I’m a man in my 60’s who made it clear in my profile that I was lonely and would like to meet someone who would feel comfortable taking weekend excursions to places of interest with me. I found a woman who wrote in her profile that she likes to travel but not alone. I thought this may be whom I’m looking for! We dated a few times, but when I suggested planning a weekend trip to a resort city nearby in New Jersey, she was taken back that I would ask such a thing! Well, I feel a little old having a chaperone along with us, so I guess her concept of a traveling companion was not the same as mine! I see many women who post that they would like to travel and visit places so I’m a little confused when they say this but don’t understand how a man may interpret this as being a traveling companion and not just a traveling ‘buddy’! I already know the Church’s views here, but when you are in your 60’s, time grows short! Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks!
Dear Weekend Trips,
You bring up a question that a lot of people who are dating can relate to, of all different ages and different lengths of relationships. Travel is part of our modern culture, and for many who are able, it can be an exciting and fulfilling hobby.
So let’s start with what most women “hear” when they are asked to take a weekend trip. For a woman to travel alone with a man she has recently met takes a lot of trust. It is very likely that her first impression would be that you are expecting to share a hotel room and that sex is part of the vacation package. She does not know if it’s an expectation, or even worse could become a demand. I’m not suggesting that you would have either, it’s just that women have to consider the possibility of unwanted sexual advances, especially when they are far from home without another place to stay.
Now as we all know, traveling together is really not a big deal to the secular culture in general. But in this case, we are talking about members on a Catholic dating site. You mentioned that you are aware of the church’s teachings. There is an area on the profile to indicate your “level” or “adherence” to church teachings, so be sure to check out that information because it will give you a good indication of someone’s expectations of dating and sex. There are some beautiful and powerful reasons to consider remaining chaste throughout dating and courtship. The research from the psychological sciences clearly indicates that sexual behavior has not only physical but also emotional consequences. Delaying sex allows you to get to know someone on an emotionally intimate level first, which in the end is what sustains a long-term relationship. People engage in sex for different reasons, and they don’t always line up. If you are interested, I would suggest reading books that discuss John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Christopher West is an amazing author in this area. Even if it’s a teaching that you chose does not fit into your dating life, it may help you understand the view of people that do.
Back to what to do in terms of meeting someone that you may want to travel with. First, you need to make clear your expectations. If you are open to traveling and each of you having your own room, then I don’t see a lot of problems as long as each of you are comfortable, and there is an up-front agreement that sex is not part of the picture. If that doesn’t sound like the type of trip you’d like to take, then make that clear and be sure to talk about what it means for the relationship, if anything at all.
In closing, I would urge you to find a way to integrate your faith life into your dating life. There is always enough time to find the right person. Jumping into situations where the boundaries are unclear is a good way to short-circuit a relationship that could have turned into something more significant. Remember, God is not obligated to bless an area of your life where He is not invited. As in all faith decisions, it is personal one, and I’m sure that with prayer and time listening to God that you will find the right path for you.
Michele Fleming, M.A.