The Myth of Passive Dating

I’m probably not the only single Catholic who’s read the Book of Tobit and swooned over the notion that God has set someone apart for me since the beginning of creation. Obviously, when Tobiah married his wife, it was God’s will for this union to take place, as evidenced by the Archangel Raphael’s words to Tobiah: “Do not be afraid, for she was set apart for you before the world existed. You will save her, and she will go with you” (Tobit 6:18).

What a romantic idea – that God has one specific person in mind for each of us who he calls to the vocation of marriage. I’ve relied on this hope for a long time, banking on the fact that God will lead me to my husband when the time is right. I’ve always assumed I was destined to be with one man, and that if I just prayed hard enough, he would eventually be “revealed” to me.

In many ways, this mentality takes some pressure off actively dating. It allows many of us who believe in destiny to fall back on the idea that, no matter what, God will lead us to the perfect person when the time comes for marriage. In your head, this may look something like a scene from a movie, where Mr. or Mrs. Right shows up out of nowhere one day at your front door, or at the very least, bumps into you with their grocery cart at the store (or, even better, in the confession line).

Recently, it’s been a hard pill for me to swallow that destiny may not exist in the exact form I thought it did. This is because, while God expects us to make good choices when it comes to dating and marriage, He does not choose our spousesfor us. He, in all His infinite wisdom, knows with whom we will ultimately share our lives—but that choice is ours because of our free will. What this means is that we have to kick ourselves into gear when it comes to actively dating rather than passively waiting for the right person to stumble across our path.

Let’s be real: putting ourselves out there is hard. Even more, putting myself out there as a woman is hard, because men seem to lack the courage to approach the women they’d like to date, as was done traditionally. Today, many young men  opt to take a back seat when it comes to dating, waiting for the right situation or moment to present itself in order to expose themselves to less risk of rejection. This means that women now need to be even more forward than they’d like to be when it comes to expressing interest in men. If neither party takes a risk, than both parties risk losing the reward of a fulfilling relationship.

There are more single people today than ever before in U.S. history, with singles outnumbering married people by over 50%. The scary part is that many of these singles are mature, good people who are called to marriage and long for it, yet remain passive when it comes to dating. I am convinced that passivity is the enemy of finding and nurturing strong relationships, because sitting back and waiting for things to happen to you seldom brings desirable results when it comes toanything.

For our young Catholic population, what does this mean? It means, ladies and gents, that we both need to actively pursue the people we are interested in. If you feel called to marriage, don’t waste years of your life waiting for the right person to simply fall into your lap as a result of prayer. Sometimes, this happens, but more often, we need to go out and seek what we want. If finding a Catholic spouse in particular is your dream, then “actively seeking” may mean attending more Catholic young adult events each month, staying after Mass to make new connections and socialize, etc. God will work through your actions and decisions to help you find a good spouse.

…Remember that the only person who ever woke up and found their spouse sitting right beside them was Adam!

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Lindsey Todd graduated from West Chester University in 2016 with a B.A. in English, and currently works as a technical writer for a Fortune 500 company. In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, singing, playing with her dog, reading, and exercising. She also loves art, fashion, and deep political and theological discussion. She has a special devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and a special love for St. Pope John Paul II. Lindsey is passionate about sharing the beauty of pure love with others, particularly as a Catholic writer and as a retreat leader for young women. She currently resides in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her family.

12 Comments

  1. I closed this chapter 10 years ago realizing that women who pursue holiness are so rare that it’s hopeless trying to meet one.

    By Cris | 3 months ago Reply
    • Chris, I am so sorry that’s been your experience, but I would urge and encourage you not to give up if marriage is truly your calling. I promise there are women out there who love God more than anything, and will love you better by loving Him. Please pray for me in my vocational calling, and I’ll pray for you!

      By Lindsey | 3 months ago Reply
  2. Hi Lindsay,

    I’m a regular reader of Chastity Project, and I noticed that you crave for a husband. You mentioned in your previous articles on how you prayed for one and wait if it will happen. I mean its fine that you seek marriage, but I like to point something out. How do you know that you are called for marriage? How do you know that God doesn’t have something else stored for you? How do you know that God doesn’t want you to be a nun or sister? I don’t want to sound cold or harsh, but these are possibilities. I remember my mom telling me how a priest’s mother really wanted to be a nun (or sister?). The priest’s mother prayed to God and dedicated time for her discernment. Still, she found a man, married him and had 13 kids. Fortunately, I think 2 of the boys became priests and 1 girl became a nun (or sister). Sometimes, God will give you contrary of what you wanted. Have you ever attended a discernment retreat? If that particular Order did not interest you, why not another one? Overall, seek God, He will enrich your soul, and never stop worshiping Him even if it hurts a lot. May He Who Is Truth Itself always be with you.

    By Angel | 3 months ago Reply
    • I think that we can probably assume that someone who writes this well has already done a great deal of self-reflection and discernment and we can probably trust her on her own path with God 🙂

      By Ruth | 3 months ago Reply
    • Hi Angel, I want to thank you for your readership and support of my articles! As I’m sure you’ve probably guessed, many of my articles are written with other young Catholics in mind, and I’m trying to share good and practical insights into the world of holy dating with them. This article in particular actually had less to do with me, and more to do with the MANY young Catholics I’ve encountered who haven’t dated (or have dated very little) because they don’t quite know how to take action, or whether they SHOULD take action. In terms of my discernment process, thank you for your concern, but I am a 24 year old woman who was once in a serious, long-term relationship of six years, have now been single for two years, and have spent time nearly every day in front of the Blessed Sacrament, reading Scripture, attending retreats, and filling my heart with things of God. I am very much attentive and open in my spiritual life to where God might be calling me, and I would know by now if I was called to religious life even in some small way. The majority of people are called to married life, as Scripture says that God reasoned “it is not good for man to be alone.”

      Have a blessed day and thanks for your response!

      By Lindsey | 3 months ago Reply
  3. Nice article. Well explained and inspiring. Keep it up.

    By Chinny | 3 months ago Reply
  4. Thank you so much Lindsey, it helped me a lot!

    God bless you!

    By clarisse | 3 months ago Reply
  5. Lindsey,

    Great article. Allow me (if I may) to shed some light as to why I think men are taking a back seat when it comes to approaching women. Now, there is the theory that men don’t want their names added to the long ME TOO list, but I think that is more of an excuse than a theory.

    Most of my close friends are between the ages of 25 and 45. I can count on 1 hand the number of my close guy friends who are married. I need more than 2 hands and 2 feet to count the number of guy friends I have who are single. Here’s why…

    Most of my single guy friends have a “to-do list” that they feel they need to accomplish before they start looking for a life-long partner. This list includes….getting a high paying job, getting their own place, having 24 inch biceps, and the big one that is on every single one of my guy friends’ list is…TRAVEL THE WORLD. This list has prevented many of my friends (and myself included) from actively seeking a relationship. It’s like Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, “A man is afraid he will die before he has lived. A woman is afraid she will die before she has given life.”

    My friends who are in their late 30’s and early 40’s feel it is too late for them to find their dream woman. My friends who are in their mid-20’s still feel they have all the time in the world.

    The problem isn’t “there are no good/holy Catholic woman out there.” The problem is marriage has turned from being a vocation to being a prison where if you don’t get all your fun out of the way before you enter it, you will have nothing but struggles and regrets all of your life.

    As the great comedian Groucho Marx once said, “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?”

    By Andrew | 3 months ago Reply
    • Thanks for your contribution!

      By Brian | 3 months ago Reply
  6. Thank you so so much for this article. I found it really helpful- it is something I have debated with myself a lot, and also tried to discuss with other generations who can’t understand why it is so difficult to date in today’s world! (i.e., they believe that if you just wait long enough a holy Catholic will come your way, and they don’t realise that they just don’t grow on trees any more!)

    Anyway thank you for this beautiful, sensitive and nuanced article. I shared it with my siblings and was greatly helped by it.

    By Ruth | 3 months ago Reply
  7. Well done, Lindsey!! Motive the young people to be courageous!!! Love your articles ♥️ It’s safe to say God has been working in and through you during this time of blogging. Can’t wait to read more!!

    By Shannon | 3 months ago Reply
  8. We’ve all heard it many times: there are no guarantees in life. Well, there IS one, in that God is always there. So long as we don’t demand His physical presence and that we do our best to imitate Him. Service to others is a big part of that. And of course, we have to trust that He is guiding us day by day. Pursuing a solid spiritual life, it seems to me, is the foundation a follower of Christ seeks. The daily rosary and if possible, daily Mass and Communion. An annual retreat if possible, and continuous spiritual reading — the lives and writings of the saints and other spiritual books. As Catholics we possess all Truth. “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you,” is Jesus’ advice. Yes, TRUST in the invisible is more often difficult than easy or pleasing for us, but it’s not optional. You know, HE didn’t have an easy life or death, either. But Jesus is always there for us, as is His Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and the whole host of angels and saints. And don’t forget the Holy Souls in Purgatory — they need our help and can pray for us, too. Finding a niche of service, whether a formal vocation or not is a good plan, as it puts us in contact with others who are also seeking and hoping and trying.

    By DOLORES MONACO | 3 months ago Reply

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