“I don’t want to date you ’cause I didn’t feel a spark.”

Our attention spans are dying.

We’ve trained ourselves to skim. We can’t even bring ourselves to read posts if they’re long (and by long, I mean more than a couple paragraphs). Most of you will navigate away at the end of this sentence.

But if most of us only can skim the surface of content, why would we be good at doing more than skimming the surface of the people who create it? We tell ourselves “when I meet the right person, I’ll want to go deeper. I’ll be interested. I’ll want to commit.” Really?

The onus for your ability to go deeper is on how “right” someone else is? So you’re telling me you can see whether a person is right for you before you’ve gotten to know him or her deeply—that what you can see in somebody in one or two encounters is all you need to know (excluding encounters with people whose dealbreakers are evident).

Or maybe you’re saying that literally just meeting the right person suddenly makes us feel able to commit (and that there couldn’t possibly be any other reasons you’ve been unable to commit so far).

I get that you need to be attracted, that you have to like a person. Truth! But is it actually on the other person to motivate or excite you into getting to know him or her? Are we all just closed off to each other until merely being in the presence of the “right” person unlocks an ability we couldn’t access before?

Or are these just things we tell ourselves so we don’t have to admit that there may be other reasons we don’t like people or want to commit even when we like them? Like how so much of what shapes us shapes us to be shallow. How pornography, social media, video games, and texting are supernormal stimuli that rewire the brain until normal stimuli don’t stimulate, satisfy, or interest us anymore—like people and our physical, social, and emotional interactions with them.

Are you sure you can’t date him or her because you “didn’t feel a spark” or you “don’t feel what I think I’m supposed to feel” or because “in order to want to date you, I’d need to be unable to get you out of my head” (all real things real people I know have said)? Or did you really mean “I don’t want to date you because you aren’t a supernormal stimulus?”

Are You Sure You Aren’t Looking for a Fairytale?

“Your goal to find a kind, loving Catholic husband who will treat you like a princess fits my goal of marrying a princess like you.”

That, my friend, is a bold way to end a first message you send to a woman whose CatholicMatch profile doesn’t say “princess” anywhere. And—confession—I didn’t respond to him, for lots of reasons.

I’m in Florida and he isn’t. He wants to take me dancing, he said. You couldn’t pay me to go dancing on a date. But even if I were open to a long-distance relationship right now, his princess line may have done him in.

Here’s why.

New to my work? Check out my book, Chastity Is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin.

3 Lies to Stop Believing About Conflict

Many of us act as if conflict in our relationships is intolerable. But we don’t avoid conflict because it’s truly unbearable. We make it unbearable by avoiding it. Nobody can get better at getting through it without actually going through it. 

And you have to go through it. Without conflict, new levels of emotional intimacy really aren’t an option for you.

But we’ll never be open to conflict if we don’t stop believing the 3 lies about it that I listed in my latest post for CatholicMatch.

Click here to read it.

Did God create me able to do this?

During this morning’s workout, I had an awakening. (The gym is as good for moving your mind and spirit as it is for moving your body.)

While I struggled to want to finish all five rounds of the workout, I winced, convinced it would take me forever. And I said what I said—I didn’t struggle to finish the rounds. I struggled to want to finish.

I am a power athlete, not an endurance athlete. And until this morning, I assumed my body is what makes that so. But in my fourth round of a 200 meter run, 10 hang power cleans (unbroken at a challenging weight), 53 single-unders, and 10 push jerks (also unbroken, same weight as the cleans), I saw something I hadn’t seen before.

Continue reading “Did God create me able to do this?”

How do you explain chastity to people who don’t practice it?

Several years ago, on the patio outside a strip mall pub in Jacksonville, Fla., I told my story into a mic during a meeting of Theology on Tap. Most of the people within earshot knew what to expect. But passersby were surprised by what they heard: “I’m a virgin.”

And though he had not signed up to let me teach him about the virtue of chastity, one passerby actually stopped. Under one arm, he clutched the Chinese takeout he’d picked up from the restaurant next door.

Instead of going home to eat, he listened intently while I explained how to practice chastity—that is, to do the right thing every day regarding sex, to honor the Lord with our sexuality. The man’s eyes were wide while I told the crowd we’re all called to practice chastity, no matter how old we are, no matter whether we’re single or married or priest or nun, and no matter our pasts.

And when I ended my chastity talk, that passerby raised his hand. He had never heard of chastity and he had questions. Lots of them. Difficult ones.

Do your friends who don’t practice chastity have hard questions, too? Or maybe you’re the one who has some questions.

Six years ago—on Nov. 28, 2014—Ave Maria Press published my book, Chastity Is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin, with an important goal: to answer those questions.

In honor of my book’s sixth birthday, signed copies are $14 for one, $20 for two, and shipping is FREE through Nov. 30 on orders of $20 or more from my store.

But if signed copies aren’t your thing and you’d still like to stock up, you also can get 30 percent off and free shipping plus a FREE Advent book when you order Chastity Is for Lovers (or other Ave Maria Press titles) while using the code BLACK20 through Sunday (Nov. 29) here.

Six years later and I’m still moved by the feedback I get from readers—women and men, single and married, parents and grandparents, teens and college kids. I’m still doing my best to answer their chastity questions. And I hope my book helps you do that, too.