By Hadley Adair

Valentine’s Day was approaching, and I, being the haughty, single woman I was, had adopted a new motto. I began to tell everyone I encountered: “You know, guys cannot complain about being single on Valentine’s Day. That’s all on them.” This phrase then led to my reasoning that if they want a girlfriend, then they have the freedom to ask a girl out, but us poor women are simply maidens in waiting. Poor us, striving for authentic, Christ-centered relationships, yet living in a time when chivalry is far gone. I had reduced my vocation to the mere passivity of waiting to receive, while at the same time demanding of men immediate and heroic action.

My motto was holding up pretty well until it encountered that one person who wouldn’t let my nonsense slide. I repeated it to a guy in my philosophy class on Valentine’s Day, and he met me with, “Well actually, I think you’ve got it wrong.” Pardon moi? Wrong? You’re telling the single girl at the Catholic college that she’s approaching dating all wrong? I could hardly believe this man had the audacity to call me out. Out of curiosity, though, I asked him to indulge me and explain himself.

He went on to say that a relationship should be give and take and that this begins before the relationship even does. Just as much as it’s a man’s job to put himself out there and take the possibility of rejection, women need to be intentional and show interest. How confusing it is to a man if a woman flirts with every guy she encounters, yet then laments about how that one boy doesn’t know she’s interested? Or when a girl takes three days to respond to a text, yet can’t understand why a guy takes a long time to respond to her? Or why a girl talks up a storm with a boy’s best friend only to confess that he’s been the one she loved all along? You get the picture.

Ladies, why don’t our actions often line up with the deepest desires of our hearts? We tell men to stop idolizing our bodies, yet dress provocatively to attract them to our bodies. We tell men to have the courage to “just ask us out already,” yet cringe at any guy who asks us out that we didn’t plan for. We tell men to step up and live authentic masculinity, yet scoff at their desire to provide for us. It’s time to stop the hypocrisy and call ourselves higher. We must put out what we want to attract.

Begin by imagining what type of man you would like to date and hopefully marry. Think about the traits of this man. Is he holy? Is he a gentleman? Is he kindhearted and caring? Now think, “What would attract a man with these traits?” A skin-tight bandage dress on a girl that solely waits for boys to approach her? Probably not. How about, though, a girl who is outgoing and generous? A girl who cultivates friendship with the men and women around her and strives for holiness with them? A girl who respects her fellow brothers by dressing in a way that respects herself?

By leaning into our femininity and respecting our vocation as women, we not only love ourselves, but in turn call the men around us to love us properly. We use our feminine genius for good as it was created, rather than for lust and manipulation. We love our fellow brothers as creatures of God and as the potential spouses of not just us, but also of our friends and sisters. We need to love the men in our lives not just because they may date us or may be our husband someday, but because they may be a husband someday.