Monday, 17 January 2011

Auntie Seraphic & a Nice Old-Fashioned Girl

In case you were wondering why I was so passionate on Saturday, it is because I got this letter on Friday.

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

I met a young man recently. He is [my age but] he is sexually experienced and I'm not. We went on two dates that went well, and on the third date, although he never pressured me into anything physical and we did hold hands and kiss, the sex discussion did come up.

He is from out of town, [though] planning to move closer, and was staying with a friend for the weekend. It was late at night and he said he didn't have a key to his friend's apartment, and asked if he could stay with me on my couch (I live alone).

I trusted that he wouldn't do anything inappropriate, but I still did not feel comfortable, and refused. I told him I'm old fashioned and I don't let someone stay overnight if I don't know them very well (side note - I later called his friend and apologized for waking him up and asked if my date could go to his place and everything turned out fine).

Anyway the discussion with my date kept going towards the sex topic and away from the staying-on-the-couch topic. And of course I eventually mentioned that I'm waiting for marriage.

This is a nice Jewish boy that I met in shul [Seraphic's note: her synagogue]. He seemed religiously observant, as he properly read the prayers in front of everyone, which normally takes a lot of practice. Even if a guy goes to shul it's very very rare that he shares my values. I'm talking about extremely religious guys as well.*

At first he kept saying things like "You don't belong in modern times, this is not how things work nowadays" and "You'll be single forever", and "I have friends who are waiting and waiting for their girlfriends, and I think these guys are total morons"

But then the questions went more towards "Why? If you've had sex before, why does another guy get the goods and I don't?" .. And then "The only logical explanation is that you're a virgin... Is this true?" well of course I had to tell the truth.

The next day he apologized for being a jerk, but he still told me I needed to learn to be more flexible and less stubborn, and that I need to meet him "in the middle" (He didn't specify - heavy petting? clothes on or off? it's something I've been wondering about).

He said if a woman makes a man wait for sex, then she has all the control over a relationship. And he doesn't want that, he wants an equal relationship with equal partners. [Seraphic's Note: I emphasized this part because this is the part where my head almost exploded.]

I asked him to give me a week to think about it. He agreed. But then we talked last night after the week was over, and he said it was inappropriate of me to make decisions like not talking to him for a week, that again I'm not being fair and an equal partner. [Seraphic's Note: Head exploding...] I tried to explain that I was upset and needed time to think. He said he was just honest with me and not saying things out of malice and I need to not get upset/defensive over him expressing his mind.

Since the first few meetings with him went so well, and this change so sudden, I'm trying to decide if he's just young and stupid, or if he's a manipulator, or... I don't know. We agreed to meet again tomorrow in daylight in a public place, but I still have time to refuse. My questions to you:

1) You mentioned before that virginity is only something discussed when you're engaged to someone, to let the person know he needs to be more gentle with you, etc. Well, clearly that didn't happen here.

I tried to answer his question with "Why does it matter if I'm a virgin or not, this is my life and my decision" but he would not let it drop. So, is it okay to mention virginity while still dating? How can I avoid these discussions? Clearly a guy who is dating me wants to sleep with me, it's going to come up sooner or later! And if I mention that I'm waiting for marriage within the first few dates while he still has no feelings for me, he won't call me again. However if I mention my virginity, then who knows, I might turn into another target for a conquest (which is a possible reason for why this guy still calls). [Seraphic: Indeed.]

I think the only way a guy would wait, is if he shares my values (I have not met ANYONE like that in the Jewish community) , or if he has feelings for me and is willing to be patient. I need to somehow make sure the feelings are there before I drop the bomb. But then I feel like I'm trapping the poor guy! Of course you can say that I need to find someone who shares my values, just like your husband shares yours. But your husband was well into his 30s when he became a Catholic, and while I'm willing to wait as long as it takes for the right man, guys in their 20s and even 30s are not willing to sacrifice something so important to them.

2) What should I do about this guy? I know I've mentioned mostly negative things, but I just don't know, he is nice in other ways. And through our conversations and spending time together I began to feel attached. He's a young horny guy and sexuality is a HUGE deal to him, as it should be, [Seraphic: I will return to this below] and now he finds out that a girl who seemed so much fun and he really liked is not what he expected. That's why I thought I'd give him another chance tomorrow. However when we talk on the phone he always turns it around to show that he's right and I'm the one that has something wrong with her. He also went as far as to mention that the only guys who would date me are either super religious (who likely sleep around anyway), losers who can't get anyone else, or guys who truly like me (I told him that's what I'm looking for but he focuses on the "loser" idea more).

By the way, I have another date tomorrow evening as well so it's not like I'm set on just this guy,but I know eventually it'll get to this with all other dates as it always has. I am not going to change my stance or values... but I just find it so hard. This whole thing is so upsetting to me... and I'm getting older (yes I know 2z is still okay, there's still time) and I try not to lose hope but every day I have less and less.

My parents, who are completely secular, say that there's nothing wrong with a woman waiting until marriage. They said a normal man should respect that. He should feel special and honoured that she has chosen him. So at least they're on my side :) They think it's okay for me to meet him again. I don't want to waste my time, but I also don't want to be a rigid unforgiving woman. I know I'm a warm, fun, loving person, and I think he saw that before the stubbornness of no sex came up.

So please, Auntie, let me know your thoughts... You can take your time to answer but if you could please give me a brief response asap regarding whether or not I should meet him tomorrow. Thanks.

A Nice Old-Fashioned Girl

*Long section specific to problems within the Jewish community with ritual purity vs sexual ethics excised. I found it very interesting, but not appropriate, perhaps, for non-Jews to comment on.

First, dear everybody, I know a lot of you had several heart-attacks while reading the above, so I want you to know that I wrote back to this girl right away, that she went on that date, and she was okay. Nothing bad happened, and the guy said he was tired of fighting. I think "fighting" was the wrong word. The word he was searching for was "bullying."

Dear Nice Old-Fashioned Girl,

Well, this is my fourth or fifth letter to you on the subject, so I'll just start from the beginning.

Thank you very much for allowing me to print your letter because it is a good reminder that Catholic and other Christian girls are not the only girls who value chastity and face such problems. In the part I left out, you refer to loopholes in Jewish sexual ethics of which some otherwise religious Jewish men take advantage. In orthodox Christianity, there are no such loopholes. This does not stop some Christian theologians from offering watered down sexual ethics, and many religious Christians from coming up with justifications for their own dodgy sexual behaviour.

Because I am, of course, not Jewish myself, I encourage you to discuss all the ethical problems you mentioned to me to a rabbi that you know and trust. I also recommend getting in contact with Wendy Shalit, the author of A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue. Not many people know that she is Jewish, but she is. She is also religious, so she might be able to give a defense of religious Judaism that I cannot.

One rather radical question that I just thought of is, How important is it for you to marry a Jewish guy? I keep thinking that there must be Jewish guys who share your values. But if you cannot meet any, I know that there are men of other religions/ethnic groups who do. However, if your most important bedrock value is marrying a man from your own ethnic group, go ahead and ignore my veiled suggestion!

Now, back to Mr. Bully, as I think of him, when I am not thinking of him as The Jerk. First of all, I am very impressed and thankful that you stood your ground and did not let him stay overnight at your place after your Third Date. It was not lost on me that the Sex Talk and his sudden need to stay at your place, not his friend's place, happened on the Third Date. He had this planned, don't kid yourself.

The fact that he argued with you at all does indeed show that he is a jerk. And a bully. I notice that right after he apologized for being a jerk, he continued being a jerk. His argument that being chaste gives a woman all the power in a relationship and that he wants an "equal" partnership is the most horrible, cynical and disgusting attempt at a guilt trip I have seen in a very long time. The only "equal partnership" that involves a man and a woman having sex is marriage--and although I don't believe in it, for the sake of secular readers, I will include common law marriage here, but only when the man and the woman both have a philosophical problem with real marriage. Everything else is too open to exploitation.

Mr Bully bullied you into confessing something very, very private. This made me think a lot about why women think they HAVE to do or tell things. You did not HAVE to tell him, but you thought you did. Why? Is it because women think we must always answer direct questions? Is it because it is so embarrassing to say "That's none of your business, and the subject is closed?" Gentle women often have a hard time saying that.

Okay, now I will answer your questions.

1a. First of all, yes. Sadly, nowadays interested men are almost always going to bring up the Sex Topic sooner or later, and usually sooner, unless they themselves are chaste. However, a simple, "I don't believe in sleeping with men I barely know" should suffice. If the man pushes with "How well do you have to know them?", I recommend a firm "Very well." If he continues to push with, "Well, give me a timeframe here," you are free to say, "I don't feel comfortable discussing this. Let's change the topic." If he doesn't change the topic, tell him you are no longer comfortable speaking to him and LEAVE. You now deserve an apology and flowers.

1b. Proving yourself to be a chaste woman is not dropping the bomb. Men today have "No means no" drilled into their heads in high school and college--at least, they did when I was in college. It should not be the HUGE shock they pretend it is that women sometimes say NO. You are not trapping anyone by going to the movies or dinner with them without planning to pay for it, like a prostitute, with sex. It is not a universal that women have sex with any or every male friend who asks. Only very weak-willed girls and women do that, and as you may have noticed in high school, nobody rewards them for that. Sex is not a necessary component of every affectionate relationship between a man and a woman.

1c. Since you brought him up, I am happy to say that my husband, who was active in the Episcopalian/Anglican Church from the age of ten, shared my values long before he was received into the Catholic Church.

1 d. By the way, I think you are exaggerating the importance of sex to men.* Acting like it is as necessary to himself as food, water and sleep is one of the ways an immature man guilts a woman into giving him her body to use. It is NOT "as it should be" for a young man to be obsessed with getting sex. For at least three thousand years, men have considered disciplining and schooling their desires the mark of a civilized man. Again, this is something you might want to discuss with a rabbi you like or a wise Jewish woman like Wendy Shalit.

2a. I think this guy is a complete jerk and a bully and that you should keep him at a friendly distance from now on. When I asked my husband for a man's eye view, he said "Tell her to run!" You mentioned in another email that he has a high-status job, but I don't care. A bully is a bully, a jerk is a jerk, no matter how much money he earns. You also mentioned that you are worried that he will go around telling everyone at shul that you are a virgin. First of all, I think it is unlikely that he will want to go around telling people he tried to pressure you into sex and you turned him down. Second of all, at a shul I once visited, the rabbi preached about the Jewish value of modesty and I suspect he would have nothing but praise for a 20-something or 30-something Jewish woman who was a virgin.

2b. Yes, it is hard. It is so hard. But it is a million times better than being used sexually and thrown away like a kleenex. The one guarantee that this will never happen to you is to be very careful of the men you choose to associate with and to wait for a man who loves you enough to wait until you are married to him.

2c. I am very glad your parents are supportive of you and that you can talk about these things with them.

2d. I am not a rigid, unforgiving woman, and I think your date was a horrible bully. Did I mention this? I hope he removes himself from your life sooner rather than later.

I hope also that this is helpful.

Grace and peace,

P.S. I think this man was lucky to meet you and that you may have taught him a very important lesson about modesty. I hope he remembers it.

P.S.2 One ex-Catholic guy I once dated told me years later that he really respected me for turning him down.

*Update: Having just received a furious comment from an unhappy man on the topic, I should stress that although men will not die from abstaining from sex, many married men become very, very unhappy if they are forced to go without it. Obviously sex is important to men, as it probably is to most women. But it is not so important that women have to lie down prostrate before men's sexual desire. Spouses, of course, should work together on sexual needs and wants.

To the furious commentator I can only recommend--in charity--a professional marriage counsellor. Professional counselling helped me immeasurably after my divorce.


Domestic Diva said...

The only thing I have to add here is that IF this guy stuck around any time at all after the relationship became sexual, you can bet your bottom dollar that any and all relational issues would be manipulated to his advantage in this exact same way - he's right and she's wrong. Forget him, girl - no matter how much you want to get married, you're worst day as a single person is infinitely better than your happiest day married to a jerk like that. Count yourself lucky that the Sex Talk exposed him as Not The Guy for You.

Julie said...



Nice Old-Fashioned Girl, seriously, this dude is someone else's problem. Shake the dust from thy sandals.

I am also a person who worries that "no one shares my values". But I think it's better not to think too much about it and instead trust that God will be able to produce a man with those values if He wills it (so to speak). After all, I only need one ;) The problem with focusing on being "the only one" is that you then start implicitly from a position of "I'm going to have to compromise" which basically guarantees that you will. If those are the things you believe, if those are the things you have pledged to God (to put it awkwardly) then you have to stand by them and trust to Him. THAT is true women's independence.

R said...

RUN! This guy is scary, & using the 'compromise' angle.... why doesn't he meet YOU 'half way'? Hah!

Anonymous for this post said...

My dear,

I just want to make it clear that even if a fellow is not religious or of the same background to you or the same values or whatever, he has NO RIGHT to bully you about your beliefs in this way (especially so early on in you seeing him). It is your body, and he has no right to assume he has automatic access to it by virtue of going out on three dates. And any decent man knows this.

When I was first dating my fiance, the virginity question came up pretty early. He is not religious and was not raised in any religious tradition, and had had previous sexual partners. I am Catholic. Anyway, he was in another city for a bit when we first got together, and I was going up to spend the weekend. I didn't want to spend the night on his couch unless he knew that I was a virgin and wasn't up for sex upfront (cos if he wasn't OK with it, then I was certainly not going to crash at his place!). And you know what? He was totally lovely about it. He respected it, and never pressured me to do anything. He made sure to stay outside if I was getting changed. And, he called up his one close religious male friend to ask his advice on the right way to approach things, to MAKE SURE he didn't do anything that overstepped my boundaries. And he has consistently respected my boundaries throughout our time together. A nice man, even if he's been in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships where sex is on the table previously, will be OK with waiting if he really likes you. And if not, well frankly he's a creep who needs to learn a bit of patience.

Anonymous said...

A lot of commentators on this blog seem to think that absolutely every man, whether religious or not, will try to have sex with them before marriage. Even worse, there seems to be this idea that if men aren't asking for sex, they probably don't like you! This is not true at all. Believe me, there are scores of young men committed to their faith who refuse to have sex outside of marriage and are desperately trying to find girls who share these values and are willing to marry them. They just aren't as visible to you because they don't go around proclaiming their virginity on 1st, 2nd, or even third dates. They are not going to tell you about these beliefs until they are quite sure you share them, simply because our wider culture looks at male virgins as the ultimate losers. For a male to admit his virginity to the wrong people is to invite crippling humiliation. The letter-writer may think that news of her refusal to have premarital sex may lower her dating stock among the eligible men of her synagogue. Well, I would be absolutely shocked if there was not at least one man who shares her beliefs, and to him this news would be like manna from heaven. Of course, maybe he doesn't like her in that way, but in that case he most-assuredly has a good half-dozen friends of the same moral persuasion to send baying in her direction. I would even bet a hundred dollars that the nice/bullying Jewish boy has a friend who doesn't believe in premarital sex (and you see the bullying Jewish boy doesn't know this because MEN DO NOT ADMIT THEIR VIRGINITY TO EACH OTHER and their friendships don't require agreement on all moral matters) who will hear bullying Jewish boy complaining about the prudish girl from synagogue and chalk her up as a possible to look into.

Maggie said...

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
Horrid. Horrid. Can't even think in sentences. Just will echo Seraphic and the women above: run, girl!
I feel your pain though. Since I finished school and am no longer in the Catholic bubble of super-orthodox people attached to the Newman Center, many Catholic men I meet, even practicing, help-out-at-liturgy folks, think it insane to save sex for marriage.
Hang in there.
The only positive way to spin this is: thank goodness for your strength of character.
Good for you.
ugh. ugh. ugh.
This guys is a manipulative, insensitive jerk. Not worthy of one such as you.
Ugh. ugh. ugh.

Seraphic said...

I passed the complete-anonymous comment because it seemed to have merit. But, people, please try to leave noms-de-blogs unless you can't for reasons of modesty. In such cases "Anonymous-for-this-post" is a nice protocol.

Brian Edward Miles said...

Dear Nice Old Fashioned Girl,

Coming from a man, this guy is slime whether he knows it or not. And no, ignorance is not an excuse, it makes only things worse. If his conscience is so dull that he feels no shame over what he's done, this is a truly dangerous person.

Please take Auntie's advice and stay away from this guy.

If you were my sister this fellow and I would have a very interactive experience.

Seraphic said...

By the way, most readers of this blog are religious women, so we know perfectly well that not all men are out to get premarital sex. But those aren't usually the men women need protection from and advice about, are they?

Very rarely do I get an email that says "Dear Auntie Seraphic, I met this wonderful man. He makes me feel happier than I've ever felt before. We're getting married in May. Our problem is, should our colours be white and gold to reflect our love of Vatican City, where we are going on honeymoon, or should they match the liturgical season? Please help."

bolyongok said...

Hang in there, Nice Old Fashioned Girl! You are part of a larger-than-you-might-think sisterhood of women who don't/won't 'put out'.
It is frustrating to find a seemingly literate, knowledgeable guy who apparently shares one's religious convictions turn out to be somewhat less than hoped for.
Shake it off and read a book, or do something else you find fun! There are other fish in the sea.

New Trid Girl said...

Forget that bully!
But even more important, how was the other date?

Elspeth, red in tooth and claw said...

If anyone tries such a line on you again, you could smile and ask if any of their "total-moron-waiting-for-the-girlfriend" type friends are still single.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I just wanted to give a "Good for you," to Nice Old-Fashioned Girl -- he was totally rude and out of bounds, and it sounds like you handled yourself with grace. He's mistaken about purity, and I hope someday he realises it, but until he does he's not dating/courting/marrying material for a NOFG like yourself.

Auntie, I really did laugh out loud at the example mythical email about choosing white and gold for the Vatican honeymoon!


some guy on the street said...

Auntie, incidentally, have you got an answer prepared for that colours question? Or will you leave it unformed until that notorious day when you are appointed Wedding Planner In Exile?

For other matters... there's a charmingly oblique quote, I think it was (as it happens) in Madame Shalit's book, about a young farm girl who had learned many things from the farm animals, and knew perfectly well how by her reserve to extract a marriage proposal when the time was right.

That woman who knows and keeps her dignity as NOFG has done makes men better. May her tribe increase!

Jennifer said...

I could seriously rant on about this for a good 12 paragraphs, but, the short version:

1. This is a man who clearly has control issues (his attempts to project them onto NOFG notwithstanding). Assuming NOFG would have given in and 'met him half way', chances are he would quickly have escalated his control to other areas as well. People who want to rigidly control the outcome in one area are rarely content to leave control in other areas alone.

2. People who do not wish to take responsibility for their own behavior usually try to make you feel bad about your own ability to take responsibility. Run from these people. As fast as your little feet will take you. They have significant growing up to do, and it is unlikely you will be able to mold them into that behavior. Besides, you are not their mother.

3. No man - and I mean NO MAN, whether deeply religious, casually religious, agnostic, or atheist, or even anti-religious - who respects you and values you as a person will treat you, if he is possessed of an appropriate level of decency and maturity. If man is not decent enough or mature enough to handle your decisions about when you are ready to have a sexual relationship, even if the answer to 'when' is 'on my wedding night', politely cut him loose.

Jasmina said...

Hang in there and listen to Auntie's advice! This guy is a bully,that's sure, keep away from him. The right person will come along :)

Seraphic said...

It's like a party in here tonight! I suppose it's rare that we see such a well-written Auntie Seraphic letter about a man who is so obviously a warty toad.

Is it the "wanting to be in a equal partnership" line that is freaking everyone out? For me, that really takes the biscuit.

Jennifer said...

I think the 'equal partnership' bit did throw me for a loop. There's no equal partnership there. It's nothing but 'Do it on my terms, little lady, and we'll CALL it equal.' He wants his way, but wants to call it something other than what it is. Grrrr.

That and the 'meet him halfway' part. How in the WORLD would he propose one does that? Does he imagine that - if birth control were used and failed - that she would only become 'halfway' pregnant? It makes my eyes cross.

Alephine said...

And what if you hadn't been a virgin? I notice that apparently, according to this guy's logic, a woman who has had sex with one man has to be willing to have sex with *any* man... or at least with precious entitled him! And then lecturing you about 'equality' and 'being flexible' and treating as if you owed him sexual favours and trying to make *you* feel guilty... it's beneath contempt. It's not just that he doesn't share your sexual ethics, he has no respect for you.

Dear Nice Old-Fashioned Girl, your letter sounds to me as if you were sorry for him and other (hypothetical) men who might expect you to sleep with them. If so, DON'T be (especially since men will sense it and some may try to take advantage of it. The oh-how-can-you-be-so-cruel line of attack is an age-old ploy for getting women to yield). Listen to your parents and respect yourself and your rights.

Kimmy said...

Virginity has a high price. It's called lifelong commitment to love, honor, cherish, and protect. Doesn't sound like this little boy quite had that in mind.

Truly, the "equal partnership" bit is beyond gross.

Anonymous for modesty's sake said...

I think it is really, really creepy (and ironic) that this guy used the 'power argument' to try to FORCE NOFG to do something she wasn't comfortable with. As regards equality - I think the stakes really are different for men and women, even just physically (as has been mentioned here many times before). Some men seem to think they have the right to have women submit to 'their needs' and even the fact that it can alter a woman's life (ie pregnancy) is completely ignored. Equality???

Also, please NOFG, don't let ANYBODY (male or otherwise) convince you that everybody is doing it or that you will never find a man who will wait etc. Also, (and this is the reason I prefer to be anonymous for this post), from my experience as a NCG who wants to wait (but struggles with it as all of us mortals), there ARE men out there who will wait and not pressure you simply because they know how important it is to you. My best experiences in relationships have been with:
a) a lapsed Hindu who had a lot more 'experience' than I did and didn't understand why I wanted to wait, because for him it was an expression of love (which he felt and wanted to convey), but he respected me nonetheless and never pressured me (maybe this is because in their somewhat more traditional culture, they have not yet lost the values of restraint and respect, I don't know)
b) an agnostic who didn't understand my reasons either, but never insisted once he realized how important it was to me.
Conversely, my absolute worst experience was with a Catholic buy I met at Mass and a few times at youth group. In my naive NCG mindset, I assumed a dinner at his family home on our third date would be just that. But it turned out his family was away, and he was very needy, and in spite of his professed respect and professed shared convictions, he tried to go much too far (so much so that unfortunately this comment probably belongs to the "everything short of rape" combox). Fortunately, he got scared and at some definite insistence on my part drove me home. Still, if I could spare anybody such a horrible experience...

This just to say that it pays to be very, very careful, and just because someone shares your convictions and faith does not necessarily imply they are emotionally and physically able to put them in practice.

I think that at the end of the day, after emotions fade away, what is left over from a relationship comes down to respect - if that is or was lacking, you will never be happy. So be true to your values, NOFG! There a lot more men and women who share them then you would think.

Rosemary said...

I'm glad to see that "Old-Fashioned" stuck to her principles. Unfortunately, I did acquiesce to a man when I was quite a bit younger and at a particularly vulnerable time in my life. Turns out, all he was interested in was the sex. Big surprise.

I don't think I fully understood that there are men out there who have no trouble separating emotion from imtimacy. I learned an important lesson, and wish that I had the strength of my convictions back then! You deserve better.

sciencegirl said...

I think the "equal relationship" line is creepy because of the subtext, which is the following:

Creepy Man: I really, really want you. This bothers me. I am obsessing over you. You do not seem to be obsessing over me. This bothers me even more. If I sleep with you, I will lose at least some of my interest in you. If you sleep with me, you may become more concerned about me and how I feel. Then I will feel better, and you will feel worse. Then we will be even.

I've heard of creeps accusing girls of being of being prudes, of promising great times and no pregnancies, and of threatening to leave them. But the "equality" line is a first for me, and it says a lot of scary things about this man.

Becca said...

Equal partnership?! EQUAL partnership?! I think my blood pressure just went through the roof.

Thank you, Brian Miles, for posting that you and the knave would have "an interactive experience" if the letter writer was your sister. I've never heard it phrased quite like that...but I like the sentiment.

And the wedding colours letter made me laugh aloud as well. Auntie Seraphic, please answer your fictional letter!

Anne said...

Dear Auntie Seraphic,
Great post, I'm enjoying the conversation. Let's call it "new fashioned" instead of "old fashioned". It's great to see women (and men!) support each other in this legitimate choice which many people make for valid religious and/or practical reasons. The message we get from society is that no one makes this choice anymore. Well we know that's really not true. Glad to see the social support here and congratulations "nice old fashioned girl" for being so cutting edge and seeking sage counsel and advice from family. It's very difficult to be pressured and it's very wise to remain true to one's values.

Julie said...

I tend to associate 'wedding colors' with the really commercialized bridezilla kind of over-produced wedding, but if the choice is Vatican vs Liturgical colors I could get into it!!

Yes, it's the equal partnership line that's driving me nuts. Shameless! It makes it seem as though you should be devising some kind of equality scheme with him rather than giving him the pitch and moving on.

Anonymous said...

Dear everyone and of course Auntie Seraphic, thank you for all your responses. I feel so much better now.

It's easy now to read my letter and the response and see how much of a bully this guy was. However when going through it at the time, I got really tongue tied fighting against his arguments! Anyway... I won't let that happen again.

He has been quite persistent in calling me and trying to talk to me since all this happened. Because he's part of my community I can't completely ignore him, so I will keep him at arm's length on a distant friendship level.

Nice Old-Fashioned Girl

Elspeth, pensively said...

The high-ick, skin-crawling factor for me is that NOFG's clear message ("I need a week away to clear my head") is just sucked back and recycled as ammunition. Not that the "let's get fair and equal back at my place, baby" sits well either.

A very happily married man in his 60s I know says of his wife: "I realized that if I married her, I would wake up beside a beautiful woman every morning for the rest of my life." That is the final word on "trapping the poor guy" as far as I'm concerned.

Seraphic said...

Nice Old-Fashioned Girl, you can see all the fellowship and concern this has raised among your fellow readers! I've never seen such a rapid combox response since I started "Seraphic Singles"!

It is because we are all genuinely horrified. And I think I speak for us all when I say, really, keep him at a distance. Hopefully he'll lose interest soon.

A few really horrible men make it their life's mission to get even with the woman who says no by starting a long "get her into bed" campaign. I wish my gut said this guy was calling you out of profound respect, but that's not what my gut is saying. The fact that he apologized for being a jerk and then continued to act like a jerk suggests that he's beyond redemption at this point.

Keep telling your parents everything, and if it gets too creepy, you always have the option of consulting the police. Ah, the police. I love them. So far they have helped me keep one man completely away and they dropped in on a friend's psycho ex-boyfriend who was harrassing me.

Steve said...

One male's viewpoint:

As I read this, my skin crawled and my fist longed to lovingly nestle in his face, again and again.

One question/suggestion: as an observant Jew, has NOFG considered consulting a shadchen? One of the many elements of sanity traditional Judaism has retained, as mainstream Judaism has increasing secularized.

Seraphic said...

I am sympathetic to this viewpoint, which I am sure my brothers' would share. I wish my reader had a brother. I wonder if Mr Bully has a sister? I don't see how he could, if he acts like such a drip. You would think that, being so observant and all, he would have treated a Jewish woman, at least, with more respect, but there you go.

Is a shadchen a matchmaker? All I know about traditional matchmaking I saw on "Crossing Delancey", which is one of my favourite movies of all time, and probably not the best source of information.

Steve said...

To me, based on this account, he is a deceitful liar: one who presents the facade of an observant NJB, but actually on the make. As a result, he undermines the image of true religion. As you know, I am an advocate of true patriarchy, where both men and women enforce the rules of proper sexual behavior. Consequently, my viseral reaction is to correct him. Virgorously. And unmistakably.

Yes, a shadchen is a Jewish matchmaker. The biggest issue for NOFG is the variant of Judaism she practices: most shadchonim are Hasidic or Ultra-Orthodox, with, I suppose, a very few Conservative. Reform or Reconstructionist (the UUs of Judaism)? She's stuck with JDate. (NOFG, please forgive me for speaking about you in the third person, as if you aren't here... which technically you're not... but....)

As a born-and-bred-NYC NCB (with Jewish second cousins), I'm immersed in Jewish culture. As a intellectual glasses-wearing Mediterranean-Slav hybrid, I'm often mistaken for a Jew. But, I was not raised to be a momma's boy, and have a certain level of street-tough independence; consequently, I was catnip for many Jewish girls. In fact, when I was much younger, I had much the same situation as NOFG: I was trying to save myself for marriage, and a secular Jewish girl pushed me until I gave in. Of course, on reflection, I didn't fight very hard; there's not the same cultural support for men.

Seraphic said...

Ah, no! Why no matchmakers for Reform? That seems unfair.

I did not know that there was a momma's boy stereotype for Jewish men. Where I come from, that's an accusation levelled more often at Italian-Canadian men. And I think in other cities it's something people say about Irishmen! Meanwhile, a lot of Jewish men in North York, Ontario--where I come from--certainly seem as tough as nails to me.

Since this is a Catholic blog, I'd prefer it if readers not make generalizations about Jews. The tip about matchmakers was helpful, the stuff about momma's boys and catnip, not as much.

I don't know what to make of your comment about cultural support for men to stay chaste. Catholic men have recourse to the sacraments, Mass, priests, confession, spiritual direction, Love and Friendship discussion groups and heaven knows what else, just like the girls!

Brian Edward Miles said...

Dear Nice Old-Fashioned Girl,

I'm proud of you for trusting your instincts, and having the courage to ask for counsel. Despite being able to see the course another should take with sterling clarity, somehow, maintaining perspective on our own lives--especially our romantic lives--can be strangely difficult. And this is certainly compounded for those of us who so often find ourselves alone and swimming upstream. It can be as wearying as it is lonely, and while we would never compromise our convictions, it can be easy to hope for something (and even think we see something) that is not really there, especially when we are under the kind of duress that you were facing. So please do not read all of the exasperated gasps and candor as a commentary on your lack of good sense. Just the opposite is true.

That you are an exemplary young woman is clear from your values alone. But we all get confused from time to time; romantic temptations can create little tempests in our minds and hearts no matter how clear are values may be beforehand. What matters most, then, is having the strength of character to ask for help.

Nice work!

Steve said...

"Ah, no! Why no matchmakers for Reform? That seems unfair."

Reform Judaism has jettisoned such traditions to adapt to the modern word. Their decision. So intermarriage and lack of Jewish distinctives are leading to their extinction.

"I did not know that there was a momma's boy stereotype for Jewish men.... Meanwhile, a lot of Jewish men in North York, Ontario--where I come from--certainly seem as tough as nails to me."

One of the toughest men I've ever met is my Jewish childhood friend Alan, who lost his left eye boxing in the Golden Gloves. Please note my retraction & explanation below.

"Since this is a Catholic blog, I'd prefer it if readers not make generalizations about Jews."

Fair enough. To any I've offended, my sincerest apologies. I was too informal in a public forum. Please, all forebear: I grew up with a mixed bag of Irish, Italians, and Jews in a blue-collar section of New York City. I developed a loose and informal manner of speaking that might work well with the boys, where we traded lovingly outrageous stereotypical cracks with aplomb; but that manner is certainly not appropriate to a mixed crowd who don't know me, and don't know whether I'm a skinhead or a philosemite (the latter, as many can attest).

By the way, the stereotype I referred to certainly does not refer to Jewish men as a whole; it's a New York City stereotype of suburbanite men, particularly from the bedroom communities of Long Island. Not that you could divine that from my statements.

Steve said...


"The tip about matchmakers was helpful, the stuff about momma's boys and catnip, not as much."

I'm glad I could be of some small assistance; the momma's boy comment (I hope) I've explained; the catnip crack, well, all I can say is, the overwhelming majority of my dating life have been with Jewish women, almost all of whom pursued me. All I meant by the comment was that for whatever reason, I have a decades-long track record of being attractive to NYC-and-hinterland Jewish women. If the remark was offensive to anyone, I apologize.

"I don't know what to make of your comment about cultural support for men to stay chaste. Catholic men have recourse to the sacraments, Mass, priests, confession, spiritual direction, Love and Friendship discussion groups and heaven knows what else, just like the girls!"

Ah, yes, religious support. But not cultural support. American culture (at least) relentless hammers into boys that virgin males are weaklings, inept, unmanly; the more fornication, the more of a man you are. That in fact was the tact [redacted] used on me; as I've grown as a man, especially spiritually, I've learned that taking that path made me weak, inept, unmanly.

(I'd like to hear if that was the boyhood experience over the Pond or north of the border; if you'd be so kind, would you consider quizzing your international male contacts. Might be illuminating.)

Three caveats:

1) though I went to Mass consistently, I never once heard sermons on male (or female) purity growing up. I heard a lot of anodyne pabulum on caring and sharing; one of the reasons I've become a devotee of the TLM in recent years, where the priests don't ever give the impression that they're about to break into torch songs.

2) "Spiritual direction" even if I'd known about it as a teenager, the 70's and 80's were the years the rectories emptied, at least in NYC. I doubt I'd have had the opportunity.

3) "Love and Friendship discussion groups" [Ice hockey penalty buzzer sound] Sorry, Seraphic, that's a girl thing. I can't imagine sitting around talking about my feelings with other men week after week. If I attempted it, I'd lose my male friends, after considerable and public humiliation---which I'd be tempted to join. [Place of eternal torment], just reading back over this reply, I can imagine my childhood friends deriding me as a college boy. Not that I mind; I like talking to everyone. (Please note that the penalty buzzer was an ice hockey buzzer in honor of your Canadian origins, although I must support my Rangers, even if they're stumblebums.)

Med School Girl said...

I think you're an excellent writer and I think you've explained yourself well.
BTW, I echo what Auntie Seraphic has said before:
Male readers' comments are valuable and insightful and we are thankful for them!
Thanks for the ice hockey buzzer.
I'm Canadian, too!

Steve said...

Thank you, Med School Girl. Not bad for a kid from th' neighborhood, huh?

Glad to chat with women serious about navigating our fallen world, and come from it from the same general direction I do.

You're very welcome! I love ice hockey, and I love Canucks! And I know only one rude joke about Canadians, which for my social circle, is remarkable!

Steve said...

Oh, Seraphic, yesterday, trying to get to the FDR Drive, I crossed Delancey. And I immediately thought of you.