Dear Auntie Seraphic,
First of all, let me just mention what a HUGE relief it was to stumble upon your blog about a year ago when I was adjusting to life outside of my Catholic university bubble. I had gone straight from a place where everyone was a practicing Catholic to a [graduate] school where no one else was. Your blog and book was a huge comfort for me that I was not all alone.
Now, please enlighten me in your Auntly way.
I am a single Catholic in a secular place full of intelligent guys who share my dream about becoming a [professional] and helping others, who share my hectic lifestyle, and are like me in many ways. I also have very few Catholic friends here (but I have found a few through sheer effort). Naturally, I get crushes on these [grad] school guys. They usually are attracted to me as well.
However, the CHASTITY talk looms over it all since even if these guys go to church on Sunday, none of them are waiting for marriage. Last time, I told the guy really early on and while he claimed to "respect" my choices, it all fell apart very quickly. Currently a different guy likes me (and, of course, I am attracted to him as well) but while I made sure that he knows I am a believing Catholic, I am certain he doesn't know what that means. So a) when is the best time to tell a guy and b) what is the best way to tell him? I feel weird bringing up sex even before we have our first kiss, but I also don't want to get hurt again.
Also, Seraphic, I am guilty of feeling ashamed about being chaste. I love theology of the body and I am grateful that I have managed to save myself for marriage. But, in this setting with all of its secular values, I often feel like I will be very judged about this. I don't want to be "that virgin girl". And I always think , "well this or that guy is nice but still he'll turn and run when he knows he won't get any sex for at least a year if he's with me". This all partially stems from my last experience in dating where that pretty much happened. Even though I know that it is a clear cut sign that such a guy wasn't good for me, it just re-enforced my faulty thinking. How can I put all this in a better light in my own head?
One last thing: ideally I'd like to marry a Nice Catholic Boy and I am doing everything I can think of to make that more likely. I go to mass, I go to young adult groups, I tell all my Catholic friends to introduce me to any NCBs. I'm even on a Catholic dating website (I know how you feel about this and I'm not crazy about it either, but who knows what God's plans are!).
The fact is, though, that 90% of my time is in school because that will be my life for the next two and a half years. I know I will continue to be attracted to non-Catholic fellow students and I don't want to be single that whole time, either! Please help me figure out how to handle this situation.
Thanks for all you do for us NCGs!
Dear Chastity Shame,
Ah, those church-going Single guys who put out. I have a lot to say but this morning, but I am distracted by the thought of all those Christian guys getting action, half-encouraged by the silence of their preachers on the issue. And I am thinking too about guys from Mediterranean cultures whose parents don't really care what their sons get up to, but heaven help their daughter if she behaves like a putana, blah blah blah.
I have a theory about guys like that. So far I can't prove it, so just take it as a theory--and a not very original one, at that. My theory is that guys from Latin Catholic or other Christian backgrounds who put out have two lists they carry around in their heads. Most of the time, when they see a girl they'd like to sleep with, they put her on the "potential girlfriend" list. Then, when the subject of sex comes up, and the girl gives him The Chastity Speech, if he really likes her, he puts her on the "potential wife" list. If he doesn't, he vamooses, and good riddance.
This is why, in fact, The Chastity Speech is our good friend. Though embarrassing, it gets rid of the real jerks and it puts us on the correct list of the Good Hearted But Culturally Conditioned Towards Double-Standards. Incidentally, I occasionally get emails and search words from girls who are utterly horrified to discover that their boyfriend/suitor is not a virgin. But this is a whole other topic I will write about later.
So enough about them. What about you? Well, first, it is not a good idea to tell people you are a virgin, or to bring up virginity or sex or any of that. For one thing, it is so not anyone's business. For another, there are some disgusting men who love to date virgins because they think virgins are challenges to be conquered. Men aren't challenged much any more, so many find a virgin-challenge either a major affront to their rights or a problem to be solved or both.
Virginity is a very, very good thing. However, it is also a very private thing. And therefore, even when we are proud of being virgins, we don't tell people. The only people who need to know are (A) your doctor, (B) your confessor (maybe) and (C) your fiance, whoever he is, once you're engaged.
Remember that chastity is RIGHT and sexually active unmarried people are WRONG, and that legions of women of all religions and none refuse to just go along with lustful men's plans for them. You are not robbing men of their rights; they have no right to sex. If they want to have sex, they should get married. End of story. (For millennia before 1960, men who really couldn't wait went to prostitutes and paid money for the privilege. Now respectable women, women who would make great wives, are expected to act like prostitutes who don't even get paid; to hell with that.)
You don't owe anyone The Chastity Speech up front. When it comes to those who have sexual relations outside of marriage, they are the weirdos, not you. Meanwhile, there are thousands of non-Catholic girls (even atheist girls) from all over the world who tell men every day "No thanks. I'm not interested in that." So don't bother with The Chastity Speech UNTIL the guy brings up sex. Be very careful about third dates. Make sure they are in public, and don't go back to his place or invite him back to your place. Meanwhile, you are NOT wasting anyone's time by dating them chastely. Chaste friendships are the norm, premarital sex is not.
Meanwhile, I have become super-strict in my old age, and I don't think a girl should even make out with a guy unless they are engaged or almost engaged. This is because even just making out releases a "bonding hormone" called oxytocin in your brain that makes you fall in love with a man before you really know who he is. In short, this hormone can overcome your reason and lead to your putting up with bad behavior and generally behaving irrationally. If a guy really cares about you (the only guy you should give a minute of your time), if you say "I'm not ready for that yet", he will respect you. If he ditches you, the sooner he does, the better for you.
But don't think that all guys will run. We kind of get this idea that most guys--especially if they don't belong to "our group" (e.g. Protestants)--are absolutely allergic to chaste girls. But this simply isn't true. There are decent men of all religions and none who are delighted to find girls who think sex is just for marriage.
One way to make sure you are courted only by those men who think you are marriage material is not to chase after men yourself. Sadly, men who are chased after will encourage a girl even if they're not serious about her at all, and would never have gone after her, because they think she might be "easy." Yes, this sucks.
Finally, it is better to be completely single for 2.5 years than to go through the dating-break-up treadmill, believe me! (Cultivate friendships, especially with fellow girls.) Incidentally, being attracted to lots of lovely clever men and doing nothing about it is good training for being a married lady, if that's what God calls you to be. Married women are not magically blinded to the attractions of men-not-their-husbands. If you cultivate chastity in Single Life, it will be easier to stay chaste in Married Life.
I hope this is helpful.
Grace and peace,
Update: Once again, I would like to remind Catholic virgin girls that you are not the only chaste girls on campus. There are dozens and dozens of women of all religions and none who simply do not go to bed with men. No matter what people tell you, you are not THAT unusual, courageous, blah blah blah. You are simply as most societies in most of history expected respectable girls to be. And that is a very good thing. Try not to obsess on it.
Meanwhile "My body, my choice" is a slogan that makes no sense when it comes to the lives of the unborn, but it makes complete sense when it comes to sex. No-one has the right to lay a hand on you without your permission. You don't have to give them permission, and most of the time (if you're unmarried) you shouldn't.
Update 2: Yes, I know it's hard. It's probably harder now than ever before. But we all must deal.
Update 3: How did I end up talking about chastity again? Aaa!