Sunday, February 5, 2012

for the men

Dear Liberal Arts Men,

There are lots of beautiful women on campus. Why aren’t you dating?

Not a whole lot miffs and baffles liberal arts women more than the fact that good men don’t ask them out. In the words of a dear (female) friend of mine, “It’s not fair. They get to pick whoever they want. We can just put out bait and hope.”

These women (and for a few years, I was one of them) befriend off-campus students so they can borrow their kitchens and feed you something better than cafeteria food. They sing while washing the dishes. They laugh at your jokes. As graduation approaches, they tell you that they’re looking at this or that type of job, but that what they’d really like to do is raise kids. They’re practically wearing signs that say “ask me out.” They’re waiting for you, and opening doors won’t cut it forever.

You, liberal arts men, need to do your part. Take them to a dance. Take them to dinner. Start a relationship. Something. Dating is not a lifelong commitment. Asking a woman to a formal dance (and asking her to dance at the formal dance) is not a marriage proposal. An evening of conversation and dance is a fun thing to do with friends; a relationship is discerning marriage. Neither requires an irrevocable vow.

That means you don’t have to finish discerning (and, Catholic men, you don’t have to 115% rule out the priesthood) before you ask her out. If you don’t ask her out because you’re only 80% sure you’d want someone like her helping you raise children, then you’re really not asking her out because you’re scared. Ask her out, then talk about the other 20% (and the 80%) while you’re dating. Share ideas and see if you reach the same conclusions on the important things. That’s what dating is for. That’s not what pre-asking-out-analysis is for. Be discerning before you ask her out, but not scrupulous – there’s way more to her than you’ll find out while “just friends.”

Most liberal arts women want to be stay-at-home-moms and they want men like you to marry them so they can. They want men like you because you’re responsible, because you’re funny, because you’re clean, because you’re trustworthy, because you’re strong. Generally, people discern their vocation to marriage by dating and generally, people don’t marry without dating. Liberal arts women know that after leaving the little bubble of [name of little conservative liberal arts college] and enter the great sea of secularism, they are much less likely to find a man they would trust their future children with, unless they land a job at the pro-life think tank down the street. (And you’re much less likely to find such a woman after you graduate.) You have a responsibility to give these women a chance at marriage to a real man, a good, virtuous man who goes to their church. Ask them out. You’ll find out way more about her than you knew before – and you might find that you want to marry her. Or that you don’t. But if you’re already 80% sure you do want to marry her, it’s time to take the next step in your discernment.

Yes, it’s scary asking them out. You know what else is scary? Childbirth. So we’re even. Ask her out already.

Mary (and Luke, who asked)


  1. [How is it I've not heard of this blog before?! ... or is it just me, in my oblivion, who has neglected to "follow" before now? so sad!]

    A theory: These strong, liberally-educated women of which you speak are intimidating. Not dating, not [name of small liberal arts college]-dating, but intimidating. They are strong, yet not forceful. They are kind, yet also prudent. They are gentle, but not fragile. They are intelligent, but not stuck up. And somehow this places them on a pedestal, far, far above any common man.

    These men have been well brought up, taught to honor women and treat them well, but I think that somewhere behind that reverence lies an uneasy terror. A suspicious distrust. How could a man ever be worthy of such a woman? How could such a woman ever deign to cast a glance on such a man? -- the question is asked in irony, I assure you; but I am afraid that for many men, it is an apt (though incorrect) concern.

    These women are virtuous, and so these men assume that their price is beyond rubies. Some of them, certainly, are worth their soul's weight in spiritual gold; but the majority of them are much softer than that red stone. They are human, too, with faults by the millions. If you prick them, will they not bleed? Assuredly, yes. But that is your moment, my dear man.

    Just a theory :)

  2. This is fantastic Mary!! And congrats you two!