One of the reasons Catholics rush relationships is due to a high anxiety to find their soul mate—sometimes to the point where dating isn’t even enjoyable. Rather, it becomes an all out mission to find a spouse—at all costs.
It goes without saying that you should never seriously date anyone who you wouldn’t be friends with or wouldn’t consider good marriage material. However, the opposite is also problematic; namely, obsessing early on about whether or not this person is your soul mate.
You may find yourself asking questions: “Is this the one?” “Could this be my future spouse? “Where will we live?” “What will our finances look like?”
It can be a tendency to micromanage every little detail at the beginning of a relationship to figure out the spouse question.
This is unhealthy. In fact, it will impede the natural growth of a developing relationship and severely hamper your decision making process.
It also dehumanizes the other person, turning them into a venture to be figured out rather than a person to date who has feelings. As you might expect, trying to decipher what your whole future will look like with this person so early on prematurely attaches you to that person and builds a false intimacy that won’t last.
Rushing into relationships merely to reach an “end goal” leads to a loss of clarity in the decision making process and almost always leads and to compromise. Settling for less is almost inevitable.
I know from my own experience—and from the mistakes of many Catholics—that the more you stress about this question early on, the more problems develop.
Work on getting to know each other first before you start talking about how many kids you want and what sort of house you would live in. Exploring these questions too early in the relationship only creates an unstable foundation that won’t last.
Moreover, this often leads to trying to make a relationship work that shouldn’t. This is because we have invested so much of ourselves so quickly.
It is also easy to miss clear warning signs. We may even justify the warnings; “Well, if we are going to be married someday, I have to learn to live with these problems now.”
No, you don’t. You are not married, and some problems should not be overlooked. Too many Catholics tolerate warning signs unnecessarily which only leads to larger issues later on.
Consequently, early on in a relationship, you shouldn’t focus on the spouse question much, or at all. You shouldn’t imagine your whole future with this person. That comes in time.
As Dave Sloan says, “Dating is fun: relax and enjoy it.” Take pleasure in spending time with the other person—right now—in the present.
Go on fun, innocent, low-stress dates. Enjoy them, and don’t give into worry. Dating can help you get to know the other person, know yourself, discover your likes and dislikes, and what you are looking for in a spouse.
If you don’t want to continue seeing them, be honest. Dating is a mature act for mature people, and if someone is truly mature, they will understand and not grow bitter.
There is no sense trying to hold onto someone who is not your spouse. Staying with the wrong person, for whatever reason, will always keep you from finding the right person God has for you.
So, go about it the right way and “The Pathway to Love” will be more stable and authentic. If you continue to take it slow and pray about it, asking God to lead you, the deeper questions will be answered in time, and you will be free enough to see and hear the answer you are looking for.