Discerning and dating someone special you found?


#1

Hi everyone!

I have been discerning my vocation for almost 6 months now, since last summer. As of right now, I feel attractions for both a religious life and a marriage life, but more so towards the marriage life. Recently I’ve been feeling as if God may be really calling me to marry, even though my initial thought was to become a religious sister. In that, I mean, I have gotten to where I am today because I had first thought that my vocation was to live a religious life. However, my desires for a religious life have been waning and I feel my heart drifting away from it and instead, drifting towards a marriage life. There are prayer moments when I feel as if God really does want me to marry. But I just keep on thinking that I “should” become a religious sister-not only because we are in need of religious brothers and sisters, but because I think I am capable of being one. And also because there are moments when I have those desires to serve God’s people.

I have been continuously praying ever since my discernment. I do have a spiritual director. I have gone to a silent discernment retreat. I go to Adoration as much as I can. I receive Penance as much I can now, for I know that sins can cloud my heart and vision. I try to attend daily mass as much as I can as well.

Well, I have a friend from my parish who is also discerning right now(specifically the priesthood). We have known each other since we were kids(we’re both in college now).
Four years ago, I had a crush on him even though I did not know him really well-I just knew that he had such a kind heart.
Four years later, I find myself in the same position…but it is not simply a “crush” this time.
We usually do not see each other outside of church for we aren’t that close, but this past summer, when we were both back from college, we were able to hang out in groups for a few times.
Getting to see and know more of the person he is, he became one of my biggest inspiration for me to really look into the vocation as a religious sister. From what I saw and knew, he is such a holy and faithful Catholic. In a way, he made me want to become the most holy and faithful I can be-the “best version” of myself.
At the end of summer, he had to leave to return to his college.

A few weeks after his departure and also a few weeks into my discernment of religious life, I decided to first share my discernment process with him because I wanted to and kept on feeling that I should and could(I was scared to share my discernment process with anyone at the time). And subsequently, he shared his current discernment process with me too!! I was actually one of the select few that he felt he could talk to about this even though we were barely close! He told me though that I, in his eyes, had always appeared so holy(I don’t think I was close to holy back then) and that he wanted to be where I was with my faith. So in a way, we saw in each other the person that we want to become.

Our friendship grew beyond our initial level of just jokes and laughters. We grew in our trust and understanding of each other as we grew spiritually and in faith, together.
And ever since the day he left for college last summer, there is not one day that I had not thought about him and missed him. There are of course, periods of time where we’d not talk to each other for college keeps us both very preoccupied. But even so, I can feel my feelings for him grow each day…even though I haven’t seen him since last August! And sometimes, I don’t think that it’s good to feel this way towards someone while discerning, so I try not to talk to him a lot.

Our friendship and love for each other is rooted in God’s love. This is the first time that I had this kind of friendship-a spiritual friendship that is centered around Christ and His love. And it does feel very different and special.

If I am called to a married life(which is still a little uncertain), I can see him as my future spouse…it is a weird feeling…I can see myself being in a chaste and holy relationship with this guy, and raising our children in faith together. I have to admit, I do think about this quite a lot…as I am more drawn to a marriage life now.

**So since I’m still discerning a religious life as well, I should definitely not date, right? And also, it may just be me feeling this way…he may not feel this way towards me at all! I know that he is a very reserved guy in feelings wise…so if he did feel the same way, I don’t think he would ever tell me as he also knows that I’m in a complicated mess right now in life. And what if he is really called to be a priest? I’d be causing us both distractions, right? . **

But I can’t help but feel this feeling for and about him…

Thank you for reading :slight_smile:


#2

well there are a couple of ways you could personally go about this, it is almost as if you have been split in half … it wouldn’t be fair to say hey you need to stop dating right now an focus only on your discernment. You mentioned causing a distraction at the end of your thread…

you are already distracted from what it appears. So you the options I see, are either ignore the feelings you have for him and strictly focus on your discernment, remain friends of course… or put your discernment on hold, and confront this guy find out how he feels about you and take it from there.

the " what ifs " about him being in discernment as well… it is a pickle too, but then think of it like this, what if this guy does have feelings for you and is thinking the exact same thing of, uh oh she is discerning a religious life, i better not mention my feelings for her cause it could distract her…No one can fault you for anything this is the point of discerning … an not just about a religious life but really anything… IF you can handle not finding out about how he feels for you, if you can honestly put aside what ever romantic feelings you have for him… and move forward in your discernment until that process has ended then go for it.

Regret , would you regret not finding out how he feels for you is the thing i suppose.

now if you are wondering if you can actually date and discern at the same time… I suppose so but that then in turn leads to more heart ache and confusion, can you really split yourself like that ? If so then I suppose go for it.

I would think for someone male or female who is seriously discerning a religious life, one would be better off not dating.

There will always be a need for Priests, Nuns etc, though someone you have feelings for may not always be in your life, and might move on with their life instead of waiting.

Either way, no one can fault you for your decision.


#3

A very prayerful posting…you are in my prayers. I think you are doing just fine and working with god to do his will.

I want to offer you this article by Professor Peter Kreeft, PhD, Boston College Prof. of Philosophy.

Here is the heart of it…its insightful, systematic and straightforward.
Pax Christi

Discernment

Five general principles of discernment of God’s will that apply to all questions about it, and therefore to our question too, are the following:

1. Always begin with data**, with what we know for sure. Judge the unknown by the known, the uncertain by the certain. Adam and Eve neglected that principle in Eden and ignored God’s clear command and warning for the devil’s promised pig in a poke.

2. Let your heart educate your mind**. Let your love of God educate your reason in discerning his will. Jesus teaches this principle in John 7:17 to the Pharisees. (Would that certain Scripture scholars today would heed it!) They were asking how they could interpret his words, and he gave them the first principle of hermeneutics (the science of interpretation): “If your will were to do the will of my Father, you would understand my teaching.” The saints understand the Bible better than the theologians, because they understand its primary author, God, by loving him with their whole heart and their whole mind.

3. Have a soft heart but a hard head. We should be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” sharp as a fox in thought but loyal as a dog in will and deed. Soft-heartedness does not excuse soft-headedness, and hard-headedness does not excuse hard-heartedness. In our hearts we should be “bleeding-heart liberals” and in our heads “stuck-in-the-mud conservatives.”

4. All God’s signs should line up**, by a kind of trigonometry. There are at least seven such signs: (1) Scripture, (2) church teaching, (3) human reason (which God created), (4) the appropriate situation, or circumstances (which he controls by his providence), (5) conscience, our innate sense of right and wrong, (6) our individual personal bent or desire or instincts, and (7) prayer. Test your choice by holding it up before God’s face. If one of these seven voices says no, don’t do it. If none say no, do it.

5. Look for the fruits of the spirit**, especially the first three: love, joy, and peace. If we are angry and anxious and worried, loveless and joyless and peaceless, we have no right to say we are sure of being securely in God’s will. Discernment itself should not be a stiff, brittle, anxious thing, but—since it too is part of God’s will for our lives—loving and joyful and peace-filled, more like a game than a war, more like writing love letters than taking final exams.
peterkreeft.com/topics/discernment.htm


#4

[quote="sunflower23, post:1, topic:310380"]
...If I am called to a married life(which is still a little uncertain), I can see him as my future spouse...it is a weird feeling...I can see myself being in a chaste and holy relationship with this guy, and raising our children in faith together. I have to admit, I do think about this quite a lot..as I am more drawn to a marriage life now.

*So since I'm still discerning a religious life as well, I should definitely not date, right? And also, it may just be me feeling this way...he may not feel this way towards me at all! I know that he is a very reserved guy in feelings wise..so if he did feel the same way, I don't think he would ever tell me as he also knows that I'm in a complicated mess right now in life. And what if he is really called to be a priest? I'd be causing us both distractions, right? . *

[/quote]

Not necessarily. Dating is discernment as well. Directly it is discernment for (or against) married life, but indirectly it can also be used for (or against) discernment of religious life as well.

To be honest, the way you've represented things it definitely sounds as though he likes you as well, I think because of that it would prudent for the both of you to see if that's the way God is calling you both.:thumbsup:

He works in mysterious ways.:shrug:


#5

John78,
I do wonder a lot(which…I don’t know if it’s a good thing) about whether or not he has feelings for me. I might just wait it out a little longer and see if these feelings still persist. And if I try to suppress them and they still do persist, then I think I will approach him about it… But we are both not seriously discerning a religious life-we’re both still unsure about our vocations…Well, at least…for me. I still have yet to catch up with him on how he’s doing with his discernment…But thank you very much for your input. :slight_smile:

Lancer,
I genuinely appreciate your prayers and thank you for this article. :slight_smile: I will be referring to these discernment principles.

Lamentation,
I have read so many opinions about how people should not date while they are discerning. But I can see the reasoning in your point. Sometimes, I do think that he may possibly have feelings for me…but I may be mixing that with just his kindness and sincerity towards a friend such as myself. :shrug: But yes, the thought that appears to me quite often that perhaps God had brought us together for this reason!..That, or I may just be thinking too much. Thank you though for your response. :slight_smile:

I do wonder, though, if him dating would be beneficial to his discernment? He had never dated before, and had never been in a situation where romantic feelings were mutual. Hm.


#6

[quote="sunflower23, post:5, topic:310380"]

...I do wonder, though, if him dating would be beneficial to his discernment? He had never dated before...

[/quote]

That's kinda worrisome, as far as a candidate goes. Without the experience of dating, one is lacking wisdom of certain relationship dynamics, to say the least.

You'll also notice that quite a few of those saying you shouldn't date also haven't been in such a situation from a discernment standpoint. I was/am in such that situation.;)


#7

Lamentations,
you are in a situation where you’re dating while discerning? Or did I misunderstand you. But what is your situation right now? If you don’t mind me asking you that question


#8

I am 22, and for a good while was discerning the priesthood. Partly because I had always given it thought, partly because I was coming off a relationship of 3.5 years with an atheist and felt something missing.

For the past year, however, I have found myself in a relationship with a wonderful Catholic girl. While the priesthood is still a possibility, at this point marriage seems to be the more likely course that God has given me. Either way, I am happy to do His will.

(and I am going to copy this out from another thread, because I feel the questions are relevant)

Yes, and I still do from time to time (which is why I haven’t entirely discounted the possibility yet :shrug: ). I attended a school run by a religious congregation, and had quite a bit of experience socializing with them. I felt like I would belong rather well in their community, actually. Yet, when the vocations director came around (on business, not because of me), I felt very strongly that it wasn’t the right time to commit to anything. Believe me, I certainly felt I was ready to commit before that encounter, but it was a very strange “not yet” feeling.

Yes. I have always been the “rock” in my family who kinda listens to everyone and the such, the same in school. I feel that I am rather knowledgeable of some of the finer points of Catholicism (though I know I’m not always right, of course), and I feel that I could enter into a person’s final moments without it affecting me adversely.

…but I also know that I am not the most sociable of people, which for a large contingent of the priesthood is required. Also, accepting others is the hardest part of being Catholic, I find (although I am improving); which is why I felt I would need a community to help keep me from burning out and becoming too cynical.

Sometimes, dating can be both a distraction and a method of discernment for celibate life. A good example would be a friend of mine, who happens to be a home-schooled freshman who has never had a first kiss, let alone a date. He believes that it would better for him to enter into the priesthood, when in fact I feel he really should get to know the contemporary community a little bit better; but I digress…


#9

Lamentations,
Thank you for all of this. I have never been in a relationship with a person that has the same faith as I do-not to say, values, beliefs..etc. But that is wonderful. I do hope that you will find even more clarity in your vocation.

My spiritual director sees 3/4 signs that I may be called to a religious life. We are not sure if I have the right desire to enter a religious life...a related question that I stumble upon is: if the perfect, ideal, Catholic man enters your life, would I still consider the religious life? And to be honest, my answers have been either "no", or "I don't know". That's why I also want to open myself to being in a chaste relationship but I am not completely sure if that will help me discern. Because if I fall in love, and marriage is not God's will for me, then I would be in an even more complicated situation.


#10

I've felt a call to be a sister for many many years, and when I began at college I still felt like (and still do) religious life is for me. I've always really been certain that I will either be single or religious because I find myself physically attracted to women and not men, and I can't change that. However, I've since realized that I've developed feelings for my best friend who is a guy, not in the physical sense but very much on the emotional side of things which has been very confusing. I confronted him about this and we talked about it for a long time, and well, we're now seeing if dating works or not and if we're really right for each other etc.

For me at least, dating is part of my discernment because it's suddenly opened up another possibility in life that I didn't think I could ever consider, and it gives me a broader picture so I'm able to understand fully where my call lies.

So, imho, you can date and discern because there are benefits, but you absolutely have to be careful - not being swept up in too much romance that your head isn't clear. And make sure you both are honest about your discernment so that you aren't using each other.

Hope my perspective might help a little :)
God bless you with your discernment!


#11

Which is my point with those who have never dated another… You have to open yourself to all possibilities, not only the ones you believe yourself capable of. The Lord words in mysterious ways, and your (quite interesting :slight_smile: ) story only proves that.

I will be praying for all of you. :smiley:


#12

Surgarytwinkle,
oh wow, thank you for sharing your story and for your thought on this. And yes, your perspective does help-it’s always nice to hear other people’s perspectives and different situations. Thank you :slight_smile: God bless you.

And thank you for your prayers, Lamentations. :slight_smile: You will be in mine as well.


#13

Sunflower…what ever happened? update? I’m sort of in this situation myself at the moment.


#14

If the chance arises, you should date. It’s going to be an unanswered question otherwise, and you’re really not going to want to live with that.


#15

If you are discerning and thinking of entering this year YOU NEED A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR. The question you ask has some general guidelines but not rules that are certain for everyone. A spiritual director can help YOU where you are.


#16

Hi Omega0509,
I eventually approached my friend about my feelings for him because it became such a distraction for me that I felt like I had to confront him about it, but it turned out that he did not feel the same way. I think for a friendship that is spiritual and rooted in Christ, it is important to communicate and be on the same page in terms of knowing where each is standing in the friendship–the connection in spiritual friendships are indeed powerful and strong and as a result, romantic emotions can easily get mixed into this connection. But nonetheless, our friendship did not get awkward or anything afterward…we continued our friendship almost like nothing had happened. Haha. But if anything, I think we became even more sensitive to each other’s natural feelings and desires, and empathetic towards each other since we both know and understand how hard it is to discern religious life and discern the possibility of not having that special love from a significant other. We actually became even more open to each other regarding our very personal feelings and worries and thoughts. All thanks to God, though, for the gift of friendship and grace to maintain and nurture it. :slight_smile:

Right now, I have put aside dating and any and every distraction and am only discerning the religious life. :slight_smile: Personally, I think this is the smartest way for me to go about discerning the religious life–to have my heart undivided and solely focused on Christ and discerning God’s calling for me.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask or PM me. : )

God Bless


#17

hi,
i wrote this a long time ago-it happens to go with your “sunflower name:”

there was once a sunflower that grew by the side of a busy highway; Green-it struggled after sprouting; it would feel the uncomfortable hot summer winds from all the rapidly passing cars; the sunflower would worry of its future alone , as one by itself, along that stretch of highway; it would consider hope at noon day sun. Courageously, it would live and grow (in grace) and would desire purpose.
The drought had made the whole scenery dry and the meadows bare and brown; one day a passing motorists noticed the lone sunflower, which would be seen rising tall enough to view; The driver pondered and asked herself,”Would the little sunflower survive?”Now, the sunflower would grow there up and up between the broken pavement with dangers; next spring, the same motorist would drive by the same spot-he remembered that lone sunflower; today it was gone; but he looked at the horizon’s peak, of sloping meadow-to observe the thousands of sunflowers bloomed.
So to, in the kingdom of God-seeds are courageously scattered so that the whole world would grow in divine love.


#18

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