Female, early 20s, single

What does romantic love mean to you?

Romantic love, as opposed to platonic love, involves sexual interest and pertains to one’s spouse or potential spouse.

What is the difference between platonic love and romantic love?

Platonic love is not sexual. Platonic love is, I think, often sexualized and/or mistaken for romantic love (e.g.: when someone has a genuine respect, affection, and concern for the well-being of another but is not sexually attracted to them), but they are not the same thing. Platonic love can turn into romantic love, especially among women, who tend to take more time to warm up to the idea of being with someone than our male counterparts.

Why do you (or we, if you don’t) seek love?

We are unbreakably social creatures. We can be twisted, abused, or tormented, but at some level we will still want relationship with others. We are made that way.

Is there one perfect person out there for you, or can you, through selfless loving, have a great relationship with someone very special?

I think that the concept of having a “soul mate” is silly. We’re too selfish as people to love (read: enjoy and want be be around) one person for the rest of forever, even when they annoy the crap out of us, wound us deeply, or become less attractive in some way. There are certain deep sorts of bonds, though, which can feel timeless and which are refined, fortified, and preserved, I think, by loving (read: selflessly serving, communicating with, being in honest relationship with) the other person(s)–spouse, friend, family member, or otherwise.

Should, and do, men pursue women that they are interested in? Should women pursue?

This is an area of some cognitive dissonance for me. On the one hand, I am an assertive, confident woman with a life to live. And I intend to live it, whether a godly man wants to come along for the ride or not. I don’t like playing head games with people, and I would prefer that we were all a bit more straightforward with one another, male or female, romantic subject matter or otherwise. I see these all as good qualities. However, on the other hand, while moral considerations in these matters are the same for men and women (honesty, selflessness, etc.), perhaps roles are not. So the complementarianism that surrounds me says. Men chase; women are chased. Men admire; women are admired. Men initiate; women respond. I feel trapped at the thought of having to just play dumb and wait it out while some great guy with potential remains totally oblivious to my interest in him; on the other hand, I really do feel genuinely… appreciated and protected when men whose character I trust act chivalrously toward me. Even something as simple as my classmate’s insistence on holding the door for all of us ladies I find touching.

If you are in a relationship (especially if you are married), how did you know that was the person for you? If not, have you ever been in love, and how did you know?

I have been almost-engaged twice, but I don’t know that I would call either of those “in love” because I’m not sure I know what being “in love” really is to me. I cared about both guys, but I came to believe that the first was an unwise choice for a spouse at that time, and the second came to believe that I was an unwise choice for a spouse at that time. I did feel totally comfortable with the second guy in every way: I trusted his character; I trusted his leadership; I appreciated his conversation and the ways that he appreciated and protected me; and for all of those reasons, I would have said “yes” without hesitation if he had come to a different decision for himself. C’est la vie.

How do you stay in love, or make it last?

Heat two years of attraction and friendship in a set of lasting memories; stir in several spoonfuls each of affection, compassion, honesty, and trustworthiness; top with a HEAPING dose of unending forgiveness; garnish with some finely ground humility. Voila! Serve warm.

What do you love best about the opposite sex, and what do you dislike the most about them?

I don’t like to admit to many things that make me feel terribly girly, but I will say that it makes me feel like a woman (in the best sense) when men are protective of me and concerned for my safety and general well-being. While my trust issues might want to say, “I can do it myself” (Read: “Feeling dependent upon you is a little too vulnerable for where I’m at right now”), inside I go “AWWWWW” when a guy I trust insists on giving me a ride home rather than letting me take the bus at night, or sits me down and makes me cough up what’s wrong emotionally when I feel overwhelmed but don’t want to admit it.

I think what I least appreciate about the men I have been around, generally, is the unwillingness to commit. I am coming to a fuller appreciation for those who take their time out of genuine carefulness and desire to make good choices, but there is a certain level of “if I stay single, I can do what I want and not think about future responsibilities” that leaves a lot of girls feeling “on the shelf” for a long time. (Not to say that there aren’t any women with this attitude, I’ve just seen it more in men in the circles that I run in.)

What advice would you give? Love related, but anything at all to anyone at all.

The standards that we have for mates/potential mates tend to be qualities that we admire in people, generally, and that we want to see in ourselves. Strive to emulate the person that you want to marry, whether you have met them and/or married them yet or not, and, if you haven’t, you will attract that kind of person. Also, hold on to the good memories, especially the early ones. Create an oral tradition for yourselves. I think that this fuels a lot of life.

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