My Relationships

Do’s and Don’ts for Dating a Non-Catholic

When I was a senior in high school, I dated a Protestant girl. One unfortunate side effect of this was the occasional fear that dating her was against the rules for some reason. People would make sweeping declarations like “never date a non-Catholic!” So, whenever I clicked on a blog or video about that, I would immediately worry that I was about to find out I was doing something wrong.

So, fear not. This is not one of those articles.

Dating a non-Catholic is not, in fact, against the rules. That said, there are some pitfalls you need to avoid. So, I’d like to give you a list of practical Do’s and Don’ts from what I learned dating a non-Catholic.

Don’t: Force Catholicism

People get uncomfortable around things that aren’t familiar. That’s just normal. So, I suggest not taking them to Mass unless they seem interested. If you’ve been Catholic your whole life, or even for a few years, you know the Mass pretty well. You know all the words and the postures, but they don’t and are likely to feel alienated. And spiritually, this makes sense! Mass is a celebration for the unified Church in heaven and on earth. Someone who’s not in union with that Church can’t receive the Eucharist, so they may feel strange.

Do: Pray together

Luckily, the Church has a treasury of prayers from over the centuries. Find a few that you love and share them with your significant other. Ask them questions about favorite ways to pray and find prayer traditions of the Church that match. Find something you both resonate with and grow in that devotion together. You may be surprised to find they love the Rosary, the Anima Christi, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Liturgy of the Hours, etc.

Don’t: Evangedate

“Evangedate” means to date someone with the hope of converting them in the process. If you feel like this describes you, one or two things is happening. First, you are putting yourself in the place of God, who alone converts hearts. That’s not good. Second, you are putting yourself above your significant other, which will lead to dysfunction down the line if that attitude is not checked. Even if it’s successful, this can result in a faith that’s tied to you and not the Church. It’s best to leave conversion up to God.

Do: Share Your Faith

Dating is among equals. That means the other person has something to share from their faith or life experience. Relationships are about valuing what the other person says, believes, and feels. When differences arise, they are an opportunity to grow with each other, if you are both humble enough to accept each other. This means be eager to share your faith with them. If they care about you, I’m sure they want to hear. On the flip side, if you care about them, you will want to listen. Encourage them to talk about their faith and truly listen.

Don’t: Preach/Debate

This is similar to “don’t evangedate” but it’s a warning to our more theologically-minded reader. Your significant other might say something incorrect about the Church or something about the faith and your instinct will be to jump in and correct them with a “Well, actually, St. Thomas says…” No. Don’t do that. In a debate, bringing up arguments for Catholicism is fine, but a relationship is not a debate, it’s a journey. Every person is on a journey towards God and everyone, even faithful Catholics, are incorrect about a few things. When you’re journeying with someone, you don’t correct them by speaking to their mind, but to their heart.

Do: Communicate

This is just general relationship advice. If you have apprehensions about your relationship, bring it up with them. A dating relationship should be a place where you can safely share your hopes and your concerns. The worst thing you can do in a relationship is to keep your feelings to yourself. If you’re worried about something, maybe they are too, and you can work it out together. Communicating and problem solving are incredibly important in a relationship. My fiancée and I always feel closer after we confront a problem, no matter how hard it is.
Don’t: Be afraid of non-Catholics
The Protestant Reformation began on October 31st, but that doesn’t mean you should be scared of non-Catholics.

I have great friendships with non-Catholics

I do have to say, I am no longer dating this girl. I’m currently engaged to a lovely Catholic woman I met in college. My high school girlfriend and I broke up because of our faith differences. She said she wouldn’t be able to raise our kids Catholic unless she was Catholic and had decided she was never going to become Catholic.

This is the truth of all relationships: faith comes first. Christ is found in the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church and to choose the Church is to choose Him. While dating a non-Catholic is absolutely okay, your faith is an unchangeable part of who you are.

Dating a non-Catholic comes down to your ability to discern, which is a whole different topic, but I’ll try to summarize it here. When you pray daily and communicate constantly with God, your will becomes united with His. This means the decisions you make will be, ultimately, for your salvation and the salvation of those around you.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash.

About the Author

Patrick Neve

Patrick is a youth minister in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the cohost of The Crunch podcast. He lives by the philosophy, “God thinks you’re funny, so it’s okay if others don’t.”