Everywhere young people hang out, dudes and dudettes in their early twenties hunt for a mate. This perfectly normal dance has probably happened forever, in one way or another.
The Baha’i Faith encourages seeking a life partner, but in the context of the institution of marriage, and prompted by a higher purpose:
God hath prescribed matrimony unto you … Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves. – Baha’u’llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 41.
And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. – Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, pp. 103-104.
Most people want that kind of lasting, deeply spiritual marriage, and I do, too. Finding it, of course, is the hard part.
Personally, in my entire lifetime I’ve had my fair share of crushes. It’s probably called a crush because you get crushed in the end by being rejected. In addition, after each crush I’ve gotten the response of “I see you as friend” or “I’m not interested in the time being, but I value our friendship.”
These responses – what we colloquially refer to as the “friend-zone” – typically position people in a platonic relationship with hopes of an intimate connection developing later, if at all. In other words, one of the people in the relationship wants to bridge the space between friend and potential mate, and the other one doesn’t see any romantic future as a possibility.
So I’d like to suggest we redefine terms such as “friend-zone,” “crush,” and “rejection” with a new perspective, guided by the insights offered by the Baha’i teachings.
First, if God has an infinite plan for the entire world, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the Creator might also have a plan for each individual? Of course, we all have free will and can decide how to live our lives – but with the realization that God has many things in store for us:
Grief and sorrow do not come to us by chance, they are sent to us by the Divine Mercy for our own perfecting. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 50.
Second, aligning oneself with the Will of God ensures our peace and tranquility. Personally speaking, the way I understand this quote is that the past crushes that didn’t work out are not coincidental, but are sent by God to refine me.
This new perspective helps me understand that I wasn’t crushed by my crush – but instead received a gift that contains pearls of wisdom and insight to draw from. That test not only refines my character, but helps me grow spiritually, preparing me for a future relationship. When it didn’t work out, and I felt sad or despondent, it helps me develop detachment, preventing me from stubbornly clinging to my desires instead of letting go:
O Son of Spirit! Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 8.
With all that being said, the insight and knowledge we gain from those difficult tests in life simply doesn’t always teach us the full lesson, and sometimes we get blinded by our emotions:
Love setteth the world aflame at every turn and layeth waste every land wherein it raiseth its banner. Being hath no existence in its kingdom: the wise wield no command within its realm. The leviathan of love swalloweth the master of reason and destroyeth the lord of knowledge. –Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, in The Call of the Divine Beloved, p. 20.
Knowing more about ourselves allows us to grow to a mature next level in our search for a lifelong mate. In the next essay in this short two-part series, we’ll learn about the narrative of Majnun and Layli, and see if we can further understand the mystery of love.