Busted Halo

Most dating and relationships books, columns and shows won’t go near issues of faith. Author, professor and speaker Dr. Christine B. Whelan assumes faith has some role, and tackles even the toughest questions.

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September 20th, 2005
The L-Word: Why does this simple emotion trip us up all the time?

In the midst of a full-on argument with my college boyfriend, I told him I loved him for the first time. He’d been shouting, I’d been crying and yelling, and in trying to explain why I was so upset, I unintentionally blurted out the L-word, bringing the whole fight to a halt.
It’s three little words. I love you. Yet it reduces the most confident among us to sputtering, the most secure among us to paranoia. While I wouldn’t recommend confessing your love for the first time with mascara all over your face and a ball of wet tissues in your clenched fist, there’s not a whole lot of guidance about this early stage of romance.
How Do You Know For Sure?
How long does it take to fall in love? How do you…

September 11th, 2005
"Pay It Forward"

Kim Statkevicus had it all. A successful, loving husband, a great house in the suburbs, a 13 month old son and another child on the way—the picture perfect American dream. But on September 11, 2001 Kim’s husband, Derek was among the many killed in the World Trade Center. As she began to mourn the loss of her husband complete strangers came rushing to her aid. “Derek died in a very public way,” she said in a recent phone interview, “so the outpouring of support for me was immense. Because I was pregnant I received so much stuff, and it just kept on coming in. While I was very grateful, I also wondered what I was going to do with [all of it], much of which I didn’t need.”

Kim (pictured…

September 10th, 2005
Facts and Feelings: Why Getting to Know Someone Takes Time -- and Not Just a Background Search

In .2 seconds I can do a Google search on anyone. For some people, long lists of hits appear. For others, it’ll just be genealogies of random unrelated folks who share the same name and posted a family website. But it always turns up something.
Googling potential dates or new love interests has become commonplace. It’s fun, informative and a great way to procrastinate. But it underscores the fact that we want to know everything we can about someone in the most efficient way possible. While this is good in the business world, it can cause problems in your personal life. I offer this cautionary tale:
Deep Background
Two years ago I was set up on a blind date by a friend-of-a-friend. Blind Date guy and I exchanged…

August 20th, 2005
If you are committed to remaining a virgin until marriage, where do you draw the line on physical intimacy?

Dozens of you responded to our most recent Pure Sex, Pure Love survey about sexual intimacy before marriage-and expressed diverse opinions. Some readers said kissing, handholding and hugging are the only acceptable forms of intimacy before marriage. Other readers said anything short of intercourse is acceptable within a committed relationship.
According to the Church, sex should be reserved for marriage. It’s a rule, and as rules go, it’s pretty black and white. But what is “sex”-and where is the line between acceptable physical intimacy before marriage and out-of-bounds sin? Is making out OK? Clothes off? Oral sex?
Several recent polls of college students – including…

July 13th, 2005
Struggling with chastity as an adult

I still recall being fifteen and my best-friend Katie asking me the question, would you would be willing to sleep with someone you weren’t married to?
I hadn’t thought much about the topic. I was more concerned with getting a guy named Steve in my literature class to notice I existed. I decided, because Katie said she wouldn’t, that I wouldn’t either.
Steve finally did notice me. On our first date he kissed me in the snow. For a teenage girl it was like a fairy-tale. Soon, he was my boyfriend. After a month of dating, the topic of sex had yet to emerge. Steve never spoke about sex, but he didn’t need to. After one particular date, he tried to go further physically than I was comfortable with…

July 7th, 2005
Is Premarital Sex ALWAYS a Sin?

Jen, a 26-year-old BustedHalo reader, was seriously dating her boyfriend when they decided to have sex. This relationship “felt different,” she said, and after a lot of thought, she felt that the relationship was blessed by God. “I knew that it was OK. I didn’t end up marrying that man, but even so, with my 20/20 hindsight, I still know that it wasn’t sinful. It was a way of loving God through this other person. In some instances, it was a form of prayer.” While the Church has unambiguous rules about sex outside of marriage, many practicing Catholics have chosen to have premarital sex. They defend—and worry—about their decisions in a variety of ways.
In the last few weeks, I’ve asked BustedHalo…

June 30th, 2005
Let's Talk About Sex: The Argument for Chastity

C.S. Lewis wrote that chastity is the most unpopular of Christian virtues. Yet apparently, we like to talk about it: Dozens of you responded to our BustedHalo survey about premarital sex—and had a lot to say. The Catholic Church tells us that sex should be reserved for marriage, and needs to serve the dual purposes of procreation and the sacramental joining of husband and wife in the bond of marriage. But as intelligent individuals with free will, we wonder what this means for our own lives while many unmarried couples in committed relationships also wonder where the appropriate line is for them. These are honest questions—and too often the Church shies away from discussing them.This column will be the first…

May 1st, 2005
Public displays of affection: Should a woman take her husband's name, and should a man wear a wedding ring?

Among the many decisions a couple makes on their way to the altar, two choices are very public—and tell us a lot about changing social norms: Will she take his last name and will he wear a wedding ring?
Today more women legally change their names and more men wear wedding bands than they did just 15 years ago. Why? And will these superficial, but very public, signs of commitment help us better live out our sacramental vows?
In 1975, about 4% of college graduate women kept their maiden names once married. That figure rose sharply in the late 1970s and 1980s, according to Harvard professor Claudia Goldin, as women increasingly “made a name” for themselves in higher education and the workplace before often-later…

April 20th, 2005
If it’s this difficult, can it really be love?

Over dinner recently, a close friend told me she was second-guessing her three-year relationship. While she and her boyfriend were very committed to each other, they had been living in different countries for the last year. Through her new church, she’d made many friends—and met a few new guys.
“I love my boyfriend, but it’s been so long since we’ve been together that I’m not sure if it’s right anymore,” she confessed over dinner recently. “We are really struggling. I keep asking myself: If it’s this hard, can it really be love?”
Those of us in our 20s and 30s will date for longer and get married later than our parents did. On average, we will date for two years before marriage (with fewer than…

April 10th, 2005
Pure Sex, Pure Love

Here’s a trick to try out on your next date: During dinner, start playing with something on your side of the table like the salt shaker or the candle. After a little while, gently push it over to the other side of the table. Now watch what happens: If your date pushes it back to your side of the table, s/he’s just not that into you. If they leave it, or play with it, it’s called mirroring—one of the many unconscious ways we display our interest in someone.
Welcome to the world of flirting where subtle body language speaks volumes and where first impressions are usually right. Are you aware of the signals you’re sending?
In his new book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explores the power of first impressions.…

March 29th, 2005
When is the right time to bring up religion in a relationship?

Cindy and Peter met in January and they hit it off instantly. They were both into mystery novels and had long dinners debating politics. They started seeing each other twice or three times a week, had lots to talk about and great chemistry. And since they were both in their 30s, Cindy says things were moving pretty fast. About a month into the relationship, Peter invited Cindy to brunch on Sunday, and she said it would have to be a late brunch because she was doing a reading at the 11 a.m. Mass at her church. “He was shocked, and a whole big discussion came up,” Cindy told me over coffee recently. “It turned out that he’s not religious at all, and doesn’t have much respect for people who are.…

March 10th, 2005
Why Girls Watch Sex & the City: It's more than the shoes, boys

Last summer, my boyfriend broke up with me. It was one of those almost-perfect relationships where you are well matched in everything, but there’s just no spark. Immediately I sent out an email to a dozen girlfriends titled “Emergency Girls Drinks.” I’d been dumped, I said, and I needed some support. These were 12 busy women – junior ambassadors, business executives and new mothers – but they all cancelled their plans to meet me at a local bar. One ordered champagne to toast to my freedom. Another listed all the reasons why I was too fabulous for him anyway. And by the end of the night I was laughing, not crying.Now that Sex and the City is on basic cable, the dating traumas, frank discussions…

March 5th, 2005
BustedHalo's new column on dating, relationships and marriage

There are more than 4,000 dating and relationship self-help books in print. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has sold 30 million copies worldwide. And last month, relationship guru Dr. Phil McGraw hosted a primetime special on CBS where he placed a hidden transmitter in some guy’s ear and coached him through a date.
Dating and relationships are tough?and apparently we’re all looking for some advice. As young Catholics, we face our own set of challenges, but most relationship advice books, columns and TV shows won’t come anywhere near issues of faith.
So that’s where I come in.
Welcome to a new column on BustedHalo devoted to questions about dating, relationships and marriage…

January 30th, 2005
Overqualified for Love: Are high achieving women at a disadvantage when looking for a spouse?

Emily is a tall 29-year-old blonde with great fashion sense who knows the bouncers at New York’s hippest clubs. She graduated from an Ivy-League university with high honors in economics and went to a prestigious business school for her MBA. Now she’s moving up the ranks at an investment bank. In her spare time, she’s a painter—and hopes to launch her first gallery opening this year. She’s beautiful, successful and has a full social life. She appears to be a woman who has everything. But her relationships just never work out. Men date her for a while, but then when things get serious, tell her she’s just not the type they are looking for. And she doesn’t see what she’s…

January 4th, 2005
Tackling the abortion issue without propaganda in school

Teaching morality to sixteen-year-old girls requires a lot of patience, particularly when it comes to issues that revolve around the bedroom. After all, when you are sixteen you have all the answers.
I realize now that this is a necessary trait. I don’t think I could have survived my teens if I had possessed the awareness of life’s ambiguities that I have now. That sense of being sure about everything works like a kind of helpful insulation against the cold breezes of life.
Climbing the Great Wall of Abortion But knowing this about teens doesn’t make it any easier to teach them about complex issues of morality…especially abortion. In the all-girls Catholic high school I teach at in New York…

December 5th, 2004
Thoughts on sex and commitment

What’s the formula for good sex?
TV shows offer one recipe. Take an attractive man or woman, add a nice restaurant dinner, stir in a few drinks and follow the trail of chemistry where it leads, and next thing you know you’ll both be lying back amid tousled sheets with smiles of satisfaction, having just had mind-blowing sex in which there were no awkward pauses and both people reached heights of bliss with no effort whatsoever.
Know what? TV can be a huge, unabashed, pants-on-fire liar.
One thing I know It’s hard to write a column about sex, shouldn’t a sex expert like Dr. Ruth be writing this? After all, I can only really speak about my own experience in this area. And no doubt there are some for…

August 7th, 2004
Young, Gay Catholics struggle to reconcile faith and sexual identity

Looking forward to a summer wedding, 28 year-old Ashley Dumas carried her wedding dress out of the closet and hung it on the door for all to see. Her partner, 26 year-old Jamie Levine, and their friends admired the gown for its simple linen cloth.
However, coming out of the proverbial closet has been anything but simple for this lesbian couple. Levine, a nursing student living in Massachusetts, remarked that “it is going to be a legal marriage now and it’s really stirred up my whole family.”
Levine’s family is not the only one that is “stirred up” about gay sexuality. The Catholic family as a whole also struggles with how to include its gay members within the faith tradition.…

July 6th, 2004
Struggling to forgive an ex-lover on her deathbed

“Can you come and see me?” said his ex-girlfriend over the phone months after they went through a bitter and hurtful breakup.
“And why would I want to do that?” said the scorned male, passively refusing the invitation.
“Because I’m dying and I just want to see you one last time.”
This was the dilemma that my friend was presented with just a few days ago. He thought he had pushed the pain of this bad relationship aside months ago only for it to infiltrate his mind again when he answered his cell phone.
Can you forgive and forget?His ex wanted his forgiveness. She had ruined their relationship and during the course of the break-up informed my friend that she not only never loved…

May 10th, 2004
Women share their thoughts on Mary

Editor’s note: Monday, August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. With this in mind we offer this two part series on Mary.

She’s called everything from Our Lady of Peace to the Mother of God to the New Eve. She smiles at us from Christmas cards and gazes serenely from Renaissance paintings. There’s no question that Mary is one of the most recognizable women in the world. Her significance in the Catholic tradition is indisputable.

But what is her significance in the lives of women today? How does this iconic figure speak to the twenty-first century female experience? Curious about Mary’s impact on modern women, I surveyed Catholic women from their early thirties to early…

April 3rd, 2004
I would do anything for love (but I won't do that)

“I can definitely see you as a priest,” my friend told me.“Thanks,” I said. This was a helpful insight, since I’d like to be a priest. “But the thing is,” he said, “I just can’t see you being celibate.”This was a less helpful insight since, as I understand it, Catholic priests tend to be celibate.
I actually would have agreed with my friend a year ago. If you would have asked me why I wanted to be a priest, I could have told you about how I wanted to serve others or how I felt preaching was a great way to use my talents. I could even talk about my deep passion for the Eucharist and the desire to share it with those around me. I’ve thought about being a priest…

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