10 Tips on Learning How To Date Like An Adult

dating

There’s this funny commercial from Match.com that kind of sums up the three paths people tend to go when it comes to dating.

The first extreme, as you can see in the commercial, is that people want sex and they want it now. Think Sex and the City or Girls (which is really a poor man’s Sex and the City, in my honest opinion). Teenagers especially are filled with lust. I still remember listening to Leah Darrow’s testimony about how her friends were pressuring her to have sex after Homecoming back when she was just fifteen years old. Many Catholic chastity speakers like Jason and Crystalina Evert preach about the importance of being chaste. Arleen Spenceley said that chastity isn’t abstinence but “a virtue that aims to integrate sexuality with the rest of the stuff that makes us human.” The thing is, though, learning how to be chaste is only the beginning.

The other extreme people go, and this applies to people who misunderstand chastity, is an overemphasis on marriage. Marriage is beautiful, marriage is important, and yes, young adults should date with the intention of eventually getting married. But marriage shouldn’t be a be-all, end-all when it comes to starting out. The way people meet will always be different and I can’t speak for everyone on how one should start out a relationship aside from the fact that you need to treat the other person with respect because they are your brother/sister in Christ, not the fulfillment of your fantasies or someone you’re entitled to have.

Dating as a young adult is vastly different from dating in high school or even dating in college. In this new stage in life, some young adults are already getting married and having babies while other young adults are searching for full-time work and binge-watching shows on Netflix and aren’t ready to settle down but are still going out on dates. I’m gonna be addressing the latter group here. This list is for those who are just starting out in the weird world we call “dating.”

1) Don’t stay stuck in the past. The first thing people need to learn when it comes to dating as an adult is that this will be an entirely new experience so don’t compare the person you’re dating to past relationships. You don’t want to compete with the ghosts of your significant other’s past so don’t put them through the same comparison process. Also don’t compare yourself to how you were in past relationships, either. Learn from the past, but move on from it.

2) Don’t be pressured to go the whole nine yards. If you’re just starting out, it’s good to go out on group dates where there’s less pressure or meet the person at events where there will be lots of people. You don’t have to start out with the whole flowers and dinner kind of date. Go bowling or play laser tag or volunteer together. If it doesn’t end up working out with them, at least you had a good time.

3) Don’t let your relationship define and consume you. Love as adults isn’t obsessing over the other person the way you would over your favorite TV show or sports team. Adult love means that we come into the relationship as ourselves and the best kind of love is one where we maintain our authenticity and integrity. You shouldn’t bend over backwards to try and please the person you’re with. Real love is the kind where the one we love stands beside us instead of making our choices for us or trying to take the parts of us that they like and putting the rest of us in a box. If the person you’re dating seems to be a control freak, get out of that relationship ASAP!

4) You are not entitled to have a relationship just because you want one. Let’s say that you have a crush on somebody and you’ve had feelings for them for a long time. Then you ask them out only for them to turn you down. As someone who’s been “friendzoned,” here’s some advice. When the person you want rejects you, you have to accept it and move on. Don’t beg or lash out at them or take your anger out on someone you see as “competition.” Your heart is going to break, but you can’t hate a person for not wanting you.

5) It’s okay to avoid exes. If you had a particularly awkward rejection or particularly sucky breakup, you do not have to talk to your ex if you run into them somewhere. On a related note, don’t stalk them on social media either. Defriend and unfollow ASAP from every social media you have connected with them. Delete their number. You can’t heal from the hurt if you keep thinking about the person who caused it.

6) Don’t put so much importance on being “official” right now. Give the relationship time to grow before anything becomes “Facebook official.” Chances are that you’re still getting to know the person you date. Take it easy on yourself and start out as friends. Life isn’t like a Nicholas Sparks or a Hallmark movie where you meet the right person right off the bat. Some relationships take time to grow.

7) Don’t be a perfectionist. Girls especially have a tendency to read into every minute detail and action that goes on during dates. I implore you to put aside the worry. There’s also a tendency for people to hold the one they’re dating to impossibly high standards. Don’t write off a person just because he showed up five minutes late or you don’t agree on everything. Focus on what’s important. It’s more important that the date showed up at all rather than promising something and not showing up without a very good reason for standing you up. It’s more important that you agree on, say, what beliefs you share and how much you actually value those beliefs than whether or not DC is better than Marvel.

8) Chastity is still important. You don’t have to hold hands or be touchy-feely with the person you’re dating if you are uncomfortable with that kind of affection. There are many ways that people can express their love for someone else. That being said, physical and emotional chastity are always going to be important when it comes to dating, even when you’re starting out. This is why you need to take things easy because putting your whole heart into something that’s just starting out will have major consequences later on.

9) If you’re dating someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, proceed with caution. While flirt and convert is a very popular catchphrase amongst Catholics, you don’t want to date someone with the sole mission of trying to change them. You can’t force someone to change unless they themselves want to change. The person your dating is still a person, not a project. It’s good to hope that the life you lead will inspire the person you’re dating and if you’re like me, your faith is probably part of everything that you do. But when you just start out with a person, it’s better to keep evangelizing off the table for the time being.

10) Pray through everything. When you first meet someone, pray. When you’re just starting out as friends, pray. And regardless of whether things progress into something more than friendship or if things stay platonic, you need to pray. God is the one who created your heart and He will get you through whatever happens. Offer your heart to Him so that if it breaks, He will fix it. Pray for the person you’re dating so that they will be led to whatever God wants from them.

The point I’m making from this list is that real, authentic, grown-up love isn’t about getting what we want all the time. It’s not about the emotional highs or kissing or being “Facebook official.” It’s about wanting the good for the other as other. It’s about learning more about who we are when we’re around other people.  And when we start out in this weird world we call “dating,” we still have marriage in mind, but it’s not an urgent matter. The more important thing is to treat the person we’re dating as just that, a person, an equal.

Reach Out to The Truth! – The Last Night of Cafe Catholica

The best people in life for free.

The best people in life for free.

 

If there’s anything I learned from my last night at Cafe Catholica, it was that appearances can be deceiving and truth is something that doesn’t come in an easily appealing package. Nevertheless, we must always reach out to the truth because we find the beauty and goodness hidden within it.

The first reading from last night is a classic case of idolatry in the face of fear. The Gospel doesn’t seem like it relates to the first reading because it was just about parables. The priest who celebrated Mass last night said in his homily that from the outside, the Kingdom of God looks boring because it can’t be contained. It liberates us from earthly attachments. When the Isrealites were faced with the quiet mountain instead of the show of light and fire from Mount Sinai, they forgot everything that God did for them and turned to an idol instead. It should be noted btw, that I wasn’t exactly laughing when the priest re-told the scene from the reading where Aaron said “We just put the gold in the fire and the calf came out of it.” I get that it’s supposed to be a joke, but I don’t find it funny. A lot of others in the church did, though.

The priest said that we are no better than the Israelites. We forget the way the Lord has transformed us and the works of God that we see in our everyday lives. Instead we seek emotional highs. Wasn’t there a Blimey Cow video or two about that?

And they also did an awesome video about idolatry as well.

I think my favorite part of the homily, though, was when the priest said how he wished the Kingdom of God was more like the battle of Mordor. I genuinely laughed at that part because if you want an epic battle, wait for the apocalypse. The truth is, he said, that the Kingdom of God is less interesting than an epic battle. It comes disguised in the ordinary. Here’s how I would compare it.

We wish that the Kingdom of God was like that excited, energetic kind of happiness we feel during our birthday or the holidays or when it’s easy to celebrate. In real life, the Kingdom of God is more like a warm glow, a soft candle light burning in the night. The Kingdom of God isn’t so much like a huge bombastic rock concert as it is more like a choir singing in harmony sometimes and having a random jam session the rest of the time. It’s a hidden treasure and it’s worth finding.

The lecture last night was a lesson in apologetics. The guest speaker, Dr. Christopher Kaczor, talked about the 7 Big Myths About the Catholic Church. He focused on myths believed by secular society and the common theme about all of them is that the world perceives the Catholic Church as an embodiment of hate: It hates science, women, happiness, gays, gay marriage, children (because of the sex abuse scandals) and love (because of its opposition to contraception).

The truth, of course, is that the Catholic Church is a church of authentic love. The Church embraces a relationship between faith and reason. Many of the biggest names in scientific history are Catholic. I also learned that many cathedrals in Europe also functioned as solar observatories. The Church loves women. (Hello, Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth!?) The Church takes care of the world by serving people in need, therefore making billions of people worldwide happy here on Earth. We also teach about forgiveness, the dangers of greed, and gratitude. We celebrate a thanksgiving with every Eucharist.

We love everyone without exception, but that love doesn’t come in the form of just being nice all the time. I can’t speak for all Catholics, but know that when it comes to the LGBT community, most Catholics are trying to understand it. We are not being bigots when we say that we oppose gay marriage. We just want people to understand that there is a more authentic love out there. No the Church is not always nice. But as they say in Into the Woods “Nice is different than good.”

If there’s one myth/cliche that I hate seeing in TV is the pedophilic/evil priest because while there are issues with that going on in the Church, the world wants to make everyone think that all priests are perverts with issues. That is so so far from the truth. There is no relation between abuse and celibacy. There are also other kinds of people who do the exact same thing but don’t get the same attention. I always believe in speaking well of others and like to see the good in people. I wish more people could do the same and be forgiving about this. You can’t dismiss an entire religion for the actions of a few.

The truth is that the Church loves children and the family. Children are a source of joy and help us to be more grateful. They help us to grow in humility and teach us the value of life and give it meaning again.

The best thing I got out of Cafe Catholica overall were all the new experiences. I sang in a choir. I made new friends. I had a major boost in my social life in the form of hanging out with my new friends. I learned new songs. I learned to be brave and take risks. I learned to find happiness in setbacks. I learned to not be afraid. I learned to move on from my past. I learned to value myself. I didn’t learn these things from any one homily or something a guest lecturer said, but from all of these experiences. I learned these new things by doing them.

If there’s one thing I want to say to anyone who wants to be more involved with their diocese, I highly recommend volunteering for events like this. Take a chance and try something new, like singing in the choir or being a lector at your parish. Be a Catechist or part of youth ministry. You never know where these wonderful new things will take you.

 

Authentic Love: Intangible and Freely Given

I don’t know if it’s just me, but one downside about growing up cradle Catholic is that I have this tendency of taking God’s love for granted. Sometimes, when I feel particularly melancholy, I feel as though God’s love is obligatorily given. He created me, sure, but he also created mosquitoes, roaches, and Michael Bay. He’s God. He loves me and everybody.

But my mother reminds me that God cares as much for the individual just as much as he loves everything he created. You don’t send your only son to be tortured and killed because you have to save humanity. It’s hard for me to believe that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit truly love me, just as an individual and not as just a part of a larger species.

It’s a lot harder for me to remember the blessings in my life when I get into this melancholic state. I’m constantly haunted by my past and fear the future. My present state isn’t so great at the moment, either, because I feel like God is so far from me.

Even though I’m a person who tends to trust her intuition and feelings, there’s still a part of me that wants something tangible. I need proof of God’s love on a constant basis, as if the sacrifice on the Cross and saving me wasn’t enough. It takes a lot of prayer and some songs for me to remember that God holding me even now.

It’s during times like this that I turn to the saints and remember that they shared these same problems. And in spite of my melancholy trying to take over me, I fight against it and try to remember the blessings God gave me. There’s no point thinking of the tragedies that might have been when I’m starting a whole new chapter of my life.

As often as I envy converts, I still feel blessed that I was born and raised in the Catholic faith. I had the privilege of having great nuns as teachers (alongside a good number of lay women). I read The Imitation of Christ during my years in public school and attended a Bible study group that kept my faith afloat even when I felt so lost. God was always working in my life, even when I didn’t feel like He was there, keeping me from going too far. Eventually, I was led to a wonderful Catholic university that helped me to grow in my faith.

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Whenever I think about the stuff that happened after I graduated college, I’m reminded of this song from Laura Story:

In spite of the fact that I developed anxiety, experienced betrayal when I least expected it, and felt like I was stuck in a hole that I couldn’t get out of, God was there to save me.

I don’t have any tangible proof of God’s love, just a lot of memories.

I remember the white smoke that came out, the first little sign that things would be okay. The world gained a new pope while I gained a new hope. I graduated from college. I went to retreats and an Audrey Assad concert. I started teaching Catechism. I started volunteering at retreats as a staff member. I learned the power of intercessory prayer.

Eventually, God took me places I couldn’t even imagine. Sure, I haven’t moved anywhere, but I gained more friends and eventually went to a convention for the first time since my early college years. I eventually gave a talk at a retreat. And now, I’m doing what I wanted: getting paid to write. It’s not exactly writing the Great American Novel and being JK Rowling levels of wealthy, but you gotta start somewhere.

God’s love may not be tangible, but it’s there and it’s a gift that is given with all the love a benevolent Creator can have. It’s not an obligation. It’s a state of grace.