Before You Meet Prince Charming: Part 3 Chapter 5

Before You Meet Prince Charming: Part 3 Chapter 5 May 8, 2017

princecharmingby Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

All quotes from the ‘Before You Meet Prince Charming’ by Sarah Mally are in blue text.

Welcome to the last installment of Chapter Five on how to deal with crushes.   The advice and exhortation section in this chapter is pretty formulaic while the anecdotes run the gauntlet between terrifying and sad.

The first chunk of the chapter addresses the fact that most people have crushes during their life and explains that the issues surrounding crushes have to do with how people behave when they have a crush, not the fact that you are attracted to someone.  None of this is particularly ground-breaking, but it’s nice that Ms. Mally at least sets a reasonable bar that actions matter more than thoughts.

The first anecdote is a doozy:

What if I have a crush?

Have you ever made your dad panic?

Once when I was about 8 years old, I scampered into the house and with a mischievous smile I announced, “Dad, I fell in love today!”

Believe me, that got his attention! He looked up at me with a worried expression on his face and said, “You did?”

“Yup! I fell in love with this adorable Dalmatian puppy at the pet store. Can I get it? Please?” Dad smiled with a look of relief. “(pgs. 91-92)


  • I’ve never made either of my parents’ panic before – and Sarah’s Dad didn’t panic in this anecdote either.
  • If this story is true, Sarah’s Dad needs to get a freaking life.  I had a crush on a kid in my first-grade class named Brad.  We were inseparable for a few months and then drifted apart over the summer – mainly because we were EIGHT years old!  That was the same age that I wanted to visit the Starship Enterprise from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” because I thought it existed somewhere.  When my parents tried to explain the idea of movie sets, I just figured that someone built an entire replica of the actual Enterprise and was filming the series inside the life-size replica.  An elementary school crush is very normal – and not something for an actual adult to panic about.
  • I am very skeptical of the authenticity of that story, though.  With Sarah Mally being a few years older than I am, this story apparently happened before 1988.  This either means that the Mally Family was way ahead of the curve on implementing Emo-Pure or the anecdote has been burnished a bit to make the Mally Family seem more like the ideal CP/QF family of the 2000’s.
This leads into a few paragraphs describing how everyone will have crushes from time to time (which is true) and how hard it is to train your mind not to dwell on a crush.  I don’t remember my crushes being all-consuming, but I had a lot of things to keep me busy between school and sports when I was in junior high followed by harder classes and extracurricular activities in high school.  This meant that I didn’t have a lot of extra time to think about my romantic interests outside of when we were interacting.
“When I was about 13, our family became acquainted with another Christian family who had a son a few years older than I was. I liked him right away. He seemed so considerate and nice. I admired some of his talents, and most of all, he seems like such a strong Christian leader. He was the first guy I ever really liked, and I felt so embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know how I felt about him. After all, I was only thirteen! I wasn’t considering getting married for years. I tried to avoid him so that no one would guess that I was attracted to him. I tried not to talk about him with my family or others because I worried that they might be able to figure out that I liked him. “(pg. 92)
  • I find 13-year-old Sarah’s attraction to a “strong Christian leader” who is 15 or 16 years old absolutely adorable.  That’s such a normal 13-year-old thing to do!  (Well, maybe not the “strong Christian leader” bit, but I’ve had crushes on equally flimsy footing before.)
  • I was pretty embarrassed about having crushes – but not because I was too young to get married.  A crush is an intensely personal experience and I was acutely aware that my view of Matt or Jason or Patrick was not shared by the entirety of human kind.  The embarrassment phase passed quickly for me because my parents and friends didn’t tease or bother me about my crushes.
  • For me, the issue wasn’t that I didn’t want anyone to know how I felt; it was that I had no idea how to explain how intensely I felt attracted to Scott or David or whoever.  There are just not enough adjectives and adverbs in the English language to describe how floatingly giddy I felt when I was around my newest crush.
  • Like Sarah, I completely believed that I could avoid anyone knowing when I had a crush by keeping my cards close to my chest.   Looking back, the only person that tactic fooled was myself – and I’m willing to bet that no one was fooled by Sarah’s tricks either.

“But inwardly I was struggling. Even though I didn’t see him very often, I frequently found myself wondering when I might see him again and questioning if he could be the right one for me. I remember that when I would practice the piano, ride my bike, or have spare time, I would frequently be struggling with these thoughts and asking the Lord to help me not be so distracted.

A few years later I got to know this young man a little bit better and realize he was definitely not the right one for me. I lost interest, but I wondered when my next crush might happen and if I would be able to handle it any better (pg. 93)

  • Ironically, 26-year-old Sarah isn’t much better at putting the dots together than she was at 13.
    • The best way to keep a crush going is to never interact with the person you have a crush on at all.  I’ve had a crush on Geordi LaForge for Star Trek: The Next Generation for 20 years or so.  He’s smart, handsome and imaginary so I never have to deal with any of the annoyances of finding out the flaws and irritations that come with real people.
    • Conversely, the fastest way to get rid of a crush is to spend a lot of time with the person you have a crush on.  Everyone has really annoying habits and quirks.  Since a crush is predicated on having the ideal romantic partner, finding out your crush has the table manners of a hyena or sniffles all the time can do a lot to end a crush.
  • The last paragraph is inadvertently terrifying.  First, it implies that Sarah kept a candle burning for this guy for three years at least!  Second, she only had a single crush on that one guy in those three years.  I’m chalking that as another unintended example of how lonely her life was as a home schooled teenager with two siblings in Iowa; it sounds like she didn’t meet enough guys to have more than one crush.
  • For me, having crushes on real guys disappeared pretty rapidly in my late teens because I had no exposure to Emo Pure doctrines.  I had plenty of male friends.  When I found myself highly attracted to a guy – friend or not – I could get to know him better without obsessing over giving pieces of my heart away.  On top of that, I could date.  That means I didn’t have to keep my expectations low while waiting for my crush to notice me, become marriage-eligible, and get my father’s approval before finding out that my crush bores me to death.
The rest of the chapter is how to deal with crushes.  I can condense the gist into a nice bulleted-list for you!
  • When you have a crush, hide your emotions so deeply inside of you that no one – not even you – can feel what’s going on.
  • Pray.  A lot.  Pray for him, for you, for your future husband, and his future wife.  (She missed “his future kids”, “your future kids” “all of both lines eventual descendants”, and “the livestock acquired when you and/or he marry including, but not limited to pets”.  May as well be thorough.)  Don’t forget to memorize chunks of Scripture.
  • Get your parents involved.
Ms. Mally shares how getting your parents involved helps:

“The second way to deal with your crush is to talk to your parents about it. This might be difficult, scary, or embarrassing for you, but most likely your parents have already guessed how you are feeling. If you tell them, they will be better able to pray for, protect, and advise you. Confiding in your parents often relieves the pressure on you and may lighten the intensity of your “secret” crush. Sometimes they’re able to help you think more realistically about your future and give you a new perspective about what type of man they believe the Lord has in store for you.

Several times when I’ve told my dad or brother that I’ve noticed a certain young man, they have said that if they get a convenient opportunity they will try to get to know him better. Often they’re able to come up with interesting observations that I didn’t see, and they will come to me saying,”Sarah, have you noticed this area?” Dad usually say, “I question “such-and-such”. My brother Stephen will say, “He’s kind of weird!” But I’m serious – dads and brothers can be great analytical agents! When they notice an area of weakness in a young man, it gives me a clearer perspective of the whole situation and makes it easier for me to stay focused on the Lord, rather than dreaming about the possibility of “so-and-so” . It frees me from any pressure or temptation I might be feeling to try and get to know him better, and keeps my emotions from getting involved unnecessarily. (pg. 94-95)

  • I don’t think that it is a good idea to chat with your parents about a crush if you feel scared at the prospect of doing so.  That’s a sign something the kid is picking up on something being off in their family dynamic.
  • I know lists are supposed to have at least three items, but the prayers of a parent do not become magically more effective when the parent is sure that their kid has a crush on their classmate instead of being mostly sure.
  • Talking about your crush may lighten the intensity – but so will doing almost anything!  Crushes are most intense when a person sits around and broods on the subject alone and least intense when the person is doing a captivating activity.
  • Crushes do not require a chat about your kid’s future since crushes dissipate once your kid gets to know their crush better.  Plus, that’s bringing an AK-47 to a longbow archery demonstration in terms of overkill.
  • When your children are infants, parents can plan just about every aspect of their lives.  By the time your children are teenagers, parents guide and facilitate the teen’s plans for their lives.  If your kids are old enough to be considering marriage, parents need to have stopped planning their offspring’s lives for them – and that includes detailing who the parents thought the kid should marry.  After all, CP/QF is a small, insular community.  Describing the type of person a parent thinks the kid should marry has a huge overlap with saying “I’ve always thought you would marry Billy-Bob’s son Jimbo”.
  • Nothing says placing your daughter’s interests first like trying to get to know her romantic interest if an opportunity happens to appear.  Getting to know a person with the undeclared intent of figuring out if they are good marriage material for your child is so creepy – and generally a case of putting the cart before the horse since the other person has not expressed an interest yet!
  • Taking your brother’s advice on dating can make sense if your brother has enough life experience.  Sarah Mally was 26 when this book was written and Stephen is about 6 years younger than her.   I might have taken my younger brother’s advice on if he liked my boyfriend when he was 20, but only in terms of “my boyfriend is non-crazy, right?”  Since this book seems to be written for girls in their teens, I would hope that Sarah Mally wasn’t sending her 13 year old brother out to do recon on her crushes when she was 18 because that’s just odd.

This whole book is about ways to avoid interacting with guys, honestly.  There is a palpable sense of relief in each anecdote when Sarah has collected enough negative information from her family to shut down any more contact with a specific guy.   That theme reaches back into the allegory for the last few chapters as well; Sir Eloquence’s main flaw was that he was attracted to the Princess – the rest of the negatives about Sir Eloquence were based on the King’s gut feeling that Sir Eloquence was not telling the truth.  Likewise, Sir Valiant’s only demonstrated virtue is that we are not certain he knows the Princess exists.   That’s one of the largest flaws in raising kids to value Emo-Pure.  When a person has been raised to fear accidentally giving away a chunk of their heart, reaching out to form a bond with a romantic partner can be impossible.

The next chapter is titled “When God Says To Wait” which feels redundant to me; the Princess has spent five chapters waiting around the castle daydreaming already.


Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide She is also an very valuable source of scientific information for us here at NLQ. Mel is also blessed with the ability to look at the issues of Quiverfull with a rational mind and break them down to their most basic of elements.

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  • AFo

    Reading between the lines, I don’t think Sarah Mally wants to get married. She’s been raised in such a culture of fear and repression that she has too much anxiety about things not being absolutely perfect. It’s so much easier to stay in the bubble, reject every potential suitor for any little reason, and then say you’re still “waiting for the right one.”

  • SAO

    So, Sarah confessed a crush and her brother and father said “if they get a convenient opportunity they will try to get to know him better.” What does that consist of? How much time did they put in before they said “I question “such-and-such” or “He’s kind of weird!”?

    Either they spent the time to get to really know a man who caught her eye (who might not have any interest in her) or they did the most superficial once-over before rejecting the guy. Neither makes much sense to me.

  • Petticoat Philosopher

    I don’t think that it is a good idea to chat with your parents about a crush if you feel scared at the prospect of doing so. That’s a sign something the kid is picking up on something being off in their family dynamic.

    I don’t know if I agree with that. When I was a teenager I would have rather died than discuss my more tender feelings with my parents and my family was pretty functional and my parents were, in fact, pretty “cool” about such topics. I think it’s pretty normal for teenagers to be really self-conscious and private. (I had feelings for a good male friend of mine for a long time in high school–which were actually quite possibly mutual but we were too insecure and geeky to do anything about it, alas! This was crystal clear to my dad but I only found that out as an adult because he tactfully allowed me to believe that I was being as subtle as I thought I was being at the time.) Of course, that doesn’t mean that a kid’s reluctance to talk about this stuff with her parents can’t be an indicator of problems, especially if she fears her parents melting down over the threat to her emotional purity.

    I’m more weirded out by the “Present your crushes to your male relatives so they can shit all over them, otherwise you might be tempted to get to know a guy you’re attracted to and that would be terrible!” approach. For one thing, yeah, I wouldn’t exactly look at teenage brothers as sage sources of wisdom on such matters. And even if somebody–a brother, father, or anyone else–is mature and generally a good judge of character, that doesn’t mean they’re always right. (But I get that she’s operating from the perspective that men always know better than women and adults always know better than teenagers about everything.) Ultimately, you’re in the driver’s seat.

    But that’s exactly where she doesn’t want to be. This is an approach designed for people who want to be talked out of having to take any risks or make any decisions or do anything in which the outcome isn’t already known. I mean, even in conservative cultures, unless we’re literally talking about arranged marriages in which the bride and groom meet on the wedding day, it’s generally accepted that getting to know someone at some point is a necessary precursor to marriage. Marriage is ostensibly the goal here, but getting to know people is anathema. It doesn’t really make sense, even with the expectation that the parents will have a lot of control over potential matches.

    A part of me wonders if Mally and women like her really don’t want to get married and can’t admit it, not even to themselves. But really, is marriage, as it is presented in this subculture so very appealing? Obedience is nothing they’re not used to but obedience becomes a lot more high stakes as a married woman, when the things you have to obey about aren’t just doing chores when asked and caring for siblings but having as many children as your husband wants (sometimes with insufficient medical care) and having sex whenever he wants. And, of course, sex is sold to girls as a service you provide to your husband as an act of obedience, not something that’s much fun for you or something that you should look forward to (and, in fact, if you are “looking forward to it,” you’re probably sinning because if you think about sex at all, those thoughts are definitely not supposed to be enjoyable!) In the past, when women’s lack of control over their fertility and bodies was ubiquitous, consent within marriage was a radical concept championed by a feminist fringe subset, and women weren’t officially supposed to have any sexuality at all, it wasn’t uncommon for women to avoid marriage, or at least feel a lot of dread at the idea, because they feared sex and childbirth and being controlled. Many of them saw the toll this took on their mothers. Of course, not so long ago, dying in childbirth was always part of that fear but, again, it’s not so far-fetched for a lot of these women either, given the low premium placed on women’s health. I wonder if that’s what’s going on with a lot of these women too. Because, honestly, Sarah Mally doesn’t sound like someone who wants to get married. And really, who can blame her?

    Also, I don’t care what you say, I WILL join Starfleet one day! Ship’s counselor! (I’m finishing my MSW.)

  • Aloha

    In this case, Sarah’s parents convinced her to give up hope on a particular boy before even speaking with him (when a boy e-mailed her dad for permission to court her) and she includes a similar episode in her novel (Sir Eloquence, whom daddy scares away). By opening her feelings to her parents, they have a chance to manipulate her.

    And as far as not wanting to get married, no one wants to get married until they fall in love. And Sarah will probably be forced to marry a stranger that she barely likes. Poor thing.

  • AuntKaylea

    One of my first crushes in life (around age 12?) ended up in prison. He played soccer on my brother’s soccer team. Because I was made to go to every soccer game and tournament, I got to see him enough that I quickly got over it and ALL soccer players. I very quickly returned to reading books at every game. . .

    It’s interesting to me that the solution to objectification (a crush is objectification/fantasy) is to reach a point where one can no longer be anything but a person. So the whole courtship paradigm is basically designed to solve objectification through even more objectification. No wonder it fails.

  • Mollywog

    Yes! You had enough exposure to the crush to see what was true, no avoiding the person etc. You didn’t even HAVE to ask anyone about it because, GEE, you’re able to make decisions for yourself, even if you were fairly young at the time!

  • zizania

    Am I giving away my age if I tell you my crush was on Pavel Checkov?

  • Mine was Shaun Cassidy from the Hardy Boys, beginning a lifelong appreciation of brown eyes, boys who sing and/or are able to cry on occasion.