After finishing my post for this week, I realized that I needed to first explain what I meant last week when I advised you to practice “self-containment.”
Last week, I shared with you my Response Formula which included my advice on how to respond to a guy who flirts with you. Steps 1-4 are easy:
1. stop 2. smile 3. look him in the eyes 4. converse with him
Steps 5 and 6 are much more difficult:
5. Go about your life 6. practice self-containment until after 3 dates
Several of you wrote to me asking for specifics on this practice. What is it? What does it look like?
What Is It?
In general, self-containment is one of the ‘fruits’ of Emotional Chastity. And, like all of the spiritual fruits, we obtain them through our good habits. Since the Catechism does not provide a formal definition of Emotional Chastity, let’s look at what is says about the virtue of Chastity so we can see the connection.
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Chastity
- 2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
- 2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.
Emotional Chastity is an apprenticeship in self-mastery. Being self-contained means having mastery over your passions and your speech and not allowing your emotions to dominate you. It means keeping yourself intact (unity of the persons) and having integrity in all you say and do. It means avoiding duplicity in your speech and presenting your life in a way that is truthful.
What Does It Look Like?
It might be easier if we look at the opposite of self-containment first. We have all witnessed it. A girl meets a guy. He flirts with her. He asks for her number. She talks about him non-stop. This lack of self-containment is very, very common. Her behavior betrays her. Her feelings and emotions are dominating her. This guy has not earned his way into such a prominent position, yet he is being exalted by her. What does that say about her standards and judgment?
Now, it is perfectly fine to be excited about a potential suitor! I am not saying that you need to be a total dud. But, I am going to give you a challenge:
The next time a guy flirts with you, don’t say anything to anyone until this guy has taken you on 3 dates.
You might be thinking that you at least need to tell your roommates for safety reasons. Shouldn’t they know with whom you are spending your time? This is where some dating guidelines would be helpful.
1. The first 3 dates must be in a public location.
2. Tell him that you will meet him (drive yourself) at the public location.
3. If you feel the slightest bit of concern about your safety, leave the location and stop dating him.
You should have a good idea of the guy’s character after 3 dates. Has he been calling you in between the dates? Does he display good manners? Does he pay for the dates?
Don’t worry about what he will think of your desire to meet in a public location at first. These days, a guy will not question the fact that you want this. He will see you as being wise. You have a policy and you follow it. You have principles.
If you need to talk about this new man, present your case to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother. Comfort will follow.
Now that I have explained step 6, next week I will share with you how the Response Formula can be applied to any situation.
God love and bless you!
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