Tired of dating in the real world, I had signed up for online dating so I could meet like-minded people. I chose CatholicMatch with the thought, “Hey – it’s CatholicMatch! I’ll be swimming in a pool where everyone is just like me!”
I had a rude awakening. Everyone was not just like me. There were cradle Catholics, converts, reverts, nominal Catholics, Catholics who were testing the waters, Catholics both reverent and irreverent, Catholics who adhered to a few tenets, Catholics who followed it all, Catholics who talked of nothing but the faith, Catholics who barely mentioned it anywhere. I found myself contacting attractive prospects only to realize later that we were butting heads on some pretty important things.
For me, the faith was something that had changed my life. It had become the bedrock of my existence. How could I cut through the guff and start looking at prospects who were on the same page?
I found that the seven questions on core Church teachings, like the Eucharist, contraception, papal infallibility and premarital sex (the answers to which appear under the “Faith/Doctrine” heading in your profile) were a great place to start. I was sorting through almost a hundred profiles every time I did a search. Checking out those seven questions was almost like looking at the nutritional info panel on a frozen dinner at the supermarket (if you will forgive a crude analogy). Almost instantly I could tell if things were going to sit well.
Take a moment to think about those questions before you check any boxes. I guarantee someone is making a split-second decision about you based on your answers. When you answer, you should ask yourself (if I may again be a little crude), “Just how Catholic am I?” Answer the way you would answer Christ if he were to ask you the same questions. Or the Blessed Mother. Or your favorite saint. Or guardian angel. You get the idea. Pray a little beforehand if you have to.
You may be saying, “But I’m flexible on those things. It doesn’t really matter to me how other people answer them because I know who I am and my faith is mine. I’m secure and I don’t make things like that an issue if I am in love with a Catholic feels differently.”
All well and good, but your contact may not approach those questions in the same way. She may be holding those seven answers up as a snapshot of her true self. “This is what I believe, and I do not take it lightly.”
In the blush of new love, we can be swept away in the feelings we have when we are in someone’s presence. “We’ll work out those details later. We love each other, so we’ll find a compromise.” But what if you believe contraception is always wrong, and your mate feels that it’s up to an individual’s conscience?
I am not suggesting that you avoid all contact with someone whose answer differs from yours on a question that you feel is non-negotiable. I’m merely suggesting that you do not ignore it.
Case in point: When I first tested the waters of online Catholic dating, I was still wrestling with the question of contraception. I knew that its use was contrary to Church teaching, and that there was simply no way around this. But I had not yet come to the point where I felt I could follow the teaching. I was honest about that. I explained that while I knew it was Church teaching, I still had a few lingering doubts. This proved too much of a hurdle for some people, and I respected that. One woman, with whom I had been sharing pleasant emails, abruptly cut off all communication when I expressed my doubts.
When my soon-to-be-wife first contacted me, she commented on my courage in putting my doubts on contraception out there, even though she was unquestionably anti-contraception. She found my honesty refreshing and that she respected my ability to be forthcoming.
If you find a contact to be an attractive prospect but spot a question or two that give you trouble – by all means make contact and bring those questions up as soon as is decently possible. You don’t want to pass someone by who might be a perfect match, and you don’t want to get too far before discovering that you might have real problems down the road.
A final tip
Make sure you know what you’re answering. There are handy links under each topic where you can find a brief explanation of the Church’s teaching on that topic. If you indicate that you accept the Church’s teaching on papal infallibility, but not on the Immaculate cConception, try to explain this somewhere in your profile.