My Girlfriend is Discerning Religious Life


Hello all, I’ll hop right into the story, but I seriously need some advice.

My girlfriend felt like she had a calling to religious life four years ago. When I met her, this was still the case, but we quickly became best friends; and early on in our relationship, her discernment was brought up. I gently challenged her convictions to religious life because I felt like her calling wasn’t from God.
She had so much confusion, doubt, and worry about her discernment. She even had desires for marriage. To make a long story short, we talked about her discernment at length for 5 months.

Somewhere in month 4 of talking about discernment, she said that she didn’t even think anyone would marry her if she was to discern marriage. I confessed that I would gladly marry her because despite only knowing her for 4 months. I was closer to her than anyone else in my life and she inspired a lot of joy and spiritual growth in me.

Two almost three months ago, she decided she would take a leap of faith and become my girlfriend. She felt like there was a lot to pursue our relationship and felt a calling to marriage over religious life. Everything was going great until a month ago we wen’t on a retreat and she started talking about how she had a desire for religious life. She told me that she wanted to join a convent for 6 months when she was older.

I was shattered, because I had no idea that her desire had shifted completely. She was completely unaware that I would even be upset with this knowledge because I had known her desire for marriage shifts at times. This caused a week where we were both miserable about our relationship; I thought it was going to be over.

Fast forward to present, and we moved past the tear in our relationship, kinda. Yesterday we talked about her discernment and she is completely confused about her discernment. She isn’t sure if she wants me or religious life. We both agree that if we had known that all of this was to come that we shouldn’t have started dating; however, we both regret nothing.

I just feel like she needs to choose me or religious life and not leave me hanging. I’m pretty upset about this whole situation.

I really have no idea what to do. We have so much promise in our relationship, but she has this constant confusion about discernment. It’s probably spiritual warfare, but she won’t denounce it.

Please give me some advice.

PS: this is the incredbily short version of our story and I can alborate more, but this has already taken me 25 minutes and a rewrite to complete.


If she’s never set foot on convent grounds, she really needs to go on some come-and-see weekend retreats. Even if you marry, her heart would be cloistered for God and yourself. Simplicity in living doesn’t hurt either.

But, seriously, tell her to go on some retreats and get this out of her system. She also needs spiritual director there locally.

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


Please do have patience. I also understand that discerning our vocation can be difficult, especially with two seemingly conflicting paths in your heart.

Try to support her, but learn about all options, and try to make sure her actual vocation to whatever it is.


She has been on a few retreats and hasn’t really had a huge connection with any of them. She also has a really hard time praying, which is kind of a big deal.

A spiritual director is a good idea! We were talking about seeing one together soon.

Thanks for the comment I appreciate it!

God bless!


I want what God wants, but I currently feel like she needs to trust God more than she does.
I will support her regardless.


She doesn’t want to have regrets either way. She needs to spend some time with communities, talk with a spiritual director, PRAY and really be open to whatever God is calling her to. Not being mean but she needs to NOT see you for a while. She can’t be pulled in 2 directions. If the religious life is what God is calling her to do she needs the time, space, solitude to pray about that and hear His call. She will always wonder if she doesn’t give religious life a true chance. Believe me this can affect her for the rest of her life. Just be very supportive of her and what she does either way. If you care about her you want her to be sure and you want her to be where God calls her to be. Praying for her.


I agree 100% with you. I’ve told her multiple times that she can’t discern marriage inside of a convent.
I just want whats best for her and not her confused spiral of discernment.

I trust in God’s plan completely.

Thanks for the comment, God bless.


Next phone call should be to the Women’s Religious Vocations Director at her Diocese. They will set her up with someone to help her discern.


I think that it is okay to discern a religious vocation and date at the same time. Maybe. You two would have to discern that together. Try to be at peace with what the future may hold … whatever, it might be. As others have said, encourage her to explore.

And if you would like a little diversion from your worries and how beautiful the religious life can be…have a look at this.


Set her in front of this: Just looking at Him is the Prayer of Simple Regard. She doesn’t have to say anything.

As St. Therese said, “Prayer is a look to Heaven.” There is a cloistered group of Down Syndrome sisters in France who follow St. Therese and the Rule of St. Benedict.

Do you know if she makes the Morning Offering, or the Offering of the Pure Heartbeats of Sleep? The latter would do her a world of good. Verbal prayers should lead to contemplation, if used correctly.


Warning; you will not like my post. At all.

If I was her spiritual director, I would advise her to go back to being single, and to spend time away from you. It’s difficult to properly discern religious life when you are in a relationship of sorts. Case and point:

I understand why you may think this, and it very well may be the case. However if you told her this, it’s a conflict of interest and biased to your benefit. And she clearly respects and cares about you, and values your opinion. Which in turn would cause her great distress and confusion while she tries to sort out these things.

Seeing a spiritual director together would also cause the above to happen. Also, spiritual direction is a deeply personal thing. it’s not counselling (although that can happen), but about guiding/directing someone on their spiritual journey. That’s different for everyone. What works for her may not work for you, and vice-versa.

I would never see a spiritual director with my wife. A relationship counselor, yes. But not a spiritual director. In fact, w’re both doing an Annotation 19 retreat, and I was specifically told my director would not also see my wife. And as I start being a spiritual director myself, I will never see a couple - not even as individuals separately.

She needs to figure this stuff out on her own, with some assistance from a spiritual director or some kind of mentor. She needs to rebuild her prayer life and restart the discernment process. If there’s someone who knows the Ignatian discernment method, she could see them.

Let her know you love and support her, but for her own discernment, in my opinion you need to walk away until she’s at peace with things.


You said that you don’t feel her calling is from God. This is not for you to discern. It should remain between her, her spiritual director, and most importantly, the Will of God. I suggest you both take a break from each other for 2-4 weeks for her to clear her head. I know this may sound hard for you, but if you love her, and want what’s best for her, your love will most certainly conquer this obstacle. I will be praying for the two of you!


That is a good idea and one worth pursuing. I have met my Diocese’s Women’s Vocations Director and she is awesome.


I was not aware online adoration was a thing!
She does not do any of the mentioned prayers. Thank you for the advice, I’ll suggest that she pray them.

She is however, going to do a novena to St. Therese.


Little Flower
In this hour
Show your power!


I don’t dislike your post at all. I am considering walking away for a time because It’s not fair to me and we keep having troubles due to her discernment.

The reason I feel like her discernment isn’t from God stems from being able to discern spirits. I see a lot of confusion and red flags that point toward evil spirits.

Thanks for the advice about seeing a spiritual director. We would like to see one together so that we can get advice from an elder so that we can have a course of action.

Thanks for the reply, God bless.


If that’s the case, then have her carry a St. Benedict medal, Miraculous Medal, and Holy Face medal. Carry a rosary, too.


It’s not just unfair to you, it’s unfair to her as well. She needs to be able to come to terms with her vocation without you being actively involved in the process. With you being involved, it upsets the balance between the different options, as it will be hard for her to remain emotionally neutral when you’re right there - which could cause some inner conflict and confusion on her part.

You need to be removed from the process. She needs make the call to vocations director(s). She needs to meet independently with a spiritual director, without you being present. She needs to go on a discernment retreat or do something like an Annotation 19 on her own. At the present time this is her journey, and as much as you want to help and be present, you need to take a step back and let her figure this out.

I will not cast doubt on you having the charism of discernment of spirits. I am going to assume for the time being that it has been tested and verified by people other than yourself on multiple occasions - such as others in the past have specifically told you “you were right about that”.

At this time, however, allow me for a moment to exercise my own charisms. It very well may be that you could be sensing a spirit of confusion, but who is to say the confusion is not with religious life, but with marriage? Perhaps she is in fact called to the religious life, but feels confused due to her emotional connection to you, which would indicate the spirit of confusion that currently rests upon her is leading her away from God’s preferential will that she become a consecrated religious?

Furthermore, while I will not deny that there is a spirit of confusion on her part, I will also state that you yourself are the victim of a spirit (and spiritual warfare as a result of this) - based on some of the actions you have described yourself taking, and your emotional state. . At the present time, what are you doing to combat this for yourself, independent of her?

If you wish for her and yourself to meet with someone as a couple, then let it be a Catholic counselor. As I said before, being a new spiritual director, I have already decided I will not meet two people during the same meeting for many reasons. And if I was directing a man, I would not also direct his wife. With the former, how can you expect a spiritual director to give her spiritual direction regarding the consecrated life with the guy who wants to marry her is sitting right there? Spiritual direction should be 1:1, full stop. I encourage you both to see one, at different times with different people.

And obviously, I’ll restate that you need to walk away until she sorts this out.

I don’t envy you in your position. I have been volunteering in youth and young adults ministry for thirteen years now, I have seen this happen before. Trust me when I say remove yourself from her situation, and walk away until she comes to terms with things - or at least has less inner conflict.


I think it would be helpful if she read this short excerpt by St. Alphonsus Ligouri on Discerning a Religious Vocation.

And this:

Just because she has a hard time with prayer, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a vocation for the religious life. The demon of acedia often pushes us away from prayer. We are all called to pray often and with joy, even laypeople.

Perhaps she should try a 54 day rosary novena so God can make it clearer to her what His will is for her life.


Been there, done that; as the discerner.

After awhile, the reflection that sticks despite missing her from time to time, is the fact that I didn’t feel capable of letting her know about the internal change.

The truth is, if I couldn’t bring myself to share that, was I really prepared to give myself completely to her in virtue of marriage?

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