How do you know you're ready for dating/courtship?


I’m a 20 (nearly 21) year old female. I’m currently in the third year of a four year university degree. I live at home with my parents. And I’ve yet to have had a boyfriend…

When I was in high school, I was the girl that none of the boys were interested in. I wasn’t very attractive, I was sort of a geek, and besides, I knew that I didn’t want to get into a “serious” dating relationship when I was in school. For one thing, I’d be nowhere near getting married. Since starting university, I’ve met a lot of great Catholic guys at the university chaplaincy! Unfortunately, all of them so far have either been in relationships, or not interested in me.

But, in the last few months, I was asked out for the first time ever, by someone I’d met at a social group. We went on one “date” as friends first, but we just didn’t click, which was fine. Then, just a few weeks later, another guy from the same group said that although he felt he was too old for me (27), he thought I was a really great young woman…and that he thought I was cute :shrug:

Anyway, I started to wonder if maybe my days of being the girl always left on the shelf, so to speak, were coming to an end, and that maybe this was a sign that guys were becoming interested in me for the first time. Kind of like an ugly duckling, but with less feathers.

I’m currently praying a novena to St Raphael. Now, I’m not expecting my future husband to waltz into my life on Day 10, but I feel like I should be praying for extra guidance on the subject right now.

But…I wonder how I know if I’m ready for dating (or courtship, to be more precise)? I guess the right time would be, when I feel I’m ready for marriage in the near future. I only have a year of my course left, two if I take a postgraduate course, and I can’t help but think that I don’t want to wait too long after leaving university to get married (when I was younger, I saw myself marrying aged 24-25, but maybe that was a little optimistic). I don’t think I’d get married whilst at university, though. But I think there’d need to be a year or more of dating before I got married anyway, so that’s probably not an issue.

I guess my real concern is whether I’m emotionally ready for it all. How can you tell? When I think about what happens when you’re married, generally I imagine it’d be different, and there’d be a learning curve involved, but that there’d be nothing major that I couldn’t do. For example, I guess everyone worries about “Am I ready to be a parent?” but I’m fairly sure that newly-married couples worry about that, too.

Does anyone have any advice? Is it mostly a matter of putting the question to prayer?

(Obviously, this is all about what to do in the meantime while I’m waiting for some other guy to be interested in me…it might take a while :stuck_out_tongue: )


Some suggest we date for a time before committing to marriage, anyway.

Here’s something I found interesting:

Although I saw other statistics that suggested not taking too long before marriage or too little. It said by dating too long, the relationship lacked in commitment.

So, in my opinion, it would be fine to start any time, because you are planning to finish your degree in about a year’s time, anyway. College is a VERY good place to meet guys. Well, there are guys of every type. If you wait, you may have opportunities to meet them, but they probably won´t be as easy, or plentiful, as they are right now.

I had one teacher who said to enjoy this time in college, because he thought we might not feel as connected to others, in some ways, upon leaving college. Well, that you are all students automatically gives you something in common. There are all kinds of events, groups, activities, which you are probably paying for with your student activity fee, anyway!

As you say, you can be open to a relationship. Often, they don´t happen on a schedule. In fact, they sometimes seem to happen when we´re NOT trying, but nonetheless, I think they require a certain openness.

If your faith is important to you, you can also look for people through church activities, like the Newman Center.

One way to approach things is to work on establishing good friendships with BOTH guys and girls. Try starting off with a guy as a friend, and then see how that works. If he passes that test, then you can move on to the next.

I’d say I think it’s time, especially if that’s what you want to do.


I think I would just focus on doing the things you are doing which is participating in social groups like you are and then go out with different guys as you have done. Even if it doesn’t click like you have said, just having social friendships is perfectly fine. I think I would not put much stock in thinking that after doing a novena that some guy is just going to come waltzing into your life and it is happily ever after. That in fair tales but not real life. Good strong marriages start out usually as a friendship. Just because you were over looked in high school doesn’t mean anything now. I would continue to focus on you social groups, being friendly and smiling and confident. There isn’t a magic bullet of “when” you are ready and I would continue to pray and have realistic expectations.


I think college, especially the tail end of college, is a good time for many people to date. Well, how many people are there at your college? Are there hundreds, thousands of avilable guys, around your age? Sounds like the odds are helping you.

If you wait, it’s still doable but it might take more effort on your part.

Now seems like good timing, if you don´t mind my saying. :twocents:


You never know what’s going to happen in life, but waiting till you want to get married before starting to date is late, IMO. I think you should start going out on dates now. You might have to date a lot of fellows before you find one that is compatible and meets your requirements…be choosy, BTW.

Yes, college is an excellent place to start because there are plenty of young eligible men. Do you have many female friends? Ask them to set you up, if just for practice. You’re only in school another year, most girls have been dating for at least 5 years by the time they finish school (university). I started dating late (I thought) when I was 18. My own mom told me NEVER turn down a date (LOL), of course I’d turn down a real weirdo, but what she meant was never discount someone till you get to know them.

One thing I’d definitely suggest is to start praying NOW for your future husband. Pray that God protect him, help him make good and holy choices and that he remain chaste, and don’t stop praying for him EVER. He IS out there, right now. God bless you, I will say a prayer for you BOTH as well.


Very true! No one is so rich they can throw away friendships. The more, the better.

Also, remember to stay true to yourself. Don’t compromise your values. ** If there’s an early warning sign in a date, or in a relationship, get out of there! I’m telling you the things I did wrong and one of them was “forgiving” my boyfriend for hitting me the very first time! I foolishly married him and was beat on for almost two years. The marriage was annulled. I’d stupidly “settled” but at least I learned from my lesson and never settled again. My hubby now is my best friend and truly my other half. Getting off topic…

Like I said, praying for you.:slight_smile:


HIGHLY recommend the book “The ABCs of Finding a Good Husband” by Stephen Wood. It will help you answer this question! God bless!


Thank you everyone for your advice so far!

So my Novena seems to have worked…sort of. Just found out that one of the Catholic couples I know from uni have got engaged. That makes two couples now in total from university who are getting married. It’s not a Catholic university, by the way, but there’s a chaplaincy on campus. So there’s not so large a group of guys as I’d have liked, I guess.

Can’t help but wonder when it’ll be my turn. Maybe St Raphael just got his co-ordinates wrong? :stuck_out_tongue:


If you are in your early twenties you are way to young.


As a 31 year old man, I do not agree with this. It is difficult to judge one’s maturity for dating from reading an Internet thread. That is something each person, and each dating/courting couple needs to decide for themselves. I advise, however, not to be so preoccupied with finding a date that one forgets his or her other obligations in life. For those in college, your education needs to go first.


You have done an amazing job so far!

I just popped on to say don’t count out the 27 year old young man either. You say you are in your last year so I assume that makes you around 21? My husband was 27 when we met and I was 22. And I think we are the perfect age difference! Not so young he lacks full maturity, but not scary older like he could be my father (you know what I mean?). The five years of maturity can do wonders for young men who tend, let’s face it, to be a little immature still. It’s worked well for 9 years so far! If he talks to you again, give him a chance! :thumbsup:


Hi: It is like asking how do you know you are ready to lean how to ski. You have to try it and experiment. You need to make friends with guys. That’s how you learn how they tick. We are not the same-- men and women. Relationships take patience, compromise, a sense of humor, and all the other things that go into being a good friend, daughter, aunt, etc.

You don’t have to worry about getting married; you need to get in the game with friends and start observing how people interact.

In the meantime, do what you enjoy. It is really helpful to meet someone while enjoying the same activity.

Also, put your best foot forward: if you need a new haircut, get it; need to try some makup to perk up your face, go to the dept. store; struggling with extra weight-- join a gym and get it off. There is nothing wrong with being as attractive as possible. Men are visual. They are excited by what they see.

Any other questions, let me know.



SugarMouse - I’m praying for you to relax and enjoy the last few semesters of college. My dear daughter is now thirty. She went away to college before her eighteenth birthday on an swimming/academic scholarship to a Jesuit University. She dated casually through college, was in a sorority and had many male friends, but no serious relationship. After undergrad, she moved half way across the country for law school and had the same experiences as far as dating goes. She even tried and met some nice guys and several frogs. When she came back to the West Coast to study for and take the Bar Exam, she ran into a friend from highschool and they clicked! They dated for about eighteen months, but in the end, they had different goals. Six months after the break-up, the best man from the wedding she was in asked her out. She was dubious, since he is four years younger, but they have been together for a year now and are quite happy. Sometimes life surprises you at the very weirdest moments! It could be that when you are finally out on your own you will relax and begin to look at dating in a different way. Could it be that you are still looking at yourself as a child instead of an adult? My last bit of thought is that you ARE NOT an ugly duckling! It’s quite obvious that, from your writing skills, you are an intelligent young woman with loads of good qualities to share with friends and potential boy friends, never undervalue your own unique gifts! :wink:


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