Where can Catholics turn to find answers about healthy dating practices?
It’s not like we can open up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and discover how Catholics should date today. Scripture and quotes from the saints help, but often we’re looking for practical tips and answers to specific questions.
Catholics can sometimes be left with little concrete guidance on just what it should look like when we go about seeking a spouse.
If we then allow the secular culture to take over our ideas of what this should look like, even to a small extent, we’ll most likely be in for some moral and emotional pitfalls.
That’s why we loved a video that Jackie Francois Angel produced. She’s a Catholic speaker and worship leader who often speaks on such topics as chastity and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. She offers several points of wisdom for how Catholics should go about looking for their spouse in our modern society.
Reclaim the dating culture
Jackie says that we need to reclaim a culture of dating. She touches on the fact that we’re immersed in a hookup culture. We don’t really even know how to date without this element of prevalent hookups anymore.
She references a documentary called “The Dating Project” that features a college professor who assigns students a project in which they must ask someone else out on a date. The professor emphasizes that this is date, not a hookup, not a chance to hangout. While this documentary and its project are interesting in itself, Jackie’s point about the need to reclaim a culture of dating is very striking.
In decades past, a college professor assigning such a project to students would have made no sense, since people were already dating in such a way on a regular basis.
But today, the word “date” is used less and less. More often than not, relationships are full of ambiguity and immediate physical intimacy. This leaves many of us downright lost if we’re looking for someone who calls a date a date, and isn’t wanting to jump in bed after meeting for the first time.
So just how do we get the most out of dating as Catholics today?
Honesty can save you a lot of time
Have you ever been asked by a member of the opposite gender to hang out? Have you been tempted to ask someone you liked to just hang out with you?
Hanging out with someone you’re attracted to (instead of asking them out on a date) is problematic for Catholics dating. Asking someone to hang out leaves room for a huge amount of misinterpretation. It leaves the other person guessing about whether you’re romantically interested in them or not.
Asking someone to hang out instead of going on a date could be a waste of time for both of you in the long run. If the person you’re hanging out with has no interest in dating you, you’ve set yourself up for heartache, wasted effort, and potentially even some embarrassment.
Similarly, confusion and wasted time can occur with a lack of honesty or precise language even after going on an actual date. In the video, Jackie shares a couple of anecdotes about dating situations where the person who did not want to pursue a relationship after a date or two was honest.
It can be really uncomfortable to tell someone that you don’t want to go on any more dates with them. But you’re honoring them by being honest. A clean, honest break is so very much easier to get over than an uncertain or vague experience that involves some ghosting or ignoring.
Keep things casual initially
We often have a tendency to dive all in to a new relationship if we feel excited about the other person. Jackie points out that it’s a much better idea to work on keeping things casual initially.
If we dive into intimacy with someone we don’t know that well, whether it’s physical or emotional intimacy, we’ve created a bunch of high stakes for our relationship before we have a very good idea if the person is really right for us or not.
It’s much wiser to get to know someone casually first, before spilling our entire life story with all its pains and intricacies to them.
And in that same vein, we are much better off to practice chastity and avoid the physical intimacy of sex, during a dating relationship. This is true not only in a moral or spiritual sense, but in a practical sense as well.
Jackie relates the story of a couple she knew who were not practicing chastity. They dated for a year and a half, even though they were having a lot of issues from a few months in.
When you’re being physically intimate with someone, it’s much harder to break things off, even if it becomes obvious that the person isn’t right for you.
Life is short, so be bold
Jackie repeatedly says that we should be bold in our approach to dating. Life is short, and it’s much better to take a risk in asking someone on a date than to never know what could have been.
It can be scary to put ourselves out there and face the possibility of rejection. But taking that risk can yield great results in the long run.