Natural Family Planning

Dear Anthony,

I’m getting married soon and I wanted to find out exactly how NFP works, since that’s what the Church recommends.  I have saved myself for my husband and remained pure.  I want to enjoy sex without the worries of getting pregnant right away.  I want my husband to enjoy sex too, so NFP allows him to go all the way.  If we use the method where we monitor my cycle, we can’t enjoy sex anytime we are interested, and we will both be frustrated.  From what I’ve learned so far, using NFP also means we can make love when the mood strikes but have the frustration of having to halt or forgo it since we don’t want to conceive yet. Please advise me on the different methods and how they can be used without feeling limited, restricted or guilty.  Isn’t there a method that allows us to have sex whenever we want and not worry about conceiving?

First, let me say how wonderful it is that you have successfully maintained your virginity and how admirable it is that you saved yourself for your future husband.  In this day and age, there are so many forces at work to ensure no one enters marriage as a virgin, even if they sincerely intended to.  Those like yourself who were steadfast are truly heroes of purity.

In all my years of providing advice for singles and couples, I’ve never had anyone just come out with this concern so blatantly as you have here.  It’s refreshing and I appreciate it.  As you can imagine, so many Catholics have thought this very same thing but typically will beat around the bush around the core motive.  Plus, they don’t want to admit that this is their main concern, because it sounds too worldly or impure or shallow, etc.

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It’s important to first recognize that one aspect of your motive for your concerns is completely understandable and makes sense.  You are attracted to your spouse and want to have physical intimacy, but get frustrated by having to stop that natural and beautiful inspiration to consider if you might get pregnant.  You’d be surprised how many Catholic marriages have problems because of this particular frustration.  So there is nothing wrong with your concern, nor with your hope in finding a way to be intimate at will without worrying about pregnancy.

Now the bad news.  There is no way around having to deal with this concern. Like all actions, there is responsibility involved.  Anyone trying to take the responsibility out of sexual activity is deceiving themselves and playing with fire. Sexual intimacy is the most natural thing in the world, but so is having children. They really and truly are not separate things.

There is no sure fire way to have it both ways without going outside of the Church.  All the birth control methods available are contraception.  These birth control methods do not have a certainty at preventing pregnancy (many have learned that the hard way). They might have a high success rate, but not 100%. The pill has the added sinful result of actually chemically aborting a newly conceived child.

NFP (Natural Family Planning), though approved by the Church, is not meant to be a contraceptive method.  In other words, if a married couple is going to use NFP in order to share their love for each other in intercourse but prevent conception, it can be considered a form of contraception. There are many ways contraception is defined, but the most important part is “the deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to prevent pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse.”  To deliberately prevent pregnancy is what the Church teaches to be gravely sinful.

I think you can see where I am going with all this.  No one faults you for your desire to share your love for your spouse as physically and intimately as possible. But marriage is a call to responsibility. And at the top of the priority list is the responsibility to be a family.  The main purpose of the love you have for each other that brings you together in marriage is to bring forth new life.

I have told countless couples to postpone getting married if they are not ready to have children. The strong pull toward each other in love is to foster a mutual commitment for life in marriage.  And that intimacy desired is designed to bring forth new life.

This notion of needing time as couple to get to know each other is hogwash. That is merely two people making an excuse to be selfish.  There is no room for selfishness in the commitment to marriage.  When you marry, you agree to start a family.  And you are a family.  Your new responsibilities are for your spouse, and any children that God blesses you with.  Your life is one of sacrifice, not self-indulgence.

So why get married if you are not ready for the gift of children?  And they are a gift.  A precious gift – and a visible sign of your love for each other.  Children force the couple to get out of themselves and raise these new persons entrusted to them.  It’s a big responsibility.  So my advice is to not get married until you’re ready to have children.

And when you do marry, be completely open to life and start having your family. However, be responsible.  NFP can help you to conceive.  It can also help you to space children as necessary.  Work closely with a trusted priest or spiritual director to assist you with important decisions like how many children to have and when.  That is tricky as you go along in your marriage.

But at the time of getting married, there is no good reason to immediately prevent conception.  You don’t want to stunt God’s purpose in bringing you together.  And you will definitely get to know each other more as you go through having a baby.  It will bring you closer than ever.

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How can you become friends first with online dating?

Dear Anthony,

I heard your “Friendship First” radio show. I do believe friendship should come first in a relationship. However, it seems to me that with online dating, the relationship is already more than a friendship. Courtship seems to begin right away. It is not a natural way to meet people, let alone become friends. Do you have any tips about fostering friendship with online dating?

You bring up a very good point about friendship and the online dating experience. Let’s break this down, because you make several important points.

Unnatural Way To Have Friendship

First, let’s just confirm that online dating is unnatural. It certainly is. I believe what most people would mean by “unnatural” is that you are not physically present to the person. The in-person experience has not yet taken place as it typically would under “natural” conditions. In person, you are interacting with all the senses. You speak to each other, you look into the person’s eyes, you might shake hands by way of introduction, and you can even smell each other. The in-person experience provides the very important non-verbal communication, which makes up the majority of communication. There is the ability to read body language. Finally, there is chemistry; that aspect of attraction that is part of the mystery of love in God’s desire.

There are some very natural things about online dating that people miss because they are too concerned with what is unnatural about it. Online dating is not dating at all. Dating is the wrong term. Dating is an in-person reality. Period. No one is dating who is interacting online.  You are simply interacting with another person.

Online dating is really first and foremost a networking tool. It is a means to an end. It is a vehicle that is temporary and transitory in order to get you from one place to another. If you want to date each other, you have to be in person.

The use of the site as a tool to help oneself accomplish their goal is the natural part of online dating. It is natural to want to fulfill a desire. It is also natural to get into environments that offer a feasible chance of accomplishing that goal. For a Catholic person who wants to find their future spouse, it is natural to join a Catholic dating site where there are other persons like themselves. Not only is it natural to join an online dating site, it is smart. Taking advantage of every opportunity that God can use to help us accomplish our goal of meeting our future spouse is wise and proactive.

What is unnatural is when people only write to each other for prolonged periods and resist or procrastinate setting up meetings in person. The purpose of the dating site is to network and find those you want to meet in person, which is when you discover if they are someone with whom you can ultimately grow in friendship and love. Beware of those who never seem to be interested in talking about meeting in person.

Contrary to Friendship

Though it is true there is no replacing the in-person experience when it comes to developing friendship, friendship can be developed before you ever meet in person. Again, so much of what makes human interaction affective is the non-verbal communication exchanges. You must be in person to really know if things can go further and continue to move forward. But there is something very beautiful about writing letters to each other to develop a friendship that has been lost in the modern world.

Too many people are using the dating site messaging system ineffectively and counter-productively. They write inconsiderate messages that are short, choppy, and do not display they read the person’s profile. Basically, they write as if it is an email or a text message, instead of a letter. Letter writing is very powerful. As you exchange well-written, thoughtful letters, a friendship can develop. And that friendship is a spark that is incentive to talk on the phone and meet in person.

Even after moving to the phone and to meeting in person, continuing to write letters while you are apart is an age-old way to develop a deep friendship. Letters express the heart. The beginnings of a friendship that can lead to love can be realized through letter writing.

Bypasses Friendship

You have a concern that when people join a dating site, you have already jumped right over friendship and are starting into courtship. I can understand how you get this impression. When someone is on a dating site, they see a lengthy profile of information which reveals all kinds of things that would take you months to find out about under other circumstances. So it can seem as though you know as much as a friend would know right from the outset.

Some would argue this is a great thing. I am one of those people. The profile provides so much information that is helpful for avoiding wasting each other’s time. And I don’t mean eye or hair color either. I am referring to things about what a person believes and how they live that belief. For example, a person who states on their profile that they believe in the use of artificial contraception is typically a “deal breaker” for a Catholic who believes the Church’s teaching that the use of artificial contraception is wrong.

When would this topic come up under normal circumstances? I have spoken to countless single Catholics who tell me heart-wrenching stories of their dating a person seriously for 6 months only to find out that they are firm about using contraception in the marriage. The relationship ends after so much personal investment. Had this information been known up front, there would not have been a 6 months and all the pain that follows from such a break up.

The profile also provides a wealth of information about the person that can be used to foster interesting and engaging conversation, especially making an initial conversation. A woman who gets an initial note from a man who talks about things he noticed in her profile and asks questions about her is going to consider this man in a favorable way.

It’s true that a couple can get to courtship much faster because of online dating because of how much is known ahead of time. It still should never be too fast (1-3 months) before engaged or even married. But cutting out a lot of wasted time helps focus on what is most important and can help a couple who met online to get to the point of decision to marry faster than the normal way of meeting and dating. Never is friendship to be bypassed.

Using a profile wisely to develop friendship will make all the difference. I hope this helps you to consider these concerns of yours in a clearer way. Friendship is very possible to develop using an online dating site.

Yours in Christ,

Anthony

 

Am I Catholic enough to join AMS?

Dear Anthony,

While I am a practicing Catholic and I do love my faith I also believe the Church has a few issues that I do not agree with. They are nothing big but they do make me realize I do not agree with the church 100%. With what I have read about this site, it almost sounds as if my views would not be welcome. Should I not bother joining Ave Maria Singles?

First, let me thank you for the consideration that you have put into joining Ave Maria Singles. I applaud the fact that you are considering this factor before you join. It is important for people to feel comfortable about joining a service like ours.

I am not sure what the few issues are that you do not agree with regarding the Church’s teachings. It is safe to say that if you publicly voice your disagreement on these issues on your profile once you become a member, you will likely have much fewer possibilities among the membership. Not all our members believe all the Church teaches. Some believe but have a hard time understanding particular teachings. We do not like to police this site and remove people who do join but do not believe the Church’s teachings 100%. That’s why we chose to let the questionnaire share that kind of information.

That being said, the majority of our members do believe completely in the Church’s teachings. So if you join, you will have to accept that you will not come across too many who share your views. However, depending on what these issues are that you disagree with, it is possible that people will be understanding about your disagreement and still remain open to interacting with you, and maybe even developing a relationship. You very well might find some others who share your disagreement. My point is that you will be among a minority, and thus will have much fewer opportunities within the membership.

What I really would like to know is if you, in fact, “disagree” with the Church’s teachings, or is it that you just struggle with the few issues that concern you. There is a big difference between struggling while believing and total disagreement. Or is it that perhaps you do not properly know the Church’s teachings on these issues or were badly taught about them? Even those of us who believe 100% of what the Church teaches can struggle with understanding a teaching, or due to bad religious education, we have the wrong idea what a teaching is. A struggle to understand a teaching, or not properly knowing the teaching can affect the way we act in our lives. But it does not mean that we are not sincerely practicing the faith.

Take the issue of the use of artificial contraception, one of the biggest issues that separates Catholics today. Many people understand fully that the use of artificial contraception is never permitted to be used in marriage, and they also understand why, yet they choose to proceed. This would constitute a Catholic who is not practicing their Catholic faith. However, there are plenty of others who have been badly catechized and taught by Church authority figures that it is up to the couple to determine if contraception is used in their marriage. As they proceed in this belief that artificial contraception is acceptable, they run into problems with other Catholics who tell them it is never permitted. They sincerely think they are correct and therefore a sincere, practicing Catholic. I have personally shared the true teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue with hundreds of single Catholics who believed it was okay to use contraception, who later changed their position on it and began living the true teaching, even though they might still struggle with understanding.

We are required to believe all the Catholic Church teaches and to live those teachings. We are not required to understand it all, and it is okay to have a struggle with certain teachings. As Catholics, we do not have the luxury of saying “I don’t understand why the Church teaches that so I will just not do it,” or the like. As a Catholic, we have a duty to seek out the truth, and to pray for guidance and strength to know the truth and live the truth.

So what is a “practicing Catholic?”  One who submits to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church with loyalty and humility, who earnestly desires to know what the Catholic Church teaches, who makes the effort to learn and understand these teachings, to inform their consciences correctly under the guidance of the Catholic Church, and to live their Catholic Faith based on all they know and hold to be truth that has come to them through the teachings of the Catholic Church. So be a practicing Catholic is simply to be “Catholic.” The word “Catholic” should be the only word necessary to describe what kind of Catholic we are. To add other terms to it, though helpful these days in order to designate, should not be necessary. If you say “I am a Catholic,” it should imply that you are “practicing.” Unfortunately, that is not enough today. Too many say they are Catholic but do not want to live all the Church teaches.

I don’t want to discourage you from joining. I certainly don’t want to pass any judgment on you when you say you are a practicing Catholic. I believe completely that each person is on their own journey with the Holy Spirit on the path to Heaven. No one has the right to pass judgment about anyone else’s faith. We can judge an action as being wrong or sinful, or judge that a definition of a Church teaching is wrong or misguided, but never the person.

I hope you will consider what I have said. If you do join, you are welcome in our membership. And please, be completely honest in how you present yourself. But just accept that you will be among a minority if you take the position of disagreeing with Church teaching and will have far less opportunities of finding someone who shares your view. God willing, you will not be confronted judgmentally or uncharitably by any members. But if you do, please know they are only trying to be helpful, though the way they approach you is wrong. And you are free to report them to AMS because no is permitted to do this based on our Rules of Use.

Finally, I want to also encourage you to read about these issues in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and really pray about what you read and ask for help in accepting the teachings.

I hope this helps.

Yours in Christ,

Anthony

 

Why aren’t I getting replies?

Dear Anthony,

I know you get this comment all the time, but I find it so frustrating that I have e-mailed three men this year, with not one response. Not even a “not interested.” I know I need patience and I pray to God daily to guide me through this, but just wanted to check to see if something could be wrong with my e-mails.

Thank you for writing, and for sharing with me your frustration. It is true that you need a lot of patience and prayer when going through a process like online dating. But of course, part of the process is how we present ourselves and the actions we take. So let me see if I can offer you anything that might help.

Regarding the three contacts you have made since January, one of the early two is a man who is in a relationship, so he is likely ignoring any contacts. The one you contacted recently is a man younger than you. I know there is nothing wrong with a woman being older, nor your contacting men younger than yourself. That’s is perfectly fine. What I want you to understand is that, at least with online dating, men your age or younger are looking for a woman younger than themselves. That is not an “absolute”, but it is the norm. You just need to understand that if you attempt to find someone on the site who is your age or younger, you are going to have to be very understanding if it does not happen due to the reality of the norm.

The actual emails you are sending are good. They are short, friendly, and do not come across as forward or desperate. You say “Hello” and that you find something interesting about their profile. You also invite them to contact you. You tend to not specifically say what you are interested in, but rather say “we seem to have similar interests”. It’s always best to specify the things you find interesting or similar, and than you briefly share what it has to do with you. You could probably just stop there. A man worth his salt will already understand that you are interested in him communicating with you and will know what to do with this brief, friendly contact from a good woman like yourself. If he does not know what to do with it, then he is probably not worth knowing any further.

But let’s say he “thinks” he knows what to do with it but is not quite sure and does not feel you gave him enough of an open door to make him feel confident about pursuing you. The way to avoid this is to follow up your nice, brief comment with a question. Asking a question ensures that you communicate you wish be get a reply. So let’s say you tell him that you enjoyed reading about his growing up in a large family and that you also grew up in a large family. Instead of saying “I think we have a lot in common, feel free to contact me”, you could say something like “I was the middle child but never felt neglected by my parents. What number were you in the family, and did you ever feel neglected?” This will give him a clear indication that you want to hear back from him, and also you give him something very specific to enter into dialog with you about.

Finally, you are only contacting men in your area. I understand why you would only want to meet someone in your state, but it is a long, established fact that the greatest success with online dating comes from being open to meeting someone wherever they are, and that it is very common for it to be two people from at least another state. The right man will fly out to meet you, if you have concern about how a long distance relationship will work. I’m sure that if you configure your attitude to being more open to a long distance relationship, you will find that there are ways to make it work that you otherwise would definitely think could not work when closed to the idea.

My advice is to start contacting men who are older than you (think about 10 years older as a benchmark) whom you find interesting. Don’t worry about where they are. It will be good for you to just first experience contacting men who would be open to corresponding with you. That will help you get a better feel for what is possible and what is not possible.

Remember, this is a process you go through WITH God, and being open to the movements of God is very important. The less restriction you give God, the more opportunity and possibility for success God can provide for you. I know it can be frustrating, especially when you do not get a reply after you took the time to write to someone. But the good news is that it only takes one person for this experience to be a success. That one person will come in God’s time, and in conjunction with your good efforts. If you are doing everything you can, you have to give the rest to God and not be tempted to control God or the situation with the time-frame you expect things to happen in, or your attachment to what you want to happen when you write to a man. Just do what you have to do, and keep the peace of Christ that is His gift to you, no matter what happens.

I hope this helps.

Yours in Christ,

Anthony

 

Seeking a Traveling Man

Dear Anthony,

Are men intimidated by me because I travel so much? I am 50 years old with no kids and don’t intend on just sitting around for the rest of my life. Traveling is important to me, it is a hobby that I very much enjoy and I want to do it for as long as I can. I keep contacting men who say that they like to travel, but have never gone anywhere. Why would a man my age say they enjoy traveling but then not actually travel? What do you think I should do?

This is a very interesting problem you raise. The answer to your problem seems obvious, but I believe there is probably something more to this that we should touch on. What’s obvious is that you not only want to meet a man interested in traveling as you are, but one that has actually done quite a bit of traveling. It is important to you that the man you meet has travel experiences because that is a sign to you that he is cultured and enjoys life. A man who has done no traveling signifies to you that he is likely not interesting enough and perhaps someone who will not enjoy life at the level you like to enjoy life.

Life to you means traveling to see the world. A man who has done no traveling is someone who would hold you down and perhaps take the life out of you. In light of the obvious, by all means, do not waste your time with men who have done no or very little traveling. It is too important to you to continue traveling to different places in your life. If you are communicating with someone who is just saying he would like to travel but does not really plan to do it, nor wants to find someone who will enjoy traveling together as a couple, then kindly end the communication and move on.

There is nothing wrong with you wanting to find a man who loves to travel and has done traveling already, even at your age of 50. Are there men out there who love to travel as you do, and have actually done extensive travel as you have? Of course there are. You are just not meeting them. Why not is another question. Perhaps the type of man who has done traveling tends to not be interested in a woman like yourself. I don’t know. But I don’t really believe that. I think there is more to it.

And that brings me to what is not so obvious.

What is not so obvious are several possibilities:

1 – You might give the impression that you are an unsettled woman. Travel is not the issue at all for men. It’s the fact that you have done so much traveling and continue to want that as a priority that perhaps makes them second guess you as a potential spouse. They might be thinking you are the type that has to be constantly going. Despite their interest in finding a woman who likes to travel, they likely don’t want a woman who is obsessed with it, or uses traveling as a gauge to determine if the man is a future husband candidate.

2 – You might give the impression that you are an expensive proposition. Men might be thinking that you have expensive travel taste, and paying for two people to do traveling is much more challenging than paying for one person to travel.

3 – You might give the impression that you are high maintenance. Even men seeking to meet a woman whom he could do traveling with do not want to feel like they MUST do traveling in order that his wife will stay pleased with him and happy.

4 – Maybe many men are just cheap. They might like to talk about things they want to do, but they would never commit to paying for them. Maybe they don’t see the value of spending their money on travel compared to saving it. Life to them is not about spending money, but saving it and saying home. They like to dream rather than do. Spending money on travel would actually disturb them, and they could not enjoy themselves.

5 – Perhaps many men just don’t have the money. The difficult economic climate makes it hard to consider doing anything considered a luxury, such as travel. You feel travel is a necessity for living, and they believe it is a luxury.

The not-so-obvious things imply that perhaps there is something wrong with your attitude when it comes to interacting with men regarding your life. There is the life you have lived up to now, which may be very intimidating to men; and the life you want to live for the future, which might also intimidate them based on your strong sense of how important travel is. We always have to be careful how we present the things that are important to us with others. I know there are very good men out there who have not done the extensive travel you have but would make excellent husbands for someone like you. But ONLY if you have the ability of toning down how important travel is to you. If you can’t do that, then so be it. Your only hope is to find a man that identically shares your enthusiasm for travel and determination to do it for the rest of his life.

However, I think you are going to find it difficult to find a man who wants to travel that much for the future and shares the level of enthusiasm you have. But you do sound like a woman who is exciting to be with, so I hope men will not be easily intimidated by you and see in you a spirit for living that is essential, and which they will consider is a great benefit to helping them stay young themselves. If you have as much love to give to a man as you have for travel, that is one fortunate man whom you say “yes” to for your hand in marriage.

Travel is an absolutely wonderful thing to share together as a couple. It has so many positives towards enhancing you at the individual level, and fostering love at the couple level. I strongly recommend you find a way to round off how you present your love of travel to men by sharing more about what it does to you as a person and how much you long to share it with another. If you only speak narrowly about traveling, it can tend to seem self-indulging. But I think you can be more attractive to a man about travel if you can make the connection between travel and its value to living life and sharing love.

By all means, do not discount a man who has not traveled. They might only be waiting for the right reason to do it. Help them to realize that you are that reason. And that goes for anything that is important to us. The right person will find in you the reason to share what is important to you.

The frustration of getting no reply.

Dear Anthony,

Why can’t people show common Christian courtesy and send a reply to a message? I know you have spoken about this in the past, but it’s just too frustrating and I am wondering what the point is anymore of using the site if this is just going to keep happening. What am I missing?

The question of why people do not get a reply to a message sent is still one of the most common questions I deal with. Not a week goes by without getting an email from a frustrated member dealing with this issue. It’s been a problem with online dating from the beginning, and it shows no signs of going away. As you might imagine, I am also personally frustrated because I can’t provide people with an adequate answer that makes the problem go away for them, nor have I been able to do anything about it in order to make the problem go away.

Therefore, it is probably best for us all to start accepting the fact that it’s here to stay. There is always going to be the problem of people who do not reply to a message sent. I think this is a first step to making this problem really go away. Since it is a fact and a reality that not every message sent out to another person is going to be followed up with a reply, the real problem is in expecting a reply.

When you expect to get a reply to a message you send out, you set yourself up for disappointment should you not get a reply. That sounds obvious, but based on the thousands of people over the years who have addressed to me their frustrations about this happening, it must not be so obvious.

Expectations in general are a dangerous thing. When we “expect”, we judge. To expect anything at all from anyone means you have prejudged the person or the situation. Take the issue of not getting a reply. You write a message and you send it. You expect a reply to that message. You can also say that you have prejudged that if you send a message to another person, not getting a reply would render the action of writing in the first place to have been a pointless exercise, and cause you any number of negative reactions for having wasted your time. You can also say that you have prejudged the person to be good or bad (or Christian) based on whether or not they reply.

I am not saying we should not have expectations. We all do. But we do have to be careful about actually “what” we expect, and “with whom” we expect. If you are writing to a friend, it is reasonable to expect a reply. But writing to a perfect stranger whom you have never met or spoken to before should not have the same expectation. In fact, you can argue that the more logical expectation is that you will NOT get a reply due to the fact that someone is getting a note from another person totally unexpectedly.

No one should judge someone who is receiving a note from a stranger because no one can know what anyone else should or would experience upon receiving such a note. Whether or not the note gets a reply depends on many things, not the least of which is what the note says. In all the years I have been getting emails from frustrated members regarding their not getting a reply to a message sent, I cannot remember anyone ever telling me what exactly they wrote and why they believe they should have received a reply. What I am told is the reason they should get a reply is because it is a common courtesy to do so or the Christian thing to do, etc.

It seems obvious to people that the reason why they did not get a reply is because that person is not interested and is afraid to just come out and say that. I don’t disagree with that. I do think oftentimes people who don’t reply to a message they get do not do so because they are not interested. But that does not make them a bad person. Nor does it mean that person does not have a good excuse for not replying. I don’t want to make excuses for those who don’t reply, but I do know their excuses can be valid. Perhaps you don’t feel that any level of fear would be a good excuse. But sometimes people fear hurting the other’s feelings by replying and saying they are not interested. So many people have told me they would rather get a reply that said sincerely they were not interested than get no reply at all. However, if we are honest, it is not that great to get rejected either, is it? It can be quite the dilemma.

One thing is for certain. If the person receiving the message has a positive and favorable experience, and has any level of interest in the person who wrote, they will reply. Not getting a reply to a message you send should not cause you to become negative. Anything or anyone we give the power to make us lose our peace should be a red flag to us that we are the problem. Jesus did not give us His peace in order that we would abandon it at such a cheap price. And He certainly does not want us to give the power to lose it to any other person. So don’t give anyone that power. And start “expecting” to not get a reply when you write. That will make the replies you get that much more special. And by all means, do NOT stop writing because you are afraid of not getting a reply. That would be the worst thing you can do. Continue to take the risk and put yourself out there.

Finally, consider what you are writing. Perhaps it is something in the way you are corresponding that is causing you problems with getting a reply. I have seen all kinds of disastrously terrible initial correspondences by people who have wondered what they are doing wrong. Sounding desperate, or anxious, or like you are not really even trying can all work against you. People know when they are being addressed as a unique individual person or just as a number in the process. Whatever you write, make it sound like you are interested in that person, AND also like you, yourself, are an interesting person they should want to get to know.

Ask yourself when you are writing your message, “Why should this person reply to what I am about to send?” If you still have problems getting replies, ask family and friends who know you well and love you to read your initial contacts and ask them to be honest with you as to what they think. Particularly, get those you know of the opposite sex to read them and ask if they would respond to what you wrote. I have had people say to me that the messages they get sound so canned or like they were just cut and pasted with only the change of the name of the person they are writing to, that they did not think it deserved a reply.

Don’t let the no-reply issue ever get you down to the point of giving up. It’s obviously just part of the online dating experience. And you are not alone. Thousands go through this same experience. When it happens, don’t let it sour you toward using the website, or the opposite sex, or lower your self-esteem, or anything negative. Simply move on and continue the journey with God with a positive and confident outlook rooted in faith and hope.

He’s too busy to meet me.

Dear Anthony,

I’ve been in regular contact with a man in writing and on the phone for a couple of months. When I mentioned to him that we should plan to meet in person, he said he has so much going on in his life right now that he doesn’t want to add to it by setting up a time to meet me. I’m at a loss. Am I right to be concerned?

You are absolutely right to be concerned. Men who do this make women feel as if they are doing the woman a favor. That is not good! Doesn’t it make sense that a man should make a woman feel he is interested in her? Of course it does. Does indicating that he has a lot going on in his life make a woman feel as if he is interested in her? Of course not. So you have done enough, and have gone as far as you need to in order to know if this particular man has interest in you. The least he could have done is say how much he would enjoy meeting you in person as he states any facts about his being too busy to do it at this time. He has clearly said to you that he has better things to do than to meet you in person, so it’s time to move on.

Women have a tendency of making the mistake of doing nothing when a man behaves like this. It is understandable why. It is hard to let go of someone you really like, or say something that might risk him cutting things off. But that should not deter a woman from doing what she needs to do. It does not help to allow a man to procrastinate meeting her in person. It actually harms the relationship, and both parties. So it’s best to do what needs to be done anyway. It might cause you some pain to do this, but my suggestion is to contact him and say something like the following:

Dear [what’s his name],

I have enjoyed our conversations by writing and phone, and was hoping to get to know you more through meeting in person. However, you don’t indicate you are interested in meeting me in person, and I don’t want to feel uneasy about an undetermined time in the future when and if this might happen, so I feel I have to end things with us and move on. I know you said you were busy, and I can appreciate that. But you have not shown interest in meeting, so I have to believe this is not too important to you. I am seeking a husband and don’t want to waste time. It seems right to me that the next step for us is to meet in person. I’m sorry things did not work out. If you change your mind and are ready to visit me in person, I would be open to that. Otherwise, I am not interested in further communication. I hope you can appreciate that I feel it is best for both of us to invest our time wisely, and for me that means only with men who show interest in meeting in person after a short period of writing and talking by phone.

Sincerely,

[your name]

This kind of note says what needs to be said without accusing or sounding bitter. And you definitely need to make it definitive-sounding so the man knows clearly that this is it. You have to indicate it’s over and you don’t want to communicate again unless he is taking the next step. Does that make sense?

Again, this can be a hard thing to do for a woman, especially when she really likes the man and it seems that things are going well otherwise. But I assure you, it is well worth determining now rather than later whether he is really interested in you or not. And God will bless you for taking such a step in the name of your vocation. That blessing may come in the form of this man being inspired by your action to take that next step and meet you, or it might come in the form of a better man coming along soon after. Either way, the certain blessing is peace of mind and heart from God that you did the right thing, regardless of the outcome.

Yours in Christ,
Anthony