I know she's 14 or something, but I LOVE this.
February 19, 2011
Well, thanks, Edith, for getting a conversation going on my favorite topic: the adventures and misadventures of dating as a Catholic woman in today's world. The Magdalene Sisters have a rather lengthy conversation about it already (sadly chronicling most of my misadventures), so if you've just joined us, feel free to catch up! And thanks to all of our new visitors and the comments you shared. I really cracked up, but was also forced to take a good look at my own approach to this part of my life.
1) I tend to be one of those women who was referenced who might be saying contradictory things and even embodying contradictory things in her life. I often say to my girlfriends, "I wish these guys would just ask us out to coffee, dinner, or on a single date. A date doesn't mean we want to get married, or we're going to stalk him on Facebook, or create a shrine to him in our bedrooms. A date is a date." But at the same time, when I am asked on a date, I find myself unable to leave a date as a date. A woman can easily slip into anticipation of the follow through on his end. And not just normal excitement, but a real, yearning anticipation. It is hard for us, when we are treated like a lady, which can be rare, to not want to soak that up. It does whet our appetite, both for good and ill. And single dates can come along rarely. Maybe if it were the 1950's and women were regularly asked out by various men then a date could just be a date. But it's not that way today. The difficulty for the feminine heart is to stay emotionally disciplined while not denying her desire to be pursued. If anyone has figured out a "how-to" on this, please let me know.
2). Like Edith I have a "texter" in my life right. I'm not sure if we're friends, or possibly more. We always have fun together. We never talk about dating. Our relationship has been slow and steady, and I'd say we're growing in comfort with one another. I got frustrated a few months ago, because I was doing the majority of inviting to drinks or group outings. He always showed up and paid me attention, but was never initiating anything (well, rarely I'd say). Now, like clockwork, he texts me every two weeks just to "check in," "say hello," or ask me out for a drink. But every two-three weeks is not really a follow through if it's been like that for 6 months. Maybe in his mind this is persistence. Maybe we're just friends. It doesn't feel like it's a pursuit. And that's okay. I just wish I could look this up in a reference book and know what it is.
3) Recently our very own "Catholic Ken" was brought up in a conversation. My male friend who is friends with him offered, "Why would Ken want to get married? He's the center of the social scene down here. He has the attraction and admiration of both guys and women. That's hard to give up." I feel for Catholic Ken (and all of the Ken's). Men in general seem to have trouble in our culture of making the decision to settle down. It must be really scary and foreign for them. As women we should figure out how to subtly help them and challenge them to take a leap in their own lives toward the unknown. If only we all had pink convertibles to swing by, pick them up, and head to Barbie's Dream House for a chat...
February 14, 2011
Oh, what a wonderful conversation we have been having, readers, about dating, men, women, and the single life. I suppose Valentine's day is a great day to resurrect the conversation! First of all, a tremendous THANK YOU to Dawn Eden for this shout out. Can I just tell you it made my whole week? Maybe even my year?! Interestingly, I went to a phenomenal conference at Notre Dame this past Friday where Dawn was speaking...but her talk was Saturday and I was only there Friday...so bummed! Luckily, I asked a friend of mine who was there to have her sign my book to Edith Magdalene! And she did! It was awesome! I will definitely be using the insights from the conference in these posts throughout the week!
I thought first I would recap some of our readers major points: you brought up so many great ones, that it would be really hard to reply all in one post!
First, Commentator andersonrc1 brought up a great point about whether or not women should be straightforward with men on a date or risk being considered too intimidating. And Commentator Lianna asks if the problem is with what seems to be a lack of maturity on the part of the men - and I had a great insight to this during a talk given by Wendy Shalit, whom you might know as the author of Girls Gone Mild. I can't wait to share!
Next, we had a couple of guy perspectives. Commentator Aaron gives us a great and really funny guy perspective of the Crazy Catholic Female types! He writes:
There is the "I want him to do all the pursuing" woman. (Man hears, "I will faint in his arms and make him carry me everywhere." Man asks, "Do I have to do everything?") There is the "Babies! I'm desperate to make babies!" woman. (Man asks, "Am I just a gene factory? And isn't next week a little early for a wedding?") Then there's the "I am a professional adult woman of serious tastes and interests and I deserve to be taken seriously." (Man hears, "I am a borderline feminist and probably too good for you and maybe not that interested in marriage at all.") And all of those women may be the same person. So his reluctance to formalize plans may be an attempt to let the Professional Woman be a partner in planning. Or he may be doing elaborate things (which suggest more commitment than he's actually got right now) in an attempt to meet the Fainting Woman's expectations. Or he may be trying to signal to the Babies Woman that he too would like to have babies, but can we put off naming them until we're at least engaged? And he may be changing his tack mid-course, trying to adjust as the various facets of this woman wax and wane. So cut him just a little slack.The best part about this, Aaron, is when you say that all of these 'types' might be happening in the same woman all at once! I was laughing so hard! And I hope you have lots of daughters too, so that they can tell you how wonderful you are!
Éamonn reminds us about the necessity of honesty and openness in our relationships, and I think too, that his post also calls to mind that we are indeed unique persons, and my stereotypes are just that...as partially true as they might be :-)
Finally, Christopher questions the whole 'dating' scene all together and suggests that maybe courtship should be the order of finding a suitable spouse. This one has given me the most food for thought, and I will be reflecting on this for the rest of the week. Happy SAINT Valentine's day!! Know that I love and am praying for each one of you!
So, tomorrow I will (try to!) tackle the ladies' replies...then hit the gentlemen's later in the week!
February 13, 2011
Oh, I could write a sob story for all single ladies on this day, especially Agatha and Edith, who are close to my heart. However, I'd rather leave a quotation.
We ask our Lover to come for us, and we keep our hearts open for His coming. We choose not to shut down. We let the tears come. We allow the ache to swell into a longing prayer for our God. And He comes, dear hearts. He does come. The times of intimacy -- the flowing waters of love -- those times then bring healing to places in our hearts that still need His touch
I pray this day that all women and men who wait on the Lord for love to be made incarnate for them experience it today. May you know of my prayers.
February 9, 2011
Please pray for my students as we head on retreat this week. I ask you to pray that their hearts will be opened, that I will be present to them, and that the Lord would also work in my own heart at this time. Thank you!
"Tell him slowly: Good Jesus, if I am to be an apostle, and an apostle of apostles, you have to make me very humble. May I know myself. May I know myself and you. Then I will never lose sight of my nothingness."
-- St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge, #871
February 5, 2011
Today we remember St. Agatha, one of the most courageous martyrs of the Church. Though her own tests and crosses are different from our own Agatha's, the two women are alike in that they are steadfast in the work that the Lord has given them (even if our own Agatha does not think so) and fully committed to the preservation of all that is (and was) good and pure in their lives.
Happy Feast Day, Agatha!
Thoughts of Julian at 6:15 AM
February 4, 2011
A few months back, I remember talking with Julian and Agatha about A. How we were sick of being single. (Well, actually, Agatha is much better on this score than Julian and I!) B. How we were sick of writing about being single and C. How the Catholic dating world in their city was sort of...comical, awkward and slightly dysfunctional. And now that I have started to at least be open to the prospect of dating again, I too, have to agree that in my city, that the Catholic dating scene is really a little comical.
After chatting with my Magdalene Sisters and my Catholic girlfriends at home, I'd like to describe the laughable 'archetypes' I have been finding in the Catholic dating scene. Here is one that I have experienced personally.
1. The Guy Who Asks for Your Number But Only Sends Text Messages Suggesting a Potential Date-at-Some-Unknown-Time-in-the-Maybe-Near-Future.
He seems really nice and very personable. He then finds the courage to ask for your number! Awesome! But instead of calling for a date, he relies on the fact that he'll see you around with the group of mutual friends. But when he does see you out, he might rigidly make light conversation. Then, he ignores you and talks to seemingly every other girl in the room but you. Then immediately after you leave the event, he texts you telling you that he really missed the opportunity to talk with you and thinks you two should plan on going out for coffee sometime soon. Rinse and repeat for about 3 weeks.
This happened to me with the guy I mentioned in my previous post. Why did he even ask for my number? What was going on with these text messages, but no phone call? Bottom line: He's just not that interested, so delete his number, DO NOT reply to texts, and be cordial and lady like when you see him in group settings.
2. The Hang Out and Flirt In a Group Setting Guy and Maybe Ask You for Some Pseudo Dates.
I have had no experience with this guy, but he is the major gripe of all my Catholic girlfriends. He forges a friendship with a girl and usually sees her in group setting activities. He'll then maybe ask her to accompany him for something, but the sense is that you are not really sure if this is a date or not. He never brings it up, but just leaves things open-ended, ambiguous, and feeling...unsure. He may even spend the whole time you are together talking about last night's party or talking about other people in your group of friends, but never really seems like he is seeking to get to know you better. Bottom line with him: After a couple dates like this: he probably is not interested. Don't accept another one.
3. Catholic Ken
Ah, Catholic Ken seeking the perfect Catholic Barbie - the one who, as Julian mentioned hearing one man say, is seeking the ideal woman who is both a "super model and daily communicant." Wow. Just wow. This man might have all the right credentials on paper, but at the end of the day, he's just a little superficial.
I caught a glimpse of such a guy at a recent pro-life event when a friend of mine pointed him out to me. "That's Catholic Ken, and he is on the prowl for a wife. However, he is only looking for Catholic Barbie. He really is great: A good Catholic and he's super involved in the pro-life movement. But, he only talks to girls who like a Barbie doll."
Well, I must not qualify, because he definitely did not look twice at me! (And being a short, dark haired Sicilian, it's easy to see how I don't qualify as Barbie material!)
3. The TOB Idolizer
Now, before you jump down my throat, let me first say that Theology of the Body is AWESOME! But sometimes, it's so easy to take some aspects of it and run into an idealized view of a perfect marriage and forget that we live in the world. And I recognize that both men and women are guilty of this! We get so much great news about the Divine and what it means to be made in the image of the Divine, that we can easily forget about the every-day-ness that life brings with it in relationships.
This guy idolizes the archetypal pre-lapsiarian Eve so much (remember, this is Eve pre-fall - and not the new Eve) and believes every woman should be just like her. She should be on a pedestal, perfect, pure, virginal, innocent, and basically be Venus de Milo. Chaste women seeking purity, innocence, virtue, and safeguarding their virginity should not spurned, to be sure. That's not my intention. But sometimes this guy forgets that women can sin too, and that they too can fall victim to the lies of our over-sexed culture.
I know, I know, this post makes me seem cynical. But I am not. I am 100% laughing at it all, sort of like Jane Austen as she observed her world. I recognize that these men are human too, and that there is a lot of pressure on men as well: especially regarding purity, so it's easy to see how some guys can err on the side of being too idealistic in this regard.
To prep myself to re-emerge into this oh-so-frustrating world of dating, I picked up Dawn Eden's The Thrill of the Chaste (did I mention I ran into her last year when visiting Agatha? I was so star struck, I could not speak!) I read it before a few years back, but this time I am getting much more out of it. She makes a distinction in the book between being a single woman and being a singular woman. Essentially, the single woman is on the prowl, looking for fulfillment in a man, but never finding satisfaction because she really is self-seeking. The singular woman exudes confidence, charm, and gratitude towards others and simply has fun being herself with whomever she is with. Here is a quote that really put this distinction into perspective for me.
Thrill of the Chaste, p. 23
A single woman, in seeking a husband, feels the need to act in a coy, sly, or deceptive manner-even if she normally would never think of intentionally misleading someone.... Likewise, she accepts a level of superficiality from a man she's dating that she wouldn't tolerate from her friends. She's not stupid-she just loses perspective when facing the possibility of a relationship.... A singular woman behaves with an honesty and lack of guile that will appear arresting to the love interest who expects a superficial relationship-as well it should. With her words and actions, she is speaking a deeper language, one that can be understood only by the kind of man for whom she longs - one of integrity. Such a man will understand that the singular woman's straightforwardness and absence of pretense is rooted in a deep respect for him as a fellow child of God.
Dawn Eden's words struck me with new freshness on this reading, especially in light of the past year's experiences. I know that I poked fun at the awkward archetypes of guys (and trust me, women probably have worse ones and many more!), but I am really trying to keep an open mind, remembering that, as Dawn Eden says, a deep respect for Mr. Right as a child of God is a necessary approach for any date. In fact, it's the only approach to find him.
February 3, 2011
I am tired. I am tired of waking 2 hours before the sun. I am tired of juggling my morning routine with the bus schedule. I am tired of never seeing the sun. I am tired of only seeing the sun outside my office window. I am tired of having a to do list of absolutely essential things to do that is a mile and a half long and never gets done. And that's just at the office. I am tired of never cooking, but too tired to cook. I am tired of feeling guilty about not liking my job. I am tired of trying to find alternatives. I am tired of burdening my friends with my weariness. I am tired of wanting to go to bed at 8 pm. I am tired of feeling guilt every time I think of a far away friend who I haven't talked to in a month. I am tired of missing my Mom's phone calls and worrying about my sister's work. I am tired of the way my fridge smells and the way I can never keep my room tidy and the huge mound of papers i have to go through on my desk. I am tired of having to take the subway everywhere. And tired of forgetting to buy nails. I am tired of nightmares and tired of butterflies in my stomach and tired of clenching my jaw. I'm tired of having something to do every day. I am tired of taxes. I'm tired of lunch. I am tired of only seeing beautiful things on my computer screen. I am tired of being so scattered. I am tired of not finding joy. I am tired. Lord, give me rest.