Tag Archives: dating

The Guy-Girl Friendship

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Men and women can’t be just friends.

It was the main point of a video that made the rounds a few months back in the wonderful world of social media, shared below for your convenience.

Makes a compelling case.  But regardless of which side of the fence you find yourself on in this debate, I think there is one thing on which we can all agree: dynamics are certainly different when there are members of the opposite sex present in a group of people than they are in a group composed of only men or only women.  Translation: Ladies, your “best guy friend” acts differently when he’s with you than he does when he’s with his best guy friend (and he probably doesn’t refer to him as that, either).

As the video points out, the number one obstacle to a true guy-girl friendship are those pesky feelings.  You may not have them for your friend, but whose to say that your “friend” doesn’t have them for you?  And whose to say that your or your friend’s feelings won’t change (even if it be for no other reason than loneliness or boredom)?  Let it be said that this tendency towards “feelings” is actually a good thing, so don’t try to snuff it out, because it only means you’re human.  But knowing the tendency exists and being overcome by it are two different things.  It’s the difference between living in reality and living in the seventh season of a sitcom.  This is why we set boundaries.

The fact of the matter is: we are going to have friendships with people of the opposite sex.  It’s a good and healthy thing—except when it’s not.

Given that the guy-girl friendship is a different relationship with different dynamics than a friendship made up of members of the same sex, it’s fitting that behavior patterns ought to be different as well.  For example, it’s not exactly appropriate to have a sleepover with your friend of the opposite sex, whereas it’s totally normal behavior for friends of the same sex to stay the night at one another’s house from time to time.  But that’s an obvious one (or at least, it was when we were 10, maybe not so much sometimes now that we’re older unfortunately).  What kinds of emotional boundaries should there exist between friends of the opposite sex?

I’ve always thought that a good rule of thumb is to think of what it would be like if you or your friend was involved in a romantic relationship.  Better yet, imagine it was your husband or wife who had a friend of the opposite sex, and what boundaries you would want that relationship to have.  You probably wouldn’t be cool with them going out for coffee three times a week and texting every other hour.  If that’s the case and yet that relationship describes your friendship with someone of the opposite sex right now, then it may not be the healthiest of relationships.

If it looks like a date, walks like a date, and smells like a date, then it just might be a date.  Persistent one-on-one outings with the same friend of the opposite sex sends a message, not just to other people who may notice (and yes, they notice), but to yourself and to your friend.  Better to set the boundaries for yourself now than to be wishing you did down the line when things get complicated.

Have all of the friends of the opposite sex that you please, but it’s of the utmost importance that you also have close friends who belong to your gender as well.  I don’t care how well your best guy friend “gets” you— Only a woman can truly understand what it means to be a woman and only a man can truly understand what it means to be a man.  Trust me, your relationships with people of the opposite sex will be all the more meaningful once you have real relationships with people of the same sex.

And, of course, as all relationships ought to be, ground your friendships—regardless of gender—in God and in prayer.  🙂

 

 

 

 

Ask Mary: Speed Dating Edition

Oh wait…is speed dating not what you mean by “dating fast”?  🙂

Question:

Hi Mary!

I was wondering if you could address dating fasts to grow in your
relationship with God and prepare for future relationships. I have a
few friends who are on them and recently God has put it on my heart to
go one, but there are not many resources out there that talk about
dating fasts. (when I googled it, it brought me to online dating
websites- not helpful lol).
Thanks, and I love your blog!

Answer: 

Thank you for this question!  It’s a good one, and I think it’s very relevant to a lot of young Catholics today.

To be completely honest, this whole idea of a “dating fast” has always sort of rubbed me the wrong way.  It could be that I don’t fully grasp the reason for these “fasts”—but then again, that may be precisely why this trend in dating (er—I mean, not dating) amongst young Catholics bothers me so much: I’m not sure that the majority of people embarking on these “fasts” fully understand what or why they are doing what they are doing in the first place.  Usually, the terms are not clearly defined.  What exactly is meant by, “dating” here?  And at what point are you “breaking the fast”?

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with not dating.  God most certainly wants to draw us to Himself, and often times dating makes it hard for us to let Him do that.  And if what you’re trying to avoid by beginning a “dating fast” is dating for sport, dating simply to pass the time, or dating to make yourself feel better about yourself, then absolutely.  God is calling all of us to be rid of that sort of dating—forever.

But often times, I don’t think a “dating fast” gets to the real heart of the problem.

Dating is not the same thing as eating, and I’m positive it shouldn’t be treated as such.  I find it somewhat odd to place spending time getting to know a fellow human being on the same level as eating a Double-Double at In-n-Out.  And I think that perhaps placing the two on the same level is what has led so many young people to feel they need to “fast” from dating in the first place.

Unfortunately, what most of us didn’t realize until it was too late is that dating is not supposed to be a given (whereas eating, is).  The purpose of dating is supposed to be marriage (as we learned after the first two or three breakups).  So it would make the most sense if you didn’t date at all until you were at least somewhat close to being ready to get married.  In actuality, most of us started dating in high school—or before!  You can see how, with this background, dating became exactly what we don’t want it to be: a game, something to pass the time, or simply something to make us feel better about ourselves.  So now we feel the need to “fast” from what, like that Double-Double (as good as it may have been), has failed to lead us to lasting happiness.

However, unlike that Double-Double, dating does have the potential to lead many of us to happiness, because dating often leads to our vocation! (for those of us called to marriage, of course)  Denying yourself the passing pleasure of a meal is an act of piety that can strengthen your prayer and devotion to God.  Denying yourself true happiness (i.e. your vocation)?  That’s not piety; it’s insanity.

So how do we solve the problem?  I think the answer is that we return to viewing dating how we should have from the beginning.  For many of us, that may mean we have to break bad habits, and thus some sort of a “break” (or “fast”) from dating may be in order, so that God can teach us how to do date as He intends for us to date (if He intends for us to date).

What we want to be careful we do not do is to treat dating as if it is something that unequivocally leads us away from God.  It’s true that it can do this if we are not using it for its rightful purpose, or if in our dating relationships we are acting contrary to God’s law—but this is not always the case.  In fact, if carried out to its rightful end, dating is meant to lead us ultimately to God, through the vocation of marriage.

That being said, in marriage, God calls us to a specific person—not the abstract idea of the vocation of marriage.  So if you haven’t met anyone yet, then of course you’re still discerning, and should use this time to grow closer to God.  I just personally do not feel that declaring an all-out fast is necessary when it comes to dating.  My thoughts: date when and who you feel God is calling you to date, and not a moment before, and you’ll be fine.  No “Catholic guilt” for having a good time at dinner with a good guy who treats you right just because you said you were “fasting” from dating.

That’s my two cents, anyway.  I’m sure there are many reasons to disagree.  Feel free to [charitably] leave them in the comment box.

Now, fasting from meals as an act of prayer every so often as a way to discern/prepare for your vocation?  I think that is a great idea! 🙂

Young, Catholic, and Engaged

Okay, first of all…I must apologize for my missing the past two posting deadlines.  Between Christmas and travel and family visiting, things just got busy—not to mention I was graced with a cold that made it difficult to string together complete sentences, let alone blog posts.  But enough excuses.  I’ve been really excited to tell all of you that, as of December 30th, I’M ENGAGED!!!

Tyler proposed last Friday at the beach, and we are planning to get married at the end of this year.  We’re both (obviously) really excited, and though we of course want this year to go by super fast, we’re also looking forward to what God is going to do in our lives over these next several months to prepare us, not just for the wedding, but for the sacrament of marriage.

Anyway, I start winter quarter today—pray for me!  I’m taking Johannine Literature and Christology & Soteriology.

Also, two friends of mine recently started a pretty awesome Catholic blog.  You can check it out here: AllYouCanEatCatholics.blogspot.com.  (They’re both insanely smart converts to Catholicism—one is earning his MA in Theology and the other is a design/graphics genius).

Happy Thursday!

Mini-Marriages

Do you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend?  If you answered “yes,” then allow me to share something with you that my uncle shared with me when I was younger.  That person you’re dating right now?  One of two things is going to happen: You’re either going to one day get married, or you’re going to break up.  And I hate to say it, but odds are that you’re more likely to break up (it’s a funny little thing called statistics).

I’m not saying this to bring you down; I’m saying this so that you’ll keep things in perspective.  Yes, the guy/girl who dumped you may be a jerk that didn’t realize what he/she had, but there’s no reason why your world has to end because of it.  And just as relevant, there’s no reason why you need to go on a yearlong mission to prove (through Facebook albums, partying, or serial dating) just how “over him” you are.   Fact is: when it comes to dating, break ups are pretty common.  Dramatic and public “mini-divorces” between you and your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend should not be.

As my uncle would say, the only way to avoid the pain and the drama of the “mini-divorce” is to not enter into the “mini-marriage” in the first place.  If you go on every date thinking, “we’re either going to get married or we’re going to break up”, then you’re probably going to have a much more mature outlook than the person thinking, “this could be the one!” before they’ve even finished the appetizer on the first date.  When it comes to dating, it’s so important that we guard our hearts.  We want them to be intact enough to give to the person God has created us for, and ultimately to God Himself entirely.

(Seeing as I stole his wisdom for this post, it’s fitting that I plug my uncle’s Young Adult Ministry — serving 18-25 year olds all over the country 🙂 )

Why True Love Doesn’t Always Wait

It’s Human Nature 101:  We all have a desire within us to give love and to be loved in return.  And while we may seek to fulfill and express this desire in many different ways (some ways healthy and good for us… many twisted and damaging to us) it usually all comes back to this basic principle.  We’re human.  We need love.

And when it comes to love, there is often a lot of emphasis in our society placed on “waiting”.  Obviously at this point I could point to how us Christians talk an awful lot about “waiting” until marriage.  After all, true love waits, right?  But we also hear a lot of talk about “waiting” in our secular world, too.  When things don’t work out with what’s-his-name, for whatever reason, it’s ok, because we tell ourselves that Mr. Right will come along eventually.  We just have to wait.  It’s classic Disney.  “Someday my prince will come.”  But until then, I’ll just wait.

This is all well and good.  And it is certainly true that love is patient (1 Corinthians 13, anyone?).  However, in all this talk about waiting for marriage, and waiting for Mr. (or Miss) Right, it seems we all too easily forget that Love is waiting for us, too.  And in this case, a response is required on our part—right now. (And later today.  And tomorrow.  And every day for the rest of our lives)

waitingpin

You don’t have to wait another minute for your love story to begin, because Love has been waiting for you since the moment of your conception (talk about Love being patient!).  This Love waits on you even when you refuse it and turn away from it.  This love waits on you even when you spit in its face.  The one who created you loves you more than you are capable of understanding.  And until we begin to realize this, we’re really missing the bigger picture of this whole “love” thing anyway.

If God does one day call you to marriage, I’m sure that your Mr. (or Miss) Right is going to be amazing and is going to love you more than you even know.  But, whether you believe it or not, the fact that God loves you is always going to be a bigger deal.  (And the right “Mr. Right” will tell you that himself).

So pray for your vocation.  Pray for your future spouse.  But most of all, pray that God will open your heart to receive His love, and pray for the grace to love Him in return.