Ethics Center staff member draws on experiences in new book

Dating is hard. Work, family and social commitments, personal goals and societal pressures to accommodate leave little time to spare. John Antonio, lead project coordinator of graduate medical education in Baylor’s Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy, has spent the last few years examining the most efficient and effective characteristics that drive dating life.He joins his findings with his seminary background and scientific perspective into print with the release of his book, “Dating and Other Things Catholic: What Seminary Taught Me About Single Life.”

Antonio first got the idea for a dating book after blogging for a relationships and lifestyle website, a hobby he maintained outside of teaching for the School of Languages and Cultures at Purdue University. The blogging was going well, and he decided to expand his research of dating and began holding focus groups to determine what people do and don’t do when dating, or what they like and don’t like.

“I had gathered quite a large amount of material, and I met with the Dean of the Krannert School of Management at Purdue to get her thoughts on where I should go from there,” explained Antonio. “She gave me the best piece of advice: write a book! So, I started compiling all of my notes and ideas and got to writing.”

John Antonio signs a copy of his book.

John Antonio signs a copy of his book.

Looking to get more into applied science, Antonio accepted a position at Baylor in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy and moved to Houston, where he continued conducting focus groups to determine what makes dating tick.

“I had read and seen so many dating books that are based purely on opinion or the specific experiences of others,” said Antonio. “My own dating experience is relatively limited, but I wanted to find a more scientific way to go about it by identifying methods that are not based on opinion, but science.”

A common denominator Antonio discovered in his research was commitment. Whether a relationship ended well or poorly could largely be determined by both parties’ perceptions of commitment and their comfortability with it. From his research, Antonio reports that 90 percent of the confusion in dating, and a resulting relationship, resulted from ambiguity over the level of commitment two people had with each other.

“Seminary is the science of commitment; there are certain steps you have to take, certain questions you need to ask yourself in order to successfully fulfill the serious religious commitments you take upon yourself. I learned to take some of these same questions, adapt them for a relationship setting, and apply them to dating life,” said Antonio. “Everything became much more simple after that.”

Antonio’s philosophy on commitment is that, by being open about the topic from the beginning, and starting with a stage of zero or minimal commitment, you create less confusion, lower stress and minimize disappointment if the date falls short of expectations. Confusion surrounding a person’s end goals of dating, whether to simply meet new people or find a lifelong spouse, is eliminated when the level of commitment is fully understood and progresses methodically.

“Although I’m neither Catholic nor single, I thought this was an amazing book about relationships in general. It’s beautifully written, thoughtful and wise. I think anyone, regardless of their spiritual background or relationship status would learn much from this book.” said Dr. Mary Brandt, professor of surgery in the division of pediatric surgery at Baylor.

Antonio’s book took about two and a half years to complete, and was published in August 2016, and can be found on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble online and Veritas Catholic Bookstore in Houston. Antonio regularly updates his Facebook page with new carriers and book signings. Search @johnantonionovus on Facebook to find his page.

Antonio is currently working on developing the topic of his next book, which will be a step-by-step guide of best practices to fostering romantic relationships, from the first impression to marriage. “I’ve surveyed hundreds of single young professionals on this,” he says, “and am excited to publish what I’ve found.”