Back when I was dating after my divorce and annulment, a very handsome guy named Eric asked me to have dinner with him.
I worked with him and was impressed by him on a number of levels, so I accepted happily. He made dinner for me at his house (we probably should have gone out instead) and after the dishes were cleared, he began making strong advances and leading me toward the bedroom.
I was doing my best to live a chaste single life and so instead of letting him continue, I decided to turn the situation into something different. I led him back to the living room, where I grabbed a board game from his bookshelf and invited him to play it with me.
Reluctantly he gave in, but we played for a couple of hours and had some great conversation until I went home. As I left, Eric said to me, “That was the best first date I’ve ever had. Thanks.”
I left satisfied that I was able to turn the situation into something good, but wondering how I would ever make it to the altar again without losing the chastity battle. How in the world does a single, divorced Catholic make it in the dating world these days?
Society has twisted the beauty, joy, and life-giving nature of sexual intimacy between a man and a woman into some desperate and cheap egocentric necessity that must be had at all costs. There is an endless parade of flesh and sexual innuendo before our eyes and creeping into our ears every moment of the day.
The media’s message to society at large is simply: “If you’re not sleeping with someone (and really, anyone will do) your life is incomplete and you are a loser.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth of the matter, which is, the best sex you will ever have in your life is something you cannot experience outside of marriage.
The good news
Sex within marriage is total freedom, total intimacy, total joy, and something God intended you to experience.
Intimacy within the confines of marriage means you are safe because you are committed to each other; you experience the freedom and joy because there is no worry about whether or not he’ll call the next morning or whether or not she used a contraceptive. Just total and complete satisfaction, precisely the way God intended.
Does this mean that every sexual encounter in every marriage is incredible?
But the joy, bonding, and happiness intimacy brings is the guarantee you get from God when two spouses who love and respect each other come together with the intention of pleasing each other.
The bad news
The only bad news about this, really, is the discomfort and disappointment that comes when you are not forthcoming about your expectations when you date. A friend of my husband’s went through a nasty divorce about four years ago and was able to make it through with his faith and sanity in tact.
After going through the annulment process, he joined CatholicMatch to find a good Catholic girl to marry, only he’s disappointed that the women he’s dated still expect to have sex while dating at some point; sometimes they even expect it on the first date. On the flip side of that coin, I’ve noticed female CatholicMatch members complain that even though the male members might respond “yes” to accepting the Church’s teaching on premarital sex, they later find they still want to be sexually intimate while dating.
So may I suggest, my dear friends, that you have the sex talk with your date, either before you date or sometime during your first date. No one is perfect and even with a will of iron and the intention to be pure, there will be temptation.
That’s life as adults.
Be upfront with your date and stress the fact that you need a commitment to each other to remain chaste, even if it is only the first date. This is a good step because it will put you both on the same page and reduce the stress of whether or not intimacy will be an issue which makes for a much more relaxed and enjoyable date.
Another helpful tip: let your outfit do the talking.
Ladies, keep the girls inside when you go outside. It’s a simple rule of thumb that will keep you out of trouble and honest. What kind of message are you sending to your date when you’ve stated you don’t believe in sex outside of marriage but then tempt him with a low-cut neckline?
It just doesn’t jive.
Imagine a first date like this: You’ve agreed to meet in the park and take a walk in the late afternoon, getting to know each other in person and then on to have dinner at a nice restaurant later, if all has gone well to that point.
You’re pleasantly surprised that the CatholicMatch online photo didn’t highlight how attractive your date really is. You walk together and the conversation is light and easy. As the sun sets and the street lights begin to sparkle, you take each other’s hands and head off to dinner and more wonderful conversation.
As your date eventually comes to an end, you part ways with a brief but tender kiss, happily making plans for your next date which, considering the way you feel about this first date, you absolutely cannot wait for.
I pray that your dating experiences will be filled with happiness and good times, my friends. Live this time in your life with joyful anticipation of meeting and getting to know new people and what your future might hold.