The following is a guest post by my dear friend, Janae.
Over and over and over again… it felt like we were on a merry-go-round.
It was fun and everything until we tried to get off and walk away as if nothing happened. The nausea and headaches and spinning became stronger each time. I was walking sideways in the relationship, no matter how much I tried to pretend that everything was fine.
Honestly, I was sick of trying to hide the spinning inside my head. It finally hit me one day that I wasn’t just spinning; I was hurting myself interiorly. So I broke up with my boyfriend.
You might have guessed by now that my boyfriend and I struggled with chastity.
We were ignoring chastity. In fact, for a long time we had been building habits of intimacy with each other that really belonged in marriage.
It was easy on our dates and times we “hung out” to play it off, enjoy being close to each other and find pleasure in each other. After spending time together, it was always as if I could see which way the path turned, but because of those habits on the merry-go-round, I couldn’t walk straight.
I built three main habits by spending so much of myself in that relationship:
- I would share my body before marriage if the guy loved me.
- I defined myself by the guy who called me every day, gave me his hoodie, and told me I was beautiful.
- I figured out how to suppress my conscience.
Two teary months after the breakup, I made a dry-eyed decision. I needed to build new habits called “virtues,” which can be defined as “habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1804).
Sounds so wordy, right?
Basically I decided that to build new habits I needed to strengthen three things:
1. My intellect
My thought-processes were not logical.
I thought that it was okay to give my body, my mind, and my emotions away to a guy that was not only very loosely committed, but obviously was using me.
Hate to break it to you, but dating is not quite as committed as marriage. He could choose at any time to leave the relationship which I trusted intimately. He seemed to think he had rights to touch me and kiss me and my intellect would say that was okay.
I needed to work on my thinking mechanism.
2. My faith
I thought of myself as “____’s girlfriend.” If he did not text me, I was lonely. If he did not kiss me goodbye, I was hurt. I defined myself by the relationship.
Ultimately, I cannot base my worth on a guy who is finite. I am loved completely and created by a God who is infinite and will never leave me. His “text” is readily available with whispers of the truth of my identity. I needed to accept His love and allow it to define me.
3. My will
Whenever we were doing things that made my intellect object saying, “Hey, are you sure this is okay? This doesn’t seem right”, my will would exclaim, “Oh, shut up!” I told my conscience to hush because I wanted to enjoy the pleasurable moments. Additionally, I trained my will to indulge in my passions. I needed to refocus it on true love and selflessness.
How in the world would I be able to work on all three at once? I needed a dating fast.
Fasting is a time when we choose to seek growth in virtue by cutting something unhealthy out of our lives. I chose to fast from dating for six months.
I knew it would be a challenge when I decided, but I had no idea that very evening when I walked out of a piano recital just how hard it would be. In the field beside the recital hall, a huge bunch of the Christian guys I had just met were playing frisbee shirtless!
As I tried to avert my eyes, laughing internally, I thanked God for the opportunity to grow and asked Him to strengthen my intellect, will, and faith. After all, I’m not capable of doing this on my own!
How do you take a dating fast?
Here are three concrete ways I am participating in this dating fast:
- Prayer time- daily and helped along by some great readings on love and relationships
- Dating Detox: 40 days of perfecting love in an imperfect world by Kevin and Lisa Cotter
- Unashamed: Candid Conversations about Dating, Love, Nakedness, and Sex by Tracy Levinson
- Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge
- Single Conversations by Kara Beth
- Women’s groups- I want to get involved with my sisters in Christ and build relationships with them in small groups and one-on-one
- Choosing to spend time with guys only in large group settings- worship nights, game nights etc. at the church without the need to be more than siblings in Christ
I can tell you that although I am not even halfway through this fast from the dating merry-go-round, God has already loved me and shown me that He desires my heart first.
He is the first love of my life and will show me how to truly be in right relationship with guys in the future.
Hey! I’m a 21-year-old piano major at Texas State University. My favorite thing to do is praise the Lord in worship and song. As a music major sometimes I’m a bit of a perfectionist, but I also adore working with kids who are just nervously beginning to play piano. It reminds me of the joy God sees in watching His children! Someday I hope to direct music at a church and have a Steinway piano studio in my home.
When I die, I hope my journals are turned into a book series so people can learn from the ridiculous things I’ve done. I’m so blessed by the way God has worked in my life and pray that you are too.