Thursday, August 18, 2005

Catholic Match, Huh?

One of the topics of conversation in Nashville: CatholicMatch, Ave Maria, etc. So I throw it to you:

What do you think about Catholics looking online for their future spouse? I would love to see a discussion develop on this... if one starts I will put in my two cents on thursday. If you were one of my early readers (ha!) you might be able to guess.

Go to it!!
Haha, ok, well since there are only a few of us... (Sunset, I wish you'd left it in the combox to make it look better!) I'll just say a couple things, and refer you to my January 25th entry which goes into technology more.

Annee pointed out that we're really lucky to even have this option- or the option to marry for love in the first place. Bayou has said before that it just creates an opportunity that may not exist otherwise for good people to meet each other. The general consensus goes like this: An online dating site itself is neutral, it's how you use it that matters. That's something I would like to challenge, I think. So what might online dating say?

  1. Take matters into your own hands. You can't wait around for people to drop into your life. Ok, this is somewhat valid. No, you can't sit in the highest room of the tallest tower for years and expect Prince Charming to come rescue you. But I don't think you can go to the other extreme of "God only helps those who help themselves," meaning you should do everything you possibly can think of to find someone. God does more than you could ever do by yourself. He's working on it right now if that is His plan for you. God doesn't need you to "exhaust all avenues," especially if they would contradict something about you.
  2. You can get to know me by a profile. This could be partly a pride issue, I concede that, but it's at least partly objectively true that you can't put me in a box. You can't possibly understand who I am by reading a bunch of "facts" about me. You can't know anyone by that. Sure, you could find out my favorite book, music, or quote and that will give you some clues, but it's nowhere near explaining me. I know, I know, this is just the initial stage and it would go on to phone or in person, but the beginning matters.
  3. You just need to find someone who fits the criteria. Catholic and orthodox? Believes the Church's teachings? Wants a big family and to raise them for heaven? Great, let's get married! Um.... huh??? I don't think so! What about a sense of humor? What about attraction? What about the Holy Spirit? On paper, let me tell you, I'm quite a catch. But if someone just sees that and creates this person in their head of who I am, they will be quite disappointed. There will be a measure of disillusionment in any relationship, I'm sure. You always start out seeing just the good and have to learn to see that still when you finally see the bad too. But in this online "system" of finding a spouse, you are practically encouraged to create the person in your mind, because you have no other options. You can't even help it, really. All you have to go on is the fact sheet. I have met great Catholic men who have everything to recommend them. They are fun, cool, and solid. But for one reason or another, something in our personalities doesn't mesh. (This happens with girls too, you meet a friend of a friend that you *should* love, but you just don't click) On the other hand, I have had good friends who are nothing like me on paper. One guy I was very close to was an agnostic, couldn't care less about God, but we got along incredibly well. We could spend hours and hours talking even if we could never agree on a single point. Would I have ever met him on a dating site? No way! I would see "agnostic" and run in the other direction. But his friendship was huge in my life and taught me so much more than those seemingly "perfect" Catholic guys. Getting married isn't about shopping around with a list of qualities you want. It's about an encounter with another who is for you. You find yourself in them. You see how the Holy Spirit has acted in both of your lives to bring you together in an unexpected way. I guess I feel like a gift isn't so much fun if you went to the store to read all the descriptions and picked it out yourself.
  4. Women should be as active as men in the process. I accept that the days are gone when a young man would "come calling." I don't expect to be pursued in the same way that women were in days past, but I do want to be pursued. If I joined an online site, I would not be able to resist that part of me who is still "liberated" and thinks it's ok for me to ask a guy out. (sophomore homecoming, will never forget it) Maintaining my Fiat would be increasingly difficult. "Grasp not" is my motto and I could see it easily slipping away if I searched for eligible young men in the area. Once again the questions would come, how much does it matter? Does it really matter if I'm the first to contact him? Does it really matter if I call first? If I suggest a date? If I take over completely and become one of those mothers who is the head of the house? Baby steps. Overly dramatic? Perhaps. But I'm not prepared to take that risk. The Fiat is too beautiful and fruitful in my soul to let go of.

That's enough for now. John Paul II, pray for us all as we seek our vocations in life. Mama Mary, hold us and guide us!


Devin Rose said...


I have been a member of both the sites you mention for over four years. You can read more on my take on them at my personal site.

Overall, I think they are a mixed bag. It is difficult to foster a relationship with someone over email, and yet email is usually the only way you can communicate for quite some time, especially if they live far away, which they usually do. Eventually you may get to talk on the phone, but even with this more natural form of communication, you still haven't gotten to physically be in the same place as them and interact with them.

When meeting someone in person, you can usually tell in about twenty seconds or less whether you are attracted to them in a way that has potential for marriage or you are not. Over the internet or even the phone, it is often impossible to really know if there is something there.

So, I'm still a member of both of them. The engineer in me (which is a big part of me) says that there is some finite chance, however small, that God will lead me to my future wife this way, so I will stay open to it.

Theo C said...

Online connections and possibly dating have benefits and many minuses. First, you have to hope that people are honest. Deception is all too easy in emails and on webpages that get singles together. Second, while you can learn a lot about a person's faith, values and ways of thinking online, it is much harder if not impossible to gauge the chemistry. When a meeting happens, if it does, it may not be everything we had hoped. Third, it seems to me that online relationships dismiss the physical element that is so much a part of courtship and marriage. I believe in chastity and virginity prior to marriage. However, I am also a big fan of holding hands, sitting close, cuddling, hugging and kissing. I am a Catholic who believes what the Church teaches but I am also a sinner who is thankful for confession. It is sometimes hard to figure what might be a dirty thought and what might just be hopeful anticipation of the life we want. If we did not find the opposite sex attractive, there would be no marriage. Looking for a mate means looking for someone with whom I would like to share my whole life, including the intimacy of our nakedness and passion. That kind of discernment takes personal encounters of the real kind, and not virtual.

annee said...

Intch, Zoe!

To clarify: Basically, I was saying, thank the Lord that my family's lack of cow (dowry) is no longer a deciding factor in whether I wed or it was a hundred years ago in my family. That's all!

It was just a sort of an unnecessary, feel-good, hands-across-America moment. *Not* a statement that Catholic dating sites are neutral. :)

You're right about the main points. You have to work with God. You have to "knock" before the door will be opened! There's nothing passive about knocking!

Did you ask a guy out for sophomore homecoming in high school? What a coincidence, me too! It was something about 1998 that compelled us. :)


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