"Dating is like purgatory." - M.R.
She's got a point, that witty, newly-married friend of mine. Dating is, to a certain extent, a purgative process whereby old habits, an old way of living, and past mistakes are stripped away ... revealing (one hopes) the shining character underneath, the best-version-of-ourselves (hat tip: Matthew Kelly) who is waiting to be revealed.
The catch? Well.... it burns, fire does - testing and purifying that which it engulfs, incinerating impurities and separating the wheat from the chaff, as it were.
And so do our relationships with the opposite sex. I don't mean to imply that they are terrible and pain-filled... but at times, they can be. Pain... induced not by the failures or shortcomings of the other, but by our own weaknesses, by those imperfections that God wants to draw to the surface and remove, or heal.
I've heard told the anecdotal account of a newly married guy, 3 months in, who went out for drinks with his buddy.
Buddy: "So, what's the most surprising thing you've learned so far about marriage?"
Newlywed: "How selfish I am."
I don't think it's a coincidence that romantic relationships draw impurities to the surface; when we enter into intimate communion with another other, it's only so long before the guard drops - inadvertently or purposely - and reality comes shining through.