I’ve written about Catholic dating for about five years now and also coach women one-on-one to get to ‘I Do.’ From day one, my approach was a little different because I’m a no-bones-about-it realist.
We Catholics love to cling to our ideals! We aren’t always interested in how things are, and prefer to focus on how things ought to be. It can mean that people never quite get their arms wrapped around the complexity of today’s dating scene and their individual challenges.
Here are the top five obstacles I see that hold people back from getting to ‘I Do.”
1. An Unclear Life Path: If you have not taken the time to gain clarity about your life path, tune in to your internal GPS. Is it marriage or is it not? Get certitude on this question. Avoid this important work and you will seem aimless and lack passion.
It is common for devout Catholics to jump off and on vocational bandwagons for years. Or, they take a backseat in their own life, refusing to take the steering wheel. This is a waste of time, and your lack of direction won’t be attractive to potential spouses. If you know where you are going, dates will feel safer pursuing a relationship with you.
2. Online Dating Avoidance: I can’t tell you how many people tell me that because of one failed relationship that began online, they oppose online dating. Or maybe they heard a bad story. Do we expect every relationship that begins in person to lead to marriage? Such expectations aren’t reasonable and somehow we know that.
So why do we apply another standard to online dating? The party has moved from where it was 30 years ago. You need to be online if you are serious about getting married. Sure, it’s not perfect, but nothing is. I sometimes remind my female clients that any promising connection with a new guy could be characterized as a “win” – they are on the right track and getting closer to ‘I Do.’
3. Big Goals, No Daily Management Skills: Big goals take effort to achieve and yet we Catholics often think that getting to ‘I Do’ shouldn’t take any action on our part. People tell me, “I thought all I had to do was pray for a spouse.” Definitely keep praying, but just like anything else in life, you are at least partially responsible for moving things along.
Do you hold yourself accountable for getting out there and meeting new people? How do you respond to potential spouses who are interested in you? Do you properly leverage new opportunities or sabotage them? Are you the best version of yourself? How do you maintain a positive attitude on a daily basis? Be conscientious about managing your life and marriage goal and you will get better results.
4. A Critical Mindset: Focusing on all of the things your ex did, or cataloging everything that is just plain broken in our society is a recipe for continued misery. When you fixate on negativity, your energy level and motivation to overcome challenges plummets.
So, change the music. Look for what’s right. What is within your control? How can you maximize your efforts? And if you can’t find the man or woman who you have built up in your head, are you actually seeking a fantasy? Is God trying to show Himself to you through that slightly imperfect person you just met? Yes, you want to have standards, but don’t get a chip on your shoulder. You aren’t perfect either.
5. Pleasant Sounding Excuses: One pleasant sounding line that can be a delay tactic is “I’m happy where I am at.” Yes, maybe you have expertly managed other areas of your life and achieved a lot. But, if you use this as an excuse to “sit on the sofa” and avoid pursing a call to marriage, you could have a problem on your hands.
If you want a relationship and don’t have one, you could be in an even better place in life. So, what makes you think that settling where you are is a good idea? How will you feel in 10 or 20 years if you are still not married? Will you be in a happy place? Chances are, you might have some regrets. Get to the bottom of self-limiting thought patterns or fears that hold you back so you can be happy all around.
God does provide for us and will give us amazing opportunities if we are open to them. But we do have free will and some of our destiny is in our own hands. The bottom line is that we have to walk in the direction of our prayer.