Amy Bonaccorso’s new book, “How To Get To ‘I Do’: A Dating Guide For Catholic Women,” was published Sept. 1 by Servant Books. “Faith, Hope & Love” caught up with the D.C. native, who has contributed to CatholicMatch. Look for an exclusive excerpt of Amy’s book later this week.
At what point did you realize, “Wow, this dating thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be!”
A Catholic boyfriend treated me poorly when I was severely ill. I finally realized that I could not assume that disciplined religious practices, such as daily Mass attendance, would automatically guarantee virtuous behavior in relationships. In chapter one, I describe this incident and why it’s important to look deeper and at the whole person. I quit measuring men by formulaic checklists and threw out a lot of the advice I got previously.
What inspired you to write this book?
Many of my beautiful and intelligent Catholic girlfriends weren’t finding the right relationship and I could identify with their disappointment and frustration. I wanted to help them by passing on my hard-earned lessons, a recommendation that Fr. C. John McCloskey originally gave me in Washington, D.C. as my spiritual director.
I also was deeply moved by Pope Benedict’s outreach to sex abuse victims during his visit to D.C. because I felt that my girlfriends and me formed another hidden group of Catholics who had suffered immensely through misplaced trust. I didn’t feel like there were any writers talking directly to that group of women, so I wanted to write a book that filled that need.
How does being a Catholic woman alter the way you date?
Catholic woman want a man who shares their faith and core values, so it’s logical to initially focus their efforts on places where they are likely to meet a Catholic. They should definitely try places like CatholicMatch.com and other venues that target Catholic singles, like Theology on Tap.
Being in the 2010s now, though, I think Catholic women need to be careful about expecting their dating lives to go the way their mothers’ did. If their play-it-safe Plan A doesn’t work, they should have a gutsier Plan B that includes secular environments if they are serious about getting married.
Can you sum up the advice you give in your new book?
- Carefully evaluate the advice they receive before following it, because bad advice can keep them single longer.
- Get a move on making themselves available so men have a chance to find them – both in person and online.
- Drop excuses and negative behaviors that can poison relationships early on or cause them to give up entirely on finding someone.
- Most importantly, they need to have a living relationship with God and allow Him to work outside of the box. Rigid thinking is akin to binding Jesus’ hands with rope.
How would your advice differ for a male Catholic?
Women want men to take responsibility for their relationships, so they need to be decisive and have a plan. Male Catholics also need to know that Catholic women don’t want to hear them talk about chastity and then be jumped the minute a door closes behind them – it’s their biggest complaint. Respect, honesty, and a little gentlemanly restraint go a long way in gaining a woman’s trust and affections.
Do you think they have the same hunger for this kind of advice?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, I think they are less patient with overly idealistic lines of wisdom than women and therefore just as hungry for credible advice that works. I’ve had requests from men who want me to write more for them. I’m flattered but have told them that I have difficulty writing for them with the same force or sincerity because I have never walked in their shoes. I can tell them what women want though.
Were you married when you wrote this book? How did that inform your perspective, having uttered your own happy “I do”?
Some of my ideas came to me during engagement, but I seriously started writing after I got married and the book after about a year of marriage. I had this sweet spot of crystal clarity, when I could clearly see the mistakes I made when dating and also what worked. I hurriedly captured it in writing so I would not forget. I think other people may experience this window of 20/20 vision too as a life passage, but don’t take the time to pass their realizations on to others because they are too busy.
I see your Amazon sales rank is currently #101,669. That’s pretty good! Tell me about sales.
Amazon sold out of the book after the first three days it was on sale and at one point, the ranking was in the 30,000s. I think they underestimated the demand for the book. It is being spotlighted at the National Shrine and Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., so it has a good chance of reaching lots of people. I am also interested in reaching out to secular media because there are bound to be Catholics in their audience.
What’s been the biggest surprise of marketing this book?
My biggest surprise is that so many people outside my target audience are buying the book. For instance, single and married men, as well as couples, are actually reading it. This conversation isn’t just for single Catholic women; other people want to be knowledgeable about how dating has changed and help their friends and family members.
Also, some readers are interested in what I have to say simply because I am not clergy, a high-brow theologian or even a college professor, but a normal person with a regular day job who thinks a lot and made things happen for herself.