Monday, April 17, 2017

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Chapter Five-Part Three

Welcome to the last installment of Chapter Five on how to deal with crushes.   The advice and exhortation section in this chapter is pretty formulaic while the anecdotes run the gauntlet between terrifying and sad.

The first chunk of the chapter addresses the fact that most people have crushes during their life and explains that the issues surrounding crushes have to do with how people behave when they have a crush, not the fact that you are attracted to someone.  None of this is particularly ground-breaking, but it's nice that Ms. Mally at least sets a reasonable bar that actions matter more than thoughts.

The first anecdote is a doozy:
"What if I have a crush?

Have you ever made your dad panic?

Once when I was about 8 years old, I scampered into the house and with a mischievous smile I announced, "Dad, I fell in love today!"

Believe me, that got his attention! He looked up at me with a worried expression on his face and said, "You did?"

"Yup! I fell in love with this adorable Dalmatian puppy at the pet store. Can I get it? Please?" Dad smiled with a look of relief. "(pgs. 91-92)

  • I've never made either of my parents' panic before - and Sarah's Dad didn't panic in this anecdote either.
  • If this story is true, Sarah's Dad needs to get a freaking life.  I had a crush on a kid in my first-grade class named Brad.  We were inseparable for a few months and then drifted apart over the summer - mainly because we were EIGHT years old!  That was the same age that I wanted to visit the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" because I thought it existed somewhere.  When my parents tried to explain the idea of movie sets, I just figured that someone built an entire replica of the actual Enterprise and was filming the series inside the life-size replica.  An elementary school crush is very normal - and not something for an actual adult to panic about.
  • I am very skeptical of the authenticity of that story, though.  With Sarah Mally being a few years older than I am, this story apparently happened before 1988.  This either means that the Mally Family was way ahead of the curve on implementing Emo-Pure or the anecdote has been burnished a bit to make the Mally Family seem more like the ideal CP/QF family of the 2000's. 
This leads into a few paragraphs describing how everyone will have crushes from time to time (which is true) and how hard it is to train your mind not to dwell on a crush.  I don't remember my crushes being all-consuming, but I had a lot of things to keep me busy between school and sports when I was in junior high followed by harder classes and extracurricular activities in high school.  This meant that I didn't have a lot of extra time to think about my romantic interests outside of when we were interacting.

"When I was about 13, our family became acquainted with another Christian family who had a son a few years older than I was. I liked him right away. He seemed so considerate and nice. I admired some of his talents, and most of all, he seems like such a strong Christian leader. He was the first guy I ever really liked, and I felt so embarrassed. I didn't want anyone to know how I felt about him. After all, I was only thirteen! I wasn't considering getting married for years. I tried to avoid him so that no one would guess that I was attracted to him. I tried not to talk about him with my family or others because I worried that they might be able to figure out that I liked him. "(pg. 92)
  • I find 13-year-old Sarah's attraction to a "strong Christian leader" who is 15 or 16 years old absolutely adorable.  That's such a normal 13-year-old thing to do!  (Well, maybe not the "strong Christian leader" bit, but I've had crushes on equally flimsy footing before.)
  • I was pretty embarrassed about having crushes - but not because I was too young to get married.  A crush is an intensely personal experience and I was acutely aware that my view of Matt or Jason or Patrick was not shared by the entirety of human kind.  The embarrassment phase passed quickly for me because my parents and friends didn't tease or bother me about my crushes.
  • For me, the issue wasn't that I didn't want anyone to know how I felt; it was that I had no idea how to explain how intensely I felt attracted to Scott or David or whoever.  There are just not enough adjectives and adverbs in the English language to describe how floatingly giddy I felt when I was around my newest crush.
  • Like Sarah, I completely believed that I could avoid anyone knowing when I had a crush by keeping my cards close to my chest.   Looking back, the only person that tactic fooled was myself - and I'm willing to bet that no one was fooled by Sarah's tricks either.
"But inwardly I was struggling. Even though I didn't see him very often, I frequently found myself wondering when I might see him again and questioning if he could be the right one for me. I remember that when I would practice the piano, ride my bike, or have spare time, I would frequently be struggling with these thoughts and asking the Lord to help me not be so distracted.

A few years later I got to know this young man a little bit better and realize he was definitely not the right one for me. I lost interest, but I wondered when my next crush might happen and if I would be able to handle it any better (pg. 93)
  • Ironically, 26-year-old Sarah isn't much better at putting the dots together than she was at 13.  
    • The best way to keep a crush going is to never interact with the person you have a crush on at all.  I've had a crush on Geordi LaForge for Star Trek: The Next Generation for 20 years or so.  He's smart, handsome and imaginary so I never have to deal with any of the annoyances of finding out the flaws and irritations that come with real people.
    • Conversely, the fastest way to get rid of a crush is to spend a lot of time with the person you have a crush on.  Everyone has really annoying habits and quirks.  Since a crush is predicated on having the ideal romantic partner, finding out your crush has the table manners of a hyena or sniffles all the time can do a lot to end a crush.
  • The last paragraph is inadvertently terrifying.  First, it implies that Sarah kept a candle burning for this guy for three years at least!  Second, she only had a single crush on that one guy in those three years.  I'm chalking that as another unintended example of how lonely her life was as a home schooled teenager with two siblings in Iowa; it sounds like she didn't meet enough guys to have more than one crush.
  • For me, having crushes on real guys disappeared pretty rapidly in my late teens because I had no exposure to Emo Pure doctrines.  I had plenty of male friends.  When I found myself highly attracted to a guy - friend or not - I could get to know him better without obsessing over giving pieces of my heart away.  On top of that, I could date.  That means I didn't have to keep my expectations low while waiting for my crush to notice me, become marriage-eligible, and get my father's approval before finding out that my crush bores me to death.
The rest of the chapter is how to deal with crushes.  I can condense the gist into a nice bulleted-list for you!
  • When you have a crush, hide your emotions so deeply inside of you that no one - not even you - can feel what's going on.
  • Pray.  A lot.  Pray for him, for you, for your future husband, and his future wife.  (She missed "his future kids", "your future kids" "all of both lines eventual descendants", and "the livestock acquired when you and/or he marry including, but not limited to pets".  May as well be thorough.)  Don't forget to memorize chunks of Scripture.  
  • Get your parents involved.
Ms. Mally shares how getting your parents involved helps:
"The second way to deal with your crush is to talk to your parents about it. This might be difficult, scary, or embarrassing for you, but most likely your parents have already guessed how you are feeling. If you tell them, they will be better able to pray for, protect, and advise you. Confiding in your parents often relieves the pressure on you and may lighten the intensity of your "secret" crush. Sometimes they're able to help you think more realistically about your future and give you a new perspective about what type of man they believe the Lord has in store for you.

Several times when I've told my dad or brother that I've noticed a certain young man, they have said that if they get a convenient opportunity they will try to get to know him better. Often they're able to come up with interesting observations that I didn't see, and they will come to me saying,"Sarah, have you noticed this area?" Dad usually say, "I question "such-and-such". My brother Stephen will say, "He's kind of weird!" But I'm serious - dads and brothers can be great analytical agents! When they notice an area of weakness in a young man, it gives me a clearer perspective of the whole situation and makes it easier for me to stay focused on the Lord, rather than dreaming about the possibility of "so-and-so" . It frees me from any pressure or temptation I might be feeling to try and get to know him better, and keeps my emotions from getting involved unnecessarily. (pg. 94-95)

  • I don't think that it is a good idea to chat with your parents about a crush if you feel scared at the prospect of doing so.  That's a sign something the kid is picking up on something being off in their family dynamic.
  • I know lists are supposed to have at least three items, but the prayers of a parent do not become magically more effective when the parent is sure that their kid has a crush on their classmate instead of being mostly sure.
  • Talking about your crush may lighten the intensity - but so will doing almost anything!  Crushes are most intense when a person sits around and broods on the subject alone and least intense when the person is doing a captivating activity.
  • Crushes do not require a chat about your kid's future since crushes dissipate once your kid gets to know their crush better.  Plus, that's bringing an AK-47 to a longbow archery demonstration in terms of overkill.  
  • When your children are infants, parents can plan just about every aspect of their lives.  By the time your children are teenagers, parents guide and facilitate the teen's plans for their lives.  If your kids are old enough to be considering marriage, parents need to have stopped planning their offspring's lives for them - and that includes detailing who the parents thought the kid should marry.  After all, CP/QF is a small, insular community.  Describing the type of person a parent thinks the kid should marry has a huge overlap with saying "I've always thought you would marry Billy-Bob's son Jimbo".
  • Nothing says placing your daughter's interests first like trying to get to know her romantic interest if an opportunity happens to appear.  Getting to know a person with the undeclared intent of figuring out if they are good marriage material for your child is so creepy - and generally a case of putting the cart before the horse since the other person has not expressed an interest yet!
  • Taking your brother's advice on dating can make sense if your brother has enough life experience.  Sarah Mally was 26 when this book was written and Stephen is about 6 years younger than her.   I might have taken my younger brother's advice on if he liked my boyfriend when he was 20, but only in terms of "my boyfriend is non-crazy, right?"  Since this book seems to be written for girls in their teens, I would hope that Sarah Mally wasn't sending her 13 year old brother out to do recon on her crushes when she was 18 because that's just odd.
This whole book is about ways to avoid interacting with guys, honestly.  There is a palpable sense of relief in each anecdote when Sarah has collected enough negative information from her family to shut down any more contact with a specific guy.   That theme reaches back into the allegory for the last few chapters as well; Sir Eloquence's main flaw was that he was attracted to the Princess - the rest of the negatives about Sir Eloquence were based on the King's gut feeling that Sir Eloquence was not telling the truth.  Likewise, Sir Valiant's only demonstrated virtue is that we are not certain he knows the Princess exists.   That's one of the largest flaws in raising kids to value Emo-Pure.  When a person has been raised to fear accidentally giving away a chunk of their heart, reaching out to form a bond with a romantic partner can be impossible.

The next chapter is titled "When God Says To Wait" which feels redundant to me; the Princess has spent five chapters waiting around the castle daydreaming already.


  1. Yes, I agree she seems relieved whenever a family member gives her ammo in her pursuit of rejecting all possible love interests. It's really sad. I think she needs a heart to heart with herself about why she's doing that.