This letter was edited to protect the writer.
Dear Auntie Seraphic,
I'm writing in search of some dating advice! So there's this guy that I've had a crush on since forever, [grade school] to be exact. I'm now 2-. Being a very shy and insecure teenager, I never caught onto the fact that this guy apparently had a crush on me despite the fact that he asked me to multiple dances. I think he was shy and insecure too, so it was a hopeless combination. We barely even said hi to one another in passing at school.
Anyhow, fast forward [x] years [...] I really grew in my faith during my university years [...] . He, on the other hand, really got into partying, girls, and the whole college boy scene. While home for breaks, since we both hung in the same social circle in high school, I was able to witness some sadly typical behaviour from him. (Most appalling was his drunkeness and some of that awfully disgusting bumping and grinding with his girlfriend - right in front of his younger siblings, parents, and friends).
I've never had a boyfriend, and he's always been one of the only guys who I feel an instant attraction and connection to. This is where my question comes into play.
Recently, he broke up with his most recent "crazy" girlfriend, and he seems to have shown interest in me. I feel like I'm a good judge of character, and he has often showed me a great deal of potential. He goes to mass every weekend and is open to faith, but I don't think he agrees with all the teaching of the Church. Nor does he have a prayer life or show initiative to grow in virtue...
So, do you think it's worth pursuing at least a friendship with him, or am I just setting myself up for failure? I also don't want to pursue a friendship for selfish, emotional, girly reasons while all along knowing that I could never seriously date or marry someone like him. People keep telling me that they think we would be great together, and humanly speaking, I think we would be. I think that's why I've been stuck on him for forever and ever.
I know you can't start dating a guy with the expectation that you're going to change him, but maybe this is a different kind of situation. I've always been very strong in my convictions and boundaries, and peer pressure, etc. etc. I'm not worried that he will corrupt me or anything like that. I'm just wondering if you think it's even worth my time? More than anything, I want to marry a man who loves God and the Church more than me. Yet, I know that sometimes God can work in mysterious ways.
Childhood Crush Girl
Dear Childhood Crush Girl,
From what you tell me, this man is seriously bad news. He is not the same boy you had a crush on when you were [a kid]. He's not the same boy who asked you to those high school dances. He's the boy who ground on his girlfriend without caring or knowing what his parents would think of it or what a bad example it was for his siblings.
As you have never had a boyfriend before, you have not had the arguments and the heartbreaks and whatever it is that teaches a woman how to stand up to bad boy behaviour. (And this is not a bad thing. It is immeasurably better--and very fortunate--to not have any boyfriend until you meet Mr Right, and Mr Right does not indulge in bad boy behaviour and hasn't for some years or ever.) You may think you are incorruptible, but almost nobody is incorruptible. One way to stay on the straight and narrow path is to keep well away from romantic relationships with wild guys known for their drunkenness and lewd behaviour.
So he goes to Mass. Big deal. Going to Mass is the bare minimum of what a Catholic boy should do, and for all you know his family would kill him if he didn't.
Meanwhile, I don't think Single women should pursue Single men in any way. One of the ways to make sure a man does not just use you for an ego-boost or for a good time is to not court him yourself. If you [court him], it will be very hard to tell if he really likes you for YOU or for the thrill you give his ego. And once the kind of man who uses girls knows you like him that much, despite his obvious bad behaviour, your chances of influencing him for good are over.
By the way, does he already know you've had a crush on him for years? If so, not good. Back away. Are people telling you you'd be great together because you keep asking them? Because if so, they might just be telling you what you want to hear.
A [X] year crush sounds extremely unrooted in reality to me. But it also sounds like a part of you that you've really cherished, like books from your childhood. How we hate to throw out things that we have loved for so long! But as we get older we have to put toys and children's books aside to move adult things onto the shelves. And that's what I think you should do now.
Reading this over, this email sounds rather harsh. But I have the distinct impression of a lamb frolicking around the edge of the woods, wondering if Mr Wolf will come out and play. For heaven's sake, don't think you can take on and ennoble some womanizer ("crazy" girlfriend, my foot--maybe one thing that makes her crazy is dating guys like him), especially when you have had no dating experience at all. Stay away from him, don't pursue him, and if he pursues you, behave extremely cautiously. Make him work for your good opinion, and if he's not willing to do that, forget him. Seriously.
Incidentally, if it was he who told you that his past girlfriend or girlfriends are "crazy", do not have anything to do with him. You will be in danger of being the next ex-girlfriend he tells people is crazy.
I hope this is helpful. If you want an authentic good Catholic man, you deserve an authentic good Catholic man. Don't be blinded by a fantasy that has been growing since you were [a child].
Grace and peace,
One of the tragedies of modern Catholic dating life is getting involved with a guy who is not over a drinking-and-partying-and-generally-sowing-his-wild-oats stage in life. You may very well feel, "Humph! That's no way for a Catholic Boy to behave. Humph! We should shun him forever after!" But some (most?) of those guys improve and grow up, and that's just the way it is. The best idea is to steer clear of party boys until they wake up with the hangover of adulthood, which involves much muttering of "Why was I so stupid? I can't believe I was so stupid. Oh, oh oh."
Watch out particularly for party boys you have had crushes on since practically forever. Crushes are a great destroyer of grasp on reality.
By the way, there is a debate over on a conservative Polish website about whether it is okay just to remain a chaste and celibate Single or if conservative Poles absolutely have to get married and have children. (Anielskie Single was cited, which is why I noticed.)
I am somewhat disturbed by the low opinion in which some conservative Polish men hold other conservative Polish men who just don't want to get married, but it does suggest that my 1980s plan--that if when I was grown up I weren't married by a certain age, I would just go to Warsaw and casually drop my passport on the pavement in front of a group of cute guys--might not have been all that stupid and might not be that out of date.
Meanwhile, I repeat that I dislike the expression "start a family" because most of us are born to families and continue to have those families whether or not we get married and whether or not we have children. The more solidly we can anchor the Individual, or Childless Married Couple, or Dad-Mum-Child, into the bigger, extended family, the better.