OK guys, time to man up and ask her out on a date! Too many of you men are slow in looking for a bride. When I was ordained twenty years ago I had a lot of marriages. Today there are far fewer, and those that marry are much older. Perhaps maturity is a good thing PRIOR to marriage but couples are really waiting a long time these days. Now I was not born yesterday and I know that part of the reason for the delay is that couples are often fornicating and are just plain shacked up as well. True marriage is delayed as false notions of sexuality and marriage are indulged.
But there is also another phenomenon that is harder to understand. I have quite a number of young women, who are very attractive I might add, tell me that they are seldom asked out on dates, that young men don’t seem very good at taking initiative when it comes to dating and marriage. Now come on guys, be a man and get out there and ask her out!
I remember back in high school and college when I was a dating man, prior to discovering my call to be a priest, I remember that there were risks that you took when you asked a girl out. She might say no. She might even laugh. I might feel humiliated or depressed. Well? Welcome to life! Some of the more embarrassing moments of my life are related to the dating game. So I understand guys. But do what I did: get out there anyway! Take the risk, ask her out! Forget about your fragile little ego, be man and make the ask. You might be surprised. Many attractive young ladies are just waiting for some one man enough to ask them out on a serious date. I’m not talking about some vague thing like, “Maybe I’ll see you at the social tomorrow.” Ask her out on a real date. Just you and her. Spend a little money on her and dress well for the occasion.
It is odd that today with so many ways to communicate, it seems harder than ever for men and women to meet. Though our ways of communicating are more than ever, real and actual communication seems hard to come by. The simple fact is that we need to work on this, actually get out there and meet, communicate, date and marry. Interestingly enough, a number of the recent marriages I have celebrated began on the internet, at a Catholic dating service. It’s not all that bad. Individuals signal their intention and wish to meet members of the opposite sex, share a significant amount of their values and expectations, and then meet to begin the process discernment. The Catholic faith is the starting point.
There is a lot of focus today on the issue of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, a good thing. But we need to wake up to the fact that marriage is on hard times. The statistics are sobering. In 1974 there were 46 Million Catholics in the USA and 400,000 marriages. In 2004 there were 70 million Catholics and only 200,000 marriages. Most priests know this personally. We just do a lot less marriages today. Further, the birthrate has dropped significantly for Catholics. One explanation: we are aborting and contracepting ourselves out of existence (the future world will feature a lot of Muslims and far fewer Catholics). But another explanation is that marriage rates are dropping and many delay marriage far into the years when fertility is diminished and limited.
There is also a lot of talk about evangelization so let me recommend a fundamental pillar to the Church’s Evangelization Plan: Let’s have a lot of young Catholics get married FIRST, have lots of babies and raise them Catholic. 🙂
Alright young men, get out there on the field, MAN-UP and ask her for a date! Young men and women, get serious about marriage. It is a holy institution established by God himself. It will make you holy, enrich the Church and ensure that we have a future. Are you up to it? We’re depending on you. Young men, don’t make the ladies wait and DON’T make me come out there and force you!
Here’s a fun video about the “Adventures” of Internet dating entitled “WEB SITE STORY”
51 Replies to “Marriage Can Wait??”
Thank you for saying what we’re all thinking! I have had identical conversations with all my single friends, yet we realize that only a man can teach a man how to be a man. Thank you for your leadership, Msgr. Pope!
Ladies, please realize that these men are indeed taking a risk in asking you out. Accept with enthusiasm or reject with charity. While we can’t teach a man to be a man, we can certainly support men when they act as men!
Happy Dating everyone!
Hello, great post! I am a single guy, 28 years old. Thanks for writing on this subject of spouse-seeking amongst Catholics: I agree it is an issue and it needs to be addressed more. Here is a major point I would like to make:
I pretty much agree with you that a lot of Catholic guys can be a little wimpy about just asking the girl out on a date. I personally don’t hesitate to do so (if I may be so bold, and either take my word or not on that), but I’ll give you that it can be an issue. But there is a reason why (not an excuse, but a reason). Maybe even “reason” is too strong a word. So “an issue that doesn’t help” is the rate at which a good Catholic guy gets ultimately rejected by many good Catholic girls. I don’t necessarily mean getting rejected for a first date; but rather that ultimately the pursuit will be fruitless. In fact, many good Catholic girls that I know will go out on a few dates with a guy because they think it is the “right thing to do”, but in reality they have decided from the first date that it just isn’t happening. Or before the first date.
I believe that the reason for this is that the modern secular age has had a deep effect on how good Catholic women view men. I make the argument that the effect of secular society actually runs deeper amongst good Catholic women than it does against good Catholic men. This may seem counter intuitive given the rise in pornography and promiscuity. But here’s the thing: while those are hard sins to fight as a man, they are easy to identify. “Am I looking at pornography?” “Am I sleeping around?” “Do I want to date her to ‘hook-up’, or to build a fruitful relationship?” These are all mini-evaluation-of-conscience questions that a guy can ask to determine if he is being a good Catholic with respect to women and dating. It is relatively easy for a guy to know if he is on track.
The problem is that too often, good Catholic women ask these same questions of themselves when trying to evaluate if they have a healthy, Catholic outlook on dating. But these are not the questions that a good Catholic woman should ask herself. Sure, these are important things for women to follow as well. But they are not her biggest pitfalls. The real problem is that, while many good Catholic women don’t realize it, they are often bored with a relationship with a faithful, stable, and Catholic man because he doesn’t provide the thrill, the wild emotions, and the danger that they can get from the types of relationships that they see on Lifetime network or CBS or the latest romantic comedy. Again, it is important to note that they do not realize that they seek these things. When these types of heart-pounding emotions are not felt in a relationship, it is assumed that the “chemistry” just must not be there. Oh well. Next.
Now I am not proposing that women should just marry a boring guy because he is Catholic. Of course she should find him interesting and enjoy spending time with him. But when your expectations are for a guy to trigger emotional tsunamis, you will find the stability of a good Catholic man rather boring every time.
Now, again, I don’t think this is an excuse for guys to not ask out girls. I know it is a problem… I see it with some of my Catholic friends. But guys have a bit of an intuitive sense of whether a woman is interested in him or not, and it is discouraging when that little radar never goes off in your head. It is also emasculating to go out on a couple dates and have it be obvious that she is only doing it because she feels like she should… and that you are clearly not setting off the fireworks for her.
I think that this is a much bigger problem than it is typically thought of as. Heck, the issue of dating amongst Catholics in general is huge. And it is so rarely addressed. As an anonymous guy on the internet, I’ll admit that I really wish to get married to a good Catholic woman. And I do date when I get the chance to (I’m hard headed in the face of rejection I guess). I’ve wanted to be married for a while, and have not been out on too few dates. After all this time, it can’t just be bad luck on my part… there are other issues out there. I’m sure that part of it is my fault in certain ways (not to dump the blame), but I think a SERIOUS rift has developed between Catholic single men and Catholic single women. So yeah, let’s have this discussion please.
PS: Sorry this is so long. I was not concise, but hopefully I was clear.
Yes you were clear and I too hope your comment sparks further ones. Thanks for contributing. I might add that I too think we have awfully high expectations of what love should be…..fireworks and all. Sometimes love is more subtle and grows strong as time goes along. Too many easily reject others because they don’t fall head over heels instantly. I’m mindful of the song from My Fair Lady: I’ve grown accustomed to her face….
Touché! Thanks for the very eloquent comment.
Now, since you (and perhaps other men) are so wise as to realize that these single women who reject you just because you can’t “trigger emotional tsunamis” are mistaken in their definition of love, what can you as leaders do about it?
Here’s one idea: My dad rejected my mom’s rejection letter. And I’m here because of it! 🙂
If women are truly mistaken, how can you as men help us realize that we have been duped by society? Thoughts?
(For my part, I am going to share your “anonymous” post with my single Catholic women friends.)
In response to Laura’s reply to some guy in CA….
Why should men help you realize you have been duped? Are you incapable of being observant both inwards and to your environment?
You falling into a subservient mindset, believing men must “save you”. You are adults now, and it is not that difficult to realize certain things. If it is for you, then counseling might help with being more introspective.
There is no reason men must do this. Your dad’s time called, more so than now, for the man to do be the suitor and pursue pursue pursue.
I definitely don’t mean to come across as saying that women are at fault or women are mistaken or anything like that. Guys are just as at fault, just in different ways. I guess I was just pointing out that those ways are much more recognizable and therefore pointed out more often. Pornography, extra-marital sex, only thinking of sex, etc. Easy to point out, and their destructiveness is quite evident.
I guess one thing I would like to see would be for a serious discussion to happen (like the one here) that tries to delve into root causes. The comment about the story of your mom and dad, while definitely worth keeping in mind, is very a common explanation that seems to dismiss a little bit of the complexity of the issue.*** (please read note below!) I think that sometimes, people underestimate how bad the “dating scene” is now. The assumption there is that things are the same as they were when our parents were dating… or the same as when their parents were dating, etc. Although guys are still guys and girls are still girls, I think we can agree that society has changed radically. It is hard for a person to find a spouse today; much harder than it was in the 50’s or even in the 70’s. I find aspects of this modern corruption in myself (in terms of how I look at dating & marriage) and am constantly trying to unravel it.
Am I falling into the trap of “back in the day, things were better!”? I usually don’t like these types of statements, but in this case I think it is certainly true.
Another point to be made about the issue of guys’ pitfalls vs. girls’ is with reference to the Catholic Church and its leadership. The major pitfalls of guys are directly and clearly addressed. Lots of concrete ways of trying to avoid them are easy to be found. There is not much lack of clarity there. The pitfalls that are more common to women, however, are more nuanced and hard to understand. It does not seem like there is much of a consensus of what is right and wrong (provided by the Church I mean) in terms of how they should go about dating. Frankly I think single women have a much tougher battle to figure things out than single guys do.
I’ll be fully honest: I don’t really think that the Catholic Church (I am referring to the human institution thereof) is doing a stellar job of addressing this issue. The Theology of the Body is absolutely spectacular and addresses a lot of this stuff, but it really has been kept to a bit of a “cult classic” as far as Church teachings go. By that, I mean that if you want to know anything about it, you have to go out of your way to hear it (books, special lectures, tapes, etc.). I know of other nice resources too, but they are also things that people go really out of their way to see. Oh, and I also don’t mean it is this particular diocese’s fault… I live in California, so of course I don’t mean that. I don’t know whose responsibility it is, I’m just saying it would be nice to see more leadership in this field.
So what do I propose that we ourselves can do? I would just say talk about this issue more. Talk to your single friends about this. Talk to married friends who don’t seem to get it. Talk to married friends that have gone through it and DO get it. Talk to priests you know. Talk to family. If we make this an issue, then we will begin to address it as a Church.
So, thanks Msgr. Pope for some leadership here! The fact that I live in CA and followed a chain of blog links to a blog on the other side of the country I think proves that this type of posting is not exactly commonplace.
*** I think that the point made by the story of your parents dating period is definitely both pertinent and timeless. My point is only that there are also issues that need to be addressed that are NOT timeless; but rather singular to this particular moment in time.
Laura – We can help you realize your value by being a gentleman and upholding the dignity of a woman. Period. i think it’s up to individual men to look to good Catholic men to define what that exactly is.
I’ve had somewhat similar experiences. I think you can say I haven’t always looked in the right places, but too often I’ve found out that a girl is interested in someone undeserving of her, and I’m left to ask myself why. Whatever the issue, by large, women just don’t know how difficult it is to approach someone, so it’s not entirely fair that they complain. But I get your point, Msgr!
Yes as I recall it’s pretty un-nerving to ask and one has to be prepared. It’s tough work but worth the risk! 🙂
This is my view of this topic and what I have learned over the years.
Beware when you say, find a “Good Catholic Girl” Now there are some (not all) devout Good Catholic woman (men) in the Church. However, there’s still work to do. In most cases women as well as men, after running a muck in the secular world of failed dating that men and women seek relationship for a “Good Catholic Woman” or Good Catholic Man in the church. But what both sexes don’t realize is that the same baggage and behavior and drama of secular dating still lies in the dept of hearts and we embrace the faith and commit to being a “Good Catholic woman (man) and do not even address many internal issues and the only thing that some not all commit to the change is “I must stop having sex until I get married. So these “Good Catholic woman (men) pat themselves on the back and say Im “saved” and God is going to send me the right man.
Then one day that Knight (Princess) looks you square in the Face, and you miss your blessing because we still have the wrong idea of the Institution of this wonderful mystical Sacrament of Marriage and all those virtue pitfalls that we constituted as true love like , EMOTIONS, FATAL ATTRACTIONS, PHYSICAL APPEARANCE, SEXUALITY, FINANCIAL STATUS begin to overwhelm us and she(he) comes to believe that this is the ONE.
Im 46 years old and the first 1/2 of my life when it came to finding that Good guy, were based on those “virtue Pitfalls” It took me 23 years later to “Mentally and Physically” learn what it takes to be “Good Catholic Woman” and what to look for in saying yes.
I realize that those Pitfalls were very fragile short-term feeling. If any one of the Pitfalls changes the whole relationship turns to failure because most of us view Love on feelings and when feelings change we think we are out of Love. Surely God has given us attraction solely to lead us to a person of interest, but not to be used as the soul reason of relationship and marriage. I now have new virtues, historical virtues and guideline to follow and that is the Doctrine and Teaching of my Faith.
Being faithful to God will helps me to endure the following.
1. The essence of Love is never found in the Pitfalls.
2. However, true Love is in the commitment to will the Good of the other, not what’s good for me.
3. When we serve others we serve God.
4. Surrender yourself for others, and habits must be considered for the sake of the other person
5. Attempt to create a Holy Life of One.
6 View the person as an image of God
7. Love the person the way they are
8. When hurt, the strength of you Love for other, conquers all.
I have a clearer understanding of relationships leading to the mystery of marriage and its beauty of it and whose it is.
The closer you draw to God the easier life will be, and who said it was going to be easy!
So “Some guy from CA, you are right that there are Bigger issues and problems out there, because we live in a self satisfaction world and no one wants to work hard toward following “God’s” guidelines to life.
Thanks Lolo. In the search for the ideal person sometimes we miss some very great blessings. As you note, none of us is without issues. So learning to take some of the bad with the good is a start.
LOL: I like what Christopher Hitchens has to say about Roman Catholic Priests giving advice on marriage or anything related to relationships for that matter!! oops..
Yes, well OK Morse, but just remember even a broken clock is right twice a day. Attacking the messenger (ad hominem argumentum) may feel good but it doesn’t really move the ball down-field. Do you have anything of substance to say as to the issue? That is really what I am after.
As a member of the “20 & 30 Somethings” crowd currently discerning marriage, I find this post very interesting. In my city, we have a wonderful young adult group, with the opportunity for many young adults to meet fellow Catholics. Many are very devout, but there are still relatively few dating relationships that occur. Many that do occur happen later in life compared to the previous generation (late 20’s or early 30’s). While I applaud the idea that men should “cowboy up” and ask women out, I think the lack of marriages goes deeper than that. Unfortunately, today’s world, we are not preparing our boys and girls for successful marriages. Many young adults are not truly making their faith their own until college, and that faith and formation needs time to grow before these young adults are ready to become good spouses and parents. No one should date for the sake of dating, which means you ought not date until you are ready to seriously discern marriage. Chasity and purity, due to the secular world’s influence, are just as difficult, if not more so, than ever before. With the help of Jesus, it’s very difficult to remain pure! How much more difficult that battle must be without the help of Jesus.
And to all my sisters out there: We’ve all gone on those dates because you “ought to like” a guy. No more! Be diplomatic, but don’t worry that turning a guy down will bruise his ego. Close the door firmly, by saying something like, “I don’t think of you in that way,” etc. Don’t give these men hope if you never see it happening. Let them move on with their lives too, so you can remain friends.
Yes, I think you are right, if the answer is no better to say it plain. I am mindful of the old saw”Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.”
Midwest Girl, two questions:
1) why do you like the idea that men should “cowboy up” and ask women out?
2) what about women “cowgirling up” and asking men out?
With all do respect Monsignor Pope, it would be wise to avoid phrases such as “be a man”, especially so many instances of them in a such a blog. For anyone that can’t see through similar phrases to reality, they are subconsciously harmful, perpetuating a harmful mindset of “what it is to be a man”. The correct question should be “what is it to be an adult, i.e., a child of God?”.
Two things, Monsignor…and anyone who reads this.
1) “I have quite a number of young women, who are very attractive I might add, tell me that they are seldom asked out on dates”
Here is one problem.
Why don’t women do the asking? Why do no they not even attempt it (assuming they don’t)?
I don’t mean subtle flirtation or other indirect forms of communication. Why doesn’t Jane Smith simply ask “Would you like to go out with me friday night?” Is that very horrible? Is it a sin? Surely not.
Any appeals along the lines of “Women don’t want to feel rejected.” or “It’s not their role” is ridiculous. There is no reason why men should face rejection time and again. People, not male alone and not female alone, are adults. Perhaps it’s time we started acting so in the dating world, yes? How can one appeal to such insignificant gender-role task in the dating world when it comes to happiness? If a woman is interested, why let a chance go by simply because of the aforementioned vacuous justifications.
As a side note, there is one explanation for the timidity of males. Since men typically do all the work and supposedly have to “win over” (another ridiculous and childish mindset) the woman, they face rejection over and over. Would that not put the slightest frustration and insecurity in the heart of the individual? Would that not make them take less initiative in the future. Remember, as a generalization, women generally do not have to wait long before someone asks them out because that is the cultural mindset. “The boy must be the aggressor and ask the the girl out.” “The girl must be passive and must chose”. At what point will an female adult who has interest in a male adult ask him out, hm?
2) Let’s address “be a man” and question why is it always toward the male side of species, and not the female. Why don’t you hear “how to be a woman”, etc.? for a moment.
Doesn’t anyone see the sheer absurdity of questions like these? Are we not spirit first, body second? Where does the adult mind enter the picture? Where does one ask “how can I be a mature adult”? Does not being a mature adult imply seeking what you need (in this case an interesting mate)? If readers already know this, then let this blog entry be an explicit statement of it.
Respectfully and with best regards.
I agree with your two points. I was actually going to write something along those lines, but I didn’t.
Robert I apologize that I accidentally deleted your second comment! If you’d be so kind as to resubmit it I will post it. As to your remarks here I suppose one might argue that men don’t have to make the first move but sometimes the world as it ought to be is not the world as it actually is. Fair or not I think men are expected to take the initiative. I guess what I am saying to men is this is how things are and we need to accept that and get in the game. We men have been somewhat confused I am sure with feminism and its mixed messages. But in the end it is expected of us that we take initiative here. It not a horrible or unjust expectation so why not do it? As to the expressions “be a man” and “man up” this is guy talk meant to encourage and stir action. I’m kind of glad that women don’t have some sort of equivalent to this. There is something unique in this summons to courage and action that men respond to as men. I personally like to be summoned to action by an appeal to duty. I can’t claim to speak for all men but it my general observation that men hunger for a challenge and call to action in which no one can take their place, something is depending on them!
The deleted comment was an oversight on my part. No worries.
I certainly agree with you on many points, Monsignor, but agreement and complacency about reality are not sufficient for the realization of what God has given us–a mind, rationality, and the potential to be as we should, i.e., more than we currently are.
Although “sometimes the world as it ought to be is not the world as it actually is” is a common idealistic attitude, without the ideal, we are left in mediocrity and stagnancy, or perhaps worse, extreme pragmatism devoid of creativity. What am I saying? …
I agree with you that men are expected (by many) to take the initiative. But I ask everyone doing so to ask themselves “Why?” and, for the females doing the expecting, “Why can’t I take the initiative? Why can’t I pursue potential happiness when I see it walking walking? What would be so terrible with that?”
“to men this is how things are and we need to accept that and get in the game.” NO, absolutely not. Please, Monsignor, again phrases like this only add to the issue. Perhaps it’s of minimal concern to you (or others), and in the grand scheme of things world-wide (and locally), it is, but in terms of individual and societal maturity, it is absolutely not minimal. Why play a game to begin with? Why accept things when you, yourself, said you recognize how it should be? Evil thrives when good men do nothing. In this case, Monsignor, you (and, Carlos in a previous comment, it seems) are the good man because you have the recognition.
Now I am not saying men must be silent when they are interested in someone. Of course not. I am simply saying women, and everyone in general, would benefit if they left all the stereotypical romantic expectations at the door. Women should learn to be adults in the dating game and overcome any childish expectations and simply ask a man out if they are interested. This is not a difficult thing and, perhaps this long preaching is overkill. The point remains, however, and adult women (and men) will recognize it.
Tell me this…thing of this scenario…
Jane Smith is playing by the game and waits for men to ask her out. At first she gets many suitors lined up at her doorstep, and as she attends social events. She has been able to pick and chose but no one has been “the one”. One day, the line gets shorter. Another day, even less, until one evening Jane realizes that it’s been 6 months and she hasn’t been asked out. She thinks nothing more of it. Another month passes, then another. Jane starts to be more social and go to dating events but still, no one initiates any meetings. She spoke to a few interesting men a the events but she felt it was their responsibility to ask her out on a first date, so she kept silent. 5 months pass, then 3 more, then another 6, with other social events sprinkled in between. Jane remained steadfast to playing by the dating game. It’s been 9 years since Jane has been asked out and continues to do so. She has become very lonely, spending her time with family and friends to shake the romantic isolation but she continues to feel that emptiness. At the end of the night she still feels lonely.
What would you have Jane Smith do? Remain adamant within the irrational socio-psychological gender-role system and, in doing so, stay unhappy and lonely? hm.
“be a man” and “man up” are actually quite harmful in terms of the way men and women interact, specifically the way some women will perceive their man, or a man in general, and what it is to be a “man”. The phrase “be a man” is so packed with years of social and cultural stereotype that woman (and men) who read or hear it, naturally conjure up the stereotypical characteristics of a “man” and often use that phrase to provoke their man. Subconsciously they are becoming trapped in the same game and the same stereotypes, and therefore compare their man with that irrational image. Even slight deviation from the stereotype is often taken as reason for contempt, or even reason to end a relationship or end the dating process.
Monsignor, in terms of using the phrases as a “call to action” technique well, I agree that it is useful (from a marketing, and public-stirring perspective) as that considering so many are in the mindset of “being a man”, but for the benefit of humanity I would refrain from using it even in that case. I agree with you that men may have a pull toward action or duty; I fell a great pull towards helping others in individual mental and educational capacity as well as physical safety and military capacity. Anyone in any kind of physical safety field, be it police, firefighting, military, conservation, etc. understands that pull. But, this is all a side track, Monsignor, and perhaps another technique (by appeal to “duty”) to gain favor in some way. This does not apply to dating! No comparison. The pull I feel for helping in a search and rescue capacity on local waters is incomparable to any false “pull” one might have to initiate a potential date. There is a time and a place for the call to action that man supposedly have. I do not consider the pull I feel dependent on my gender (perhaps there is a bio-chemical explanation in terms of hormones, etc. for it), rather, I consider it stemming from the recognition that humanity must progress, life is dear, it must be done, and enjoying a field in which there is chance to safe lives, then that enjoyment is passion and motivation for it. Again, this is tangent, and irrelevant to the conversation. Nice try though, Monsignor. =)
Remember, men get rejected over and over again. Frustration, even bitterness, are not far away. Why should men do all the work? One human must not “win over” another like some child pretending to be sad in order to get a candy bar.
– One human being is to CONNECT with another human being to the realization that their souls are good for each other –
To sum up…
I find it VERY surprising that so many people, women particularly, simply chose not to or cannot realize the simplicity of ASKING SOMEONE THEY ARE INTERESTED IN OUT ON A DATE. I refuse to believe women are incapable of this. I refuse to believe they will not be better ADULTS as a result.
It’s not that difficult. Adult men will find it appealing. They will recognize the independence of the woman making the first move and value it. At least I would.
Best regards as always
Well Ok Robert You”ve made your point and I don’t entirely disagree with you. Women can take the inititiative and make the ask. And I’m all for it if it will move the ball forward on the marriage front.
As for being a “man” etc. I think I intend this all a little more as a light-hearted encouragement than you hear. So take it for what it’s worth: a summons to men that I as a fellow man make. Courage men! Now get on out there and get to work. The sacrifices are many but the rewards are great.
As for encouraging women in this matter, I will leave that up to Laura and the other women who have entered this discussion. I’m a little out of my league when it comes to giving advice in such matters to women. 🙂
Ok men, we’re all ears! What kind of initiative do you want from women?
What can we do to make it very clear to you that we’re interested?
A few suggestions have been made (a longer-than-usual gaze, a furtive smile, asking the guy out). Here’s your chance to tell us what you want!
I’d say the playful smile, the “look”, and showing a guy you want to be around him, can be that little indicator where he says, “it looks like she might like me too, I’ll take the chance and ask”.
Catholic, compatible, available. Pick two. :
That is hilarious! And a little depressing.
These commentaries are very interesting! To the “guy in CA”: Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. When you talk about the chemistry and the thrill many of us expect from a relationship I think you have identified a key element of the equation. Isn’t it ironic that women and men are driven by a chemical reaction to find the person they will potentially spend the rest of their lives with? And that we also get thrills (chemical reactions) if we take risks, like drinking a six pack with our 7th grade classmates or going to a concert without our parents’ permission. Is it possible that we are addicted to the feeling of breaking the rules? And if so, are we subconsciously “punishing” the good men or women who are not “using” similar thrilling chemicals? And if so, does anybody know the cure?
Msgr. Pope – Great blog! We need mentors like you who can support those who are discerning a vocation to marriage. A couple of years ago, I saw “My Fair Lady” (the 1964 movie with Audrey Hepburn). It has great songs! I was happy at the end when Eliza chooses the more modest guy who would accept her for who she is (not the most thrilling choice available in the movie for sure). Back then I was also taking a Literature class on Mythology and Folk tales so I did the research. I think the musical is based on a 1913 play by Geroge Bernard Shaw -Pygmalion- based as well on a poem written by a Roman poet named Ovid (8 AD) – Metamorphoses- who probably got the idea from ancient Greek mythology. Ovid wrote a tale about a sculptor named Pygmalion that carves a statute of the ideal woman for himself out of despair of ever finding a real-life flawless women, but the carved statute has no eyes nor ears, it cannot see or hear, etc. I guess Pygmalion was idolizing the idea of a woman, not the real deal.
Could this idolizing also be part of the phenomenon?
Can this ‘very SERIOUS rift’ between Catholic men and women be a recent mutation of an old virus?
Is this happening more in highly competitive cities?
Are we saying that ideal Catholic women only date ideal Catholic men?
And that this ideal Catholic man needs to be a thriller!
Mmm… I wonder if Michael Jackson’s was trying to say something about it when in 1982 he sang Thriller -check the lyrics:
‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night
There ain’t no second chance against the thing with forty eyes, girl
Thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight
‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night
Girl, I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try…’
So from Ovid in 8 AD to today 2009, should we not continue the conversation?
Yes, The search for the “ideal” is ultimately pretty frustrating. It’s also not very fair to ask others to try to fill the “Ideal” category. There is an old saying: “Unrealistic Expectations are Premeditated Resentments.” There is also an old preachers saw that goes: “many people want their marriage to be ideal and if becomes an ordeal they want a new deal.” Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good in that as we search for the perfect we overlook some pretty good stuff.
This blog hits home. The point about communications technology actually making it harder to communicate for real was dead on. Having grown up with a computer in the house and a cell phone in my pocket, I don’t notice certain things, but recently, I went with my mother to a coffee shop, and after a few sips of Java, she said, “No wonder young people complain about not being able to meet anyone. Everyone either has their face buried in a book or behind a laptop or their ears connected to an ipod, and no one talks or even looks at anyone else.” Now the books aren’t new technology, but in this case they were serving the same function as the electronic gadgets– to block out anything they don’t choose to engage in. We are so used to ordering everything from music to pizza to cars by pointing and clicking that we want finding a mate to be that simple. News flash– it’s not!! It requires turning off the laptop, unplugging the earbuds and making actual eye contact and talking! True, there will be rejections, but like looking for a job, 99 rejections and one acceptance mean a search was successful.
As far as the phrase “be a man” being somehow problematic, that is another symptom of what has infected us as a people. We have been brainwashed by some misguided feminists to view men and women as identical except in terms of reproductive equipment, and not only is that counter-intuitive, it’s un-natural. We have different biology, different chemistry, and even different brains, all of which mean we have different gifts and different ways of fulfilling best our roles as men or women. Men are supposed to be the go-getters and the initiative takers. Obviously, women have their role in the courtship process (and believe me, if you have sisters and hear them talk with their friends, you’ll hear the phrase “be a woman” more times than you can count!), a longer-than-usual gaze, a furtive smile, etc. that keep the men knocking on their door, but that has largely been lost. Our culture has become so sexualized that women have come to believe that the only way to a be attractive is to be sexually active or available. This is obviously a result of the acceptance of contraception by the broader culture. Sex is now purely for one’s own selfish pleasure and is no longer a loving, life-giving act. It’s been robbed of its true value. Try finding a young person who doesn’t laugh when asked “are you willing to practice natural family planning?”
It is selfishness that says two (or one, or no) children is enough because of the desire for a vacation home, new car, yearly vacations to Europe, etc., and both men and women nowadays approach dating from a selfish rather than a God-centered perspective, and we have a lot of work to do to turn that around. By elevating marriage to a Sacrament, God has set up a banquet for us to feast on, but only if we truly view marriage as a vocation and live it as such in self-giving, life-affirming love. Sadly, though, most people skip the banquet and live on scraps from the garbage by giving into the secular zeitgeist. The importance of marriage being fully open to new life is something that needs to be taught far earlier and given much more importance, not just glossed over in marriage preparation class.
To those still negotiating the dating scene, you are in my prayers. I have been blessed with a loving wife who wanted not just a Catholic wedding but also a Catholic marital life, and you can bet we take our responsibility to bring new faithful into the world very seriously, but also as an honor and a privilege! Such gems are hard to find, but they’re out there.
So the woman can ask the man and learn how that works? Mmmmm, interesting.
Someone commented on stereotypes.
Here are some excerpts from Wikipedia
A stereotype is a type of logical oversimplification in which all the members of a class or set are considered to be definable by an easily distinguishable set of characteristics. The term is often used with a negative connotation, as stereotypes can be used to deny individuals respect or legitimacy based on their membership in a particular group. In America, the term has long been associated with the Civil Rights movement and is imbued with a semblance of racial context.
Stereotypes often form the basis of prejudice and are usually employed to explain real or imaginary differences due to race, gender, religion, age, ethnicity, socio-economic class, disability, and occupation, among the limitless groups one may be identified with.
One reason people stereotype is that it is too difficult to take in all of the complexities of other people. Even though stereotyping is inaccurate, it is efficient. Categorization is an essential human capability because it enables us to simplify, predict, and organize our world. Once one has sorted and organized everyone into tidy categories, there is every incentive to avoid processing new or unexpected information about each individual. Assigning general group characteristics to members of that group saves time and satisfies the need to predict the social world.
People also tend to stereotype because of the need to feel good about oneself. Stereotypes protect one from anxiety and enhance self-esteem. By designating one’s own group as the standard or normal group and assigning others to groups considered inferior or abnormal, it provides one with a sense of worth.
Well, I disagree with Robert. His point is not the details its the idea of manliness itself: the idea that it is a man’s job is to ask the woman out. He hates that!
That’s unfair! That’s sexist! Women can ask guys out too!
Sure but neither sex likes it that much.
It is not Robert’s fault; we do not live in a culture that support manliness.
I think the really big problem on display here with women, including Catholic women, is we seem to have but two impossible ideals: an ideal of romantic thrilliness versus and ideal of a highly developed Catholic faith.
Marriage cannot possibly survive if only very ideal people and relatioNships are fit for the adventure.
Find a nice girl. (Young man). Yes, make that someone you are physically attracted to and also someone whom you would trust with your children. Someone you respect and like. Marry them and love them. Until one of you dies.
Have some babies. Take care of them together.
Expect to be miserable some of the time. But love, anyway.
Its much better than the alternatives. We don’t need lower standards, instead we need to appreciate each other more.
I have a very simple answer to Robert’s main concern. Despite what we learned as teenage girls reading Seventeen magazine, asking men out usually doesn’t make us happy.
If you are truly interested in ‘liberating’ us so that we’re happy, then you would more truly liberate us by allowing us not listen to that lie that says that the way to happiness for women is taking the initiative. The simple fact is– consult women you know if you don’t believe me– we don’t want to initiate. We want a man to notice us, like us and pursue us. You’re thinking “yeah, so does a man” but I would argue that it is not the same in terms of experience. The woman usually already feels herself quite vulnerable by trying to make it clear that she would be open to a date. When you complain of men being the only ones getting rejected, you’re missing a big part of woman’s experience; I assure you there are many women nursing wounds from this kind of silent rejection; the realization that they are not being thought of by the men they care for.
To Robert’s example– Jane Smith is attracted to a man and likes spending time with him and wishes that he would ask her out– what she’s really wondering is whether he notices her; whether he ever thinks about her; not whether he’d consent to spend an evening in her company (that’s not the point).
I thought that it was only the Washington DC area that had this ‘dating problem’ – with its transient population (2-3 yrs stay), type A personalities (interested only in career, money, education) and hectic schedules. It is a bit surprising to hear how widespread across the country this problem is. Two quick thoughts come to mind (one may be obvious). With the high divorce rate (even among ‘Catholics’), young adults are reluctant to commit either because of fear or of uncertainty on how they will do in a spousal role. Many, no doubt, have experienced or seen family and friends suffer in a ‘troubled’ family situation. It should not be an excuse, but with God’s grace, be used to lift one up out of darkness.
Another interesting observation, (inspired by a comment), is that “young adult groups” may be self-fulfilling. One good thing about these groups is that, yes, you get to meet like-minded people who share your values and you have a chance to build common bonds and close friendships. On the other hand, can the constant activity of planned events and the potential of meeting new people become the norm, and prevent someone from even considering an exclusive and potentially lifelong committment to a person ? After all, one can pick and choose from a full platter of events that come guaranteed with a ‘circle of friends’. In a way, this atmosphere can condition someone to be noncommittal and have short attention spans. Perhaps this is symptomatic of society as a whole.
Jack: I agree with both points and see connections with the saying “unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments” from Msgr. Pope’s.
Sara: I also agree that we women definitively prefer the man to initiate and dicover us. But we can agree that both men and women are afraid of pain and find?
Laura has asked to hear more from men’s perspective to better understand their world and we women could communicate what goes on in our hearts as well.
Many fears come from unmet EXPECTATIONS. Some expectations are fair/just -WE ARE MENT TO HAVE CARING PARENTS- and other unreal (OUR PARENTS SHOULD BE FASCINATED BY OUR GENIOUS AND BEAUTY 24/7).
Jack, I think your point about pain is brilliant. If the pain is experienced at an early age when there is not much wisdom available we learn and are predisposed to be offended by the unmet expectations. First our parents hurt us, or God, then our friends in school, later our first boy friend, boss and coworkers and even our pastor! Also, many of the expectations come from stereotypes or other social and theatrical conventions (like Prince and Princess Charming who do not exist! =)
Msgr. Pope bloged about the significant generational differences and how marriage has lost its focus on the well being of the children. And because I love to watch lots of movies I have to consider how much influence movie cararcters or literary characters like that of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are having in setting this trend. –“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” (Austen, page 1) Wow, have we come a long way. Of course we are not living in eighteen-century England when many marriages were arranged according to the family convenience, whether the man and the woman “loved” each other or not YET. So the pendulum swings the other way and 2009 USA pop culture suggests that we are supposed to find our soul mates and be totally independent from parental wisdom in matters of marriage. We try to find love “with a 30 day warranty” and forget that love is a hard learning process but rewarding! In any case, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are not real and sadly for women, their romantic story could set us up for the pain of unmet expectations because the story does not tell us of their lives after marriage.
In the middle of all this nonsense good Catholic men and women are trying to find the way with God’s grace.. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
More about learning in the school of love.
I really liked this comment by a poster above: “The major pitfalls of guys are directly and clearly addressed. Lots of concrete ways of trying to avoid them are easy to be found. There is not much lack of clarity there. The pitfalls that are more common to women, however, are more nuanced and hard to understand. It does not seem like there is much of a consensus of what is right and wrong (provided by the Church I mean) in terms of how they should go about dating.”
As a woman, I have never heard of nuanced pitfall for my gender. As women, we hear a lot about how we have to *help* men from sexual sin, by dressing “properly” and not flirting. (The latter, I find is a pity because I think you should let a guy know you like him, without going overboard. Signals do matter.) There is one pifall for woman however, which I have never head the Church talk of–female sexual sin. A good advice my Christian women friends share with each other is to call a friend if we want to engage in sex with a loved one, and thus get rid of the feeling.
I would be very curious of hearing other pitfalls that women fall into.
I have also heard that as women, we should let the men take leadership and have them ask us out. However, I like Robert’s question about why women can’t ask men out. I have done so in the past and have never regretted it. I am 28 years old, and I have no time to footsy around. Either you are interested in me and try to get to know me, or you can just stay friendly. I wasted less time waiting around for guys who were flirtatious but uninterested. And I think that a guy who can accept a woman with initiative, is a guy who is comfortable being partners with her. My ex (with whom I broke up amicably and we are still really good friends) liked the fact that I was assertive and made the first move. He liked that I wasn’t subservient or coy. He was going to ask me out but I beat him to it. 🙂 I don’t think it’s unfeminine to ask a guy out.
If you want to make sure that a guy likes you, why not ask him out, then leave the ball in his court. After your first date, you can see if he’ll ask you out or not. Then you can let him court you and you can decide if he is the right one. 🙂 If he doesn’t ask you out, cut your losses and move on.
I’d like to hear more about women’s pitfalls please. And Laura’s question about male opinion on female initiative is also interesting.
This article is LEGIT! Coming from a girl in her last year of college (where dates are far and few between), I am so grateful for this post. My friend’s blog talks a bit about the problems we college students are facing in the dating arena- http://compassforfriendshipandlove.blogspot.com/ Check it out!
I love where this discussion is going. One topic that we seem to be circling- the importance of social/gender norms for Catholic singles. These questions like, why aren’t guys asking out girls? or, why can’t girls ask out guys? all point to one of our Modern tendencies- questioning traditions. However, I think there is some wisdom in the focus of Msgr’s call, to men to “be a man!” and the expectations associated with that challenge…
Just quickly, I disagree with Robert- We are not spiritual first, and then bodily. We are a unity of body and soul, and encounter a personal God (the Incarnate Word!) through the material world. A body (and particular modality) isn’t a detail- that being said, someone’s maleness and femaleness is also significant.
With a bit more relevance to the conversation- Sara, I’m with you. I disagree with MC. While we might find random occasions when a girl-asking-a-guy is appropriate, this isn’t the answer to our problem of skewed male-female dynamics. Tearing down our social and gender norms isn’t going to cause a resurgence of dating… it WILL create a lot of confused & estranged relationships, however. I’ll also note that many of our dating norms are based in a biological reality.
I don’t know if this thread is dead yet, but I wanted to quickly address Robert’s point about women taking the initiative….
I don’t fully agree with you on that. I am not an absolutist on the matter, and think that there do exist situations where a woman can fully take the initiative. But I think that mostly it is a man’s prerogative to initiate things.
I think the main problem is that most women (including faithful Catholics) have extremely excessive expectations of what they expect from their “suitor”. If the initiative that he takes falls anywhere short of the kind of nonsense they see on TV and read in magazines, then it is not happening. So finally guys just get sick of it and say: “forget this, if you are interested, you ask me out“. A very understandable reaction.
There are certain types of good, orthodox, faithful, single Catholic girls that I meet that I find attractive but have learned at this point to not bother with because I can sense that they have this unhealthy view of romantic relationships. Guys: just don’t bother with those particular gals. It is up to them to fix themselves. There definitely are some single women out there with healthy views on this matter. Just got to find them.
The problem is that many of them tended to have gotten married pretty quickly (they are in high demand).
I Sara’s point that isn’t so much that women cannot ask men out, but it’s that they don’t want to. And I think that Sara’s point that women feel hurt because they are not asked out is bang-on right.
To Maria- I’m not saying that women asking men out is going to fix the problem. Obviously, the men should ask women out as well. And let me tell you why to those men who want to know.
Despite the fact that “man up” has a machismo connotation in this day and age, of tough men who are silent and unfeeling, women do have certain expectations of men to be “men”. We are not asking men to be unfeeling. We like relationships; we want men to open their hearts. But we also want men to be courageous and to show leadership. We are not stupid. We understand that asking a girl out is a difficult process. But being courageous shows that men are protective. It gives us assurance that the men we marry will do their utmost to protect their families. As child-bearers, it is essential for us to know that we can depend on our men.
That’s not say that men who are asked out are not protective or fiercely love their families. But when a man asks us out, it gives us one more factor to suss him out and recognize that he’ll be courageous in front of other difficulties. It makes us realize that in front of difficulties, we won’t be the only ones to share burdens that will come our way.
Sorry, in my previous post I meant to write that Sara’s distinction between “can” and “want” an excellent one.
I hit the sent button too quickly. My apologies,
I think cultivating longer friendships makes it easier to know whether the person is right for you and to know whether there is a greater possibility of a yes, when you ask her out.
To some guy in CA who writes, “But when your expectations are for a guy to trigger emotional tsunamis, you will find the stability of a good Catholic man rather boring every time.”
I’m sure that many of my women friends would find that falling in love with a stable and good Catholic man is a thrilling, even if he doesn’t take us for a walk in the dunes under the moonlight. We know that love isn’t always romanticism. We don’t expect to be swept off our feet on our first encounter or even the first, second or third date! But after getting to know each other, what matters to us are falling in love, being in love and choosing to be in a committed relationship. When in love, “mundane” things become very special. And commitment with a man we love gives us a deep sense of content.
I honestly don’t think that women are seeking false thrills Some Guy. We look for good guys and being in a loving relationships . That makes us happy. We aren’t all flighty, you know. 😀
p.s. But I do think that flowers are a good thing! 😉
Religious girls are the worst. The more religious they are, the harder it is to get their attention, or to have fun with them. It doesn’t matter if they are Neo-Pentecostal or Catholic, they are all the same.
All very closed. Now, I am a religious guy. But the secular/worldly ones are the best out there in order for a religious guy to make the approach.
Church girls are the most difficult and full of lists.
J, with all respect i couldn’t disagree more. The entire point of a sacramental marriage is that you are bringing each other closer to Christ. For me, that’s what a relationship is all about. Finding someone who I can share my faith with. If she doesn’t love God, how can she love you the right way?
Why aren’t Catholic men dating? Why aren’t Catholics getting married? There are many answers. Firstly Marriage is expensive! Its hard to make a living! Especially when your in debt because of college! Getting married just costs too much so one must save $ to get married. I don’t plan to start dating untill I have enough money to even think about getting married. This is the answer to the question for the majority of men. We aren’t scared but we are poor. Although I think there are men out there who don’t keep with their chastity, they might virgins but aren’t chaste! So Women pray fo your future husband, I’m praying for my future bride! Women should be modest, prayerful, have God # 1 in your life, have a good relationship with your family, and most importantly stay confident because All of God’s creation’s are truly beautiful!
This is absolutely fascinating!! I have so much I want to add–but I will just add this. Throughout all of these discussion threads there is very little talk about the power of prayer. That is praying to God & Our Mother to send a companion who is both a “Good Catholic” and also has passion! For me, I never thought I would hear those words, Catholic & passion, in the same sentence–at least as it relates to romantic love.
This time last year I found myself pining after a young man in my young adult group. And for once in my life, I *didn’t* make the first move. Instead, I prayed on it saying to God, “Ok this one is in your hands. I have no idea what this man may think of me, but I know that if it is Your will, then he will say something.” I kid you not, he asked me out a week later and we’ve been dating for nearly 11 months.
I think the key for praying for a mate is praying for the right reasons. God gives us all these desires for companionship (“It is not good for Man to be alone), for a help mate, even for sex!! Pray that God will help you to find someone to fulfill those desires of the heart–that in many cases are placed there by God. And women–just be yourself! If you want to ask a young man out, do it. But in my case I know right before my now boyfriend asked me out I was giving out pretty heavy hints that I liked him… I’ve found that asking for a ride home from church doesn’t hurt either 🙂 (just kidding…sorta…)
So pray, and look to the examples of young couples in the church currently and have these types of conversations as to what has worked for them. And I agree with Msgr. Pope–at some point you just have to put yourself out there!
Many blessings to you all and good luck! 🙂
Beth and Patrick – thanks for the prayer reminders, Payer works! I asked my cousin how was she able to find her husband and she told me “I did not find him, God sent him my way”. Apparently she started praying a Novena “for a virtuous husband” when she was 17. She prayed every night for a couple of years and the Lord gave her an excellent husband (and three kids and some difficulties) and they still love each other after 30 years.
Three more things: Patience, Relax and Motives!
Patience: if you have been praying and cultivating virtue, keep at it, your time will come. Try not to harvest the fruit from the tree before it is ready.
Relax: when you go out on a date keep it simple. Pick a funny movie, visit a music store, taste ice cream, go dancing or any other ‘easy’ activity that can free your mind and your ears to listen to each other.
Motives: think about whether you are truly discerning to get married or caught up in playing ‘a game’ –because that would be one reason the Lord would answer your prayers differently. James 4.
Great article and something which I think Catholic guys need to hear much more (I don’t think I’ve *ever* heard any sermon in any Catholic church about life *before* marriage).
A little while ago this became a topic of conversation among the guys at my church and, since nobody has mentioned this particular issue so far, I thought I’d share. There is one issue more than any other that we agreed caused us to “hold back” and this is that the local church is an “established community”. I know this sounds a bit weird, but trust me, it’s got some consequences…
1. If you ask a girl out and she rejects you, there’s very little opportunity to hide afterwards. Chances are that you belong to the same parish groups (Under 20s, choir etc) and probably go to the same Mass. This is awkwardness most of us don’t want to have to deal with. I once asked out a girl who went to the same Mass as me and she turned me down…and I never saw her at that Mass again :-/ (I think she started going to one of the other services – I don’t think I caused her to leave the faith)
2. However, if she doesn’t reject you and you start dating things can be great (superb, even). However, if you break up things can get *a lot* worse. Like the first point, you have very little opportunity to hide. Out of the couples I know to whom this has happened, one of them usually ends up leaving the parish (or area!). I once dated a girl for quite some time who came to my church and when we broke up parishioners inevitably took sides, creating more than a little tension in the various groups.
3. If you’ve dated somebody in the church before, it’s almost scandalous(!) if you later start dating someone *else* even if it is years(!) later. There is the fear of being known as “that guy who chases after all the girls in the church” and even having your motives for attending church questioned.
There were other consequences that we talked about and other issues that we discussed (“Is Adoration the new Happy Hour?”), but I thought the above issues were particularly powerful. As Edmund Burke said “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear”.
However, looking over these points in the cold light of day, we can see that they shouldn’t really cause us to lose our nerve. All of these “problems” are opportunities to treat people respectfully and with grace: the girl who turned you down, the ex, the parishioners etc.
And anyway….what was ever worth doing that didn’t make you at least a little terrified? 😉
I’m waiting for other men’s answers to Laura’s quesions…. and I don’t think that I’m the only one!
I agree with Basic guy to some extent.
Pay the man attention and let him know you are interested.
There is also comments on this topic at http://catholicforum.fisheaters.com/index.php?topic=754333.0
My opinion… women are looking for romance, and it’s romantic to be pursued and asked out, so take the chance and ask a woman out. Even if in today’s day and age there is equality for the genders, men and women are equal but we aren’t identical, I agree with one of the above comments, I think both men and women prefer it when the man is the one doing the pursuing.
Msgr. I’m wondering if you have posted, or would consider posting, the Church’s views on lay celibacy? After many years of failed dating relationships, and a divorce, I’ve come to the conclusion that a) I’m not very good at adult intimate relationships, and b) I’m not very good at asking out others who are very good at adult initimate relationships. Maybe it’s just being right in the heart of middle age, but the issue no longer concerns me that much. I’m wondering however, if there is a legitimate vocation to lay celibacy, and if there is, how is it lived?
Many of the points I would make have been covered (especially CastingCrown’s list; the Catholic community is far smaller for our generation than ever twenty years ago, down to basically parish grounds). But there’s also the issue of economics: men are being told to be neo-traditionist in all areas of dating and marriage at the same time when their unemployment/underemployment is at record levels and they’re swimming in student debt for the jobs they can’t find. And, with the women we ask out usually making more than we are, we’re turned down as being Bad Providers.
Then there’s the issues of the poisonous discourse in dating culture accusing #AllMen of being creeps, rapists, sex-fueled porn-addicts, and the like. Even if the deck wasn’t actually logistically stacked against us (and the lack of real information on the women around us without any actual Catholic communities any longer), we’re treated as stereotypes — as seen right here in Monsignor Pope’s piece (not trying to explore causes, just assuming that we’re “weak”)…
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