I'm sure I'm going to say this a lot, but I find it crass that two young women who have had a grand total of a single rumored courtship between the two of them expect us to listen to them about how to have a healthy relationship with men.
Actually, I'm being overly optimistic. We're going to hear about how all of their "friends" have shitty relationships.
Bluntly, I learned most of what I know about relationships from listening to adults discuss the positives and negatives of ongoing relationships going on around them. I also watched the adults around me to see how people treated each other and which relationships I wanted to emulate some day.
"Ashley, 24, has known since she was 17 the Bradley was The One. All these years she's clung to every possible reason to hope, cherishes every friendly gesture... and now she's really from his announcement that he's just become engaged to one of her friends... (pg. 191)"
- Yikes. This - THIS - is what happens when you teach your kids Emo-Pure (Emotional Purity) crap. Let me elaborate:
- I totally thought a guy named Scott was the One. He was sweet, quiet, nerdy and visibly liked me. I would daydream about how great our lives would be together. Guess what? Scott is not my husband and we never went on a single date.
- Why was that? Well, I was either 12 or 13 when I had a massive crush on one of my school classmates. We danced at the school dances; we chatted at and after school. If he or I had ever been brave enough, we probably could have gone on a "date" to a public place during the day with our parents waiting around to give us rides home.
- Why did we drift apart? We were teens! I knew the chances of marrying the kid I met in junior high was 0% and eventually we went to different high schools. I'm sure Scott is doing fine wherever and with whoever he is with today.
- Real takeaway from this synopsis:
- Let your kids have age-appropriate crushes so they aren't learning what a crush is at age 17-24.
Poor Ashley is still racking her brain to figure out what exactly just happened. All the evidence was pointing to Bradley's intention to marry her: the time he walked her to her car when he saw her out shopping by herself, the time he gave her a book for her birthday, the special way he always smiled when greeting her, the fact that their families have been such close friends for so long, and the fact people often hinted what a cute couple they'd be. How could her deduction has been wrong? How had her little grey cells led her astray?" (pg. 193)
- Yup, Ashley made some mistakes. She took some very mild signs of interest and whipped them into a huge dream. Especially if these 5 cues have been stretched over SEVEN years. That's less than 1 event per year.
- Real takeaway:
- For your own sanity, set an upper time limit for how long you are going to cherish a crush without actual movement towards a relationship.
- In the real world, Ashley could make her interest known or even ask Bradley out. But even in CP / weak women land, decide how long you as a woman are willing to wait for a guy to ask you out before moving on. If a guy is available and interested in you, do you really want him to know that you will wait for him forever without a single damn sign from him? Have some self-respect!
Let's retrace this trail of purely circumstantial evidence. First of all, Bradley had a reputation for doing chivalrous thing like opening doors for every girl - the fact that he walked her to her car but nothing beyond the fact that he was a thoughtful fellow. Second, it was only natural for his family to give her a birthday present, since they were at her party - the fact he carried it into the house and put it into her hands revealed nothing beyond his habit of carrying things. Third, smiling was Bradley's modus operandi whenever he saw another person and meant only that he was a friendly person. Fourth, fact that the families have both known each other forever was not a sign from Heaven of a match made in, um, heaven. Fifthly, gossip and conjecture or more often a red herring than an indication of God's future plans. (pg. 193)
- Hmm. Notice that the Botkin Sisters changed the scenario a bit to make Ashley more of a fool.
- In the first quote, Bradley gave Ashley a book for her birthday. Even in the real world, that could be an actual sign on interest - and possibly a very thoughtful gift.
- In this quote, Bradley hands Ashley a "family" gift and silly Ashley thinks the book is a personal gift! Goofy Ashley - we should mock her! But let's be honest - by age 17, she would be able to figure out the difference between a gift from the entire Smith family and a present from JUST Bradley.
- I will concede that the rest of the "evidence" that Ashley used was really slim - but is that entirely her fault? Did Ashley choose to be that sheltered?
- This scenario points out a huge flaw in the Emo-Pure outcome of having courtships hidden to protect people from getting the reputation of having a failed courtship. Ashley was UNAWARE that the guy she was interested in was in a semi-serious relationship with a friend of hers.
- This happens occasionally in the real world, but not very often.
- Real life takeaway:
- Let serious relationships be known publicly.
Deanna is 20, and think that Gabe is amazing - though she knows she should control her emotions, it's getting really hard the more she realizes he likes her. The cozy feeling of being liked is intoxicating, and so are their flirtatious repartees. It has crossed her mind that these romantically charged interactions might be out-of-bounds, but they might also be a good way for the two to try each other out. But the thrill of being " in a relationship" without commitment starts to lose some of that sparkle when Deanna realizes that Gabe is sharing the exact same kind of give and take with Esther...(pg. 191)
- Ok, I'm not even sure what the actual problem is here. Gabe and Deanna flirt because they are attracted to each other, but they aren't in an actual relationship. Gabe flirts with Esther and Deanna finds out. This is an amazingly normal situation in real life.
- I just realized that the Botkin Sisters have no schema for dating at all. (I honestly had never thought about that before....) For most people of my generation, there were a few stages of dating.
- First, you became interested in the person either from a growing sense of attraction in a previous relationship or from being set up on a date.
- Second, you went on some number of no-pressure, no expectation of exclusivity dates. You were not in a relationship; you were "going on dates" with what's-his/her-name.
- Third, either you went your separate ways - no harm, no foul in the ideal outcome - or you moved into an exclusive relationship. This was often the point where you described your relationship as "dating" and your love interest as your "boyfriend" or "girlfriend".
- Fourth, you either broke up - often an unpleasant experience, but nevertheless a needed one - or you moved forward to living together, becoming engaged and/or marrying.
- The problem is that the Botkin Sisters - and really everyone spawned from "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" - is that they don't differentiate between any of those four stages! All romantic interactions are coded with the same importance, mutual trust and expectant hopes as someone moving into a long-term relationship in "Stage Four". That's completely bonkers.
These are classic "It's Complicateds" because they're not defined at any point, and no one, including the involved parties, knows exactly where they're going. Let's use Deanna and Gabe for an example. How did Deanna get herself so entangled with Gabe? Answer: deliberate romantic encounters and emotional fire-stoking. The reality is, our hearts crave to be in a relationship, starting long before we're ready to get married. Deanna was enjoying her romantic fix and the warm fuzzies of the love with no strings attached. It wasn't until she became dependent on Gabe's interest that she realized that this kind of romantic free-for-all meant that there would be no strings attached to Gabe either. And because Gabe was only in it for a good time, he was free to move on once the relationship wasn't meeting his needs and a better time appeared on the horizon. (pg 195)
- Here's the resultant crazy of refusing to even try and understand the larger Western societies methods of dating.
- Anna Sofia and Elizabeth are implying that Deanna was expecting the same level of commitment from Gabe as she would from a boyfriend or fiance. I don't see any real support for that. Yup, Deanna enjoyed being around Gabe and started developing "emotional fire-stoking" or even -gasp!- sexual attraction to Gabe. Seeing Gabe flirt with Esther would suck, but Deanna's a big girl and she'd get over it or move on.
- Why is Gabe made out to be a libertine? Deanna was as free to flirt with Jason the Racoon Hunter or Rex the Reformer as Gabe was to flirt with Esther.
- Real life advice:
- Try not to put the cart before the horse.
- When you realize you put the cart before the horse, you have every right to feel disappointed or angry or sad - for a while. The next step is to move the horse in front of the cart again and mosey along the road....
Some people justify taking each other out for a romantic spin by saying, "we thought we'd try a lot of people out to see which one would be the best match" or "I thought it would be a good idea to secure him just in case." But test driving someone romantically, whether for kicks, for science, or for strategy, is not how we keep romance in the context of marriage, where it belongs. We can invent a thousand excuses, but at the end of the day, we don't do it because it's wise. We don't do it because it's loving. We don't do it because we're pursuing purity. We do it because it's so much fun. (pg 195)
- Ok, the two justifications are not the same.
- Dating to figure out what you like - and learning what you hate - is normal and acceptable.
- Dating someone as a fall-back position is cowardly and a rare example of a behavior that will likely create very negative gossip that is deserved because you are leading your boyfriend/girlfriend on while preventing them from finding someone who actually loves them.
- It's so adorable that the Botkin Sisters think that the Bible places gives a shit about romance in a marriage! The Bible has a lot to say about marital rights and responsibilities, but spending romantic moments with your spouse is a very modern event made possible by technology. In Biblical times, you'd both be working your fingers to the bone to keep your family fed, clothed and housed; a living, working spouse was a gift from God and the loss of a spouse was catastrophic.