Single Catholic Guys: Wake Up!

Look! This guy’s a star simply because he took some dance lessons

It’s never been a better time to be a single Catholic guy.

Why? Because there are thousands of lovely, faithful young Catholic women waiting for you to step up to the plate and court them!

Yet many Catholic guys are unsure about themselves, uncertain, dithering, wavering, vicissitudening. Stop it! In Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit, you can change this and face your fears, be courageous, bold, and manly. It’s not about being a boor, or having enormous muscles (though it wouldn’t hurt to go work out), or swaggering around like you’re Tom Cruise after a Scientology retreat. It’s about being yourself and living up to who God made you to be.

Consider this blog post your wake up call. My wife and I are writing a book that touches on these issues, but I want to give you the heads-up now so you don’t have to wait. Here are some tips on pursuing a woman you are interested in getting to know more.

First, you as the man need to pursue her. Don’t be ambivalent or ambiguous. Get the wishy-washy words out of your vocabulary. “Well I was thinking that maybe sometime—if you’re free of course and don’t have anything better to do—you’d like to meet somewhere, you know, just for fun and stuff…” No! Even if you are self-conscious, don’t act that way. The worst thing a woman can say to you is “no.” Does that rejection hurt? Sure it does. But if she’s not interested in you, beating around the bush and hemming and hawing won’t change that. And if you do come across as confident (but not boorish), you could increase your chance of a favorable response. Simply find a good time to ask her if she’d like to have coffee with you. There’ll be more on this subject of boldly pursuing the lady in a future chapter.

While you’re single, you may as well learn some manly skills, too. I grew up playing sports and only occasionally worked on the car with my dad or fixed something in the house. As such, I learned almost nothing about these valuable skills. I wished I had now! Now’s the time for you to learn home and car repair, carpentry, pipe smoking, beer making—whatever, just pick some things and learn how to do them. You won’t regret it later, and these abilities are attractive to women.

Manners, dress, and conversation. Regarding manners, learn some. I remember my humiliation when a young woman told me after dinner that she wasn’t used to a guy who blew his nose at the table. Ouch. No one told me that was a bad thing to do. Katie almost sent me home packing because of my atrocious wardrobe choices. No joke. More on that story later, but the point here is that, if you have no sense of style or care about how you dress, find a good buddy who knows how to look sharp and get some pointers from him. I had two great Catholic friends who dressed well and kept themselves looking clean-cut with their haircuts and personal style. I was a moron and didn’t learn from them. I cut my own hair to save money—don’t ask how it looked, especially in the back—wore cologne sporadically, and bought the cheapest clothes I could find. If the button-up shirt didn’t say “wrinkle free,” I wasn’t buying it, because I couldn’t be bothered to iron anything. Now I wished that I had done just a bit more in this area to put my best foot forward.

Your conversation and manners can be exponentially increased from simply reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and then watching the five hour BBC miniseries adaptation. The first time I watched it, I thought it was the stupidest thing I had ever seen. Now I realize Austen’s genius and have read all her books. The books date back a few hundred years to a time when the culture was still Christian and the men were educated and trained in respectful, virtuous ways. Their vocabulary and precision in speech is worth emulating. If nothing else, you will impress any Catholic woman worth pursuing by the mere mention of the book or movie!

Along these same lines, if you have the gumption, learn to dance! Not the gyrating, techno-music club-hopping kind of “dance,” but real dancing: the waltz, the foxtrot, contra-dancing, and so on. These increase your confidence, your hand-eye coordination, and make a big impact on a woman. Most guys can’t dance like this, so you are a leg-up on them (pun intended) if you add this to your repertoire. For our wedding, Katie and I took dance lessons and had a choreographed dance routine set to a Frank Sinatra classic. Nice! One of our friends exclaimed as the dance ended: “That was the best wedding dance ever!” Well, in truth I was a little stiff but I twirled and dipped Katie enough that people were impressed.

Guys, I leave you with this: you have strengths and special skills that others don’t have. Capitalize on them. Sure, try to shore up your weak areas, but know that you will excel in those ways where you have been given talent and interest. So strive to emphasize those and accentuate them, while minimizing the other areas. We are all a work in progress, and though I portray myself as having learned all these things before marriage, the truth is I’m still a novice at many of them, as my wife can tell you. (In fact, I never learned how to dress well, but I made Katie happy by giving her carte blanche to buy my clothes for me and advise me on what I should wear to important gatherings. She’s happy to do it, and I’m happy not to have to think about it—a win-win situation if there ever were one!)

So many beautiful, faithful, intelligent Catholic women are waiting for a Catholic man of substance to come along, introduce themselves, and without ambiguity invite them to courtship. Be one of the blessed guys who steps up and answers the call of God to ask them out.

Your turn: What can Catholic guys do to “put their best foot forward”? And any tips for the ladies would be welcome as well.

79 thoughts on “Single Catholic Guys: Wake Up!”

  1. Good tips. Like many men and women, I’m generally a homebody and still am after marriage (as is my wife). It’s not because because I’m socially shunned. On the contrary, if I desired it, I could be part of many social groups and parties. Anyone who feels they’re left out and live in a city and doesn’t work in a cubical job where you don’t even have an opportunity to see a single human face, really has no excuse.

    I’m a home body simply because I enjoy studying, working on personal projects, and taking the occasional course. I did notice two things that hindered me. One is that even though I lived in a city and my parents moves around a lot, I scarcely knew the city beyond a few isolated spots where I lived, worked, and studied. I’m also pretty intellectual, so I often have a lot to say, but since few people understand what I have to say to the depth I want to talk, I tend to be quite. I began taking up hiking through the city to fill in the gaps, and spending my vacations simply hiking from one end of the city to the next, and then walking to neighbouring cities to see what could be seen. It was refreshing and eye opening. I started listening to replace my home study and discovered that I could “read” and more importantly “reread” several times more audio books than I could actual books. So much so, that I ran out of audio books frequently and had to listen to simpler audio books (which were more popular but less intellectual) from time to time and read many of those “I really need to read that book one day when I get the time” classics that are on many people’s books list. These days its incredible how much is free.

    Both the hiking and the audio books expanded my experience and my horizons and allowed me to have more to say that people could relate to, and many secretly wish they would do. It’s not surprising that I met and married wife only a few years later. I got married at 40, so without the hiking and audio books, I likely wouldn’t have married and would have remained an intellectual home body that had missed out on a wonder family with wonderful two children.

    1. Anil that is great food for thought coming from an introvert and intellectual. You simply must go outside your door! Otherwise you will not meet anyone. And you need to step outside your work-home commute rectangle; so glad you met your wife and are blessed with a family!

  2. You forgot the manly skill of assembling anything that comes in a box with an instruction manual that was obviously written by someone whose native language is not English. Very useful, especially on Christmas and birthdays. I just put together a 14′ tramp with safety net in the backyard for my kids. Easy to assemble in 14 simple steps! Yeah, right.

  3. Love your Jane Austen advice! We’re in the hospital with our daughter for a bit, and I just finished telling my husband that Pride and Prejudice is first on my hospital reading list! Got it loaded on the Kindle last night. : )

    1. Thanks Jennifer! Austen amazes me with how much she can pack into such a small volume. Truly a masterpiece of insights into human relationships and foibles.

  4. SO glad you are addressing this!!! Whew! There are many men who will benefit from it, and women, too. So many good women waiting, and so few Catholic men who know how to act like the men God wants them to be! I mean, there are faithful Catholic men out there, but they are still far from marriageable, and they really do need to step up. I can’t wait for the book! (And, the stories of your hapless past made me laugh!)

    1. Yes Leila, exactly. I wish someone had pulled me aside when I was a single guy and slapped me around a bit on this stuff. Would’ve done me a lot of good. Fortunately God stepped in three times during my courtship with Katie and made it work out IN SPITE OF my cluelessness.

  5. Great post! It made me laugh, but also gave me food for thought. Thanks!

    Devin – going to follow you on Twitter. We should work together. Hope you check out my blog.

  6. How about an article to help single men make the determination of whether the woman is authentically catholic. It is great to sharpen the skills of the single man but such a downer if he connects with someone not in a state of grace, or who will be prone to contracept later in life. How can you make good observations that indicate a promising future and a spouse that helps you grow in holiness and achieve the great reward – heaven?

    1. Excellent idea. I have six daughters and 4 sons (9 of the 10 not married, theone daughter who is married is married to a very nice, but agnostic young man) and am constantly concerned about this. I’m surprised there’s not a market for parish or at least diocesan matchmakers.

  7. Here’s something to think about: I think you will find that many Catholic girls are close to their parents and siblings. They tend to enjoy spending time with their families; from working in the family garden to attending siblings baseball games, etc. No, you are not courting the family but someone who is interested in and gets along with the family is certainly someone that puts the ‘date’ at ease. Be sure to make the effort to meet the parents and siblings.

    1. Great point, Catholic Mom! Devin and I deliberately followed the courtship model of marriage discernment, in which our relationship was grounded in time spent on group dates and with our families. We had time alone, of course, but also wanted to spend time with groups because we wanted to get feedback on our relationship from those who know us best and can see things we might have missed. Case in point, my family saw that Devin was perfect for me before I did and encouraged me to give him a chance. I was preparing to tell him “no thanks” when my mother pulled me aside and wisely advised me to be open to him, terrible wardrobe and bad haircut and all. 🙂

      In addition, a courtship in which family is involved is great practice for married life; we don’t just marry a spouse, we marry a whole family with quirks and preferences and habits, and the sooner we learn how to navigate those waters, the better. In fact, for our first visit (we “met” online and had only corresponded until then), I deliberately invited Devin to come on a weekend when I knew that 5 of my 7 siblings would be home. I wanted to test Devin, in some sense, to see how he would handle himself around my 4 brothers and see if he was socially mature.

      Thanks be to God, who brought Devin and me across many miles and through various challenges.

  8. Some of this advice could very well be heeded by married men, as well. 😉

    Just yesterday I was arguing with my husband (I know, sometimes marriage is not all sunshine and bunnies and there are arguments, unromantic as it is) about his work wardrobe. He is great at his job, but I’m sure there is some convincing he has to do when he shows up at meetings in mismatched clothes and with fraying hems. I have tried to teach him how to match clothes, or even just picked them out for him, but he ignores me or feels insulted that I think I know more than him about how to dress. I wish he had a male friend that dressed really well, but…he doesn’t. (It seems like an epidemic among men in their mid-20s.)

    To his credit, he did take a ballroom dancing class with me in college, and despite our otherwise nerdy selves, have been a hit at weddings because we can dance. Once our son gets a bit older I would like to actually go out dancing for an evening – and not just a club with thumping bass, but actual dancing – and from what I understand there are always women who are waiting for good partners at ballroom dance nights…hint hint, single guys!

    1. Silica,

      You show him this reply.

      I learned a long time ago that a man should always bring a woman along with him when he shops for clothes. What we think looks good is not always the case. Actually 95% of the time we are wrong when it comes to clothes. All of my clothes are picked out my sister currently, but when I get married, it is my hope that my wife will choose my clothes for me. Heck – she can even shop for me when I am not with her. I will trust her enough that she knows what I look good in – socially or for work.

      If we are not careful, men that is, we could end up looking like some dude from the 80’s (that was a bad time for clothes) or we could look like Will Smith in the Prince of Bel Air (those clothes were a bloody mess). I can’t tell you how many times I have been complemented on my clothes. It’s great to get those, but what they don’t know is that a woman (my sister) picked out my clothes.

      Moral of the story: Men – Always take a woman clothes shopping with you because what we think we look at good in is nearly never the case. They know what we look good in.

  9. Devin, with all due respect, as an engaged Catholic woman, I think you have done Catholic single women a huge disservice with this post. My fiance doesn’t dance (except for a sweet slow song), and I don’t think he has read much Jane Austen besides what was required in high school. And, to be honest, if he did quote Jane Austen to me with no intent / motivation other than impressing me, I’d think he was just as corny and desperate as the men & women who go on the Bachelor / Bachelorette looking for “love”. I say this in sisterly love – your post sounds like advice that would’ve come from the Bravo show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”.

    Here’s what our men need – PRAYER. JESUS. THE SACRAMENTS. Do these things for yourself and for God to become the man He wants you to be. Be ready to be the Ephesians 5 man that she deserves. Pray for your Proverbs 31 wife.

    And, to be honest, it impressed me MUCH more that my (now) fiance can quote Uncle Buck instead of Pride and Prejudice. He didn’t know it was one of my favorite movies; it was just another quirk that we both shared. He quoted it and I swooned. Not exactly Jane Austen, but John Hughes can certainly be a heart-winner.

    1. Hi Kristan, I think you may be focusing too much on the particulars. It’s not so much the Austen or the dancing, as it is that Catholic men who wish to be husbands should strive to improve themselves, always, and that by necessity that’s going to involve at least a little moving out of their comfort zones. For many men, Jane Austen and dancing is going to be an example of that! And even if you do it and you still don’t think it’s your cup of tea, you will have grown and learned from the experience. (Just keeping with the Pride and Prejudice theme – my husband thought I was absolutely nuts that I wanted him to sit down with me and watch this almost 6-hour miniseries, and yet even now when I bust it out – it’s a favorite when I’m feeling sick, he’ll come in “just for a minute” and end up watching the rest of it with me, offering commentary on how rude Mr. Bingley’s sisters are or whatever. It would never be the first thing he would pick to do, but that’s OK with me. He’s learned that it’s important to me and that alone means that it must have some kind of value, even if it’s not obvious to him.)

      Along a similar line of thought…I learned how to like sports because of him. I never would have chosen to just watch a football game for the heck of it, but when he asked me to watch a game with him I did and learned more than I ever thought I would want to, but I see the value of it now when before I just saw a stupid, brutal game. Sometimes I put the game on even if he’s not there to watch with me!

      The real trap is thinking that everything you already want to do is all there is that is worth doing at all. And if you haven’t met your future spouse doing the same old things and not growing or changing, you’re sure not likely to in the future!

      1. Silica,
        I agree and see where you’re coming from. I agree completely that chivalry is key (especially the courage to truly pursue a woman and manners).

        Let me be honest – this is my first time visiting this blog, and I don’t know Mr. Rose’s normal tone. Reading it cold turkey, this almost sounded like a marketing pitch (hence, my reference to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”). It sounds like a “do this, do this, do this, and BAM, you have a wife”. That’s what I interpreted. I mean, the caption under the picture reads “Look! This guy’s a star simply because he took some dance lessons”

        It reminds me of the movie “Hitch”. The woman in the movie is enchanted by Kevin James’ character because he did the things that made him him instead of suppressing those characteristics (like what Hitch told him to do).

        For me, if a guy wants to become a better man, that will inspire a woman to grow in holiness. The desire to improve has to be for yourself and for God; not for the sole intent of attracting a woman.

        This entry just sounded too formulaic for me, and God isn’t included in the formula. Not all men are called to marriage; discernment is a necessity.

        1. Kristan, thanks for your thoughts and welcome to my blog. Spiritual formation is discussed in the section just preceding this excerpt, as I also believe that you must seek God’s will for your vocation and choice of spouse if called to marriage.

          You are right that there is no one formula. This post focused on some things that I see many guys are lacking at the human/natural level.

          And I assumed that EVERYONE can quote Uncle Buck from memory!


        2. Hear hear, Kristan! “Ditto!” everything you just wrote about Jesus, prayer and the sacraments. It is true, as another person commented, that you never know if someone will remain orthodox, but you sure have a good idea if when you are discerning whether or not one really depends more on God than himself, or is just going through the motions in false piety. Those guys will be shaken reeds in the (sometimes even slightest) winds. What is most attractive to a woman is a man who has integrity because he trusts more in God than in himself, and is, therefore, willing to consistently to take on the most arduous tasks regardless of the costs* (*in holy prudence and according to one’s state in life), if they are for things like defending the faith, family, the dignity of life and of women. This is “manly”. Anything else that is stereotypical “manly” is superficial if it doesn’t come first from a man who desires to live virtuously and to grow in virtue first, out of love of God, and secondly, out of love of God’s creatures and intended order of His creation (firstly, of course, mankind). This is exemplified in one who takes the Sacraments seriously and orders his will towards honoring God in regarding the seriousness of receiving Jesus’s True Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist. Also, in hand with that, is daily devotion to the Blessed Mother. Nothing can make a man more “manly” than that, on a natural level or otherwise.

  10. I think “Rick” needs to know that just because a person is a self-described “authentic Catholic” today it doesn’t mean that she (or he) will still be Catholic 5 years from now. Faith is not a once-for-all decision; it’s a decision that has to be reaffirmed with each new sunrise. You can’t control what your spouse will believe as time goes on; the important thing is to nourish your own faith and get yourself ready to commit to loving someone in spite of their imperfections. We all have imperfections, but none of us can predict WHAT imperfections a spouse will eventually have. (I’m speaking from experience here.) Marriage and parenthood entail enormous sacrifice and we all respond to those sacrifices (and trials and tribulations) differently. I also recommend that single men get their finances in order, get “globe-trotting” out of their system if they can afford it, and do some heavy soul-searching as they plan their careers, because when you find yourself the sole-provider of a wife and 5 kids under age 6 in a career that doesn’t suit you, the stress will build. Forget about buying that cool truck or going on hunting trips or seeing the world. Your life will consist of coming home tired to a tired, emotional wife and crying, whining babies and kids. It is NOT romantic or fun. Most of the time. It’s hard, exhausting work. And it’s the way God intends most of us to be sanctified. So yes, please, “man up.” Know what you’re getting yourself into, without the rose-colored glasses on. If you can learn to love all the people around you right now, exactly where they are at on their journeys, then you will be well-prepared for the challenge of marriage.

    1. Oh but it smells sooo good!! I’m not thinking of a man spraying axe all over himself, but of how my boyfriend wears his- enough so that I can smell it if I’m close, but not enough to leave a scent trail as he walks past people in the office. Men should wear cologne like women wear makeupp- make it as natural as possible.

  11. Thank you for your thoughts, funny, but I agree with you about finding insight and inspiration by exploring classic literature. Your example is one of my favorite reads. I also enjoy poetry, and the stories behind the poetry, like Elisabeth Barrett Browning… 

    I am 53, a convert, and have taken an early retirement to live more inline with the Gospel and the Church mission of service.

    I would like to find a mate with the same goals, my challenge is where to meet our eligible Catholic sisters in my age range, I do dislike the computer dating option.

    I have started to take classes to  hopefully qualify to become a Deacon, and hope I can meet someone before I qualify to become ordained. It is truly in God’s hands.

    The website “Art of Manliness” has been helpful in ways to be a gentleman.

    Looking forward to more viewpoints on this topic.

    1. Why do men who are older (over 40) and still single think that it’s a good idea to become a deacon? Unless you are looking to become a priest, I don’t think this is realistic. I feel like men often do this to be seen in the limelight for any prospective single women, even if their intentions are in part to do something for God. The number one thing God wants for each of us is to become united to Him, and that means He wants us to grow in holiness to get there. The spiritual life has more to do with prayer and growing in the virtues with obedience to God in the commandments (not just avoiding mortal sins habitually, but also to strive to overcome our major faults that lead to venial sins). I don’t think becoming a deacon is advisable, personally, for one who is looking to become married eventually. When you become married, your time should be devoted to bringing yourself and your spouse, and any subsequent children, to holiness and so to heaven, and not focused on spreading your time outside of work to the Church. The deaconate is best served by men who are looking toward another Bride — that being the Church. I realize that it has become popular for single men to become deacons, or even married men, but that is more of a recent trend. These men mean well, but it inadvertently makes it look as though the lay state is near the state and roll of the priest, and by duty of state that is not to be so at all. The two states have different graces and different purposes as designed by God, and have their dignity in being rightly ordered to their state.

  12. Given the requirements, why would I want to put forth this effort? Some of this sounds like “Game” (Google that and Roissy – note much is not G rated, nor from a Christian worldview, but the comparison is interesting). The community and extended family is no more. Meeting the parents might involve two airfares. The “lovely, faithful” woman is usually engaged to her career. Even when this is not so, it is unlikely to be the matrona that will run the household, educate the children, and take care of everything ELSE besides bread-winning.

    If a woman would have time to bother me about my sartorial choices (particularly when those at work literally don’t care – woman and men see things differently and even see different things – see the Mars and Venus books), she would be someone I would have no interest in marrying.

    So lets see, you don’t care that I’m still a virgin, that I’m faithful to the Magisterium, I have a good income, I want a traditonal Catholic family, but if I don’t ballroom-dance, I don’t wear a suit to McDonalds, and I’m not willing to change my own oil (except on my Harley), I’m not husband material?

    These women may be waiting for a man of substance, but are only looking at the packaging and advertising hype – that is the whole point of this post. They will keep waiting until their biological clock runs out. I wonder if the average age of these desperate to be housewives is in the 30’s.

    My recommendation to the women is if you see a slob praying the rosary, or for that matter any male alone in church, pray with and next to him and see what happens.

    1. Sorry, tz, but it’s your job to pursue, not the girl’s. We do enough of that, and it rarely works out very well. We want to know that the man will be confident and dependable enough to act first, because that shows us that he can take care of a situation and ourselves.

      Your point about women and careers savors strongly of disappointment. Unfortunately, as a woman just entering the job market and with no money and no prospects, I still feel pressured into having a career. There’s no guarantee that a nice Catholic man will come along and have a job that can support a family. We live in a society that is two income – I know families that struggle to get a mortgage because they only have one income and two parents. I would like nothing more than to be able to rest assured that I can be looked after once I’m married and devote all my time to raising children, but that’s not easily attainable these days. It can be done, but not in all circumstances.

  13. Learn. To. Dance. I have yet to meet a girl that didn’t appreciate a guy who could lead in either country or ballroom or polka dancing.

    Is this critical to your marriage? No. Will it provide you both with a lot of fun? Yes.

  14. I don’t mean to knock the post- I think that everything here is very true- but seeing as though this is a Catholic blog, I can’t help but mention the fact that there is a very spiritual side to dating that shouldn’t be forgotten whilst tending to the more worldly (though not unimportant) task of projecting an attractive image. The spiritual interior of a person will ultimately define the image that he projects to others. I don’t think that dating is talked about enough in Catholic circles. Essentially, someone who embarks on seeking their mate is, for all intents and purposes, preparing to take on their life’s vocation. We would all balk if someone told us that he/she had decided to enter a monastery or convent without any discernment. Why is it that we go about other vocations in such casual and nonchalant ways? There’s a discernment process for entering into the married state as well.

    First and foremost, a person discerning any particular vocation or state in life must begin and end that search with prayer- always asking for God’s assistance, but also abandoning one’s future to His will. We may think that we’re called to a particular vocation. We may toil for months or years trying to force that plan into action- all the while, ignoring signs that we may be called to something entirely different, such as the religious life. Or, perhaps, if we are indeed called to marriage, God simply wants us to become a little more spiritually mature before allowing us to take up the yoke and profound responsibility of raising a family. Certainly, we must not seek out marriage and family simply because it’s “what everyone else does.”

    Our Lord gave us two commandments during his time on earth: First- “love God.” Second- “love your neighbor.” There’s a reason that those commandments are in that particular order. Without a love for God, we will never succeed in loving our neighbor. That’s just the way it is. If we can accept that, and those are His words, then will adjust our priorities to conform. We need to humble ourselves. Put God first. Put your Catholic faith first. Pray. Go to confession. Go to communion. Before you know it, things will start to work out, without any struggle or anxiety. Then, suddenly, rejections aren’t painful anymore. Instead, after a particularly lousy date, you can go home kneel down, and thank God for so clearly closing a door that you were not meant to go through. As people progress spiritually in their relationship with God, they almost project a sort of light- I believe that it is this light that ultimately attracts the “right person.” Sure haircuts and clothes all play into it but, in the end, looks are fleeting. Everything of this world is fleeting. Our ultimate goal is to become a saint and if marriage is for you, you’d best make sure that both you and your future spouse are working towards that end.

  15. If there are “thousands” of good Catholic women, I’m sure there are also “thousands” of good Catholic men. But they are far and few between and not in geographic proximity. I don’t really care about Jane Austen, just as I’m sure she isn’t probably going to be interested in my truck. I would want a woman who is as willing to pray with me and pray the Hours, and go to Adoration as I want to do so with her. But my biggest problem with the post is the fact that most of these guys (and gals) are dallying around when God just MIGHT be calling them to religious life. As much as there is a dearth of good marriage material men and women, there is a fare more dire shortage of vocations. If you’re over 30 and God hasn’t put that faithful man or woman in your life, get thee to a vocation director!

    1. If you’re over 30 and God hasn’t put that faithful man or woman in your life, get thee to a vocation director!

      I’m 32, my fiancee is 35. We met this year and will be married next year. God works on His time, not ours.

      1. Of course, and there are many who marry at an older age. But I stand by my comment. If you’re over 30 and prospects aren’t appearing, one should prayerfully consider the possibility of a religious vocation. Going to a vocation director does not automatically result in entering a seminary, monastery or convent. And congratulations on your engagement!

        1. I think all Catholics who are single (regardless of age) should be open to any vocation – married or religious. There is a perceived sense of desperation that comes around at 30 for those of us who are single.

          For me, personally, I was told by well-meaning friends to look into religious vocations (even after I made it clear that I had already been talking with my spiritual director and we agreed God wasn’t calling me there). There was just a subliminal hint that if you can’t attract a member of the opposite sex, then maybe you’re called to a religious vocation.

          1. Kristan,
            With all due respect, some of us have already discerned religious life even more seriously than most and found that they were not called to it. Unfortunately, there are disproportionately more women who take their spiritual life seriously than men who do the same. Ultimately, finding a marriage partner isn’t just about being able to attract someone, just as having a religious vocation (and/or priestly vocation for guys) isn’t just about how much one is pious, prayerful and desirous of pleasing God (nor is it the default state for those who are not attracting a mate). Ultimately, it is GOD and God alone who gives not only the graces and desire for one towards a particular state, but also the opportunity to enter that state. God can, and often does, in His permissive Will, allow people to be in neither, not as a proper vocation, but due to the effects of sin in the world.

    2. Tom, the book assumes you have spent time discerning your vocation and are called to marriage. Both my wife and I had done this. Spiritual formation is discussed in the section just preceding this excerpt.

      1. I’m not sure if you address this in the book, but not all theologians see marriage as a call or vocation distinct and separate from priesthood, consecrated life, or lay single life. Many would argue that natural law dictates a universal call to marriage; that humanity is ordered toward marriage and created to desire marriage, but some have a supernatural call to sacrifice marriage for the sake of the kingdom. This is a choice that a person makes, it doesn’t mean marriage isn’t for them.

        Obviously, there are many for whom marriage is impossible or who are unsuitable for marriage for any number of reasons. In other cases, the single life gives them greater freedom to serve God. Some just haven’t found a suitable partner. Those who aren’t married can still live out their vocation and support God’s universal call through their prayers and actions.

        That said, I think many people interpret their desire for marriage (which is healthy and good) as a sign that they are not called to another vocation. The desire for marriage is part of human nature. In many cases, they might need to examine their hearts to see if they are open to what God is asking of them.

  16. This blog has some good thoughts on what Catholic men can do to better present themselves in the dating arena. While I agree with all the points on dancing, dressing, vocab, sports, fixing, etc., I also believe “good character” comes above all those things. I don’t think many holy ladies out there are still single because men now-a-days don’t have the above mentioned skills but probably because men are in need of better character formation. I don’t know if you still go out dancing or not, but my wife and I don’t. What I’m trying to say is that somethings are temporary and the others are life lasting. I notice some people getting caught up on etiquette a bit too much. Past honeymoon, it doesn’t have as much importance as the real character and holiness.

    Now I don’t want to excuse all the ladies completely. Quite a few of them are still single because they don’t say ‘yes’ to some guys when they are asked out. I get tired of hearing women complaining “why don’t guys asks us out anymore”. Because what they are really saying is “why don’t THE GUYS THAT WE LIKE ask us out?”.

    Of course, I’m pointing out the extremes but they are influencing our culture too quickly. We have to watch out before we put people in the boxes. Now that doesn’t make it OK for guys to simply sit on their behinds and wait forever. If you are a single guy and haven’t asked a woman out in the last month or two, you are not actively pursuing your vocation. Get going buddy. Not every woman you ask out is going to be your wife, but you wouldn’t know if you want to discern that with her unless you ask her out. Coffee dates are perfect. Just don’t hold hands, get all emotional and share passwords. Courting is supposed to be fun, keep it that way. My former spiritual director told me to get to know couple of ladies every month. The moment I changed my attitude from waiting for the perfect woman, I found my wife.

  17. Okay, it looks like we need to pull out the big guns, Devin, to show our readers just how seriously we take spiritual formation. I will do a quick revision of that part of the chapter tomorrow, God willing and babies napping, and then we can offer a follow-up blog post to this one.

    Great comments, everyone! This is an important discussion to have, regarding the relation between spiritual and human formation.

  18. Thanks for this post, I am soooo sharing this with all my guy friends, God knows they need these tips. Though I would like to add one piece of advice. Contrary to how the media depicts women as senseless bodies used only for decoration, women actually are quiet intelligent. Engage a girl/woman in an intellectual conversation, and acknowledge her smartness.

    1. I would like to echo RXavier’s comments. A handful of years ago, a devout Catholic young man had been courting me for about five months when he told me that he’d considered not pursuing me because my chest was too small and that he’d thought about asking me to have plastic surgery. Remember that marriage is a commitment to spending a lifetime with someone, and so many non-physical qualities matter in a spouse. All women have so much more to offer than their bodies.

      1. Wow, Eileen….I’m amazed at the lack of class and the lack of clue that this young man showed! 🙁 I’m sure God has someone more suitable lined up.

  19. It’s interesting… My wife and I were married in our mid-20s. I underwent a bit of a transformation in the year or two leading up to our meeting. While I didn’t learn to foxtrot or emulate Mr. Darcy, for a couple of years I did get myself into a gym six days a week and worked at developing some self-confidence. I also did what I could to overcome some of my social awkwardness and quirky behavior, and focused on learning to be a kind and considerate person. (Sadly my spiritual life was very deficient, but I’ve been trying to make up for it since.)

    As I’ve progressed into my thirties, I’ve noticed the large number of attractive single women who have progressed into their mid-30s and 40s without getting married. When I look around, however, there are very few Catholic guys that fit the same criteria. Many of the ones who are left at that age are usually extremely socially awkward or strange. Sometimes, I am stunned by the guys some of these ladies wind up with. For many of these women, their best hope is to snag an ex-seminarian or convert a guy.

    What are the factors at play here? I have a couple theories, the first being that statistically speaking, women tend to be more religious than men. Additionally–and speaking from experience–most devout, virgin, Catholic marriage-minded guys will get married ASAP in their twenties because they (to put it frankly) want to have sex, so they aren’t going to wait around when they find the right girl. Once you get past this age range, there’s often a good reason the guy isn’t married.

    A third factor, and I don’t know if it’s statistically significant but I’ll bet it is, is the complete dearth of female religious vocations. Even though a lot of ink is spilled praising the Nashville and Ann Arbor Dominicans as booming orders, this number is miniscule compared to the number of female religious vocations in the past, and even compared to the number of men entering the priesthood today. Check the numbers. Many fewer women are going into the convent than men going into the seminary. Young women from even the most devout families and environments are focused on marriage.

    If more women followed their religious vocations, I think Catholic men would have greater motivation to be more mature and attractive to Catholic women.

    1. Aaron, this analysis is so spot on, IMO. I have a number of lovely single girlfriends in their early to mid-30s who have done the internet matching site thing, the Catholic speed dating thing, the young/Catholic-group-get-together thing, etc. I would say that the typical Catholic guys they come across in these scenarios is just as you said – socially awkward or strange. It’s bewildering to me.

  20. The greatest impediment to love is selfishness. Trying to get a man or a woman into a marriage shows an incorrect orientation of the heart. Men and women ought to learn to love one another first above all, which is a bit indescribable obviously, then they will “find” or “get” that man or women that is just right. How to love? Read the Gospels and pray.

    1. Bill,

      Thanks for your comment. the idea is not to “get” someone into marriage but to do your part, by God’s grace, to prepare yourself for your future spouse. That includes, first and foremost, spiritual formation: prayers, receiving the sacraments, reading and study, service. But then it also includes the human/natural component, which this section of the book focuses on: dressing nicely, taking care of your appearance, putting your best foot forward, learning social skills.


  21. First of all, please stop what you’re doing. I prefer the competition at the level they are at.

    Second, these are not my issue, but rather where these “thousands” of Catholic women are at. If you can get me face to face with one of them, I’ll take care of the rest.

    There are the internet sites, but I’ve really resisted them. There’s an unnaturalness to that kind of meeting. A picture and a posting eliminates all the intangibles of chemistry, charm, spontaneous wit and humor, manner, bearing, and expression–leaving me as just one of thousands. I’m tempted to start offering a finder’s fee payable at the wedding reception.

    1. George,

      Hahhaha! If I were you, I would move to Austin, Denver, or Washington D.C. Those are some great hubs for young, faithful Catholics, and all have some great young adult groups.

      1. I found my man in Austin! (and he moved to Houston). There are good activities there (and in Houston). Just have to look for them! I used to be on a committee for a summer lecture series for Young Adult Catholics in Houston. Show up for a planning meeting and you’d find 8-10 single, Catholic women wondering where the men are.

      2. I feel I need to raise the stakes here because this is a big passion of mine.

        George, you don’t need to move to Austin or DC or San Diego at all, what we need is young adults in every other city having the courage and consideration to track down a *local* Catholic Young Adult Group and build it up OR ELSE persistently petition various local parishes to start one. This includes Young Adults stepping up to volunteer to lead and volunteer to support the Group.

        Starting a Young Adult Group is as easy as finding a local parish with a priest you trust that will let you have a room in the hall one night a week. Have the bulletin advertise for the group, and if possible have the priest mention it from the pulpit. Meet on Thursdays at 7pm, start with snacks, go over the Sunday Scripture readings, conclude with Rosary, and chat. That’s all it takes, and it builds crucial Young Adult community. And pray that God will use you in the harvesting fields to bring other Catholics to join you. I speak as someone who has stepped up to the plate and done these kinds of things, and if I can do it, anyone can. Yes, it takes courage to send some emails, shake some priest’s hands, and dedicate a few hours each week, but the alternative is sitting at home online and making nothing of your Catholic gifts.

        I think the biggest problem is not being connected enough with other Young Adult Catholics in the area. Since close-knit parishes are largely a thing of the past, Young Adult Groups are the safest, convenient, and most Catholic way to find someone.

        It is absolutely heartbreaking that so few Young Adult Groups exist and don’t have the support they need.

  22. It seems to me that too much emphasis is being given to superficial things. Sure, dancing, clothes, cologne, table manners are important dating skills. But they are relatively unimportant in a sustained relationship. Here such qualities as kindness, consideration, interest in and enjoyment of the other person are necessary. One needs to know how to compromise and negotiate. Also, one needs to try to change and adapt to the other person. The right after shave only goes so far.

  23. Unfortunately our editor forgot to include one minor detail.

    Available women do not tend to go to Mass. In 17-years of eligiblity I can literally count on one hand the number of women.

    1. Jim, I’m not sure where you go to Mass but as a 20something single, devout Catholic, I’m at Mass every Sunday and sometimes during the week. I’m not the anomaly, as I have plenty of girlfriends who are also in the pews. I would love to meet a good Catholic guy after Mass who isn’t still in high school or already married. So far, no dice.

  24. Great post.

    I was very close to a girl from my hometown, but then I moved out of my state to go to MBA college. She’s a medical student, a charming girl, vivacious, smart and funny. We had some delightful conversations, I could always make her laugh. She is Protestant, but very much in love with Christ. I’d definitely have asked her if I was living anywhere nearer to home, but I won’t be going back for at least a year. There’s also the fact that parents where I come from have a tendency to start going berserk arranging marriages, especially for their daughters looking for a groom, as soon as they’re out of college and I specifically heard that they’ve already found a guy and are just waiting for the right moment to fix it all up. So, after praying about it for a while, and stuff, I decided to let it go and that if I really cared about her I would try and be happy for her and wish her a wonderful life.

    I suppose you’re going to tell me that that’s about everything I can do wrong? Heh. I won’t be surprised, I’ve wondered it myself, but it’s probably for the best.

  25. I always click on links like this because I’m interested, but I don’t really buy it. I don’t have much motivation to do these things. I lack ambition. Many of my observations of the marriages of friends and family make me think, “Why would I want that?” I would like to read more posts or even one post like this but regarding women, because it really seems to me that women are falling just as far short as men. You never hear about it though. It has frustrated me ever since I hit puberty and really started noticing girls. Everybody’s down on men and telling them to step up but in my experience and observation the rewards don’t seem to be match the effort.

  26. I still say, after reading allll these replies, and discovering that there is a prior chapter to the book, that way too many people are just equating their desire to be married with God’s will and not enough people are open to a religious vocation. That said, the church and friends in general do a poor job of introducing their single friends. And I’ve noticed this in business as well. No one seems to understand the value of an introduction anymore. Our parents and families likely live in different states now, and the good Catholics at Mass are driving from all over town. We aren’t geographically concentrated, and our families are often not around to introduce us to people. The friends have to step up some too.

    1. Tom, thank you for your comment! This is sooo true what you are saying. WHY do fellow Catholics put all of it on us? The irony is the suggestion that a man read Jane Austen. Well, in Miss Austen’s time, single people were introduced. It would have been totally unheard of for single people to expect to meet a potential spouse by pursuing situations where ONLY single people met for the first time, without having any shared connections and/or some previous general knowledge of another’s background, occupation, temperament, etc. Nowadays more than ever such assistance is needed, while the popular media seeks to destroy everything that is good and holy, and rather, defiles any bit of purity, thus making men effeminate, inconstant, and morally weakened, and seeks to make women vain, self-centered, and disrespectful of a man’s role. No, we definitely need our friends to “step up to the plate”.

  27. I dislike the language of “discerning,” both about marriage and about the religious life. I like decision. Grace works through our will, not outside it, and discerning is too often, in my rather wide experience with earnest young Catholics, mixed up with passivity. Make a decision, ask her out, and if you are both adults out of college, decide in six months to a year: marriage, or start looking again.

  28. Devin,

    One of the funniest things about Pride and Prejudice (and other books/movies like it) is that the men will just up and leave mid conversation with a woman and then not see them for months. No fun being a woman back then!

  29. Devin,
    THANK YOU! Seriously, young men, there is a problem with not being willing to step out of your comfort zone (I know, they’re really nice and cushy) to pursue a lady. This may be one of the reasons behind why so many women (even good Catholic ones) struggle with insecurities. I fell into that trap for years before I learned about emotional chastity and finally decided I wasn’t going to put up with anyone who didn’t pursue me first. I solidified my prayer life and focused on what God had placed in my life at that point, including school and friends. I’m really glad I didn’t waste that time! Eventually, God placed a wonderful young man in my life who treats me as someone to be cherished, who first *befriended* (I think that’s what a lot of people forget–you weed out a lot of bad ones) and then put his ego on the line to ask me into a courtship. Although I know he’s not the best at it, he did learn how to dance and now we have so much fun at wedding receptions! If others look down on his dancing, I will defend him because it’s refreshing that he’s willing to look a little silly for my sake. And I’m willing to do the same for him, whether it’s playing frisbee (I’m not athletic at all) or learning how drive a snowmobile (hopeless!). Part of growing as a couple is making sacrifices–especially of ego or pride–for the beloved.

    Another thing is that, yes, you really ought to work on your life skills. You may have a winning personality and rock-solid faith, but even Jesus had skills (carpentry) before he went out to change the world. Moses tended sheep for his father-in-law before God sent him back to his people to free them from slavery. Find something you’re interested in (that should be fun, not a chore!) and develop it! Learn a new language, go hiking, read books, or start a Bible Study! God gave you many, many gifts, so discover and cultivate them while you have the time to devote to the pursuit! Spend time with good Catholics your own age and form friendships. And if there aren’t any good Catholics your own age around, I reiterate what Nick said–DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Start a group, and if God has blessed it, people will come. Don’t wait around for Him to come down in your prayer time and hand you an itinerary for your life.

    I think that’s what Devin is getting at. Become a well-rounded person in preparation for marriage!

    Hope this comment wasn’t too snarky. ; )

    1. I guess that is something to think about. That’s probably the author(s)’ point.
      The huge challenge, however, is this: how is doing more things going to put you in touch with other Catholics who are practicing both in the sense of orthodoxy and orthopraxy?

  30. My brother Devin, thank you for stepping up and addressing what a lot of single male Catholics like myself sweep under the rug. I had been praying fervently that God would “hand me” his chosen life partner and so I had been faithfully waiting. No more !! I now choose to grab my single life by the horns and I shall do something about it. Emily, your comments are also greatly appreciated. May God bless you both.

  31. I just got out of seminary and found the scene a little hopeless as far as finding a nice Catholic date. I don’t ask for a lot, just someone spiritual, educated, fun, attractive, with a little personality. Most of my friends turn out to be just Christians because they are way funner than the Catholics. The girls you find in these Catholic groups seem to be a lot less social and spontaneous around men. And the pretty ones never seem to show up at the events. Maybe it’s just the area I live in, don’t mean to put a damper on it. Either way, I just have fun for now and have put marriage on a five year plan because it seems it’ll take at least that long to get in touch with the right someone.

    1. Cash, I realize you’re joking about the 5-year plan, but if you’re looking to just have fun for now, that nice girl that you would have fallen for and married will meet another nice, Catholic guy who knew what he wanted a bit more. He may have been at the right place at the right time, but God is in charge, right? The only thing that we’re really responsible for us doing God’s HOLY Will. That means, for starters, we need to take what choices we make (and don’t make) very seriously. We have to live for HIM whichever our state in life happens to be at the moment. If we think we might be called to marriage, our attitude has to be, “this is likely to be the Holy Will of God for me, so I ought to take this very seriously, because it is the very state that is meant to aide me in pleasing God and getting to Heaven!” Courtship with the intention of timely marriage is the only right way to regard company-keeping* with the opposite sex. (“Company-keeping” is not the same as spending time with your grandma, aunt, etc. but it’s not dating “just for fun” at all.)

      I bet a lot of those pretty, Catholic girls that stay home most of the time do so because they know they ought not settle for someone who doesn’t regard God’s Holy Will enough, let alone regard themselves enough, than to wish to have more formal courtship than dating.

      Also, my personal impression of a lot of somewhat well-intended Catholic single guys is that they are at a cross-roads between having a good time and not worrying about the increasing challenges posed by our culture for traditional courtship (and traditional marriage, for that matter), and the risk of being rejected. I mean, guys never like being rejected, but when you are also trying to fit in with the culture, or are afraid of ‘missing out’ on the ‘fun’ while you are single, I think really the ball is in your court and you’ve just missed your chance to swing at it. Sometimes I wonder if some complaining Catholic single guys are more worried about getting rejected or about getting accepted and having to carry through.

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