I didn’t realize this at the time but in retrospect I see that because I developed so much earlier, I became responsible for the way that people saw me and the perception that I gave others at an early age.
When I met my husband we were both attending a Christian University. While attending, both men and women were reminded that we needed to dress with the mindset that someone’s future spouse is seeing you. “Would you want your spouses eyes straying?” “Your spouse could be here, what kind of image do you want to portray?” At first when I heard this I shrugged it off. I didn’t think that I had to be held responsible for a man who couldn’t keep his thoughts in check. There is absolutely truth to this! However, it’s more complicated than that. When we started dating my husband told me that he was struggling with an addiction to pornography. When I found this out, I honestly didn’t know what to think. Up until then I didn’t know anyone who had struggled with this. If someone other than Cole had told me this, I would have said “What do you mean addicted? It’s not a drug?… Just don’t look at it, it’s gross and fake anyway,” I didn’t understand how sexual addiction worked.
I personally grew up in a very open household. My mom was very straightforward and honest about everything from sex and puberty to dating and her relationship experience and everything in between. Growing up my mother worked at shelters for domestic violence. I used to go to work with her. I saw the families and the children who stayed there. My mom explained to me (as much as she could at a young age) why the families came there. It was instilled in me that women are always to be treated with respect and love. As I got older the conversations evolved from, “Boys in your life should be kind to you”, to “Porn is disrespectful to women.” I have never looked at or felt the need to watch pornography. The point of my mom’s lesson was made clear and that was the end of it. Even at a young age I knew I wanted to be respected and loved.
Cole and I decided to pursue a courtship rather than a traditional dating relationship. We also dated long distance for our ENTIRE courtship. This was GREAT for us! It forced us to connect on a level deeper than looks, or “feelings”. From day one I made it clear that I was different than most women. I dress modestly, don’t usually wear makeup, I was (and did) saving myself for marriage. As I pursued a relationship with Cole, I realized that I loved the person he was. His addiction wasn’t my main focus anymore. I got to know him, his story, and know how he ended up where he was in life. We both learned these things about each other.
Cole told me how his addiction started and the more I listened, the more I saw the impact of my modesty on our relationship and Cole as a person. My college conduct code what right. The way I dressed and how I presented myself DID MATTER. Women who dress immodestly can lead men astray. Immodesty can cause people to see you differently. Not even just in relationships, in all aspects of life. Picture this: a women walks into a corporate office dressed in a short skirt and low cut shirt. Another women walks in wearing a formal skirt and blazer with a button up shirt. For better or worse, these two women are going to be seen differently. They are presenting themselves differently.
I wanted to attract men with a similar outlook as me. I wanted a man who also dressed modestly, shared my faith, had things in common with me. This meant I wasn’t personally attracted to men who presented themselves as immodest. I prefer men who wear pants, shirts with sleeves, and just dressed appropriately in general. Cole was this person. I already talked about how women can lead men astray but it works both ways. Even though I wasn’t attracted to men who were immodest, I can honestly say that they did sometimes catch my attention. This is natural for us as humans. Our eyes just automatically can become fixed on these types of things. Thank you Adam and Eve. Men also need to be aware of what their attire can do to the minds and hearts of women.
Because of our courtship Cole and I had a lot of time to discuss our standards, feelings, and hearts. I realized that my choice of modesty also had a positive impact on Cole as a person. If I dress modestly it helps him to be in the right frame of mind and because he understands my modest lifestyle he supports it for the reasons I have. We use our standards of modesty to support and love each other, to impact each other positively because we both know that we can impact each other. Men, women, realize that to an extent how you present yourself has an impact on others.
You can choose if it will be positive or negative.