Picture the perfect man. What does he look like? Where does he work? How many zeros are in his bank account?
You've probably spent hours—even days—of your life dreaming up this specimen, and every part of him is just right for you. But there's one aspect you might've overlooked: his thoughts.
If you could choose the thoughts your future husband has about you and every woman, what would you want them to be?
Would you want him to drool over you or to hold you in awe?
Would you rather he objectify you or respect you?
Would you want him to worship your body or to cover you with the protection of prayer?
Both men and women have a built-in drive for lasting love. And I don't kid myself—that kind of love takes serious self-control—and not just where our actions are concerned. It takes thought control.
A woman deserves her partner's thoughts to be pure enough that she can trust him with all of her love for all of her life; that together, you can be an example for your kids and community; that you can trust him to look at other women with the dignity that they and their future partners deserve.
You deserve that level of conscientiousness and restraint from your partner. You are worth that.
But here's the truth: You can't engineer your man's thoughts. And even if you could, you wouldn't want to because that would make him your slave. And you would lose respect for him, or he would grow to resent you, or both.
Spending your life trying to control anyone is a surefire way to make you both miserable. Here's what you can do instead.
Become intimately acquainted with a man's character before you make any kind of commitment to him.
That doesn't mean waiting three dates before you sleep together. It mean that you should get to know someone in the way that requires exposure to his actions over time, without all the physical love chemicals to haze your objectivity.
A guy can fool you for a while. He can make you believe he's datable after a day—it might even last several months. I managed to put my best foot forward long enough to convince a girl I was worth her time and energy. But would a man be able to fool you if you knew him for six months as close friends? How about a year? And if he didn't see sex as an eventual inevitability, would he even try? Probably not.
The longer you're exposed to someone's actions, and the more intimately you're connected as friends, the more certain you can be of his thoughts and, by extension, your chances of a happy life together.
Here are a few questions that you should know the answers to before you dive into a relationship:
- What were his past relationships like?
- Does he watch porn?
- Is he selfless, gentle, and kind under even the most straining circumstances?
- Is he noble?
- Does he regularly put the needs of others before his wants?
- Is he a constant self-improver?
- Is he a lifelong learner?
You'll find answers to those questions and a million more if you think long term—if you love him in a disinterested friendship. If not, you'll chemically attach yourself to someone whose thoughts might seriously jeopardize your happiness and security. And that's not some far-fetched what-if scenario: It's the harsh truth for most daters and married people today.
Pure thoughts—even the sexual kind—are not only possible; they're essential.
How I trained myself to respect all women with my thoughts:
I pride myself on being a man whose thoughts would give you hope for finding a man. If I'm moved by your beauty, I thank God for you; I rejoice over the beautiful creation before me. Then, instead of imagining all the ways I'd jump your bones, I channel my desire upward—I pray for you.
I ask God for all the blessings you need to thrive in happiness. I pray for your future husband, asking that he be blessed with the discipline and selflessness and courage to do what's right and to prepare himself to be the husband you deserve.
Finally, I ask God for whatever I need to channel my desire for you into becoming the best husband that I can be—into becoming the best friend that I can be—into becoming my highest self.
You might be thinking, "That's all well and good, but what about reality, where every guy watches porn and cruises the dating scene for hookups and doesn't have a halo?"
I'm not a saint. In fact, five years ago I was the most depressingly average male in all of existence. I watched porn almost daily, masturbated just as much, and lived on my mom's couch. If I were struck by your beauty, I'd save your image in my "spank bank." Then I'd do everything in my power to charm away your resistance. With no job and no prospects, charm was all I had.
I didn't care about you or your future husband because my focus was solely on my pleasure. I was like most guys. But then, existence as I knew it unraveled.
After my third and last breakup, I was struck with anxiety and depression that would make a bear shit. I was overcome with pain in my present and despair for the future. I seriously considered harming myself—because love was my whole reason for living. And since I had failed in all three of my live-in relationships, what did I have to live for?
In my darkest moment, I asked myself what I could do differently. And when I really thought about it, I realized I hadn't put any effort into preparing for my relationships.
I'd hook up with a girl at a party or fantasize about her until she was mine. I killed myself trying to make things work after I'd gotten her in bed—you should've seen my desperate love notes. But I didn't do anything to plan beforehand.
So after my last relationsh*t, I researched this whole love thing. I concluded that unconditional love was the only way. It's like that cheesy saying goes: If you love someone, you have to let them go. And to let someone go—to let them truly be free—you can't be attached by lustful thoughts.
Since I wanted to love well, I had to change my thoughts.
I gave up all the activities that had trained me to have selfish sexual thoughts—porn, masturbation, etc. That was over half of the battle. But the other half was how I responded to women in everyday life. And that was the hardest part.
Take my beautiful beach volleyball partner, Amy, for instance.
This girl makes Natalie Portman look like Peewee Herman—she's that gorgeous. But she has the self-esteem of a freshly molten vulture. Just the type I used to prey on.
In all of our time spent together—tournaments, parties, dates—I could've reverted to my old ways. But I told her that I just wanted to be friends from the start. And instead of drooling, I forced myself to respect her and to care for her.
I felt overwhelmed by her beauty, like any man. But unlike most men, I used that feeling as a reminder to be mindful, to choose the best thoughts for her and me, to pray for her and her future husband. And, not surprisingly, we became good friends.
Amy was my first true girlfriend who was strictly a friend. By caring for her with no sexual strings attached, I helped her to rediscover her worth. I was there for her when all the other guys in her life weren't. And by allowing me to care for her, she helped me become a worthy man.
I now practice mindful sexuality with every girl I meet: cute cashiers, beautiful bartenders, foxy friends. (Gorgeous women are everywhere!) But instead of punching more holes in my heart, I come away from each interaction knowing that I'm a better husband, father, and man. I choose to increase my respect and awe for women in every instance; I refuse to degrade them with my thoughts.
And though I'm single and celibate, I can't thank God enough for my good fortune. In three years I've gone from a lovesick pup to a full-grown man; I've created my career and made my independence; I've relearned to love my life. But unlike five years ago, I'm lifting up everyone else on my path.
How do you find a thoughtful, disciplined, and pure man?
Be that woman. Channel your sexual desire into becoming the most selfless, fulfilled woman you can be. Do that through mindfulness and prayer—perhaps by taking a year to love yourself. Let go of the thoughts and habits that hold you back from loving selflessly—no matter how "normal" they are. (When our culture is so clearly sick, you really have to start questioning what's normal.)
Finally, save relationships until you've fallen in love with your own life—until you're no longer looking for something or someone else to make you happy.
It's a hard path, for sure. But consider the alternatives—heartbreak, insecurity, divorce, and douchebags who only pretend to care about you. Those are the standards for modern love. But you deserve much, much more.