Disclaimer: I am not a dating expert.
I hit a moment in my 22nd year where I realized that I had gone through 4 years of college and not gone on ONE real date. Sad. Very sad.
So of course the usual mantra of things began: am I ugly? Should I change my hair? Maybe I should get a spray tan? Are there even any potentially datable men in my life? Do I even see men outside of my family on a regular basis? Are there even any 20 something single Catholic men in the world?! Does this mean God is asking me to join the convent?! The mantra goes on and on if you can believe it.
See, God is awesome enough to have sent alot of good men into my life. I have heard incredible stories about men who go to great lengths for the women that they love. I have also had extraordinary men love me in ways that are not romantic. I thought that only guys who did cutesie Catholic things would be worth my time, and I was expecting these things immediately. I overlooked the fact that a lot of these gestures came after a deep, strong friendship. If you would have asked me to describe my dream man when I was in college, I would have told you that he would be a guy who would walk up to me and invite me to the chapel to pray the rosary with him…cute I know. I was wondering, kind of desperately, why a man like that hadn’t come into my life.
In my mind I would say things like: If he doesnt initiate the conversation he’s not the one. If he doesnt make his intentions clear he’s not the one. If he doesnt take me to Church on the first date, he’s not the one. If he expects to date me for more than one month with no relationship he’s not the one. If he doesnt ask me to pray the rosary with him every night hes not the one.
I WAS DECIDING SOMEONES WORTH OVER HIS CHANCE TO SAY HELLO FIRST, HIS DATE IDEAS, A TIMELINE, AND HIS TYPE OF DEVOTION.
When I’m in a social situation with alot of people, how the heck is it going to be possible to insure that he is going to say hello first? Also, in the real world, men dont ask women to the chapel to pray the rosary, and at this point, I would honestly think that would be too much! I’ve heard of guys taking girls on church dates, but the average 20 something Catholic man doesn’t always have Mass on his mind when taking a girl on a date. He probably just wants to talk to her, he probably just wants to keep it simple, and he probably wants a low-pressure situation. He might want to save church for when things are more serious, and I think that’s cool.
My expectations were sky high, and in my mind, I thought I was just keeping my standards up, when in reality, I wasnt giving anyone a chance.
I had this list in my head of the perfect man and I knew exactly the way he was going to treat me, every step of the way. It was all about me, really. So 22 year old me started going on dates, real dates, and not one of these guys were asking me to pray the rosary. I dated all kinds of guys in my 22nd and 23rd year and every single experience was different. The only thing that was consistent was that these guys were imperfect, and not meeting my expectations. Luckily I had come to the conclusion that I also in fact, am imperfect.
A man is worth more than his ablity to intiate a conversation. Some people are just not good at that. Most people in the world dont pray the rosary, just because they dont, does not mean that they are not worth getting to know. These lists created this thing where I was trying to fit a person (who has many facets and parts) into a very small box, and it wasn’t working.
I decided to get to know people and stop comparing men to this crazy list of things that I had conjured up in my head.
Men are not lists. Men are not lists.
Men are incredibly complex people with hearts and hurts and hobbies and loves and families and messes of their own. A list is a sheet of paper with words on it, a person will never compare to that, they are just two very different things, and letting a person be everything that they are is so much more incredible than swating them away when they don’t match what’s on the page. In dating, I want someone to accept me just the way I am; I want a man (friend or boyfriend) to decide my worth after getting to know me a little bit. I want to be someone who does that for others. Even men. I want to see people for the incredible light that they are, and not see them for how much they don’t match my lists.
I re-evaluated my standards, and I eliminated my crazy expectations. I told God that I wanted a man who is living chastity and wants to be a saint. High standards of course, but low expectations. I stopped seeking the man who “looked” the holiest on the outside and started trying to love every person I came in contact with in a way that would show them that they mattered a great deal to me. I want to love in a way that makes people feel comfortable enough to be exactly who they are, rosary or no rosary. Love is not about what I get, love is about what I give.
Boyfriend is pretty cute. He lives chastity and he wants to be a saint. All the rest of the things? I’m still learning. I initiated the conversation, and we’ve prayed the rosary together once for a friend who is seriously in need. He didn’t take me to church on our first date, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t a holy man. He’s a person and not a list, and so am I. I can get to know, and I get to be all the things that he is and I am, and it doesn’t fit into a pretty little box. There’s alot of freedom in that.