Article written by: Alicia, a youth minister in the Eparchy of Edmonton.
Deciding whether to date is a complex process. Depending on whether you have dated before or not, the following questions may help as a starting point to reflect on whether dating at this moment is right for you.
1. Do I know the purpose of dating?
Long story short, the purpose of dating is to find a future spouse. This may seem like a radical statement in today’s hook-up culture, but why is it so important?
Looking at the present state of society, I think we could all agree that we need a little more love. The most perfect love is that of God Himself, allowing His only Son to die so that we may have eternal life. Marriage is an incredible example of this deep love in the world, because two people decide that they love each other so much that they commit to dying to themselves in order to live for each other in one flesh, in union with God. How beautiful is that! And how does the lasting happiness of a healthy marriage compare to the instant gratification of a casual romantic relationship?
2. Have I spent time discerning my vocation?
If you are a single person, it’s important to recognize that marriage is not the only vocation to be considering. Marriage is just one way to receive God’s grace and contribute to the life of the church.
As a woman, are you considering consecrated life as a religious sister or a quieter life of prayer as a cloistered nun? As a man, are you also considering entering the priesthood or dedicating your life as a consecrated brother or monk? Give yourself permission to think about all of these options honestly and openly, and know that dating can be an important part of this process. Do not be afraid to ask priests, sisters, and faithful married couples for guidance and advice.
3. Do I know what I am looking for in a partner?
Dating without knowing the qualities you are looking for in a partner is like playing darts blindfolded. It is difficult to aim for the right person, and even if you do find the right person you would never know if you actually ‘hit the target’.
Consider your nice to haves, need to haves, and non-negotiables. Think about your core values and whether they match with this person. What do they think about kids, faith, and finances? Listen to what they say, but be skeptical and look at whether their actions match their words. What do they spend most of their time doing? What are their goals?
4. Am I striving to be the best version of myself?
A common lie that we often hear through media is that romantic partners are our ‘missing piece’, and with them, we can live our ‘happily ever after’. A partner can surely compliment you and challenge you to become better, but marriage is not a Band-Aid solution that will improve your life. And it is far from the truth that even the healthiest of marriages won’t have struggles.
Due to sin, we have all been broken in some way. This could be through experiences such as bullying, abuse, grief, and loneliness. However, it is through working on ourselves with the help of God’s grace and with the support of other people, that we will be able to grow and develop as people made in the image and likeness of God. When we meet someone else striving to do that exact same thing, beautiful things can happen.