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The final Dear Venerable series 2021: Romantic Relationship

On 12th December, we held the final Dear Venerable session online on Romantic Relationship with SFYAD, with a total of 20 participants turning up for the event. We invited Venerable Chueh Huang, Director of Fo Guang Shan St Louis Buddhist Center as our guest Venerable for this event.

One of the important questions young adults have regarding romantic relationships is “What should I look for in a partner?” Furthermore, what should you do when you have conflicts with your partner? Or what to do when your feelings for your partner have faded? What can Buddhism offer for people who are seeking advice on romantic relationships? Therefore, we created the final session during the festive season to answer doubts people have about romantic relationships.

This is a very interesting topic for everyone as Buddhism mostly talks about letting go of attachments. Yet, what is Buddhism's place in affairs such as romantic relationships? This is the first set of questions, regarding Buddhism's place in affairs such as romantic relationships. A participant posted, "Isn't the point of Buddhism to let go of worldly desires as a path to achieve enlightenment? So how does having a romantic relationship fall with Buddhism? How can I practice not having attachment and abstain from desires when I’m in a relationship?" Venerable Chueh Huang mentioned that for laypeople, it is normal to have a relationship as we are living on this path. However, monastics chose a different path and want to abstain from the attachments of romantic relationships. Furthermore,

Another set of questions was about finding the right partner. Some questions participants had were, "What should I look for in a partner (someone is the one)?" or "How do we know we shouldn’t stay with our partner any longer? Or whether it’s time to marry someone?" Venerable said that it is important to find somebody who elevates you, someone who will make or push you to become a better person. Venerable shared a metaphor from a sutra, in which the Buddha said, "find a friend who is like the new moon to the full moon; someone who brings out your virtues, make your bright and full; don't find a friend who is like the full moon to the new moon, which dulls your virtue." She also mentioned that it is important that person is someone you would want to share your life and spend the rest of your life with.

A final set of questions that participants had pertained to conflicts with partners. One participant asked, "How to deal with a stubborn partner? Also what should I do if my partner has a terrible temper?" Venerable said that we may have to think about stubbornness and temper differently. Sometimes, partners are stubborn because they care about us and think their ways are the best method for us. We may want to look past the stubbornness and find the intention behind that.

Another participant was concerned and raised this question, "My partner thinks going to the temple or being a Buddhist means I’m going to renounce eventually. How can I convince my partner?" Venerable Chueh Huang skillfully used a Chinese word for Buddhist devotee (護法) to mentioned that devotees' hair is protected (the literal meaning of hu-fa). In other words, devotees have faith in Buddhism and want to learn more so that applying it can improve their lives.

In her final remarks, Venerable mentioned that a relationship is a lifetime topic to learn, whether it is romantic or non-romantic relationships. Even for monastics, Venerable Chueh Huang said that she has to learn to form good affinities with various people, like other monastics, devotees, young Buddhists, and the community. Buddhism can help us learn to build better relationships with other people as no man is an island.

Watch the replay of our event here:

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