Like, ever.

Dear Anthony,

I recently asked a girl out who I met on Ave Maria Singles.  She seemed so nice, but not very Catholic.  I think she would be so awesome if she would just get more serious about her faith.  I met with her so I could evangelize her and she stormed out of the coffee shop.  I really want to marry a Catholic girl strong in her faith. What do you suggest?

So many single Catholic men and women feel it’s their duty to evangelize the people they are dating.Too many.  

You may have heard of Taylor Swift.  She sings a lot of songs about terrible relationships.  She has some wisdom in this department that men can learn from.  I have no doubt that if someone tried to evangelize her on a date, she would not only storm out, but you would be in her next song. But anyway…

The problem is not in the concept of evangelizing.  We are all called to evangelize.  The majority of effective evangelization is example, not confrontational.  Observing exemplary Christian living leads to trust.  Genuine friendship leads to trust.  Without trust, you can’t be effective in speaking to someone about your concerns.  

You should never, ever, ever evangelize by confrontation on a date.  That’s simply bad timing, to say the least.  I’m not surprised this woman stormed out. She was blindsided by your so-called evangelization because she was expecting something totally different.  She expected to be on a date, and you made her feel like she was on trial.  

You are implying she is not strong in her Catholic faith.  Another colossal mistake.  Just because a person seems to be behaving or speaking a way that you believe shows weakness in faith does not mean they are not strong in their faith.  Not at all!

So many good people who love Jesus Christ have strong, deep roots in their faith, but have attachments and influences from the world, culture, media, and people around them.  Don’t we all?  These have a way of causing confusion and blindness.  We can easily succomb to deceiving ourselves and falling for our own excuses. That leads to ignoring and turning a blind eye, and so on and so forth.  

Many people are too impatient for the real process of this primary method of authentic evangelization. Perhaps upon observing your Christianity, a person like this girl you met gets turned off.  It would have served you better to be a fantastic first date, with absolutely no hint of putting her under the microscope or taking it upon yourself to point out her spiritual weaknesses and flaws. The Holy Spirit works through non-threatening, non-confrontational happenings which can naturally work on the conscience and inspire change for the better.

Perhaps you didn’t really intend to see her again.  And that goes for people on the website whose profiles you find questionable. Contacting them to “evangelize” is wrong. Those who join Ave Maria Singles have an expectation of using the site to meet someone. Any attempts to evangelize will likely be unsuccessful. They saw that a message was waiting. They got their hopes up. When they open it, they find you telling them what they are doing wrong in their life. They are really mad.  And then the customer support team has to hear how terrible members can be and clean up your mess.  

I think it’s wonderful that you have such a heart for Christ that you want everyone to live Christ-centered lives, and desire to share Him with others.  But our hearts are to be governed by our minds. The mind determines important virtues such as prudence. It can actually be imprudent to do confrontational evangelization.

My advice is live by example and allow the Holy Spirit to do the primary work of conversion. The more you are living the life of perfection in the Christian life, the more attractive it will be to others.  

So it’s back to the drawing board with you and online dating.  Never, ever, ever meet with a woman without being sincerely interested in getting to know her.  

Nobody wants to be with someone who wants to change them.  If you persist in trying to confrontationally evangelize women, you will very likely hear her quoting Taylor Swift, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.”

Advertisements

boyfriends and other women

 

The following are actual questions from real women who have concerns about their boyfriends and other women.

My boyfriend works in an office with some really beautiful women.  I can’t imagine why he hasn’t fallen for one of them.  I don’t know how much longer I can stand it.  He knows I’m uncomfortable with it but I have never actually told him.  Should I just tell him to quit if we are going to have any chance at all?

The surest way to drive him away is to insist he quit his job, or show any insecurity because of his work.  Before jumping to conclusions, have you asked yourself some reasonable questions first? Why is he going out with you if these women he works with are so attractive?  Chances are he has already considered them, and concluded that none of them are right for him.  

You can’t keep your man from being around other women.  If your boyfriend working with other women is too much for you to handle, it’s okay for you to end your relationship.  But don’t make him feel like it’s because he did something wrong.  

The best approach is always to have self-confidence and self-respect. If he is going to grow in love with you, it will be because he loves you.  And I guarantee you will be more attractive to him by not displaying jealousy or any other behaviors rooted in fear of losing him to another woman. If he does break it off with you because he wants to be with another woman, that’s ultimately better for you, though painful now.  Don’t increase your chance of losing him with your fears, or by purposely driving him away.

Have confidence in yourself and inject positive energy in your relationship. Forget about other women.  If he starts smelling like perfume that you don’t wear, than have a talk with him.  Until then, build love in your relationship, not fear.

I’m happily dating a guy I met online.  I have taken down my profile, but he hasn’t.  I don’t like it that his profile still shows up for other members.  But I’m afraid if I bring it up, he’s going to be turned off and stop seeing me.  Do you have any suggestions how to handle this?

First thing’s first…don’t panic!  Many members forget to change their status.  There is no reason to believe he is playing the field just because his profile is still active.

Here are a couple questions for you.  How do you know his profile is still up?  My guess is someone else you know has informed you that he is still on the site.  But I have known people in similar situations who chose to stalk the person they are seeing, logging back onto their account just to spy.  If that is how you know, I discourage this strongly. Spying and stalking is not a good way to develop a healthy relationship or sincere love.

Secondly, how long have you been seeing this man?  I firmly believe that until a couple has mutually acknowledged they are exclusive, they are each free to see other people.  This includes keeping an active online profile, as well as meeting others in person. It should only take a couple of months to know if you are going to be exclusive.  

Assuming your relationship is exclusive, then you need to share your concern with him and see what he says.  But please…have a mature, adult conversation that has no accusational tone.  If you sound accusatory, he will get turned off, and rightly so. That will mean an otherwise good relationship that could have overcome a natural misunderstanding and concern is ended because of exaggerated suspicion and immature reaction.

Presented the right way, he will likely happily inactivate his profile based on your bringing it up.  If he acts guilty and awkward and won’t inactivate the profile, then you have good reason to consider ending the relationship.

I am in a serious relationship with a man I met six months ago. He is still checking out other women when we are out together.  I can’t tell you how much it bothers me. I put up with it initially, but find it ridiculous now. It makes me feel like he really doesn’t want to be with me and that I’m not special.  Should I just let it go or bring it up with him?

Um…yes, bring it up with him right away, and no, don’t let it go.  You’re right, it’s ridiculous and men should know better. Many say that men do it because they can’t help it, they’re “wired” that way, etc.  Maybe so.  But resisting that temptation is in the best interest of himself as well as you, and is common decency.  But also, a man who is checking out other women is keeping his options open.

My advice is to break up with him and move on.  You deserve better. A decent man will not do such a thing, even if he’s thinking of it or tempted not to resist it.  God willing, you will find a man who has no interest in looking at another woman in any way, let alone in such a objectifying way.

Is online dating like trying to play God?

Dear Anthony,

Friends of mine are telling me that using an online dating site is playing the role of God in finding a spouse; that I should let God lead me “supernaturally.” They say a dating website is like a bar where you are just looking at faces and choosing what you like. I’m not sure how to answer them. Could you help? Also, are sites like Match.com and eHarmony acceptable places for Catholics to pursue a spouse?

It seems that your friends have discounted the Internet as a tool that God can use for His purposes. I wonder if they feel that a person seeking more information about the Catholic Faith should not use the Internet for help. Are people and organizations wasting their time having websites that help people learn the faith? I’m sure your friends don’t think that at all. Once you accept that God can use the Internet for His purposes, then it makes sense that God can use a website to help connect two people and it lead to marriage.

God’s ways are a mystery, and the Holy Spirit moves where It wills. He can use any person, place or thing to help with the path to marriage, just as the path to sanctity. It is amazing the various places or ways couples have met. And there are more and more stories Catholics meeting on a website.

This is because these online dating sites are making it easy to come into contact with those who share your faith. In addition, people on these sites share the same goal of wanting to meet people like themselves. I can’t think of any offline places where this is possible.

I’m not sure what your friends mean by “supernatural” when it comes to meeting someone, but they likely don’t understand the scope of the supernatural. God created us as sacramental beings. That means we come to understand the mysteries of life and of God (the supernatural) through our senses (the external world). Therefore, there is nothing more supernatural (or God-like in action, if you will), nor Catholic and human, than to receive an inspiration of the Holy Spirit through a person, place or thing.

You are much more likely to meet your future spouse by getting out into the world going to work, or participating in some form of recreation, rather than sitting at home with your eyes closed in prayer or reading a book as you wait for the door to knock and your future spouse to be on the other side.

We must do our part to help God with His efforts to help us when it comes to meeting someone for marriage. We have to work on ourselves, and we have to get into environments where we can meet a quality person.

A bar is not the best environment to meet a good Catholic, not because of the style of approach your friends described (looking at faces and choosing to pursue) but because of the quality of individual that a bar tends to attract. If it is a specific bar that Catholics frequent, then maybe that is another thing. I speak at Theology on Tap. 75 Catholics in a bar is not a bad thing at all. But typically, I definitely discourage people from going to a bar if they trying to decide where to go to meet someone.

Again, online Catholic dating sites make sense because it ensures that you come into contact with Catholics who are single. You get the added bonus of learning a great deal about the person before you ever start to communicate with them, which can help to prevent wasting both of your time.

There are advantages and disadvantages to anything, and that includes using the Internet for the purposes of marriage. But I think you get my point. God provides so many gifts and blessings. Technology is one of them. How we use technology is another matter. The same technology used to provide pornography is used to provide a wholesome and powerful way to bring two good souls together in friendship, and perhaps love and marriage.

It is not playing God to use the Internet to meet someone any more than it is playing God to attend a church singles dance in hopes of finding a date. We are responsible to make efforts to help our own causes. God is then able to work on our behalf. It is foolish and unproductive to assume all the onus is on God to make something happen. And it is wrong to discount anything that makes sense as to where or how you might meet a suitable partner for marriage.

God is not that controlling when it comes to our destiny. He does not impose the person of our vocation on us. We have to be watchful for where this person might be and able to recognize this person when they come along. God is certainly involved with bringing people into our lives. But we MUST do our part. In these times when it is so very difficult to meet practicing Catholics in our every day life, heroic actions like using the Internet and being open to a long distance relationship may be what is required.

That’s also why it is not wrong to join a secular website like Match.com or eHarmony. Though I don’t personally care for those services for many reasons, I would never deny that God can work through these sites for Catholics (and I know He has).

My advice is to thank your friends for their advice and then don’t act on any of it. Join one or more of the Catholic dating sites and be a pearl of great value. There are many devout Catholics out there who will make wonderful spouses and parents. And remember, you are seeking a suitable partner, not perfection.