discuss on the next blog.

Let's go back to the unasked question: why bother having a relationship? What do we think about relationships? Will a height requirement be necessary for it to happen? Will looks or physique affect its effectiveness? Should we really consider intellectual compatibility? Or will the difference and conflict in interests be a hindrance for a relationship to work?

What makes a relationship a relationship? What can make it work, or keep working?

Sure, I definitely want a long-haired girl. But a girl cannot be measured or judged by how she chooses her hair (God knows how fickle girls can be about deciding what their hair becomes!). It would satisfy me at some point, but it won't be what will keep me loving that person when quarrels or hurts come along the way.

How high or low a standard is very relative, subjective, and sadly temporary. You can't determine the quality of a product simply because it's expensive or cheap. A brand is not the guarantee. Rather, it is guaranteed quality that creates a brand. In a relationship, sometimes we tend to look so much at the brands that we forget to check the quality control — how we can rely and depend on that person as our partner throughout the rest of our life.

But the most important question is: are we allowing ourselves to go through quality control?


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