You’ve heard about it in someone’s wedding reception toasts and in almost every rom-com ever created. You may have even heard about it in your real-life relationships. It’s the idea that two people in a good romantic relationship will bring out the best in each other.
But this concept can be a bit hard to wrap our heads around in an abstract way, particularly if you haven’t found a partner yet. In fact, if you try to translate this idea to your dating search, you could end up confused.
Should you try to date a person who actively and obviously tries to change you? Should you consider dating a person who isn’t really what you’re looking for, assuming that you’ll be able to make them the better person you want them to be?
Not exactly. Unfortunately, this quality isn’t something that translates easily into one’s dating life and the search for a spouse. Rather, it’s a quality you eventually discover about a person who is good for you.
When a Reddit user posted a question about this topic in the Catholic dating section of Reddit, several Reddit users weighed in with concrete examples of what this quality actually looks like in their own relationships. Here’s what we learned from the conversation:
Look for someone who inspires you to overcome your faults
When you’re in a relationship with someone, look for a partner who helps you strive to overcome vices in your daily life. For example. one Reddit user shared how their relationship inspired them to overcome an addiction. “I came to realize that I was not ready to ask her out, because of my secret addiction to porn. I felt unworthy,” they explained.
“When I used these feelings to wage a war on my addiction, and while I’m still putting up a fight, my goal of to beat this problem and then ask her out. The thought of making myself a better person has really worked.”
The possibility of being in a relationship with someone who was striving for goodness was a great inspiration to overcome a harmful habit. Although the example of overcoming a pornography addiction is one of the more extreme ways a person we love might inspire us to change, the same can be said for the smaller or more subtle faults in our lives.
I’ve seen this principle at work in my own life. I’ve struggled with gossip and speaking uncharitably about people ever since I was a kid. While I have by no means totally overcome this fault, my husband’s strong aversion to speaking poorly about others himself has had a fantastic impact on my ability to hold my own tongue about others.
Date someone who broadens the way you think
Sometimes the person you date can influence the way you think. Look for holy conversation in your relationship! “We discuss faith and real-world applications of Catholic social teaching and those discussions lead to growth,” one Reddit user shared.
Even for those of us who know Catholicism well, it can be difficult to apply it to the way we view the world and the way we look at things happening around us. Being in a relationship with someone who is willing to have deep discussion can be a huge spiritual and intellectual help.
We certainly don’t always have the benefit of discussion-centric Catholic moral theology classes. In fact, many of us don’t have access to a dedicated space to discuss real-world issues from the perspective of Catholicism. But if you’re dating someone who shares your Catholic viewpoint, those discussions can be an integral point of your relationship.
We’re navigating conversation topics like a pandemic, vaccines, riots, racism, censorship, conspiracy, and a crazy political climate. It can be a lifesaver for both our spiritual and mental health to have a partner who can help us look at the world through the lens of Catholicism.
A good relationship will inspire you to deepen your relationship with God
When you’re looking for an authentic relationship, seek out someone who brings you closer to Christ. “He’s more consistent about Mass than I am, and also we’ve done things like the liturgy of the hours together,” one Reddit user shared.
Others Reddit users mentioned this desire for spiritual growth, too. “The goal is not to force change or design change in the other person, but to grow together. That can happen spiritually, where the bond in the relationship brings both people closer to God,” one user explained.
In my own life, my husband inspired me to give more time to God each day when we were still dating. When he mentioned that he was trying to spend a half-hour in mental prayer every day, I decided to try to fit that in myself. Over the years, my life became busier. In fact, I considered cutting out the practice. But the knowledge that he was still doing it despite his busy schedule helped me persevere.
Beyond things like inspiring you to pray more through their example, the other level this happens on is when how fantastic the other person is actually causes you to praise God.
This isn’t necessarily something that will happen constantly throughout a relationship and over years of marriage together, but when you’re with someone who is truly a beautiful creation of God, many people find themselves thanking and praising God for making that person.
Rather than look for a person who wants to change you, try looking for a person you can’t help but thank God for!
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