Guest post by Julie Rodrigues
1. Be open, not desperate. If you are still single, know that a boyfriend/girlfriend is a gift, not something you can force or work for. Live your life focused on putting God first, investing in a deeper relationship with him and with others, but remaining OPEN. Open to whoever he puts in your path, whether a person or a religious community.
2. Be thankful, not obsessed. Love is accepting the whole package unconditionally… and thanking God for this gift! “We can say that inner innocence (that is, the rightness of intention) in the exchange of the gift consists in a reciprocal ‘acceptance’ of the other in such a way that it corresponds to the very essence of the gift; in this way, the mutual gift creates the communion of persons. It is a question, therefore, of ‘welcoming’ the other human being and of ‘accepting’ him or her precisely because in this mutual relationship, about which Genesis 2: 23-25 speaks, the man and the woman become a gift, each one for the other, through the whole truth and evidence of their own body in its masculinity and femininity.” (Theology of the Body 17:3)
3. Sex leads to parenthood. Janet Smith says we should all get this tattoed. If you have it when you aren’t ready to be a parent or ready to make a total gift of yourself, it will poison your relationship. Instead, focus on learning other ways of loving the other while dating.
4. Know-love-love-know. You can’t love someone you don’t know. The more you love someone, the more you’ll want to know them. The more you know someone, the more you’ll want to love them.
5. Get help. A priest, a nun, another couple or a couple’s group are great tools for learning to understand one another, and not eat each other alive, learning to balance each other out and live life together.
6. Learn to pray together. Just like a religious community, in marriage you’ll vow obedience… but to each other. So see if you’re a good match by practicing praying, reflecting and leading a shared spiritual life together.
7. Find common ground through a joint church group or hobby. Learn to explore life together.
8. Make time for each other. Plan time for one another, learn to talk, be open, enjoy each other, learn to play and laugh together. Reserve a night a week for cheap date nights: picnics, walks, movies, etc.
9. Solitude and sacraments. In one of my most memorable confessions, the priest asked me to reflect on the question, what is your problem with solitude? We won’t be able to give to others if we aren’t okay alone. Not only did this priest suggest that I not run away from solitude, but also that I fill up the vacuum with the sacraments.
10. Be patient. Dating is waiting… but waiting is at the heart of the biblical experience and is how God grows us. So learn to enjoy it!
Julie Rodrigues is a 25-year-old Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal for college and hás been there ever since. She has a degree in Theology from the Catholic University of Lisbon, is currently teaching English and has special interest in Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.