A friend of mine recently got me hooked on the PBS series Downton Abbey, which takes place in the early 1900’s. The parents of three daughters are often host to potential suitors for their oldest, Mary. The heir to their vast estate is Matthew Crawley and seems a logical match for her. Yet upon arrival to Downton his ungentlemanly, unrefined behavior is unattractive to her. Over time, Matthew embraces the aristocratic culture in Downton, befriends Mary and she begins to genuinely fall in love with him. One night at a dinner party, the family was entertaining another potential suitor for Mary, Sir Antony. Only Mary wasn’t interested in him. So, she turns her full attention to Matthew while her sister, Edith, engages in conversation with Sir Antony. After dinner, in an arrogant act of impulse, Mary insists to Edith that she could get any man. To prove it, Mary at once turns her back on Matthew and begins to flirt with Sir Antony. After being snubbed by Mary, Matthew promptly leaves the party. From the window, Mary watches Matthew walk away, clearly regretting her actions toward him. Watching all of this unfold from the sidelines, Mary’s father says quietly to his wife, “She thinks if you put a toy down it’ll still be there when you want to play with it again.”
I’ve played the role of Mary countless times in my own life. What Mary’s father said about her was true about me too. I had been operating with the selfish notion that the men in my life were at my disposal and I had infinite chances to “blow it” with them. My wake up call came when I actually had someone in my life with whom I could see having a future. Instead of nurturing the relationship, I broke up with him with little explanation. Six months later, he gave me another chance and I did it again. Time went by and he gave me yet another chance. At this point, I had destroyed any trust he had in me. Our relationship, or even friendship, was never the same. While Mary acted in her arrogance, I acted in my insecurity. Call it “the grass is greener syndrome,” sabotage or whatever. We both had our reasons, but the reasons don’t really matter. The bottom line is that I took him for granted. I didn’t appreciate having him as my boyfriend until I had lost him. There was no recovering from that – the consequence being I killed the relationship.
What would I have done differently? I would have:
Acted on the vision of my future with him, not my past with other men. Stated differently, I would have dealt with my baggage. By treating him as if he were every other guy who had hurt me, I was making him pay for their wrongs. This was a new relationship with someone who loved me, therefore deserving of a clean slate.
Shared with him the issues with which I was dealingat that time. He was a very tender-hearted man and told me at one point that he could tell I was dealing with something. I didn’t tell him because I didn’t want to be v-u-l-n-e-r-a-b-l-e.
Appreciated everything that he was for me, rather than indulging in my insecurities. I was admittedly obsessed with what could go wrong in our relationship. How could I possibly enjoy being with him with that constantly running in my head?
Given him credit for being an adult. That means trusting him to be able to handle bumps in the road with me. Of course, to do that requires communication. He didn’t know because I was unwilling to share it with him. In hindsight I can see that he’s dealt with plenty of issues in life, many were just as difficult as, if not more than, mine. He could have managed it. Also, being outside the situation, he probably would have done so more skillfully than I.
Moved on after breaking up with him the first time. To repeatedly go back and forth with him served only me – selfish. It kept him in limbo, fueled his insecurities because he never knew where he stood with me and completely ruined his trust in me. I wasn’t respecting him or his heart.
Having a love worth keeping really is like winning the lottery – it seldom happens and doesn’t happen for everyone. Playing games like Mary or I did, regardless of your reasons for doing so, will always have its consequences. I’m not saying that there are no second chances. Plenty of people get married after a second chance. What I am saying is appreciate your first chance in a relationship and treat it as if it’s your last because it could be exactly that: your last chance.
If you were a subscriber to my blog last week, you received an email for my post (published formally today, in fact) Keep Your Pants On. . .All The Way On. Actually, I had forgotten that I had it scheduled to post automatically last week, July 13, and I was not done editing it. I found out that it had been published when it simultaneously posted a notice to that effect on my Facebook page. Surprise! Immediately, I pulled the post off the worldwide web; I could not take it back from your email boxes. So if you tried to access the post that way, you probably saw a message that post could not be found.
I hope you’ll forgive the oversight that might have caused you some confusion. The post is ready for reading now. Enjoy!
I really struggled with writing this tip; it’s steeped in timeless controversy. Hold on to your seat because what you’re about to read goes completely against our culture, but it works. My intention for putting it out on the worldwide web is to make a difference for you.
When you’re dating these days, keep your pants on. Stated simply, don’t have sex. I can just hear your argument as I write this. In all of my discussions with all sorts of people from all different walks of life, most people argue with me.
Just like everyone else, I have an opinion and you can either agree with me or not. However, based on my experience refraining from sex simply works for a number of reasons. Here they are:
Chances are, you don’t know him very well.Why do most jobs require a 90 day or longer probationary period for new hires? Companies these days are wise to the fact that it takes some time to find out if a new hire is the right fit for a position within the company before they’ll extend full benefits. Knowing that corporations proceed with caution when they form relationships, why would a woman give her body to a man after knowing him for even less time than that? Realistically, it takes far longer than 90 days to get to know someone well. Many people I know, hop in the sack with a guy after only a few dates. Do you really want to give your body to a man before you know him? Is he going to look out for your best interest? Is he trustworthy? Does he trust you? Does he love you for the woman that you are? Does he have good friends? I could go on and on. . .
You’ll have no regrets. Ask any girl who has had sex with a guy and I promise you’ll never hear her say, “I wish I had sex with him sooner.” Most girls wish they had waited longer and gotten to know a guy better before having sex.
Whether you want it or not, sex creates an emotional bond between you and your partner.How many times have you stayed in a relationship with someone who wasn’t right for you because you had trouble walking away from him? How many times have you sat by and watched a friend stay in a miserable relationship with a guy who was wrong for her? Whether you like it or not, you’re going to bond with a man with whom you have sex. Take an, honest, realistic look at the man with whom you’re involved. Ask yourself, “Do I want to bond physically with this man such that I will remember his body for the rest of my life?”
Sex creates baggage you carry into your next relationship.Yikes! It’s the “B” word. When you bond with someone physically and that person leaves your life via a breakup, baggage results. Often what you’re left with are feelings of inadequacy: “I wasn’t _______ <you fill in the blank> enough for him to stay.” What happens is that you spend energy in the next relationship trying to be “enough” of whatever you believe was missing in the last one. The man you’re then dating is left scratching his head wondering why you’re trying so hard to be something you’re not.
Refraining from sex keeps your head clear. While I won’t get into a chemistry or biology lesson, most of us know from experience what a powerful motivator sex can be. You’re a grown up. One of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life is who you choose as your partner in marriage. Supposing that you date for the purpose of finding that partner, you’ll want to make your choice wisely. I think we can all agree that would be incredibly stupid to make that choice under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is equally as stupid to make that choice under the influence of sex.
You want to stay STD free. STD’s are a whole different kind of baggage. Contract something serious and you’ll quickly learn that pre-existing conditions are not covered by health insurance. To put a nasty, ugly spin on it, you don’t want to make yourself a carrier that perpetuates disease in our society. Besides, your health and well-being are far more important than a romp in the hay.
The last thing you want is to be a single parent. Condoms break and birth control can fail. Even though the birth control pill can be 99.97% effective if you use it “perfectly,” it can fail as much as 8% amongst those who use it imperfectly, according to Wikipedia. Eight percent! There’s a reason why there’s a disclaimer with every package of any type of birth control; the statistics are real. Having been raised by a single parent I can tell you it’s far from ideal for both you and a child.
It won’t make him stay. If there’s a man in your life who loves you, he’s going to stay with you through the good times and bad, sickness and heath, job or no job, because he loves the person you are. A man who is willing to walk away from you because you won’t have sex with him is not with you because he loves the person you are. Should you date a guy who needs to “take you for a test-drive” before he’s willing to commit, let him go.
You’re worth more than your body. Let’s face it. The easiest thing is for someone to be attracted to you because you’re beautiful or well-dressed or successful or athletic or anything else that shows on the surface. Ask anyone, even men, and they’ll tell you that one’s physical appearance only goes so far. I’ve known more than one girl that lots of guys found “Hot!” or “sexy.” Yet, when the guys found out they were opportunistic, dishonest and materialistic they wouldn’t have anything to do with those girls. A man who loves you will grow more attracted to you the more he gets to know you. The woman that you are will be increasingly more beautiful to him.
Once you go there, you can never take it back. I’ve witnessed the regrets of some of my friends who’ve had sex with someone they wish they hadn’t. So great was their regret that they would literally hide whenever they’d see that person coming. While that’s a bit extreme, realize that when you’re in a relationship you can always choose as a couple to pick up the pace in your relationship. Remember that once things get sexual, it’s nearly impossible to slow things down.
It makes a difference for the man you date. Unless he’s weird, there’s not a man on the planet that likes to imagine the woman he loves or is dating having sex with another guy. Even as a woman, I hate the idea of the man I love being with another woman. Imagine the security you bring to the table in your relationship if you’re the type of woman who demonstrates that you don’t have sex with every guy you date. There’s a lot of comfort in that.
There are my 11 reasons. I could actually come up with more. Keep in mind that I write these tips in the hopes that it could bring one woman closer to having the relationship she so deeply desires. That you’re reading this means you are a thinking individual capable of making your own choices. Think about what you’re doing. Always remember that you have a choice in relationship too.