Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Response To a Blog Post On Emotional Purity

I don't know whether I would address this to the writer of the guest post (Emily Long), the owner of the blog (Reagan Ramm), or both. So I'm afraid I'll have to address both of you, skip formalities, and just introduce myself.

Hello, Miss Long (and Mr. Ramm, though he already is acquainted with me to some extent). I'm a 17-year-old Christian girl who has found it much easier to befriend guys for most of her life; my love language is physical touch. If you're not familiar with the love languages, check out some of the information here.

I've made many different friends and been through a lot of different scenarios, both painful and helpful. So I feel at least slightly qualified to respond to your post on "The Arsenal": The Struggle For Emotional Purity: Guest Post - Purity Part 3.

This is my first open letter to anyone, so it may be rather unconventional, and for that, I apologise. I also apologise beforehand if I come across as harsh at any time. I don't intend to.

I basically saw a few points in the article that seemed a bit flawed and at times harmful. This may be due to the fact there was a lack of clarification on some points, I'm not certain. Either way, I'm going to copy over those statements and give my thoughts on them, whilst trying to shed some light on the fact that emotional purity is different for everyone. Which seemed to be a fact completely ignored in the article.

That just needed to be said before I continued on.

"I hardly hear anyone talk about looking out for the best interests of others. I believe that we should be seeking to help one another, and as men, we should especially seek what is best for women."

Quite right. One should seek to help others and look out for the best interests of others. And men should definitely seek what is best for women.

But you see... all women are different. You can't decide on a specific law that details what is 'best for women' and stick to that in all scenarios. You have to face the facts that everybody is different; everyone has different ways of thinking, different beliefs, different lives, different heartaches. Every person has a story that is beautifully different from everyone else's. You can't just throw everyone into the same box and proclaim them the same, and try to use a method with them that you deemed 'best' for everyone. It just doesn't work.

What might be best for one woman, might not be the best for another. It's like the food pyramid; it's deemed ideal, and considered the best way to organise one's meals. But some people have chronic illnesses or allergies; and suddenly, that way that is supposed to be best for others isn't the best for one. Everyone has different needs.

"Interested, he spends a little time with her. He is not in love, has not stated anything, and is possibly not even entertaining thoughts of that sort. She has noticed him as well, and believes that perhaps he is also interested. Their families spend more time together, giving Joseph and Krystal ample opportunities to talk, form opinions, and seek each other’s attention. In Krystal’s mind, thing are getting serious, especially since “the families are involved”. Joseph has never said anything, but he genuinely seems to be seeking her out."

There is a problem here. Most certainly. And that problem is that neither of them were honest and upfront in the beginning. 

Mainly Krystal. If she had feelings for Joseph, she should have said so way before she assumed things were 'getting serious'. She shouldn't assume things just based off of her thoughts on it, and should have asked him outright if he had feelings for her - or, better, told him that she had feelings for him.

Assumptions are harmful no matter what, and this is no different. The problem doesn't arise from spending one-on-one time together in this scenario (which, if the families are involved, are they truly spending one-on-one time together?); it arises from miscommunication. 

Joseph is treating her as a friend. She is letting her emotions take off with her and assuming he's treating her as something else, because that's what she wants. It's important to be honest, and especially with such a subject as this. 

Would the same thing have happened if they had never spent time with each other? Maybe, maybe not. It's impossible to tell, because everyone is different. Romantic feelings can develop for another person in group settings or alone. The place you are makes no difference; all that factors into the feelings is whether you've interacted with the other person. You can interact with them in the middle of a group of people after church - feelings may develop. You can interact with them one-on-one over a chatroom - feelings may not develop. You can interact with them while hanging out by yourselves at the local park - feelings may not develop. Or they may.

Emotions are emotions. They often have their own way whether you like it or not. They're unpredictable and they're sudden. The only way not to possibly receive romantic feelings for someone is to lock yourself in a room by yourselves for the rest of your life.

  "As the months progress, and they learn more about each other and grow closer, they never really talk about their relationships with God, they kind of focus more on each other. They start spending time, not technically alone, but away from the group. Their friends start teasing them, and Krystal is getting kind of excited. Could he be the one? She is attracted to him, and he seems to feel the same way…"

Okay, see? They just now are starting to spend time away from the group. So Krystal's romantic feelings for Joseph developed before they even started spending alone time together. That kind of breaks the whole 'spending time in groups will restrict romantic feelings' idea. 

And again, why has Krystal not said anything yet? If a girl or a guy is talking to someone and starts to think that they're 'the one', I would imagine that it's high time to tell the other person so. I'd go as far as to say that they should have said something far earlier, when they began to assume that the feelings are mutual.

The current underlying problem seems to be that Krystal is allowing things to get out of hand, rather than be upfront much earlier on - which would have saved her considerable amounts of pain, so long as Joseph was, in turn, also honest and told her that he did not feel the same way.

 "But month after month passes, and although they are now offhandedly talking about their futures, i.e. What state they would like to live in, how many acres…etc. Joseph has never intimated or said anything about moving into that phase of a relationship. Now she is beginning to grow frustrated. He has been giving her compliments, standing way too close to her (dangerous to do by the way: it really knocks a girl for a loop), and has started saying hello and goodbye accompanied with side hugs. All her longings are being fulfilled, but now she believes herself in love. She can talk of nothing else, and she is sure he will ask her dad to enter into courtship. It’s been a year since they met. What is he waiting for? Maybe if she tries harder for his attention. So now she is pursuing him. He enjoys the attention, and returns it, but he still is not stating anything or talking to her dad."

Here's where things get even more absurd. Months have gone by. They're both being talkative about their dreams for the future. There is nothing wrong with that - nothing at all. What's wrong with this is that Krystal still hasn't said anything about her feelings and is just blithely waltzing through life assuming things that she has no proof for.

She's beginning to get frustrated. Well, yeah. Maybe she should say something. And yet she still doesn't. It's this lack of honest communication that causes so many problems, not the alone time on its own. The alone time and friendly talking is a factor, not the cause.

Compliments are not bad, no matter what gender. Especially if one is trying to cheer a friend up by way of compliments. And standing too close to someone? That's dangerous? How exactly...? I don't know of a single girl that I've met in all my seventeen years who got wrong ideas from a guy standing too close.

And side hugs. Physical touch is not bad. It should not be an indicator that there is something 'more' to the relationship. It is friendlieness. Pure and simple. And some people need that touch to feel adequately loved. I wrote a blog article on the subject here.

The problem is, yet again, lack of communication. Is the attention she gets from him inappropriate? No. Did it cause the romantic feelings? No. Does it further the romantic feelings? Yes. But he could treat her in a kind, friendly way without these problems if she would just tell him how she feels. Then he could back off and let her mend after he tells her he does not feel the same way. There would be less pain, and then eventually, they could go back to being good friends.

(Plus, the fact he hadn't said anything to her dad should have been a major indicator he didn't feel the same way, if she knew he was a courtship advocate and would most certainly talk to her dad first.)

Okay, this is getting long, so instead of copying-and-pasting snippets from your post, I'll just sum it up.

So, Krystal goes to an event where Joseph and various other families will be. She sees him talking with another girl and doesn't think anything of it, because he has other friends but 'she's special' (she being Krystal, in her mind). Then she finds out later on that Joseph is now courting that girl, and Krystal becomes heartbroken, asking herself why she wasn't good enough.

Is that Joseph's fault? No... because he had no idea of the emotions and he didn't cause them by being friendly. She developed feelings for him long before they started spending 'alone time' together and let her emotions get out of control, never saying anything.

All that to say, the way he treated her were factors. Not the underlying cause. And that is the truth more often than most people like to admit - the feelings develop before the two spend more time together on their own, hugging, talking, etc.

"When a guy starts paying attention to a girl, whether out of politeness or genuine interest, it is the inclination of a girl to want to run with it. If a girl feels safe with a guy, she will start to share her heart with him. The more she shares her heart, the more “in love” she feels. While the guy is merely being nice and chivalrous, the female tends to think his intentions are more of a serious nature."

So it was the guy's fault? No. The girl (I don't use female in this instance because quite honestly using it here it reminds me of a British introducer on a documentary about animals) is the one who let her feelings get carried away. He was simply trying to be kind, friendly, and chivalrous.

Just as it is a man's duty to keep his emotions and thoughts under control as best he can (regarding the issue of modesty), a woman has a duty to keep her emotions under control as well. Are they okay to have? I say yes. But do not let them get carried away, do not keep silent and miscommunicate, and do not make assumptions about the man's intentions until he himself brings them up.

A man should not stop being friendly and showing a girl he cares simply because she might develop feelings for him. That is not fair to any girls who genuinely want to be friends and nothing more. It's ridiculous to assume that in order to protect a girl he has to hold her at length with a ten-foot pole in the middle of a crowd and speak stiffly and formally to her. "Hello, Ms. [Name]. The weather is quite warm today, but I managed to finish mowing the lawn..."

Now comes the part of the article I had the biggest issue with.

  1. Never make physical contact unless absolutely necessary. No hugging, touching her arm, and don’t stand too close to her.
  2. Try to remain in a group setting. Don’t take off with her somewhere or separate a little from everyone. The female may very well take that as a sign of interest.
  3. Don’t ask about her feelings, and don’t ask her what she is thinking. She is likely to share her heart, because she will feel like her words and thoughts are valued, and that is a danger zone. I think this is the most important point of all (hence why I put it last!).

One. Physical contact is necessary. There are stories of children who ended up severely mentally disabled in Russia, or became violent and emotionally unstable. Studies showed that it was because no one in the orphanage every held them, touched them, picked them up, showed them they were loved.

If someone doesn't like being touched, then yes, by all means, don't hug them or what-not. If they don't mind it, don't freak out about it. Standing close to someone is hardly going to automatically equal that you are in love with them, to either you or the girl. And hugging someone isn't going to destroy their emotional purity. This girl isn't going to look back ten years down the line and tell her husband, "I have something to confess. I hugged this guy at Sunday School ten years, six months, and four days ago. I feel so ashamed of it, and I am so sorry, please forgive me."

Nor will she say, "I used to have a crush on so and so way back in high school, and I am so sorry."

And even if she did... any real man would not go berserk and get angry over this. This was years ago. She obviously loved him enough to marry him. A crush ten, seven, or even three years ago is not going to cause issues. Crushes are crushes. Almost everyone gets them. It's not going to wreck your marriage at any point down the line.

Two. I wholeheartedly admit that one should stay in a public setting with guys they don't know well, or with the family, simply because you don't know him well. But if you trust a guy, you've clearly known him long enough to either know you don't have feelings for him (thus meaning you can go out for a walk through the park without going crazy), or to know that you do have feelings for him.

At that point, it's up to you to decide whether you trust yourself and him enough. And your parents, obviously, but that should be a given - unless you are 18 or older. At that point, you are an adult, like it or not, and while you should listen to your parents' counsel, you are your own authority. 

I've spent time in semi-alone settings with lots of guys before. I'm still here, still safe, and still saying it's perfectly fine. My best friend and another friend (both of whom are guys, though I don't talk to the last one anymore) used to visit every month or so. We'd go out to the woods outside my house and goof off, talk, swordfight, re-enact films, and whatever else.

I was always safe. I never fell in love with either of them. I've spent time alone at Renaissance faires, in the forest, at parks, in my neighbourhood, in a city square, at events, etc. with guys. There was never any trouble. No feelings ever developed because I spent a day alone with a guy. 

All that to say that emotional purity does not hinge on being in a group setting all the time, because feelings can still develop in such settings - and in fact, often do. You meet guys or girls at church, or at youth group, or at concerts, or at school, or at co-op, etc. - the feelings develop in a group setting most of the time. 


Three upset me, because you seem to be implying (whether you meant to or not) that a girl's feelings and thoughts should not be valued; that they're not important.

This is the most important rule? Don't ever ask a girl how she's feeling or what she's thinking, because then she will likely 'feel like her words and thoughts are valued'?

Take a minute to think about how that sounds from an outsider's view - it sounds like you're saying a girl's words and thoughts are not valued. 

Never, ever should anyone feel like their words and thoughts are not valued. It doesn't matter if you are a guy talking to a girl in private online. It doesn't matter if you're two girls sitting in the office chatting over lunch. It doesn't matter if you're a kid talking to an adult after church.

You should always ask a person how they are feeling. You should always show that you care about them enough to ask, to want to help if they're having a bad day, to listen to their thoughts and opinions - to show them that they matter.

Because everyone matters. Their value and the value of their thoughts and feelings don't lessen just because they're a girl and you're a guy. Their future spouse is not going to flip over a table in anger just because they talked to you about how they felt and what they thought and what their dreams were and what their hopes were. 

More likely, a future spouse, if the subject is even brought up, is going to be upset that someone treated their husband or wife disrespectfully and acted like you didn't care about them; that you treated them as lower life forms.

Always ask someone how they're feeling at least some of the time. 

If you treat anyone with all three of those rules... they are most likely (not all the time, but often) going to consider you cold and emotionless. They're going to think they did something wrong to upset you. They are going to feel unloved, worthless, undeserving of attention or time, and like you do not care about them.

You're not keeping them safe by not hugging them, not expressing care towards them, not spending time alone with them - you are sending the message that you dislike them and that they are not worthy of your time.

Trust me, and take it from another girl - the majority of us will feel that way if anyone, male or female, treats as such. We're going to feel like you think us inferior and unworthy of your time and effort as a friend.

I'll stop here, because I don't want to start sounding angry (because I'm not). I'm letting my emotions get carried away, and that is not your fault - it's my duty to control my emotions. Not anyone else's. 

That was what I had to say about the blog post. I understand the intentions were good, but there were a lot of flaws, and what appeared to be a misunderstanding of how a lot of girls feel and think and are wired. I don't say all girls, because there are obviously girls out there who feel like that. But many don't.

Remember what was said about seeking what is best for women? You should do that - but you can't stereotype and do one thing. You have to do what is best for each individual woman.

Because it's different. We're all the same in that we have hearts, minds, souls, emotions - but we're all so beautifully, miraculously different and unique at the same time. And that needs to be respected. 

Thank you for listening, and please don't take anything of what I said as a personal attack. This article was simply my thoughts on your blog post; I would have normally posted my thoughts on the original post, but there were too many things I wanted to say and I didn't want to clutter the comment section. So I wrote them up here.

God bless,

Theodora Ashcraft


  1. This. THIS.
    Good on ya, Tedster. Less than three.

  2. Very good post, Renna.... Thank you for summing that up.

  3. That was great! Thanks so much for taking the time to reply to "The Arsenal".

    I think you were looking for the word "narrator" when you said "announcer".

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Are you Eli McGowan, or a different Eli? XD

      And you're welcome! :)

      I don't think I have the word 'announcer' in there anywhere, though... or the word 'announce', for that matter...

  4. Still applauding this, months after I first read it.

  5. You read it before? o.o

    Thank you. <3