Most of my dating life, I was the dumpee. But I remember one relationship where I had to be the dumper. One of the best parts of dating is the puppy love – where you and person you’re dating are perfect in each others’ eyes. They can do no wrong, you’re walking on clouds and the whole world seems a little brighter.
Then something happens to break the spell. In this particular relationship, it was the moment she said, “I want to play you my favorite song.” I was thrilled by this moment. I love music and I love sharing music as a way to get to know people better. So we settled in for a romantic moment of really getting to know one another better. She pulled out a CD (because this was back in the dark ages), slid it into the car’s CD player…
…and started blasting Nickelback.
I thought it was a joke until I saw the pure, unbridled joy on her face. This really was her favorite song.
I didn’t break up with her right then, but that was the moment I knew it wasn’t going to work out.
I know that sounds shallow, but if you’ve dated, you’ve been there.
That moment when the glorious façade of puppy love cracks and the ugly face of reality (which in this case looked a lot like Chad Kroger) gazes out at you.
What’s happening in these moments?
Philosophers tell us that when we’re first falling in love, it’s always a selfish movement. We’re projecting onto the other person who we want them to be (which is always an idealized version of ourselves). That’s why they seem perfect. We assume they have the same values and beliefs we do, the same taste in music.
Puppy love is really self-love. Which is why it feels so good.
It’s why puppy love has to come to an end. Because sooner or later, we can’t ignore all the little ways the other person isn’t like us. We can’t ignore how much they are their own person. And it’s also why we call puppy love ‘puppy love’. It’s shallow. It’s immature. It’s not as good as the real thing.
There’s such a thing as religious puppy love. Because our relationship with God evolves in the same way as our relationships with one another. We begin infatuated by God, sure that God is on our side, that God agrees with us. We might call it “puppy faith”.
It’s not bad, but it is shallow. It can’t last. And it shouldn’t last.
Just like we want to move from puppy love to true love, from being loved for who we’re not to being loved for who we are, we want to move from a shallow faith to a deep, wide, world-changing faith.