Last week, I went out for brunch with some of my Orthodox girlfriends when our conversation turned to dating and relationships. I sat awestruck that these beautiful, smart, kind, successful women are all… single!
Uplifting, I know.
So, when my friend handed me the book, How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul, I snapped it up and devoured it in a day, dog-earing every other page. The book is written by a Catholic couple who offer ladies (and men) a solid 101 for dating in our crazy world.
Here are ten takeaways that have resonated with me:
1. Give yourself an LKP (Loving Kick in the Pants)
As one woman mused, “If you have to ask someone if he’ll still love you tomorrow, then he doesn’t love you tonight.” If you want a guy to love you, live in such a way that makes him in awe of you. Become what you are: unrepeatable.
2. Remember, you are NOT a fruit
I am not a fruit. I grew up near a marketplace, and the men would walk down the aisles of fruit. The men picked up and examined everything before they bought one. They would touch them, smell them, handle them, and toss them back into the pile. After rummaging through the batch, they would pick one, buy it, and leave. I am not a fruit.
3. Purity is power
If it is power you seek, try holding back. As one woman noted, “[Purity] is not a matter of asserting power in order to manipulate. It is a refusal to exploit or be exploited. That is real, and responsible, power.”
4. Relationships are a threesome – with God
Love as experience [with man] should be subordinate to love as virtue [with God] so much so that without love as virtue there can be no fullness in the experience of love [with each other].
5. Be a turtle and take your time
How sweet it is to hear, “I’ve never seen a woman as beautiful as you are. You are the only one who has ever touched my heart.”
The drama of Faust and Margarete comes to mind. It is so terribly tragic that when Margarete finds herself pregnant, abandoned, and in a desperate situation, she utters the words: “It was so good; it was so beautiful.”
She nurtured the illusion that the “great” man who conquered her actually loved her and, when her eyes were opened, she was threatened by despair.
“I wish I took less time to get to know him better,” said no one ever. Take your time. It costs you nothing and if anything you’ll have a great friendship. As Aristotle says, “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow-ripening fruit.”
6. Solve the mystery
I once heard it said that when a guy often acts disrespectfully to you, his bad behavior is not a piece of the puzzle. It solves the whole mystery. It tells you who he is.
7. Avoid “petting”
Old chastity books used to recommend that couples avoid “petting.” But there’s wisdom in this. Intimate touching and embraces tease your body and only serve to make purity more difficult. Keep your affections simple, because the further you go, the further you’ll want to go.
In other words, on a physicality scale from 0-10, it is easier to stay at 0 than it is to stay at 1.
8. No man-begging
The following may sound politically incorrect, but it’s true: A girl is out of place when she pursues. Likewise, the guy is out of place when he’s the one who has to be swept off his feet. Just imagine a guy leaning over his balcony at night, blushing as he listens to a young lady serenading him from the garden below. In her stilettos, she carefully ascends the lattice outside his room to bring him flowers and a kiss. There’s a reason you’ve never dreamt of doing this.
9. Make your priorities your priority
Make your own list but make a mature distinction between what’s essential and what is not. This is not a list requiring perfection. But it should contain the essentials of a healthy relationship. If you’re not willing to date a person unless he’s perfect, then the fault is not in him. It’s in you. It’s wise to set these standards before you enter a relationship instead of springing them on a boyfriend who barely meets half of them.
What are some essentials that should be on your list?
*I want him to be my best friend
*He needs to love God more than he loves me
*Instead of bringing out my weaknesses, he brings out my dignity
*He is kind and gentle with me
*He builds me up and does not wear me down
*Besides respecting me, he respects himself
*I want him to have strong morals so I don’t need to convince him of mine
10. Pray on it
Ask God to help you. Talk to Him – heart to heart – about all of this. He’s there for you, and will give you every grace you need to conquer your fear.
“Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.”
And finally, a prayer for single or unmarried persons.
I pray that we Orthodox Queens spend our days with gentle, loving, respectful Orthodox Kings (not Princes!) who practice our Faith with us – not for us. May our hearts be open, loving and fiercely courageous throughout our journeys in love.
I wish you all the best!