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.