One of the hardest, toughest, and heaviest realities we face within the dating game is being used at the expense of love—emotionally, physically, or both.
We live in a culture that thinks dating is all about emotional feel good “highs,” being reckless, and lots of making out. (Side note: I hate the phrase, “making-out” can we substitute it for passionate kissing???) But, anyway, yes, all this does 100% happen in a relationship, but truthfully, I’m sure you can’t hide that somewhere deep down, this sometimes doesn’t feel right.
To sum up this crisis, essentially what it boils down to is this: we turn another person into an object by using them for the emotional high we get from them–sexually, emotionally, physically, or mentally.
Being used (or manipulated) by another person while in a relationship is a sneaky and hard reality to pick up on because our culture imprints false ideas of self-worth, intimacy, relationship, and sexual values. Not to mention, if you’re naïve like me, I’m sure you don’t want to believe someone would ever do that.
Being used and manipulated in a relationship, emotionally or physically looks like this;
“The Hook-Up” (drunk or sober)—*the name is pretty self explanatory*
“The Blank Space”—being that girl or guy who is constantly looking for a guy or girl to fill a void of loneliness, insecurity, or a recent break-up. Or, being that girl or guy who says yes to every potential relationship.
“The Healer”—finding some sense of comfort in the person who gives you romantic attention. The motivation to continue this relationship is to avoid healing a wound or facing any real issues in your life
“The Fearful Freddy”—the guy or girl who fears breaking up with someone thinking no one better will come along or you won’t be able to stand on your own two feet without them
“The One Who Can’t Self-Control”—this guy or girl is drawn and motivated by lust—(usually looks at pornography and acts on it)
“Instant gratification”—using a person in order to gain some personal satisfaction, rush of emotions, to feel special, important, or loved. (This person usually just wants attention and doesn’t know how to live without constant attention)
And when we’re not in a relationship we use people mentally in sneaky ways too. Daydreaming about the way they could “perfectly” complete your life, sexually fantasizing about someone, flirting with everyone you meet (playing games with their heart), and seeking attention by either dressing immodestly or being immodest by behavior.
People are not things we use—they are valuable beings who have souls. People should ALWAYS be treated with care and good intentions.
“The human person is a good towards which the only proper attitude is love.” -John Paul II
Manipulation and use boils down to one truthful hurt; you’re violating someones dignity in the worst way because it is at the expense of LOVE. SO, because I care about you (yes, you) I want you to know the signs and fight the crisis of ‘use’ that we face today.
Know Your Worth
We manipulate or use people to feel loved. We long for intimacy (because it’s a great gift to us) and we want to know we matter to someone. We want to feel valued and have security in the world.
Truth is, you are priceless for the mere fact that you exist, and exist in God’s glorious kingdom. You are loved infinitely greater than you will ever know by The Omnipotent Love. You ARE somebody to God, and He thinks the world of you–and thought you were worth dying for. God can heal, provide, and love perfectly—don’t neglect the great gift you have to tap into that.
The sense of security, love, and fulfillment does not (nor will it EVER) come via a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Why? Because it’s not a boyfriend of girlfriends job to do that.
So, is it love or is it use?
Let’s consider this… take away the feelings and the sexual gratification from a relationship and test the sacrificial love of your significant other. By doing this, you are seeing if this person sticks with your morals, has standards similar to yours, and does things for your welfare, not your woe.
Test the waters. Are they willing to pursue the demands real love has? That is, patience, communication, trust, endurance, trials, and chastity? And if this fails, it was never love to begin with.
A healthy relationship is always about wanting the best for the person you date and recoiling at the thought of using them or doing anything that would harm, hurt, or put them in a situation to feel shame and guilt.
*Keep in mind this sneaky reality—a commitment to pursuing a virtuous relationship must be two-sided because when it’s not, you might not be the one using them, but they are probably using you.
The twenty-first century dating game needs to be told one essential truth in order to set hearts free: relationships are not about personal gain but mutual growth. Growth in virtue, bettering each other’s lives (weaknesses and failures), doing what’s best for each other at the right time, and learning how to do that in the right way.
Because, again, you don’t need anyone to complete you. You will, though (God-willing), meet someone who uproots selfless love in you. A person who betters you by being themself. Someone who leads you closer to Christ and motivates and inspires you to be the man or woman God destined you to be.
There are a lot of reasons relationships don’t work out for people, but never let manipulation or use be a reason. For any healthy relationship to blossom and last, each person must be motivated by their own personal will to pursue greater depths of virtue (especially charity), professional/work-driven success, and self-growth.
And as for that infamous chastity question, in the words of Lisa Cotter, “if we want to be people of sexual integrity, we must start with being people of emotional integrity because where our hearts go our bodies want to follow.”
One way I (personally) was able to grow in virtuous relationships and understand and feel the depths of this great crisis was to stop filling my head with the stupid love songs we have offered to us on the radio, no more watching chick-flicks and TV shows that promote unhealthy relationships either. I always strive to dress modestly (even on the beach) and I stopped reading gossip magazines that offer “relationship advice,” and I even stopped participating in social media. I started setting my own (Godly) standards for my dating relationships and more importantly, I started avidly praying for purity and letting the Man of Perfect Love (Jesus) be the King of my Heart.
With that, I hope you can join me in the crusade of young people who are striving for virtuous relationships. By doing this, we let every relationship we ever find ourselves in to do nothing more than will the good of the (wo)man we choose to be exclusive with, and lead them closer to the man or woman God is calling them to be. This mature motivation leads to freedom, great love, awesome virtue, and healthy/mature spousal discernment.
Praying you never settle in your relationships!
Further Reading: Love and Responsibility --Karol Wojtlya