The Scariest Four-Letter Word

All great conversations start over a bottle of wine, am I right?

OK, maybe not all of them, but many certainly do, like the one I had last week at a friend’s potluck.

Whenever the word “date” is dropped in a conversation, it seems like every head in the room turns to be a part of it. We all have something to contribute, even if our personal dating experience is limited.

In this particular instance, a girlfriend and I were sharing our frustration at many guys we knew who couldn’t pluck up the courage to ask someone out. One of our guy friends overheard this and immediately put his two cents in. Soon, the entire party – 10 or 12 people of different backgrounds and ages – sat in our hostess’s tiny living room debating until late into the night. Who should make the first move? Why are men so terrified to ask the question? Why do women guard themselves and expect others to read their minds? How does dating even work nowadays?

I do not have the answers to these questions. Sorry. However, the one thing I took from that discussion is that “date” is the scariest four-letter word. And we need to use it, now more than ever.

It’s no secret that the dating world is confusing as anything and no one’s clear on how to navigate it. Therefore,  more than anything else in our relationships, we need clarity. Across genders and sexual orientations, all people, we drive ourselves crazy trying to classify our relationships: “Well, we’re seeing each other, but we’re not together, and we’re hooking up, but he’s not my boyfriend, but he asked me to hang out tonight so I guess we’re a thing …”

Ugh. That was a frustrating sentence to type. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if one of them had said, “Will you go on a date with me?” or even “Is this a date?” Boom. Problem solved.

I and others I know have been on way too many “non-dates”: meetings that seemed like dates, but neither party used the word “date.” And let me tell you, there is nothing more maddening than trying to figure out what that non-date meant.

Let me be clear: I’m not attacking men in particular. Women, or the person on the receiving end of the offer of a date, should be able to demand clarity. I’m also not saying that men and women can’t go out as friends. I’ve gone out with men as “just friends” and had a great time! In those cases, the guy’s intention was clear, the pressure was off, and I could just relax and be myself. And the same goes for actual, romantic, I-like-you-that-way dates.

A date is just a date. It’s not a marriage proposal, and it doesn’t even mean you two want to be in a long-term, committed relationship. It’s just a date.

So if you are planning on asking someone out, please, please use the word “date.” Conversely, if you receive an invitation, please ask for clarification: “Is this a date?” It’s a scary word, but we need to use it. Even if someone says no, I guarantee they will appreciate your courage and honesty. And, if that person says yes, congratulations! Now your first-date jitters will stem from butterflies when you see your date coming toward you and not asking yourself whether you’re on a date at all.

Bonne semaine!

– Vicky

What’s your most awkward first date story? Share in the comments below!

Advertisements

Why I Get Excited About Lent

Many self-improvement programs feature a 30-day challenge (30 days of fitness, clean eating, life organization, you name it.)

I myself am in the midst of a 40-day challenge, the same one I do every year. It’s called Lent.

Growing up Catholic, Lent was generally seen as a dreaded period of depravity. Fat Tuesday (or Mardi Gras, as you prefer) was usually celebrated in my family by a trip to Wendy’s to stuff our faces with burgers and Frostys before the long 40 days of meatless Fridays and no chocolate. As a kid, you were pressured to “give up” something you loved for Lent, and there was always that one smart aleck in your CCD class who boldly declared he was giving up school for Lent.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to understand that Lent is just as much about what you add as what you subtract.

My first serious foray into doing something extra for Lent was my senior year of college, when I followed the 40-day devotional outlined in Katherine Becker’s book, “The Dating Fast.” (For my blog series on this book, click here.) Though I didn’t know it at the time, this book laid the groundwork for my hunger to learn more about the Catholic faith, and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in particular. And it all began with me following my God-given curiousity and typing “dating fast” into Google! Granted, I still have a loooooooooooooooooooong way to go in my discovery of TOB. However, without that “little something extra” for Lent, I wouldn’t have started on the journey.

Lent is not the end. It is the beginning of renewal, of conversion, of realizing more fully our God-given potential for greatness.

This year, I found myself less excited for Mardi Gras and more excited for Ash Wednesday, or as I like to call it, Catholic Awareness Day. I had my Lenten sacrifices and “somethings extra” all planned out, and I was so ready for the challenge. More than anything, I was excited to see what kind of person God could mold me into in 40 days. Instead of looking at Lent as a miserable period of depravity, I felt like someone about to start Whole30 or P90X. What could I, by God’s grace working in me, become in just 40 days?

Some of you reading this post may be thinking, “That’s great, Vicky, but Lent is more than halfway over. And I’ve already caved and ate a huge piece of chocolate cake yesterday.” All I have to say is that Lent isn’t over yet. Remember that talk we had about New Year’s Resolutions? The same applies to Lent. You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to try again.

If you can’t get into the spirit of the season, think of the last three weeks of Lent as an extra challenge. Get back on track with the goals you made on Ash Wednesday. Maybe set a new goal for yourself, even something small, like doing one random act of kindness every day. These next three weeks are Catholic crunch time, preparing for the most glorious celebration of our Church year: Easter Sunday!

Are you in? I’m in.

À bientôt!

– Vicky