Posts Tagged ‘Randall B. Smith’

Two of my greatest frustrations while single were things I could not change.

I could not change:

  1. A culture that urged young men to pattern their lives after the beer commercials that told them to live for the game on Saturday, a good buzz to carry them euphorically through the game, and willing women with large breasts to celebrate with them and,
  2. The willing women who traded their self-respect and their bodies for game day popularity. Of course this behavior comes with all sorts of hobbies, not just team sports.

It frustrated me because men who behave like this–indulging self-centeredly in their favorite things and taking advantage of the women who let them–are not ready for marriage. And, the willing women in their lives helped perpetuate the overgrown adolescent behavior of the men. By the time these men would be ready for marriage (a woman like me), they were likely to have regrets, maybe a child or two, and to have been through a divorce.  THEN they would be ready for marriage.

THEN they would be ready for marriage?!  With every passing year I felt the odds of marrying a man without this kind of baggage stacked ever higher against me and the woman like me.

Randall B. Smith writes about this in his article “Courtship, Etiquette, and the Adolescent Male.”

Nothing aggravates the young women I meet more than the fact that the young men in their lives don’t know how to date.  “What do they do?” I ask.  “They play lots of video games,” is a standard answer.  Or they watch a lot of sports.  Or they go to the bar and look for a hook-up if “the mood” strikes.

Smith finds that feminism helped engineer the overgrown adolescent male by demanding change to the “old-fashioned etiquette” that taught young men how to treat women. Smith also recognizes that these changes put women who desire marriage in a tough spot due to the behavior of their peers.

It’s harder now to claim that what young women are looking for is marriage – they’re not really allowed to say that out loud or even admit it to themselves – but what they do tend to be looking for is stability, commitment, and the kind of benefits that come from stability and commitment: a person one can depend on; a person who shows up when he says he will; a person who will be kind and gentle and thoughtful, but not whiny and full of complaints and excuses.  In short, they want a man, not a boy.


Unfortunately for such foolish young men, there are still foolish young women around who will indulge them as playmates or surrogate mothers and thereby risk ensnaring both in an unhappy marriage.  Such foolish young women are the second most frequent cause of aggravation among the sensible young women I know – right behind the immaturity of boys.  (“How could he be so stupid as to be attracted to her?”)

The conclusion to which I always had to return was to stay on the same path I had been on. Compromising my own standards to get attention, a date or a boyfriend was not a path toward successful marriage. So, surrounded by friends who shared the same standards–including Jones, I walked down the path determined show respect for myself and others, and trusted that there were more single men than I knew of doing the same thing.

Smith concludes similarly, and encourages parents to teach this kind of respect.

Perhaps, then, it was this potential for foolishness among young women to indulge the silly adolescent fancies of young men that brought about those other “old-fashioned” set of rules of etiquette: the ones that applied not to adolescent boys, but to adolescent girls; the ones that bid them not to allow themselves to be treated as property; the ones that encouraged them, rather, to demand respect for their dignity and worth.  Those were principles of behavior that used to be instilled in young women by their mothers.

My path was rewarded when I met my future husband.  Neither of us was perfect, but we were ready for each other in part because we knew how to be respectful of ourselves and the opposite sex. I will add that this is also true of most of my girl friends who married later in life–the men they married were worth the wait.


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