Posts Tagged ‘dating tips’

Week 9: To Inspire Love: a return to modesty

October 3, 2011

Last time  we covered: The Battle for Purity

This week at Love & Responsibility in NYC we covered the chapter, “To Inspire Love: a return to modesty.” (Check it out online; not as extensive as the book, but handy.)

This week was fun! You know why?  Because finally the small groups were co-ed! Guys and Gals sharing ideas about….. MODESTY.  Duh Duh Duh!

This chapter unpacked the idea that modesty isn’t about covering our bodies because they are bad, it’s because they are oh-so-good that they deserve to be respected and that through modesty,  more about the person is revealed.

But how can this be?  Covering up more of the body, hides it – how can modesty reveal more about a person? and can it have the amazing effect of actually inspiring love?

The short answer is: Yep. The answer about how modesty does this is what the chapter is all about.

The first part of the chapter is tricky because it deals with a word that most people interpret as negative thing ( in other words, it has a negative connotation, but not denotation): shame.  Both Sri and Blessed John Paul II clarify that shame in this sense is not a result of guilt – but rather a natural reaction to cover the body – to cover that which is precious and personal.  Sri explains, “It helps prevent the person from being treated as an object.” He goes on to explain that that in the context of wedded love (a mature self giving of a husband and wife), however, the natural innate tendency to cover our bodies (shame) is “absorbed by love”.

Basically, shame disappears because the spouses’ free, total, faithful, and fruitful gift of themselves at the altar is a statement that says, “I will not use you.” Once that spousal trust is there, there is no need to be afraid of  being used as an object.

But, outside of that spousal trust, we need to be aware that even though we do not mean to provoke this reaction, we may be seen as an object rather than the person that we are.

(I’d like to clarify that if a spouse treats their spouse as an object, then it’s not a situation when that spousal trust exists.  When a spouse uses the other person, it squashes the spousal trust that was there.  It’s not that marriage or being a spouse therefore is a force-field against being used for unfortunately spouses can fall into the trap of mutual use if they are not careful and active in ensuring that the state of spousal trust is preserved AT ALL TIMES.  Once that state of spousal trust is there and remains, then shame is no longer active between the spouses. Spousal trust diffuses the innate good shame.)

Sometimes this is a bitter pill for us women to swallow.

I think that this is mostly due to the fact that we don’t realize just how powerful our looks can be – we don’t realize the power that we can wield over men’s reaction to our visual stimuli.  Men are much more visually stimulated than women are, so I think women have a hard time comprehending the magnitude and speed to which men are stimulated. (Likewise men have a hard time understanding how women can get so emotionally stimulated over one tiny nice gesture, because women are more easily emotionally stimulated than men are.)

I explained in the large discussion group that when I first started dating the man who later became my husband, I had a somewhat awkward conversation with him in which I explained my desire to “not wield the power.” He said, “Wielding the power? What’s that?”  I said, “Well, that’s wearing a low cut blouse or dress so that I can get “attention” from men.  I don’t want to control a man into finding me attractive.  I don’t want to whack someone over the head, figuratively speaking, with my body parts.  It’s enticing to want attention from the opposite sex –  especially from the man I’m really interested in – or the man I’m dating.  This is going to sound silly, but I’ve come to realize how powerful cleavage is.  Or a short skirt for that matter.  I don’t want to manipulate a man with that.  I don’t want to be “sexy” to strangers. I want to be beautiful, alluring, and inviting.  So I’ve decided to stop “wielding the power”.”

Are you wielding the power like She-ra? low cut blouse? short skirt?

At first I think he didn’t know what to think of that statement.  But after a while he came to appreciate it – especially after we were married.  He’d see a woman who was revealing WAY too much to the rest of the dinner party and he’d lean in close to my ear and say, “Honey, thank you for not wielding the power.” Which was really just short for, “thank you for not showing your breasts off to the rest of the men and women that are sitting around the table – because it’s really awkward to see all these men staring at that woman’s breasts as they try to pass the potatoes.  I would just feel sooo awkward if the men at this table were drooling over my wife’s body parts like they were a piece of meat at the dinner table.”

If you are a married woman and you are reading this (or even if you are dating someone) , I encourage you to reflect on this situation and ask yourself, “why isn’t the love and affection from the man whom I love, enough? Why do I feel drawn to pull the eyes of all of the men- any man – even someone else’s spouse to my cleavage?”

The single gals are by no means exempt.  I would encourage single gals to reflect on this situation and ask, “Why do I want to be seen as an object? Why do I want a man to only see a part of me?”

My husband and I laugh about it now because as I shop for clothes my husband will look at the new outfit as I exit the dressing room and say, “Hmmm.  No.  I think it’s “wielding the power”.”

Now there maybe some gals who might be thinking, “I don’t think it’s a big deal, I’m gonna wield the power that I have because God gave it to me. Why not use it? If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

Why not use it? Because it is merely the illusion of power.  In actuality, when you use “wielding the power” to manipulate a man, you allow yourself to become an object.  So instead of gaining something, you lose something – your human dignity.  Love doesn’t see the person as an object to be used.  So gals, if you are truly seeking love, then avoid being seen as an object.  Be seen as a person who deserves and seeks human dignity.

Strive for lovely, adorable, beautiful, or alluring.  It will bring out the best in you and the best in the men in your life.

Be Adora…. as in adorable…. not She-ra… as in She-ra-ther be treated like an object. 😛

When She-ra isn't wielding the power, she's modest Adora.

(For those of you who watched She-ra when they were young,  you will know that the character Adora actually has another step to go in being more modest.  She is seriously lacking in the pants or skirt department which is why the picture above is not zoomed out. BUT please note that She-ra has all kinds of cleavage going on- while Adora is revealing much less! For those of you who didn’t watch She-ra and need a little explanation:  She-ra and Adora are one in the same.  Adora is a princess and when wielding the power, she becomes She-ra!)

During the both the small and large discussion groups I brought up a hilariously and even quite functional As-Seen-On-TV product that helps in the effort to be more modest: the Cami Secret.

It’s in many colors and if you call now, I’m sure that you’ll receive a free bonus selection! 😛

I was going to get it for my sister one year for Christmas as a joke, but then I got to thinking that it would probably be a pretty great gift.  Sometimes I find dresses or tops that are very flattering but unfortunately have one significant flaw:  as one guy at L&R in NYC put it, “It looks like you’re dressed for open heart surgery!”.  Yep – the  neckline is way too plunging thereby making the shirt or dress unwearable. 😦

Anyway – I thought I’d post the clip so that if any of you are interested in actually purchasing it, you can follow the link listed there.  Boy don’t I wish I had invented it – or at least I was getting a cut on this referral!

Sometimes people think that dressing modestly means wearing a frumpy jumper.  It doesn’t.  NO frumpy jumpers please!

No frumpy jumpers!

One way to dress modestly is to, as one person put it that night, “Make sure your underwear is under there.  It’s called UNDERwear for a reason.”

In other words, whether you are a guy or a gal, I don’t want to see your underwear!

Isabel reminded us gals that we should dress for our body types.  Be aware that some fashionable trends were not made for your body type – and on your body type they are too revealing.  She also pointed out that dressing modestly does not mean dressing unattractively as some people in today’s fashion world might have you think.

Crystal suggested that girls ask themselves, “Do I want the cheap kind of attention?”

Another gal asked the guys to “Please let us know when we aren’t dressing modestly.  We might not know that what we are wearing is causing a temptation for you. ” Brilliant.

In the small group Megan offered that modesty is also in our actions.  It’s not enough to dress modestly, we must also be modest in how we hold our bodies.  We can be fully clothed but still be inappropriate in our manner.  Hold yourself to higher standards in dress and in actions.

In the small group I offered the reflection that it seems: If we reveal everything, there is nothing to draw the other in to discover that which is hidden.  What is hidden?  Our minds and our spirits.  We are more than our bodies.  So if we reveal everything about our body, the other person could easily miss the reality that there is more than meets the eye.

Patrick who was in my small group added that, “by revealing too much, it hastens that ‘getting to know the other’-phase.” He commented that if the getting-to-know-the-other-person-phase goes to quickly then you actually end up missing a lot about the other person.  As he was speaking it made me think of a car speeding past a beautiful scenery.

Are you speeding past the "getting to know someone" phase?

If you’re going 100 miles an hour, you aren’t really going to see the scenery as it goes by.  If you drive by a person at 100 miles an hour, would you be able to recognize them once you are standing still?  Dressing immodestly makes everything a blur.  On the other hand, dressing modestly sets both persons up to be able to actually see the other person.

Michael commented that when guys come across a gal at a party or a bar who is dressed modestly the guys don’t think, “Wow.  I really want to get to know that modest woman over there.”  They think, “Wow.  She’s beautiful.  I’d like to get to know her.”

Some guys in the crowd also acknowledged that while there might be some women who ARE striving for modesty, there are plenty of women who are unaware that their immodesty is a temptation for men.

One guy in particular commented that in college, while he considered himself to be a practicing Catholic, he really struggled with the idea that women should not be objects of lust.  Once he realized that women deserved to be treated with dignity and not be the objects of lust, he had to reform his old habits and replace them with good ones.  Instead of a subscription to Maxim Magazine, he read the Bible.  When he encountered a scantily clad woman walking down the sidewalk, he would push lustful thoughts out of his head by reciting Hail Marys over and over again.  One of his friends even wore a rubber-band around his wrist and snapped it every time he felt himself being drawn into lusting after a woman (or a particular body part) instead of seeing her beauty and value as human deserving the utmost respect.

To be sure, today’s world brings us challenges in the way of modesty whether we are men or women.  But I’m here to say, that it’s worth it.  I encourage you to, Be “The Cutest You” not the “Sluttiest You”.  Be “The handsome-est You.  Not the “Slickest You.”

That’s all for now – more next time on:  Men, Women, and Tenderness.

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Week 8: The Battle for Purity

September 14, 2011

Last week  we covered: Resenting Chastity

This week at Love & Responsibility in NYC we covered the chapter, “The Battle for Purity.” (Check it out online; not as extensive as the book, but handy.)

This chapter explains that the word chaste literally means clean – and no that does not mean that the Catholic Church teaches that sex is dirty – it means that being chaste is being in a state of being clean – a state of purity.
Sri explains, “We must see chastity as a positive virtue that enables us to love, and protects love from being tainted by the selfish tendency to use the other person for our own pleasure. Wojtyla says chastity is emphatically not “one long ‘no.'” Rather, it is first and foremost a yes — a yes in our hearts to the other person, not just to his or her sexual values. It is a ‘yes’ that requires certain ‘no’s’ in order to protect love from falling into utilitarianism. “The essence of chastity consists in quickness to affirm the value of the person in every situation, and in raising to the personal level all reactions to the value of ‘the body and sex'” (p. 171). This positive, wider context of love for the person is key for understanding the ‘no’s’ of the Church’s teaching on sexual morality.”

The chapter then goes on to explain that there seems to be two “battlefronts” where this fight to be pure – to be chaste takes place: the physical realm and the emotional realm.

In most cases men struggle most with the physical realm and women struggle most with the emotional realm.

The chapter then explains that it is natural to experience the initial thrust towards lust whether it be physical or emotional, but that in itself is not sinful.  The problem is when we step over those bounds and ACT on those initial impulses.

The truth is, until one masters these impulses to act, one is controlled by them.  If we do not have power over it, then it has power over us.   Ick!

Don't let lust imprison you!

Our breakout discussion in our small group largely focused on emotional chastity, what it is, and how to know how to apply it without going overboard.  One gal, (I think her name was Lorena), said that her mom’s advice to her was: Fall in love with your head first until you are married, then fall in love with your heart.

The gals in our group also commented that this battle is difficult whether it is for physical chastity or emotional chastity because it comes so naturally from our innate call to love.

In the larger discussion group when everyone came back together multiple people gave the advice of using prayer to assist us in this “Battle for Purity”.  Because our weakness is in chastity (until and even after we master it), it not only is a physical or emotional battle we are fighting it is a spiritual one.  So, it is wise for one to strengthen themselves spiritually with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we can gain in the sacraments and by saying the Rosary.

What are the gifts of the Holy Spirit?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“Paragraph 1831 The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.

Let your good spirit lead me on a level path.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”

What are the Spiritual Fruits of the Rosary?
taken from: http://www.prayerfulrosary.com/Prayerful.html

The Fruits of the Mysteries
The Meditative and Soul of the Rosary. Each mystery has a deep meditative virtue or grace associated with it known as the “Spiritual Fruits of the mystery”. When the meditative mode of prayer is developed, the mysteries become connected to the soul which leads to contemplative prayer.

Do you know the Spiritual Fruits of the Rosary?

Joyful Mysteries

  1. The Annunciation ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Humility
  2. The Visitation ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Love of Neighbor, Charity
  3. The Nativity ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Poverty, Love of God
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Obedience
  5. The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Zeal for God

Sorrowful Mysteries

  1. The Agony in the Garden ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Sorrow for Sin/Contrition
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Purity
  3. The Crowning with Thorns ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Courage
  4. The Carrying of the Cross ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Patience
  5. The Crucifixion ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Perseverance

The Glorious Mysteries

  1. The Resurrection ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Faith
  2. The Ascension ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Hope
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Love of God
  4. The Assumption of Mary ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Grace of a Holy Death
  5. The Coronation of Blessed Virgin Mary ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Trust in Mary’s Intercession/Devotion to the Blessed Mother

Luminous Mysteries

  1. The Baptism of Jesus~Fruit of the Mystery: Sacrament of Baptism
  2. The Wedding at Cana~Fruit of the Mystery: To Jesus through Mary/Gratitude for the gift of Faith
  3. Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God ~ Fruit of the Mystery: Repentance and Trust in God/Desire for Holiness
  4. The Transfiguration~Fruit of the Mystery: Spiritual Courage
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist~Fruit of the Mystery: Adoration of the Eucharist

One gentleman commented that it’s much harder to resist something good at the wrong time if you are starving.  His advice (which I think is brilliant!!) is to fill one’s mind with beauty and to work at being emotionally connected with people – in general – so that you won’t be so starved of this beauty and emotional connection that you will grab at it with the wrong types of people.  He commented that he had just finished having dinner with his sister and that  this connection with her helps fill that desire for emotional connection.

Are you starving for beauty and emotional connection?

For many of us, especially in NYC, our family lives far away so this particular example is not available for us.  However, we can create a NYC-family to  have dinner with: a roommate, someone we met at a  MeetUp group, someone we met at a volunteer activity, or perhaps even someone we met at Love & Responsibility in NYC! (I’m just stayin’) 😛

His point was that, “It’s easier to not eat junk food if you are eating healthy food.”  Taking these steps is part of setting ourselves up for success in this battle for purity.

Megan had a similar imagery:  “Don’t date cupcake men.  Date apples and pears.”

Don't date cupcake men!

Her point is that some people look nice on the outside but what’s inside isn’t really good for you.  You should date people who are good for you and who you are good for too!

So yes, the Battle for Purity will be difficult…. but it’s totally worth it! Good luck and see you at the next L&R in NYC!

Week 6: Love… and Responsibility?

August 31, 2011

A couple of weeks ago we covered: The Law of the Gift

This week at Love & Responsibility in NYC we covered the chapter Love…and Responsibility? (Check it out online; not as extensive as the book, but handy.)

Previous chapters have discussed the framework for establishing virtuous friendships, avoiding common pitfalls during the birth of a new relationship, and understanding the dynamic of love. This chapter speaks of what should happen after the relationship (and hopefully true love) has been established. It calls us not only to love, but to be responsible about it:

  • to fully accept the gift of love,
  • to fully trust the person so that they can be free to be emotionally intimate,
  • to resist focusing on our loved one’s faults which would reduce the person to a mere sinful object instead of the human person deserving of dignity that they are
  • to accept our loved one’s shortcomings and to help them in overcoming them,
  • to love them in “good times and bad”,
  • to challenge ourselves to grow from an immature love that looks inward to our own needs, to a mature love that looks outward toward what is best for our loved one.

Ed Sri then goes on to give examples of what a marriage made of mature love looks like and what a marriage made of immature love looks like. One couple had the trial of the wife getting ill with cancer. Faced with a life that he hadn’t planned for, the husband removed himself from the trial and left his wife, rather than deal with having to take care of her through her fight with cancer. (Can you say JERK???)

The other couple Ed Sri described in the chapter experienced the trial of the wife having M.S.. The husband stayed through the trial and even though the wife lost the use of her arms and legs,  he gave up the comfort of having a larger retirement fund and chose to love his wife by caring for her physical needs.  When the going got tough, he didn’t get going.  (Yay!!!)

As a single person, it’s a scary picture. Finding a suitable or compatible spouse seems like a hard enough task and now their being faced with the fact that even though they may find that man (or woman) of their dreams, the most difficult trials of love may lie ahead of them? I can just hear them saying, “I thought the hard part was dating? now you’re telling us that the hard part is when you love someone in marriage? EEESH.”

As a married person, I can tell you – it’s true. Each state of life has it’s own adventures – it’s own challenges – it’s own opportunities to challenge one’s self to become the best version of themselves. When you’re in the dating world, generally, you can’t wait to NOT be in the dating world anymore so that you don’t have to deal with all of the ridiculousness of being IN the dating world. But when you are married, the adventures (and even some of the ridiculousness) doesn’t end there. There’s a whole new level of adventures and challenges.

The key is to move beyond the immature inward looking love to the mature outward looking love. The more you work to strive toward (or strive to increase) the mature love in your marriage the more able you are able to handle adventures with peace and confidence.

This book and this chapter specifically has been very helpful in my marriage in regards to how I handle those unforeseen adventures. There’s an “adventure” that happened late in the first year of our marriage in which I really had to implement these ideas of not focusing on my spouse’s faults and responding in a way that would help my spouse overcome his shortcomings.  It also properly conveyed that while the matter was serious, my love for my spouse did not waver.

My response must have been thanks to a heavy dose of grace from God because I distinctly remember literally taking a few steps away from the discussion, taking deep breaths, and thinking to myself over and over again, “Your spouse is not the sum of his shortcomings. Your spouse is not the sum of his shortcomings. He was designed by God and has Human Dignity. He is a son of the King.”

20110915-024141.jpg

Beware of immature love's laser eyes!

My husband and I laugh about it now because he could plainly see that at that moment,  while I was faced with this adventure, I was so angry that I was practically on the verge of having lasers shoot from my eyeballs.  But in the next moment, without saying anything, the anger quickly dissipated and was followed by a very calm, peaceful, logical explanation about how his choice had been a poor choice and how to prevent it in the future.

Some of the hardest times to love someone is going to be when we are angry or when someone is angry at us.  The challenge is to diffuse the situation and to give our loved one an opportunity to adjust their behavior from cranky to calm.  I like to think of this as a lob in tennis.

Do you know what a lob is?

It’s where you loft the ball back at your opponent with an upward arcing direction so that it either lands behind them or forces them to back up.  It can be used defensively to diffuse a powerful shot and thereby give you additional time to collect yourself to be ready for the next shot,  or offensively to win the shot by catching your opponent off guard.

Here’s a picture:

Love: Lob your response back when met with anger.

A marriage based on immature love is one where the person returns an angry remark with an angry remark to win the point.  Ewww

A marriage based on immature love might be severely weakened by one  “adventure” caused by a poor choice. A marriage based on mature love (or even simply striving toward it), however, is actually strengthened by the “adventure” as each person sees that their spouse’s interaction and reaction with them is an act of love.

I think that many people stop short in their marriage (or relationship) at this immature love.   They limit the amount that they will love their fiance or their spouse. It’s sort of an invisible pre-nup. “I’ll love him no matter what, except if he cheats on me. Then it’s over.” or “I’ll love her no matter what, unless she gains like 100 lbs. Then it’s over, because I just can’t live with someone who doesn’t take care of themselves.” That love is an icky fickle love.

We are not called to have an icky fickle love. We are called to love as God loves. God loves us when we mess up. God loves us when we’re too skinny and when we’re overweight. He loves us when we are cranky and moody and when we are being totally selfish. (Of course He doesn’t love the crankiness and selfishness – it’s us He loves, not our poor choices a.k.a. sin.)

In fact when I think about it God challenges us to love Him, not just our spouses or neighbors, in a deeper more mature way too.  He challenges us to go from an immature love where we perhaps pray about how God can just help us get out of  a sticky situation to a mature love where our prayers are less about looking at what we want and more about what God wants of us.

Ok, so we’re supposed to love our neighbors with a mature love, but what if our neighbors are creeps? 😛

What do we do when loving in a real mature way is the last thing that we want to do?  How do we treat that stinky, drunk, loud, rude, obnoxious, 7 foot tall man as a man who was created in God’s image? a man who is a son of God? a man who is a prince in God’s kingdom – but who is seriously disguised with all of his troubles and shortcomings at this point?

I came across such a man when I was on the subway about 5 years ago.  It was early in the morning.  I was on my way to work and I was really not in the mood to be faced with someone who must have been drinking throughout the night and into the dawn.  Yet what came to mind were balloons.

It's a boy! or It's a girl! helps us to remember that we are all children of God.

Balloons tied to someone’s front door or someone’s mailbox.  “It’s a boy! Congratulations!” were written on them and they were tied with blue ribbons.  One day, 30 some odd years ago a mother brought that 7 foot man, who was then just a little bundle of joy, home from the hospital.

I think that’s how God sees us.  He remembers us when we were just a little nugget of cuteness in our mother’s arms.

So when you come across someone who is being cranky or stinky or both, just think of the bouquet of balloons to help you see them as God sees them.  It’s helped me many times.

We all have intrinsic value.  We were born with it.  We can’t escape it and no one can take it away.  In fact, during the large discussion group someone asked what intrinsic value was.  Someone gave a great answer:  extrinsic things are things that can be taken from us; intrinsic things are things that cannot be taken away.

God loves us with an intrinsic love.  You.  God loves You – the unrepeatable, unprecedented you.

(That reminds me of a trailer for a movie: The Human Experience   If you haven’t seen the movie…. SEE IT! It’s awesome!)

A gentleman commented during the group discussion that “we all were created in God’s image – and that we all reveal something about God that no one else can reveal.”  We are different for a reason.

Another gentleman, Mike, reminded us:  God created us, therefore we are good because everything that God created is good.

Some more great comments from that night include:

  • Every moment that we are in is a moment for our own conversion.
  • Loving with a mature love begins with us:  We have to know our own worth in order to value someone else and then be
    responsible for them.
  • Daniela quoted C.S. Lewis, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” Treat your neighbor with respect.  We can either help our spouse (or neighbor) to be a monster or an angel.
  • Selfless love doesn’t count the cost.

The last example that I want to point out is one that was given by one of the women in the group.  She told us a story that was similar to the two couples described in the book.  It was the story of her two Aunts.  Both were faced with infidelity by their spouses.  But one handled it with love, while the other handled it with anger.  The “angry” Aunt is now divorced and still angry.  The “loving” Aunt worked hard to keep her marriage together and worked hard to show her spouse that even in a time of severe trouble and distrust, she still loved her spouse.

I’m glad that JPII, Ed Sri, and even people at our discussion group agree:  there’s more to love than just love…. there’s responsibility.

It’s not easy, but it leads to true happiness.  Good luck and see you next week!

Week 5: The Law of the Gift

August 22, 2011

Last week we covered Sense and Sentimentality.

This week at Love & Responsibility in NYC we covered The Law of the Gift: Understanding the Two Sides of Love. (Check it out online; not as extensive as the book, but handy.)

This chapter speaks about the subjective side of love and the objective side of love.  The subjective side of love is what happens inside of us (our feelings, our attraction, i.e. sentimentality, sensuality). To quote the author, Ed Sri, “In other words, on its own, the subjective aspect of love is no more than a pleasurable experience happening inside of me.”   This is the side of love that sort of  happens to us. The objective side of love is that conscious decision to love someone for who they are.  It’s not something that happens to us, it’s something that we do.

That reminds me of a country song that I used to know (I used to live in NC and country music was prolific!):

“When considering the objective aspect of love, we must discern what kind of relationship exists between me and my beloved in reality, not simply what this relationship means to me in my feelings. Does the other person truly love me more for who I am or more for the pleasure he receives from the relationship? Does my beloved understand what is truly best for me, and does she have the virtue to help me get there?” says Ed Sri.

Sadly, I have friends that have married someone who loves them subjectively, not objectively.  When I read, “Or are we really just living side by side, sharing resources and occasional good times together while we each selfishly pursue our own projects and interests in life?”, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and it reminded me of those relationships that I’ve witnessed where the fire of (subjective) love burns brightly at first and then after a while it burns out leaving one or both persons wondering if they were really in love in the first place.

Subjective love is like PB&J

PB&J YUM!

When we were in our breakout groups, our group talked about this dynamic.  I mentioned that I had heard of couples who had been married for 30 years who seemed to stay in this subjective love phase.   “Many couples get divorced and I think that it’s because the relationship never matures into the objective side of love, it stays in the subjective side of love.  Sometimes couples can somehow survive this for 30 years, and then it takes something like a Marriage Encounter retreat weekend to expose them to the existence of objective love – this whole other level of love that is much more nourishing.   It’s like all they know is PB&J – they don’t even know that fillet minion exists!”  I love a good PB&J, but a lifetime of ONLY PB&J would get old quickly.  That’s why, in my opinion, living off of ONLY subjective love doesn’t usually work for very long.  It’s probably why most marriages that end in divorce, do so after 1 to 3 years.

The chapter also mentions that this objective side of love is given freely – it is a free choice to give of themselves.  The “Law” of that gift of self is that the person has to go outside of themselves in order to give that gift.  By forgoing their personal interests or personal freedoms for another, it enriches their loved one’s life and simultaneously their own.

Sri states, “Therefore, while the modern individualist may see self-giving love in marriage as something negative and restrictive, Christians view such limitations as liberating. What I really want to do in life is to love my God, my wife and kids, and my neighbor — for in these relationships I find my happiness.”

I’d come across that modern individualist attitude in some of the guys I dated.  It was sad because they viewed marriage as this THING that imposed a list of “can’t”s onto their life.  They didn’t want anything to do with it because they weren’t ready to give up their single -very-self revolving-lifestyle.

We commented about this in our breakout groups.  Sometimes people ask, “How much can I get out of this?” (subjective love) versus what they should be asking: “How much can I give?” (objective love).  That’s definitely a sign of subjective love, not objective love.

One woman commented: It’s freeing to hear this truth, that if we freely give of ourselves we will attain true freedom and lasting happiness.  

It’s inspiring, but intimidating. 
Another woman commented about objective love: It’s inspiring, but intimidating.  How are we supposed to accomplish this? Isn’t this impossible?

I mentioned that it does sound a bit like we’re asking someone to breath underwater.  It sounds unnatural to ask someone to go outside of themselves.  But, this is why those sentimental, sensual, subjective love aspects are actually important (as long as their within a proper proportion).  The desire for these things – the desire for love that is there innately, gives us the courage to consider it – to be open to doing that which seems impossible: giving up our freedom, to gain it.

I believe that the grace that we receive from God is like the snorkel and mask that allows us to stay immersed in the water and do what we thought was impossible.  God gives us grace which helps us to love others when it requires more that what comes naturally.

God's grace helps us to do the impossible!

The chapter also goes on to describe that objective love is a choice to love , that is freely given (e.g. one does not expect payment in return), and that one has to be free to give this gift.  If something is master of you, then you are not free to love.  That is why self mastery is so important – especially when it comes to chastity.

A woman gave the point that: while as a single person, one might wonder how you can freely give yourself completely to others.  Chastity is part of conforming one’s self as a single person to that ideal.  That one will give themselves completely (sexually) to one’s spouse.  While living as a single person, chastity is a way to achieve that self mastery so that when the situation arises after marriage, one can freely give of themselves and not be overwhelmed and mastered by sexual impulses.

Being unchaste  is a symptom of the sexual urge having mastery over one’s self.

That struggle for self mastery lies in many things, not just sexuality.  It’s important to remember that while we are striving for this self mastery, we are not yet perfect.  So we may not have every thing mastered yet, but as one person said that night, “At least we are facing the right direction” so that we can walk down the path towards that.

Natalia suggested reading a book called “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers.  She said that it gives a great example of this objective love and loving someone who has not yet reached perfection.

Read this for inspiration on Objective Love

(The Online Catholic Store describes the book as: this splendid retelling of the biblical story of Hosea, bestselling author Francine Rivers pens a heartbreaking romance between a prostitute and the upright and kind farmer who marries her; the story also functions as a reminder of God’s unconditional love for his people. Redeeming Love opens with the Gold Rush of 1850 and its rough-and-tumble atmosphere of greed and desire. Angel, who was sold into prostitution as a child, has learned to distrust all men, who see her

only as a way to satisfy their lust. When the virtuous and spiritual-minded Michael Hosea is told by God to marry this “soiled dove,” he obeys, despite his misgivings. As Angel learns to love him, she begins to hope again but is soon overwhelmed by fear and returns to her old life. )

Another woman advised that, “If you don’t know yourself, you run the risk of losing yourself in the other person.”

I wish I had a friend to tap me on the shoulder and repeatedly remind me of that while I was in the dating scene!

I commented that it was important to note that Blessed JPII had said that our desire to love, our choice to love “limits” our freedom.  It does not squash it.  It’s important to mention this because often I think people feel as if this kind of altruistic love asks them to give up their free will.  One gentleman quickly came to my rescue to help explain that “this idea of compromise or self sacrificing in order to fully love someone does not mean that we compromise who we are or who God is calling us to be.  We do not sacrifice our “non-drug”-self so that we can attend a Rave party and do cocaine.” It’s sacrificing for the betterment of the other person AND ourselves not at the cost of our dignity.

Brilliant!

Advice for men
One group of men shared the list of “how to prepare to be a man who can give themselves fully in love to another” that they came up with in the small discussion groups.  It was priceless!

Get a plant to take care of so you can learn how to love!

  1. train one’s self in forgiveness – be able to forgive others easily
  2. general discipline – be able to keep a schedule/routine and stick to it
  3. get a plant or even a dog  (this was my favorite!) -so that then, you’ll get used to taking care of something, other than themselves, that needs care on a regular basis.
  4. going to reconciliation on a regular basis.  This encourages one to go outside of one’s self, to admit to another that we “messed up” and shows a desire to be stronger in that area.

Another guy, Tom, offered that he often watches the movie “The Nativity Story” during the season of Advent.  This  love story  between Joseph and Mary really displays that objective love – that self sacrificing love- that Joseph has for Mary.  It’s a way for him to be reminded of this good manly role model of how to love rightly.

That’s all for now – see you at the next Love & Responsibility in NYC!

Real world stories and solutions: How to re-route the make-out

December 21, 2010

What’s more awkward than a crowded winter subway train where people’s bodies are squished like sardines amidst winter coats, newspapers, and morning coffee?

A guy giving you his number on a crowded winter subway train where the people’s bodies are squished like sardines amidst winter coats, newspapers, and morning coffee.  Yep.  That was my morning.

Winter brings the cold.  The cold brings out the gloves.  The gloves hide the wedding ring on the third finger on my left hand.

Ordinarily, for example in a quiet cafe, I’d be flattered and have the opportunity to discretely decline.  But with about 7 people pressed up against us, looking on and within earshot, I spoke the truth, worked through the awkward moment where I told him that I couldn’t call him because it would be inappropriate because I am married, but continued on to the fact that if I ever needed software design or help with a neighborhood watch or flea market, I’d be sure to contact him.  When I first started speaking, it was clunky and he looked visibly uncomfortable.  As I persevered, a look of relief came over his face as I continued past the words of awkwardness to the words that indicated that I had actually been listening to him while he was speaking.   We parted with a smile and all was well.

Make-out re-route successful!

In my earlier post, I talked about how simply “using our words” can flush out confusion and misunderstanding in the particular arena of dating.  Often one person is ready to race ahead while the other is left wondering “how things got so physical so fast!”  Simply “using our words” to communicate to the other, where we are and what is appropriate, allows us to avoid the game of charades, confusion, and mishaps.

This post is more about my real world stories and (hopefully) the solutions that you can use to avoid adventures like these of your own.

Expensive Dinner Danger
Ok, so this story is one where I thought I was being clear enough in the beginning but later discovered that I just needed to state my position more directly.

One day several years ago I was sunbathing in Central Park’s Sheep’s Meadow with some friends.  A friend of one of my friends came over towards us and started to get chatty with me.  Seeing as though I happened to be reading the Bible (not my usual reading material for Central Park btw) and after hearing that I worked for the Catholic Church, and that I attended mass on every Sunday – and sometimes daily, I figured that the chattiness would soon cease.  (These facts usually scared off guys.)  Instead, to my surprise, he persisted.  He mentioned that he had attended Catholic High School and that one of his good friends was a priest.  So, when he asked me out, I thought, “Sure, why not?”

He called me after a couple of days to schedule the time and place for the date.  He said that he wanted to take me out to dinner and wanted to know if I had any favorite places or if there were cuisines that I didn’t like.  I told him that I enjoyed just about any cuisine, but that I prefered foods with a lot of flavor vs a place that just serves a lot of food.  Quality over quantity.   Warning ladies: this is where the make-out re-route should have started.  My advice (now that I’ve learned my lesson) is to keep first dates to coffee, tea, snacks – something short – AND NO ALCOHOL.  I thought I was trying to allow the man to lead – to decide what to do on the date, but what I really did was allow him to set the pace – and set it much faster than I was wanting. Warning: the bridge is out!

So he invited me to go to an expensive all you can eat meatfest.  It was one of those Brazilian meat-a-thon places where the waiters literally bring you 20+ kinds of meat on gigantic skewers they recently extracted from the fire pit.  There was a double-sided paper: green for “go, I want more food” and red for “stop, please don’t serve me anymore or I will explode.”  (Perhaps he mis-heard my statement on not liking huge quantities of food?)  By the way ladies, if you are ever wondering where the men are in this town, the answer is: at one of these meatfest restaurants.  There had to be a 30 to 1, guy to gal ratio in that place.  Go where there is meat and you shall find the men.

This was another make-out re-route point; once I learned that the dinner was expensive, I could have suggested another less expensive option for our FIRST date. Now, gals and guys, I’m not saying that you CAN’T go out on an expensive date.  I’m just saying that you should at least save that for AFTER the first date.

Fast forward through dinner and a clunky conversation, and you’d find us walking uptown for a few blocks towards Columbus Circle.  It was such lovely weather that I had said that I was going to walk home and he offered to walk uptown with me before I turned to head across town.  He asked if we could talk for a little at the fountain in the circleMake-out re-route number 3: I should have seen the fountain and moonlight as a make-out scene from a movie, but I never saw it coming!!!  Mostly, I think, because the conversation had been so clunky. I could have suggested that we simply part ways and leave further conversation for later, but nooooooooooooooo.  I didn’t.

So we sat down at the fountain and we ended up talking about random things when all of a sudden he swooped in for a kiss.  ACK!  Just in the nick of time I remembered to turn my brain on and stop the swoop for the kiss.  In the clunkiest way I think I mumbled something like: “I… I…. I’m not sure that you really know who I am.”  Which does NOT really make sense.  Who am I, a super hero about to reveal my true identity? Fortunately it was enough to make him say, “What?” So I explained, “Well, you see.  I’m really, REALLY Catholic.  I don’t just read the Bible in the park and go to church on Sunday.  I am really, really, really Catholic.”

He was still confused.  I’m not surprised that he was confused.  These days people have come across so many Catholics (including myself in earlier more naive years) who call themselves “Catholic” but don’t walk the talk, that they don’t know what being a practicing Catholic means.

So instead of going through the theology of why I believed what I believed and how I came to believe that, I simply stated the point I was trying to get across to him:  “I will not be sleeping with you or anyone until we are married.  I’m waiting  until my wedding night.  I’m not having any sort of sex until I’m married to the person.” Make-out re-route complete, but with drama.

Get this…

His reply: “This is sooooo stupid.  Oh my gosh.  What are you doing?  You are so beautiful.  What a waste!  What a horrible terrible waste!  Because of some stupid religion you are going to ‘wait till you are married?’  Well, let me tell you – NO man will wait for that.  No man is going to agree to that.  You are going to end up old and alone.”

Old and alone.

The words rang through my head as if someone had just whacked one of those gigantic gongs next to my head leaving my head ringing as if it was the bell at the top of Quasimodo’s tower.

He spouted off some stuff about me being wrong about religion and God – that God had really just come to earth as Jesus because he couldn’t understand us humans.  (That’s a heresy, btw.  God did NOT send His Son so that He could get to know us better….)

This is where it got nasty.  He stood up and said:  “How could you do this to me!  How could you let me take you to that expensive restaurant if you weren’t going to sleep with me!  Man I really thought we could have something here.  I mean, you’re the kind of girl that I would actually want to be my girlfriend, not just a one night stand.  (Oh Romeo, kill me quickly!) How could you do this?  Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

To which I answered, “Let me remind you, you met me in the park.  I was READING THE BIBLE.  I work for the church.  I go to church.  That didn’t clue you in?”

Sadly, it did not.  This guy had been blindsided by my revelation of the existence of chastity.  I thought my game of charades would have led him to KNOW that I wasn’t going to be making out with him at the end of the first date or sleeping with him in exchange for dinner.  I now know that “using my words” is best and that getting it out in the open will avoid situations like this.

I’ve got more stories, but for now I’m going to close this post by saying that even though the above situation was extremely awkward, it was well worth it.

1.) If it weren’t for me, that man might have gone through life thinking that chastity had died out with the dinosaurs.

2.) It gave me the opportunity to stand up for what I believe in.

3.) It gave me the opportunity to persevere – to wait for a man who would wait to have sex AND who would love me for it.

I don’t know what ever happened to that guy, but I do know that I’m not old and alone.  I’m happily married to a wonderful man.  Take that and put it on a skewer!  ;o)

Setting the pace: How to re-route the make-out

December 20, 2010

A friend of mine recently asked me the dreaded question, “How do you clue the guy into the fact that you are interested in a date, but not a make-out session?”

Or how about the even more awkward question, “How do I let a guy know that I want to wait to have sex (and that means all kinds of sex) until marriage?” and, “How do I do this without scaring him off, without seeming like I’m a puritanical museum artifact, and that this viewpoint is not because I’m following orders, but because I know what’s best for me?”

(We aren’t prudes or afraid of physical intimacy, it’s just that we don’t want to get physical before we know enough about the person to TRUST them with our hearts.)

Well gals, it’s tricky – but the good news is, all you have to do is reset the pace.

What not to do: Keep silent and hope he gets the drift.

This approach never works and ends up being like a bad game of charades.  We gals always hope that men will read our minds.  We gals hope for that magical moment when we find that perfect charades partner who seems to know the answer before we even begin to act out the clue.  Newsflash ladies: this will never work ESPECIALLY ON A FIRST DATE.

If we take this approach, men will be left literally scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

How do we reset the pace?  How do we ensure that we are on the same page? We use our words.

When my youngest niece, Bonnie, was about 3 1/2 years old, I lived with her and her family during a time of employment transition (aka unemployment). While living there, I learned a HUGE lesson that aided me in my future dating scenarios and current marriage.

Often Bonnie became frustrated and cranky.  Her parents came to quickly realize that she was most angered when we weren’t doing something the WAY she wanted.  (Typical for little tykes, but also typical for most adults I know. 😛 ) So her parents used a simple phrase that helped little Bonnie to remember that we couldn’t read her mind and that if she wanted us to behave in a certain way she would simply have to, “use her words.”

So my advice to you ladies (and actually this goes for you too, guys), use your words. Just get what you are thinking out in the open.  Say it.

My second piece of advice is to learn the skill of: say what you mean and mean what you say. That means that your actions should back up your words.  Make your body language match what your mouth is saying, but always remember to make your mouth say what you have thought about in advance. (This one is really three parts.  Part 1 is thinking about what you are going to say.  Part 2 is saying what you really mean – don’t dance around the issue or be unclear.  Part 3 is mean what you say – make your actions match your words.)

My third piece of advice is to learn the skills of gentleness and kindness. These skills are VERY different from the skills of politeness and discretion. Politeness and discretion can be easily misapplied in a dating scenario and that can lead to awkwardness and disaster.  Gentleness and kindness will allow you to speak the truth, communicate what you mean, leave no room for misunderstanding, always result in some sort of awkwardness, and in the end, be best for both parties. Given the fact that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently, we are going to have to be more blunt than we are used to.  So I encourage you to persevere just when you think perhaps you should back out.  (I’ve noticed that both guys and gals seem to want to avoid the awkwardness of truth.  Truth is good – don’t avoid it!)

Incidentally:

My encouragement to speak up about one’s intentions is also distantly connected to St. Ignatius Loyola.  (ok – stay with me now, it’s a windey journey, but I’ll try to explain the connection.)   I came upon this insight when I was learning about the Ignatian Rules of Discernment, which were taught by St. Ignatius Loyola.  (If you want to know more check out the books by Fr. Timothy Gallagher; Remember, I’m greatly summarizing here:)  St. Ignatius explained that in the fight between good and evil, the bad spirit leads one away from the good intended for them and thereby towards what is bad for them.  St. Ignatius further explained in the 13th Rule of the 14 rules,  that this bad spirit desperately wants to keep things secret.  This is because it desires confusion and misunderstanding AND it desires isolation.  The opposite of isolation is community.  Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.”  Isolation = bad.  Community = good.

So instead of being in isolation about your plans to re-route the make-out or to save sex for later (until marriage), talk about it.  Mention it. Once it’s out in the open, it’s no longer a ‘conversation in isolation’ in one’s head.

Ladies: DO NOT preface this revelation to a man with, “We need to talk.”  That phrase in itself is frightening.  Just be honest about who you are and what you want and the subject will come up naturally.  Heck, because guys are fertile 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they think about sex 24 hours a day,  7 days a week, so the subject is bound to come up VERY soon.

Perhaps the dance floor will provide us with a metaphor to more easily understand this advice.  Ladies: if you ever find yourself on the dance floor and you feel a little dizzy because the gentleman twirled you around one too many times, you could:

a.) not say anything and hope the guy gets the idea once you puke on his shoes.

b.) quietly say to him, “I’m a little dizzy, could we do fewer twirls for the moment?”

c.) answer his, “Would you like to dance?” with, “LISTEN BUDDY! I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I’M TIRED OF BEING MADE DIZZY BY ALL OF THOSE OTHER GUYS, SO IF YOU ARE GOING TO DANCE WITH ME, THEN YOU ARE GONNA HAVE TO CUT OUT ALL OF THAT TWIRLING!!!!!”

In this example, we can clearly see that option “b”, while a bit awkward, is much better than the puke on the shoes in option “a” and much better than the crazy lady yelling at the top of her lungs in option “c”.  “Using our words” in option “b” allows the man to know what is appropriate so that we can both continue to have a happy fun time.

As I’ve said before, there are no mathematical equations for ensuring non-disaster dates because it involves two complex individuals and too many variations to summarize in one short blog post.  But seeing as though most people just want to hear real life situations and real life solutions to the questions they have, I will rehash a number of my dating adventures  in my next post with the following question in mind: How do I re-route the make-out?

Slow down girls: Patience is a virtue.

August 20, 2010

Patience is a virtue.

The past few weeks, I have been attending the new Love & Responsibility in NYC discussion group.  It is held once a week on Tuesdays at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in SoHo to read and discuss the book Men, Women and the Mystery of Love, by Ed Sri and how it relates to life in NYC.  (The book is a synopsis of the book Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla – later Pope John Paul II; hence the name of the group: “Love and Responsibility in NYC”.  Check out the group here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=144079242285587&ref=mf)

Each week the group reads a chapter of the book aloud, followed by questions to the entire co-ed crowd, and then breaks out into smaller groups of men and women.  As we’re all familiar, the difference between men and women is vast and complex, so these smaller groups enable the chance to delve into the questions as they relate specifically to each gender.

A couple of weeks ago after we read the 2nd chapter:  “Beyond the Sexual Urge we broke out into small groups – and I was asked to lead one of the small groups of women.  Our small group was about 20 women (there were probably about 100 people total; about half of them were there for the first time). ”,  (see an online version of the chapter here http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/marriage/mf0076.html)

Overall, there were some REALLY great comments!  I was surprised to find the women so open and ready to participate.  As the women were commenting on the subjects of love, lust, and usery, one sentiment kept arising: “be patient.”

Throughout the break out group I was comparing the questions at the end of the chapter of the book and with the conversation that was unfolding.  If the topic veered off on a tangent, it was my job to redirect the conversation back towards what had been covered in the chapter that evening.   There was plenty of conversation.  The women all had something to contribute to the conversation, yet it seemed that they weren’t focusing on what had been read that night.  No matter how hard I tried to direct the discussion back to the topic of “the sexual urge”, the women kept coming back to the subject of being patient.

Patience. Be patient.

Their point was that they often found themselves rushing into having a physical relationship with someone which resulted in them feeling used.

My concern was that if they focused on just being patient, they would really just be repressing their desires until they felt it was appropriate to finally let go.  Imagine a slingshot….. you pull, pull, pull back – and then POW! Powerful release.

Sounds nice, but it’s actually a pretty bad idea. Slingshot is powerful but it’s not exactly precise – and can be quite deadly! Remember David and Golliath? 😛

You don’t want to get into a situation where you are simply repressing your sexual desire so that someday you let go completely and pummel another person with it! Especially because that someone is someone whom we love and to whom we are trying to show our love to!

So, little o’le me,  kept trying to re-direct the conversation – and try as I may, the women kept coming back to “patience.”

Gee! Did we accomplish anything?!?! (insert God laughing here)

On the way home I was chatting with my husband who had attended the evening and had participated in the men’s small group discussion.  I asked him how he thought the discussion went in his group.  He said that it went well, but that the discussion sort of seemed incomplete.

As I was about to chime in that the same thing had happened to me in my small group, the Holy Spirit whacked me upside the head with a mini-revelation.

The women had been right all along:  Be patient.

Why?

Because: Love is Patient.

Love is patient and kind, ….

1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Love is patient and kind;

love is not jealous or boastful;

it is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

it does not rejoice at wrong,

but rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things,

believes all things,

hopes all things,

endures all things.

Love never ends;

as for prophecies, they will pass away;

as for tongues, they will cease;

as for knowledge, it will pass away.

For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;

but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child;

when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.

Now I know in part;

then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

So faith, hope, love abide, these three;

but the greatest of these is love.

So here I was, trying to convince the women to talk about something other than patience, and all the while, the Holy Spirit was reminding me that Patience is a virtue that we must strive for.  Patience is something that we need.  Yes, we can fool ourselves into thinking that we are being patient when really we are just holding on till we can finally let go.  That’s not really patient – and it’s not love.  It’s conditional.  It’s, “I’ll do this, and in return, you’ll be nice to me.”

Eww.

Incidentally, Women, if you are on the dance floor and you aren’t being patient, it produces the same result: Ewww.  That’s what a guy says when we go rushing towards him.  Whether it’s on the dance floor or in the dating scene.  Ok, I admit that initially a guy might get a short lived thrill out of a girl who is not being patient and rushing into things.  But in the end, they get bored.

Why?

Because they are no longer part of the dynamic.  The guy can just stand there while the impatient girl throws herself at the guy because the girl got tired of waiting for the guy to pursue her.  Or while the girl turns herself on the dance floor doing little pirouettes around the man – and YES I’ve seen this transpire on the dance floor!  It makes it so that the man’s creative involvement in the dynamic between the man and woman gets canceled out.  He builds momentum as he draws the girl’s body in a straight line towards him, but because she’s so excited that she’s finally on the dance floor, she forgets to follow his lead, runs right past him, and arrives somewhere else on the dance floor two full beats before she needs to be there. AWKWARD!

So ladies: be patient – on the dance floor and off.

(The virtue of patience also applies to men, of course, but since the discussion that night really dealt with the women’s comments on the subject, I thought I’d direct this post to them.

Thank you to the women who were there that night.  Thank you for being an avenue for God to remind me that sometimes, the simplest ideas are best: Love is patient.  Look for that.  Strive for that.  Really live it. The world will be a much happier place if you do…

and life in New York City will never be the same.

“By the 3rd date” – Dating plan for men

April 29, 2010

So if you’ve read my earlier post “How to date (and dance) in 2010,  you might be wondering HOW it works….

Here’s the game plan for men – “By the 3rd Date” (women listen up – because this is what the guys will be doing and why)

Step 1: Be receptive to what God is bringing into your life -most likely there is a lesson in it. Things in life happen for a reason. God puts people into our lives for a reason, so be open to what it is He is trying to do. There might be a lesson for us, or their might be a lesson for the woman, or both.

Perhaps there’s a woman in your life who has caught your attention, but isn’t exactly what you imagined when you thought of who you would date. Consider asking her out on a date.

Look for who you are inspired by…

or who you find alluring…

or who you find to be kind…

or who you find to be generous…

who you find is thoughtful of others…

who you find to be patient…

someone who is trustworthy…

someone who is gentle…

or even perhaps has amazing cooking/baking skills. 🙂

Step 2: Ask a girl out on a date. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Yep – that’s all you have to do, ask.

Right now you might be saying, “Uh – yeah, but HOW? How do I know if she likes me? How do I know she will say, “yes”? ”

Here is the BIG SECRET: You’ll know that she’ll say yes, when she says yes, and she’ll only say yes, AFTER you ask.  So ask.  🙂

This is your chance – your chance to be a leader.  It’s your chance to see something admirable in someone, to feel inspired, and to follow that inspiration with action.

Now you might be saying to yourself: “yeah, but what if she says no?”

She might.  But you will never get a chance of her saying, “yes”, unless you ask, so it’s time to muster up some courage and ask her out for coffee. Don’t start with dinner – that’s a little too intensive.  Coffee, tea, or a walk in the park, let her know that you are interested in getting to know her a little more.  It also gives her time to get used to the idea of going out on a date with you. If she knows that the date isn’t going to last for 3 hours then she’s more likely to say, “yes”.

It’s similar on the dance floor.  If a woman gets the sense that you are only asking her to dance for the next song which will only last about 3  1/2 minutes long, she’s much more inclined to say, “yes”, than if she gets the impression that you want to dance with her all night.

First dates are notoriously horrendous, so plan on having an awkward coffee date and then wait for the second date where both people wont be as nervous.

WARNING: in this modern age, you might find that women are doing the asking out.  If a woman asks you out, say, “no”, even if , ESPECIALLY if, you really like her. The dating arena is where you get to improve your manliness skills.  It gives you the chance to be courageous and daring, all for the simple reason that you wants to spend time with a woman. Believe me, it will make all the girls swoon. It also gives you the chance to learn how to discern what you want and how to take action because of it.

If a girl asks you out say, “Oh! what a compliment – that’s nice of you.  Actually, I’m going to decline because I prefer to pay women the compliment of asking them out.”  If and only if, you are already interested in her, say: “But I would like your number so that I can give you a call sometime this week.”  DO NOT ASK FOR HER NUMBER UNLESS YOU INTEND TO ASK HER OUT FOR A DATE.

DO NOT GIVE HER YOUR CARD IN THE HOPES THAT SHE WILL RETURN THE FAVOR BY GIVING YOU HER CARD. You should be doing the asking out on the date, so it’s your job to ask for her number and follow it up with a call. Don’t say, “call me sometime.”  It sounds great – and oh so smooth, but it’s a disaster.  It just doesn’t work.  It leaves you wondering when she is going to call and wondering if she’s really interested AND it leaves her wondering IF she should call you and then wondering what the conversation would be about/like.

Don’t ask her out in front of a crowd or in front of friends. It’s too much pressure for her and too embarrassing for you if she says no.  If she’s in a crowd, quietly ask her if you could have her number so you could give her a call tomorrow. You need to let her know WHEN you will be calling.

Step 3: Wait for her answer – accepting it gracefully. Hope for her, “yes”, but be prepared for the possible, “no”.  If she says, “No”, reply with, “Oh O.K.  Thank you.”  and drop the issue.  If she says, “yes”, proceed to Step 4.

Step 4:  Plan the date/ work out the details of the date. *** It’s best to have a place and time in mind BEFORE you ask her out.   Even if the plan changes, she will appreciate the fact that you thought about the question in advance.  It says to her, “This isn’t a hypothetical question.  There really IS coffee and I really DO want to spend time with you.” 😛 But if this was a spur of the moment date-asking-opp – like asking for her number, then just be sure to have come up with ideas on where and when before you call her.

WARNING: Going out for drinks is one of those things that sounds like a good idea, but ends up being a mess instead.  If you want a woman who will be flirty with you – totally in to you – and then wont return your phone calls the next day – OR the reverse – gets all clingy and weird, just be sure to take them out for drinks on the first date.

If you like drama, then feel free.  Otherwise, steer clear of alcohol on the first date.

Step 5: Pay for the date. I don’t care if it’s a slice of pizza, coffee, tea, or a steak dinner: PAY FOR THE DATE.  If you can’t afford it, don’t ask her out for a steak dinner,  ask her to go for a walk, or a Mr. Softee Ice-cream cone – or heck, a bottled water.

This will be a struggle for the women, so do this gentlemanly thing for them… especially if they protest.

Here’s why: The dreaded, “going dutch” absolutely kills any chemistry and any romance. It’s the “safe” way to date – which turns out to actually be a disaster. It’s like the Titanic. Big unsinkable ship. Sounds good, but it ends up sinking. Again – not inherently wrong or sinful, it just doesn’t seem to work in the natural order of how a man and a woman were designed to relate to each other.

NEVER EVER quickly pay for a friendly get together with a woman friend of yours so that THEN it will qualify as a date. We women can see right through that.  We want a man who is courageous enough to ask us on a date, not one who does a bait and switch act on us. Ewww.

Step 6: When it’s time to say good bye: Say, “thank you”. DO NOT: kiss her … or anything beyond that. IF YOU TRULY HAD A GREAT TIME, then say, “I had a great time, thank you for allowing me to take you out.  Have a good night”. DO NOT SAY WHAT YOU DO NOT MEAN.

If you feel a moment of awkwardness because it CLEARLY was NOT a great time for either of you, say, “thank you for allowing me to take you out on a date. It was very generous of you. Have a good night.”

Step 7: Give her (and yourself) time to process the date. Don’t ask her out on the 2nd date in person – ask her over the phone. This means you don’t send her emails, text messages or phone messages that night “just to let her know that you had a really great time.”

Wait till at least the following day to ask her out on the 2nd date.

Here’s why: You want to know, is she saying, yes freely? You want her “yes” to be freely given, not because there was an awkward moment of silence or because she felt pressured into it.  Sometimes women are “nice” – they put on a smile – and say, “yeah I had a great time.” when really they are quite the opposite.  This is a BAD habit.  It’s sort of like when people pass you in a store and say, “hey how are you doing?”, but by the time they finish saying it they are out of sight and actually have no intention of hearing your reply.  VERY rehtorical. Enable her yes to mean yes.

Ask her out on the 2nd date over the phone.  This gives her the option of gracefully bowing out of a second date if she thought the first date was a disaster.  It can be longer than the first date – but it doesn’t have to be. Really the 2nd date is to get a better grasp on IF there is chemistry and IF this is the type of person that you would like to hang out with some more.

What if you don’t want to ask the woman out on a 2nd date? As I stated earlier – 1st dates are notoriously horrendous. So – don’t judge the whole woman on how the first date went. It often takes women until the 2nd date to really relax into the idea of being out on a date with someone new.  So try to remain open.

Step 8: Wait for her answer,  accept it gracefully. See step 3.

Step 9: Go out on the 2nd date. Be polite.  Be generous.  Be courteous.  Open the door for her. Pay for the date.  Don’t talk about ex’s.

Step 10: Say good bye and thank you. See step 6 REMEMBER: DO NOT KISS HER.

Step 10: Wait at least 2 full days. Reflect on the experience. On the third day if she hasn’t contacted you, ask her out again. Give yourself some time to reflect on the dates.

If by this time you have zero chemistry with the woman and zero inclination to get to know her any further, then it’s time to bail out.  Preferably over the phone – though if you have primarily been communicating via email that is O.K. too. TEXTING IS NOT APPROPRIATE. It’s cowardly and too brief. Contact them and say, “Thank you very much for allowing me to take you out on those dates. I wanted to let you know that I’m not interested in going on further dates. Thank you so much”

She may respond with, “Oh, ok – thank you. Good bye.” She may also respond with “why?” Your answer should be: because it’s just not the right match. Or there isn’t any chemistry. Some persons are well suited, and I dare to say, designed for each other…. to be complimentary. It’s O.K. to notice that the fit doesn’t work well.

It’s not ok to just fall off the face of the planet. The best idea is to close the chapter so that she’s not left wondering what is going on.  It’s also the best idea for you so that if you accidentally bump into her in your next job interview or the next big social function it wont be so awkward. 😛

(If you need a third date, then repeat the steps relating to the 2nd date.)

(If she is following the “by the 3rd date” plan, then she will contact you to let you know if she is not interested.)

“By the 3rd date” – Dating plan for women

April 28, 2010

So if you’ve read my earlier post “How to date (and dance) in 2010”,  you might be wondering HOW it works….

Here’s the game plan for women – “By the 3rd Date”
(guys listen up – because this is what the women will be doing and why)

Step 1: Wait for a man to ask you out on a date. Right now you might be saying, “Ugh! If I wait for a guy to ask me out, I’ll be 80,  knitting a sweater, and living in an apartment with 8 cats before I have a date.”

I know it might FEEL that way, but believe me, it won’t take that long.

Here’s why: There is nothing inherently WRONG or sinful in asking a man out on a date.  BUT if you do ask him out, you rob him of the chance to ask you out.  It’s very simple.  In fact, You TEACH him how to NOT be a leader.

By rushing in and asking him out on the date, you teach him that he doesn’t have to pursue you.  In short, if you ask him out for the first date,  you will probably have to do the asking out for the second date too, and so on and so on.

ALLOWING the man to ask you out on the date, gives him an opportunity to improve his manliness.  It gives him the chance to be a man who knows what he wants and then takes action.  He becomes courageous and daring, all for the simple reason that he wants to spend time with you. (*Swoon*)

It also trains him to ASK for what he wants.  So if you feel called to the vocation of marriage and hope that someday the right man will ASK you “the BIG” question,  then make sure you aren’t teaching him to do the opposite.  You want to find a man who already has the skill-set of “knowing what he wants and ASKing for it”.

***Just some clarification: It’s O.K. to drop signals that you are open to going out on the date.   Don’t stonewall yourself into your room and expect a man to knock down the wall to ask you out.  That being said, be sure you aren’t overstepping your acquaintance/friendship boundaries either.  Be on the lookout for a  future post on boundaries…

Step 2: Be receptive to what God is bringing into your life -most likely there is a lesson in it.

Things in life happen for a reason.  God puts people into our lives for a reason, so be open to what it is He is trying to do. There might be a lesson for us, or their might be a lesson for the man, or both.

Step 3: Say, “Yes.” ***Even if – especially if–  he isn’t really your type.   NEVER say yes if you get a predatory or creepy vibe from him.  Always listen to your safety instincts (because it may be your guardian angel warning you.)

Step 4: Allow the man to plan the date. ***It’s best to start with a coffee/tea date.  Dinner takes too long and going out for drinks just makes you friendlier and more flirty than you normally would be. Coffee or tea or a walk in the park is a nice short chance to get the first date jitters out of your system.  So while it’s good to allow the man to plan the date, it’s ok to head him in this direction, should he suggest a 3 hour trip to the Met and dinner. (Another disaster dating story of mine.) So just say, “Wow dinner is very generous of you, but would you mind if we start with coffee? or tea?

Step 5: Allow the man to pay for the date. I don’t care if it’s a slice of pizza, coffee, tea, or a steak dinner: LET THE MAN PAY.  Gone are the days when we women have to prove that we are strong women by paying for all of our dates……

I use the term “Let” the man pay, because for women this will be a struggle.  She will wonder if she should at least gesture to grab for the wallet.  She will wonder if he wont call her again because she wouldn’t pay for her $2.50 slice of pizza.  She will think, “Oh I want him to know I have a good job and that I can take care of myself.” She will not want him to have any power over her… i.e. he paid for my steak dinner so he’s going to demand a make-out session from me.

So, women: don’t pay for dates! (Not just first dates – all dates!)

Here’s why: The dreaded, “going dutch” absolutely kills any chemistry and any romance. It’s the “safe” way to date – which turns out to actually be a disaster.  It’s like the Titanic.  Big unsinkable ship.  Sounds good, but it ends up sinking.  Again – not inherently wrong or sinful, it just doesn’t seem to work in the natural order of how a man and a woman were designed to relate to each other.

It will be a bit scary at first, but look at it like it’s an extreme sport like cliff diving or jumping out of an airplane.

Step 6:  When it’s time to say good bye:  Say, “thank you”. DO NOT: kiss him … or anything beyond that.  DO NOT say, “Thanks so much – I had a great time – we should do this again sometime.”….

Here’s why: it is the man’s job to pursue you.  The man gets to lead at this point.  If he had a great time, then he can express that.  You allow him to make his statement first – then you can respond nicely – IF YOU TRULY HAD A GREAT TIME.  DO NOT SAY WHAT YOU DO NOT MEAN. If you feel a moment of awkwardness, say, “thank you for taking me out on a date.  It was very generous of you.”

Step 7: You wait for a man to ask you out on the 2nd date. This means you don’t send him emails, text messages or phone messages “just to let him know that you had a really great time.”  What you want to know is: Is this guy interested in ME enough to ask me out on the 2nd date.

The 2nd date can be longer than the first date – but it doesn’t have to be.  Really the 2nd date is to get a better grasp on IF there is chemistry and IF this is the type of person that you would like to hang out with.  Ask yourself, “Are they a good influence on me?” Do I admire them?

Step 8: Say Yes to 2nd date – even if you didn’t see romance sparks flying on the 1st date. As I stated earlier – 1st dates are notoriously horrendous.  So – don’t judge the whole man on how the first date went… unless of course he was a complete jerk.  I once had a guy yell at me at the end of the first date because even though he had paid for a fancy dinner I wasn’t interested in a smooch-fest with him. Needless to say I did not have to “wait” for the 2nd date to say, “no thank you.” So unless the first date was a complete disaster due to rudeness or inappropriateness, you say “yes” to the 2nd date.

There’s a reason behind this too. Saying yes twice will help affirm men that we appreciate their efforts to woo a woman.  I’ll have to ask my guy friends, but I think that, most likely, guys feel as if the first date was out of sheer luck – or perhaps a flippant answer because the woman was caught off guard and didn’t know how to respond.  So it’s important that, as women, we affirm men when they are doing manly things.  (This is why if there is rude non-gentlemanly behavior on the first date, you can skip to the no-thank you part. We don’t reward someone for acting like an ass… and by that I mean a donkey.)

It’s also important that as women, we give ourselves some time to relax into the situation.   So often we rush ourselves.  During the date -or heck, even before a guy asks us out, we are so busy trying to determine if the man could be “the one,” that we completely miss out on the pleasure of enjoying their company. So – take your time to relax into the date so you don’t miss it.

Step 9: Say good bye and thank you. See step 6

Step 10: Reflect on the experience – take action. Give yourself some time to reflect on the dates.  Was he courteous? Was he kind to others? Is he generous? How does he like to spend his time?

If by this time you have zero chemistry with the man and zero inclination to get to know him any further, then you must take action and let him know BEFORE the third date. “BY THE THIRD DATE” you should have a pretty good idea if you are a good fit for each other.  If you need a third date, then repeat the steps relating to the 2nd date.

You MUST take action quickly.  Within 24 hours of the 2nd date (or 3rd if you needed more time), you need to contact the man.   Preferably over the phone – though if you have primarily been communicating via email that is O.K. too.  TEXTING IS NOT APPROPRIATE.  It’s cowardly and too brief.  Contact them and say, “Thank you very much for your generosity in asking me on those dates.  I wanted to let you know that I’m not interested in going on further dates. Thank you so much”

He may respond with, “Oh, ok – thank you.  Good bye.”

He may also respond with “why?”

Your answer should be: because it’s just not the right match.  Or there isn’t any chemistry. We as women want to soften the blow by giving a very long list about WHY we gave our answers.  OR by delivering the dreaded “Well, I just don’t see you that way – I only see you as a friend.” or “You’re a great person, but….”  It is unnecessary and inadvisable to do this sort of thing.  Any sort of list would only belittle the person you are speaking to.  It is almost as if we deny the person’s worth: You aren’t good enough for me – or you aren’t the “perfection” that I’m searching for.

BUT there IS validity in the fact that some persons are well suited, and I dare to say, designed for each other…. to be complimentary.  It’s O.K. to notice that the fit doesn’t work well.  It’s like a puzzle piece that looks like it should fit with the rest, but it doesn’t.  If you jam it in there, it will just warp the piece… there’s a place for it – it just isn’t right there. (But don’t USE the puzzle piece metaphor when giving him the answer…. he’s a person, not a puzzle piece.) Tricky, I know.

So – follow these steps, and others that I will illustrate in future posts….

and you may just find yourself happily married to a man who’s much more well suited for you than you could have ever imagined.

I did. 🙂

How to date (and dance) in 2010

April 26, 2010

How to date in 2010….

You might be saying, “Why are you writing about dating? I thought this was about Theology of the Body  and/or swing?”

I was rather reluctant to write about dating, because it is such an individual experience, and I thought it to be a little off-topic.  But time after time, the subject keeps coming up.  Women want to know how to date (and dance) successfully and men want to know how to get a woman to date (and dance) with them.  On and off the dance floor, women and men relate to each other and how well they relate to each other determines if the relationship flourishes or withers.

After many disastrous relationships and broken hearts, I came up with a new (for me) plan for dating and my inspiration came from the dance floor.

On the dance floor in Lindy Hop Swing, the man is the lead who determines where the partners will go on the dance floor and what dance moves they will do. Don’t worry gals, there’s plenty of room for you to be creative, but your first goal is to allow the man to lead.

So my plan, and my advice to you, is to let the man lead in the dating scene as well.

(At this point you are probably thinking, “Hey I thought she said this was dating in 2010? maybe she said 1910?”.  If you are thinking that, stay with me – it has a happy ending.)

Part 1: Men lead.

Part 2:  Women allow the men to lead.

Sound simple? Yep.  It is.

Practically speaking its a bit trickier.  Because we live in a world that is so accustomed to women taking charge and “being the same” as men, women have been trained to steal this ‘opportunity to lead’ away from men.

Women: this will be a challenge for you.  It will feel completely foreign at first… sort of  like trying to write with your left hand when you are right-handed.  It will appear as if it is easy to do, but it will prove to be trickier than you expected – AND most importantly it will allow you to grow your skill set…. AND make you a stronger woman. Sound good? O.K…..

Now that you have the game plan in place, how do you implement that into daily life? Try the:

“By the 3rd date” Plan (20+ and 30+ somethings…this is for you.)

The “By the 3rd date” plan was something that I was inspired to do after numerous dating disasters.  I was 30+.  I had read a few books on dating but they were either suggesting that  I live a “Sex in the City” life (ACK!) in order to secure a mate OR they were written for 13 year-olds and suggested having a chaperone at every date.  I had tried blind dates, online dating (popular sites and Catholic sites), being out and about at numerous social functions, and of course just meeting someone by chance.  All of them had proved to be what I affectionately call “disasters”.  They were learning experiences – and what I learned is that people don’t know how to date.

In short, with “By the 3rd date” you go out on two dates,  IF by the 2nd date there is ZERO – I mean negative amounts of-  chemistry, then don’t go out on the 3rd date and be open to what God brings you next.

The first date is always a disaster because both people are nervous.

The second date you get to know the person a little more.

God created hormones that we can detect just by standing near someone.  Those hormones (pheromones) are indicators of when we are fertile and when we are not, AND who we will be compatible with and who we will not.

If by the 3rd date, there is no chemistry – no indicator – no inspiration to proceed, then it’s time to listen to that signal and move on.

By the way – this is similar to what happens on the dance floor. In Lindy Hop Swing, it is common to lead some dance moves in patterns of three.   If however, the man leads a dance move and the first time the woman doesn’t follow the lead and fumbles, he leads it again to give it a second try.  IF the second attempt is a complete disaster too – he discerns that it’s not a good fit, and leads a different move.

There’s more to this, but so as to not make this post too long, I’m going to break it up: “By the 3rd date”- for Women and “By the 3rd date” for Men.