Meredith Gillis

Men who wait are a rare breed

By  Meredith Gillis, Youth Speak News
  • June 5, 2015

In today’s dating world, men who want to wait until marriage for sex are unicorns. People say they exist, but no one you know has ever dated one.

Over the years, I’ve been on a lot of dates. There’s been many that went nowhere, and three that turned into somewhat serious relationships. As a practising (if somewhat lapsed) Catholic over the last five years, I had certainly never dated a unicorn.

Seven months ago I moved to St. Paul, Alta. I met Jordan and learned that unicorns exist.

It’s exciting, dating someone who not only says they want to wait but also doesn’t allow their hands to wander while you’re cuddled on the couch watching a movie. Being picked up for supper or plans with friends and spending a wonderful evening together. Then being driven home at the end of the night instead of invited to stay feels incredibly special.

It’s the difference between when someone says they respect you, and when they behave in a manner which respects you.

The experience has had me thinking about the reasons why a man would choose to wait. I know why I decided to wait going forward after a relationship ended last year, but I had never considered why a guy would.

It’s a very counter-cultural move, even within a Church that teaches chastity. Jordan isn’t Catholic and one of the boundaries that I’ve set is that I won’t use him as a quotable source for articles or news stories. So, I did some asking around.

I had an entertaining, if somewhat awkward conversation with Alex Carleton, a friend from university. He’s also a unicorn, but I’ve never dated him. He’s finishing his Masters degree in political science in Calgary right now and was heavily influenced by the Greek philosophers, especially Aristotle’s virtue ethics. He views marriage as a primarily political, economic and blood alliance.

“Love is a glue and sex is part of love, but it’s the glue not the structure and so I don’t see it necessarily undermining the entire structure,” he said.

For him and for many of the other people I talked to, another very big part of choosing to wait was the potential consequences.

“I think that it is a sound decision to make mainly because sex can introduce a lot of complications,” said Carleton. “Certainly lack of sex can also introduce complications, but the presence of sex can also introduce complications outside of a kid happening or I got a disease or something.”

The outside consequence Carleton is referring to is mainly the emotional fallout which can be anticipated if a romantic relationship ends, and the degree to which it is magnified when there is a sexual component to that relationship.

Quite often I think Carleton is out to lunch when we talk, but in this particular regard I think he’s on point.

Conor Gannon is one of the Catholic men I interviewed via Reddit, an online message board which includes a sub-section for Catholics (r/Catholicism for the interested.)

Gannon says waiting is important because for a healthy relationship in the long term, you need more than good sex. He says waiting until marriage is a great way to prove you’re going to be able to cope with dry patches caused by illness, age, travel, kids and conflicting work schedules later in life.

“It’s important to find someone who values chastity and who you have respect for,” said Gannon. “If I were dating a girl who wanted to wait and I respected her as a person, I would never have sex with her even if I wanted to. That last point cannot be emphasized enough. Don’t date people you don’t have a high regard for.”

I talked to more than a dozen other unicorns while I was working on this column. Others from the online community, but also people I went to school with. A handful are discerning the priesthood.

Some say God has given them the gift of chastity despite their best efforts, but most are simply choosing to wait out of respect for the woman they’ll eventually marry. Those men impressed me. They really do believe it’s something which needs to be reserved for marriage and approached with openness to life; but on top of that there was more talk of how everyone messes up sometimes and not being chaste in the past is not grounds to avoid a relationship with someone if they are making a sincere effort to be chaste now.

(Gillis, 25, has an undergraduate degree in journalism from St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B.)

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