When It’s Hard To Read Between the Lines

When It's Hard To Read Between the Lines

Dear Michele,
I have a question about online dating. It seems I often misread an online contact to potentially mean something more. In other words, it’s often hard for me to pick up whether a woman is interested without explicitly asking her, and to some, being explicit might be a turn-off. I am better once I meet someone face-to-face, where I have a better idea of social cues because I can read faces better than texts, but I live in a small town so online dating is the best way for me to meet women. I have a developmental disability that makes it hard for me to pick up on subtle cues, and so I often don’t seem to have the best of luck with women. How can I find someone who is not just Catholic, but CONSERVATIVE, willing-to-practice-NFP Catholics, who are understanding and accommodating toward someone like me?

Reading the Subtle Cues

Dear Subtle Cues,

I’m a big fan of authenticity and openness, especially when it comes to dating. I’m not sure why an online contact would be offended if you explicitly asked about her interest? If someone is on a Catholic dating site, and communicating with you, you can be pretty sure there is interest if her profile indicates she is looking for a romantic partner. Why would being explicit be a turn-off? I think most women want to know when a man is interested. Maybe it’s the way you are asking? Are you assuming she is not interested and asking in a way that pushes her away? My best advice is to assume a contact is interested, as long as she is communicating with you. That’s the point of this site! If she stops responding to your emails, then one email to ask about interest is appropriate, and then after that be ready to accept it’s just not a match on her end.

I’m also hearing you are struggling with a disability that may make it harder for you to know when a woman is interested. Dating is one of those areas where it is difficult to read subtle cues, for all of us, and so I imagine it’s even more frustrating if it’s the area where you are struggling. Again, the best approach is always to be as open as you are comfortable, which likely means explaining your disability and then elaborating on how it affects your ability to communicate.

How to find a conservative Catholic? You are in the right place. Simply state in your profile that you are conservative, and that you want to practice NFP when you find a marriage partner. I know lots of women that would love to meet a man who shares their same view on fertility and the nuptial meaning of the body. How to find someone who is accommodating toward someone like you? My hope is that followers of Christ, and those committed to the values of the Catholic church, would be kind and gentle in their approach to you. The only way to find out is to be yourself, be open about your challenges at an appropriate time (after the first few dates), and then try to remain in a state of acceptance about the outcome.

Dating can be a difficult path, but if it’s a path you feel you are called to, then our Lord and Maker is available to provide strength through the ups and downs. Remain close to the sacraments, to fill your life with peace beyond understanding. Consider asking for discernment or wisdom. And as you’re walking through this journey, consider working with a trusted mentor, married friend, clergy, or religious. I believe God wants to fulfill the desires of your heart, but it’s not always in our timing. Filling your life with commitment and intimacy in your relationship with Christ and the Church is a great way to prepare yourself for the partner He has for you.

God Bless you in your journey,

Michele Fleming, M.A.