Valentine’s Day has passed, but the work that’s required to keep relationships strong and healthy has not. And if you are not in a relationship, the time is as good as any to start looking.
The Clarion recently discussed relationships via e-mail with Sandor Marai, religion and philosophy professor, who also teaches an elective class called “Love, Sex and Relationships.” The rumor around the college is that he is a sort of “guru” on these subjects, but he was quick to correct us; or maybe he was just being humble.
Marai: I think whoever told you I was a sort of “guru” on things of love, sex and relationships is mistaken. Like other human mortals, I stumble through them as best I can. I have lived a little more than many who will be reading your article, but that’s only because of the age difference.
Clarion: How do you stay true to yourself while building a healthy relationship?
Marai: You stay true to yourself by being truthful and open from the very beginning about who you are. That means no modifications to your personality, behavior or lifestyle in an attempt to please your love interest- no one is deceived and you can continue to develop your personality as you share yourself with another.
Clarion: Are there signs that a relationship is doomed from the start?
Marai: Yes. Incompatible life styles, life goals, political, religious and social ideologies – though there are exceptions, few people are strong and open minded enough to overcome them.
Clarion: Is “love at first sight” real?
Marai: Yes. It’s as real as lust at first sight.
Clarion: When is the right time to have sex?
Marai: The right time to have sex depends on the maturity and personalities of the persons wanting to have it. In short, it depends.
Clarion: Can friends date?
Marai: Sure. But sooner or later, it could have negative effects on your relationship with that specific friend, as well as your relationships with future lovers.
Clarion: What are the risks involved in casual dating?
Marai: Besides the common risks involved with having sex and hooking up with a psycho every now and then, casual dating as modus operandi may interfere with a person’s ability to form long lasting emotional, affective and loving bonds to one specific person. With age, our ability to engage in free-range casual dating decreases and our inability to establish new long-term affective and loving bonds with another can doom future relationships.
Clarion: Where are the best/worst places to meet people?
Marai: Worst places: bars, clubs, church, family reunions (lol, this is a joke) among others
Best place: Meeting a person in their element, when they are unaware you are observing them engage their environment honestly, sincerely and naturally.
Clarion: Do you have any advice for college students in relationships?
Marai: Be mindful of your partner’s needs. Be a positive force in their life for personal, psychological and emotional development. Contribute to your partner’s becoming all they can be.
Clarion: How do you keep the “fire” alive?
Marai: Foster both your love and lust needs. Without a proper balance, the fire goes out.
Clarion: How do you know if it is the right time to leave someone?
Marai: There are many reasons why it’s the right time to leave someone or why it’s the right time for someone to leave you. Sometimes, it is about you and not them, or them and not you. If most of the time, you’d rather be somewhere else, doing something else, with someone else- that may be a clue.
Clarion: Define Love.
Marai: Love can’t be defined, but it can be illustrated.
*Clarion note: Marai continues with a quote from his book “Chronicle of a Fall from Grace.”
“What is love? Love cannot be defined, only illustrated with the hope of understanding it. I compare it to an ancient battle in which the weapons are armor, swords and shields. What is love? Love is when you and the object of your affection walk out into the battleground. Before your lover, you drop your shield, put down your sword and remove the armor. At this point, you find yourself completely unprotected and vulnerable. Your beloved can kill you, but you have faith and hope that you won’t be harmed. You live like this throughout the life of your relationship without the certainty that you will live another day, but with the faith that your love and affection will not be betrayed. Love can be described as certain vulnerability before the possibility of danger and the uncertain expectation of wellbeing.”