Talking Strength at Catholic Match

Here’s one that was percolating in my mind for a while before I was able to put it up; discussing the concept of strength, some reasons men should seek to acquire it, and, as a byproduct, the contemporary tendency to prioritize comfortably ambiguous ideas of ‘inner strength’ over, you know, the kind you can’t fake.

This danger is to emphasize inner strength to the point of devaluing outer strength. We do the same thing with beauty. It seems we can hardly talk about either without tripping over ourselves to add that we mean primarily “inner” strength or “inner” beauty.

The problem with this is that inner strength is indeed a much more valuable quality than outer strength, but it is also a much more ambiguous one. Anyone who likes can claim that he has inner strength, just as anyone can claim that she has inner beauty, and there isn’t much anyone can do to disprove that.

Nothing is so common as to hear cowards talk about how much courage it took to run away, or degenerates wax lyrical about how brave they were to give into their lowest instincts. Like with school essay questions, it’s fatally easy to fudge the issue—particularly in today’s pluralistic culture—and twist anything and everything we do into an example of great virtue.

This is why it’s important to start with blunt facts, with developing ‘outer’ strength.

It may be lower, but it is also more honest. You can fudge on whether you are in fact a coward or a sincere pacifist, but you can’t fudge on whether that weight came off the ground or not.

Which, of course, is part of the point; not just that physical strength is valuable in itself, but that, like learning Latin or mathematics, it is uncompromising. Either the weight moves or it doesn’t. Either you run the whole mile or you don’t. There is no room for ambiguity, excuses, or uncertainty. Physical strength is an objective quality, meaning that it forces us to learn at least a little of the infinitely valuable skill of facing up to reality.

Read the rest here.

New Catholic Match Post

I saw some people discussing this on the Catholic Match forums a while back and gave the question some thought. The results are now up:

The basic version is that men are more physically oriented, women more relationally oriented. A woman typically wants to learn more about a man’s character, personality, and capabilities. Thus, what a man fundamentally looks for is signs that a woman is studying his character, trying to dig out more of his personality, and liking what she sees.

Here are some specific, simple signs you can give to let the man you’re talking to know that you’re interested in him.

  1. Talk about yourself.

Sounds a little counter-intuitive, but there is a method to the myopia.

Obviously, this doesn’t mean talking non-stop about yourself, or making the relationship all about you. It means sharing your personal concerns, your ideas, and what’s going on in your life and (this is important) seeking his input and support. By talking about your own life, you signal that you want him involved in your life; that this isn’t just a means of passing the time for you, but that you want him to take an interest in you, personally.

Read the rest here.

Cultivating a Heroic Imagination at Catholic Match

My latest ‘Catholic Match’ piece is up; this one about the benefits of cultivating a heroic imagination. Or, in other words, I’m writing in praise of fantasizing:

It has been said that, “as a man thinketh, so he is,” but perhaps it would be equally accurate to say, “as a man imagineth, so he becomes.” Not because, in Napoleon Hill fashion, he imagines himself becoming a certain way and becomes so, but because through imagination he is able to feel the value of becoming a certain kind of man and consequently able to desire it.

That is why I say it is good for men to fantasize about heroic deeds; charging into the breech of a battle line, standing up for the truth against the ridicule of the world, and, of course, rescuing the damsel in distress. The imagination allows us to see heroism and self-sacrifice as valuable things, and thus to desire them for their own sake.

This heroic imagination is very helpful in relationships.

It should be clear now why I say this is a very useful practice, especially for a relationship. A man who regularly daydreams of slogging through the swamp to rescue the girl from the villain’s alligator farm has already created a mental habit of self-sacrifice and devotion in spite of hardship; the idea that ‘it is desirable to endure hardship for her sake; to protect her, comfort her, and provide for her.’

Read the rest here.

Catholic Match Post on Knowing Your Date’s Career

My latest post is up at ‘Catholic Match,’ about the importance of knowing what you’re getting into with your significant other’s career.

The simple fact is that some careers are harder on relationship than others; some jobs simply require long hours, an unpredictable schedule, high stress, and a deep commitment.

There’s really nothing anyone can do about that; the nature of the job is what it is. If you fall in love with a man with this kind of career, you will have challenges that not everyone has to face.

(Obviously, the same thing applies for men falling for women with this kind of career).

For instance, police officers often say their job is a ‘marriage killer’ due to the combination of stress, long hours, irregular shift, and frequent overtime. Doctors too often find their shifts run long or they’re required to come in for extra work.

Similar issues emerge, to a greater or lesser degree, with military personnel, truckers, and emergency workers, among others. A person in these professions is going to be cancelling a lot of dates, missing a lot of holidays, and singing ‘Happy Birthday’ through a phone more often than not.

As I say, this is just the nature of the job, but it’s important to be aware of this before you get married.

Read the rest here.

Long-Distance Date Ideas at Catholic Match

My latest Catholic Match post suggests a few different long-distance dating ideas:

4. Video-Game Date

If you can’t meet in real life, set up a multiplayer server just for two and meet in the digital world.

Like the previous entries, this gives you a chance to share something you enjoy with the person you’re interested in, and it has the further advantage of giving you a clear, common goal to work together towards (e.g. “Collect all the stars,” or “Conquer Sweden”).

This is often much more useful for getting to know someone than just talking about nothing in particular, and especially when it comes to creating shared memories and experiences to look back on and laugh over (“Wow, we died horribly that time!”).

What is more, video games, where you have avatars and space to run around in, can allow you to interact much more naturally (ironically enough) than you otherwise would be able to using the phone or computer. It’s easier to be spontaneous and actively involved when you can move about and gesticulate than when you’re more or less tied to sitting in front of your computer.

Read the rest here.

Living in Interesting Times at Catholic Match

I missed that this piece went up a few days ago: talking about how to live in “Interesting Times.” I get to quote “Lord of the Rings” a lot in this one:

The first thing we ought to get clear right from the start is this: our circumstances are nothing new.

Certainly the specifics are original to our times (which is true of every time), but there have been many, many troubled or even disastrous ages before, and if there is one thing that may be learned from them, it is that life goes on.

The Greeks continued to compose poetry and discuss philosophy during the Peloponnesian Wars. St. Augustine continued to preach and write even as the Roman Empire collapsed about him. J.R.R. Tolkien married his wife during the opening years of the First World War (just before he himself was shipped to the Somme) and mostly composed his masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, amid the uncertainty and horrors during and leading up to the Second.

Indeed, that work is largely the picture of ordinary people living in ‘interesting times,’ and it offers some sound advice on the point:

“How shall a man judge what to do in such times?” Eomer asks, bewildered by the wonders and terrors springing up around him.

“As he ever has judged,” Aragorn answers. “Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear…It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”

Read the rest here.

Discussing Changes at Catholic Match

In today’s post at ‘Catholic Match,’ I give advice on when you should ask your significant other to change:

In the first place, let’s be clear that you do have the right to ask your significant other to ‘change’ in some way.

When you enter a relationship with someone, your life is no longer quite your own, and thus what you do affects the other person and hence they are well within their right to ask you to be a certain way.

That is, to an extent. It must be remembered that intentional change is difficult and stressful, and so basic charity requires that it should only be demanded in important cases. If you find one of your girlfriend’s habits to be mildly annoying, or if she occasionally does something embarrassing or silly, then you should really let it go at a comment or two and not insist that she alter it. If you try to get her to correct every minor fault or quirk as it arises, she’ll feel badgered and stressed, and what is worse, she won’t be as inclined to listen if you ask her to change something serious.

Just as human laws do not, as a matter of practicality, cover the whole moral law, so you should not try to ‘fix’ every flaw in the other person. Everyone has flaws, and some flaws you simply have to learn to live with because the cost of removing them isn’t worth the pain and effort.

Read the rest here.