I don’t recall how we got on the subject in a conversation between a non-believing friend and myself, but she was telling me that it was ok to “look and not touch”. In her mind, her then-boyfriend checking out other women was fine so long as he stopped at looking.
Now we know Biblically that is a slippery slope,particularly for men. Matthew 5:28 warns “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Watching the intake of their eyes is a more crucial action than for women because men are more visual creatures. Of course I cannot speak for all women, but most in my experience do not have the lingering lustful temptations that men face. Ladies see an attractive man, give God kudos and move on with their life. Unless they’re single, then do a wedding ring check, find out if he loves Jesus, and then proceed with caution.
Where ladies face more danger, is in our emotional and mental comparison of people or relationships. How often do you read a book and become wrapped up in the main character’s romance? Spend some time on Pinterest and how many “my fictional boyfriend” or “in love with a fictional character” pins do you come across? If you aren’t a part of the fandom world these may not be so prevalent, don’t stress, your life is simply missing the emotional turmoil derived from investing in fictional characters.
It’s something we don’t see as an issue, losing ourselves in some action film or epic fantasy. But after a while, we can be tempted to let the sacrifices and the grand gestures seep in our minds. We might start to wonder why our guy doesn’t do that, or why our relationship doesn’t look or feel like the one we see in the book page or television screen. Or maybe as a single gal we expect our future relationship to look like a fictional one.
Focus Features, Pride and Prejudice
I fully expected my relationship to look straight out of Pride and Prejudice. I just knew the man I would fall for and myself would absolutely buttheads and hate each after our first meeting, and then over time we would realize we perceived each other wrong and gradually develop a strong trust and affection. Yeah, that did not happen. My husband had a crush on me from the get-go and I thought he had a girlfriend so he wasn’t even on my radar. It wasn’t until a year later I learned he was single the whole time; next thing I know we’re hanging out all the time and became boyfriend and girlfriend. So definitely not the Darcy and Elizabeth dynamic I expected.
And there’s the danger in expecting reality to work like fiction, because it doesn’t (if you didn’t know that prior to this blog, apologies for bursting your bubble, you’ll thank me later). The vast majority of us are not dealing with discovering we’re the chosen one, meant to save the world, and one of the people helping us achieve that goal looks like he stepped out of GQ, could kill a man with his bare hands, and is incredibly loaded but you have no idea what he does for a living. Or meeting our man at a massive ball while wearing an inexplicably acquired dress that looks gorgeous but frankly does not let us breathe (let’s not even discuss the shoes).
There’s a reason the credits roll or the font changes to a dramatic script and declares the end after the princess kisses her prince. Who wants to read about the couple discussing this month’s budget, or standing in Home Depot debating between three shades of beige (the most annoying decision ever), or trying to schedule out the holidays so everyone’s family gets equal time. Not as exciting as the dashing and mysterious stranger who finds your bravery and innocence so dang endearing, right?
I’m not saying stop reading (I would never say that. After hearing you say you read too much and it’s distracting from better things I’d probably just recommend another book to you), or enjoying that show, but watch your thoughts—where are they leading you to? Can you drop the relationship in the novel when you close the cover? Or is it trailing after you and embittering your thoughts towards your man or your relationship?
Now conversely, I have used these fictional forays to help me in my relationship. How so? Haven’t I just spent about 600 words telling you how fictional works can be damaging to your relationship? Well, when ya settle down, and a lot of conversations become about the budget, work schedules, are we potty-training this weekend, etc. etc., it helps to have a little reminder of the rush and excitement back at the beginning when you were just excited to see him for the day.
In a nutshell, guard your eyes, guard your hearts (I may have said that like “hide yo kids, hide yo wives” in my head). Protect your thoughts, be it from thoughts that make you look down on your relationship or from the humdrum that makes you forget how good your relationship is.