In the world of Catholic online dating, sometimes it can seem like that right person who is everything you’re looking for will never come along.
You have things you’re looking for on the level of simple attraction, and you’re also looking for qualities of virtue and faithfulness that can help make a Catholic dating relationship strong. But it might start to feel like the options are very slim. If you’re looking for someone who lives nearby, your potential mates are even fewer.
Before my husband and I got married, we dated long-distance for about three years while I was half-way across the country for college. A lot of people are surprised when we tell them this detail about our relationship. It seems like most people are dubious that a long-distance relationship can work at all, let alone lead to marriage.
This doubt probably stems from the well-known fact that long-distance relationships are very difficult. But difficult doesn’t always mean impossible, or not worthwhile.
If you’re considering widening your pool of potential future spouses by opening yourself up to the possibility of a long-distance relationship, here are four tips to get started.
Be honest with yourself and your potential mate
If your considering beginning a long-distance relationship for the first time, it’s important to be honest with yourself about how difficult it might be. You also need to be open about your worries with the other person.
Don’t enter into the relationship by trying to tell yourself that the distance isn’t a big deal. Don’t try to ignore the problems that distance presents, or to pretend that the whole thing will be a piece of cake.
Acknowledge the particular areas you are likely to struggle with the most. For example, if you feel particularly loved and cared for when you are hugged, kissed, or touched, long-distance could be trying for you.
Maybe you know that you struggle with communicating your plans to others on a daily basis. This could make things difficult for the other person in a long-distance relationship.
Begin by assessing what aspects of a long-distance relationship will be difficult for you. Take a close look at what faults or shortcomings in yourself might make things difficult for the other person. Then, have a discussion about these things with the other person. Be open, and talk about your experience (or total lack of experience) with long-distance relationships in the past.
If the two of you can have an open and honest discussion about the ways this might be difficult for you both, and you’re still able to feel that the potential positives outweigh the probable difficulties, then you’re in a great place to give long-distance a try.
Try to get creative
Dinner and a movie aren’t going to be your go-to date in a long-distance relationship–at least not in the typical sense.
If you’re ready to try a long-distance relationship with someone, start brainstorming for ways to have virtual dates so you can get to know each other better.
The best ways to do this won’t be the same for every couple. Some people might enjoy setting up video chat dates while they eat a meal in their separate locations. Others might like to watch a movie or show together online.
You can also try playing games. My husband and I played a lot of hangman in our long-distance days. Or, you could have one another on video chat at certain times while you do other activities, such as housework or cooking.
In long-distance Catholic dating, you can also make use of technology to pray together in various ways.
Thanks to the recent lock downs and social distancing, there are currently a ton of different ways to do this, from live-streamed Masses and streaming Eucharistic Adoration to praying the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet.
Plan for the future
As much as you plan for the early stages of long-distance dating to ensure that you can really get to the know the other person despite physical distance, you should also begin looking forward to what you’ll do if things go well.
In Catholic dating and discernment, the goal is really to find someone to live out the vocation of marriage with. This means that eventually you’ll need to be in the same physical place.
You don’t have to figure out all the concrete details from the get-go about whether you can move across the country, or the other person would love to move to your area. But you should definitely start to think about what will be possible and what won’t, especially if things begin to get more serious in your discernment.
One small, concrete way you can start to plan ahead is to begin saving up whatever money you would need for a trip to see the other person. Ideally, the two of you would be able to meet in the middle somewhere. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to try planning to go all the way to the other person at least once.
Catholic dating often requires a lot of sacrifice in any circumstances, and long-distance often adds to this need for sacrifice.
Begin praying for God’s will
Like all difficult things, success in long-distance dating can only be achieved through God’s help. So make sure you’re praying for his help from the very beginning.
In Catholic dating, we should be praying constantly for God’s guidance and for the ability to understand his will for us. This is even more true when we’re preparing to start a long-distance relationship.
There’s a good reason that many people think long-distance relationships aren’t successful, or even that they’re not realistic. Things that require a lot of hard work and sacrifice often don’t immediately seem worthwhile to many of us.
But if we’re willing to put in hard work and if we pray for God’s help to sustain us through the many necessary sacrifices, long-distance relationships can truly work out in the long run.
So before doing anything else, ask God to guide you and to give you the grace necessary if dating someone far away from you is his will.
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