Tuesday, 17 July 2012

You're Allowed to Quit the Singles' Scene

Girls, I know a lot of you are not ready to quit the Catholic Singles' Social Scene. You're signed onto Don't-Be-Alone-With-Baby-Jesus-This-Christmas-Dot-Com. You go to Theology on Tap hoping for new cute boys this time. Heck, you might even belong to a Theology of the Body reading group, and that's fine. You want to be out there, and you're out there.

But some of you are tired of it all. And that is okay.

You do not have a duty to get yourself married. If you fall in love with someone and get married, that is great, but the fate of society is not resting on whether or not you go to that party on Saturday night.

The Blessed Virgin Mary was born. The Incarnation has happened. Technically, sex can stop now. We'd be fine if it just all ground to a halt. Modern marriage is for the weak brethren in danger of burning. In the Kingdom, we'll all sort of be nuns.

Of course, if you're shacked up with someone who ought to be honestly married to someone else, or living a Sex & the City lifestyle, then you are getting in the way of God's plan, and that's bad. But if you are living a chaste and honourable life, well, you're a sign of the Kingdom yourself.

Honestly, it's okay to be Single. If B.A. buys the farm, I'm going to be Single again, too. The world has lots of Single women. Some are never-married. Some were wrongly-married. Some are widows. God loves them all and each one has a life that should be worth living.

Throwing in the towel on the Singles' Social Scene does not mean becoming a hermit. Sometimes it just means seeing men in a fresh new way: as friends, maybe as brothers, maybe (if they're way younger) as spiritual sons, and not as potential husbands.

It means letting go and letting God.

Now, this is easier said than done, unless you want to do it. As I was saying to my pal yesterday, when it comes to social relationships, men generally do what they want to do, unlike women who often do a lot of stuff we don't want to do because we think we should, or we don't do stuff we want to do because we think we shouldn't. And I'm not talking about rational stuff, like not calling a man when you want to because you know in your heart of hearts there's no point. No, I'm talking about listening to irrational voices that tell you that you have to go to this party and you have to sign up with this website and you have to go on that blind date because um uh um what if?

If you want to quit searching, quit searching. It's okay. For all you know, that might be the only way you'll find your path. If you've been chasing this guy and that, or obsessing about the weak signals of interest this guy and that have been putting out, you might discover that it is incredibly freeing just not to care anymore.

And you might change your mind next week. And that's okay, too.

If God wants you to get married, you'll get married. It's not all up to you. Possibly not much of it is up to you. I met my husband because a Scottish doctoral candidate read a science fiction/fantasy serial I posted on my blog after I fled BC. I was a tad loopy at the time, and definitely not relationship material, especially as I was still in that stage where I was telling my pals that BC might be the antichrist. But God can work with anything, believe me.


Bernadette said...

Thank you! That is exactly what I needed to hear today!

Jam said...

Fairly or unfairly, it's the thought that I "ought" to join a dating site that makes me feel wretched. I have given myself a more or less standing dispensation from online dating. Still and all. I've only been on three dates in my life, all first dates and it feels very much like uncharted territory. I can appreciate the argument that maybe it would be better to have more experience -- not, obviously, sexual experience as my more worldly college friends would have insisted on, but just plain old dating experience, knowing how to behave in a situation that's so one-on-one.

Seraphic said...

Oh for Pete's sake. Dating is a modern invention, and it is very stupid. First dates are the absolute worst. And dating doesn't even happen in some countries. You just hang out with gangs of friends and one night at a party you find out the guy you have a crush on has a crush on you and you kiss like in the movies. In the UK this happens at about 2 AM when you have had a lot to drink.

Nobody should count up their dates as if a lot of them mean social success and only a few of them mean social failure.

The thing to do is make lots of friends, lots and lots, and see if any of the friendships catch fire. But for heaven's sake don't think "dates" mean anything.

okiegrl said...

To Jam-I agree with Auntie that it's not a good idea to stack up your number of dates and judge success/failure on that. Kissing friends after closing time aside*,dates are still how many people go about starting a relationship in the US. It's likely you'll go on more eventually. Maybe I read your comment wrong, but it sounds like dates are a source of anxiety due to the new situation? I've found that seeming interested in what the guy has to say as well as smiling goes a long way toward easing the awkwardness. (First dates are often not that great... although they can eventually yield funny stories later.) My apologies if I misinterpreted!

*Funny that Auntie mentioned kissing after drinking a little too much... That is how my bf and I got together.

Steph said...

I often feel as though I am either being lazy or too aggressive in my searching for a man. I either throw up my hands in frustration after one too many Theology on Taps and altogether boycott the social scene, or else I diligently go to work creating a CatholicMatch.com profile, treating the search for a husband like a search for a job! I think what I'm beginning to realize, though, is that I don't need to do either. Life is so much more enjoyable when I'm not on the prowl and I can focus my energies toward being kind to people and striking up conversations that are not based on an agenda (i.e. is he husband material?) Of course, all of this is easier said than done, especially as you watch all your friends get married off and start to have children. You begin to wonder what you might be doing so "wrong" that by comparison you're no where near a relationship, let alone marriage! But the comparison game is never, never, never helpful in these situations. Lately, when I find myself drawing comparisons, I try to immediately stop myself and turn it into an exercise of recounting my blessings--naming the experiences I've had or the things I've begun to learn about myself precisely because of the fact that I'm single. I think this helps take me out of my pity party and distracts me from depressing thoughts about a life destined for loneliness long enough to appreciate that I too have been blessed in many rich and powerful ways.

okiegrl said...

I've felt like that too! Especially when I think of my non-Catholic friends that have been married, divorced,and married a second time, and they're my age! And I can't get ONE guy to propose!! (Divorce is horrific, and in my normally sane times I thank God I haven't had to go through that. It just goes to show how much I lose perspective sometimes.)

Craziness aside, I've learned to let people around me know that I'm interested in dating someone. Lots of married people like setting single friends up, if they know you'd be interested. I find that helped me not get too caught up in trying to find a decent guy by myself.

Jam said...

Let me try and clarify. I was thinking about the issue of whether or not to sign up for online dating. Plenty of my (non Catholic) friends do online dating, and plenty of advice (Catholic and non-Catholic) seems to focus around online dating as something everyone ought to try if they're serious about wanting to get married. Now for me personally, having had a conspicuous lack of romantic life, my friends have been sort of encouraging about it, that is that I ought to give it a try. And I can acknowledge that I'm a little socially awkward, and specifically on the dates I have been on, I've been really nervous and shy and awkward and unsure of what to say and generally unable to give a good impression or even form much of an impression of the other person. So I can appreciate that maybe my friends are right, that online dating might help, in giving me a chance to get comfortable in that situation. I guess it's like applying for jobs: at first you feel unable to promote yourself properly, it feels wrong, but once you do it a few times you build up your confidence. THAT BEING SAID, I don't buy this argument because (1) it seems a little utilitarian (2) I'm just not comfortable with online dating and (3) I have too many problems on my plate to worry (much) about being single right now. I guess my bottom line is just that I don't feel pressured into going to alumni bar nights or parish bible study, but there's a certain kind of person who says "why don't you just join a dating site" and I don't always feel like I have a good excuse. I still don't feel like I'm expressing this well, but oh well.

Kat said...

Oh Auntie! You are so right! Today I needed to hear that so much. And although I have not put in the towel,..I've decided to focus on what's important to me right now. Funnily enough,I ran into this man I'm interested in, and he invited me to spend some time with him- not saying he's "the one" but it does make for a good reminder that HE will put people in your life at a certain time for a reason. So maybe, just maybe it is in letting go that we receive.

okiegrl said...

Jam- Ahh, I see what you're saying! If you're not into online dating, don't feel like you have to do it because your friends are encouraging you. After all, plenty of people have met and married before the internet existed.

I was just wondering, because I've totally been the super nervous/shy/anxious girl on a date who found it hard to relax.

Seraphic said...

I don't like Catholic dating sites. It's too bad because then I might be writing for one! But I don't like dating sites because I think they exploit people and by their nature create imaginary relationships between people who don't want to meet real people but send and get witty emails.

However, I know a wonderful couple--strong-minded, outgoing--who married because they met online and decided to meet at once rather than after months of texting. It was not a Catholic website and the man was really horrified at the cruel messages strangers would leave. It can be a jungle out there.

I've written a lot of advice on my blog about internet dating, so see if you can find it.

Christina said...

Thanks so much for this! This is exactly my struggle right now, and so this post is encouraging.

Alisha said...

Hear hear! It is quite freeing not to care. Admittedly though, it can also be a little sad, even if you are a Serious and happy Single. I think even if I was a Searching Single, I wouldn't bother dating or looking because I honestly just don't have faith about it all - don't have faith in the men that are out there and their capacity to love or that they are really looking for authentic love. I don't have faith that it's all worth it. It's strange because I know many good men, and I love them and trust them, but I do because they are brothers or priests or other roles that have nothing to do with dating. It's a bit sad that I feel that way because I would like to look at men with more hope and also be able to better empathize with people who really do hope to find husbands. Instead, I'm usually thinking "why?" or "don't - you'll just get hurt or disappointed", which isn't a very supportive mindset.
But Amen to not doing things that you are not under moral obligation if you don't want to!!