Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Chaste Taste

p>My book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On, due out in December, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Since Amazon won't yet let you look inside the book, my publisher has allowed me to give you a little taste. The following is from Chapter 9, "Tender Mercies: Reconnecting with Your Vulnerability":
The realization that I had blunted my emotions for the sake of physical pleasure helped me gain the strength to resist casual sex.

Healing the damage takes time—but there are some fun surprises along the way. The biggest surprise for me has been discovering how much there is to like about men.

I now notice things about the men in my life that I never noticed before, like their thoughtfulness, their love of family, their integrity, even their vulnerability. These are intangible qualities that don’t jump out at you when you’re in a frame of mind where you’re viewing men only as potential dates. Put together, they add up to character. It’s the most important quality to seek in a husband, and the one that’s least discussed in this day and age.

Likewise, when you become chaste, you’ll notice for the first time that women who have sex outside of marriage don’t really appreciate men. You can’t see this when you’re having nonmarital sex, because you don’t realize how much there really is about men to appreciate. You think the mere fact that you’re attracted to them and that they seem to wield such power over you shows you appreciate them for what they really are. From there, it’s a short step to the cynical stereotype we all know from popular culture—the worldly wise, “been there, done that” single woman who doesn’t trust men any farther than she can throw them.

On television and in movies, if a single woman is friends with a man, the pal’s more often than not a homosexual. The message is that heterosexual men aren’t capable of friendship or even worthy of it. In contrast, gay men are depicted as safe and nonthreatening, trustworthy, and having more to give than straight men.

Imagine if the tables were turned. Imagine watching a TV sitcom where all the gay men are Neanderthal lunkheads, while the kind, thoughtful straight men are always ready to help their female friends without asking sexual favors in return.

If you saw a show like that, you’d think the producers really had it out for gay men. Yet, many women tolerate such stereotyping against straight men, because they’re conditioned to expect “manly men” to lack character. Part of this conditioning comes from the media, but a large part of it—I’d say, most—comes from such women’s own warped perspectives, brought about by the superficial nature of their dating experiences.

When I had premarital sex, I became accustomed to seeing myself as a commodity — a varied collection of looks, wit, intellect, and je ne sais quois. I looked for men whose commodities were worth as much as my own.

Most of all, I looked for men whose commodities were readily apparent. The singles scene isn’t known for its subtlety. Men who were reserved or modest, who didn’t flirt readily, who weren’t attuned to my single-gal vibe—the nature of my casual-sex mind-set forced them all out of the running.

Is it any surprise, then, that I tended to date narcissists? And that I believed, if I let them reach me emotionally, they would hurt me? So, I built up walls of protection. I thought I was “guarding my heart.”

Today, I see those walls for what they really are — and they look like poorly installed weather insulation. They don’t do anything they’re supposed to do. The chill winds of rejection seep through, while the warm breezes of love are muffled.

I still have a lot to learn about sustaining a lasting relationship, but I firmly believe that during the time I’ve spent working at chastity, the hardness that men perceived in me has been gradually melting away. In its place are an openness and a vulnerability that makes me more susceptible to being hurt, but infinitely more capable of attaining and sustaining the lifelong marriage my heart desires.
Buy The Thrill of the Chaste on Amazon.com.