The time spent waiting to meet “the one” can be difficult, lonely, and slow moving. Yet, it doesn’t have to be. You have a choice. You can choose to sit around and wait for love to come to you or you can actively seek it. You can complain that there is no one out there for you or you can start participating in events in which someone who shares similar interests to you might be involved in. You can choose to wallow in your suffering and self pity or choose to find joy in the stage of life you are now in.
Does this sound a bit harsh?
It’s not meant to be, but the reality is that no one has ever met their future spouse while taking part in a Netflix marathon on the couch of their apartment. It’s also true that those who complain frequently or walk around moping don’t appear very attractive to anyone, least of all a future spouse. The point is not to make you feel bad about yourself, but to motivate you to get out and do something!
Some excellent advice on dating from a talk by Jason Evert.
1. Get into a good relationship with Jesus. No matter what stage of life you are in, your most important relationship must be with Jesus. You can’t have a healthy, strong relationship with anyone without this one being first in your life. Why? Because God is love (1 John 4:8). To understand how to love, you must know God’s love. Strive to develop a strong prayer life, frequent the Sacraments, go to Mass and Adoration as often as you can.
2. Make sure you’re healthy – mind, body, and soul. Ever been on an airplane? They always show that little video reminding you to fix your own air mask before assisting others. You’ve got to get yourself healthy before you can really be a partner in a marriage. What does this mean? If you’ve had past relationships that ended badly, any type of sexual sin in your life, or haven’t had good models of marriage, you should seek healing from those hurts. Maybe, you’ve just never had a very good self image. I strongly encourage you to get counseling if needed. Talk with a priest or spiritual director. Go to Confession. Read and form yourself through saintly and ecclesial commentaries on marriage and the family. Get yourself to where you need to be. One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve watched people make in relationships is to think that their future spouse will someone how magically heal all the wounds of the past. That sets the stage for failure because the type of healing needed can only come from God and prayer.
3. Set some standards. There should be some things that are non-negotiables. Sharing a faith is one of those things. It’s surprising how many people don’t think this is important. If you want God to be the center of your marriage, then you must find a lifelong partner who agrees. Desiring to maintain purity is another important standard. Be prepared to be able to turn down perfectly wonderful humans that don’t measure up to what you need for a happy, holy marriage. Also, be prepare for others to reject you and give you a hard time for holding such a high values. It’s not an easy thing to do, but waiting and trusting on God is always better than taking things into our own hands and rushing. (See the story of Sarah and Hagar in Genesis for an example.) All that being said, there are certain things that you could maybe budge on a bit. If you’ve always wanted a blue eyed beauty, but a green eyed lady fits all your other standards, it is probably time to reconsider what is really important to having a good marriage.
4. Do something! If you want to meet people, you have to go where the people are. Hint: The only person in your apartment is you and your roommate. Get out! Even more so, if you want to meet people who share your interests and morals, you have to go to events that uphold those values. Do you think you have more of a chance meeting a good Catholic man on a Catholic retreat or in a bar? Go on retreats, mission trips, service projects, and join faith sharing groups. These types of things are wonderful because not only will you meet people, but you will be enriching your own life (see #1 and #2). You don’t have to stick to just faith-based activities. Do things you find fun. Join a bowling league, a book club, a wine-tasting class or a softball team. A side effect of all these fantastic and enjoyable activities will be JOY! Having interests makes you more interesting. Those who have a zeal for life attract others.
5. Enlist some friends. Ask your friends to help. If you really, really want to do this, don’t be shy. There is no shame in getting the word out and most people (well at least most women) love playing matchmaker. Tell your friends you are looking to start dating more and then be willing to go on blind dates or double dates. Your friends know you, your personality, your likes and interests. They also want to see the best for you. Who knows, they may have just been too shy to mention it in the past. Another benefit of this is that your friends can pray with you and for you.
6. Don’t be afraid of Catholic dating websites. If you’re a little hesitant, I encourage you to check out the success stories on CatholicSingles.com. We live in a digital age. So much of our communication is done over the internet; why not dating? There is no harm in trying. I personally know several couples who have found love by surfing the net. Remember, nothing is impossible for God.
7. Go on dates. The best way to get to know someone is to go on a date with them. I’m not advising go out with every single prospect or going out on more than a few dates with someone you have no interest in, but a few lighthearted dates might be just the thing you need to remain positive and hopeful. (Bonus: it’s fun to go on dates! Enjoy yourself!)
8. Pray Some More. Yes, we started with this one, but it’s so important that we begin and end with it. You need to be in constant prayer. Prayer for yourself. Prayer for those you date. Prayer for the one you may eventually marry. I recommend trying Novenas as a way to keep your prayers focused and intentional, but don’t pray specifically to get married. Instead, pray that you would be open to whatever it is that God wants for your life and that you would be able to find joy in His will. This way, you will keep your mind and heart open to all of His plans, whatever they may be. Approaching God with this prayer of openness to His desires for you will help to align your own desires with His.
Dating is no easy task. There is a lot of trial and error… as well as tons of awkward moments that most of us would rather forget (or was that just me?!). However, if God has put the desire on your heart to get married, it is worth every bit of discomfort, embarrassment, and rejection to pursue it. As you pray, constantly ask God to direct your path and work towards placing your complete trust in His plan for your life.
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