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Remember when young people used to date? Whatever happened to that?

March 16, 2014 133 Comments

Couple walking in a park

A radio listener recent wrote me about an interview I did on EWTN Radio with Barbara McGuigan. I mentioned that I had been doing a teaching on dating and modesty at a Theology on Tap session. At that session I charged the men not to leave that night until they had asked a woman out on a date.

This intrigued the listener, who wanted me to expand on this just a bit and what if anything she could do to get the twenty-somethings in her family (both male and female) to start dating again. Here is something of the response I penned:

Yes, I suppose it was on EWTN Radio’s Open Line show on Valentine’s Day that you heard me. As for what to say, it is difficult. The culture of course is dismal today when it comes to meeting someone and doing something we used to call “dating.”

I was telling the young people at that Theology on Tap meeting that, back when I was in high school and college, we used to do something called “dating.”

This strange and currently little-known behavior involved a young man picking up the phone, or perhaps asking a girl in person, to go on something known as “a date.” This involved an actual activity such as the two of them having dinner together, or going to a movie together, or perhaps some other function together (as in just the two of them).

He would ask her and she would either agree to go out with him or not. If she accepted, he would actually get into his car, go to her house, and ring the doorbell. He might even meet her parents if she still lived at home. Then he would actually take her somewhere, such as to dinner, and he would spend money, his own money, on her. He was then supposed to bring her back to her own home at a reasonable time. Perhaps if it went well, she might even give him a quick kiss, and agree to see him again.

Of course I say a lot of this in jest, but what makes it strangely funny is that although most young people have heard of the dating I’m describing, many seldom experience it with any real frequency. Back when I was in high school and college, the goal was to have a date every Friday or Saturday. Frankly, very little was on T.V. on Friday nights since it was presumed that most young people would be “out on dates.”

We are living in a very strange world. At any rate, the first thing I think we can do is to tell funny stories like these. When I do so, I hope to tweak the young men into some change of behavior such that, instead of just hoping to see certain women at group functions they actually seek to court a particular woman, and even more, search for a wife.

As a priest in Washington DC, I talk with a lot of young women and am shocked that so many of these very beautiful women are seldom asked out by men. It’s just crazy! What’s wrong with young men? If I were still young and dating I’d be asking them out!

Some folks blame pornography and surmise that many men prefer fantasy to real women. Others blame the breakdown of the Church and family that used to help facilitate meeting and dating through dances and other socials. Others blame the hook-up scene (hooking-up is NOT dating) wherein men and women gather more in groups, arriving independently and “hooking-up” with whomever. Promiscuity also devastates marriage, since there is very little incentive for men to commit to marriage when they get one of its central motivators (sex) for free. And if marriage isn’t a real priority, why court a woman? And if marriage and courtship are unnecessary, why date?

Perhaps you can state other reasons. I don’t want to be unfair to men. These are complicated issues. But traditionally it was men who took the initiative and most traditional Catholic girls still feel as it that is how it should be.

But frankly, I also have to tell a lot of young women today that, like it or not, they’re going to have to take some initiative. For example, if a young woman sees a young man she would like to have ask her out, perhaps she can go right up to him and say, “It’s alright to ask me out.” or, “Ask me out you fool.” Or, “When are you going to get around to asking me to dance?”

Back when I was in school, I had several young women who wanted to signal me that they were interested. They would often send word through one of their friends who would then say something like, “She likes you, ask her out.” And in many cases, I would oblige!

My college sweetheart got things started with me that way. I was really surprised she wanted to go out with me; she was so very, very pretty, I didn’t think she’d be interested in an ordinary guy like me. I also figured she probably had lots of other suitors. So this was important information for me that she was interested, and I acted on it immediately. I practically ran up to her and asked her out.

I am interested in your thoughts, especially if you’re a young adult. What’s going on here? Ultimately I think it’s pretty serious since it is tied in with the cultural demise of marriage and also the rise of promiscuity. Help me, nearing “codger” status, to understand the causes, and also venture some solutions. .

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Comments (133)

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  1. annaincalifornia says:

    Monsignor Pope, I too would like to know what is going on with our men.
    I’m 43 and still single. I ended my last relationship of 4 years because he would not
    commit. After that, I’ve only met men who want to play with me. Nothing serious.
    I’m not the only one. There are 30 year olds at my work who are not finding a good
    guy…. I just thought it was my bad luck in life, but lately it seems like a phenomenon.

    Your daughter in Christ – anna

  2. R in Indiana says:

    Having been removed from the dating scene for more than 24 years, your comments make me shudder. I have a 12 year old that will soon be facing this culture. Here in the Midwest, I think there is still a culture of dating at least in the Catholic culture I’ve witnessed. But I can only see the surface as I watch the kids in my church at different activities. What is going on underneath is a mystery to me, and frankly the kids that I know are going to be the more conservative kids with faithful Catholic parents. Even in Catholic school, there will be a mix of kids that are going to drive the culture. Yikes!

  3. David says:

    If you want a real eye-opener for what the marriage situation looks like from the point of view of a single male, I strongly recommend you look at this site: https://dontmarry.wordpress.com/

    The author there has put together a rock-solid case for men not marrying. As long as the cultural and legal environment creates those conditions, sensible men will not marry absent being overwhelmingly in love (thus overriding rational decision-making).

    And, specific to the D.C. area and other culturally similar areas – these women are, sadly, not very lovable. They are on the defensive 100% of the time – you can’t even talk to them casually without receiving this hostility. How are you supposed to get to know someone well enough to even decide whether you would like to date them?

    Unfortunately, the bottom line is that men don’t ask women out to date anymore because it’s just not worth it. Even the youngest men have seen their fathers, or their friends’ fathers, get put through the shredder in a nasty divorce – or two, or three.

    All the benefits of marriage to men have been eliminated by law, a radically changed culture, or both. Until this “War on Men” ends, young dateless women will find few suitors. So if there’s a final answer to this question, the way women will get dates is to truly love men and no longer tolerate conditions which make what was once considered a normal family life a difficult-to-impossible goal for a typical man to achieve.

    • Liesl says:

      Speaking as a single woman living in the DC area… we are lovable! We want to date, and we think it is worth it! Sorry that you’ve gotten this impression from so many women.

      • Thanks. I think David’s comments need some distinction and you have made it well. There are cultural trends that I think he points to, such as radical feminism which couches the relationship between the sexes as a power struggle. But there are varying degrees of this and not everyone buys into the all the adversity. So David is saying what he honestly thinks and has experienced but there are exceptions and distinctions out there, such as you have articulated.

    • Matthew Wade says:

      David, I hope you’ll take what I’m about to say with the utmost of charity, but your comment confirms that most guys these days are just too scared to date. There’s a real loss of manhood, and that comes across in comments like “As long as the cultural and legal environment creates those conditions, sensible men will not marry absent being overwhelmingly in love” and “the bottom line is that men don’t ask women out to date anymore because it’s just not worth it.”

      If we went about life with the intellectual model that we only consider the worst of what we’ve seen others suffer in doing the same thing, how many of us would never learn to ride a bike or swim in a creek? Let alone risk rejection in a job interview or a relationship? If I was too scared to ask a girl out on a date because of what I’d seen other men in my life go through, I wouldn’t be married to my beautifully amazing wife.

      I grant to you that some women make it very difficult to find them attractive, even if they’re beautiful on the outside. But your broad characterization is less accurate to reality as it is more symptomatic of a general loss of a sense of manhood among men these days.

      CS Lewis once wrote about “men without chests”. Whether it be intellectual dialogue, general physical capability, or virtuous living in society, his prophesying is truly manifest in this discussion.

      • innocentbystander says:

        Matthew,

        You are errecting strawmen sir. People learn to ride a bike to get from place to place (quickly) and swim in a creek because its fun. For David and an increasingly large number of younger single men, dating and marriage is not fun sir. There is too much risk (financial and legal) and no real bennies. Your response to that is “…well too bad, man up David, take some risks…” and I would say that his response very much IS the man’s way to look at things.

        Why should men risk dating? Your job interview example is terribly flawed as even if men hear no after no after no, there is no real financial or legal risk to sending out resumes. Men need to make money and eventually they will get a job (and the smart men will continue interviewing.)

        I am really happy for you that you are married to a beautiful amazing wife. So am I. But so many men are not (nor will they ever be.) And their option is to “opt out” and you and I should be embracing that. More to the point, neither you nor I could EVER say anything to a man whose wife left him for another man (and took his children and his home and part of his weekly pay away from him in the process.) These are the real outcomes of our feminized society sir and quoting CS Lewis (who would be admimantly against feminism and no-fault-divorce) does your entire point an injustice.

        • Matthew Wade says:

          Sorry Innocent…, but there are no strawmen here. “Fun” isn’t what marriage is all about. Our boy (and I use that word intentionally) David is tricked into thinking that safety is “fun”. “As long as my 401k is safe…” or “as long as my feelings don’t get hurt”… Guess what? My wife could up and leave me tomorrow, regardless of how holy I perceive her to be. I love her to the point of sacrificing my own life for her anyway. I didn’t take the advice of a bunch of old men who had failed marriages and crappy girlfriends and just avoid the whole institution because of that threat. I’ve played organized sports all my life. That is perhaps the place where a young man (I am only 28) can hear the most vitriol spilled against marriages: in locker rooms, on the benches, and at a dinner after the game. I bucked up and took the plunge anyway. I discerned a little more than most chaps, but I sure didn’t shy away from asking girls out and getting to know them out of fear of getting burned.

          If discernment isn’t your thing, then certainly you shouldn’t be dating, but you probably shouldn’t be doing a lot of other things either. I stand by everything I’ve said. Your using the word “strawman” doesn’t automatically make what I’ve said invalid; and your weak defense is more symptomatic of the problem. And CS Lewis would have much to say today about both the feminism you and I bemoan, and the chestless men I do.

          • innocentbystander says:

            Matthew, all I did was respond to your points in turn. Everything about your post was strawmen, everything. Fun is not what marriage is about but neither is no-fault-divorce. If David is opting out because he refuses to risk something that she could end by way of no-fault-divorce, you have no right to stand in judgement of that. Neither do I. And your comments about “chestless men” that is just shaming. You are trying to “shame” David into taking the risks he is not willing to…

            …you don’t get to do that. Shame on you.

      • Marissa says:

        There’s quite a big difference between skinning your knee and having your wife detonate your marriage; steal your children, paycheck and retirement; and possibly make false abuse accusations against you (possibly involving your children); all while she lives in your house and cavorts with another man (or men) and you live in a one-bedroom apartment which the court deems unfit for your children, thus negating you of custody. Women are far more likely to file for divorce and only a small percentage cite abuse or adultery. Even the Catholic Church passes out “Catholic divorces” (annulments) like candy. This society is sick and dying and I don’t blame men one iota for avoiding the toxic women and the church that supports their decisions to destroy their families (and yes, Virginia, women do it far, far more often than men).

  4. Nate says:

    People still date. I think proclaiming its end is a bit overblown. The problem lies in the next stage. The vast majority of young women don’t want marriage and children but fail to understand that everything short of marriage/children can be found just by walking into a bar. Even most of the self-anointed ‘good Catholic girls’ place career and other personal goals over marriage and, even more so, children. And, as David alludes to, a man would be a fool to marry a woman who doesn’t have a truly Catholic view of marriage. There are not many women like that in America, even among those who go to Mass.

    If the German bishops get their way, marriage will cease to be relevant even in the Church, so this may all be moot…

  5. tom h says:

    Unfortunately the dating issue is wrapped up with the general issue of pre-marital sex.

    The culture has lowered a girl’s expectations of boys and the girls don’t realize it.

    Dating will come back when the dating ritual becomes a condition of having a relationship with a girl. Meaning, no romance or affection without dates, getting to know her family, etc.

    When girls INSIST on dating, as a general rule across the culture, the boys will fall in line.

    Dennis Prager once said that it is the behavior of the woman which channels the behavior of men. He is right. Make dating a condition of romance and it will come back. Make marriage a condition of sex and the scourge of pre-marital sex will dwindle away.

    My .02.

    • patrick wells says:

      This is correct.

      • C. Lévesque says:

        I agree completely with you. Women should be more firm and express clearly to the men they are seeing that they expect to date, marry, have children. If that doesn’t work, she should take the innitiative and ask him out, propose to him and tell him about her desire to have a familly. And she should have him wait before engaging into sex until they both feel they are fit to form a lasting couple, ready to engage in holy matrimony.

  6. Don Altobello says:

    Msgr. Pope–

    I think a lot of this is economic and social. Both men and women get advanced degrees and have demanding careers, especially in the DC area. Women are no longer, socially or economically, in any sort of subordinate position to men. This plays a factor in delay of marriage, etc… Frankly, that phenomenon affects even serious Catholics. Perhaps a big thing we as a society could do is dramatically reform higher education (i.e., the length of time, amount of degrees, and overall cost).

    I’ll also speak a little bit as to the Catholic young adult scene. I’m cautious–because my experience (and I am not the only one) is that both men and women at these Catholic events are sizing up one another from the beginning, and making these judgments and categorizations from the start instead of just getting to know someone without preconditions. That can be hard if there is attraction…I know, but if there isn’t, so what? It’s no reason to be condescending or rude to someone. Or treat them like they belong on a sex offender registry.

    I’ve also found some groups of Catholics hard to break into–they can be overly incestuous and cliquish (I’m not sure how the New Evangelization turns out with that attitude). In other social (or work) contexts, I’ve personally had a number of opportunities to date attractive, successful women with multiple degrees (which is what I have). I usually don’t, because I’d rather date women within the faith, but it is disheartening to sometimes note the difference in responses.

    I don’t mean to be overly negative here–I just think both men and women could stand to make some adjustments, including and especially among Catholics. Sadly, sometimes being a traditional Catholic can add an added layer of complexity, drama, and self-righteousness.

  7. billy says:

    Msgr, you sound like my grandmother did when I was a teenager, talking about how things were better when SHE was a teenager. And she sounded like HER grandmother, because things had changed from when SHE was a teenager. Face it, Msgr, you’re just an old man, lamenting about how things used to be.

    • I am an old lamenting man. But you haven’t answered mt question. The ARE things that are less functional today (e.g. marriage and family) and I am trying to find out why. Your personal attacks haven’t moved the ball or added anything here.

  8. Catherine says:

    I agree that our culture deemphasizes marriage, even among good Catholic girls who want to get married and have children, because we women are taught to pursue a personal career and have a good income job like the men. We young women need to realize that the more outside commitments we make, the less free we will be to commit ourselves to being a wife and mother. I will have a degree in English and French next spring and I am an aspiring classical ballerina. I am developing individual God-given gifts, but I don’t want to tie myself up into an absorbing career when the end goal is a Catholic marriage. If men want to marry a girl, they need to prepare, too, by being able to support a family and being able to be a family leader, strong in the Faith.

    Young men can often fail to make the right approach. Good young women are pressured into sexual relationships, even among “good” guys. If they don’t want to make out while dating, they’re considered a dead fish. I’ve seen guys either stand in the corner and ignore girls or be way too aggressive: they latch right onto a girl without taking time to know her or giving her a chance to think. I wish that there was “dating” on Friday nights, too. Girls are pressured to completely give themselves either emotionally or physically to young men right if they are “interested.” What’s wrong with starting out as friends, letting things develop naturally? There’s so much pressure to be sexy or act sexy; can’t young men and women have fun together and build friendships, too? Girls may not want to “date” young men because they have some notion that in so doing they are choosing to be that guy’s girl friend, to commit to a serious relationship. It’s strange, but true. Nowadays, if someone asks you out, they are essentially asking you to be their girlfriend/ boyfriend. Guys seems to want all or nothing versus the challenge of winning a girl’s affections.

    • Bender says:

      I wrote what I wrote below before reading Catherine’s comment here, but I think she proves my point.

      There is way too much presumption and jumping to conclusions and expectation and power playing all around. After a while, it simply is not worth all the drama. And so you end up with a bunch of 30, 40, 50 year-old singles sitting around at home by themselves. And there are more and more of them.

    • patrick wells says:

      These are excellent insights.

  9. Jane says:

    My advice too all unmarried, eligible Catholic men and women is to go on a Catholic dating internet service. I personally know of four successful marriages as a result of this opportunity . Although Many Catholics do not want to “play the game” of the bar or party scene, our technology has provided another source to meet young men and women who are serious about getting married. Try Ave Marie or Catholic Match. Also pray for a faithful partner and ask happily married friends or relatives to introduce you to someone. Get involved in Catholic volunteer activities or mission trips. You are all in my prayers.

    • Thomas says:

      Hi Jane. I have been on the two services you mentioned for years and gotten nothing. I think my experience is probably more typical than yours. There is nothing more aggravating to a single person than to be asked, “have you tried online dating?” We have, thank you. It seems to work for some people but definitely not for everyone. If you would like to help, please try offering an introduction to an eligible Catholic of my age with similar interests who lives in my town or attends a nearby parish if not my own? I agree with comments elsewhere that Catholics are horrible about fostering marriages in their own community–but they are always ready to talk online dating.

  10. innocentbystander says:

    Msgr. Charles Pope,

    I’m going to have to agree with David. Basically what it comes down to is a logical, cost-benefit analysis on the part of young men and they have concluded (with no fault divorce laws in play and a church that generally defers to/champions women in all things) that women just aren’t worth it. It is sad but true. I have daughters and I fear for what their future will be like without any men asking them out on dates, but this is a real possibility. We have created a society where all the financial protections are given to women in cases of marriage (the only contract that can be terminated at will by either party, for no reason at all) and it should come as no surprise to any of us that men have decided to “go John Galt.”

    Until we elect legislators that change laws in this country (get rid of VAWA, get rid of no-fault-divorce, etc) then young men (particularly the hardest working ones with the most education/assets who have the most to lose) are making rational decisions to just stay home and play video games. They are forming friendship networks with their friends from college and keeping those going for years instead of dating and marrying. Why open their hearts to women where feminism has clearly stipulated to them time-and-again how unnecessary they really are? If they are so unnecessary then it behooves them to remove themselves from the dating pool. In the end, we all suffer from these rational, logical decisions on the part of young men, but young men are just responding to the natural disincentives. Basically Msgr. Charles Pope, there is nothing in it for them.

  11. Eric says:

    As a 24 year old male Catholic who would really like to get married and start a family, it is terribly difficult to actually talk to or get to know any women I see in church or at other events. After Mass, everyone just leaves and there is absolutely no way anyone could approach a woman or man and not seem like a very desperate creeper. For full disclosure, I mostly attend the Extraordinary Form. I really have a hard time believing all the talk about young people flocking to it. From my experience it seems like a lie we tell ourselves to make us feel better about the future. Where I go, there are maybe three other young adults who attend Mass, and they all just leave immediately. The only young women and men who really stick around after Mass are still in High School.

    Don Altobello hit the nail on the head about the young adult Catholic scene. All the women I’ve met at these events seem very cautious and downright defensive while interacting with men. Sadly, it ismuch easier to talk to non-religious/non-Catholic women at work than it is to interact with young faithful Catholic women. I really have no idea why this is either.

  12. laura says:

    My sister is 25 and hates the word “dating.” Going to dinner, movie – any activity is hanging out. And she is very wounded by her experiences, but she refuses to let the guy pay for anything – because that implies that she’ll pay him back with sex that night. “dating” someone implies having a regular sexual relationship. I don’t like to think that this is normal, but I do think it is more common than I like to think. She has definitely been asked out, but the sexual pressure makes her want to say no all the time and just stay with groups.

    • OTC says:

      You nailed it. Dating is what happens after sex becomes exclusive. What the Msgr is looking for is “courtship” and, generally, young women despise it, because it boxes them in and limits their options. Even 20 years ago this was obviously true.

  13. filiusdextris says:

    I was also discerning a call to the religious life to some extent when I started dating a serious Catholic girl for the first and only time about 15 years or so, both of us as 21-year-olds. We discussed marriage before we started dating, as we didn’t want to waste our time (at least in one sense) in a relationship that had no clear chance of going anywhere. We’ve been happily married since age 23. We both married with advanced degrees, but as our oldest will be a teenager next year (homeschooled), I will be content if she doesn’t go on to college, whether for the sake of a married or a religious vocation. If she must, she must, and there could be great benefit in college, but I don’t want personal debt jeopardizing her vocation in either direction (and, to be clear, I’m not having her discount a calling to the single life). God will provide for her, but I want her to be as unfettered as possible, so she can listen to that call without distraction. If she attracts a young man who is firmly committed first and foremost to God, I don’t think I would mind her getting married after high school.

    I guess to tie this in to dating, my suggestion is not to worry about it so much, that we should instead focus on more fundamental things like raising good young souls in our homes and schools, and let the initiation towards marriage sort itself out along the way in whatever form works best for the God-fearing young couple. People who are called to marriage and are God-fearing will figure it out.

    • stlfilius says:

      As one who followed the call to religious life, I am glad that there are parents like you raising good kids to freely discern their vocations.

  14. Bender says:

    so many of these very beautiful women are seldom asked out by men. It’s just crazy! What’s wrong with young men?
    ___________

    One of the problems with the average guy is that he is, well, average. And frankly, too many people do not want to “settle” for average. A lot of guys have asked. And gotten a “no thanks” in return. After too many of these, they stop asking.

    Part of that problem, in turn, is in addition to the “looking only for Mr. Right” issue, the reality today is that for a large sector of our culture, “do you want to go out?” is heard as “do you want to have sex?” Not the ones that are genuinely “good Catholic girls” of course (although there are plenty that publicly protest they are, but in secret are not). That is today’s hook-up culture. And a lot of the time when a guy asks “do you want to go out?” he means “do you want to go out?” — not all of them are like the guys that Laura’s daughter describes. But even before the hook-up culture was yesterday’s “do you want to go out?” being heard as “do you want to be boyfriend and girlfriend?” Not as extreme but still in the same neighborhood.

    What is needed is to go back to that earlier age of dating and asking out, where the initial date was much much more innocent and casual and social. You watch these old movies from the 30s-50s and women are having dates with three or four guys at the same time (well, not at exactly the same time — different nights, go out with one Friday and another Saturday). Almost anyone who asked would get a “yes” for at least one initial date. And there was no pressure, no obligation (except to be polite and virtuous). It was simply dinner or ice cream or dancing or the movies, etc. and real life social interaction, with talking and actually getting to know someone before becoming lip-locked (or more). And when the pressure of sex and/or long-term relationship was out of the picture, people could get to really know one another.

    The “don’t leave until you ask someone out” idea is great — so long as it is accompanied by “don’t leave until you accept someone asking you out.” If we could regain the practice of male-female interaction and socialization without all the baggage and expectations that would be a step forward.

  15. Lily says:

    I have a college age son who has talked to me about the difficulties in socializing with his generation. Most social “interaction” is done via social media. Social gatherings that he has been invited to are filled with drinking and often drugs so he stopped going. When he took the college shuttle, nobody spoke to each other. They all had earbuds in or were busy with their smart phones. He is in a male-dominated major and has very little interaction with young women. I agree with Eric who says that it is not easy to meet people at Church. The only ministry our diocese has for young adults besides the Newman Centers is Veritas, which is for ages 18-39. I think that is too large of an age gap. How awkward for a young adult trying to meet people to end up hanging out with people who could be his parents! I don’t know what the solution is but my son is lonely and so are many of the young people today.

  16. Sam says:

    It seems that just as the number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life has shriveled to dismal numbers so too have vocations to marriage. Let us not forget that marriage is actually a vocation, a gift, and it is apparently not being given to many anymore. We can look at all of the reasons, the breakdown of Christendom and the trivialization of Catholicism (the heirarchy being largely to blame), but even deeper there is the mystery of grace and predestination and God’s efficacious will. If God truly wanted this culture and society to be better, it would be better. People are only as good as God wills them to be. No better no worse. God is allowing civilization to become enveloped in darkness for a reason. As St Thomas would say, he is going to manifest His divine justice through the reprobate.

    • Brian says:

      Apparently people no longer have free will. Nobody is predestined to anything, Sam. And the idea that one is only as good as God wills him to be makes no sense. God wants for every person to be good, truly good, but He will not force His Will upon us because He loves us and wants us to freely choose to love Him and be good.

  17. Nate says:

    One more brief point if I may, Msgr. You often speak of the Last Four Things. Almost every woman under 45 (Catholic or not) wants to use artificial birth control in their marriage and good luck convincing them otherwise. Wedding a woman who holds that view is a commitment to many years of disobeying God. I’m sure the situation can be viewed similarly from the female point of view. From a practicing Catholic man’s point of view, you risk not only the aforementioned financial and emotional devastation the minute your spouse gets bored, but you risk your soul as well! Its a very strong argument for remaining single, even if you want to get married. We live in unhappy times.

  18. tibbie says:

    Msgr. Pope,

    A woman should never ask a man out or even mention to him that she wants him to ask her out. Maybe the other replies already addressed this, and I’m sorry to repeat, but women need to not join with men in group activities and anything that involves the hook-up culture.

    I think women need to simply become more elusive and even less available to men if the dating culture needs to be resurrected. No returning phone calls, emails, no quick responses in all the forms of social media.

    But women asking men out doesn’t work. Just doesn’t work.

    Sorry so adamant in my opinion, but I have experience behind me on this one.

    • OK, but why be adamant about a matter wherein reasonable people can differ. When my College sweetie reached out to me I didn’t think she was trying to “hook up” and her asking me (signaling me) of her interest worked.

  19. craig says:

    I will second David’s comment.

    Young women need to understand that for young men, the risks of marriage are visible and all too legally enforceable, while the rewards are perceived as few (relative to the single life) and contingent upon the continued goodwill of the woman. Beyond that, young men are influenced by the surrounding culture, popular media, anecdotal evidence, and witnessing their father’s home life, to perceive their married peers as having become beaten-down subjects in their own homes. (One also hears admonitions to let the wife rule over her husband frequently in Sunday homilies, usually couched in jokes e.g. ‘if momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy’.) What’s in it for the men?

    I will offer up a couple of blogs, ‘Dalrock’ and ‘Sunshine Mary’ (Google those for the URLs) for good Christian-oriented discussion of the topic, albeit with occasional salty tongues in the comments. Some of the most eye-opening posts I have found there detail precisely how everyday Christian instruction on marriage has been inverted to elevate the tenets of secular feminism above those of both Scripture and Tradition.

  20. Michael Gorman says:

    I understand that some women would feel reluctant to say “yes” to a request for a date, because it would sound like an implicit request for sex. Such are the dark times we live in.

    Perhaps it would help to ask her out for lunch or mid-afternoon coffee, or even breakfast. Those scenarios are unlikely to turn into anything sexual, so the pressure is lower. And it’s good to send a message that says, “I’d enjoy spending time with you, even if there was 0% chance of it getting sexual.”

    MG

    • Thomas Vogler says:

      I think that’s a very good suggestion. To expand it a little; invitations to specific day-light activities, with naturally limited durations. Coffee, lunch, a matinee, a museum or gallery, and things of that sort.

      I also recommend activities that are not expensive. It shouldn’t cost a lot of money to get to know someone. The main ante both parties make should be their time, and their bravery, in letting someone else get to know them, and their politeness and interest in getting to know the other. It’s good if the person who initiates the date is ready to pay for it, whether male or female. I do not recommend arguing over the bill, if the other party is uncomfortable being treated. Good manners requires that one not be over-bearing, even in chivalry.

  21. Sam says:

    Who is to say that what Msgr Pope laments, ie the end of dating as he knows it (going out on friday/saturday nights) isn’t a good thing. What I mean is that his generation produced what we have now. Things were probably very much corrupted even in his time. An idea of courtship rather than dating is what is needed for Catholic families to flourish.

    • I am not saying that dating and courtship were sinless. But I am saying that they are better than what we have now. As many of the comments here show, there is a lot of breakdown, camps, hostility and so forth. I don’t remember that. We guys certainly took our lumps and got a lot of nos when we asked a girl out, but at least we were trying to move toward relationships that led to marriage. At least the was the thinking. Of course a lot of guys wanted sex but I honestly also think we were looking toward marriage as the real goal in meeting, dating, courting. How can you say this “going away” is a good thing. Only if what replaces it is better. But what has replaced it? Largely nothing, and even worse, hooking up.

      Also beware of the post hoc propter hoc fallacy. I DO think that we boomers caused a lot of harm. But I don’t know if it is fair to say that we caused the current dating dearth of today because we dated. At least I don’t see the connection you’re making.

      • innocentbystander says:

        Msgr,

        ….”As many of the comments here show, there is a lot of breakdown, camps, hostility and so forth. I don’t remember that. We guys certainly took our lumps and got a lot of nos when we asked a girl out, but at least we were trying to move toward relationships that led to marriage”…….

        That is all well and good, but even if the guy hears her say yes, it is all too often this…

        http://jezebel.com/5863621/woman-lets-matchcom-dates-pay-for-all-of-her-dinners

        …is that the kind of dating that you would think is good for young marriage minded men?

        • I Like The Church Fathers says:

          This is a good point. I’ve heard of some women who go on 250-300 first dates a year and get a free meal out of it every time. Talk about dysfunctional dating!

  22. Shane says:

    I am a young adult myself and have been involved in an extremely active and popular young adult group in a major city for the past 7 years and have actually been running it for the past 4 or 5. In that time, I have seen countless young adults, some single, some dating, some eventually finding their way to the blessed harbor of matrimony. Not unsurprisingly, dating has been a common topic of discussion, and over these 7 years and the 10+ iterations of those people who constituted the “core group” at any given time, I have heard the full gamut of opinions on how and why young men and women handle their dating lives as they do. Of course, I’ve also managed to observe quite a bit of it.

    Ultimately, the single most pertinent fact that I have learned is that if dating is at times less common among faithful Catholic young adults then in the past, it is because they take it incredibly seriously. Among the kinds of young Catholics who would attend such a group as I mentioned or go to a Theology on Tap, dating is done for one purpose and one purpose alone: to find a spouse. These kinds of Catholics would never date for a good time, or something to do, or the social status, or anything else. They are looking for a spouse in order to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage and raise up a good Catholic family.

    They also tend to respect one another to an incredible degree. This means that the young men won’t ask just anyone out, and they won’t ask a young lady on a date simply because she is pretty, or seems nice, or has a similar interest or two – and they *certainly* won’t ask her out simply because they are on some quest to have a date each weekend. Rather, the decision to make that inquiry is almost always treated with a fair amount of thought and prayer. Don’t misjudge what I am saying, here. I don’t mean that people assume they must be already thinking about tying the knot with a specific person just to take her out to dinner. However, it generally doesn’t happen until the two know each other as friends to at least some degree and there is some thought of, “it seems like this person has the right ideas about marriage and faith.”

    The upshot to all of this is that, over these 7 years, once two people *do* start dating, marriage is the end result in a very high number of cases – and this is good! It’s what we’re really concerned about, anyways. I think that here lies the real key to this issue. The reason that an apparent lack of dating is sometimes cited as a concern in the Catholic community is because we want to encourage holy, Catholic marriages and families. A lack of dating is seen as some kind of cultural problem which is cutting into this desired outcome. However, I do not think that this is at all the case.

    The marriages and families *are* coming. The difference is that, as opposed to the dozens of dates before finding the right person that may have been the norm in yesteryear, today it seems that the dedicated Catholic young people are taking the process of finding a spouse more seriously, and so they date fewer people but achieve that wonderful grace of marriage more “directly.” This should be no more concerning then the fact that the “dates on the weekend” method of several decades ago was different from the type of courtship seen in the Victorian or Regency eras, or that those approaches were not the family arranged marriages of centuries ago.

    The methods may be different, but the end result is what matters. Are young Catholics getting married and having good, prayerful, holy families? I have seen more than enough to assure you that yes, they are! I would close in asking for your prayers for myself and the wonderful, beautiful, and holy young woman I am currently dating as we consider and discern marriage ourselves. God bless!

    • Bender says:

      Among the kinds of young Catholics who would attend such a group as I mentioned or go to a Theology on Tap, dating is done for one purpose and one purpose alone: to find a spouse.
      ________________

      Good grief. A request to go out to dinner is NOT a marriage proposal. It is a request to get to know the other person a little better. And to treat a request for a first date as if it is a marriage proposal is not to treat dating seriously, it is to reduce the entire process to an absurdity. It is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.

      • Shane says:

        As I made explictly clear in my original post, saying young people take even a first date more seriously is *NOT* the same as saying they equate it to a marriage proposal. What it does mean is that they do not date just to date, or just for fun. Marriage is always the ultimate goal of even a first date. That first date may go nowhere and not even produce a second, and this is fine. The point is that the more devout Catholic young adults of this day don’t date just for fun or a social event. They do so to get to know one another better with the goal of finding a spouse. This means that they are more discerning about who to take on a date and generally want to know something about the person first before taking that next step of getting to know them better.

    • JoanieH says:

      I can definitely agree here. On the surface, it may look like a very somber picture when one notices the seemingly lack of dating amongst the young population. It does make sense though, that there is a lack of this “dating”, but with right intention, in that there is definitely a lot to sift through when choosing the person with whom you are going to share the rest of your life. Marriage was probably a simpler definition back then; now it seems to be anyone’s subjective definition, meaning and value being totally up in the air. The degradation of all these things , namely the values surrounding marriage and simply respecting yourself and the other, makes it difficult to choose the right person as a spouse, let alone just to date/court. After about the latter half of my college career, I simply stopped dating, or at least stopped dating seriously because I knew I needed to get the “college habits” out of my system in order to better discern the marriage vocation, and with whom I would share that vocation. And people are typically going to have their own outlook on this topic based on their own experience (how else would one explain the jackpot of replies on this blog post; good topic, Msgr.)

      I hope everyone struggling with this can hope and pray with clean hearts and minds and fulfill the vocation they are meant to fulfill.

  23. Luke says:

    Liesl says:
    March 17, 2014 at 9:20 am

    “Speaking as a single woman living in the DC area… we are lovable! We want to date, and we think it is worth it! Sorry that you’ve gotten this impression from so many women.”

    Liesel, Liesel…
    The vast, vast majority of unmarried American women (UAW) have had premarital sexual partners to the point that they can’t bond longterm to a husband. This chart shows this well: http://tinyurl.com/nlngkxl

    Further, UAW usually don’t realize (before their 40s, at least, when it no longer matters due to age-barrenness) that women can get much higher “market value” men to sleep with them than the men those women can motivate to marry them. Thus, UAW now routinely nuclear-reject men of their own “market value” for the years of their own peak attractiveness, holding out in vain for the impossibility of the “9” (who years ago slept with her, a “6” at her peak, say) to commit to her and marry her. The “5”s, “6”s and “7” men she knows (who would largely have been decent husbands for her) in the meantime give up on her. Those latter men end up settling for porn, getting foreign brides, or (once their market value increases enough) going after younger women with some success.

    Another chart for you shows the possibility of the last very well: http://tinyurl.com/q7vetzn

    Then, there is the horrific rate of cuckolding of husbands by wives these days (bearing children sired by other men during the marriage), up to thirty percent of all legitimate children in America now:

    http://tinyurl.com/nt3bs7n

    This is all without getting into the grossly biased against men divorce courts, where a legally BLAMELESS man can EXPECT to become impoverished and have his children taken from him, even if his ex-wife-to-be was an adulteress and/or violent towards him. (Stephen Baskerville’s book “Taken Into Custody” describes this in detail.)

    Did I forget all the women making false accusations of rape, domestic violence, and sexual abuse of children against husbands, for which rarely do the women get ANY legal or other sanction? The women who use the law to shove better-qualified men out of jobs and college slots (via “affirmative action”, female-only scholarships, “diversity initiatives”, accusations of “sexual harassment”, etc.), then (refusing to “date down” due to hypergamy) complain about “how there are no good men anymore”?

    How are unmarried American women (in D.C. and elsewhere) lovable, Liesl? I’m having trouble seeing it.

    P.S. For further reading, I suggest Roger Devlin’s essay “Home Economics” and Daniel Amneus’s “Garbage Generation” (both available online for free). To see how to be a wife a man actually WANTS, there’s Debi Pearl’s “Created To Be His Helpmeet”.

    Good luck to you in taking the red pill (“Matrix” movie reference).

  24. Steve B says:

    Msgr. Pope, I believe it’s as simple as God’s been removed from the conversation/dating process.

  25. Tom says:

    There is a lot that is wrong in the Catholic dating scene today. The hookup culture has produced profound distrust between the sexes.

    Catholic women have probably had lots of bad experiences.

    I remember one date in my late 20s with a woman the same age who carried a giant purse that she used as a barrier and who set with her back to the car door and holding her purse like a shield when I picked her up. Needless to say, there was no second date.

    I find that in general, conservative Catholic women are much more difficult to approach than other women. What would you expect? You can see them stiffen up as you approach and the deflector screens turn on full blast.

    It is also true, in my experience, that seriously religious Catholic women do not send the little cues or do the little flirty things that other women do to get attention. Again, I can appreciate that a lot of them have learned the hard way that attention is not wanted.

    Women may be unconscious that they behave this way, but they really do.

    Meanwhile, there is a huge difference between Catholic parishes and Evangelical or Jewish communities. As soon as Evangelical friends here that I am single, they immediately try to set me up with someone in their church. I have gotten very nice offers of assistance from my Jewish friends too. But never Catholics. Why is this? It’s like there is an unwritten rule in Catholic parishes that you can never, ever introduce a single person to a member of the opposite sex.

    I totally know what it is like to be at mass in a parish and see someone attractive, only see this person disappear forever after communion. And yes, you can’t really talk to people or introduce yourself in the Church immediately before, during, and after mass.

    The guys are not blameless too. There are a lot of creeps out there, including supposedly Catholic creeps. But as a Catholic man I can tell you that it is humiliating to deal with a woman who is angry because you won’t sleep with her on a first or second date, let alone a third date, which seems to be the benchmark of when sex happens.

    These are terribly discouraging, depressing times for single Catholics. I think that Catholic guys in particular are beaten down and discouraged. Men have always had to deal with rejection, but today’s situation is categorically different. It is like everything is wrong and screwed up, and no, I don’t think online dating fixes anything.

    I think that discouraged single Catholics wind up leaving the Church in large numbers. Or people who started drifting in their teens never come back because the Church is not a place where marriages happen.

    We have to lose our inhibitions about promoting marriage for single Catholics in society that is hostile to Catholic values (and practicing single Catholics, for that matter). We also need to quit pretending that being single is a vocation is the same way that are marriage and the religious life. Being single just because you can’t find someone is a dead end or didn’t work hard enough when you were younger is a dead end. I think a lot of people don’t get this message until it is too late.

    • Bender says:

      We also need to quit pretending that being single is a vocation is the same way that are marriage and the religious life.
      ___________________

      You are absolutely right. There is no vocation to the single (non-religious) life. None.

      As Blessed John Paul II affirmed, “Christian revelation recognizes two specific ways of realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love: marriage and virginity or celibacy.” (Familiaris Consortio, 11) Or as God put it – “It is not good that man should be alone.”

      Now, to be clear – single people do have a vocation. (They have a vocation to love. “Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.” (Familiaris Consortio, 11)) But it is a gross logical error to say that because single people have a vocation that they have a vocation to be single. They do not. No one has a calling to solitude. It is contrary to the truth of the human person who is by nature a social being made for existing in a communion of persons. And yet we keep hearing people (who mean well and don’t want single people to feel bad) repeat the error that “being single is a vocation.” Not only is it bad theology, it is destructive and self-perpetuating psychotherapy.

      • I Like The Church Fathers says:

        “There is no vocation to the single (non-religious) life. None.”

        This is “all-or-nothing thinking” and it blatantly contradicts Paul and the Church Fathers.

        Paul, Jerome and others in the early Church affirmed that the single life is preferable to married life because it is easier for a single person to be holy than a married person. As Paul asserted [1 Cor 7:32-34], the single man is anxious for the things of heaven – how to please God, whereas the married man is anxious for the things of this world – how to please his wife. Jerome said much the same thing [though in much more heated language].

        Now, of course, some Catholics will argue that Paul and Jerome really meant to say that only men who take holy orders should not marry and that, in fact, all other men should marry. This would be to read something into their work that simply isn’t there. Nowhere do Paul and Jerome assert that only men who take holy orders should not marry.

        Indeed, Paul says specifically that the only men who should marry are those who cannot otherwise control their sex drive [1 Cor 7:8-9]. Paul also says [1 Cor 7:1] “it is good for a man not to touch a woman”. Again, he does not say, “a man who has taken holy orders” or some such variation. He simply says “a man”. This means any man.

        • Bender says:

          Don’t confuse what Paul is speaking about with what today’s world means when it talks about the “single life.” In Paul’s usage, as in JP2’s usage, what is meant there is still directed toward a communion of persons (if not with other humans, then with God). By definition, that is not “single.”

          • I Like The Church Fathers says:

            This is semantics. My post said nothing about what today is referred to as “the single life”. By “single”, I mean anyone who is not married.

            I would also point out that your comment “no one has a calling to solitude” is wrong. Many justifiably revered saints were religious hermits.

          • Thomas says:

            Hermits are called to lives in complete communion with God. No one is called to be a single like on “Friends.” Ever. The single, secular vocation does not exist.

    • Paul says:

      I totally agree with everything youve said here. That has been my exact experience of Catholic dating as well

  26. Scott Johnston says:

    I haven’t read all the comments above. So my apologies if I repeat something. This is certainly a complex reality. But, one thing that is certainly a major factor, is the following. Radical feminism in our culture seems to have inculcated a habit into some young women that is very destructive of authentically real and human relationships developing between men and women. And this habit, is, to believe (and act) as though it is actually “empowering” to women to pursue sex for itself–for pleasure alone–and to separate wanting a significant relationship, from merely the pursuit of pleasure. Ever watched any pop music videos lately? This image of the “liberated” female vixen who wants to use men only for their bodies, (and sees this as an essential part of being an independent modern woman) has a powerful effect. And it is poison in the water for anyone trying to seek real, dignified relationships between the sexes.

    To say a little more about how I think this has a poisonous effect . . . For those men out there who, perhaps, more interested in fun and pleasure than in a meaningful relationship, they know this. They know that there are a significant number of young women who see themselves (or, want to?) as this “liberated” vixen-type. And so, they know if all they want is a physical encounter, they don’t need to look very hard. Just find one of these “liberated” young women, and hookup. Easy. And then the man can just move on. And the youth culture today affirms this as freeing and empowering for women. Of course, this is not true. But too many women, I fear, actually believe this.

    So, the environment is such that men who only want to play and not be serious, can do so easily because supposedly liberated young women are only too ready to oblige. (In secret, this is not making them happy, but, they play along because the culture tells them this is liberating and empowering and they don’t want people to think this is not how they actually experience it in their own personal lives.).

    Also, the increasingly pornified and sexually animalistic culture is doing tremendous harm. A man can pretty much arrange through the internet, anonymous hookups for sex (please note I am NOT speaking from personal experience). We tend to allow our sinful tendencies (concupiscence) to rule us if there are little-to-none outside influences calling us to virtue, to the good, to true dignity. A young man can exist in a virtual fantasy world of pleasure-seeking most of his waking life nowadays very easily, at little expense. He can immerse himself in gaming dreamworlds, dreamworlds of porn, movies, and the plethora of media available now. Then, when he wants to stop gaming or fantasizing for a bit, he can hookup with a “liberated” woman for some sex, arranged via internet, with no personal investment in developing a human relationship with her whatsoever. Why have a real relationship, when it is so easy (and inexpensive), to be plunged into a fantasy world (both in electronic media, and in the flesh) 24-7?

    I know this does not describe all young men and women (or even most). But, it represents perhaps the lowest segment of the culture and I worry that this segment is much larger than the it was in the past, and growing rapidly. And it has an effect far beyond just those who are actively engaged in this sort of life.

    • Suzanne Carl says:

      Yes, you describe the soul-sucking environment I see many young people fall into at the University where I teach. I saw the same patterns when I was single. When I see a well dressed, attractive woman in her 20’s or 30’s. I pray for her immortal soul. Same for the men.

  27. Anthony says:

    Men: Pray to St. Joseph who knew how to love a woman perfectly. He will guide you.

  28. Some guy in the Midwest says:

    I’m a 30-year-old male. Here’s why I’m not dating, despite having a desire for marriage:

    – I would only date a woman who actually believes what the Church teaches about sexual morality and marriage. That rules out nearly everyone, including most practicing Catholics.
    – Within my circle of Catholic acquaintances, most of the single women have made it clear that they are not interested in dating because they are busy with school or advancing their career. They all seem perfectly happy “hanging out” in groups rather than dating.
    – Many of the women I know come from affluent families, and I doubt they would be willing to settle for the lower-middle-class lifestyle I could afford to give them.
    – The few women I have actually asked out all said no. (At least they were polite about it.)
    – I am introverted, socially awkward, cursed with a melancholic temperament, and rather plain looking. Nothing attractive about that.
    – The chances of a successful marriage are very low today. Women know they can leave the marriage at any time, take everything the man has, and extort money from him for the rest of his life. What kind of fool would sign up for that?

    In light of all the above, I’ve given up all hope of dating and marriage. I take comfort in knowing that this life will eventually end, and Heaven will be better.

    • stlfilius says:

      There’s always hope, brother. For example, a dear friend of mine was just lamenting that there are no date-able good, Catholic men around where we live (she’s 27). As other comments here have suggested, there is just a dearth of ways to meet people our own age. Unlike some comments above, I’d suggest availing yourself of all technology has to offer. Even something like meetup (.com) is useful to find gatherings of people who -want- to build community and meet new people.

    • Matt says:

      @Some guy in the Midwest:

      “I am introverted, socially awkward, cursed with a melancholic temperament, and rather plain looking. Nothing attractive about that.”

      Get over it. If you are introverted, break the habit. If you are socially awkward, go out and force yourself to meet and interact with people, If you are rather plain looking, hit the gym and upgrade your wardrobe. I promise you your negative attitude affects all your interactions with women. If there is one thing women loathe above all others, it is weakness, and your comments here are saturated with a defeated attitude.

      You are a man, created by God to dominate his creation. Start acting like it.

      • I Like The Church Fathers says:

        This is like telling someone with anorexia “just eat something”!

        • randall g says:

          Well that would cure it wouldn’t it.

          • I Like The Church Fathers says:

            No it wouldn’t. Anorexia is an illness. Similarly, our personality is fundamentally ingrained. It cannot be changed through sheer willpower anymore than you can tell a bedridden cancer patient to get out of bed and just shake it off.

  29. Scott Johnston says:

    May I add one other observation. I believe (and this is essential to any authentically Christian understanding of society, as I see it) that for men to be able to want to pursue women in a dignified way (not just hooking up or ignoring them other than as work colleagues or just buddies–another one of the guys), we must be able to connect the pursuit of women (meaning, in a healthy way) with the fulfillment of our deepest desires for authentic manhood. And this, in turn, we must see, we must, as necessarily involving the embrace of the cross.

    Why? Because a non-selfish (i.e. not merely for use, for pleasure-seeking alone) attitude about pursuing a dignified relationship with a woman, it seems to me, can only be the norm in a culture when it is understood to be united with an eagerness in men, to give ourselves in sacrifice for our brides, for a future family. The cross. We must want–as integral to our growth in becoming real men–to find a woman for whom we will desire to give ourselves in selfless sacrifice even unto death. Gladly. Eagerly. As something that is deeply rooted in being a man.

    Our culture is running away from this Christian (and I would add, felt more deeply in Catholicism than in any other form of Christian belief) understanding of manhood and family as it possibly can. Flee the cross. Flee discomfort. Flee anything that even gives us a tiny prick of disgruntlement. This is an increasingly prominent direction in the cultural waters for young people. And it produces men who do not see self-sacrifice as necessary to being a real man. And this, in turn, produces men who do not have an interest in pursing an authentic, committed, long-term significant relationship with a woman because this always requires sacrifice for it to work, for it to be real and lasting. Why do this? Young men don’t know anymore. And many women don’t seem to know, either. So, they discard this notion, and default to the base tendencies in us (which are shallow and self-centered, and reject the cross of self-sacrifice which a men must embrace if he is ever going to want to pursue marriage in a way that is Christian).

    Young men have very very few sources of encouragement or role models telling them that to be a real man you must sacrifice oneself (like Christ on the cross) for the good of another, And that this is especially the wellspring of inspiration that drives the forging of healthy Christian marriage in any society. In other words, pleasure and the cross, are always combined in the seeking of authentic manhood in marriage. (And indeed, the cross, when embraced with the help of grace, according to one’s individual vocation and calling, is also not exclusive of the presence of the most sublime and deeply rooted joy.)

    I think we must root out in our culture this deeply harmful (especially for anything like a healthy understanding of the pursuit of authentic manhood) notion that has become so common that the easy pursuit of pleasure and the rejection of the cross is an advancement. It’s not. It is utter poison and devastation to genuine manhood. And one of the effects of this, is to diminish a culture of healthy dating/courtship. For a healthy Christian culture of dating and courtship to exist, there must be an underlying framework of masculinity that understands that the truest manhood is commensurate with the deepest embrace of the cross in self-giving sacrificial love. We have lost this. And we are running further and further away from it.

    • Paul says:

      I absolutely agree with all of this. Ive always tried to focus on the sacrificial aspect of relationships with a view to marriage, but the fact is most (not all) women are not primarily attracted by this quality in men. They are more attracted to fun guys that are able maximise their own feelings of happiness.

      The notion of “sacrificing my own life for someone else that I admire”, has been replaced by the attitude of “what can this person do for me?” and I think that results in realtionships that fail in the long term.

  30. Matt says:

    Throughout almost the entirety of documented history, women have been the gatekeepers of (consensual) sex. I think the “hook-up culture” is driving a split in men’s behavior. To the “top of the heap” guys, the hook-up scene provides plenty of no-strings attached sex. To the rest of the guys, years of continual rejection at the hands of the women involved in the hook up scene inevitably embitters them to the idea of dating at all. In BOTH cases there are strong incentives for men to not “date”, but those incentives were created by the women involved. You won’t change the dating scene until WOMEN change their behavior. Asking men to saddle up and ask out these women only enables their destructive behavior. Of course there are exceptions, but I am heavily involved with young adult programs in my arch-diocese, and I can tell you that the conduct of most of our Catholic sisters would scandalize the monsignor.

  31. Elizabeth says:

    I am 30 and single. I have never been engaged or married, and I have never had a boyfriend. Since I have absolutely no experience with the opposite sex, that means that…you guessed it…I am still a virgin, which is a real turn-off for most men nowadays. That includes so-called “Catholic” men who I have discovered don’t believe half the things the Church teaches. I am not willing to have sex before marriage, shack up, or use contraception, so that eliminates most men from my dating pool. Not that I meet any men my age anyway. Of the men I interact with on a daily basis at work, college (yes I am still in school at 30, and not for a graduate degree), and church, most are either elderly or teenagers, so that makes them either too old or too young for me. And most events at my parish are geared toward the elderly who make up most of my parish, so forget trying to meet anyone there. Also, I still live at home with my parents since I do not have a job that allows me to afford a rent or mortgage, so there is another strike against me. My parents also have a lousy marriage, so I have no idea how to build a good marriage for myself anyway since I have never seen it demonstrated. I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I will never marry or have children, so I am doing my best to make sure I can one day support myself and I am looking for ways to serve God and the Church as a single woman.

    • Andrea says:

      “I am still a virgin, which is a real turn-off for most men nowadays.”

      Not in my experience. Many Catholic men will only marry a virgin (and that is in spite of huge amounts of discouragement/shaming from Catholics at large, particularly non-virgin women). Of course, if a man is bothered by your virginity, chances are he wouldn’t make a good husband.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Hi Andrea,
        I think you are right about a man not making a good husband if he is bothered by my virginity. Thanks for commenting!

    • craig says:

      Elizabeth, I wish you the best of success. I want to reply as gently as possible, without causing hurt or offense, to point out what might be going through the minds of even good men hearing your story and causing them to move along.

      “I have absolutely no experience with the opposite sex”

      Here innocence and tact will get you everywhere. Men are fine with women acting like women. What they don’t like are women who expect men to act like women and give up all his likes in favor of her likes, and they don’t like women who make daily life into an emotional rollercoaster. ‘Drama’ at home = bad, for the man looking to marry.

      “I am not willing to have sex before marriage, shack up, or use contraception”

      In our deformed culture, women can find a willing partner for sex pretty much any time they want. Most men cannot, and have higher sex drives than women (in general). They know inwardly how difficult it would be for themselves to have such power and never stoop to use it. So even a good man cannot help but hear such a statement not as a declaration of self-control but as a general sexlessness that would persist even after marriage. I am not advocating that you abandon your principles one iota, simply noting that a man wants to believe that his woman desires him, and you must communicate that desire (albeit chastely prior to marriage) to your beloved.

      “I still live at home with my parents since I do not have a job that allows me to afford a rent or mortgage”

      Here you want to avoid anything that screams ‘looking for a meal ticket’. A man wants to provide for his woman, but he doesn’t want to be used as a work animal.

      “I have no idea how to build a good marriage for myself anyway since I have never seen it demonstrated”

      Here you want to develop a habit of checking yourself against duplicating your parents’ mistakes, even unintentionally.

      “I am looking for ways to serve God and the Church as a single woman”

      This statement is not bad by itself, but it raises a red flag to many men that he could be a bit player in her personal life while the Church gets all her free time. Be careful not to give the wrong impression.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Hi Craig,
        In no way did you hurt my feelings or offend me by anything you have written. Your reply gave me much food for thought, so thank you! I am truly sorry for coming across as a bitter, joyless prude. After re-reading my comment, I am cringing. Yikes, I have much work to do! Thanks again for the constructive criticism!

        • craig says:

          Au contraire — you did not come across as bitter, joyless, or prudish. I saw honesty, and I replied as I did because I have heard & read a lot of similar statements from single Christian women who have no idea how their words could be heard by men. That, or else they don’t know how to market themselves as prospective wives to the majority of men who don’t already speak in ‘traditional Christian-ese’ dialect. There are a lot of men who are good husband material, practice their faith, but who still are not particularly interested in all things ‘churchy’ and don’t watch EWTN.

          So let me add to my earlier comment (which was sloppy and written in haste).

          The thing is, most men are easy to please. They want to be someone you look up to. Not as your boss, but as your protector. If you can’t see him that way, be kind and don’t marry him. (Contempt from his wife is the cruelest wound a man can bear.) Likewise, he does not want to be your child, your employee, your competitor, nor your ‘gay boyfriend’ either.

          Andrea is right: a man who has problems with your virginity is not a good match. But what I was trying to get across earlier is that men marry expecting regular access to sex with the wife. Especially the men who’d respect your virginity; handing over 50% of your income for life is a steep price for the ‘friend zone’ after the wedding, so any hint of unattraction or ‘sex is icky’ will send them away. Every man under 40 knows (from his peers even if not personally) about the permanence of the ‘friend zone’, the place men are sent when ‘Let’s just be friends’ is invoked to reject a romantic overture. They also know about its post-marital equivalent, ‘I love you but I’m not in love with you’, the incantation women use to render a marriage sexless from then on.

          What men generally want is traditional marriage, not in the 1950s stereotype of he works at an office and she stays home, but in the deeper sense of he makes the home secure and she makes the home happy. What men fear is modern marriage, where he still has all his traditional responsibilities, without being able to expect any of the traditional benefits and without any leverage (legal or social) to induce her to uphold her end of the bargain. If you want a man to commit, you have to help convince him that you won’t bait-and-switch about things that are important to him.

          • BJ says:

            Just be sure that you never volunteer or disclose anything about your sexual history until it is time–maybe not even until your wedding night. There are a lot of creeps out there who will do and say anything to get a Catholic virgin in bed simply for purposes of trophy hunting.

          • I Like The Church Fathers says:

            This is bad advice. As a Catholic male virgin, I would never marry a non-virgin. I would therefore have to know her sexual history well before the wedding night. Indeed, I would have to know before proposing. There would be no proposal without this confirmation in advance.

  32. Suzanne Carl says:

    I was single until I was 35, 15 short years ago. I don’t think any man I dated really took me seriously as marriage material, or I didn’t take him seriously if he was interested. After about age 25, the well dried up. I was working long hours, and not meeting men. I eventually met my husband through my boss and his wife.

    The parish I live in has a large single population geographically, but Masses are filled with large families. Now, if we could work as a parish to create social occasions for the singles, I think we could do a great deal to change the dating culture.

    I worry about the souls of these single people, so torn by what our culture offers them for ‘comfort’ and socializing. I lived it. Those were dark days. We must all provide the counter-culture opportunities, or we are doomed to have no one to counter it with us!

  33. Highwasp says:

    Modern American women are now competitors and coworkers… not wives and mothers… everyone knows that. So why this charade : “what’s happened to dating” and holding men accountable for women’s “choices”? Pull your head out of your ass and look see what time it is.

  34. Pharphalonus says:

    Msgr. Pope,

    Firstly thank you for the many profound insights in your blog posts. I regularly benefit from them as do others with whom I share them. Secondly, and in answer to your question, you may be interested in a study by sociologist Mark Regenerus. He wrote a book together with Jeremy Uecker called “Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying”. I attended a talk he gave a couple of years ago and it does she some light on this topic

    http://www.amazon.com/Premarital-Sex-America-Americans-Marrying/dp/0199743282/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386085105&sr=8-1&keywords=premarital+sex+in+america

  35. Catarina says:

    I’m a single woman in her 40’s in the DC area, and I would love to date good Catholic men! But I’ve found that many of them are unmotivated and in no hurry to get married. Most around my age would rather marry women 10-20 years younger than they are anyway. Unfortunately, I am seen as “expired goods”. I’ve tried online dating and done tons of praying. At this point I’m hoping for a miracle! Please pray for me!!

    • Jimbo says:

      Catrina, I will pray for you. You – and all here – really break my heart. What an awful situation we have here. The DC area is awful. It’s chock full of the best-looking, most successful people, who are not interested (or just have no clue) and a ton of good, practicing Catholic young people who can’t seem to find each other. Do not give up hope though. Give it to God. The cross is heavier than we want it to be. I hope you and all suffering this will find a good spouse. By the way: Singles: LINGER AFTER MASS! EVERY MASS! Just hang around – just in case someone wants to approach you.

  36. Paul says:

    Im 37 and single. My approach to dating has always been the traditional way you describe here, but the fact is most girls do not want to date these days, and definitely not as serious as that. They seem to think a date is all or nothing – if they really like you they’ll go out, but if there is any doubt, they will say no straight out.

    Thats been my experience of dating – girls either say no when I ask them out, or we go out for a few weeks maybe months and they say they are not interested.

    I think you are right to point out that guys should be taking this traditional approach, but to be honest I think a lot of guys get sick of asking, especially in such a “formal” way because they know that most girls just arent interested.

  37. mdepie says:

    My college age son has an interesting take on this topic. In a nutshell the culture has dispensed with marriage as we understood the term and this has ramifications for the things that at one time had as their primary goal “marriage”. This has made “dating” like we used to do back during the Carter and Reagan administration’s obsolete, instead we have other kinds of relationships, call them what you will. His full discussion of this can be read http://catholicxray.com/what-the-cultures-view-on-marriage-does-to-dating/ . As the father of 3 boys, the younger two in high school, I think my oldest has a point.

  38. stlfilius says:

    Monsignor, thank you for this informative and thought-provoking piece. Like many other comments, I wish that parishes and other Catholic institutions capable of generating social capital would put on more events geared to young people. The local pastor doesn’t know what facebook is, let alone the myriad ways young people connect. I’m a religious myself, and my work brings me in touch with lots of young people who seem to be stuck between a succession of meaningless relationships or perpetual solitude. I’m really at a loss for what advice to give them generally, as our culture seems like such a wasteland.

    • Matt says:

      Stlfilius,

      I agree that the Church needs to do more, the problem is that I don’t think the Church (collectively) knows how to relate to young adults at a level that they can understand. The tradtional approach is to take priests, or sexually unappealing guys who obvioulsy have no recent experience with women, and stand them up in front of a crowd of kids and say “Don’t have sex!” That can work when society reinforces that message, but when that message is opposed by 99% of society, it’s not going to work.

      My wife and I (I’m 29, she 27) try to bridge that gap and level with the kids as to the WHY behind the church’s WHAT. We’ve been through the grinder, and seen some of the damage it has done to our friends and family, so we come at it as people who agree with the church out of CONVICTION, rather than as a fait accompli. I don’t know how helpful our work with our church’s YAs has been, but I would bet my life it’s been better than the “traditional” approach.

      I argue with my religious friends about this all the time. Jesus spent more time with sinners than with saints. As representatives of our Church, we need to be able to meet young adults where THEY are, not where WE are.

  39. Rene L says:

    Would you or someone address courtship? I think dating got a sociological start away from courtship. What about frienship, comoradie; terms Bl John Pope Paul II used… Original sin has left us already in a wounded state and in addiion to sin (private and social), I think both men and women (and any other institution or sub culture needs) to trust in Divine Providence….in virtue and the humility of a home. Look at these poor countries where there too flourishes family life. Peope are knitted…dependent. Too much Independence becomes a god subordinate to the natural co dependence and behind Independence for its own sake at any prize is just slavery to shadows-the food of the culture of death. Look at St Joseph’ poverty, look at Our Lady’s humility; look at Sts Joachim and Anne. Look at the saints; pray to God, and have children those are married. I think, Mathematically, how can a Catholic culture survive when state population has been destroyed through abortion. Less people who could love and beloved…all because of being wrong and acting on it. Radical oppenness to God, must be heroic and gentleman- step up to the platter and ladies, please do not become Mission Impossible if the right person appears and allow both to grow up loving your enemies and yourselves as such and God will have a plan for you, if it includes Him, Our Lady, and anyone He sends your married way!

  40. K. says:

    I think it’s time to return to arranged marriages. All the romantic comedies, romance novels, etc. portray dating and marriage in an unreasonable way. One’s spouse doesn’t need to be one’s “Soul Mate” or one’s entire life. It’s a danger to put so much pressure on another person to fulfill all the needs one has. I think too many young Catholics are looking for “the One” — when it’s only Our Blessed Lord who can fulfill all the desires of their hearts.

    • C. Thomas says:

      K., I think this is a wonderful insight. Could you point to images–movies, books, stories, role models–of a reasonable views of dating and marriage?

      • K. says:

        I’ve been reading the book “First Comes Marriage” by Reva Seth. It’s an interesting read — and it’s a chance to re-think our expectations for marriage. Though I haven’t done the research, I assume the modern dating/courtship ritual is an innovation. I’m not saying that we should force people to marry against their wills — but I think there’s something to be said for more “arranged” marriages — especially as it involves the participation of a family/community in bringing a couple together. Just look at the arranged marriage of Rebekah and Isaac in the Old Testament. And how many Saints had arranged marriages? Again, I haven’t done the research, but the modernist way of dating is obviously not working.

  41. Rene L says:

    “Be Not Be Afraid”

  42. Old Guy says:

    78 years old, 57 years happily married, 6 grown children, 12 grandchildren ages 16-27 and two little ones, very active in Pre-Cana (everyone’s Grandfather: white hair and wisdom) sadly watching the number of weddings and Baptisms decline THANKS YOU ALL [except for Highwasp’s last sentence] for your candor, your insights and in many cases, your patient willingness to place all of this in God’s hands. Your diagnoses cry out for remedies.

  43. C. Thomas says:

    Msgr. Pope, Thank you for raising this topic (and for encouraging dating!).

    One topic I did not see in the comments: the college atmosphere. For many 18 to 21 year olds, campus is home. Girls and guys are in such close proximity; they are always around each other; they can even live in the same dorms. A wonderful priest at my undergrad, once lamenting what you just lamented, speculated that the boys are around the girls too much. There is so much hanging out — one that can satisfy the emotional desire to be around a woman, or simply the desire to be in the presence of a woman, without demanding much at all. They may not see a need to date in such an atmosphere! I don’t know exactly how, but I think this college atmosphere (even outside of the “hook-up” habits, but certainly within) may have a large effect.

    From college there may be some hangover into the young-adult business world. I can’t say much about this, but here are guesses: do these college-age hang-out habits persist (even if the atmosphere does not)? If so, that could be one factor. Secondly, what must a young man do in order to land a family-supporting job? How young could he start one? Some guys are thinking about this, or it’s at least in the back of their minds. If undergraduate and graduate school (or a few years of “working one’s way up”) is the norm, men won’t think they’re in any position to marry until mid twenties. Could a guy even try to support a family at 20, reasonably? Again, these may be subsidiary factors, but ones worth considering.

    Msgr., thank you for your great work.

  44. Tom says:

    Father,
    Excellent article. I read you often, though I live all the way in Baton Rouge.
    I think the issue is more existential: men don’t feel like men. For what precise reason, I do not know. It could be porn, but I don’t think it is the “cornerstone” issue. I think it is something deeper, though I can’t put my finger on it.

  45. Joel says:

    Single people interested in finding a mate would do well to look intotheCatholicAlumni Club

  46. In the desert says:

    I’m male, single, 35 years old. People are seriously under estimating the effects of porn. I’m addicted to it… Have been for a long time. This sewage flows from the computer like water from a faucet. One cannot defeat this alone. It is destroying me physically, mentally, and spiritually. It should be made illegal. Those who say its not a big problem for them do not have well formed consciences or they have someone to lean on, to confide in, to help them. I try my best to fight it. I’ve been attending a parish in California for several years and know no one. None of my immediate coworkers are Catholic. None of my friends are serious Catholics.There was one person I knew but he retired. And this is a “vibrant parish.” The closest family is hundreds of miles away. Young adults are attracted to the area for tech jobs. And what do the Bishops say? We have to give Mexicans drivers licenses and we have to accommodate homosexuals with civil unions. By the way, I’m 100% Hispanic. A heterosexual couple cannot live together before marriage but two sodomites can live together in a “civil union?” The church is dying at least from my perspective. Sometimes I pray that the Divine Physician heal me, but I have little hope in myself. I’m sorry for sounding like a sad sap but this is the truth.

    • Jimbo says:

      Hey “In the desert” – have hope! Remember that Jesus entered the desert Himself to fast and pray before being tempted. Prayer and ESPECIALLY FASTING can “harden” you to make you able to better turn away and say NO to temptations of all kinds. Your prayer might be to just tell God that you need Him. Just tell Him you can’t do it. He needs to. Then have faith! Have hope. Have hope! Weekly confession if necessary, but don’t give up. Meanwhile, you may want to look into a good, compassionate Catholic counselor – some are online I think. Just Google it. We men have been designed for building and protecting too. So maybe look to get involved with a Knights or other group. Maybe you are there in the desert to help your priests build a stronger parish. Maybe God wants YOU to do it? I will offer my own fast for you today, brother. God bless you!

    • MG says:

      In the desert,

      At least you recognize you have a problem, which is huge! Good for you!

      Don’t rely on your own powers–ask God for help, every day, and try to really mean it. God can intervene and change your heart.

      This is a huge issue for you, obviously, so be willing to try something huge as part of the solution. For example, if you need to get rid of the internet in your house or apartment, then get rid of it! Just use it at the public library or whatever, where the temptation won’t be so strong. Strong diseases require strong medicines.

      Think of the times when you are most vulnerable to the temptation, and find *something else* to do during those times. Don’t just sit there in front of the screen, wishing you weren’t looking–that’s too hard, and it’s not a practical solution. Rig up your life so it’s harder to fall, and so that you have something else to do.

      But above all, pray! Go to confession often, and beg God to heal you, however hard it will be to take that medicine. He won’t let you down, if you’re willing to undergo his treatment.

      Keeping you in my prayers!

  47. Maria says:

    Thank you Msgr, that your Fatherly heart was moved to address this issue ..

    reading the posts , had no idea it was this bad !

    Is it not likley that there could be a connection to the debt of sin through contraception and abortion , in the lives of the parents that is haunting the children , through enemy claims , since bot the above and the related marital problmes all can serve as powerul portals for the enemy, to come and do its job !

    In case of Catholics who have more of a gift and thus responsibilty to carry out the priestly, prophetic and kingly minstries , when abandoned through lukewarmness, ignorance and idolatry of creature attachments instead of fidelity to God first , the debt and consequences possibly far higher !

    Was reading of all the miracles of St.Patrick and to think , our Father might have had plans for each of us too , to be atleast a bit like St.Patrick , to heal a hurting world..and instead what has been !

    Hope many would look into the theme of Family Healing and may be churches sponsoring Fri night Stations of The Cross ,even after the Lent , esp. for the singles and even Sat . A.M. , later service or bible study and rosary folllowed by either group visits to pray with nursing home inmates or go on mission trips, like the Mormons, to local neighborhoods, with the theme of family healing and to share sacramentals , such the medal of the Holy Face devotion ..seemingly not hard to do .

    A few single people in parishes can take initiative to do these too .

    Parents encouraging young people , to get married earlier, with the possibilty that the couple can stay with them for a good while, might be good for both .

    Making the weddings pretty simple , easy and faster , even the concept of arranged marriages ( seems unthinkbale in our culture esp.since in real arranged marriage , it is the parents who do the arranging
    which leaves off the burden of long drawn out efforts to see if both parties are compatible etc . )
    and tottally eliminating even the thought of divorce ..

    to know that all that is done for the glory of God ,in His will, bring forth beautiful , grace filled souls and that sin disfigures same leaving persons broken and unhappy .

    well , dreams /prayers , not bad esp when taken to St.Joseph !

  48. Sara says:

    Thanks so much, Monsignor, for seeing our problem in DC. I don’t think there’s a simple answer, but I do think we need more open conversations about it– or perhaps less conversations about it and more action!

    One of my suspicions about the men in this area– and I say this out of love– is that there are too many options. The moment they ask one woman out, another awesome woman walks into their social scene and their heads are turned. It must be hard to just choose one. I’m sure a lot of women in our area have seen this happen– a man seems interested in you, initiates conversation, enjoys your company (but doesn’t ask you out), and then a few weeks later, he does the same thing with another woman (and yet he still doesn’t ask her out either- which would actually be preferable to you, because then you would know that he just wasn’t that interested in you, but was perfectly capable of asking someone out when he was). It’s almost as if, as some of these comments have stated, men want to know if they can marry you before they ask you out, which is absurd, or they have some unrealistic standard they are judging by.

    But of course women have some of these problems too, especially in terms of high standards- and I don’t mean the necessary and healthy ones, but the nit-picky ones. I’ve definitely seen in myself that sometimes I’ve been much too critical or almost looking for faults instead of seeking to see the good in the other person and giving things time. It’s also become really hard to give a man the encouragement he might need when you’re so used to that encouragement coming to nothing (and thus being embarrassing).

    When I read these comments about how women are all about their careers, not interested in families, don’t believe Church teaching, or living in a hook-up culture, I have to laugh. I know a ton of single women in the DC area and they are not like that at all- but I guess these men somehow aren’t meeting us, and I can’t really tell them how to. Theology on tap doesn’t cut it and we have lost normal cultural ways of meeting.

    One thing I will say, though, is men should follow their interests (or get some!). Women “like us” can be found swing dancing at Glen Echo on a Saturday night, taking art classes, volunteering at shelters, biking the W&OD trail, going to lectures, getting coffee… we’re not all and only at “young adult events” and we don’t want to be liked just because we’re Catholic. We hope to have normal things in common! And if you aren’t doing anything you’re interested in for its own sake, you won’t have a lot to talk about when we do finally meet.

    Maybe we should all meet up at Monsignor’s parish and chat. Or he could match-make from his computer 😉

    31 and single in DC– and grateful for fatherly solicitude!

    • Michael in DC says:

      Here, here Sara. I agree. What about it Msgr? “Pope’s Catholic Match-Making Service”. Nice possible revenue stream for your parish, too…

  49. filiusdextris says:

    Put God first. Don’t date/marry someone who loves you more than God, or your hopes will be dashed.

  50. Thomas says:

    Two words: spiritual warfare.

    There is a tremendous campaign of spiritual warfare right now being directed against young and not-so-young single Catholics who have no marriage prospects whatsoever, and who are alone and lonely in their personal lives and alone and lonely in parishes that ignore them.

    The Church in America is in demographic collapse. Where are the young people and young couples at mass? We are one generation away from the empty pews of Europe. Maybe less. Wake up before it is too late!

  51. Jimbo says:

    Question for all: What if every parish in your Diocese had you sign up for an Email blast. Next, the parishes would take turns inviting you to events once a month – or every couple of weeks. The events themselves would need to be fun and interesting, entertaining, (wholesome) and only for those who signed up. At these events there would “Sub – events”. For instance you could sign up for the “rock climbing group” or the “sing dancing group”, etc. The events would be would be for a wide range of ages, but for singles only. Would you help organize these events? WOULD ANY OF YOU GO?

    The idea is that if you had a REGULAR event to go to, and if it was always somewhere else, you would have a better chance of meeting new people. I suppose that some don’t want to do a parish “singles group” because it is: 1. Boring 2. Always full of the same people whom you may already have ruled out?

    Maybe others have better ideas. It seems that there ought to be some better way to connect Catholic singles with each other.

  52. liz says:

    Believe it or not, I think the college/campus environment DOES have a lot to offer in terms of good dating opportunities, provided that one has chosen the right type of college. I went to a small Catholic college of little more than 3000 students. I was rather diffident as a child and teen, so I had resigned myself to the fact that I’d probably never find a boyfriend, much less a husband.
    The college I attended certainly had strong elements of the partying/drinking/hook-up culture so common among young adults that age….but there were plenty of other types of people, too. College has a way of very naturally dividing people into groups according to interests, values, priorities, etc. For one thing, there’s the variety of majors. You make different types of friends in the Philosophy Dept. than you do in the Business Dept. Then there are other organizations and clubs: you’ll meet people in the Newman Club, or a Right-to-Life Society, or Campus Ministry, or a Habitat for Humanity project, etc. etc.

    I first crossed paths with my future husband in a Philosophy class. Then I would bump into him at Mass in the campus church, at a Right-to-Life Rally, a Theology Lecture, etc. He even waited tables at a local restaurant near campus, and I’d see him there. By the time my shy husband finally asked me out, I already felt like I had a good sense of the type of guy he was. I knew he was intelligent, serious about his faith, had good values, was well-mannered, and (unlike many college guys) actually held down a part-time job, to help his parents pay for his college expenses. As shy as I was myself, I felt very comfortable going out with him.

    We had a very ‘old-fashioned’ type of romance. He took me on real dates off of campus– to museums, live theatre, historic sites, botanic gardens, hiking expeditions, you name it– and we got to know each other well both IN and OUT of the college environment. We got married six months after we graduated college.

    My advice to other young adults looking for a suitable mate: don’t try to force anything. There’s a happy medium between asking out and dating a complete stranger whom you just met, and becoming close friends with someone BEFORE you’ll even date them. Increase your community involvement– maybe do some worthwhile volunteer work, attend lectures, go to pro-life events, join/start a book club, get involved in your church beyond just attending Mass, etc. etc. You’ll meet new people and have a chance to get acquainted with them a bit first WITHOUT the pressure of romantic involvement. Then, if someone you meet catches your attention, and you still have a good impression after being around them several times, ask them out to coffee.

    My brother had trouble meeting suitable girls for years, but then he decided to leave his job and attend graduate school, to boost his credentials and get a career boost. He ended up meeting his future wife at a Newman Center event on that university campus. Statistically, one has the greatest chance of meeting a mate in that type of environment. If you can’t or won’t go back to school, though, there are other options: I know one guy who met his wife at a ballroom dancing lesson. I know a girl who met her fiancé while both were volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul. Also, I’m an RCIA instructor, and one year a guy and girl met in the program (one was a catechumen, the other a candidate), and they ended up commencing a relationship and getting married a couple years later. So, there’s really a plethora of relationship opportunities out there, if you know where to look.

  53. Luke says:

    Catarina says:
    March 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    “I’m a single woman in her 40′s in the DC area, and I would love to date good Catholic men! But I’ve found that many of them are unmotivated and in no hurry to get married. Most around my age would rather marry women 10-20 years younger than they are anyway. Unfortunately, I am seen as “expired goods”. I’ve tried online dating and done tons of praying. At this point I’m hoping for a miracle! Please pray for me!!”

    Hello, Catarina. Before I go on with the rest of my reply to you, note that I do genuinely wish you well. What I don’t wish well is the continuation of any illusions you may have that are preventing you from finding Godly true happiness.

    First, you sound as if you believe that you should be able to date men your own age. Uh, no, that ended around your mid-20s. The traditional rule is that a man could date “down” agewise to (1/2 his age + 7). Working backwards, if you’re a woman aged 44, you should be looking at men that are (44 – 7) X 2 years old, which is 37 X 2, or up to age 74. That may repulse you, fair enough. But, according to basic Economics, if an item isn’t selling, either or both its price needs to go down. Lower “price” could mean looking for men in their 50s or 60s, say, or at least less attractive/lower-income than you’ve previously considered acceptable.

    Higher “quality” (that needs to go up) could mean any of lose weight to your age-20 weight, get out of debt, arrange your life to have more time to spend with a man, detrash your house, lose the cats, no more female porn like romance novels/Vogue/Lifetime/Oprah, learn how to cook well (if you don’t already know how), learn a skill (bookkeeping/taxes, say) useful to a busy professional man, etc. Tops, though, would be permanently acquiring the mindset that once you’re sexual with a man (hopefully not until married) you’ll not only be faithful to him (in mind as well as actions), but would absolutely be happy to have the type and frequency of sex be what makes him happy. Note that men rarely care about a woman’s income or job status being high, if anything (accurately) seeing those as indications she’s more likely to cheat on him or leave him.

    Lastly, you could possibly do what my wife did to get me to marry her when she was in her late 40s (I’m actually slightly younger than her). She agreed that we’d make a family together, by the egg donor/IVF/gestational surrogate routine, then be a doting stay-at-home mother and homeschool them. (We have happy, healthy 20-month old twin girls.) I would not, could not (since I wanted a family, the only sufficient reason IMO for a man to marry in the U.S. now) have married her otherwise.

    People here have noted that until God comes back in people’s hearts and minds, marriage will remain in deep trouble in the U.S. I agree. However, until divorce and related laws are completely changed, the current reluctance of men to become married, and women to stay married, will continue. (Women file for >75% of divorces in the U.S. now, almost always without having proved to a court they have traditional, e.g.,real, grounds.) Presumptive father custody of children combined with ending no-fault divorce (file without cause, you leave the family house/property/children behind, taking with you only your clothes and what you brought into the marriage) are absolutely necessary. The esteemed Catholic writer Daniel Amneus (sadly deceased) wrote extensively on this in his online books “The Garbage Generation” and “The Case For Father Custody” (easily locatable online for free).

    • Elizabeth says:

      Luke,
      You have some strange ideas about dating, i.e., the age of men women should be looking for. So by your little calculations, I, at age 30, should be looking at men in their fifties. In other words, men my father’s age. GROSS!! No thank you! I’d rather stay single for the rest of my life than date or marry some guy who could be my father or grandfather.
      Also, just curious, but where did you come up with these calculations? It seems to me like you just made them up. And where did this “rule” come from that men can have women half their age but women have to settle for old farts and be happy about it?
      And finally, you are aware that IVF/surrogacy/egg donation is a mortal sin according to Catholic teaching, right?
      Sorry, but you have some warped ideas. Just my two cents.

      • gdgm+ says:

        Hmm, by my calculations, a 30 year old woman could target a 46 year old fellow (half of 46 is 23, add 7 to get to 30). That’s not so bad or far off… after all, how old is George Clooney now?

    • John says:

      Luke, your response to Catarina is demeaning at the outset; telling her to lose weight, etc., but more importantly, I would beg that you consult Catholic teaching on the “egg donor/IVF/gestational surrogate routine.” There are real reasons why these practices are considered immoral. Moreover, so many children out there are in need of loving, adoptive parents.

  54. RA says:

    Family law is in practice anti-male for starters. It is well known that women initiate 2/3’s of all divorces when children are present. Less than half of these women left due to one of the three A’s: abuse, addiction or affairs. The rest left because they felt like it and the culture backs them up to the hilt. Based on experiences in my circles, I’d suggest that at least half of the divorces initiated by men involve men who were pushed into it due to crap conduct by their wives.

    Dalrock’s blog is an excellent start for those who want to study the effects of family law on marriage without the prejudices so common in mainstream media. But it’s recommended to stay away from the comment section, that might be too strong for most women. Dalrock is Christian, married, a father and strongly supports marriage. But he minces no words when describing the current legal environment.

    We’re at the point where nearly every man knows a victim of family court if he has not been one himself. Men aren’t on strike as some suppose, but the picture is not a pretty one.

    Add in the feminist push for women to emphasis careers over marriage and staying at home during the years of a woman’s prime fertility and we have a rather toxic brew in that there are now a class of women who can’t find men they can look up to, be attracted to, who will marry them.

    The old advice for women still holds: lose the weight, be feminine in dress and hairstyle, be nice, be available. Go where the men are. Be prepared to find something good in every man she comes across, rather than writing off most of them as “below” her. Be open to dating and accepting proposals from older men. Only way to find a man who is up to her standards and morals is to expand the pool. And pray.

    Finally, my personal experience is that I do a lot better dating non-Catholics than Catholics. I’m that ordinary looking guy sitting a few rows away from her, but she’s not interested. Hence I have to go outside the Church to find someone who will go out with me.

  55. Anonymous age 71 says:

    Tom said he didn’t know why men don’t feel like men. The answer has been known for well over 50 years. Well, actually over 2000 years, I suppose.

    Margaret Mead reported in her ~1950 book, Male and Female, that every society must give both men and women unique tasks to affirm their sex. In all societies, women find that task by birthing and raising children.

    Men must be given an artificial task since impregnating women is not a full time job for most of us. In some societies, that has been the job of defending the society. She even told of a small tribe which had no outlet for men. They were surrounded by strong, warlike tribes, so the men couldn’t even pick up a spear to go hunting without dying. They decreed that only men could cook and women who took that job were executed.

    In our society it is a matter of Federal law that men shall have no unique task. So, it is no surprise that men don’t feel like men. Why would they?

    ###
    As far as not understanding why men are doing what they are doing, there are other factors. Starting in the mid Sixties when I got out of the Army, feminism has run this nation. No man dare criticize any woman, even one who has murdered her family, without terrible retribution falling on his head. Look what got Larry Summers fired from Harvard, and all he did was point out the obvious truth that women don’t usually like math much.

    At every point, even as major laws were changed to make marriage as unattractive to men as it can possibly ever be, men have not been allowed in the public debate. So, for nearly 50 years, change after change in the laws was made with no idea what men thought of it.

    After nearly 50 years, the most intelligent of men finally figured out that a legal marriage under current laws is a really bad idea. And, still most of you aren’t listening to men. So, when you do encounter what men think of the modern woman, and/or marriage, you think they are evil or insane.

    Every civilization has ended like this one is ending. With women raised up above God. And, the churches are the worst offenders. Including the Catholic churches.

    The Bible makes it clear that effective female submission initiates effective male leadership. Yet universally in the USA (and in fact most so-called Christian nations) it is believed that effective male leadership initiates effective female submission. Pure and total heresy. So, when a woman is rebellious against her husband, which is almost always in the USA, the wonderful pastors and priests blame the husband for her sins,

    I know a man who actually read Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. He told me Gibbons said it was the Christians placing women above God which did the job, just as the Christians placing women above God is killing our once great society. I am trying to read RAFOTRE right now, and it is a very slow job. he said it is mostly in the second and third volumes.

  56. Anonymous age 71 says:

    RA recommends Dalrock, and I concur with his choice.

    Dalrock is the best blogger on marriage from the man’s viewpoint. But, he is not without flaw.

    His biggest flaw, because he does not understand calculus, though he says he does, is that he says there is no marriage strike. There certainly is a marriage strike among men.

    Here are the marriage rates for the past years:

    Number of Marriages per 1,000
    Unmarried Women Age 15 and
    Older, by Year, United States:

    1922 99 (found on Web)
    1960 73.5
    1961 72.2
    1962 71.2
    1963 73.4
    1964 74.6
    1965 75.0
    1966 75.6
    1967 76.4
    1968 79.1
    1969 80.0
    1970 76.5
    1972 77.9
    1975 66.9
    1977 63.6
    1980 61.4
    1983 59.9
    1985 56.2
    1987 55.7
    1990 54.5
    1991 54.2
    1992 53.3
    1993 52.3
    1995 50.8
    2000 46.5
    2004 39.9
    2007 39.2 (Rutgers 2009)
    2008 37.4 (Rutgers 2009)
    2009 36 (UVA 2010; project moved from Rutgers)
    2010 32.9 State of our unions data
    2011 31.1 (http://ncfmr.bgsu.edu/pdf/family_profiles/file131529.pdf)

    England is down around 18, and NZ around 28.

    The feminists and their sympathizers attempt to say men are such bums women are striking against marriage. And, they may be correct… Because after all GROOM magazine sells millions of copies each month, correct? [/sarcasm]

    And, Dalrock says, well, maybe women are delaying marriage. Which is true. They mostly do not want to marry until late 20’s or early 30’s. By that time, too many men have been rejected and rejected and in general treated horribly for over 10 years and no longer want anything to do wtih dating or American women.

    It is not men in their 30’s who complain women won’t make a commitment. Any man in that age group who wishes to marry can find a woman to marry him. Maybe not a really great woman, but a woman to marry.

  57. Concerned says:

    “At home, it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children.”

  58. BJ says:

    Many good points here. One to add:

    Attending Sunday mass at 10:30 is sheer torture. You are surrounded by couples with children. It is the loneliest and most depressing hour of the week. Some singles I know go to mass at 7 am just to avoid the “hostile environment.”

    • John Thomas says:

      Hi BJ

      I would go one step further to the profound alienation singles feel from married society. Some people think that all singles want is sex and the opportunity to have children. In fact, though, what used to be normal adult society is still very much a couples society. Singles are relegated or self-exile to the singles ghetto, whether it is in church or anywhere. Whether you go to restaurants, movies, parties, social events, or things that should be happy family gatherings, you just feel locked out because you are single and everyone else is married or coupled up somehow. They will deny it, but the marrieds are living on a totally different planet from you. They’ve got something that you can never have. Also, if you look at the way married couples interact as opposed to singles hanging out, the dynamics are completely different. That’s while singles feel so excluded in Catholic parishes, in my opinion. It’s less an “activities for singles” kind of thing and more a sense that long-term singles are trapped in a state of arrested development they can’t escape. Singles who want to get married are on the outside looking in. They are the losers, leftovers, and rejects.

      I believe we see the alienation of singles from married society reflected in secular politics, which are increasingly anti-religion and anti-marriage. We are at a tipping point where anti-marriage and anti-family policies are increasingly driven by sexually active singles. There is no other way to explain the animosity toward traditional views of sex and marriage.

  59. BJ says:

    And of course, just going back to the basic problem: How can you possibly date in this culture if you are not prepared to have sex? It’s really hard, and Catholic ministries don’t provide much help. Theology on Tap is supposed to be about mingling and networking, but not really about marriage. It’s kind of a faux pas if you ask for a date there.

    • I Like The Church Fathers says:

      Good point. A lot of women would probably skip Theology on Tap altogether if they thought they would likely get hit on by undesirable men.

  60. Katie Love says:

    “But frankly, I also have to tell a lot of young women today that, like it or not, they’re going to have to take some initiative.”

    Not me. If a guy doesn’t have the guts to ask I’m just not interested. Porn and and like have a huge impact on testosterone as well as having an unrealistic view of women. I will reach out in friendship to anyone, but when it comes to dating I require the guy be a man.

    However, along with this personal rule I will never turn a guy down unless he gives me the creeps. Just sharing this for any guys out there. I know there are plenty of other girls like me.

    • John Thomas says:

      I think a lot of Catholic guys just get in the habit of never asking women out because there is nothing good that can possibly come of it. You need to know in advance that they are serious Catholics (almost impossible at a first meeting) and that they won’t be freaked out if you ask them. It would be nice to know if they were a little bit receptive.

      For Catholic women, the reserve is true. Every guy is a threat. So every guy gets shooed away even if he is the one in one thousand who is a serious Catholic and good husband material. How could she know?

      Indeed, she probably does freak out if a serious Catholic guy is persistent. He walks away discouraged and may never approach another woman again for months or years.

      So Catholic guys are in the habit of never asking, and Catholic women are in the habit of never waving, smiling, making eye contact, tossing their hair, or doing whatever. These habits get ingrained and aren’t easily reversed.

  61. Embrace reality says:

    “Not me. If a guy doesn’t have the guts to ask I’m just not interested.”

    First, a man waiting for a woman to give him an indicator of interest such as a little extended eye contact or smile before initiating a conversation, asking for a date does not make him gutless. Secondly, you’re not the only game in town so if other women seem interested in him and they’re attractive or more attractive why would he bother with you?

    “Porn and and like have a huge impact on testosterone as well as having an unrealistic view of women”

    If you were the expert on male sexuality you presume to be you’d know that porn use actually boost testosterone levels. Why? Is this relevant to men initiating dates or are you just on a rant? The female porn known as the romance novel brings billion$ annually. The novel “50 Shades of Grey” has sold around 1 million copies the movie not the mention the movie out soon, thats one title in an ocean of chick porn. If anyone has absurd expectations it’s women. The few young men actually interested in marriage are just hoping to find a wife who won’t be obese, easily done in most countries in the world except the US.

    “I require the guy be a man.”

    I think you’ll find men increasingly disinterested in meeting the requirement of women such as yourself. Doubt it? Try google search:
    ‘Why young men are avoiding marriage”
    “Men’s marriage strike”
    “Men going their own way”

  62. John Thomas says:

    You can’t maintain a sexual code of ethics that is at variance with 99% of society and assume that marriages just happen the way they did in the old days.

    You can’t assume that marriage is just about sex and thus inessential. The married couple is still the basic unit of society. The married couple is the smallest unit of the domestic church. Single Catholics who cant marry are social exiles in a way that is wounding both spiritually and psychologically.

    Catholic parishes where 80-90% of the married couples cohabited prior to marriage and practice contraception within their marriage are profoundly unsympathetic to single Catholics who can’t marry because they won’t do these things.

    It’s no wonder that Catholic lay society no longer plays its historical role of fostering marriages with parish communities.

  63. American Male says:

    Feminists have achieved their dream of destroying the benefits of marriage for men.

    Few men are insane enough to take on the sweeping risks of what marriage today poses for them after the benefits they used to enjoy were stripped out of it.

    Most men are not insane enough to enter into a lopsided legal agreement that can leave them ruined for life with what amounts to a competitor and you cannot shame us into doing so. It’s not going to happen.

    Have fun growing old with your ten cats.

    • Crowhill says:

      @American Male, I agree that marriage is a lopsided mess and that the laws need to be reformed — as well as our societal expectations.

      But I don’t think a man needs to be insane to enter marriage. He should go in eyes wide open and understand all the threats he will face, but it is possible to have a successful marriage — even today.

      I try to address the issue in more detail here — http://crowhill.net/blog/2013/06/why-should-a-man-marry/

  64. @FMShyanguya says:

    Eh? Date Father? That was the start of the slippery slope to women asking men out and the hook-up culture.

    I am thinking you meant courtship with a view to marriage.

  65. Carlos says:

    I have a question for Msgr. Charles Pope, but I must first place it in context: I am considering a vocation to the priesthood, but I like this girl. She is a non-denominational Christian, but is a devout Christian. I’m 19 and am wondering if it would okay if I asked her out on a date?? Just thinking over asking her out makes me smile. Thank you!

  66. Embrace reality says:

    “I don’t think a man needs to be insane to enter marriage.”

    I don’t think you fellas of the older generations quite understand what a man, any man, is facing when he marries in western society. Things have changed, women’s attitudes, the laws. “Insane” may seem a little strong but I’m not so sure it is. Let go over the basic facts and you can do your own research to prove them.

    The divorce rate hovers around 50%, even churches are filling up with divorced people.
    *Nearly 70% of divorces are initiated by the wives*, not for infidelity or abuse in the majority but for unbiblical reasons like dissatisfaction, unhappiness.
    Wives/mothers are given primary custody of children almost automatically and the husband/father is legally reduced to a visitor in the lives of his own children (visitation).
    Husbands/fathers are forced to leave their own home.
    Husbands/fathers pay 97% of alimony and child support.
    Thanks to No Fault divorce all of this happens literally at the whim of a dissatisfied wife.

    Understand! Any man who marries does so under circumstances where his wife has nearly ALL the legal power and authority over his children, home, assets and earnings. If you’re contemplating marriage you’ll be trusting a woman’s character and integrity infinitely more than she will ever have to trust yours, she can use the law to break you in half on a whim. Can anyone reference a scripture that teaches women, by virtue of being born female, are morally superior to men? No, you cannot. Why then is the law and the church under the impression that they are?

  67. Luke says:

    John, I am not the above poster’s friend. I am far more interested in useful truth than I am in preserving someone’s feelings of the moment by telling them a lie.
    The truth is that if something does not sell at its current price and quality, either its price needs to drop, or its quality needs to rise. It’s first-year Economics.

    On the RCC being against donor eggs, IVF, gestational surrogacy, and such, I am not Catholic (though am fully Christian, with my Protestant church’s sacrements and rite completely valid). Besides, the ova and sperm used would have died otherwise, and instead resulted in two loved, wanted, fully healthy babies being raised by my wife and me. (They’ll never have their minds poisoned by public schools, being homeschooled instead, as the Founding Fathers were.) That’s hard to see as a bad thing.

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