Always Treat Your Girlfriend Right: A WWII Case Study

by Marcus Brotherton on February 10, 2014 · 94 comments

in Dating, Relationships & Family


Sid Phillips, age 18, and his company of Marines had been living on maggot-filled rice for months.

Enemy soldiers had destroyed supply lines at the start of the Guadalcanal campaign. Back then Sid had stood 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighed 175 pounds. Toward the end of the campaign in December 1942, Sid weighed just 145 pounds.

That’s when Sid was brought off the front line and put on a work detail on the beach. Navy ships had just been able to land, and supplies in quantity finally had begun to arrive. Sid was ordered to unload a shipment of canned food.

Picture it. A starving young man unloading stacks and stacks of food, as high as a man could reach. Sid did the only thing any hungry man would be tempted to do. He and his good buddy Tex opened cans of sliced pineapple and each slurped back an entire gallon.

Neither man could keep the food down, of course. They just lay down on the barge and vomited overboard until they got rid of it. They vomited and laughed and vomited and laughed.

Tex added ruefully, “That was too much of a good thing, wasn’t it?!”

Okay, keep that picture in mind and fast forward a week to when the Marines left Guadalcanal, sailed for Australia, and dropped anchor.

Australia would eventually turn into a long season of restoration and training for the Marines while they prepared for their next campaign. Of particular importance: interacting with Australia’s civilian population.

None of the Marines had seen a woman in four months. The temptation for some men was to “gorge” on women just the same as Tex and Sid gorged on those cans of pineapple. But other men showed more restraint.

This time Sid was one of them — and he’s always been happy he chose that course of action.

Here’s why.

In the HBO miniseries The Pacific, one story arc shows Sid Phillips (portrayed by actor Ashton Holmes) dating a pretty Australian named Gwen (actress Isabel Lucas) and eventually having a sexual relationship with her.

But Sid will tell you that “Gwen” was a composite character created as a Hollywood plotline. “Gwen” never existed, and the salacious scene with Sid and Gwen was fabricated by the writers of the miniseries.

In real life, Sid struck up a friendship with a pretty 16-year-old Australian named Shirley. She had an older sister who paired up with one of Sid’s friends, Deacon Tatum.

The girls’ mother was a widow whose husband had died from effects of being gassed in WWI, and right away the mother gave the boys a stern talking to. If the Americans were to date her daughters, then they always needed to stay in a group. Neither Deacon nor Sid was ever to take either sister off by herself.

The young people grew to be close friends. Shirley’s family was poor but hardworking. The grandmother was also living in the family’s house, and the family didn’t have a refrigerator or even electricity. So Sid and Deacon frequently went to the grocery store to buy steak and potatoes and other good food that they took back to the house. The mother would prepare the food for them all. For months the two men ate at the house nearly twice a week.

Most often for outings, Sid and Deacon took the girls to movies, amusement parks, and historical sites in Melbourne. They talked and laughed and went for long walks and all hoped the war would be over soon.

The Marines were stationed in Australia for nearly a year, and when the troops were eventually shipped out to fight the battle of New Britain, Shirley and Sid parted ways. According to Sid, their relationship remained chaste the entire time.

Here’s one big reason Sid is happy about that choice today—

After the war, Shirley stayed in Australia, and Sid came home to Alabama where he became a medical doctor.

In those days, there was no convenient way for people to remain in touch if they lived a long distance from each other. Sid and Shirley exchanged Christmas cards and letters for several years, but that was it.

Shirley soon married an Australian Spitfire pilot named David Finley, who turned out to be an upstanding husband and father.

Sid married his high school sweetheart, Mary, whom he loved dearly. (Eugene Sledge, the Marine who went on to write the famous war memoir With the Old Breed, was best man at the ceremony.)

Years later, when Sid and Shirley were both in their forties, David and Shirley Finley visited Sid and Mary Phillips in the states. During that visit the Finley’s son met the Phillips’ daughter and they became fast friends.

The son and the daughter were both just children then, but some years later, after they’d both grown up, the Finley son and the Phillips daughter reconnected. They hit it off again and eventually fell in love and got married. Today they have three children and live in Florida where Shirley’s son is also a doctor.

So—did you catch the connection?—Sid’s former girlfriend is now his daughter’s mother-in-law. Today Sid and Shirley both share the same grandchildren.

Time progressed. Sid’s wife, Mary, died a few years back, as did Shirley’s husband, David. Sid and Shirley are both in their late 80s today, and they still write to each other every so often.

Shirley still lives in Australia, and Sid still lives in Alabama. Even though they’re both unattached now, they’re not looking for a romantic relationship with each other, Sid told me. They remain close friends, and he’s glad he treated her with gallantry, courtesy, and respect when they first met as teenagers.

What’s the life lesson?


The story of Sid Phillips and Shirley Finley is both a call to think about this very moment in your life, and to think about your future—and to carefully steward both.

The story shows what can happen when people genuinely hope the best for each other. Many friendships are here for today only, and people can easily drift apart due to time or circumstance.

Consider this an invitation to be grateful for the close friendships in your life at this very moment.

It’s also a reminder that every dating relationship ends up one of two ways: you either break up as a couple, or you get married. There are no other options. That’s a healthy extrapolation to keep in mind while dating.

You might be tempted to gorge on your girlfriend’s goodness like a hungry man on a tin of canned pineapple, but there’s a strong chance that someday this same girl will be married to someone else. Her offspring and your offspring might even get married someday. So it will be in everybody’s best interest if you can always look each other in the eye with a clear conscience.

How can you guarantee that?


Following the example of Sid Phillips, treat every woman you date with gallantry, courtesy, and respect.

Question: What are some practical ways young men can treat their girlfriends with gallantry, courtesy, and respect?


Marcus Brotherton is a regular contributor to the Art of Manliness. He’s the author or coauthor of several books of military nonfiction including Voices of the Pacific, where Sid Phillips’ war experiences are recorded. Read Marcus’ blog, Men Who Lead Well, at


{ 94 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pale Horse February 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Of course HBO would butcher such a sweet story. If he had banged her, things would probably be a lot different.

2 Robert M February 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm

What a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

3 Shane C February 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm

As a current student this information is extremely relevant. Many young men would benefit from more articles such as this.

4 Henry February 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm

A nice sentiment but in practice probably more likely to result in a young man being treated like a doormat rather than having healthy relationships.

5 Tim February 10, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Awesome piece

6 Russell Harmon February 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

So they can “look each other in the eye” because “their relationship remained chaste,” implying that they couldn’t look each other in the eye now if they’d had sex?

You might have different relationships with your exes than I do, and I’m pretty sure I like mine better.

“Always treat your girlfriend right” yes, but equating that to chastity is smelly horse poo.

7 Chris February 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Gallantry, courtesy, respect. Sure, this is obvious to real men. But the example is just simply outdated. You don’t have to remain chaste, write little love letters or even keep in touch to display these qualities. I say, enjoy your youth, do what comes naturally, and if you need to part ways, do so amicably and with grace.

8 Anon February 10, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Even though the example is “old”, the basic lesson holds true. Great article.

9 Elizabeth February 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm

As a frequent reader of AoM, and not to mention a woman, I highly suggest the advice in this article. A woman is more likely to respect you as a man if you respect her, not just her personality, character and mind, but her body as well. I can honestly say that when a man pursues a friendship with a woman or even a dating relationship with a woman, without requiring or expecting anything physical, she is more attracted to said man. Not to mention that she’ll tell all her friends about such treatment, making you a very wanted man. It might SEEM outdated, but in reality it’s the easiest and fastest way to relational happiness, respect, and eventually marital bliss. Follow Sid’s example and see for yourself.

10 James P February 10, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Neat story; thank you for sharing. However, I have to agree with some of the other viewers on the context. I think one of the things us men are losing is our touch with our true sexual nature. Not just men, but Western society in general holds a lot of shame with regards to sex.

11 James P February 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm

“…every dating relationship ends up one of two ways: you either break up as a couple, or you get married. There are no other options.”
Actually, there are many relationship styles that are possible with willing and honest adults. Strict monogamy, fail, strict monogamy, fail, etc is not the only way.

12 Travis February 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

I ask my wife, “Do I seem gallant, to you?”. As someone who studied English for years, the only response she gives is: “No. You’re not gallant. You respect everyone.”

That was a play on words. Today, gallantry could be treated as stupid, naive, and an analogy for the doormat. It has certainly earned some mockery. But, by being what classifies as gallant, you’re doing yourself, and whoever you deal with, a future favor.

If I had to give advice to my son, when he’s a young man, I’d tell him this: Sexual tension will screw up your groove. It will make you stupid, like a staving child in a pastry store. Invoke patience, self-control, and respect, and you’ll find yourself enjoying everything life has to offer, without paying for stupid mistakes.

As for a practical exercise, challenge her, mentally. Treating your lady friend as an intellectual peer, in a deep discussion, is a sure-fire way to cement bonds.

13 Zane February 10, 2014 at 7:58 pm

I’ve had sex with my ex-girlfriends and remained friends with almost all of them. But then, I feel like having my daughter marry one of their sons, would be different. That I would indeed feel uncomfortable seeing her frequently and remembering our hot sex together. Because let’s be honest, old sex memories with all of them come floating back from time to time. Or maybe I wouldn’t feel that uncomfortable, but I know my wife would. And maybe that’s the point here. I mean, I don’t think that would happen (our kids getting married). But it could happen and even if it didn’t happen, maybe the fact that I would be uncomfortable in the hypothetical situation means that there’s something wrong with the original scenario – simply having sex with my girlfriend. That’s what I got out of it. Made me think at least. Thanks for being pretty much the only website that makes me think about my life, even if I don’t always agree with it.

14 Lydia February 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Really, this is good advice. Chastity is underrated these days, and our society is the worse for it. Thank you for this story.

15 Joe February 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

While a noble thought indeed, women today are not the women of old, I’ll leave it at that.

16 Zak February 10, 2014 at 8:27 pm

It doesn’t sound like she was his girlfriend at all though, so this doesn’t really apply.

17 Brad Miner February 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm

Remarkable how few commenters here seem to be in sync with Mr. Brotherton’s point. Sad to read such self-serving nonsense. I’m afraid the ideal male for most of these fellows is James Bond.

18 Austin February 10, 2014 at 9:07 pm

As a young man who’s dated a girl for a year and a half now, with hopes of marrying her soon, I appreciate the timeliness of this article. A good reminder to respect her and to continue practicing self control. Thanks for the great story!

19 Brent Lowney February 10, 2014 at 9:09 pm

As a college student I still treat all women with the same respect. Cant stand the guys, mostly fraternity guys, who are so full of themselves and think the world revolves around them.

20 andrew February 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

99 times out of 100 if you treat a woman in such a way today and you will get burned those 99 times out of 100.
The sentiments in the article are destined to land a guy in the friendzone, but I guess that is exactly what happened with Sid. Had he slept with her it may have progressed into something that would have found her traveling back to the US with him.

21 Joy February 10, 2014 at 9:59 pm

Thank you for the article, Marcus. It is awfully insightful.

22 Ebouros February 10, 2014 at 10:09 pm

I think that it’s great advice. While the chastity bit might be outdated, we all have to remember that it was extremely relevant at the time. If Sid and Shirley had had sex, she probably would have had a lot of problems finding a husband of her own after her boyfriend left, not being a virgin anymore (it was the 1940s, afte all). She could have even gotten pregnant due to the almost non-existence of contraception at the time, thus leaving her with a “bastard” child to raise as a single mom in a world where a woman alone couldn’t possibly earn a living for a family. Let’s say that some or all of those things happened and that by a stroke of luck her kid still marries Sid’s kid. Their relationship would then have been responsible for a lot of social stigma and hardships, so it’s not hard to imagine that things between the two of them would have been rather tense, to say the least. Transposed in a modern setting, the story at least made me realize that if we don’t think we’d be able to look an ex in the eye after the relationship and have cordial relations with them, then we’ve done something wrong. That something doesn’t have to be sex though, because nowadays people are more comfortable with that and there are less strings attached to the act.

23 Stephanie February 10, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Thanks for writing this. Really. Beautiful story with an invaluable takeaway for the modern man.

24 Jared February 10, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Men who say that treating women well will result in them friendzoning you are either not the right kind of guy (their problem isn’t their gallantry — but some other defect), or they’re dating the wrong kind of women. I’ve always treated women like a gentleman, and I married a former Miss Teen of her home state who also did some modeling and is now the mom of our 4 kids. I landed her by being both masculine and assertive and nice too. Not desperate or creepy, just courteous. If you can’t strike that balance, that’s your failure, not a failure of gallantry.

25 Vince February 10, 2014 at 11:09 pm

An excellent article and well written. My son turned me onto this site a couple years ago. I find I like a lot of the things on here. He is about to turn 18 I am delighted he chooses to check this site out and read the articles. Kudos!

26 Sue February 10, 2014 at 11:32 pm

Thank you so much for this article.

One can only hope that parents bring up their sons in such a manner, that they know how to treat a woman. And by the same token, daughters should be brought up to know how they should be treated by a man.

27 Dustin February 10, 2014 at 11:42 pm

I disagree with the connotation of the article. I think there’s a deep undercurrent of pushing chastity and abstinence in it. I agree that Sid did the right thing by way of Shirley, but only because of the potentially difficult social repercussions. The possibility of her getting pregnant, his being committed to the Navy, the problems with girls losing their virginity and not marrying, long distance relationship problems, cultural shock, and the loss of family if one of them lives with the other in their country. Chastity and abstinence are just a means to an end and are an effective way of preventing complications. However, these are different times. There are points I agreed with: encouraging people to stop and consider consequences of sex and relationships in the long term, respecting the girl’s right to choose and not pressure her into sex, friendship as a requisite to love instead of lust, etc. It was an incredibly silly point that his and her kids getting married and having children was used to support the conclusion that his chaste relationship with her was ultimately a good decision. There was no reason to think that they would not have gotten married, as many many servicemen overseas do, or any number of divergent paths that may have resulted. It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that things working out 20-40 years after the fact is even remotely relevant to judging his choices of a bygone era. It’s a matter of judging the rightness of an action by what happened after it, and consequentialism is infamous for making immoral choices seem moral. Who is to say that they would not have been more happy together, ultimately? He made the safe choice, and everything worked out, but let’s not make the mistake of saying that chastity and abstinence in and of themselves are the right choice; the only reason they always seem to be is because many of the most daunting social stigmas in society revolve around maintaining sexual propriety, legitimate birth, traditional nuclear family, etc.

28 MAKII February 11, 2014 at 2:01 am

Fantastic article, and very timely, extremely grateful I was able to read this

29 Seyi February 11, 2014 at 2:06 am

Whether we like it or not, what goes around Must surely come around. I think nature did it best by rewarding them for their chastity. Nothing pays in a relationship than Abstinence. -go4dtop

30 Adam February 11, 2014 at 3:23 am

That is a nice article. Inspirational.

I always tried to follow a similar guideline. Until the fall-out happens, and she treated me in the worse way possible. I cannot even write what happened here. Then I am left with the choice of being courteous (being a doormat) when she contacts me again, or insulting her or simply not answering. My choice was to walk away from any further abuse.

After such events, it is hard to have in that sort of principle again. I became much more suspicious. I guess I need to learn to trust again. It’s helpful to see people who believe.

Thank you for the articles.

31 Bolt February 11, 2014 at 8:03 am

I’m not sure I get this article.

I like sex. I like women who like sex. I don’t think of sex as dirty, I’m not embarrassed by it; or by those with whom I’ve shared the experience. I tend towards women who feel the same way.

I get that the article is expounding the virtues of chastity – but in the context of a sixty-year-old society – and I’m not sure that’s relevant. I’m not a user; I was raised as a gentleman by a gentleman and I treat the women in my life exceedingly well.

Were I to run into one of my ex-lovers in ten years as my daughter was marrying her son, I don’t believe the thought “I wish I didn’t know what you used to look like naked” would ever cross my mind.

Maybe it’s a cultural gap, as I completely agree with the ‘gallantry’ angle. But gallantry =/= chastity,

32 Dan February 11, 2014 at 8:17 am

The longest relationship I’ve ever had with a female is the friendship I share with my best friend, which has been going on for 14 years and counting. We don’t talk nearly as much as we used to, but anytime we’re together, both our troubles just melt away, and we enjoy each other’s company, whether with a group or just the two of us.

33 Nick February 11, 2014 at 8:20 am

I bet Deacon Tatum, however, conquested some serious loins.

34 Ethan Glover February 11, 2014 at 9:23 am

Great stuff, and a beautiful story. I think it’s always best to concentrate on the long term rather than instant gratification.

35 Josh K February 11, 2014 at 10:29 am

My mom always told me to treat the women I date how I want my future wife to be treated. If I want my future wife to a virgin, then I shouldn’t be taking any other young lady’s virginity either. You never regret being a gentleman to a lady and although a wild night with a woman would be fun it can often be a regrettable experience. I’m only 20 but I feel so old when I explain my stance on this area to people my age. I know I will be glad I took the course I did though and that is what matters.

36 Alexander February 11, 2014 at 10:30 am

In reply to Bolt, I do not find sex to be dirty at all, I think that it is a beautiful thing. That being said, it creates a bond between a man and a woman that is not fulfilled without commitment. Marriage must be the precursor to sex, because without it, complete trust simply cannot exist in the bedroom.

37 Okierover February 11, 2014 at 10:34 am

Being a good example to your son is a daily task. Treat your wife with respect and he will learn to treat his mate with respect.

38 Brad Norcross February 11, 2014 at 11:38 am

Wow, wow, wow. Incredible story. And a much needed one. What a great article.

39 Jeremiah February 11, 2014 at 11:41 am

This is an excellent article with excellent advice. When one does marry, he/she will be ever so thankful, and better adjusted, if they save themselves for their marriage partner.

Of interest, my father was a captain/doctor on a ship in WWII, and when they docked in Australia after furious battles in the South Pacific, the sailors went ashore for their dose of booze and women. He said that he had to treat a majority of them for STDs of every kind, including black tongue. One girl was smuggled on board the ship and was found writhing on the deck barely clothed and in pain. My dad knew what was wrong and put pressure on her abdomen, and out gushed a torrent of semen from between her legs.

Not pretty pictures.

40 C. February 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

I find it interesting that many men are disagreeing with this article on the topics of gallantry, chastity, etc. but yet all the women are thanking the article and saying it is wonderful advice. As a young man I must look and see some wonderful insight/truth in this situation.

41 Tim February 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I think that many are missing the point of this great article: The happy couples that were even able to become friends happened because a man didn’t take advantage of a woman when he had the chance. It’s not outdated, it’s smart. The sexual drive is one of the things that can drive a man to greatness if channeled in appropriate ways, not to mention the great marriage and long relationships that can come from it. This fad of sleeping with whomever is very bad for society, the person’s long term relationships and their children born out of marriage. Moral of the story, if you want to have long happy relationships, be chaste. Thanks Sid.

42 Spence February 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

On point quality as usual. Very refreshing to see a moral point being driven home, even in this consumer climate. There really is an art of manliness.

43 Paul February 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Great piece.

44 Stephen February 11, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Thank you for this post! As I scanned through the comments, I noticed two factions if you will. I will attempt to briefly delineate my observations that could be causing the division.

I think morals are a key factor at play here. I was brought up in a very conservative home with strict, God-fearing morals (I’m talking pre-1950′s values where women wear knee length skirts ALL the time, family meals are sacredly practiced, all of us boys sported the infamous “comb-over,” etc. to give you a mental picture). The stereotype of such an appearing family were very applicable to my situation. Finally, yes, I was homeschooled using a college-preparatory program from kindergarten through my senior year. Therefore, I relate very strongly to this article on a moral ground. However, I did sow my wild oats at one point and felt convicted and guilty for it. With that being said, “my” faction will praise the article. Those who see the morality clause as applicable and unchangeable both in the past and carrying forward to the present and future.

The second faction which I do not agree with, but can understand is that morals are more ethically based. Morals do not change (as a rule), while ethics are society driven. Consider the standard of dress. in the 19th century a lady sporting the skin of her ankle, let alone her calf was viewed as either 1) uneducated, back-woods ruffian or 2) promiscuous. Fast-forward to present day. Boy shorts, yoga pants, and bikinis dominate the scene and are viewed as “ordinary” attire. What is ethically acceptable evolves with the time. Morals were inscribed on two stone tablets, so to speak, and there remain.

Therefore, are you a moral man or an ethical man? Do you believe society has left the foundation of many sacred morals and adopted a volatile and progressive set of ethics? If so, you relate and praise this article. If you believe that morals are antiquated and modern ethics reveal a more accurate assessment of what is acceptable conduct towards a woman, you will find fault in the article.

In closing, regardless of your stance and how closely or far away you relate to the extreme spectrums of the mind, both sides can find considerable value in the account at hand. The conservative can be re-assured and affirmed that his staunch moral fiber and code will be rewarded ten-fold, while the ethical, modern man of the day can apply the same analogy of yesteryear’s sex to today’s current trends of stigmatic conduct (whatever they might be as it seems we live in a “no holds bard” society).

Have a good day, gentlemen, and regardless of your stance, please treat all women with the utmost respect.

45 Tucker February 11, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I really enjoyed this read. Being in college and having my “high school sweetheart” living about 4 hours away, this really put a good outlook on things.

46 Azamat February 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm

That’s what Islam and Christianity were telling us to do for centuries – no sex before marriage.

47 Bolt February 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm


You mention trust. And I thank you for the insight. My original post wasn’t meant as criticism per se; rather a misunderstanding, or lack of understanding; of the article’s view.

I find that I must disagree however. I don’t feel that marriage must, or indeed should, be a precursor to intimacy. Forgive the bluntness of the metaphor; but would you buy a car without a test drive? Or a house without seeing every room?

I’ve experienced high levels of trust with women in the bedroom, regardless. Simply because I don’t profess to love her (and don’t expect it in return) doesn’t mean she can’t trust me with her safety, or her care, or her secrets. Some of my greatest nights have been spent with women who trusted me implicitly – and had to, to get what they wanted.

I suppose what I mean is, as long as both parties are honest about what they want and what they can give I simply don’t understand objections to casual intimacy.

Oh, and to preempt the inevitable; teenage pregnancies are not the result of sex before marriage. Contraception is widely available in every developed country that is 99% effective if used. Stupidity is not exclusive to casual lovers – it’s just more noticeable.

48 Ben Gygax February 11, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Treat every woman as a lady, whether she is one or not. This means being respectful, polite, helpful, HONORABLE, and even protective (if needed).

Here are some ideas:
-Open doors for all ladies, regardless of age, race, status, etc
-Allow them to pass through said doors before you
-If she drops something (i.e. her shopping list in the grocery store) pick it up for her
-Never, EVER take advantage of any lady emotionally, spiritually, or sexually
-If you take a lady out on a date, pick up the tab. Yes, every time, unless she INSISTS otherwise
-If you’re in a relationship, stay faithful. It’s better for everyone.

49 O.D. February 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I think you are sending the wrong message with this article. The message shouldn’t be “treat your girlfriend right because you might interact with her in other ways”
Because if I turn that argument of the story you described upside down this would mean: If there is no way of meeting her ever again, go for it, treat her like a dog, who cares.
And that can’t be the deal, of course. You should treat not only your girl but every person with nothing but respect and kindness. Of course, I treat my girlfriend with that whole lot of extra bit of everything that is good because she desevers it and I love her dearly. But in general, everyone deserves respect, right?
But your article brought something to my mind. It’s a saying a close friend told me and his grandfather told his father. It says “Wherever you go, always build a house for yourself”.
Of course, you shouldn’t start construction sites everywhere you go. It’s metaphoric. You should treat people good everywhere you go even if you don’t need them at the moment. Just be kind, make small gifts, be the nice guy everyone would like. For example…people working in administrative positions at the university or such…often these people are the ones who actually get things moving. Why not get them a little something in december? Chat with them? It will cost you next to nothing and who knows what this will be good for one day. I’ve seen it and it works.

50 Scott February 11, 2014 at 3:00 pm

This is a fantastic article, one I wish I’d read before I went to college.

To those who use the oft-touted analogy of test-driving a car before buying it: the only things valuable about a car are how well it drives, how comfortable it is, and how it looks. It’s an object that you use, and if it’s the first thing you compare to a woman . . . you, sir, do not deserve a good one.

51 Bolt February 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Scott, I disagree. In fact I have to, respectfully, call your interpretation of that metaphor a straw man.

A car, or a house are significant investments – both of your money and time. It’s very important you’re happy with both, since you’ll be spending a lot of time with them. In both cases a great choice can make you very happy and a poor choice… Well we’ve all add bad cars.

And even with those points explained, you’re missing the core of the metaphor. Not only am I implying a life-partner is MORE important than either, but I’m suggesting she take the same approach when selecting me.

No, a woman is not an object to be bought or owned – and neither is she to be lumbered with me if I don’t satisfy her in all aspects of our life together.

52 Chickasha Hoolba February 11, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Every woman is someone’s daughter, and potentially someone’s wife and/or mother. How would you want your daughter/wife/mother to be treated by guys?

To everyone reading this blog who is trying to stay chaste until marriage; hang in there. It’s not easy, I stayed a virgin until marriage (by choice, and not for lack of opportunity -I was a working rock musician for crying out loud) and I’ve been happily married now for 17 years. I’m the only man I personally know who’s waited, but I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do; I’m pretty positive that all those people who criticized and made fun of me for my decision to wait weren’t being critical of me because they had my best interests at heart.

Contemporary American culture is toxic, listen to the majority at your own risk. Thank you Marcus for the great story!

53 Tim February 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Well Marcus, I totally support you on that. Please carry on regardless of the nay-sayers.

54 Haden February 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Thank you, Brett, for the article. Chastity is super important and being disregarded by too much of society. It’ll always be the right way to live, regardless of public opinion.

55 Thinkcat February 11, 2014 at 5:35 pm

The car analogy falls down in that the very fact of it being a test drive will make it worthless. How do you test drive “lasting and uncompromised commitment” for one hour or one night? The commitment is supposed to be the thing that makes sex good and worth something. Sex is meant to be an expression of it. How do you express something that is not there?

“Trusting” someone with information on how you want to be tickled in some wild fantasy is nothing. Trusting someone to care and stay committed even when you are not open to tickling or being tickled is something.

The idea of test driving simply devalues the whole concept of sexuality. It will not suddenly turn more valuable in case the test driver decides to commit. It is like trying to unsee a thing. Or trying to make a known into a mystery again. Or to pretend that an old thing is new. Or to greedily take something that can not be given back and try to feel gratitude for it later.

Some have detached sex from their being, and it has become a simple matter of doing or having. The more you simply have it and do it, the less you are able to be in it. It hurts less or not at all, but it is also worth less. And less.

Problem is, unspoiled girls have their being in it. When you reject someone’s being, she is reduced to just having it and doing it, getting progressively unable to be in it anymore. Some call these girls scarred. And it has become the new normal.

56 Benton February 11, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I firmly disagree that practicing chastity with women is “outdated.” I am dissapointed that so many of the readers flippantly quantify such a stout religious and traditional value as “past its time.”

57 Jasbir Singh February 11, 2014 at 7:22 pm

This is an excellent article. It reminds us what a real man really is: chaste and virtuous. Unfortunately we live in a post 60′s era, the point at which everything got messed up. Boys no longer grow up to become chaste virtous men. Instead, they remain as manboys, and can’t live up to a higher standard. I think boys need to be rewired to become men, as explained by ex NFLer Joe Ehrmann. Watch and listen to him here:

58 eep_opp_orp February 11, 2014 at 7:31 pm

*IF* the advice is, basically, don’t burn bridges, then yes absolutely true.

*IF* the advice is to be chaste for some loftier goal, then no. This is basic friendzone advice that’s a glorious failure.

Sex is not bad. Being desired is not bad. Both parties must communicate expectations honestly pre-coitus. If there’s a fit, then go for it responsibly!!!

59 Jasbir Singh February 11, 2014 at 10:05 pm

To Josh K, good for you man. I wish I had your maturity in the 90s when I was in my 20′s.
This series of talks to high school students is well worth everyone’s time. It’s called “Romance without Regret” by Jason Evert and Crystalina Padilla.

60 Scott February 11, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Bolt: I disagree that it is a straw man. In fact, I think it’s pretty close to what you mean, whether you know it or not.

Yes, a car is a significant investment of time and money, but it remains merely an object. It’s something you use, and when it fails to be useful or you decide you want a new model, it can be quickly replaced. If you think the same of your wife or girlfriend, particularly with regard to sex, doesn’t that cheapen your relationship? Doesn’t that objectify her, or the “service” she (or you) provide/s in bed? I argue that it does, and as long as you view sex (at any point in the relationship) as a “test dive” I don’t think you see the whole person, or consider the potential length of the relationship beyond your immediate desires.

My wife is a better lover now than she was when we got married, and I hope the same can be said for me. Should I have discarded her, or vice versa, after the first time we had sex if it had been disappointing? Heavens no! Sex is a wonderful thing, but it is not the only thing in life that makes being together worthwhile.

In five years, or ten, or twenty, how good one looks or how well one performs in bed may well be nothing like today–probably not for the better. Do you then declare that you no longer satisfy each other and try out a new model? If so, I fear you have a very lonely future waiting for you.

61 Bolt February 12, 2014 at 2:39 am

So, divisive topic, right?

Anyway, I think I understand the counter position. Thinkcat, while admittedly beating my metaphor to death, has revealed an insight. Some of you believe that sexual purity is objectively better. That for a person to be a virgin makes them somehow more valuable – not because of anything, simply because.

I don’t.

Purity is an arbitrary concept, and denies a person’s right to change. By that reasoning, when I lost my virginity at fourteen I became, irredeemably and permanently, a slightly worse person. I don’t accept that and neither do I accept that love or commitment are necessary for good, fulfilling or worthwhile intimacy. I’ve slept with women who hated me, and it was great.

Maybe it’s a culture gap; or religion gap. Maybe it’s education or indoctrination. In sure either way we won’t fix the world in this comments thread. However; I’d invite anyone who disagrees with me to consider this: There’s room for you in my philosophy. I don’t want to take anyone’s personal choices away from them, and even if I could I wouldn’t rewrite the world so you all behave as I do.

Can you say the same?

(As an afterthought, Thinkcat. Tickling? I really hope that’s you being family friendly, my friend!)

62 Rick February 12, 2014 at 8:13 am

Phenomenal post, Marcus! This shines truth on several levels… thank you for sharing this.

63 Marcus Brotherton February 12, 2014 at 10:16 am

Marcus Brotherton here. I’ve been really impressed with the quality of comments on this post. Lots of room for discussion and disagreement, yet civility and thoughtfulness are reigning. Thank you, everyone, for interacting with this post.

64 Ian February 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

I think some people are missing the point- he’s not equating being chaste with treating Shirley with respect. Remaining platonic with Shirley was more about showing respect to his high school sweetheart (and future wife), Mary, back home. Had he been unloyal to his girlfriend, I can guarantee that, down the road, there would have been no meetings between Shirley and her husband and Sid and his wife…this obviously means that their son and daughter would not have gotten married and given both Sid and Shirley grandkids. The fact that he remained loyal to Mary, while being a friend to Shirley, is what allowed everything else to transpire between their two families. And ultimately, that’s exactly what’s made this a nice story.

65 RFA February 12, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Fortunately many readers seem to be getting the point this time. Respect who you are, respect the woman you are with, respect the people who are important to both of you.

Modern equivalent- my wife and I were friends in college (in the days before the internet). For her safety, she walked a very short distance from her evening classes to my apartment on that side of campus and slept on my couch.

We were never single at the same time. I respected myself, her and the girls I dated at school by never taking advantage of the situation. Equally importantly, she trusted me to not take advantage of the situation, especially when I was single and she wasn’t.

A few years after graduation (and the arrival of the internet), she tracked me down again because, in her words, no other man had treated her with that level of respect and trust.

She did not move in or begin a physically intimate relationship with me until after we decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

If I had ever forgotten who I was, broken her trust and pushed her to compromise her own self-respect back in college, we would not be together now.

66 Mike February 13, 2014 at 2:52 am

A sweet-sounding story, though one with a very old-fashioned view to sex. A consensual sexual relationship, with both parties treating the other with respect, is nothing remotely shameful.

The article doesn’t describe what true respect for women is and and implies that their “chastity” is under the supreme control of men. Maybe they didn’t have sex because the Sid’s girlfriend didn’t want that to happen. I find this slightly chauvinistic.

Also, I can’t imagine anyone ever abstaining from sex on the off-chance their future offspring hit it off…

67 Parul M February 13, 2014 at 9:20 am

My first comment on AOM.
This was wonderful. Brett and Kate you are both wonderful.
Wow to the old code of honour. And to the men who still keep it in today’s times.
This spirit of playing eyerything well, regardless of the wins and losses. Hats off!

68 Scott February 13, 2014 at 9:34 am

Mike: don’t put the cart before the horse. I doubt Sid and Shirley abstained because they thought their future kids would get together; post hoc ergo propter hoc is bad logic.

We agree that consensual sexual relationships are not inherently shameful. Where we disagree is that you imply old-fashioned values are somehow bad or wrong. Given a divorce rate of roughly 50% of all marriages, a sky-high out-of-wedlock birth rate (I no longer ask clients seeking to modify child support whether they were ever married to the other), and a widening gap between the rich and poor (guess which group tends to have higher rates of the other two), people could use a little more old-fashioned.

69 judy shockley February 14, 2014 at 8:26 am

how DO you have time to write all the interesting articles you do.this story reminds me a tiny bit of stories my aunt Vi told me ,she was a chief in the navy ,She few over to Italy ,in WW2 just her and 400 guys ,some became friends but my aunt was faithful to my uncle ,they were engaged for 40 years ,true story

70 DJ February 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm

I just want to say that I am extremely disappointed with all the ‘men’ claiming that the moral of the story is old-fashioned. I think you are all missing the point of this website. We are to be virtuous men, not selfish, flesh-seeking boys.

Note that all of the women that replied are praising this article. Not a single one is writing in to say that they want a man to jump the gun and go for it because it is fun, and that a man who won’t do that is not worth her love. Let this be a lesson to those that are denouncing this article. If a good woman wants a chaste, righteous man, then be that chaste, righteous man. Don’t try to make excuses such as “friend-zoning yourself”. If you can’t land a woman by being an upright and godly manly man, then that woman is not worth landing.

Just because the vast majority of males (and females) of our time are not living up to the standard that God wants us to be does not give us license to relax our morals. If we are only measuring our righteousness by comparing ourselves to the people of this world, we are deceiving ourselves. We have one example that we ought to follow, and He taught very clearly how we should conduct ourselves.

Sex is a wonderful, fun thing, but it is designed and intended to be between a man and his one wife. A man should save himself for that one woman, just as he hopes she would do the same for him. Christ Himself even stated that it is unlawful for a person to remarry after divorce, as this is the same thing as extramarital sex. One man, one woman, no others.

This is coming from a 25-year-old man who has been very happily married for 5 years. Neither of us has known another, and there are zero regrets.

Men, love your woman and love your God. I think that if you do that, the answer should be pretty obvious when it comes to how to conduct yourself before marriage.

71 Sheri February 14, 2014 at 4:17 pm

I’ve been married for seven years… what a sweet story! As you get older, you learn that delayed gratification can produce beautiful things. It’s funny, all the people who said my “fairy tale romance” was a lie, or couldn’t happen (I married at nineteen) are still alone. We are still together, best friends, been through everything, two beautiful children. We are happy. I have a very active “drive” and it was haaard to wait, but our decision to do so enriched our marriage. Now, we can and do have all we want, and we know we went into marriage with respect for each other as people, not just bodies. My friends are still miserable, still sleeping around, and still tell me I’m the luckiest person they know.

72 Margie February 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I would just like to point out that nearly every comment posted under a female name expresses agreement with this article. Believe what you want, but it seems that most women equate sexual restraint with a high level of respect.

73 Daniel Shenouda February 15, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I thought “World War 2 Case Study” would hint at some wacky analogy between combat operations and date-night logistics, but alas, it was a more conventional “restrain your appetites” exhortation.

I live in a big coastal city where many decent young women are unaccustomed to male chastity, so I have learned from experience to make it very clear in one way or another that yes, I’m attracted to her physically (not gay); but am just as interested in the person and the relationship prospect; and that delaying the physical fun gives me time to vet the person and the relationship with relatively clear eyes.

74 Brian February 16, 2014 at 8:31 pm

I read the article and saw a comment saying this was from Marcus Brotherton…I should have guessed, but didn’t realize it until just then. It seems I can’t get enough of Marcus’ posts on AOM – thanks for the great read.

I long for more young people to read this and think long and hard about the consequences their choices have not only now but into the future.

Sadly, I doubt many of them would even understand the beauty of the way the relationship between Sid and Shirley turned out.

Regardless, we must keep pushing and promoting that which is right and thought provoking, so thank you, Marcus.

75 Michael February 17, 2014 at 7:17 am

I did not have sex before marriage and I do not regret that decision at all. I am quite confident it has made my relationship with my wife stronger.

76 Thomas February 17, 2014 at 7:44 pm

If only more and more young men did this. I am in high school and constantly I hear about how some guy banged a chick or something. It’s not something you should be proud of. Honestly you have to treat each young woman with the respect and honor she deserves, if you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t even be dating

77 Sara February 17, 2014 at 10:06 pm

That was perfect! I’m going to share it in my youth Sunday school class. Thank you.

78 Thaqif February 18, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I totally agree with this article. I can’t stress on how important chastity is. Some said remaining chaste will just lead you to getting friendzoned. Well, if u do, chances are, you’re not the right guy or she’s not the right woman. Some also said how sex is important to tighten relationship between men and women before marriage. That’s bullshit. Sorry to say this but just look at our country with high rates of abortion and single moms. Is that respect? Everyone is entitles to their own opinion and this is mine. Treat a girl like how you want your future wife to be.

Cheers :)

79 will February 18, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Im so glad I stumbled upon this site. It makes me appreciate the things that come with being a man, although I am only 17, the things i have read on this website thus far have quickly influenced how I wish to lead my life, and right here is another prime example.

80 Ryan February 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I find the message of this particular article to be a little vacant. Is the take-home a not so thinly veiled conservative thrust at abstinence as a manly virtue?

Are we supposed to intuitively avoid having sex with consenting partners because, just maybe, our future offspring might want to have sex with each other instead?

It’s a lovely story. And it’s good that Sid treated the young woman with respect. But the fact that they refrained from having sex with one another is irrelevant (propositional fallacy).

It is folly to conflate “gallantry” and “abstinence.” Young men (and women, let’s not forget they have agency beyond being the object of “gallantry”) are capable of treating their significant others with respect while also being sexually active. If the post is suggesting (as many commenters certainly have interpreted) that respect and abstinence are mutually exclusive, I might point out that being a good man, fostering good relationships and being mindful of the consequences of our actions need not exclude us from sexual activity.

81 Yvonne February 20, 2014 at 2:46 am

A beautiful article. True love waits, and over time, is enriched by experiences of the man and the woman growing closer as people – not by starting off with sexual intimacy. A relationship should have a stable foundation first, before marriage and sexual intimacy. How can a man and a woman truly feel comfortable with sexual intimacy when they haven’t known each other for very long? Neither of the two will know what the person is really like (as a person). Many confuse love (long-term & committed) and lust (temporary, person changes partners).
In order to think critically about the relationship and not let one’s feelings get in the way or cloud their perspective, abstinence should absolutely be encouraged (no matter how “old fashioned” it is, who says that’s a bad thing anyway?).
Notice – the more the west does away with morality, in particular, sexual abstinence – the worse our society gets, and the faster the west declines? Just look at the difference between 1950′s and our current society. Heck, it’s not even safe for children to play outside, and many people have a cold, uncaring attitude toward humanity in general.
More sexual promiscuity =
- more STDs
- when women who take birth control pills urinate, those chemicals go into our drinking water…ewww
- more “unwanted” children and/or abortions (which cause cancer, is psychologically damaging)
- less father figures/more single-mother-led households = more criminals (80-90% of criminals were raised by single moms). Also, if a child is not raised with their father present in their life – it has been shown to result in lower grades and more emotional problems (acting out, disrespectful behaviour, etc.)…not to mention that it’s unhealthy esp. for a boy to not have his father as a role model.
- allows for an opportunity for a false rape claim (which is an epidemic now sadly)
- and, last but not least, for those who care, pre-marital sex is against the Bible, thus it does not bode well with morality.

Overall, abstinence can only avoid negative outcomes for ourselves and for our society in general. It’s not worth all the negative possibilities just for a temporary emotion.

82 Chase February 20, 2014 at 2:01 pm

After reading this article and reading most of the comments I seem to see this pattern.

Comments by MEN vary from, ‘This is great, respect your girlfriend and control yourself’ to ‘This is a load of hooey, you will never land a girl this way’.

Comments by WOMEN all say, “Yes, treat me right, commit to me before asking for intimacy, respect my body and my feelings. Don’t leave me high and dry.’

Did anybody else catch that? Because what men really need to take away form this point is not how they feel about this topic, but what do their girlfriends feel about this? This is the basic foundation of respect. It would seem that women value chastity higher, than many men think they do.

83 Tim B. February 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I made a comment earlier (41), I really like that women read these articles on Art of Manliness. It seems that more than just us guys are interested in the lost art. Keep up the great articles, thanks!

84 Laura D February 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Okay. So I’ve noticed that some commenters have brought up that women are largely in favor of the chastity angle of this article, so I’m going to give another view. I am a woman. I have no problem with men or women who decide to wait until after marriage to have sex. If you value chastity and choose to pursue a relationship with someone who shares that value, that’s great! That being said, choosing to remain chaste until marriage does not, in and of itself, amount to you being respectful to your girlfriend.

I am not chaste. I have no wish to be so and would not be interested in being in a long-term relationship with a man who was. That relationship would not work for me and if a man told me that he was “respecting” me by not sleeping with me then I would know that the relationship wasn’t going to work. You see, when I take ownership of my sexuality as an informed, consenting adult that means that I get to make the call about what I choose to do with my body with other informed, consenting adults.

Respect me by treating me as as your equal. Respect me by talking to me about my values and then take me at my word. Accept that I am a person who has thoughts and ideas about how I want to live my own life and that I am capable of having an adult conversation about potential risks and consequences of my decisions. Have the conversation with me. Do not take me out of the process. That behavior isn’t respectful, it’s patronizing.

85 Aaron Dutil February 22, 2014 at 12:54 pm

That is a sweet story and I enjoyed it, however, I’m not so sure that returning to the sexual mores of the 1940s would be the best direction for our society in general. If two people make a decision to be chaste in their relationship, that is up to them but should not be extrapolated to include everyone in our society. It seemed to me that Shirley and Sid made the decision based on Shirley’s mother desires…not as a deliberate, informed decision to be platonic friends.

86 Rhubarb February 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I completely second Elizabeth’s comments. What a sweet, pun intended-minus vomiting, story.

87 Lily February 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I don’t think you have to believe in chastity to find value in the story. The most important thing is to be respectful and honest imo. I only plan on having sex with a guy if I’m in a relationship with him, and I’ll probably let a guy know this early on. That way, if they would rather not wait they can move on, and if they don’t mind waiting then they can make the decision that works for them. I guess, I just want to respect my beliefs while respecting the other person as well.

88 Rich February 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Some of the commenters state that a man can have sex and still break up with grace and thus treat the woman right. Yes, that is possible. However, more often men are having sex with a woman they know they have no long term interest in, or that they do not know enough about to form such an opinion. As such, they are taking advantage of the worman and cannot possibly do right by her after that, no matter how nice they are when breaking up.

89 Tim February 25, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Concerning all the comments that sing the praise of chastity, especially the people referring to female commenters apparently united stance in favor of it: I call bullsh*t! Any man who has been around enough women knows that most of them just do not realise what they want from a man and a large proportion just outright lie. This doesn’t make them morally inferior to men (men are more honest in this aspect for a variety of reasons, but have other imperfections), but it is a reason to ignore most advice from women when it comes to dating, unless you’re talking to one of those rare specimens who are aware of and honest about the fact that women are hornier than men. The average female friend of mine claims not to be able to go without sex for more than two days. The average male friend can go without for weeks. In 99% of cases, if you don’t sleep with a woman soon, she will never ever ever become your gilfriend/wife. Respect women, yes! Keep your commitments, definately. But realise that respecting a woman also means respecting the fact that she loves to f*ck, and if you don’t fulfill that desire, she will find someone man enough to do so. So to me the true moral of the story is: honor your commitments and respect women, but don’t believe that chastity nonsense some comments try to tack onto this lovely story!

90 Matt March 4, 2014 at 9:13 am

@ Henry: Agreed. This is a beautiful story. But the problem with it is that it takes place with people from the 1940s, a completely different social climate in which relations between the sexes had a dynamic entirely alien to that in which young men grow up in today. It’s lessons are useful…but cannot be applied directly because of this, in most cases.

While I do consider myself a modern man and do not see women as any less than an equal, I do admit from time to time I pine for the relative simplicity of my grandparents’ social dynamic. Equality takes work and we’re still closer to the beginning than the end of that job which means we’re in semi uncharted waters.

91 Jerry March 11, 2014 at 11:53 am

I will be very short with my story. My dad was with the 1st Marines on the “canal” and went to Australia on “R & R” as it called today. He met a young lady there and kept in contact after the war with her.
I received the letters, bound by a ribbon from my mom after she and dad divorced when I was thirteen. Mom never felt threatened by the woman in Australia as the tone of all the letters were friendly. It seems that many of the Marines were treated kindly by the “locals”. In case someone else reads this great article and is interested, my dad was Ray Stumpf of Glenn Burnie, MD. He died in 2003.

I will be back to read more of these posts! My blog targets husbands who want to be more romantic and learn to understand their wife better.

It is a site under construction and I would appreciate any help you can give.

Jerry @

92 Parker March 14, 2014 at 2:58 pm

I can’t believe how many guys on here left comments like, “now don’t you think that’s a little outdated…” or “Western society attaches a lot of shame to sex”. What a crock of s***. No one wants to do what’s right these days because it’s too hard and would require them to change their entire lifestyle. How can you even begin to think that you can respect a woman without reserving sex for marriage? And to say that women don’t know what they want and they all want to be f*cked?! What world do you live in? It’s so saddening to see the deterioration of our society. If men don’t step up and lead, it’s only going to get worse. And clearly almost every guy on here thinks it’s ok to just sleep with any and every person that comes your way.

I digress. Beautiful story.

93 Steve Youngblood April 6, 2014 at 9:52 am

Apologies in advance — but I am stealing this for my classroom! Thank you.

94 Darrin miller April 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Nice story, but believe me when I tell you that at a young age, when I begin to date girls, it was usually the girl who would begin the sexual stages of the relationship. Hey, I’m only human and when a beautiful woman wants to take beyond friendship then please forgive me, because I am weeeeeeak… I more often than not, have regretted moving to the next level, when friends with a woman as this does cause many emotional problems when a break up occurs.

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