This is the second part of a two-part series covering issues that Catholic singles will want to consider before getting serious about dating. In my previous post I tackled some pretty heavy topics including religion, prayer life, finances, and being open to life.
In this post you will find more items you should begin contemplating as you consider whether you are ready to start dating, and if so, whether the person you are considering dating is the right person for you.
Keep in mind that there are not one-size-fits-all answers when it comes to any of these questions. These topics will vary depending on your state in life and what the Lord wants for you.
Children—Past and Present, Not Just Future
Perhaps the person you are considering has a child from a previous relationship. Perhaps you have your own child that you would be bringing into a relationship.
- How old are the children?
- Who is the primary caregiver?
- Who has physical custody?
- Who has legal custody?
You will want to be prepared to answer these questions, as should anyone you would consider dating. Being upfront and honest will set the stage for open communication. Finding out that someone has children when things become more serious may make someone question the other’s integrity.
Not everyone will want to date someone who already has children. At the same time there are plenty of people who would love to have children and perhaps they are not able to do so themselves.
Personal Past and Whether or Not It Matters
As a corollary to the discussion about children is whether the person you are looking to date has been previously married. The Catholic Church does not allow for remarriage unless an annulment has been obtained.
If you have been previously married, or are considering dating a divorced Catholic you may want to read my prior blog post answering the question—Should Divorced Catholics Enter the Dating Scene?
Even assuming an annulment has been obtained, if there are children in the picture then it is likely that the relationship with the prior spouse will be ongoing into the future. This is just reality.
In many instances, previous spouses remain on good terms following divorce. On the other hand, there may be some lingering hostility. If so, consider how a prior marriage, even if annulled, will affect your future.
The Bill—of Health
Most people are very private when it comes to their health information, especially when it comes to mental health issues and addiction. When you meet someone new some physical health issues may be apparent, while others may remain hidden.
There may be ways to detect past problems by asking the following probing questions:
- Has the person been steadily employed? If so, for how long?
- Has the person completed their schooling? Were there gaps of time until graduation?
- If there are known physical or mental limitations, what kind of help has the person received? Is it ongoing?
The Lord heals in His own way and in His own time. You may have your own medical issues that you would like to keep private. Again, this topic is not meant to be judgmental about others but rather to make sure that the lines of communication are open and honest.
Taking Time to Understand Family Concerns
Getting to know someone can also mean getting to know someone’s family. I’m remembering a scene from “Good Morning Vietnam” when Robin Williams’ character was desperate to go on a date with his Vietnamese love interest. Well, he got to go on that date with her, but also with her whole extended family. There was a whole row of family members at the movie he took his date to and I don’t think he even got to sit next to her!
Of course that was a different time and culture, but the point is that even though people are seemingly more independent these days, who they grew up with and the values they were raised with will be with them for their lifetime, for good or for bad.
- Ask about relationships with their parents, their siblings, and their extended family.
- Do they spend time with their family?
- How much time?
- Do they come from a big family or a small family?
Maybe they won’t have a lot to offer, but maybe they will. This can be an easy way to learn about someone’s heritage and outlook on life.
Marriage—Get It Out There
Okay, this one may sound creepy to some. Talking about marriage before you have even gone on a date or actually started seriously dating someone may be a complete turnoff.
We also may disagree about the purpose of dating. I subscribe to the line of thought that dating should be a way to prepare oneself for deciding whether you are called to the vocation of marriage. If so, then each person you date should be viewed through the lens of whether you would want to marry that person. If not, then you may be wasting your time.
This may be a topic for another blog post, but I add it in here only because if you detect that the person you would like to date is not interested in marriage ever, this may be a reason to look elsewhere.
Of course, people do change their minds. Someone who says they never want to get married, or at least don’t want to get married right away, may actually just be waiting for the right person. Maybe even think “When Harry Met Sally.”
Most of All—Listen
Well, this gives you a lot to discuss before going on that first date! Many of these topics are deep items, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Asking questions can get the conversation going, so don’t be shy.
Even more important than asking questions will be listening to the answers you receive. Talking about these items at least before becoming serious in dating will set the stage for a healthy, open, and honest relationship.