After so many years of getting it wrong with so many men in terms of dating, I decided to take myself off the market and really focus on preparing myself for the life that I wanted. I had to get myself in order career wise, I had to patch up some holes in my finances and finish up a couple of manuscripts I’d been sitting on for over a year and really allow myself to heal from all of the emotional and mental exhaustion I had put myself through from dealing with men who had no intentions of taking me seriously. I realized that even in the midst of all the partying I did, the good times, the flings, the tequila and awesome music, I was lonely and even though I wanted to date seriously and work towards a serious commitment with someone, I wasn’t even prepared. So with a boatload of lessons learned, I locked myself into a cave of personal development and that’s where he found me.
He laid it all out on the table for me and rather than seeing me as this sexual, free-spirited, wild child, he saw me in my purest form. I hadn’t realized how much of my self-worth was based on how big of a social life I had, how many friends I made, and having a calendar with every weekend booked to be somewhere clubbing it up. It was a front to my loneliness, so when he told me he wanted to work towards a marriage, I panicked a little because I didn’t even know how to be a girlfriend despite the fact I believed I had a lot of love to give. His first rule was NO SEX. At first it wasn’t a big deal to me because since I had stopped dating anyway, that had also come to a halt, but truth is it was a big deal because I had gotten use to sex being an expectation when you’re in a relationship. I was a bit hesitant at his proposal, but then something ironic happened. I got an email for a free course offered on Essence.com Empower U channel called “The Wait 101: Discovering Lasting Love Through Celibacy” and I thought why not? The short course is facilitated by married couple Devon Franklin and Meagan Good and they take you through a series of short videos and surveys and quizzes to reflect on you dating patterns and how to prepare yourself for such a covenant. In such a short period of time, I’ve discovered some very helpful gems that I’d like to share with you all. Some might seem elementary, but I realize the older we get the more complicated elementary becomes.
We live in a society chock full of quick and easy. We want quick meals, quick weight loss results, quick education, we want to alleviate the amount of effort we have to put into things. We want to get paid more money to do less work. You get the point, but with quick meals, you’ll be hungry again sooner; with quick weight loss results, you’ll find yourself struggling to keep it off because you don’t know how to properly maintain. With quick education, you’re only brushing the surface and risk missing out on important details. This is the same when it comes to building a relationship with someone.
We want the reward first as an incentive to do the work later. I used to be that way. Sex was an instant gratification, but it’s no foundation to build a relationship upon. I couldn’t understand why people should deny their natural desires. I learned that when I was left wondering why guys didn’t want a relationship with me, but wanted the fun that came with being with me. Meagan Good talked about how waiting weeds out what’s not supposed to be so that you can focus on what is supposed to be a lot faster. A lot of the damage that we experience emotionally and are still trying to recover from are often rooted in sex or hasty relationships with someone who wasn’t meant for us. Franklin suggests waiting because rather than spending weeks, months and sometimes even years with someone who wasn’t meant for you, you’ll be able to see that clearly.
Getting Below the Surface
Do I love you? Do I lust you? Those aren’t just the beginning lines of “Bonita Applebum,” but these are questions we can clearly ask when remaining celibate while dating. It allows you the clarity to make better decisions not just with your partner, but in your individual life as well. There’s so much more beneath the surface of a person and by choosing to wait you’ll gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your partner. You’ll be able to fully understand and experience the entirety of love without uncertainty. You’ll figure out do you even like this person and vice versa without the haziness of a sexual relationship. Franklin talks about how so much of men’s values are tied up in their sexual life and that when you’re in a relationship it becomes an unspoken expectation that you’re supposed to get sex.
Mind Over Matter
Temptation is all around us. It’s in the music we listen to, it’s in the shows we watch, it’s in those romance novels we lose ourselves in and there’s literally no escaping it. Choosing to wait it more than just an action, it’s also a mindset and Franklin and Good both give some tools on creating a mindset to wait.
- Pray about it.
- Find a support system. Even though the two of you have each other, it’s great to have a support system of the same sex who can identify with the struggles of being a man or woman in waiting.
- Cut off toxic friends and change your scenery. Most of my friends are artsy just as I am, but nights out often end up in sexually charged nightclubs, pouring back shots of Brandy, grinding and twerking and inhaling massive amounts of hookah. I love them dearly, but I knew that couldn’t be my scene any longer.
- Create a statement of purpose and share it with your partner. As a writer and educator, I have a million things going on in my day and if I don’t write things down and have a tangible reminder of them I’m liable to forget. So during this process when things get tough and find yourself on the verge of slipping, having that physical reminder will help you remember why you started.
Woman in Waiting
It was very interesting to hear Meagan share her journey from living in the limelight and being labeled a sex symbol to embarking on this journey. Often times when we find ourselves in a web of sex and partying, there’s a guilt that we leave with. Even though it’s fun in that moment, the guilt is there followed by feelings of unworthiness. She expressed that your self-worth is your power and how you control your life. Rather than making it a goal to find a man, set goals for yourself. Figure out what makes you excited and find your passion. Develop discipline by starting a fitness routine, learn financial responsibility, pray and meditate, serve your community and just be your best self. He will find you. And no, that doesn’t mean if you don’t do all these things he won’t find you…and yes, you might even find him.
Standards of Dating While Waiting
It is important to set some boundaries when dating while waiting. Set your intentions from the beginning, evaluate constantly and tap into your discernment. Franklin explains that by waiting, we are giving them time to show themselves and if they are really prepared to share in this experience with you. Learn their dating patterns, their dating past, identify any negative patterns, and learn their type. REMEMBER, you have the power to choose exactly what you want and if they aren’t it, then you’re free to walk away.
Plan double or group outings with friends. This allows each of you to see each other in different elements and you can observe how they interact with their friends. It is important to control your environment and lessen the amount of alone time in intimate places.
These were a few suggestions given by them, however when it comes to setting boundaries that is completely up to you and your partner.
Overall, I loved the course because it gave me the clarity and confirmation that I needed. I love how the course is for those who are single, those who are dating and also those who are married and are looking for a fresh perspective. I think that even if you aren’t planning on being celibate and have no desire to do so, it will still give you tips on developing a healthy relationship with anyone period. As I said, something of these things seem a bit elementary while reading, but when you’re in a relationship, you find that it’s not as simple to communicate your feelings, it’s not as simple to reach a common ground on things you don’t agree on, it’s not as simple to abstain and it’s not as simple to plan a life together but Franklin and Good are examples that if someone wants a future with you, they are going to be open and committed to sharing these experiences and walk alongside you.
*article previously published at Madame Noire