Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

February 19, 2011

Dating, Mating, and More

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...


healthily sanguine said...

Interesting post! Always the most fun topic for girls, eh? ;) Here are my reflections:

1) I feel ya! This is very hard. I think the best way to keep a date a date is to be truly busy with other things besides this one guy--have your eyes open for other guys, have plenty of activities with other friends (esp. girl friends) planned, and have honest goals for yourself in your professional and personal life. If you can keep in mind how happy you are with what God has given you in all other areas, it can blunt a little of that "yearning" we all feel for a husband and family.

2) Texting means nothing. I have a seminarian friend who IMs me constantly and texts me every week to see what I'm doing for the weekend (and we NEVER get together). At first it weirded me out, since I wasn't much used to texting, but I figured out he was just being friendly so I now don't take it amiss. It seems really likely that the same is the case in your scenario--a just friendly sort of casual acquaintance/friendship.

3) If Catholic Ken, or whoever, doesn't know he wants to get married, that's his business. Guys should want to get married; it is NORMAL. We as ladies shouldn't need to do anything to create or foster that desire. We do enough by just being who we are. DON'T try to help them. If you ever get a sense that a guy doesn't want to settle down (or at any rate, not with you), keep him at a cool and friendly distance (see casual acquaintanceship, above). This is for self-protection. Guys who are not serious and not seriously motivated to move forward in their lives can be emotionally dangerous to themselves and to others. By God's grace, though, they usually figure it out sooner or later. :)

healthily sanguine said...

Oh, an additional point on #3, peer pressure can be a big help for guys in terms of overcoming the "scariness" of marriage and family. They need to see other guys, particularly their friends, getting married and providing a good example in that area. This happens a lot! :)

Lauren said...

1)I agree with Healthily Sanguine about the "date as a date."

2) I have a little bit of different advice on the texter, though: do you want this relationship to mean more, or do you hope that it won't move into meaning more? If you're okay with just being a casual friend, then feel free to leave it as it is. If you think it's been going on long enough and you are anything but ambivalent, though, I'd approach him about it. Tell him that he's really the only guy that texts you about events, etc., and ask him what signals you should be taking from his texting. And be ready to tell him what signals you'd like to be taking from it. My experience is that guys do appreciate when a girl can be honest and open and up front with them--see previous conversation on this blog about guys getting mixed signals. :)

singlecatholic said...

I really enjoyed (and appreciated) this post. Thanks! (Aside: a friend recently sent me the link to this blog, and I have very much enjoyed reading it.)

A thought on the casual dating scene, in particular with the "texter." I had to laugh at this label...I've definitely encountered more than one of those in my own dating life, such as it is. It is very difficult to remain emotionally disciplined, but I've found in my own case at least that it's not just a matter of romance. If nothing else, for the female heart once the conversations have commenced, a relationship has begun...maybe at this point just a casual friendship, but it's a relationship nonetheless, and a lot of us women can have a hard time letting go of those.

I'm not so much offering an answer, I'm afraid, as I am posing yet another question: should we simply not have the expectation that, if something more profound doesn't work out, he and I can still be "just friends" to some degree? In my experience, most men don't seem to be very interested in that...

Mac said...

I am married, but I have a 27 year old unmarried sister. As far as the "texter" goes, she had a similar situation with a family friend. He was here at Christmas and they had a night of getting a little closer. Then he left and would call, but then just text.

I think the movie "He's just not that into you" sums it up. If he wants to be with you...he'll be with you. If he's not with you...he's just not that into you. And for your own emotional should stop texting him all-together.

I don't know you...but that's my sisterly advice.

Wyld said...

Haha! I love your sense of humor. :-P Yea, I feel similarly about "casual dating." (not in the sleazy sense). The problem is that the only guys who ever ask me out are the kind who I REALLY don't get along with. (WHY are they so attracted to me?!? frustrating). So I can never go on a date casually, cause I'm worried they'll ask me out again. (which always happens). -_-

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