“To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, and goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.” – Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Recently a female friend of mine and I were talking about dating (big surprise, I know). We were talking about one gentleman in particular and how impressed we were with him for calling my friend out to ask her on a date. We were impressed because he didn’t send an e-mail, a tweet, a text, or a Facebook message. He took the time, effort, and courage to call and ask her on a date.
At the time it sounded lovely and we enjoyed praising him for his courage. Later on as I begin to think about it more, it struck me as sad that this was actually praiseworthy behavior. When did it become commonplace for a gentleman to ask a lady out via a text message? Oh wait, it isn’t commonplace. A true gentleman will ask a true lady out in person or over the phone. He won’t need smoke screens or channels to hide behind. This will be the case because the lady carries herself in such a way that inspires the man to act accordingly.
Not long after I graduated college I remember lamenting to my friends when guys would ask for my number, promise me a phone call, and then three days later would send me a text saying, “Hey, how are you?” I’ll admit I responded to the text message, however begrudgingly I did. Looking back, that certainly wasn’t the wisest choice I could have made. To begin with, if this lad really did fancy me, why did it take him three days (or more) to act on it? Once he finally did act on it, why did he think that a text was an appropriate form of communication, especially after he promised a phone call? Because something in our culture (and in my brain at the time) said that texts days later would be okay and I’d respond anyway. There was nothing in me, or in my text message response to him (probably something along the lines of, “GREAT!! How are you?!?!”…but that’s another blog), that warranted or invited a more courageous invitation from him. Furthermore, my responding to his three-day-later text message as quickly as I probably did, did nothing to show him that I expected or hoped for anything more. I failed to raise my standards, and consequently he did as well. Needless to say the relationship wasn’t the stuff that fairy tales and romance novels are made of, nor did I marry that particular lad.
What I have learned since three-days-later-text-messaging-dude is that Archbishop Sheen had it right: when we raise our standards the true gentlemen rise to the occasion and the others fall to the wayside, simple as that. If we give in to the text messages and Facebook messages and Twitter dates, we shouldn’t be surprised when the relationship (and the communication within said relationship) progresses along the same dismal lines. On the other hand, when we are confident, some may even say fierce, we naturally invite gentlemen to rise to the occasion and become worthy of us. Am I saying that women are all perfect and men should bow down at our feet? No way. Rather, I’m saying that when we raise our standards, when we don’t give in to three-days-later texts, we invite men to deeper, more meaningful relationships. We invite them to pursue us, but we also invite them raise their own standards, thereby raising the standards of society as we know it.
It starts with us.