Orthonorm's Dating and Relationship Advice Column

FormerReformer

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dzheremi said:
We're still talking about women, right? Not...grain or oil or something...?
No, no, no. Grain and oil are what you trade to parents for a woman if you don't have the customary livestock. See much earlier in this thread about appropriate livestock-to-woman exchange rates.
 

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dzheremi said:
Punch said:
As I said, in this case, as long as no formal (or strong informal) vows have been made by the "target" party, I see no problem legally or morally with the pursuit.
 

Again, how do you judge the strength of the vows?
How about by whether or not they exist? If there are formal vows (engaged/married), then you can know they exist and what they entail (or should entail) and move on. But if they are informal how are you going to know if they exist or how strong they are if you don't *ask*?

That's what mystifies me about so many of the objections put forth here. At least mine and Punch's position is clear about when a woman's unavailable--when she's made a formal commitment or when she says, "No thank you not interested" (whether her reasoning is her informal commitments or just a lack of interest in you). But at what point do the rest of you think it becomes immoral to ask a woman "would you like to go out sometime?" and "Okay, well if you change your mind give me a call?" When you see her out on a date with a man? (even if for all you know she never plans to see him again). when she goes out with the same guy for 6 months (even when she's just doing it because it's more fun than sitting home alone while she's waiting for something better to come along--and he knows it)? When she's been going out with the same guy for 2 years (but is fed up with his waffling and just looking for a trigger to justify her doing what she knows she's going to do anyway)? How do you know these things if you don't *ask* and let her know there's another option--if she's interested.

It's not about being better than her current boyfriend--it's about being a different option, if she wants one.
 

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witega said:
But so long as those promises are 'implicit', I certainly don't think there's any sin in asking. Because as long as they are implicit, *someone* (most likely the man, but possibly the woman or both) is keeping their options open--because if they weren't, they would go ahead and make it 'explicit'

...in my circle of acquaintance is a couple who have been dating for 7 years. For at least the last 3, she has wanted to get married. He says he plans to marry her, he says when he pictures his future, it's always with them together--but right now's just not the right time because at first he was focussing on his career, and now he's focusing on his start-up business...
I know that this is probably very stupid of me to disagree with a married man old enough to be my father with years more knowledge and experience than me, but Mr Witega, I feel inclined to disagree with you on a couple of points here. Sometimes making their committment 'explicit' is much harder than some of these oldsters on here make it out to me because we come from different generations. Nowadays getting married for younger people is not as easy as the elders are making it out to be; you need money. You said yourself that a man should put his girlfriend/life/fiance higher than almost everything and take care of her as much as he can, and how is he supposed to do that if he does not have money yet? He needs to focus first on getting his job and cash flow coming in. And that is not as easy as it may have been for the oldsters. Nowadays college is almost essential for a decent job and finishing high-school is mandatory and college costs money as well, so it really is a hard process. If anything, it seems more immature to me to just marry a woman because you 'love her' relying solely on your emotional impulses and not reason, because even if you marry her, she is still going to struggle as the couple struggles economically. If he really loved her, then he would put off marriage for a while until he can get his money. I don't know if this is a wise decision or not, so your input would be appreciated, but I've sort of implicitely decided that I would not marry until I am economically stable.
 

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Witega, if Punch hadn't included "or strong informal", I wouldn't have asked that question. In context, however, I think it makes perfect sense to wonder, as your actions are going to based on how you judge such a situation, so it'd be good to try to be relatively confident that you know in fact that any of the scenarios you're thinking of actually apply (e.g., that she actually isn't going to be seeing that guy again, to use one of your examples).

Anyway...when is it acceptable...I would say that the "she's sick of her guy and looking for an out" standard is acceptable. That seems like something different than deciding for yourself that you're better than her current guy* and are going to try to break them up so that she will hopefully date you instead.

* - I'm not sure I really buy the idea that it's just being an alternative, as though there's no implicit (or potentially explicit) value-judgment being made here. Everyone is just an alternative, but without any reason to choose one over another if we're going to somehow remove the natural impulse to make ourselves look better in comparison to someone else. That's how it works, no? I have a feeling I may be misunderstanding you here...
 

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So has mine.  I usually agree with Liza.  I always agree with Hiwot.

Punch said:
My faith that real women are still out there has been restored!  Very well said. 
 

Punch

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dzheremi said:
Witega, if Punch hadn't included "or strong informal", I wouldn't have asked that question.
To be clear, I would consider a "strong informal" to be her statement to me that she is committed to her boyfriend (or some other obvious form of communication).  There could be a hundred reasons as to why she is not wearing a ring, and none of them are my business at that point.  But as has been previously said, I cannot know of the informal commitment unless I ask and hear from her, so avoiding her because she has been seen in the general proximity of another male does not seem like a good way to go about things.  Continuing to pursue her after she has made it clear that she is committed to someone else would elicit the same feelings in me as the "don't do it" crowd have about the matter. 
 

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Ah, thanks for the clarification, Punch. I find this a very reasonable approach.
 

LizaSymonenko

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Punch said:
dzheremi said:
Witega, if Punch hadn't included "or strong informal", I wouldn't have asked that question.
To be clear, I would consider a "strong informal" to be her statement to me that she is committed to her boyfriend (or some other obvious form of communication).  There could be a hundred reasons as to why she is not wearing a ring, and none of them are my business at that point.  But as has been previously said, I cannot know of the informal commitment unless I ask and hear from her, so avoiding her because she has been seen in the general proximity of another male does not seem like a good way to go about things.  Continuing to pursue her after she has made it clear that she is committed to someone else would elicit the same feelings in me as the "don't do it" crowd have about the matter. 
What he said.

 

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JamesR said:
witega said:
But so long as those promises are 'implicit', I certainly don't think there's any sin in asking. Because as long as they are implicit, *someone* (most likely the man, but possibly the woman or both) is keeping their options open--because if they weren't, they would go ahead and make it 'explicit'

...in my circle of acquaintance is a couple who have been dating for 7 years. For at least the last 3, she has wanted to get married. He says he plans to marry her, he says when he pictures his future, it's always with them together--but right now's just not the right time because at first he was focussing on his career, and now he's focusing on his start-up business...
I know that this is probably very stupid of me to disagree with a married man old enough to be my father with years more knowledge and experience than me, but Mr Witega, I feel inclined to disagree with you on a couple of points here. Sometimes making their committment 'explicit' is much harder than some of these oldsters on here make it out to me because we come from different generations. Nowadays getting married for younger people is not as easy as the elders are making it out to be; you need money. You said yourself that a man should put his girlfriend/life/fiance higher than almost everything and take care of her as much as he can, and how is he supposed to do that if he does not have money yet? He needs to focus first on getting his job and cash flow coming in. And that is not as easy as it may have been for the oldsters. Nowadays college is almost essential for a decent job and finishing high-school is mandatory and college costs money as well, so it really is a hard process. If anything, it seems more immature to me to just marry a woman because you 'love her' relying solely on your emotional impulses and not reason, because even if you marry her, she is still going to struggle as the couple struggles economically. If he really loved her, then he would put off marriage for a while until he can get his money. I don't know if this is a wise decision or not, so your input would be appreciated, but I've sort of implicitely decided that I would not marry until I am economically stable.
James - God gave you a brain and you are using it to actually think about the things people are saying to you. That's not stupid at all. Uncritically accepting every piece of advice that comes your way is almost as bad as refusing to take any advice at all--and that goes triple because I'm just some random stranger on the internet.

Despite that, I'm going to give you some further advice now, which you can do whatever you want with:

First and foremost, avoid the trap of thinking your generation (which is the generation of my daughters and Punch's sons) is unique. Every generation since at least 1800 has thought that, and they've always been wrong. Technology makes some things go faster, specifics change here and there--but people are still people, and the world is still the world. It took money to support a family, and the more education and skill you had the easier it was to make that money, when I was in my 20s and starting my family. And the same was true when my parents were starting their family, and when my grandparents were trying to scrape their way of out the Great Depression. The fact that they did it is not evidence that it was 'easier'--its just evidence that when you accept something needs to be done, you do it and don't worry about the excuses.

Now, as to the main substance of your post: Honestly, the money is generally just an excuse. I'm not directing that at you. At 16, you still have years of figuring out who you are and what you want to try to do with your life before you should start worrying about who want to share the rest of that life with. And neither Punch nor I is saying 'COMMIT NOW'. What we've been saying is that if *don't* commit, then be prepared to live with the consequences. And at 16, (or 18 or 20) you should *want* to live with the consequences--life-long commitments are down the road for you. But in the case of my example couple--she's a professional with her own career that she has no plans to give up after marriage. He's an experienced and skilled computer programmer who I know for a fact has turned down well-paying jobs because he thinks he can eventually make more with his start-up (and he just likes being his own boss). Based on just her salary or the salary he could have if he took on of those job offers, they would be better off, more 'financially secure', than I was when my girls were little. He's making a choice, and its based on his priorities.

Which brings me to some comments about money, financial stability, and priorities.
First off, you are never *ever* going to have enough money to provide for your loved ones in the manner they deserve. This is kind of integral to the 'loved' part. For example, someday hopefully you will meet a fine upstanding Orthodox woman, the two of you will fall in love and get married. You will want to buy her a ring. And if all you can afford is a cubic zirconium, you will wish you could afford a real diamond. And if you can afford a half-carat, you will wish you could afford a full carat. And if you can afford a full carat, you will wish you could afford 5 carats. And if you can afford 5 carats, you'll wish you can afford to pay an artistic genius to create a unique work of jewelry just for her. And you will wish this even though as a fine upstanding Orthodox woman, she tells you she doesn't care about jewelry. You will wish it even if she tells you she wants you to halve your ring budget and give the other half to charity, and you will wish it even though, if she really is the right woman, she really will be happy with whatever you can afford. You will want this because if you love her, you will know that she deserves all the best things in life--and you are going to have to live with the fact that not even Bill Gates can provide *all* the best things in life. Second example: A five-year old can entertain himself for days with a cardboard box and a stick. But you will spend considerably more than the cost of a box and a stick every birthday and every Christmas. In fact, at some point, you'll talk yourself into going over budget to buy one particularly neat toy--only to have your child playing with it for 10 minutes, then wander off to spend the next couple of hours climbing in and out of the box it came in. Indeed with kids, the more money you have, the more careful you have to be about *not* spending everything you can on them so as to not ruin their developing sense of value and work ethic.

Second, 'financial stability' is an illusion (Luke 12:15-23). I knew a man who waited until his late 30s to get married because he was concentrating on building his business. And he was very successful at that. When I met him in his late 50s, he was a multi-millionaire with a mansion in the most expensive part of Dallas. Then, just as he was putting 3 kids through college, the commercial real estate bubble in Texas burst and he went from being worth tens of millions to owing millions. His kids went from Christmas vacations in Vale or Europe to working two jobs just to finish their degrees and his first grandchild was born on welfare. I'm not saying don't be sensible with your money or don't make plans--but if 'financial stability' is your priority, then it is one you will never set aside. Because when you get to a certain level of stability, you need more money to guarantee you can stay at that level--I'm doing fine now, and I have decent savings--but if I had lost my job in the recent downturn, my family could not have stayed at our current level for long on those saving. So to guarantee we could stay at our current level, I would need to make much more money than I have now--but once you're making much more money, the level has changed and you start looking at what you have to make on top of that to guarantee that new level. The more you feed your *need* for money (whether you couch the need as 'financial stability' or 'independence' or raw greed) the more it grows (like any other passion). So be responsibile with your money--but be aware that nothing in this world is ever certain and never prioritize it over more important things--

because (and this is a piece of advice I specifically give my daughters when considering guys): 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also'. People get into habits of mind. And once they do, those habits do not change just because you know they should. If you spend years prioritizing your job and financial stability over the woman in your life, then there is no magic about a wedding ring (to borrow from akimoro) that is going to change that when you do finally get married. That millionaire? He always struck me as one of the loneliest people I've ever met. He provided his family a much better life, in financial terms, than I've ever done for my family. But he barely knew them.

 

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PUnch basically answered this much more concisely while I was typing my response up, but anyway....
dzheremi said:
Witega, if Punch hadn't included "or strong informal", I wouldn't have asked that question. In context, however, I think it makes perfect sense to wonder, as your actions are going to based on how you judge such a situation, so it'd be good to try to be relatively confident that you know in fact that any of the scenarios you're thinking of actually apply (e.g., that she actually isn't going to be seeing that guy again, to use one of your examples).

Anyway...when is it acceptable...I would say that the "she's sick of her guy and looking for an out" standard is acceptable. That seems like something different than deciding for yourself that you're better than her current guy* and are going to try to break them up so that she will hopefully date you instead.
I used your earlier post to pose a question to everyone having heart-palpitations at the very idea that people who have not made a permanent commitment should not be treated the same as those who have, but your response here brings me back to the same question--if you don't ask, how do you know? I mean honestly, I am not sure how some of you ever ask a woman out at all while sticking to these artificial rules. If you find something attractive about a woman, then it's almost guaranteed that other men have noticed the same attractive qualities and asked her out before you. And since she (most likely) is not gifted with precognitive knowledge that you are going to come along later, she's had no reason not to say 'yes' to the perfectly valid invitations, even if she doesn't know if that relationship is going to lead to permanence (or even in some cases where she knows its not). So the number of women who are seeing *someone* on a regular or semi-regular basis, but who consider themselves still available is far higher than the number of women who are completely unattached. And yet from the violence of some of the responses, people seem to think it's not appropriate to ask a woman out unless you are absolutely sure there is no other man in the picture. And the number of dateable women for whome there is *no* other man in the picture is ridiculously small. If the woman does have a commitment to the man--she'll tell you and you can move on. But if she doesn't, how do you guys ever find that out?

"try to break them up"

I have to ask what you even mean by this? Remembering that I already explictly stated what should have been assumed on this site--that behavior which is immoral in a general context is also immoral (and therefore to be avoided) in a courting context. So no gossiping about the other guy. No lying about him or about yourself (i.e., telling the woman you're ready to commit *to her* when you are really just looking for the opportunity to find out if you might want to do so). Definitely no getting her drunk in an attempt to seduce her or hacking her computer or... do I really need to continue? So what actual action is that you are thinking is immoral? Is telling a woman--who you don't know what kind of relationship she is currently in--"I find you attractive and would like to get to know you better" a sin? Is asking "You don't seem happy, what's the matter" a sin?


* - I'm not sure I really buy the idea that it's just being an alternative, as though there's no implicit (or potentially explicit) value-judgment being made here. Everyone is just an alternative, but without any reason to choose one over another if we're going to somehow remove the natural impulse to make ourselves look better in comparison to someone else. That's how it works, no? I have a feeling I may be misunderstanding you here...
I don't understand how this issue is any diffent whether the woman is 'attached' or 'unattached'. If you ask a woman out, presumably two things are true--a) you think you will enjoy being with her (whether it's just for an evening of a pleasant conversation or if you are thinking more long term), and b) you think she will enjoy being with you (again whether  you are thinking about this one date or about a whole life or something in between. If b) is not true, then you need to not be wasting any woman's time and instead working on your own issues. If b) is true, then that doesn't mean you think you are definitely the better option for her out of all possible options. Indeed, if you only pursue women that you are sure you are the best option for then you are either an unregenerate narcisissist or you are setting your sights ridiculously (I should say terrifyingly) low. The point is, it's not your judgement to make--it's hers. And just as with the issue of whether she's actually available or not, you won't know her judgment--unless you ask.

(And that's particularly true if your in the camp that's arguing that simply by dating a woman, you have made it immoral for any other man to approach her. By that logic, the very act of asking a woman out on the 3rd date, or whatever the magic number is, is closing her off from considering any other options--so morally you can only do it if you know you are the best option).


 

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witega said:
I used your earlier post to pose a question to everyone having heart-palpitations at the very idea that people who have not made a permanent commitment should not be treated the same as those who have, but your response here brings me back to the same question--if you don't ask, how do you know? I mean honestly, I am not sure how some of you ever ask a woman out at all while sticking to these artificial rules.
I'm not sure what this has to do with what I posted, as I wasn't about trying to stick to "artificial rules", but instead to see how Punch would judge such a thing, for purely pragmatic reasons.

If you find something attractive about a woman, then it's almost guaranteed that other men have noticed the same attractive qualities and asked her out before you. And since she (most likely) is not gifted with precognitive knowledge that you are going to come along later, she's had no reason not to say 'yes' to the perfectly valid invitations, even if she doesn't know if that relationship is going to lead to permanence (or even in some cases where she knows its not). So the number of women who are seeing *someone* on a regular or semi-regular basis, but who consider themselves still available is far higher than the number of women who are completely unattached.
Granted.

And yet from the violence of some of the responses, people seem to think it's not appropriate to ask a woman out unless you are absolutely sure there is no other man in the picture. And the number of dateable women for whome there is *no* other man in the picture is ridiculously small. If the woman does have a commitment to the man--she'll tell you and you can move on. But if she doesn't, how do you guys ever find that out?
Well, for myself, as I clarified some posts ago, I had assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the situation that James talked about was one of those clear situations wherein the girl turned James down specifically because she's got a boyfriend and isn't interested in him. So my reading of the original post didn't really lend itself to any of the grey area that I know is there. That said, I don't disagree with any of this.

"try to break them up"

I have to ask what you even mean by this?
It is self-explanatory, I'd think. You've really never seen this happen?

Remembering that I already explictly stated what should have been assumed on this site...
I must've missed this passage/post.

Is telling a woman--who you don't know what kind of relationship she is currently in--"I find you attractive and would like to get to know you better" a sin? Is asking "You don't seem happy, what's the matter" a sin?
Nope.

* - I'm not sure I really buy the idea that it's just being an alternative, as though there's no implicit (or potentially explicit) value-judgment being made here. Everyone is just an alternative, but without any reason to choose one over another if we're going to somehow remove the natural impulse to make ourselves look better in comparison to someone else. That's how it works, no? I have a feeling I may be misunderstanding you here...
I don't understand how this issue is any diffent whether the woman is 'attached' or 'unattached'. If you ask a woman out, presumably two things are true--a) you think you will enjoy being with her (whether it's just for an evening of a pleasant conversation or if you are thinking more long term), and b) you think she will enjoy being with you (again whether  you are thinking about this one date or about a whole life or something in between. If b) is not true, then you need to not be wasting any woman's time and instead working on your own issues. If b) is true, then that doesn't mean you think you are definitely the better option for her out of all possible options.
No, but you must [think you] have something to offer that will make you a good choice compared to her current guy, or else why would you bother?

Indeed, if you only pursue women that you are sure you are the best option for then you are either an unregenerate narcisissist or you are setting your sights ridiculously (I should say terrifyingly) low.
Huh? I think we're misunderstanding each other. As I read your original post, it's not about being better than the current guy, but just being an alternative. My only point is that it must be about being a comparably better alternative in some way, as simply existing is generally not enough to attract the ladies (Orthonorm excepted?). That was my only point. Nothing about being better than all possible options, and basically the opposite of low self-esteem.

The point is, it's not your judgement to make--it's hers. And just as with the issue of whether she's actually available or not, you won't know her judgment--unless you ask.
Indeed.

(And that's particularly true if your in the camp that's arguing that simply by dating a woman, you have made it immoral for any other man to approach her. By that logic, the very act of asking a woman out on the 3rd date, or whatever the magic number is, is closing her off from considering any other options--so morally you can only do it if you know you are the best option).
Yeah, that's also not what I'm saying. Remember, as per above, my original stance in this thread was within the assumed context that James had already received a clear no from the girl because she was committed to her boyfriend. In subsequent posts, when I realized that I was reading something into it that might not be there, I modified my stance.

I don't think there are nearly as many absolutes in dating as it probably seems in this "camp", but as I've responded to Punch, I do like having some general standards by which I try to conduct myself with regard to relationships. One of those includes not messing with established (or what Punch has called "strong informal") relationships. That's all. I don't think we're actually disagreeing on that point, only discussing the finer points of where the line is. Hence all the questions to make sure we're all on the same page.



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Thank you, Witega. So let me share with you what I think I have learned or insights I have gained from your advice. I would say that the most important thing I learned from you is that where my treasure is, that is where my heart is. I guess I do put too much of an emphasis on wealth in my life sometimes; sometimes even thinking that wealth is the most important thing to provide my family if I ever have one in the future. I guess I just worry about them having to live a crappy life for lack of a better term. I mean, my family never had very much, so I'd like to at least give them something more than we had. I also know that I would not want my daughter to marry someone who cannot at least give them enough money to survive, so I just find it kind of selfish and immature to marry if I do not even at least have a job. However, as you also stated, there is no such thing as pure financial stability and having as much as I want for them; there is always the risk that it could go away as fast as it came, and I will always desire to give them more than what I have. But this is not always possible and sometimes I just have to work with what I have, and a good woman would understand that and love me anyway. And if I focus too much on wealth, then I could possibly neglect giving them emotional or personal support as a father/husband. Also, as you stated, although each generation may have been different and unique in its own way, they still faced the same general problems, and people dealt with them. And it is no different for my generation and your daughters' generation; we have our own load of problems but we deal with them and make the best.

I guess the final thing is more about the original topic. You're basically advising me that dating is a competition, and although I should not try to disrupt a relationship or marriage if a woman tells me she is not available, there is still nothing wrong with extending an offer? And that 'stealing' a woman away from someone is sort of an oxymoron considering that she had an option and chose me rather than me literally going in, forcing her to follow me and stole her. And probably most importantly, when it comes to weighing down and thinking about the benefits and disadvantages of dating a certain person or engaging in a particular competition, I should think with my head rationally instead of letting Mr. Happy influence my decisions? I think that I have done that with my current situation. I have decided that it is not worth it to go after this girl. The reason is because we're in high-school and chances are that the relationship won't last and lead to a marriage in the future but end with a break-up, and that break-up would probably affect the relationship with my best friend, who is her brother. I do not think that losing my best friend over a relationship that will not probably last is worth it. So I think that I am going to let her go for now, unless somehow in the distant future marriage is actually a possibility and we're still in contact, then I'll reconsider it.
 

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JamesR said:
Thank you, Witega. So let me share with you what I think I have learned or insights I have gained from your advice. I would say that the most important thing I learned from you is that where my treasure is, that is where my heart is. I guess I do put too much of an emphasis on wealth in my life sometimes; sometimes even thinking that wealth is the most important thing to provide my family if I ever have one in the future. I guess I just worry about them having to live a crappy life for lack of a better term. I mean, my family never had very much, so I'd like to at least give them something more than we had. I also know that I would not want my daughter to marry someone who cannot at least give them enough money to survive, so I just find it kind of selfish and immature to marry if I do not even at least have a job. However, as you also stated, there is no such thing as pure financial stability and having as much as I want for them; there is always the risk that it could go away as fast as it came, and I will always desire to give them more than what I have. But this is not always possible and sometimes I just have to work with what I have, and a good woman would understand that and love me anyway. And if I focus too much on wealth, then I could possibly neglect giving them emotional or personal support as a father/husband. Also, as you stated, although each generation may have been different and unique in its own way, they still faced the same general problems, and people dealt with them. And it is no different for my generation and your daughters' generation; we have our own load of problems but we deal with them and make the best.

I guess the final thing is more about the original topic. You're basically advising me that dating is a competition, and although I should not try to disrupt a relationship or marriage if a woman tells me she is not available, there is still nothing wrong with extending an offer? And that 'stealing' a woman away from someone is sort of an oxymoron considering that she had an option and chose me rather than me literally going in, forcing her to follow me and stole her. And probably most importantly, when it comes to weighing down and thinking about the benefits and disadvantages of dating a certain person or engaging in a particular competition, I should think with my head rationally instead of letting Mr. Happy influence my decisions? I think that I have done that with my current situation. I have decided that it is not worth it to go after this girl. The reason is because we're in high-school and chances are that the relationship won't last and lead to a marriage in the future but end with a break-up, and that break-up would probably affect the relationship with my best friend, who is her brother. I do not think that losing my best friend over a relationship that will not probably last is worth it. So I think that I am going to let her go for now, unless somehow in the distant future marriage is actually a possibility and we're still in contact, then I'll reconsider it.
;D
About the only thing I add to that summary is that if you can keep Mr. Happy from influencing your decisions you're a better man than I and well on your way to sainthood. The more realistic goal for most of us is don't let him *control* your decisions.

Oh, and I believe you mentioned on another thread that you are in the Bay Area but have yet to visit St. John's relics. Find a way to get over there. Their presence in your city is a massive blessing you are not availing yourself of.
 

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witega said:
Oh, and I believe you mentioned on another thread that you are in the Bay Area but have yet to visit St. John's relics. Find a way to get over there. Their presence in your city is a massive blessing you are not availing yourself of.
I'll try to find a way over there. I might have to wait until I get my license in a few months though. I doubt my parents will want to take me or be interested.
 
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witega said:
akimori makoto said:
I am simply stating that, in this current world, where people do not marry at seventeen or nineteen and relationships routinely run on for many years before rings are exchanged, the reality is that people in relationships increasingly rely on implicit promises of loyalty and fidelity and those around them become increasingly unwilling to disturb those things as the relationship becomes more and more "serious". It takes time for such commitment and societal recognition of it to crystallise. My proof of this is that no-one takes seriously a marriage formalised during a drunken night in Vegas, though they might with time and demonstrated loyalty and fidelity.
I think that one place you and I are more talking past each other than disagreeing is on this issue of commitment. Remember, the conversation started with JamesR's question about a *high school* relationship. As such, I've been mainly thinking and talking about people who are dating--whereas you seem to be focusing on people in long-term relationships who are living together or basically in a common-law marriage etc.

If a couple has been together for years (particularly living together) and everybody 'knows' there is something implicit between them, I probably wouldn't advise interfering (pointing to Liza and Delphine's witness that if the woman actually believes there's a commitment, you're just going to get shot down). But so long as those promises are 'implicit', I certainly don't think there's any sin in asking. Because as long as they are implicit, *someone* (most likely the man, but possibly the woman or both) is keeping their options open--because if they weren't, they would go ahead and make it 'explicit' (and by that I include not only formal marriages, because I have known couples who for various reasons (feminist rejection of marriage as a Patriarchal control mechanism, didn't have an RC annulment and were RC enough not to get remarried without one--but not RC enough to keep from living together as man and wife in its absence) did not have the formal marriage but actually considered themselves committed for life and publicly spoke that way).

Let me put it this way, in my circle of acquaintance is a couple who have been dating for 7 years. For at least the last 3, she has wanted to get married. He says he plans to marry her, he says when he pictures his future, it's always with them together--but right now's just not the right time because at first he was focussing on his career, and now he's focusing on his start-up business, and ... As far as I'm concerned, if any man comes along who's willing to put a higher priority on the girl than her current boyfriend and give her what she wants and deserves, he'd be doing the right thing by both of them. On the other hand, I'd never advise someone to actually pursue her, because I know several guys who have tried and gotten nowhere--because she is actually committed, even if he is not. But if he wants me (or anyone else) to respect his commitment--then he needs to actually make it.
I think this is all fair.

I would only comment that, often, the events leading to the break-up are not as clean as a polite and explicit request for a date/relationship.
 
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Punch said:
akimori makoto said:
Unfortunately, your analysis misses that there was no marriage registry in Eden. The married state was simply the commitment of two individuals to exist in mutual union to the exclusion of others, as honoured by the community. It was so for, at least, many centuries. It is the breach of this arrangement which the Lord and the Fathers called "adultery".

I am simply stating that, in this current world, where people do not marry at seventeen or nineteen and relationships routinely run on for many years before rings are exchanged, the reality is that people in relationships increasingly rely on implicit promises of loyalty and fidelity and those around them become increasingly unwilling to disturb those things as the relationship becomes more and more "serious". It takes time for such commitment and societal recognition of it to crystallise. My proof of this is that no-one takes seriously a marriage formalised during a drunken night in Vegas, though they might with time and demonstrated loyalty and fidelity.

For my part, I would prefer not to be a contributor to the heartbreak of another person, even if not the ultimate cause. Do unto others and all that. I suppose there's no harm in admitting to being a sap and a sentimentalist, so please consider me so.
I think that you need to study Judeo /  Christian marriage a little more closely.  Marriage was NOT two people deciding that they were in love and slowing building into a marriage.  Marriage was (and continues to be in many places) an agreement between families, often with NO consent between the marrying parties.  There were marriage rituals BEFORE there was a Church, and these rituals determined when a marriage took place.  There was also no sex before a marriage.  Finding your new wife to be anything other than a virgin was a death sentence for her.  Marriage, as pertaining to Orthodox Christians and their predecessors, has always been a VERY formalized affair, even before the Church rituals that we have today.  There was even a formalized betrothal, which could last years, before a marriage was consummated.  As we see in the Gospels, the only way to end a betrothal was by a divorce.
This analysis is true of most of relevant history, but does not account for the "marriage" in Eden ("for this reason a man will leave his mother and father and cleave unto another", &c.). I am not suggesting that the ancients went on cute little dates with regularity over the span of a few years before deciding to marry, but a couple of families agreeing their son and daughter should shack up together and have babies (and the rest of the community respecting that decision) is as "formal" as it got in many places, for many centuries.

Punch said:
I suppose the problem here is that I do not understand the modern customs of this country.  It seems that all young men and women are these days are f***buddies and the relationship between them has nothing to do with Orthodoxy, or even Christianity for that matter.  In such cases, make up your own rules.  But if you come to an Orthodox forum to ask these questions of Orthodox people, expect Orthodox answers.  I dare you to find any support for your position in any of the religious writings of our Church.  As to what other cultures do, I do not care.  I am not on their forums.  I still hold the very old fashioned view that if you screw, you are married.  My priest holds the same view.  Anything after that with another woman is adultery.  So, if being in a boyfriend / girlfriend relationship means that you are living together and banging like bunnies, then I guess you are already married in my world.  However, if you are truly simply boyfriend and girlfriend, then what Witega and I have written holds true, in our religion.  I committed to marry my wife the first time we slept together.  And I did.  And I have remained true to her for all these years.  I guess if you advocate some other arrangement, I have nothing more to say since we are not discussing apples and apples.
I think this is fair, and suggests we have more commonality than I have made out. I have not meant to suggest that teenage girls who have been on four or five dates with a boy are his property, though I can see that I have made a few overstatements which would tend in that direction.

The fact that you say a sexual relationship is (basically) a marriage is proof of my contention of that marriage is not something which exists by virtue of having been formalised in a registry somewhere. The only thing I have argued is that formalising a marriage in a registry does not instantaneously convey some sort of sacrosanctity. It is the agreement of the community to honour a relationship as exclusive that matters.

Punch said:
I guess what bothers me is, like Witega, my marriage is the second most important thing in my life, right after my God.  When people ask my advice in the matter, I give the advice in this light.  It kind of upsets me when a person asks a serious question about the courtship, which should be leading to marriage, only to have so many experts that have never been married dispense with opinions that have little to nothing to do with the teachings of our Church.  It confuses me.  If I have a problem with my car, I would certainly never seek the advice of someone who has never successfully repaired an automobile.  But regarding a Sacrament of the Church, everyone is an expert.  But I guess what we have here is just the wisdom of today's world.
I have sympathy with this, but you are kinda suggesting that people who have not been married have no idea about the sacraments of the Church or the teaching of the Fathers, while you have automatically acquired such knowledge simply by being married. Surely the truth is somewhat more nuanced.

Anyway, I am constantly being told by hobby lawyers what the law is, so I suppose we should all just get used to it.
 
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Punch said:
dzheremi said:
Witega, if Punch hadn't included "or strong informal", I wouldn't have asked that question.
To be clear, I would consider a "strong informal" to be her statement to me that she is committed to her boyfriend (or some other obvious form of communication).  There could be a hundred reasons as to why she is not wearing a ring, and none of them are my business at that point.  But as has been previously said, I cannot know of the informal commitment unless I ask and hear from her, so avoiding her because she has been seen in the general proximity of another male does not seem like a good way to go about things.  Continuing to pursue her after she has made it clear that she is committed to someone else would elicit the same feelings in me as the "don't do it" crowd have about the matter.
I suppose there's no harm in asking.

My visceral reaction to the idea of "stealing" someone is based on the feeling that such a stealing is often not accomplished by a simple, polite request for a date.
 

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Personally, I wish that we still had arranged marriage. That would make things a lot easier and simple. Maybe our whole new concept of 'loving' and getting to 'know someone' before we marry them is all wrong. I mean, it only leads to a ton of breakups and divorce. I even read once somewhere that arranged marriages have lower divorce rates. Maybe the old way of things was actually superior; you marry the person whom your family arranged for you to marry and you two learn to love each other and get to know each other as you progress in your marriage. I'd just hope that my parents had good taste for me and picked someone from an Orthodox family; although I doubt they would and would instead probably leave me stuck with some western Protestant.
 

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akimori makoto said:
I have sympathy with this, but you are kinda suggesting that people who have not been married have no idea about the sacraments of the Church or the teaching of the Fathers, while you have automatically acquired such knowledge simply by being married. Surely the truth is somewhat more nuanced.

Anyway, I am constantly being told by hobby lawyers what the law is, so I suppose we should all just get used to it.
The truth is very much more nuanced.  Sorry if my statements came out that way, since I was not even thinking of the Fathers when I wrote that.  I would say that people that have been married and gone through the trials and tribulations, as well as the joys of marriage have a better idea of what they are talking about regarding marriage.  As to the rules and regulations, simply being married does nothing about that.  I have been studying those longer than I have been married, so I am not ignorant of them.  My Godfather, a monk, once told me the following when I asked him some questions about living a Holy life.  He said "You are a married man, so seek your guidance from a married priest.  I fight a different battle than you do and should not be advising you on matters that I do not know.  Since the priest has a wife and a family, he will be better able to advise you."  That is what I had more in mind when I wrote the above.  A single guy can quote the Fathers as well, if not better, than I can.
 
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