The most important part of a relationship

Looking for dating and relationship advice? I have an answer: try being present.

I reached for my pocket to check my phone for a text. Everyone around me was still there, but for that moment they ceased to exist. This is a common occurrence for many, but now imagine someone doing that on a date.

Before we dive into the complex, multilayered, and undeniably attention-grabbing conversation about dating in the twenty-first century; I have a confession to make. I don’t profess to be some date doctor who can answer every question about your personal love life, but I do want you to know that authentic love is possible.

In his work, Les Miserables, Victor Hugo said, “There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.”

That’s right, the person you are now on a date or in a relationship with has a unique soul and it is beautiful! Neither of you will ever exist again, and neither will the moments that you are on this date. Savor these moments.

Today we are in a connection crisis—we have a hard time relating to others without screens. This even affects our relationships and sexuality. Psychologist William Struthers described the effects of screen time (and pornography addiction) as “hijacking;” Taking something—like your attention—from where it supposed to go and sends it someplace else. Don’t let that text hijack your date!

Here a few short tips on how we can be present in all our relationships:

First, make a list. Challenge yourself by making a date list. Have some creative dates that get you both away from screens. Hiking, biking, surfing, and just a good old-fashioned conversation over dinner are all great date ideas. If you are a guy looking for help on how to ask a girl on a date, check out She is Worth the Risk by my fellow CP Missionary Erick.

Second, step back. Leaving the phone in the car will help you avoid thinking about checking it. Turning it off is a great idea as well. Whatever it takes to take a step away from the digital world for a moment to savor the in-person communication that is happening is great!

Third, make friendships authentic. When out to eat with friends have everyone stack their phones at the end of the table. Tell them that the first person to touch their phone will pay for everyone else’s meal. I have tried it, and no one touches their phone. Likewise, try making a pact for a date night to be screen free for an evening, you both will undoubtedly have each other’s undivided attention.

In conclusion, being present in our relationships may be hard, but I believe it is one of the most important qualities of any relationship today. Living distraction free in those crucial life moments is sometimes difficult. Our loved ones deserve our time and attention. By making a list, taking a step back, and inviting friends to be fully present we can savor every moment, and be a virtuous friend and date. The most important part of any relationship is the intentional time spent with them!


Peter Santiago is a 2017 graduate of Saint Vincent College with a BA in Politics and Theology. He grew up in Elizabeth NJ. During his time at Saint Vincent College, Peter Santiago met a member of The Culture Project’s staff. Peter began to ask him questions about the virtue of chastity, Theology of the Body, and the Culture Project. Peter Santiago was mystified by the message of Theology of the Body because it was unique and attractive. A few years later, Peter answered God’s call to serve others as a Culture Project missionary. “We tend to forget that real love requires sacrifice. I believe that beauty originates in self-sacrificial love. I hope that during my time as a Culture Project missionary I can communicate that in word and deed.” Consider supporting the mission of The Culture Project.


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