Wouldn’t it be lovely if your journey to meeting that someone special were straightforward, simple, and totally embarrassment-free? In a perfect world, I have to think that’s exactly the way it would be.
But unfortunately, Adam and Eve fell, and here we are in a decidedly un-perfect world—complete with dating experiences that can range from great, to fine, to not-fine, to very awkward.
And as Catholics, we’re privileged with some additional considerations that can end up layering on that awkwardness even more, at times. So here is another look at a set of awkward moments that dating Catholics might encounter, and how to handle them.
When You Discover Your Catholic Date is Barely Catholic
None of us are saints, and you probably aren’t entering into a dating experience with the expectation that your date will be about ready for canonization. Yet, there are definitely some benchmarks that are pretty reasonable to expect if the person claims to share your faith.
Maybe the two of you settle into a conversation, you with the assumption that this person at very least is going to Mass on Sunday and holds the same basic moral principles as you—and then they insinuate that they haven’t been inside a church in years, or maybe that they see no problem with the fact that their past dating relationships have involved cohabitation.
Something like this can feel kind of awkward is because you had the reasonable expectation that the two of you would be on the same page with matters of the faith—emphasis on the reasonable.
If they claimed to be Catholic from the get-go, don’t be afraid to dig into the topic a bit and ask where they’re at. Maybe they’re actually at a point in life where they’re hoping to dive back into a faith life—or they could have very little interest in it and merely wanted to use their nominal Catholicism as a common interest with you.
If you’re serious about only dating a serious Catholic, best to figure out upfront whether this person is down for your kind of relationship or not.
When Your Date Has Uncomfortable Ideas about Modesty
Modesty can be a tough issue, because questions about what is okay to wear and what is too much skin are anything but concrete, thanks to constantly changing societal norms.
So there’s no reason to assume that the two of you will have absolutely the same idea of how people should be dressed. But there can be some pretty obvious clashes that will make things uncomfortable.
For instance, if a Catholic guy meets his date and is shocked to see that she literally could be mistaken for a hooker. Probably, it won’t be anything this extreme, but if so it might actually be best to address the issue honestly and tell her you’re uncomfortable.
More likely, though, it will be something along the lines of rather too much cleavage showing. On a first date, a man’s best bet is probably to keep his mouth shut about it and strive for purity–i.e., look at her face. If things go well but it continues to be an obvious problem on later dates, it’s probably time to gently (and non-accusatorily) bring it up.
This issue is a lot less common the other way around, as women tend to be less visually stimulated, and men are typically a lot less prone to wearing clothing that excessively shows off their body. But it’s still more than possible that a Catholic woman feels uncomfortable over a guy wearing extremely tight pants, or perhaps taking off his shirt in a non-swimming context.
In a situation like that, it’s probably a safe idea to express that it makes you uncomfortable, as men don’t often take offense in matters like this.
When One Person Inadvertently Insults What the Other Loves
This can happen to anyone. Two people who don’t know each other that well are talking, things are going well, and one person declares, “I really hate (a specific thing). It’s the worst!” But the other person happens to love that specific thing.
In the secular dating world, an occurrence like this is just everyday awkwardness and might be handled through dishonesty (pretending you don’t actually love it), or taking offense. But as Catholics, we have a higher standard of honesty and charity to take into consideration.
If you’re the insulted party, don’t pretend. It’s tempting to just not say anything or even to lie and say you agree. But this won’t do at all if you want the possibility of a relationship with this person.
Maybe it’s even a very small matter – for example, you say you agree that Daylight Savings Time is the worst when in reality you’re one of its few fans in the entire country.
Even if you think it will be of no real consequence, honesty is always best. If things progress to a relationship, the matter is bound to pop up again eventually, and you don’t want to have to either a) continue the lie, or b) give the person reason to suspect your honesty in other areas.
And of course, if you’re the insulting party, and the other person admits that you’ve offended them, best to apologize and convey that you don’t hold their conflicting preference against them.
When Your Date Wants You to Prematurely Meet the Parents
A lot of Catholics come from good, close families. This might mean that, even as adults, their parents or family members are still a big part of their life.
So it could happen that, even though a dating relationship with someone is still very new, your date wants to introduce you to their family.
In a typical worldly context, you might think warning signs and caution tape and a booming voice telling you, “Get out now!” It might seem that this person is hearing wedding bells and getting way ahead of you in terms of seriousness. But that isn’t necessarily the case for Catholics.
Try to get a feel for how involved the person’s family is in their everyday life, if you want to understand whether this is a sign of seriousness in your date’s mind. And if you are concerned, ask.
Yes, it is even more awkward to put out there that the two of you might have a different idea of where your relationship is at. But it might save you from jumping to any decision to break things off when the person really just wants you to meet the fam because their fam is a lot of fun.
It’s definitely possible that your date is getting ahead of themselves. But it’s also quite possible that things can still continue on at a lovely pace with both of you on the same page, once you’ve straightened the matter out.