Welcome to our Blessed Chats series! Each month, we will dedicate an entire week of blog posts to a topic that affects many of us. These conversations often come up in our Facebook groups and in our real life friendships. We want to share a variety of perspectives on the topic at hand, so we’ve asked women to share their stories and how the teachings of the Church have guided and comforted them. In this series, we’re talking about life as single women. We’d love for you to join the conversation!
What thoughts and feelings come up when you think of dating?
If “ugh….” is your first visceral reaction, it could be helpful to explore why that is. Although dating can have it’s highs and lows, the process of getting to know people and ultimately choosing your life partner does not have to be filled with so much disappointment and dread.
Get Out of the Dating Dumps
Here are some tips to help you shift into a more positive experience along the dating process.
Shift Your Mindset
If the thought of dating makes your stomach tighten and makes you want to shut down, the first shift that needs to take place is in your mindset. If you are wanting to be in relationship but all your thoughts are already starting in a negative place, it is going to be difficult to find the kind of man you really want.
Practical exercise // Begin to shift your mindset asking yourself, “What if it were possible to enjoy this process? What kinds of things can I learn along the dating process? What if it were possible to meet great guys and eventually my future husband with joy and ease?” Perhaps journal about this. Ask yourself, “What kind of thoughts toward men and dating could be more supportive for me in the kind of relationship and dating experience that I want?”
Often, there are reasons why we continue to not get the results we want in relationship.
Get help to explore what’s happening for you. What are your fears? How are you blocking love in your life? How do you show up in relationship? Where are there areas in your life of unresolved trauma or pain that has happened in your past?
Do the inner work. If you want a man who is emotionally available, make sure you are also doing the work to be emotionally available and open and capable to receive another in relationship as well.
Practical exercise // Go to therapy. Hire a coach. Get the help that will support you. Sometimes friends, though they mean well, do not always offer the best dating advice or the kind of support you may need. Be open to getting help and support. Investing in yourself and doing your own inner work is also a great gift to your future husband and children. Don’t underestimate this the value that this has on your ability to be in healthy relationship with others.
Sometimes single women say they long to be in relationship with a man, but they have so many hangups, judgments, and criticisms about men in general. Explore how this is for you. How do you feel towards men? What are your thoughts towards men?
Learn to like men. Really like them. Learn about how men think, how they operate differently than women, learn about what they value and what is inspiring to them. You may have been hurt by men in the past, but there are many good and wonderful men in the world. Come to see and recognize the healthy men around you too.
Practical exercise // Open your eyes. As you go about your day, notice the good things that men do. See how the work they do, how they serve and show up and provide and give and protect. See the wonderful ways that they make others’ lives better. Bonus points: Say thank you. Thank the men in your life for the gift they are to you and others (this could be a guy friend, your dad, brother, or someone you are dating). Additionally, show your appreciation by expressing what his effort provides for you (he will be able to hear and receive your words even more deeply in this way).
Write + Pray
Discover your story within His.
I know that it’s easier to just pray novenas to Saint Joseph and hope that God brings your man straight to your doorstep, but if you are really wanting to meet your future husband, it’s important that you actually go out and date men.
Be open. Allow men to give to you. Learn to receive from men. Set boundaries when you need to and in general, be warm, open, and available. Say yes more. Get to know a lot of guys. Connect with a lot of people. Allow men to give to you, to ask you out, to treat you to dinner, to get your phone number.
Allow the dating process to help you get to know yourself better, to clarify what you want, and to be continual practice for important skills in relating to others in relationship. What you can learn through the dating process is so valuable in and of itself!
Practical exercise // Create your online profile! Get over your hangups about online dating and just do it. Show up to places where good quality men are. You need to be visible and available so your man can actually find you! Be open to God bringing you your man through any means.
Dating doesn’t have to be so hard. It’s when we take things too seriously or put too much pressure on a single date or on a specific guy that things turn sour. Allow yourself to relax and to connect with men and get to know them. Get curious. Become excited about all the great guys you are going to meet and get to know and all the things you will learn about yourself and others along the process.
Yes, dating can have its share of disappointment as well as terrible heartbreak. But it doesn’t have to end there. Dating can also be a fun and beautiful journey as you get to know yourself and get to know other guys along your discernment of who is ultimately the right man for you.
Additionally, filling up our own lives with things we enjoy and love takes the pressure off dating.
Practical exercise // Let go of the seriousness and pressure. Allow yourself to meet a lot of men and to have fun. Go on lots of dates and enjoy receiving from men. In the times when you are not dating, fill your life up with things that make you happy. Treat yourself, rest, meet your own needs, and take care of your body. A woman who lives a full vibrant life is highly attractive to a good man, and this will also be a great gift for your future relationship.
Let Go and Let God
Sometimes it doesn’t work out. You may experience many “no’s” before your ultimate “yes.” This doesn’t have to be a problem. If a man is not showing up for you in the way you need or deserve, there is no need to spend any more time with him. There is no need to put energy into the guys who are not showing up for you in a respectful way. Simply let go and move on.
Practical exercise // Practice the mental discipline of not spending time thinking or analyzing those guys who do not show up for you as you want. Move on. Focus on your self-care and put your energy into being visible for the men who show up for you in the ways you deserve.
Prayer is key. The vocation to marriage is ultimately a calling from God. If you feel called to this vocation and are longing for your future husband, use this time to prepare well. The pain and loneliness you may have already experienced along this path can also be offered to God as prayer (this can be a great gift to your future husband as well). God will use everything.
Practical exercise // Pray for your future husband. Pray for all those whom you will meet along your journey. Pray that you may develop the gifts and virtues your future husband will need from you. Additionally, allow your prayer to be expressed in action. Your inner work and perseverance through the discomfort and awkward moments of dating can ultimately bear fruit in an abundance of love and joy. Surrender the dating process to God, and allow God and His angels and saints to bless you and guide you. God will not let you down.
We want to hear YOUR story. Please share in the comments below!
And if you want more help with finding your own story, our popular Write + Pray course offers 9 topics, nearly an hour of guided video, and almost 50 Scripture verses and questions for you featuring Managing Editor Nell O’Leary. Find your story today.