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!
(Check out my book, Freedom to Love, to learn more about God’s design for the authentic love He’s destined for you.)
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.