My Relationships/Teen Relationships Catholic Dating 101 by Dillon Duke Love is a beautiful thing. We are designed to love, and that means that sometimes, we’ll want to pursue a relationship with someone we might love. That means we’ll want to date. Dating is tricky territory and can be extraordinarily convoluted in today’s society. Dating advice is like spam email. You get a lot of unsolicited advice, and it feels like none of it works. So, here is a list of totally legit, God-centered bits of advice that can help you navigate Catholic dating in 2018. Pray a Hail Mary before every text you send. You wouldn’t want the person you’re crushing on to take your words the wrong way when talking to her face to face, but this is especially the case when you’re communicating through technology. Praying to our Blessed Mother before you send a text to someone will help guide them to receive it the right way. Note: this concept can also be applied for the social media accounts of your crush. Every time you see one of their posts, recite a Glory Be as you like it. See what type of sandals they wear. If you’re going to be walking the path to Christ together as a couple, it is crucial that you are in harmony with both souls and soles. There are several types of footwear out there, and the road to sainthood is long and arduous so be sure to ask what kind of sandals they prefer. Is that beautiful daughter of God that you want to pursue a Chaco woman or perhaps more of a Birkenstock fan? Is that handsome man going to lead you closer to God in Teva’s or Crocs? These questions need to be asked because the path for a holy relationship is a marathon, not a sprint (also see 1 Corinthians 9:24). Tell them about a vision God gave you of the two of you in the future. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, so why not have it work for you? Go up to the person you’re interested in and tell them about a vision that God revealed to you that featured the two of you together. Not only is it a great conversation starter but it also gives you an excellent opportunity to talk about how fruitful your prayer life is. This method is especially impressive if you say that the vision you saw is one that took place many years from now as you very obviously give them a wink (because it is essential to make your intentions obvious). Read every book that’s ever been published on Catholic dating. Dating is complex enough, and our future relationships depend on us pursuing wisdom about the mysteries that are relationships. Every time you see a book that mentions Catholicism and dating, buy it. While this is expensive and requires a lot of reading, it will reap tenfold in the beautiful love that will bloom from your efforts. Note: if you want your crush to know that you’re seeking the truth about how to treat them well, but don’t want to tell them directly that you’re reading said book, just post a picture with a cup of coffee next to it with a melodramatic caption. Bonus points if it is a boomerang. Use as many buzzwords as you can when talking to them. Many people question what exactly are the right words to say to somebody when you hope a possible relationship might come from the friendship. If your countless rewatchings of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before have not granted you the ability to have a quick wit when talking to your crush sprinkle in words that sound sweet and romantic into the conversation. Even if it does not make sense in the context of the dialogue, they will make you seem emotionally intelligent. These words include but are not limited to… Intentional Emotional chastity Virtuous friendship Vocation discernment Authentic desires Guard my heart Relationship-centered on Christ Fruitful conversation Define the relationship Make your Confirmation saint talk to your crush’s Confirmation saint. If you have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, your Confirmation saint is eager for the chance to intercede within your life, including in your relationships. One ability that your saint has that you do not while in this earthly life is that they are in heaven with your crush’s saint, and what better way to start a relationship than if your respective saints are talking to each other before. What better wing-man or wing-woman could you ask for than a saint? A friendship in heaven might lead to a relationship on earth. Find out what their Mass pet peeves are. If a relationship is going to succeed on, you and your special saint-to-be need to know what makes each other tick when it comes to celebrating the Most Holy Sacrament. Does he prefer to sit in the middle of the pew or the ends? Is she someone who holds hands during the Our Father or not? Does he wait for you to get back to the pew before he lowers the kneeler? These are all questions that need to be answered before diving into a date with someone. …but really, just date! OK OK… I know these are all a little ridiculous. The best advice I can give you about Catholic dating is this: stop over-thinking everything and date! You don’t need to be certain you’re going to marry someone by the time you ask them out on your first date, you don’t need to receive a vision from God to know if you can go out with someone or not, and you don’t need to spiritualize every aspect of your dating life. If you want to ask someone out, don’t overthink it, don’t over-pray it — go for it, and trust that God will lead you in every aspect of your life, including new relationships, if you remain open to Him and His love always.