Our technology means it’s never been easier to pursue a relationship, but the numbers say fewer young people are in committed relationships than ever before. In a hookup culture – where marriage is less and less a central piece of our lives – dating itself has increasingly become a lost art form.

A fascinating new documentary sheds light on the problem, and points a hopeful way to a solution. The Dating Project follows five young singles in a search for something deeper. Something that lasts.

Catherine Fowler Sample wrote and produced the award-winning film, and explains how her faith shaped the way she approached it.

“I think we all have a built in desire for relationships – specifically that special relationship you have with a spouse. There’s something so beautiful – I mean God says the church is His bride! There’s that theme that runs all throughout the Old Testament with Israel, and now that we’re in the New Testament world, the church.”

“So it’s built in to our D.N.A. to want that romantic partner. There’s such beauty in that, and there’s a real fun element! Think of all the songs, all the poems, and all the movies. I mean how much of that is built on love?”

The fun part of relationships is the one we might grasp more easily. But there’s such a profound significance here.

“So there’s that fun part, and then there’s the more serious part of lasting in love – and I think we all want that too. That’s something that’s really been broken in this day and age, because we don’t have the same structure in society that really upholds marriage as a lifelong institution. So it impacts the way we’re dating, and I think that’s really why we wanted to explore this topic in this way, because it’s something that is so close to everybody’s heart – literally and figuratively. The way we’re relating to other people.”

“The beautiful thing about dating – what we talk about in this movie – is really treating others as you would want them to treat you. Embodying Christ’s Golden Rule. Really treating others with dignity. Dignity come from the Latin word which means “worthy”, and the idea is that we need to be treating others as worthy. As worthy of love. As worthy of respect. And we need to then be expecting the same thing for our selves.”

“And that is one of the big pieces of The Dating Project. That we can transform this dating culture by dating with dignity, and questioning the idea of hookup culture – where people are disposable and it’s all about what you can get out of a person. Stepping away from those ideals, and recasting that vision of true love of neighbor and reapplying it not only to dating but to all our relationships.”

In the end, as Catherine has joyfully discovered in her own life, this recasted vision is so worthwhile.

“When we apply it to dating, we’re going to be much closer to finding that special someone, because we’re going to be finding them in the most authentic and real way.”

Catherine Fowler Sample wrote & produced the groundbreaking documentary film, The Dating Project, available now on Digital HD and DVD – with physical copies on the shelves at Walmart and Target, among many other venues.

On the Road with Catherine Fowler Sample

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