“In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.”– C.S. Lewis
Excuses are a funny thing. We see them all the time in ourselves, and in other people. We often believe that ours are valid, and those of others are not. We make excuses for ourselves all the time, but, if we are to grow as gentlemen, we need to find the reasons behind the excuses we make. And often, excuses masquerade as reasons.
“I don’t want to date because it’s too expensive and I can’t afford to support someone who wants to be a housewife.” This is an excuse not to date. If you met someone who you really loved, who really loved you, and both of you were dirt poor, you’d work together to make it work.
On the other hand; “I don’t want to date because I’m not emotionally stable enough to form half of a marriage/ I don’t like myself.” is not an excuse. It is a reason. It would be something you need to fix in your own life, before you could share it with someone else.
(It will be a continuous project, I’m afraid. But, there’s a silver lining in that: You don’t have to be “good enough” to be loved. There is no “enough.” There is only “better than you were before.”)
Another set of excuses:
“I don’t want to date this person because if I do so, they’ll miss on a lot of life experiences.” EXCUSE.
“I don’t/shouldn’t date this person because I’m 26 years old and they’re only 19” is a definate reason. Age is a…thorny issue. My general rule of thumb for this sort of thing is, if she’s not old enough to drink Champagne or Syrah at the wedding, I should avoid dating this person altogether. (On the flip side, when it comes to dating someone older than myself, my general rule is no more than five years older than my own age. Otherwise, I find it difficult to connect. But that’s just me.)
“I shouldn’t ask this woman out because she’ll clearly say no.” Excuse. You’re projecting your own fears onto someone else. This is never a good thing. People are their own entities-they are not extensions of yourself.
“I shouldn’t ask this person out because we’re walking through a dark alley right now and she’ll feel threatened by this, and I will come across as creepy.” is a good reason. You’re thinking about her views. That means you learned from my post on creepyness.
“I don’t want to ask this person out because she’s not Orthodox.” is…actually an excuse, believe it or not. (Let me explain; I hear you all gasping in horror). While missionary dating, or dating with the idea of converting someone else is not a good idea (see http://www.soundingblog.com/index.php/home-and-family/marriage/stop-telling-me-to-missionary-date.html), if you go out to coffee or a dinner once or twice with a woman who isn’t Orthodox, it’s not such a horrible thing. She may come to Orthodoxy on her own. Or she may not. As long as you’re not stupid about your casual dating, and are doing it chastly, honorably, and honestly, not with the express goal of missionary dating and forcibly converting your potential partner, I don’t see a problem with mixed dating. For one, you will gain valuable experience in talking to women, which is something I notice that many Orthodox men have issues with. Just be sure she knows you’re Orthodox from the beginning, and that it is not a point of compromise. And who knows, maybe she’ll decide, unpressured, that Orthodoxy is a thing she wants to get to know, on it’s own merits–not because of you forcing her into it. If she doesn’t, then she doesn’t. Just be sure to keep being Orthodox, so to speak.
“I shouldn’t date this woman because, not only is she not Orthodox, she’s clearly unstable/is a pagan who sacrifices goats to Quezalcoatl” is a good reason. Firstly, if she’s sacrificing goats to Quetzalcoatl, she has no true understanding of pre-colombian Aztec and Mayan ritual to begin with. More seriously though, just as you shouldn’t be dating anyone until you’re head is more or less properly screwed-on, the same rule should apply. A largely sane person on both sides leads to a largely sane relationship. Granted, we’re all a little insane.
Now here’s something nobody is going to like me hearing me say. Procrastination is a slew of excuses for not doing things. Procrastination, I would argue, therefore, is bad. As gentlemen, we should strive to avoid procrastination wherever possible. It is not becoming of us. We must find the reasons why we avoid things… and face the reasons, rather than the excuses. Once we face the reasons, we find places where we may improve ourselves, and thereby, become better gentlemen.