You see an online dating profile that catches your eye. Their pictures draw you, this man or woman seems interesting. You want to get to know more about them. Maybe you could hit it off. Perhaps you like the same kinds of food or enjoy the same humor when it comes to movies.
Then you see they live over five hours away. Could you do the whole long distance relationship thing? You hesitate.
Maybe you can relate to this scenario when it comes to long distance dating? While a long distance relationship may not be your ideal first choice, don’t close yourself off to the idea of it just because it wasn’t necessarily what you were looking for.
Discernment is a principle of Christian living that affects us in every area of life. We need to know how to discern and sort through all kinds of things from career choices to online dating or serious relationships.
When specifically discussing a long distance relationship, there are a few basic discernment principles that can be helpful in navigating this in Catholic dating.
Begin with holy detachment
Ignatian discernment offers some of the best ideas for sound, prudent discernment. The first rule of Saint Ignatius can be summarized in the phrase of “holy detachment.” When deciding between various options, you want to be detached from the outcome in either direction, and fully tuned in to what God’s will is.
Sometimes when we get emotionally attached to an outcome, it can cloud our vision or desires. Having holy detachment allows us to get out the way more and allow the Holy Spirit to move, act, and reveal a path in time.
Then make a pros and cons list
Maybe making this kind of list sounds a bit over simplistic, but I’ve found making lists like this helpful in my own discernment. Seeing the good and not-so-good things about a potential decision (like a long distance relationship) can help me flush out my own desires, emotions, and feelings about making a decision.
Consider writing your lists while in Eucharistic Adoration, or bring previously written ones with you to pray over while you sit with Jesus. Taking specific situations (like making big decisions) directly to Jesus never hurts and I always have felt more peace and guidance when I do so in my own life.
Make this discernment a conversation
If you’re already dating someone and discerning how to further navigate a long distance relationship, have open and honest conversations on all the factors that play into the situation. Share with each other how you see the situation, and what you individually bring to it.
What are the factors or concerns you see with next steps in a long distance relationship? Does your partner have concerns? Where do you see your relationship headed in the future? Will one of you eventually have to move?
Talking through all the different pieces will help clarify intentions and hopefully give you a sense of the next steps to take.
Ask the Holy Spirit for ardent clarity
This is a prayer I have relied on often in my own life when it comes to personal discernment. Praying and asking the Holy Spirit for ardent clarity is a powerful prayer that has never failed me yet. It is a prayer God will answer because it is good for me. God wants you and I to know his will for our lives and unique situations.
The Holy Spirit will always show up to reveal, inspire, make things clear, and bring the peace of God.
Be open to the possibility of meeting and connecting with someone who may not live in your hometown, state, or even country! Wherever that message or relationship takes you, have principles in place to help you make decisions in wholeness and peace.