Looking for love

Many individuals base potential relationships on like-mindedness in areas such as parental influence.

Digital illustration of romantic relationships at different stages. (Sabrina San Agustin)

Growing up with parents of an arranged marriage, freshman Sumlina Alam has acquired a unique perspective on the benefits of different types of relationships.

“[Arranged marriages] can be very beneficial because [people] think marriage is just a union of two people; it’s rather a union of two families,” Alam said. 

Sumlina’s mother, Moushumi Alam, said there are some aspects of an arranged marriage that can lead to greater success than a love marriage in the long run. 

“Most of the time, I saw in [Bangladesh], love marriages didn’t last a very long time… arranged marriages are totally different because our love and affection [and] everything happened after the marriage,” Moushumi said. “But with love marriages, those things are happening before. A boy and a girl are both very emotional, so they cannot see the negative things.”

However, Moushumi is not forcing an arranged marriage upon Alam.

“I just respect my daughter’s decision. I believe my daughter will respect my decision, too, so it’s our mutual decision,” Moushumi said.

Although Alam is not planning to have an arranged marriage, she said she will apply many of the same factors and ideals when choosing her own partner. 

“Nowadays, I feel like highly-educated people usually go with highly-educated people. It’s something that parents or families try to do,” Alam said. “I just want someone on the same level as me.”

 Moushumi said she also believes having different levels of education can hinder the success of a relationship, specifically a marriage.

“[Having] the same status of education is better, I think,” Moushumi said. “Otherwise, you feel very uncomfortable in front of your siblings or husband or wife.”

Junior Elliese Thurlby said she must weigh other factors when it comes to dating. It is a family rule that she takes her father’s opinion into account before becoming involved with someone. 

“My dad has to talk to the guy I want to go on a date with before I even go…so that does have a huge influence,” Thurlby said. 

Essentially, she, her father is looking for a person of good character for her to be with.

“Another thing is, it helps make sure that I’m not going to date someone that’s potentially going to lead me down a wrong road,” Thurlby said.

Elliese’s father, Trace Thurlby, said he believes it is a very basic standard for parents to meet the person their child is going out with beforehand.

“I honestly think it’s a really low bar. I think it’s a minimum,” Trace said. “We want to know just some basic stuff about who they’re hanging out with.”

Trace said he lets his children’s potential dates know what his expectations are when he meets them. 

“We let them know that we love our kids, that they’re precious to us, and so we care about who they hang out with and what they’re doing,” Trace said. “And I let them know that my expectations for my kids are that they’re going to tell us where they are, what they’re doing, who they’re with and when they’re coming home.”

In general, Trace said he would prefer his daughter not date at all in high school.

“I hold a relatively low view of teenage boys, because I was one,” Trace said. 

The idea that high school dating is practice to break up is something that resonates with Trace, and he said there is not a lot a teenage boy can offer someone at their young age. 

“A really impressive young man might have something to offer you when he’s 25,” Trace said. “It’s not personal.”

Senior Jon Krogull says he does not have any specific criteria when it comes to dating. “I look for girls who I can relate to and be myself around, but most of all I [want them to] have a strong moral compass,” Krogull said. (Arpa Das)

Moushumi advised her child to remember differing religious views can lead to conflict regarding potential future children in the relationship.

“If your religion is totally different, if you do have a baby, she or he will be confused. And [there’s] Grandma and Grandpa on mom’s side and dad’s side. They are also trying to convince the baby that ‘our religion is better than your side,’” Moushumi said. “So there is a conflict between two families.”

Alam said she has seen the benefits of having a significant other who practices the same religion, for Alam, that is Islam.

“Religion is a big factor in my family,” Alam said. “So, it is important that the person I’m going with has to be the same religion as me, or at least have the same faith.”

Sophomore Shawn Furstenau also highly values religious compatibility. Furstenau is a practicing Christian as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

“If a person doesn’t really believe in the same things as me, I don’t know,” Furstenau said. “It’s just kind of strange because we have different ideas of what’s going to happen if we get married.” 

Furstenau said certain aspects of his religion would make it difficult to pair with someone outside of it. 

“I don’t drink or do drugs or any of that …so I don’t really want to surround myself with all of that,” Furstenau said.

Thurlby’s father has taught her there is value in a partner who shares the same religion. But, Thurlby said her family is open to her being in a relationship with someone of different faith.

“I think there is a misconception. My family is pretty standard Christian and a lot of people think, ‘Oh, yeah, we have to date a Christian guy,’ but that’s not necessarily true,” Thurlby said. “I guess it’s better, but… it is also [just] high school dating.”

Looking ahead, Furstenau said he can see how problems could occur down the line, if he did not date another member of his church.

“Maybe they don’t believe it’s forever, maybe they’re atheist or something. I’m Christian, so I think, you know, ‘maybe we’ll be able to see each other in heaven,’ but they don’t,” Furstenau said. “It’s just something that’s very cultural.”

On the other hand, senior Jon Krogull has very few absolutes necessary for a potential relationship.

“I don’t really have any limitations like that,” Krogull said. “If you have opposite beliefs, or if you’re from a different background or you’ve got a different religion, I’m fine with that.”

Although Krogull does not have parental or internal influences motivating him to date someone with the same religious beliefs as himself, he said he certainly sees the advantages of doing so.

“If I’m looking at it from a Christian perspective, Christians are probably going to want to be with other Christians because the Bible just has a set of morals that most Christians will follow,” Krogull said. “And I don’t know, there’s just some kind of sense in having a common ground.” 

 Differing political beliefs may also cause difficulties in a relationship. Alam said she believes political stances need to be relatively similar for a successful relationship in her life.

“I’m fine with slightly different opinions,” Alam said. “It’s just that in general, traditional values, or like typical sides, should kind of be on the same level.”

Digital illustration of two hands reaching toward one another. (Sabrina San Agustin)

Furstenau said he thinks aligned political views could likely create more peace in a romantic partnership. 

“I think [different] political views could have a definite problem, because now everything is so divided,” Furstenau said. “I have a lot of friends with different political views, but I don’t think it would work in a romantic relationship.”

For Krogull, he said if someone were to have drastically different views than him, he would like to discuss those issues before deciding to end their relationship.

“I don’t think any of those things are deal-breakers, right? I would definitely have conversations with them about those things and pick their mind about it, and see where they stand,” Krogull said. “I think that’s healthy. I think people should do that.” 

But, Krogull said hatred toward others is always going to be something he cannot accept from his partner.

“If it’s a belief that’s grounded in bitterness or actual hatred toward a group of people or a way of thinking, then that’s a red flag, because instead of them knowing what they’re talking about, that’s just them having a grudge,” Krogull said. 

By not dating someone because they do not fit specific personal ideals, Krogull said finding true love could potentially be missed. 

“When you are in a relationship with someone you love, there’s a connection; it can be [between] two very different people,” Krogull said. 

Similarities usually make the relationship appear stronger than it truly is early on, Krogull said.

“I’ve been in relationships, and I’ve talked to people who I thought were, ‘Oh my God, this person is really good. This person has a good family, and they’re nice to me and they obviously have good morals,’” Krogull said. 

When Furstenau was asked if he could fall in love with someone he was not compatible with, his response was a clear yes. However, Furstenau said that a relationship is not sustainable if compatibility is not present.

“I feel like it would be the start of arguments, differing opinions and views. It could be that you can’t really relate to each other,” Furstenau said. “Relating to each other is something that could also be needed in a relationship to understand how each other feels.”

Krogull said problems will likely blossom in a relationship, and similarities will not be enough to get through the tribulations.

“You’re gonna hit a problem, or that person is going to see that one thing and be like, ‘Yeah, OK, we’re gonna have to end this,’” Krogull said. “But, if there was a connection, then they would see that, and they’d go, ‘Oh, but I love you. We can fix this.’” 

Krogull said ultimately it is up to those who are in the relationship itself to decide why they are in it. 

“I think it’s really up to the person and how they view relationships and what they want,” Krogull said. “Personally, I’m not gonna date someone for convenience. I’m going to date for the right person. Because I love them.”