My nearly life-long best friend and I are both discerning religious vocations. I love it, because he understands the joys/struggles of discernment as well as I do(I have thought about being a nun since I was 17 - which is when I converted to catholism against the wishes of my baptist parents, and I’m not 21.)
But it would be much, much easier if our friends could understand. They want us to date. They don’t understand why we won’t. We spend a great deal of time together, we go to mass together every Sunday (since we’re in the same college away from home) and I guess from an outsiders perspective it looks like a dating-relationship – minus the phsycial affection, of course.
Background – met my 2 best friends in 4th grade. I was 10, they were both 9. We were the 3 amigos from that point on. In junior high we remained close but in HS we sort of veered off in separate directions. My one friend “Pete” and I were (sadly) obsessed with being popular and fitting in, and my other friend “Fred” got really involved in band. We stayed friends but our social circles didn’t allow for much interaction.
After HS I left my small hometown, spent a year in Chicago, then another year in Europe working and traveling and “finding myself”. A few weeks before my 21st bday I returned to my hometown broke and started working toward my college degree. It was nice to be back but somewhat depressing. My old friends tried to seem enthusiastic as I recounted my overseas adventures, and I tried to seem interested in their usual gossip, but neither of us were good actors. I felt alone. Then out of the blue Fred called me inviting me to a party. I went, and we caught up.
We go to the same college, and Fred asked me “When was the last time you went to Mass?” I admitted it has been too long. He offered to take me if I wanted and I said sure, I went with him and it was great to be back. A long time ago Fred told me he had been thinking of being a priest – I’ve told him he would make an excellent one. Seriously, he’d be like the priests you see in the movies – handsome, kind, caring, trustworthy, faithful. He’d be perfect. I asked him if he was still discerning, and he said he is…but he’s kept pretty quiet about to our other friends.
Then I had a confession for him, that I’m still discerning as well. We both agreed its really nice to have a best friend whose also going through the process of discernment. He understands the struggle it can be, and its nice to know someone is praying for me, asking for God’s will in my life.
But like I said, our well-meaning friends don’t get it. Even when we try to explain. They keep saying “whats up with you and Fred? When are you going to hook up already? Neither of you is interested in anyone else, so don’t tell us you don’t like eachother.”
Truth is, I couldn’t date friend if I wanted too. First off, I’ve had some bad breakups, mostly due to my traveling. I’m done with the dating scene for awhile – I just want to focus on me right now! Second, I’ve dated a close friend before, and that ended in disaster. Of course I love Fred, but in a very different kind of love than I’ve ever felt for a boyfriend…like the love you have for an old, familiar friend.
My friends honestly think Fred and I belong together. They’ve told me this several times. They mention it constantly at every party or get together. I think its time we explained to them the situation, but neither of us are quite prepared for the conversation – most of our friends our non-catholic and don’t really understand the process. This is more of a small irritation than a real problem, but any advice?