I woke up in the night the other night and dating advice is all that was running through my head. Strange, I know. But, pregnancy hormones will do strange things to me in the middle of the night. Anyhow, I thought I would write them down and try to formalize them. Perhaps, someday my children will benefit.
This advice is for the purposes of finding a life long mate. And in my experience this advice leads to marriage success.
1. Pray about it—pray for God’s will to be done. Freshman year of college, I tried out a couple of awkward college relationships (too much expected early intimacy, too much guessing where one stands) and I thought, this really is not working out for me. I decided to give it up, get my head straight, focus on academics and just seek God first. I simply was not interested in this awkward dating game. Finally after a happy semester hiatus, I prayed. I prayed to God for Him to bring me to my husband, or to a religious vocation. I prayed to have no hand in this. I prayed that I only wanted to follow His will in this matter. I prayed telling God I was surrendering this all to Him. God was now in charge. Soon after I began emailing a few college friends over the summer break from school. One friend stood out. It was clear I was enamored, but I was still not pursuing this friend in any other manner than frank conversations about God and other transcendental ideas. We were simply enjoying a burgeoning friendship. One evening we were talking about something completely mundane, but I prayed to my Guardian Angel in the middle of our conversation that my friend would want to talk about his Orthodoxy, as I saw this as a conflict that would keep us apart. At that moment, he asked me what I thought of his Orthodoxy. I pardoned myself for a moment as I freaked out in another room and got myself a glass of water. There was no reason on earth, at that moment, he should have asked that question other than Divine intervention. From that point our relationship exploded into a lot more, as I like to think guided by the hand of our Maker. As I have explained before when we finally came around to more in our relationship my future husband was clear that he was interested in courtship with the intent to marry and not simply dating. Therefore, in your relationship seeking, both in friendship and love, be sure to pray for GOD’S WILL BE DONE.
2. Know what you believe. It is incredibly hard to solidify what you want in a mate if you yourself are not solid in what you believe. You should have a firm grasp on central beliefs essential to life. Such matters include mind, body and soul (e.g. faith, money, nutrition, exercise). This will help in discerning who would be a suitable mate.
When your beliefs are still changing and forming and you have committed yourself to a partner, that person may not see fit to change his/her beliefs as you seek what is true. Your relationship is likely to end. This is why the Catholic Church recommends that Catholics marry the same denomination or someone who is seeking communion with Catholic beliefs. Catholicism provides for a solid belief system covering a broad spectrum of life. If you are going to commit to becoming “one flesh,” you must believe in the same things to act as one flesh.
That is not to say that your future mate cannot help you discover and solidify what you believe. However, once in a relationship, when irrational, erotic, emotions take hold, and especially if it is a physical relationship, it’s hard to discern whether what you have come to believe through this person is true. It is much easier to use one’s knowledge and intellect to discern true beliefs outside of the emotional factors of romantic relationship.
3. Good character is key. It is obvious that you do not want a lasting relationship with someone who lies, cheats, steals. Even little dishonesties could lead to bigger ones. He/she should not be immoderate/intemperate either. If he/she cannot control his/her appetites this could play a big role in damaging your relationship later. A person who habitually overeats could become morbidly obese and die—similarly for a person who drinks too much; smokes. A person who gambles, or person who is addicted to material goods, leads to destitution.
I always say that a man who cannot fast, or you have never seen fast will not make a good mate, because he will not sacrifice for you or anyone…Likewise, your mate should protect your own virtue. You should not be asked to do things against your own moral character and beliefs.
Further, your partner should keep company of the same high moral character. Sometimes people have family members or childhood friends of poor character. It is often difficult for people to see the faults of such friends, because it is someone they have loved from childhood, and or cannot avoid the person. At which you should point out that the person is of poor character and you both should have limited contact with that person. At this, your partner should agree and protect the virtue of you both. Association with people of poor moral character will always result in damage to you.
4. Save it for marriage. Keep physical relations limited during courtship. This is the most difficult for those courting (dating) to keep. Everything about our culture, and our natural chemistry, tells us that we ought to have physical relations with those to whom they are attracted. So why not test out the fun physical stuff? Well, simply put, the first three dating advices are near impossible to discover and complete when intercourse is on the mind. Further, there is a lot of game play involved before getting into bed. This takes up a lot of time that could be better spent in procuring a solid friendship and partnership with your future mate. People who court without falling to a relationship’s physical nature marry quickly. This is NOT because they are trying to hurry up and make their relationship legitimate so the can have legitimate physical relations. They come to the conclusion of marriage quickly because they did not play a lot of games trying to get into bed with each other. Rather they spent a lot of time sharing beliefs and coming to understand the whole person. (People make mistakes. But, you can always try and try again.)
5. No secrets amongst partners. Total honesty about your beliefs and past life is important. Do not pretend that you share the same beliefs if you do not. Do not pretend you have achieved more than you have. If there is some ideal you hope to achieve, be honest and humble that you have not accomplished it, but hope to. Tell the truth about your past. Your past is what made you. Share also what you learned from your past and how you became a better. It will always come back on to you if dishonesty plays a role in your relationship.
6. Honor thy father and mother. In general, your future mate should have a loving relationship with parental like figures. Not everyone is privy to good parents. But, your future mate should be able to forgive his/her parents their faults and love them for the good things they did. And if there really was nothing to love about his/her parents, then he/she should have cut all ties and have a loving parental relationship with someone who was a nurturing parental figure. If there is no one like this in your future mate’s life, this is a sign he/she will not be able to have a successful, permanent, loving relationship with you. Some people are damaged and your love will not fix it. They have to heal from within.
That’s what I have for now. I am sure there are lots of well-written courtship books that could say this better than I. But, should my kids ever ask my advice (they likely never will), I can say, “Funny you should ask. I have just the thing for you.”