Before I met my fiancé, my last “relationship” wasn’t even really a relationship at all. We were two college students who would flirt, text, and sneak around at night to kiss and push the physical boundaries of the appropriate.
When he finally decided on not dating me officially, my bar for the next Catholic dating relationship was low. I had no idea what it meant to be in a good relationship. Or a relationship at all, even.
I turned, regrettably, to Tinder. My only criteria for a man to take me on a date was he had to be single and interested in me.
In my preteens teens and early twenties I was an enormous fan of romantic comedies. But by the time I graduated from college, I felt like I had enough evidence to know that those movies had dating relationships and marriage all wrong.
In a way, I was right. True love isn’t running through airports or last minute revelations or revealed signs through mysterious circumstances.
But it also isn’t settling for a partner so you have someone to grow old with while you mostly just do your own thing, which is what I had genuinely become to believe it was.
Despite being surrounded by strong couples in Catholic dating relationships, I remained convinced that they were the exception. I thought the rule was most relationships were just two people helping one another get by.
Thankfully, I was wrong. And just as thankfully, I got off Tinder ASAP.
There are many signs of a bad relationship. But there are also markers of a good, healthy, dating relationship. Thanks to prayer, open eyes, and an open heart, I finally recognize them.
Here are three signs of a healthy Catholic dating relationship.
1. You both have your eyes on heaven.
It’s one thing to say that you’re focused on the Catholic Church and that God is the center of your relationship. It’s an entirely different thing to live it.
Everything you come across as a couple—rejoicing in gratitude over the shared moments and overcoming life trials as a team—needs to be offered up to God.
That’s how you can remind yourself and your partner that you haven’t chosen each other. Instead, you’ve been chosen FOR one another with a purpose.
How do you know if the person you met via Catholic dating online is focused on the big picture? If you say the words, “Let’s pray about this” and it’s not taken seriously, that’s a problem.
2. You’re comfortable saying what you must.
There’s a fine line between walking on eggshells and laying down harsh truths. Good communication is somewhere in the middle.
You need to be able to have the tough discussions with your partner without feeling fear that it may risk the entire marriage discernment process. Bottom line: your relationship’s success shouldn’t be able to hinge on one single topic.
But you also need to steer clear of being too critical in your communication.
Find yourself communicating “honestly” as a way of pointing out things you don’t like about your partner? You may need to rethink if you like this person for who they are, or if you’re using them as clay to build your perfect relationship out of.
Sure, the hook-up culture is awful. But using someone to to create the Catholic dating romance of your dreams isn’t right, either.
3. Everything you do is better together.
Ok maybe not spa days or times you want to be alone. But in general, this should be a person you want to spend time with. I know some people will see this as a given. But it’s amazing how easy it is to reach a level of comfort in a relationship where you forget to realize you’re not enjoying things together anymore.
During the “honeymoon phase” as you get to know the other person, people tend to be more flexible. They’ll try new things or say yes or opportunities they normally might not. That’s a great way to get to know one another, but it’s not sustainable.
If one of you loves to go out and one of you loves to stay in, one of you will always be giving something up for the other. That’s not the best case scenario in life for anyone.
Growing up, I was always told “when you know, you know” about love. That hasn’t been my experience. I fell in love with my fiance in small reassurances that we were right for one another and our marriage discernment was right.
Over time, as we got to know one another and fell in love, we realized we bring out the best in one another. That’s one good relationship.