Today’s ATE is special, we’ve got three great questions for you. Grab another coffee, settle in, and add your two cents in the comments. Do you have a question you’d like to ask? Submit it with our completely anonymous Ask Us! feature.
Soo… I’m a confident, fairly outgoing gal in her mid 20s, but I’ve never quite cracked one nut. I have never dated. At all. Mostly I think due to a severe lack of confidence circa high school, and a very limited social circle post then (university in regional australia. For all non-aussies, you’d essentially think that the campus was the outback. Not many people.) Now, I’m living in a big city, and have hit a point in my life where dammit, I’m lonely. And I was thinking about trying the whole online dating thing, but here’s the catch: I’m Christian. I don’t want to have sex outside of marriage. I also don’t know many Christians within my age range, and a most of the ones I do know- Well… Let’s just say I’m pretty liberal and that’s never really worked out so well for me.
Anyway- back to the online dating. I think I’d like to give this a try, but I really don’t know how to handle the whole no sex outside of marriage thing. I’m *really* not husband hunting, but at the same time, I don’t want to put someone in an awkward position a whack down the line, by just not bringing it up. Any ideas on how to broach the topic?
Meghan: There are some liberal Christians out there who’ve had similar experiences to yours, too, and I think that (in addition to what SaraB said about being honest and up-front about the no-sex-thing), being honest about your faith and politics and how those work together for you could bring you someone who’s better suited for you than you think. I met my dude online, and while I don’t have the same personal commitments you do, I was fairly skeptical of finding someone I jived with this well until I did. It’s healthy to be open to new experiences, and I think you’ll find that being honest about who you are, with confidence, not apologies, will bring you people who are attracted to that confidence and can respect your personal commitments, even like you quite a lot for them
Sara B.: The whole no sex till marriage thing could actually work in your favor in the online dating world. A few friends of mine have joined dating sites recently, and they have found that a lot of the guys who show interest are really use looking to hook up with someone. I would be very up front about it and just tell them whenever it seems to fit into the conversation. It will be an excellent filter to help find someone who really is interested in a relationship instead of one night stands. I feel that this is one of those situations where your attitude is key. If you feel apologetic or embarrassed about saying you won’t have sex outside of marriage, it will be an awkward conversation, but if you just state it as a fact you will be fine.
Selena: Do you have niche dating sites in Australia? I ask b/c I’ve been seeing a lot of ads around these parts (Midwestern US) for a Christian dating service. I know many of our bigger churches in town also have singles groups, and my aunt met and a married a very handsome/funny/polite gentleman through her group. If you’ve found a church home where you’re comfortable and your beliefs are accepted, see if they have a group for singles, or consider seeing if you can start one up. (If Mohammad won’t come to the mountain…) If nothing else, you’ll have a chance to meet interesting people who have similar goals.
Michelle Miller: First of all, I want to encourage you that good Christian men with socially progressive values do exist. I’m a pretty conservative Christian lady myself and decided to wait for sex until marriage. It took sorting through a few men who wanted in my pants on the first date or who insisted I cover my collar bones and keep my hair long before I found the man that I married, but I know that there are many other great men like him out there.
As for broaching your personal decision about sex before marriage, I encourage you to be upfront and honest about your values from the very start. You needn’t advertise “NO SEX TILL THE HONEYMOON” on your online profile, but you can make clear that you want an abstemious, serious relationship with a like-minded Christian man. Those men who sincerely wish to abstain before marriage will be encouraged and NOT dismayed by your honesty, which means you can spend less time having awkward conversation over drinks with men who want in your pants and more time cultivating a sincere relationship with another human being.
Sally L.: As others have said, just be up front about your boundaries. You actually have an excellent jerk-filter with this one: if a guy reacts poorly, well, he wasn’t worth it anyway. That said, I’ve found that online dating works best when you approach it from a perspective of looking for friends. The whole dating online thing can be frustrating, but if you use it to just make friends and expand your social network, it could end up working really well for you.
What do you do when you hear your boss and a coworker talking about you in a not-so-positive way?
Selena: What assholes! My first instinct is to loan you the Official Persephone Magazine Firecart™ and unleash a little ladyblog justice on them, but that may not bode well for your continued employment. My serious answer is go to your supervisor and ask for an official performance review. If she/he has an issue with how you do your job, she/he needs to let YOU know. If she/he is just petty, you’ll need documentation to go to his/her supervisor to prove it. If it’s just stupid workplace gossip, there’s not much you can do, except judge the gossipers harshly in your head.
Michelle Miller: You walk around with a big smile on your face all day, like nothing even happened, then bake and bring cookies to work for them the next day. At that point, they will realize how far their asses are hanging outside of their black polyester work slacks. Or at least, this is what I do. And it works every damn time. You’re too big for their gossiping.
Sally L.: Start looking for a new job. A gossipy office is stressful and if your boss is talking about you behind your back instead of coming to you with her frustrations, you’re too old for that shit. If you want to be all proactive, you could ask her for a non-scheduled performance review, like, “I want to be sure you’re okay with my performance. Could we have an informal chat about how I’ve been doing lately?” I think your best route is to start looking.
Question for the group: I move in to a rented apartment with a good friend of mine next week. It’s all very exciting, and I can’t wait to do with obligatory trip to IKEA and start paying real Grown Up rent etc. My friend and I haven’t lived together before, but we have been friends for 5+ years and travelled together a lot, so I’m reasonably confident it’s not going to be a disaster friendship-wise, but prevention is better than cure. With that in mind: what rules/agreements should we have in place before we move in: number of times SOs can stay over in week; cleaning rotas? What do you wish you’d agreed before moving in with someone?
Selena: Living with someone and being friends are two totally different things, but there’s no reason you can’t make it work. I think you’re smart to lay out some general guidelines now, especially about things like money. Who writes the rent check? When does the check writer need the other roommate’s share? Whose name will the bills go under? How will you handle grocery/household shopping? I’ve lived with a lot of roommates, and I’ve found that almost anything can be resolved with some good communication, but money issues are hard to get past without resentment. It’s all fun and games until your friend gets the lights shut off.
Michelle Miller: Identify what really matters to you in a living situation (uncluttered floor space, relatively clean kitchen, et cetera) and have your new roommate do the same. Then write down those points and pin the list to the ‘fridge. You sign yourfriend’s sheet, and have him or her sign yours.
Before I moved in with my first roommate, we spent an hour or two coming up with scenarios and seeing how the other person answered so we would be better able to gauge what would and would not be cool. For example, I said, “What if a friend from out of town decided to visit and she wanted to stay with us for a week. Would that be cool with you? What might not be cool about that situation?” It only took two hours or so, but I believe that this initial conversation helped us avoid countless conflicts.
I would also suggest coming up with an equitable distribution of chores. You can alternate day-to-day, week-to-week, or keep the same chores and avoid alternating altogether. Once you have a chore routine, write it down, sign it, and stick it on the ‘fridge.
Finally, arrange playful but slightly painful penalties for breaking either of these documents. A few old friends of mine used to assign stars for each breach of their agreements. After 3 stars, they had to buy/make dinner for their roommates. That would wipe the slate clean and they could start over at 0 stars again.
Sally L.: I really feel unqualified to answer this because I don’t tend to live with people, but I would sit down with her and set some boundaries (and give her the opportunity to do so as well.) The biggest conflicts will probably be about cleaning, so maybe come up with a schedule together of keeping things clean.