Learning to Love while on a Dating Fast

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Learning to Love while on a Dating Fast

I laughed when I was asked how I felt about the dating fast. I said that it would not be a problem because I haven’t dated in two years. I was not fighting the boys off by any means. I had confidence that this year wouldn’t be any different.

Fast forward into a month of my mission year in Los Angeles. I’m trying to live out this commitment to the dating fast while getting to meet faithful and handsome men. I can’t even act like they’re not great. I have eyes! I see it. And I can’t escape it.

I began to question how I could get out of this year alive. I wanted to be obedient to the commitment I made, but I was torn because I didn’t know how I was supposed to deal with being attracted to someone that I couldn’t date until the summer.

I must admit, part of the issue was that I had no idea how to be friends with guys. Just friends. I was used to seeing each guy as a possible future boo. I could not fathom how to be genuine with a guy and not be seeking more. I had two extremes when it came to guys: awkward attempts at flirting or being cold and distant.

The dating fast isn’t about keeping the boys away so that I could focus on the mission. It’s allowing me to love people in the right way and finding a balance. It’s about living out what we all talk about. It’s living the virtue of chastity.

I used to believe that chastity was not a big struggle for me. I understood what it meant to live out physical chastity. However, saving all sexually intimate acts for marriage is only a part of this virtue. It’s also about seeing the person for who they are and not what they can offer you.

I haven’t had the blessing (and what sometimes feels like a curse) of thinking about what my actions mean when it comes to members of the opposite sex. Now I’m being forced to think about how I am viewing the fellow men in my life. Am I using them for the attention that they give me? For the emotional closeness? These are all forms of selfishness.

I often catch myself thinking of a cute guy and using his attention for the validation of my own beauty and goodness. It’s tempting to give in to this desire and I am grateful to have people who encourage me to live out authentic friendship and call me out when I try to use people instead of loving them.

Have you ever taken the time to think about this? Without being on the dating fast and having such a supportive team around me, I know that I would not have.

There are many positives to being on a dating fast for a first-year missionary at The Culture Project. I want to emphasize a simple one: freedom.

I am free to love because I have chosen to be obedient to the commitment that I made. I have chosen to love each person for who they are. I refuse to love someone because of what they can give me. Being on a dating fast isn’t keeping me away from love; it is helping me to love in a better and more authentic way.

Reflecting on this topic has made me realize that I have not allowed myself to approach guys with that spirit of freedom. I encourage you to move forward and think about your friendships with those of the opposite sex. Are you doing what is best for them? Are you treating them with authentic love?

I am choosing to love in freedom this year. #datingfast #neversaynever #liveforreallove

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