Yes, You Can Date Someone Who Comes from a Different Background than Yours

I grew up in a fairly unique corner of the world as a dairy farm kid. I had no real interest in continuing to live and work in that industry as an adult. However, most of my friends were strongly set on growing up and staying in the industry.

When it came to dating, I saw most of my friends looking for potential mates that shared their background. On the surface, this makes a lot of sense. A guy raising beef cattle for slaughter may not be interested in dating a vegetarian animal rights activist, after all.

Most people probably don’t have quite as specific “background requirements” as the people I grew up with did. However, a lot of us have hopes of meeting someone who likes certain things that we like. We at least hope that they’ll dislike some of the things we particularly dislike!

But if we focus too hard on finding these points of common background or interest, we might actually be hurting our chances for happiness in the long run.

There’s no recipe for chemistry

no recipe for chemistry

There was a guy I knew in my late teens who grew up in the same circle of farm kids as I did. We came from very similar families, and we became friends.

On paper, he and I should have dated – maybe even gotten married. In fact, several of our mutual friends were plotting for it. For all I knew, they may have even been taking bets on our potential relationship. But it never happened.

I knew he was a Christian. At least superficially, he shared lot of my values. He was the type of person you would probably think of as a good guy. But I knew that my very strong Catholic beliefs would eventually clash with him. It just wasn’t going to be as good a fit as I wanted – despite how we might have looked together on paper.

Instead, I ended up dating (and happily marrying!) a guy who had no background of rural life whatsoever.  My friends never saw this coming, and some of them were disappointed. I’m certainly not!

You might be missing out

might be missing out

Granted, I might be biased because my husband is amazing. He was able able to pick up pretty quickly on how my world worked. In the beginning, he knew little about things that meant the most to me. Now, he is well-versed in them.

But when someone loves you and takes even a small amount of selfless interest in your life, this type of interaction and relationship is more than possible.

For instance, I have a Catholic friend who is a bull semen saleswoman (yup, that’s a real thing). She purposefully married a man who, though he wasn’t Catholic, had enough of a farm background to understand her world.

A couple years in to their marriage, though, he stopped taking any kind of interest in her life. There were obviously other factors at play, and she’s now in the middle of the annulment process. However, her desire for someone from the same background may have narrowed her outlook from the beginning. 

This man had a lot of issues to start with from the beginning of her relationship. But my friends standards for what she wanted in a husband were wrapped up in questions of whether their professional lives and past upbringings were similar, instead of what their moral character was like.

Faith and values are the strongest starting point

Faith and values are the strongest starting

Is there ever an absolutely sure-fire way to make sure the person you marry can love you selflessly and sacrificially, in the way you deserve? No. 

Is there a way to guarantee you’ll have a happy marriage? Of course not.

However, our best chances are to date and look for a spouse among people who are at least committed Christians with strong moral values that are compatible with the Catholic faith.

When things get hard in marriage (and no matter what, they will get hard at some point), having a lot of interests or aspects of your professional life in common with your spouse will not save your marriage. What will save it is a willingness to sacrifice for the good of one another.

The best way to find someone who is able and willing to do this is to look for someone with a strong faith life. Can things get awkward if you choose to date a strong Catholic who is totally clueless about some of the things you deal with in your day to day life? It’s possible.

However, it’s also possible that he or she will show you quickly how much they care about you. They can dive in and taking a keen interest, just like my husband did when I brought him home to meet the family. My dad put him to work cleaning cow manure. My husband continues to take interest in my life now when I tell him the ins and outs of how stuck I am on the plot of the screenplay I’m writing.

Interests and life-circumstances can (and will!) change. While a similar background often seems like the best basis or criteria for finding a potential spouse, Catholic singles should instead focus on finding someone who knows what it means to love sacrificially and who wants to help you get to Heaven.