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anthony esolen quoteI found this graphic on Facebook through The Ruth Institute and could immediately relate to these words. I was trapped in “the jungle” for years and thought I was too broken for marriage.

In 1989, the French comity of education for health (Comité français d’éducation pour la santé) came up with this slogan: “condoms protect from everything but love” and it has influenced my generation. As many disenchanted girls, I found out the hard way that casual sex is not love.

In 2003, I signed up for a dating website. I met few liars and a guy searching for someone to gestate his baby. Then I met John, who talked about money too much but he was kind. After the first date, we talked for a while in his car. It was cold and I was feeling awkward talking in the car so I invited him for coffee in my apartment.

Next thing I knew, he was undressed, on top on me on the sofa. I asked him what was happening and he answered: “When a girl invites a guy to her place for ‘coffee’, it’s a code word for sex, everybody knows that!”

I was too embarrassed to tell him that I was feeling insecure and I really meant to have coffee, talk and maybe hold hands, so we did it right there on the sofa. We were two immature adults who had been engaged in the hookup culture for ten years and one of us outsmarted the other at the “consensual sex game”.

For a couple of weeks, we were eating out and having sex. Porn magazines were piling up in his room and he was a customer of sexual tourism in Eastern Europe.

I didn’t like this bizarre relationship but I needed to be held and reassured and I didn’t want to be alone. This is one of the problems with promiscuous sex: the emptiness that can never be filled and the fear to be perceived as “abnormal” by a sex-obsessed society if your bed is empty.

In a sense, I thought that women like me deserved to settle for mediocre relationships. I was crying uncontrollably in intimate moments. No force was used but I knew deep down that I was doing everything wrong and I didn’t know how to get out of the jungle.

I enjoyed volunteering at a local library with older ladies but John said it was boring so I stopped working there on the weekends.

But there had to be more to life than this. I had a faint hope that somewhere, there was a man made for me and I was made for him. After John disappeared from my life, I met that man nine years ago. I have found my way out of the jungle.

Ironically, it’s the fact that, as a secular woman, I volunteered at the library that conquered Michael. He said it showed that I had a good heart. Even if I rejected God while he was religious, he could picture me as his wife.

We have been married eight years and have four children. I chose to embrace the Catholic faith in 2008 and things have changed drastically in the way I perceive life and interact with others. I can’t say it’s been easy to accept what love really means and to make changes but I’ve been rescued from my pit of darkness and I’m at peace now.

No more tears, no more settling for less and thinking I don’t deserve respect. Now I understand that we were made in God’s image and likeness and that He loves us unconditionally. We need to be counter-cultural and set higher standards for ourselves than instant-gratification-based relationships.

To love is to seek the good of others, not to use persons as objects in a selfish exchange masquerading as love.