Updated: Sep 26, 2019
I briefly touched on my time as a single guy in Preparing for Marriage as a Single Man, where I mentioned that I didn’t ask a woman out on a date until I was 27 years old. Why was that? Because I didn’t just want to go on a date - I wanted to find a wife, and a holy, Catholic one at that!
To achieve this, I had a short list of essential criteria that a woman had to meet before I would consider asking her on a date (there was more criteria for pursuing the relationship and engagement, of course). She had to be...
A practicing Catholic. She had to go to Mass every Sunday. That’s it. Incredibly basic. For these purposes, it did not matter if she attended a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) or the Novus Ordo Mass. Mater was attending a TLM parish when we met, but I was still attending the Novus Ordo. It was my relationship with her that drew me to the TLM, and I’m glad she didn’t turn me down for that reason. I know many couples who started out at the Novus Ordo, but were drawn to the TLM once they saw the beauty and reverence in the liturgy.
Pro-life. If she did not see the value in the lives of the unborn, it was clear that she would not be a good, nurturing mother.
Pro-marriage. If she did not see the value of marriage, it was a recipe for divorce. This includes supporting same-sex marriage - if she did not understand the difference between a sacramental marriage and same-sex marriage, then she did not understand marriage at all.
That was it. Notice how my list of criteria doesn’t mention attractiveness, past sins, or even finances. Not to say that those aren’t a factor, but they are far less important and shouldn’t hinder you from getting to know her better. When my college friends, who were often trying to set me up on dates, caught wind of my criteria, they laughed. They insisted that my standards were too high and that I needed to be less picky! But I knew that a relationship that wasn’t based on these shared values was doomed to failure, and a waste of time and money. How could I marry someone who didn’t share my faith, which was a critical component of who I am as a person?
Thankfully, I didn’t settle when it came to these criteria, and neither should you! (For any single Catholic woman reading this, you should also expect that the men you date meet these criteria as well). If you’re having trouble meeting someone who meets these criteria, reread Preparing for Marriage as a Single Man and put those tips into practice. Once you do meet someone who will make a good wife and mother based on these criteria, here’s my advice:
Have at least three conversations with her before asking her on a date. This is more of a guideline than a rule, since people meet and interact in a whole range of settings. But the goal should be the same. Learn about her likes and dislikes, her job, her family, where she’s from, etc, before asking her on a date. Listen intently, because you’ll learn a lot of things that you can tap into during dates. For example, I learned that Mater had never been to a hockey game. I suggested that for one of our dates later on, and I’m pretty certain it scored me some points because it showed that I had been listening to what she had to say.
Ask her out on a date in-person. No texting or messaging. If in-person is not possible, then a phone call is the only other suitable method, assuming you already have number or can get it in a non-creepy manner.
When you do ask her, don’t beat around the bush. Make it clear that you are asking her on a date. Women hate to be tricked into a date because the guy failed to make it clear that it is a date and not just hanging out as friends. When I asked Mater out on our first date, I said “Would you like to go on a date with me on Saturday night?”. Note that I did not say “Would you like to hang out on Saturday?” or “Would you like to go on a date sometime?” since the former doesn’t make it clear that it’s a date and the latter fails to give a specific time, indicating you have no plan in mind.
Have a plan in mind. For the first date, I always like to make a plan with options. For example, when I picked up Mater for our first date, I asked if she preferred Chinese, Italian, or Mexican food, because I didn’t know what food she liked or if she had allergies. When she said she had no preference (always be prepared for the “no preference” response!), I said, “How about Italian?” This indicated that I already had a plan in mind, and it helped her relax.
Forget the arbitrary rules. Frankly, society has a lot of stupid rules when it comes to dating, including the “Wait three days before texting/calling after a first date”. Toss all of these rules out the window. Society is completely wrong when it comes to marriage and relationships anyway, so why follow their rules? After you drop her off after the first date (at a reasonable hour), wish her goodnight, tell her you had a great time, say goodbye, and leave. If you are interested in another date, text or call her the next morning to thank her for a fun evening and ask if she would be interested in going on a second date next weekend to do “such and such”. This gives her all of the information she needs to accept or politely decline.
Give her space. Just because you went on a date doesn’t mean you are exclusively dating, courting, or in a relationship. Don’t stalk her social media. Don’t text her every five minutes. Don’t text her late at night. You want her to be looking forward to your next date, not annoyed with you for texting all the time and interrupting her sleep, work, and time with friends! If she goes on a date with someone else before you’ve sat down and agreed to an exclusive courtship (go on at least three dates before doing this, unless she initiates), it’s no big deal! If she agrees to a second date, great! Schedule it within the next 10 days. If she agrees to a third date, schedule that one within 10 days of the second date.
Be ready to accept a “No”. Even if you go on a couple of dates, this doesn’t mean she has to agree to the next one. If she declines to go on any future dates, graciously accept it and wish her well. Refer back to Preparing for Marriage as a Single Man to find any areas for further improvement and stay involved at your parish and young adult group. You’ll find your future spouse when the time is right if you are striving to be the best Catholic man you can be. Just trust in God’s plan.
Learn her love language. After a couple of dates, you should start to figure out what her love language is. If you don’t know what I mean by love language, I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman. If her love language is gift-giving, start brainstorming a simple yet thoughtful gift to surprise her with a small gift (hearken back to things you learned about her in your first conversations). If it’s acts of service, surprise her with a clean apartment (I took care of Mater’s pets while she was on a business trip while we were engaged, and ended up cleaning her whole apartment while she was gone. This probably isn’t a good idea for most people since it could be considered offensive, but it’s a good example at least!). If it’s words of affection, write her a letter listing the things you like about her, from her whimsical laugh to her deep love of God.
I’m far from being an expert when it comes to dating and social interaction (if you doubt me, ask Mater), but I’m hoping that by sharing the things I learned during my experience, you will be more prepared to initiate a relationship as you meet holy, Catholic, single women.
If you have anything to add or share from your experiences, please comment below! We love to hear from you!