Neither charming nor perfect. In fact, princes are royalty and seldom mix with commoners so, unless you’re aspiring to be like Princess Kate Middleton and marry a prince, maybe it’s time to accept that ideals are just that, ideals, and that the same rule applies to love matters. It’s not a matter of resigning and choosing the lesser of two evils, or accepting whatever comes along without aspiring to anything better. But let me tell you: the perfect man doesn’t exist, therefore, stop waiting for him.
This article, although it’s for everyone, has been especially prepared for those women who have discerned that they’ve been called to marriage. So, having discovered this personal call from God, they are open to the possibility of establishing a relationship with a man, with marriage in mind. These women have taken their call very seriously, and are actively working to respond to their vocation.
Personally, I see some anxiety, an anxiety that pushes the limits of frustration, since, statistically, there are more women than men in the Church and, when it comes to committed lay Catholics, those who are involved in a ministry and practice their faith, things get even more disproportionate. This phenomenon causes various effects. On one hand, with there being so many girls, and being all of them committed disciples, they know their faith and do not resign to end up with just any person. They search for someone according to their expectations, a man who lives his faith as they do. On the other hand, their search is limited to the “intra Ecclesia,” which significantly reduces the number of candidates and, as I’ve heard many women say, the “good ones” already have a girlfriend. For men, the matter is more simple. Compared to women, there are fewer men who practice their faith, and there are even a smaller number of young men who have thoroughly discerned their vocation to marriage and are actively searching for a girlfriend. These men always have many eligible candidates.
It’s not a matter of objectifying relationships and seeing each other as things, but sometimes it seems as if we were reducing everything to a “I am single, I am looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend, and the number one requirement is that this person is someone who goes to church and lives his/ her faith just like me.” That’s just the starting point, because in addition we sometimes start making a list of the characteristics that the ideal boyfriend or girlfriend should have. This is when everything becomes more complex since “he shouldn’t only be a practicing Catholic, but should also love children, do the house chores, be thoughtful, romantic, a good dancer, a good cook, with a deep spiritual life, handsome, attentive…” and so on… a long list of requirements that I am sure not even Saint Joseph could meet.
Girls, I don’t want you to lower your standards in order to defend my single friends. Rather, if you are waiting for Prince Charming and for that reason you ignore everyone that doesn’t meet your expectations, I invite you to reconsider your situation and see the matter from a more spiritual perspective.
1. Relationships are built as a couple, that is, both parties contribute… not just him.
Just using the term “couple” explains everything. When we talk about a couple, we are speaking of two individuals who are “equal.” Equal in dignity, value, and importance. This is why it’s a little uncomfortable to me every time I see girls sending guys to the “friend zone,” as if they were in control of everything and the possibility of having a relationship depended only on the girl. If you are going to treat your suitors as aspirants who must pass a test, it’s somewhat unlikely that you can build a healthy relationship. On the contrary, it would be an uneven relationship where you have the control and decide the “yes” and “no.” Believe me, no one will be happy in a relationship like this.
2. Be willing to give as much as you expect to receive
If you say you need a thoughtful, romantic man who wears cologne, who serves you day and night and is always available for you, a man who is funny, kind with your girlfriends, and has interesting conversations with your parents and siblings, a man of deep spiritual life, intelligent, and always willing to help you, then you’re in trouble. If you happen to be blessed with such a man, the least he will expect from you is that you do more or less the same for him.
It’s not that you have to say: “Well, I am a bad person, so I won’t complain if the man who falls in love with me is a bad person too.” It’s a matter of looking at your own frailties, and accepting the fact that the man who loves you and whom you love in return will also have frailties of his own. He won’t always behave like the handsome and gallant actor from your favorite romantic comedy.
3. Focus on giving
Instead of having a long list of requirements for your ideal Prince Charming, you could do the opposite and focus on all that you have to offer, that which you are willing to give up or die to for love. I’ll tell you a secret: relationships are, most of the time, a constant exercise of giving oneself more than receiving. Therefore, get ready for that, so that if you fall in love you can be willing to make sacrifices, to lower expectations, and set expectations according to your partner’s frailties. You must be willing to accept and forgive his mistakes just as you expect to be accepted and forgiven. There’s much spirituality in a relationship, especially in this aspect. It’s not that your boyfriend is himself the means for purification and penitence which you have to bear, but living a relationship is about renouncing yourself and practicing dedication, unconditional love, and sincere forgiveness. Is there anything more Christian than loving like this?
4. Accept the possibility that he might be from a different circle/ environment.
I know, going out with someone who doesn’t believe nor have faith is a challenge in itself. Beyond personal compatibilities and your list of requirements, you have probably been advised against joining in an “unequal yoke” (2 Cor 6:14) or against the consequences of entering into a relationship with a pagan, as happened to Samson with the Philistine, Delilah. All that is true. However, it’s also true that ever since the Son of God became Man, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3: 28). Therefore, open yourself to the possibility to let God act in your life and the life of the man of your dreams, although apparently he might not have faith.
It might not be prudent to exclude someone only because he comes from a different social, political, economic, or ethnic group or circle. These things cannot be obstacles to sincere love, although you must be careful not to change who you are and what you believe in.
5. Leave ideal scenes to the movies
Don’t get frustrated if after a few months of relationship you haven’t yet seen a sunset while walking together on a white sand beach all dressed in white linen. Don’t think that everything’s lost if his letters and messages are not as romantic as those quotes and phrases you see daily on Instagram. Movies are fiction, and you live in the real world. Therefore, you must be willing to accept that your romantic moments can be something more simple, and that he might not have unlimited financial resources to take you to a tropical beach or an elegant restaurant. Maybe he’s only be able to buy you a bag of chips and a soda. However, let the moments you live as a couple be valuable for what you build together, rather than for the places you visit, what you eat, or the clothes you wear. Just because it lacks the Facebook or Instagram wow-factor doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful time spent together.
6. Real-life couples aren’t perfect
People wake up with messy hair and bad breath. At night, when they take their shoes off, most probably their feet won’t smell like roses. Food doesn’t always look as nice as to be photographed for Instagram, and arguments don’t always end in a slow-motion, romantic, twirling hug. Real and connected couples know about cutting back to make ends meet at the end of the month. They know about wearing the same clothes more than once during the week because they have no more. They know how it is to spend weeks (and even months) without a romantic dinner. They know what it is to have real and serious arguments, those that hurt, but are overcome with effort, trust, and perseverance, even when they don’t feel butterflies in their stomach.
This is not an invitation to give up and accept that relationships are tedious and not recommended, but an invitation to love the fact that reality is difficult, even more so for a Christian. But even in the midst of this, one is able to find happiness, peace, and true love from our partner and God. Therefore, don’t be discouraged if your love story doesn’t look like a romantic novel.
7. Eliminate your stereotypes and prejudice
Allow yourself to get to know people, not only those you have a romantic interest in, before forming an opinion about them. Don’t let prejudice and stereotypes be part of your language and feelings. It makes me laugh, and at the same time it makes feel sad whenever I hear things like: “all men are the same.” Are there really people who think that Hitler and Saint John Paul II are the same? Both were men, weren’t they?
Physical appearance has much to do with the false image we get from people. The way he dresses, his hairstyle, the way he walks, can give us a false idea of the person in front of us. The same applies if he’s a fan of a certain sports team, if he likes a certain type of music, or possesses any other characteristic that doesn’t match with what you think would be “compatible” with you. Get rid of prejudice and allow yourself to be surprised.
8. Waiting for Prince Charming is for princesses. You are a real woman.
Finally I would like to leave some points for reflection. First, just the idea of “waiting” for someone to appear is strange. Is as if you left everything up to fate. As if destiny had to bring someone special, unique, and chosen to your doorstep. That doesn’t happen. God has plans, purposes, but not destiny, since we are free and, even if God wanted us to follow a certain path, our decisions are the ones that build our path. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how much you wait, if you don’t search, if you don’t open yourself to the possibility of being surprised, you will hardly find anything.
Secondly, try to change your idea that men have to have merits. Without a doubt, a man, especially a Christian man, must take care of women, particularly that one who has won his heart. Obviously, all women expect their men to be faithful, loving, thoughtful, affectionate, and very respectful. However there must be reciprocity. You are not a princess, you are a real woman with frailties. So, instead of a super handsome man with good taste for gifts and an exceptional talent for dance, you should consider getting close to the man who loves your frailties.
To conclude, if you’ve been waiting for a while, and anxiety has affected your spirits; if you have lost all hope of finding the right man for you, offer up this phase of your life to the Lord. Don’t let this time of wait and search be a dead time, a halted stage in your life. Let this be a time to grow as a woman, a time to discover your call and prepare your heart for when the right person comes.
This post originally appeared here for Catholic-Link Spanish. It has been translated by Lorena Tabares.