Thursday, 9 February 2017

Valentines and the problem with #relationshipgoals


By Sarah Morton

Is it just me, or does nothing we do quite seem good enough? I tidy my house and it looks great. Then I log into Pinterest and lose myself in photos of '#housegoals'. My husband prepares me a wonderful dinner, then I log onto Facebook and see someone prepared something that probably earned a Michelin Star '#foodgoals'. I get my hair done, go to upload a selfie on Instagram, only to see a model rocking it better ’#hairgoals'. It’s unending… Squad goals. Gym goals. And the one I predict we’re about to see in abundance over the next few days; relationship goals. 

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and with it, will come a flood of posts on social media highlighting what constitutes a successful relationship, one to aim for and aspire towards. I expect to see roses, blue Tiffany bags, heart shaped boxes of chocolates, maybe some romantic Paris engagements, and plenty of #boydidgood’s. 



Is this relationship goals then? 

I used to think so. 

I also didn’t used to like myself very much. I didn’t used to be very happy. But it was ok because I was going to get a boyfriend and he would complete me and I’d never worry about anything again. 

And then I did get a boyfriend. He could make me laugh like I’d never laughed before, and he loved me so much I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. But I still didn’t like myself very much, and I still had sad days and nights where I cried myself to sleep. But, ok, I was sure that when we get engaged, THEN he’d complete me and I’d never worry about anything ever again. 

And then we got engaged. We planned the most beautiful wedding, and began to create a life together. But still, I could be so, so sad. Could I really convince myself that getting married would mean I’d never worry about anything ever again? 

The ‘goals’ I had set for my relationship were unrealistic, and unfair. The demands and expectations I had put on my boyfriend before I even met him were ones he could never meet, no matter how hard he tried. I had been so fixated on finding a boyfriend for so long to complete myself, that I totally missed the part about how only God can complete me… awks. 

The catechism states quite clearly, that:


'the desire for God is written in the human heart, 
because man is created by God and for God
and God never ceases to draw man to himself. 
Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.'

So, if it is in God that we find truth and happiness, why do we rely so much on people? Why do we put so much responsibility on, not just boyfriends/girlfriends/spouses, but our friends and family too? Of course, without forming human relationships, we would live very lonely lives indeed, but I’m sure many of us have experienced that feeling of helplessness when asked by a friend for advice. We aren’t supposed to carry our crosses alone, yet we also can’t expect someone else to carry our load when it gets too much either. People are not perfect. People don’t have the ability to take your fears and anxieties away. 



It is God, and God alone, who can help take the weight of your burdens. If I had put more time and energy into my relationship with God, allowing Him into my heart, laying down my problems at His feet, taking the time to pray into my sadness, my load would have seemed easier to bear for sure.

Getting into a relationship won’t solve your problems. 

A 'good' relationship comes when you know yourself. When you really know yourself; your weaknesses, your strengths, admitting your failures, accepting your triumphs. The ability to do this, though, comes through really knowing God. Which can be HARD. Sometimes, God doesn’t reply as quickly as that boy or girl on Facebook. God doesn’t work in our time, God works in His own time. But He does work, and He longs for us to know Him, just like, as Blaise Pascal wrote, we long for Him (whether we know it or not!); 

'There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, 
which cannot be filled by any created thing, 
but only by God, the Creator, made known by Jesus.'

Many people mistakenly see this longing for love as a desire for the love between two people, but that loneliness can only be filled by God himself. Us millennials live in a world where God is generally not regarded as Love. Love, on that social media surface, appears to be doing whatever you like with whoever is going to look best in your filtered Instagram photos. That’s what the ‘goal’ seems to be. 



As Catholics, we’re lucky. We know the truth. We know that God is Love, God is Love as the beautiful hope-bringing baby in the manger, and God is Love on the bloody, painful crucifixion on the hill. We know that we can’t have the joy of the resurrection without that bloody, painful crucifixion. 

Love, and relationships, aren’t everything you see on the internet. Love is something more, something beautiful, but messy. There is no such thing as a “relationship goal” in that sense, because every couple you see are carrying their own individual crosses, and working out how to carry them side by side. What we can strive for, however, whether in a relationship or not, is that closeness to God, where we are able to share some of the weight of our struggles with Him. 

#realrelationshipgoals


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2 comments

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