I am a single. I am 32 years old. And I’m over the whole purity culture, I Kissed Dating Goodbye wait-or-date debate.
Apparently, even Josh Harris himself is leaning toward this direction.
In a recent NPR article, Harris states that “when we try to overly control our own lives or overly control other people’s lives, I think we end up harming people … that’s part of the problem with my book.”
The Washington Post followed up with a similar article in which a writer shares her story:
I am a purity-culture success story: I am a heterosexual woman, a virgin until marriage, now with two small children and a husband I deeply love. We attend church. We believe in God. And yet, for me, the legacy of purity culture is not one of freedom but one of fear.
This post received over 1,200 comments in less than a week. Why?
Because many readers feel the same. I know I did.
Kissing ‘Waiting’ Goodbye
I most certainly gave up dating out of fear. Fear of messing it up. Fear of hurt. Fear of loss. Fear of not having a fairy tale. Fear of the process, of the journey to maturity that friendship, relationships and dating can provide. But now? Now, I am taking a step back from my younger self who read I Kissed Dating Goodbye and anxiously let its principles guide me for too many years.
I don’t think I Kissed Dating Goodby or books like it set out to do harm. They were surely well intended. But that doesn’t mean those principles were always interpreted and applied helpfully. Even Harris himself is asking to hear the conversation on his site, as he shares on his website that he has “heard a growing number of voices of people who have been hurt by [his books].”
So where does this leave us? For those who were affected by the tidal wave of copies of books by authors who championed for waiting, what are we to do? I believe a pathway out of the tangled mess is possible, but it takes courage to start working through it.
1. Start Honest.
We need to begin in safe, vulnerable conversations. I didn’t find a pathway to healing without great friends, a handful of mentors and tear-stained journal pages. If I were to be honest, there were even a handful of men who helped me work through a lot of these topics. If I had hid my feelings, shame or fears from them—I wouldn’t be whole and healthy today. Even if it’s messy, even if it’s just with one friend—be wise, but start honest about your disappointments, hurts or frustrations with “dating.”
2. Join the conversation.
There are several online spaces springing across the internet where millennial men and women are engaging in this topic with respect and honesty. It’s why I started a website. Get into a place where you can chat, learn, grow and heal. Read other people’s stories. You may not be as alone as you may think you are in the conversation.
3. Take Calculated Risks.
This doesn’t just mean date. By all means, please date. But taking calculated risks isn’t only about finding a soulmate—it’s about not waiting for dreams, goals, conversations overdue, volunteer opportunities, job changes, hopes and whatever else you are “waiting” on.
But there is a flip side to that same charge. It’s called balance. We wait because its strategy. We wait because we need things to get in line. But don’t wait out of fear, shame or guilt.
Equally, make sure there is a balance on all things related to ditching waiting.
Losing Fear Doesn’t Mean Losing Sexual Boundaries
Kissing waiting goodbye has nothing to do with plunging past physical or sexual boundaries. I firmly believe that the Word of God has placed clear boundaries on marriage being the commitment for sex. Just because we are ridding ourselves of the anxiety of waiting doesn’t mean that we give up all forms of God-honoring waiting for certain aspects of marriage.
I believe it is a mark of maturity to find out how to hold to those boundaries even in friendships or early stages of dating. The problem is that I feel as if so many of those boundaries are defined either by fear or by the opposite—pride of not looking “holy.”
This is the kind of mental concept I am okay with walking away from.
I do not want my life to be run by anxiety, fear, pride or coldness toward healthy and God-honoring relationships that will come in varying stages of appropriate human-to-human connection.