Thursday, April 22, 2010
Are You Kidding; A Developmental Dynamic in Dating?
As a kid I often visited my mom's parents' home. My sister and I (another brother and another sister came along later) loved to play with my grandparents' latticed room dividers. Grandpa and Grandma kept them against a wall in their living room. Me and my sis would drag them into the center of the room and work to arrange them (I think there were four) into a circle. Then we would sneak inside the circle opening and closing their wooden lattices permitting us to "hide"--we thought of it as our fun fortress.
Shortly following my grandmother's death my wife and I had opportunity to acquire some of those old family heirlooms. Of course I remembered those room dividers and fancied the idea of their being in my own home where my children could play with them as I had done. You can imagine my great surprise--and disappointment--to realize that the experience I remembered as a child was very different from my new experience with the dividers as an adult. I expected them to be very tall--maybe 6 feet in height. But when I saw them again, now as an adult, it may be stretching it to say they are 60 inches tall!
Certainly our then four and six year-old physical statures had a lot to do with our judgment of the size of those dividers. We remembered them being large because at that time in our lives we were relatively small. Then, too, moving away and across the country as we subsequently did kept their size something of a secret as we grew older and taller. As it turned out we had not opportunity to use or be around them or to recalibrate their size in our minds eye given the changes in our physical dimensions. Also, and equally influential in this remembering process is the fact that the purpose and the way we, as children, used those dividers was in fact very different from their designed purpose and function. We have changed dramatically in both out physical size AND mental sophistication. So what does this have to do with dating? A lot.
Let me illustrate by asking you a question: Let's assume dating has an intended purpose. So, I'm asking you, what is dating all about? How you answer that question may tell you--and me--something about you. One of the more common answers: "Dating is about getting to know the opposite sex--it's about learning how women or guys work."Another honest response , "It's about finding opportunities to release sexual tension." OK. (I'll come back to that one later.)
Here's another simple question for those of you--especially you guys who may be in junior high, high school or you may be college freshmen or sophomores: "When you date are you seriously thinking about getting married?" Quite generally the answer I get, especially and quickly from guys is, "No!--are you kidding?" Here's a third question: "If you are between the ages of 14 through mid-to-late 20's, do you know your brain is changing; do you know it's becoming more complex, developing toward the kind and the quality of neurological complexity you will have permanently as a mature adult? Typically the answer I get when I ask that question is something along the lines of, "Yah...OK. I think so. Sure!"
Finally, my last question to you comes in the form of a scenario: "If I handed you a little book to read--say it's just ten pages--but in giving it to you I also tell you that reading it will undoubtedly bring about one of the most normal, and pleasant, and potentially prolong-able experiences you will have experienced in your life to this point. However, I then also warn you how that if you choose to read the little book and experience that pleasant event now, at this time in your life, it will most probably mean you may never actually experience it in the same or in a better and prolong-able way ever again. What will you do with the book? These questions, the first, second, third, and that scenario are all related. I'm going to come back to this...so look for the next blog entry. In the meantime, stay tuned. Be safe, have fun, and be smart.
PS: If, like me, you are genuinely interested in some research around this topic and you are willing, again like me, to "eat the meat and spit out the bones" here (click) is a great study with a healthy bibliography of research you can sink your teeth into. Remember, if you're hungry for the truth, "All truth is God's truth," but we are all called at that point to be very finicky eaters!