There’s something to be said for a good kiss. That said, what is to be said cannot be said because it loses something in the saying. So say what you will, but to say that you can say all that needs to be said about a good kiss is to say that you can say things better than they can actually be said. Which we all know is false and dumb.
In an earlier post, I gave a little insight on the question of “how far is too far” in romantic intimacy. You should read that post before you read this one, because every word that follows this word should be taken in light of the issues raised in that post.
Now, like I said, it doesn’t take an unhealthy obsession with Lady and the Tramp to know that a good kiss can be a magical thing, and can do a world of good for a pair of lovebirds. But we all know that a kiss, and really any kind of physical intimacy (even holding hands), is above all a force of nature. Literally. It’s something we do with our bodies, that stirs up our hormones and pheromones and all those biological processes in us that are naturally hard-wired for romance. And just like any other force of nature, physical intimacy can be destructive if we don’t understand it and harness its power for good.
See, there’s something that needs to be said about what’s going on in the heads of a guy and a girl when they’re in the middle of an intimate situation (and of course, we’re assuming that these are a good Catholic guy and girl who desire holiness and chastity in their relationship with one another). For those couples out there who are seeking chastity, there is always the thought, “Is what we’re doing right now chaste? Is it okay to be doing this? Should I tone it down a bit, or are we doing just fine?” But this thought tends to work differently between guys and girls, and so many potentially good situations go bad real quick just because we don’t recognize what’s going on when it’s happening.
We guys tend to work like a train at the top of a hill. We start rolling, pick up momentum, go faster and faster, and suddenly we find ourselves without the capacity to hit the brakes. Translating that out of analogy-speak, when we’re in an intimate situation, we tend to do something, then do a little more, then do a little more, and suddenly discover that we’ve crossed physical boundaries we never wanted to cross because we were operating on some sort of internal autopilot. We operate on the hope that when we get to a certain point, we’ll know that we should stop, but the problem is we don’t necessarily realize when we’ve reached that point (and perhaps even passed it a while ago). Plus, even when we do realize what’s going on, we sometimes are afraid to stop, for fear that the girl will think we’re not actually interested in her anymore.
Girls, on the other hand, tend to be more like bystanders watching the train wreck. They’re watching and waiting for the conductor to pull the brakes, and when he doesn’t, the collateral damage may take out the bystanders as well. In plain English, when girls are in an intimate situation, nine times out of ten they go along with wherever the guy leads them, watching and waiting to see where he goes with it, but often finding themselves without the voice or power to stop things from getting out of hand. The girl is usually operating on the hope that the guy is trustworthy and safe, that he will do his best to protect her heart and body, and if he fails to do so, she is devastated. She’s often very aware of how far the two of them have gone, but afraid that if she speaks up about a boundary being crossed, then the guy will be angry/offended/not want to be with her anymore.
So you can see how this is a tough combination to work with when you’re trying to be chaste. A guy who can’t stop himself once he gets started, combined with a girl who can’t speak up to stop him? What madness is this? How do we deal with this in a truly Catholic way in our romantic relationships?
First, it must be said: Ladies, we guys need your help. In order to be chaste, we need you to speak up at moments when we are failing to be truly chaste. Your awareness of the situation is often much greater than ours, and we often need you to say that one thing you’re afraid to say: “No.” It will not destroy the romance – no, in fact, it will heighten it, because a true pursuit of chastity is a million billion times more romantic than falling into lust ever could be. A good Catholic guy will recognize that and thank you for speaking up.
Second, gentlemen: We do not get anything like a free pass because we’re just dummies acting on autopilot. In protecting our ladies in intimate moments, we have a twofold duty as men: to keep our minds active and aware of what’s going on, and to avoid the occasion of sin. The first part, keeping our situational awareness, requires wrestling with ourselves in our own heads. It’s tough. Suck it up and get over it. She needs you to be like Christ to her, offering your body as a living sacrifice, not like Judas, betraying her with a kiss.
The second part, avoiding the occasion of sin, will help you SO much, it’s nearly unbelievable. All this means is, if you have trouble controlling yourselves, then don’t put yourselves in a situation where that’s a problem. Do you lose some of your decision-making abilities to tiredness at certain times of day/night? Then don’t be around each other at those times (or at least not alone). Do you find it easy enough just to hold hands, but once the kissing starts, you’re quickly out of control? Then make a pact that, for the good of your relationship, you will not kiss anymore. Seriously. Try avoiding the “occasion,” or potential occurrence, of sin. You’ll find it fabulously helpful to your chastity, PLUS it’s way more romantic than you might think.
Lastly, for both genders, each person should be aware of these struggles in the other person. Talk to one another about your feelings and experiences with intimacy, and ABOVE ALL, PRAY TOGETHER. Sharing a Rosary over your relationship will send it soaring into the stratosphere. Agree to pray something, any prayer, short or long, EVERY TIME you see each other. Do it. Do it now.
Seriously. I’ll wait while you do it. Go. No, I’ll be fine. Really. Go.