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!
As a little girl, I loved when my mom told me the story of how she and my dad met, fell in love, and eventually got married. Naturally, I assumed my own story would play similarly (if not identical) to that of my mom. I thought I would be married in my twenties and by the time I was thirty have several beautiful children.
However, I am thirty-five and not married. I got married at twenty-six and by the time I was thirty I was divorced and annulled. I have no children. I have had two serious relationships and been on all the dating apps or faith-based dating platforms. And yet, I am still single.
While the desire for marriage and family life remain, they have not yet happened for me. Most days, I am okay with where the journey of my life finds me. Some days are frustrating and lonely…especially when I get a weird message from a guy or a first date turns out to be a dud. Deep down, I know Jesus has not forgotten me or the desires of my heart. A plan is playing out before my eyes, even if sometimes I do not fully understand it.
One of the most life changing things I have learned since my first marriage is acknowledging what I had to unlearn (and relearn) about dating. I can confidently say at thirty-five I am probably the most healthy version of “dating Patty” that I have ever been.
What I Had to Unlearn About Dating
You do not need a spouse to complete you.
We can make an idol out of marriage.
Marriage is not the end all, be all. Heaven is our goal, not just getting married.
Finding the “ perfect Catholic guy” will not make everything perfect.
Stop taking dating too seriously. It is a date, not a lifetime commitment.
The idolization of virginity and a (sometimes) lack of compassionate care for people who have sex before marriage. I was a virgin before I got married, but my former husband and I were not always the most chaste. Whenever we have conversations around our bodies, sexuality, and dating, I think it’s really important we come at it from a pastoral, loving perspective and not one of shame.
You do not have to date and marry Catholic.
The assumption that a woman is responsible for the moral character of the relationship. It is not the responsibility of one person alone to be chaste; both people are responsible together.
Learn from Experience
The older I have gotten and more healing I have done in therapy around my body and sexuality, the more I acknowledged the unhealthy messages I needed to release.
Reflect on your own life and the experience of dating and being single. Are there any unhealthy things about dating, sexuality, or relationships that you need to let go?
Talk with Jesus about this.
Write + Pray
Discover your story within His.
What I Had to Relearn About Dating
There is no formula for life. I can live a rich, full, and beautiful life right now.
I am enough with God just as I am, the way He made me.
My desires for love, intimacy, and connection are good things created by God.
I do not need to carry shame about my body or past sexual sins/mistakes.
I can go on lots of dates to help me understand what I need and want in a relationship.
Being married is not the most important thing in life. Living my life for Jesus and serving my neighbor is.
I do not have to settle for the “best option” I can find.
I can have standards.
It is good and healthy to have boundaries in dating (and in a serious relationship).
Knowing Yourself in the Sight of the Lord
Before I got married, I did not really know myself. Honestly I really did not love myself very well either. With a lot of hard work and a boat load of grace, I think I have learned a lot on my highs and lows of being a Catholic single woman. And you know what? I am sure you have as well!
Reflect on your own life, the experience of dating and being single. What healthy things about dating, sexuality, or relationships did you need to relearn?
Talk with Jesus about this.
Unexpected Graces on Unexpected Journeys
Friend, I so wish we were having this conversation together in person. I wish I could give you a hug while holding space for your own pain or frustration when it comes to being single or dating as a Catholic woman.
Maybe your journey has also looked very different than you imagined. Perhaps you are right where you thought you would be. Regardless of what the road has looked like, know God has a good plan for your life. You are not forgotten. You have learned a lot and you are still growing.
I am holding hope for the truth that He will speak over you.
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.