It's not easy dating, let alone dating during a pandemic. It’s even trickier trying to find someone who shares your faith and values. Catholic Connect, we thank you for trying, but sometimes it feels impossible to find someone who we actually can connect with. This is a more practical blog so for a deeper look at Christian dating, check out Theology of the Body or Next Generation online.
You may have your dating POA sorted, but for those who don’t, maybe my own experiences and these 5 tips could help you navigate some of the different possibilities in a Catholic/Christian pandemic-dating-scene.
Yes, that does sound like a zombie apocalypse movie title, and it certainly feels as dire. The first thing I’ll say, is that a good prayer life is essential to remaining at peace while discerning relationships.
Tip #1: Bring Your Heart to Christ in Prayer Daily
If Christ isn’t the number one love of our lives, then we can’t hope to bring a potential spouse to Him either. Once we have our hearts and hopes grounded in Christ, we not only have all the love we will ever need, but we also have the confidence in knowing ourselves so that we can confidently meet others.
I struggled a lot with not feeling like Christ’s love was enough for me – I wanted the romance of Hollywood. I struggled to properly accept that God loves me better than romantically - He loves me unconditionally. It requires you to mentally square up to the truth that there is no love better, even if all the rom-coms are telling your heart something else. After accepting that God’s love is
truly all I ever need, I realised that love shouldn’t be used to ‘fill gaps,’ but it should help to make God’s love more visible in the world.
Now that we know ourselves a bit better, we can begin thinking about where on earth we should look for these people. I’m not saying you have to download Bumble or Catholic Connect – whichever battle arena you prefer, but in the words of Bishop Michael …
Tip #2: You Need to be Moving Forward to Discern
This might mean that you attend events, meet the friends of friends, download a dating app, or finally message the one person that you’ve already met and who you want to get to know.
“But Marion, I can’t attend events, or my friends don’t organise lots of big social events.”
Unfortunately, that has been a tricky thing. But luckily, the amount of online Catholic events is increasing, and if you’re hesitant about downloading a dating app – be brave and give it a go!
I am someone who started off thinking that it was a bit sad because I felt like I was using a ‘last resort’, but also, I was conflicted about the idea of God's will and His plans for my life. With how technology is developing and expanding our world, many genuine and lasting connections are made online and from a distance – see this as an opportunity to be present and witness to a wider world.
As for God’s will, that is for us to follow Christ and love others as God loves us (sounds like using a dating app can fit quite comfortably into that). There are many ways for this to be fulfilled, and that means that there isn’t one ‘soul mate’ who has your name stamped on their forehead that you have to search for.
Tip #3: Be Brave!
And ladies, in the 21st century if you like a guy, ask him out queen. If you scare him away, then you’ve burned away some chaff – in the scriptural sense.
Online dating can feel messy, disappointing, chaotic, and stressful, but it’s an awesome learning opportunity. Some apps allow you to ‘filter’ by religion among a whole lot of traits that a person displays on their profile. I found that especially helpful. But before you embark on this adventure, you need to prioritise what you would hope for in someone that you’d date.
Tip #4: Have Your ‘top three’ traits
You can use these to focus – or don’t (you can also just see how you go and learn about what works for you as you meet people).
I’ve had a few conversations with friends about whether they should start or continue conversations with people that they’ve ‘matched’ with on an app even though they aren’t Christian. I’d say for your first few conversations, allow yourself to just get to know some new people. Don’t put pressure on yourself to only talk to people who you feel certain you would date – sometimes we don’t know ourselves like we think. It's an awesome experience to get to know someone, even as a friend.
Also, some Catholic people are hiding in apps without ‘Catholic’ being listed in their bio – so go after the people that you want to, and you may be surprised. That being said, you don’t need to tolerate vulgar behaviour or rudeness – I give you permission to shamelessly ‘un-match’ or block strangers who treat you badly on dating apps. You don’t owe them anything.
Tip #5: Be Relaxed and Confident in Yourself and How You Feel About Someone
Even if the other person is clearly indicating they want to progress, make sure you reflect on what you feel and communicate that. Just because you’re signed up to a dating app, doesn’t mean you have to date people that you meet on there.
I only really started using the ‘Christian’ and ‘Catholic’ filters after I learned more about myself over months of conversations. Through meeting those new people, I came to really value a shared faith – which may be something important to you too, or not, and that’s ok. I started to communicate what I wanted more clearly. People appreciate when you don’t muck around on dating apps.
I wish you luck on your dating journeys, and just remember that there is no one ‘correct’ way to navigate dating today as a Christian. Some people meet someone within a week of using an app or going to events.
For others, like myself, it takes a few months of active conversations and dates using a dating app, another few months of having the app uninstalled, and then, only a few days after re-installing it a second time, you may meet someone (like I did). As I said before, its chaotic but it has its fun moments! That’s rom-coms for you.