School of love

Joey Garcia

My son, highly educated and on his way to a choice position in academia, always seems to date young women who are beautiful and kind, but not on his intellectual level. These girls seem fascinated by my son’s achievements but have none of their own. They inevitably leave him. He always takes this badly. I want to help, but don’t want to overstep my bounds. Any thoughts?

Yes, your son’s various girlfriends are smarter than you think. They figure out, before he does, that the relationship is not viable, and they move on. I’d say these young women are beautiful, kind and possess an emotional intelligence that your son is missing. Do you intervene in his life often? If so, could that well-meaning help be the reason he has not yet developed realistic ideas about relationships? Sometimes letting someone we love fail is the greatest gift we can give. It shows we trust their capacity to solve problems and to ask for help when needed.

How do I decide if I like a guy enough to be in a relationship with him? We’re in high school and we’ve been talking for a while. We’ve hung out, he asked me to homecoming and it was fun. I know he likes me a lot. He wants to be a thing, but I don’t know if I’m ready. My parents and friends like him and are pressuring me to be with him, but I feel like I have so much going on already with school, volleyball and work (I work part-time, weekends). I’m not sure I have time for a relationship. How will I know what to do?

Notice the smart choices you have already made: Aware that a relationship demands time and attention, you have carefully assessed your commitments. You know that you like this guy, but are unsure whether you want more than friendship. You didn’t bow to peer pressure, but are thoughtfully considering your friends’ opinions. You aren’t allowing your parents to force you into a relationship, either. So, what’s the problem? There isn’t one, actually. After all, you’re not procrastinating; you’re engaged in discernment.

The question you are wrestling with— to date or not to date—is an opportunity, not a crisis. The universe is inviting you to learn discernment, that ongoing process of wisely turning toward goodness and love. Discernment is mindfulness that aligns our actions with the deep yearning of our soul. Yes, that means you can choose to deepen your friendship with the guy you’ve been seeing. Or you can make a decision to be exclusive and have “a thing.” The key is for you to observe your decision-making process, and consciously tweak it until you feel more clarity and confidence. As you do, you will grow in self-awareness. That means you will make future decisions with greater insight and understanding.

One last thing, your decision will be easier with more information. Over the next few weeks when your schedule permits, spend quality time with this guy. Doing so will reveal whether he is right for you. You will also discover his attitude toward your full schedule, and the relationship’s ranking on your list of priorities. He could be busy himself, or just accepting of your schedule. It’s also possible that you will begin to enjoy the relationship so much that creating additional time for him in your calendar becomes a high priority.

Meditation of the week
“However you dress, wherever you go, yes means yes and no means no.” So goes an anonymous quip meant to inspire conversation about consent. Ready? Let's talk about “Sex, Consent & the College Campus,” 6-7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 11. Free. Mango's Antro, 1930 K Street. Learn more at

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