Possible relationship...advice? (This is kind of long...)


#1

This is something I should take up with a spiritual director, but I wanted to get some opinions on here too.

OK, so I am pretty actively discerning a call to the priesthood. However, assuming that this is my calling, which I obviously have not discerned yet, I am one of those people that is resisting the call a little bit. Meaning, I have the deep down feeling that I should probably give seminary a try when I finish college (Spring 2014), but at the same time my mind will not allow me to give up the thought of marriage and family. So sometimes I go a little bit “girl crazy”. OK, that’s not the best way of describing it, but perhaps you see what I mean.

There’s been this girl that is new at our university, but I knew before she came here, since she was roommates with my sister at her college. Well, I didn’t know her, but I knew of her and had a few conversations with her.

To make a longer story short, I’d say I “have some feelings” for her, and have thought before about dating her. However, I have been in the mindset of “discerning priesthood” so strongly, which has definitely kept me back from developing any relationship. Also I should mention that the desire to begin a relationship isn’t really all that strong, but I have no idea how much that is due to the feeling of a priestly calling.

My discernment is already interesting enough, but it got a lot more interesting last night. She told me she liked me. Now, I didn’t really know how to react to this. I mean, I’ve never dated anyone, and I am somewhat shy and can be awkward at times. So I didn’t say much. But I had so many thoughts running through my mind. For one, she is also somewhat of an introvert, and she hasn’t met too many people here. I have no idea if this is true, but I think it is possible that she is “hanging on” to me because she knew me before she got here. Actually, that’s the main thing. Another thing, is I know she misses her previous college (she is a grad student here) and since she was really good friends with my sister (and my brother who also went there) I think it is possible that she “likes” me because I remind her of my sister (she has told me that I do remind her of my sister before).

I have a tendency to think too much about things…and I might be thinking too much about this. Because I also think it’s kind of weird that she told me that she likes me, rather than vice versa. I mean, usually the guy kind of initiates, right?!?

I’d like to get your opinions on two questions:

  1. Is it common for good, Catholic relationships to be initiated by the girl, or is that weird? I really don’t know. I kind of feel weird, if this goes anywhere, not having initiated the relationship.

  2. If I tell her that I am discerning priesthood (well, she knows this already) pretty strongly, would it be okay to, well, date her?

Oh wait, one more.

  1. In general, especially in the case that one is discerning a vocation to priesthood/religious life, is it a bad idea to begin a relationship when you aren’t like, crazy about the other person? I mean, in my case, yeah, I like her and care about her to some extent, but do people often begin relationships being like, really into each other?

Wow, this is probably my longest post I’ve ever made! :smiley:


#2

Honestly based on some of the things you are a saying it sounds like you should continue to just be friends with her. Not based on your priesthood discernment, based on statements like " when you aren’t like, crazy about the other person"

As part of being friends with her you can tell her that you are discerning priesthood. If you decided to date her it wouldn’t be fair to her to date her without telling her this.

Of course part of discerning your vocation is making sure it is really right for you. If your friendship with her turns into something more serious, that could be an indication you are called to something else or it could just be an indication you are a “normal” straight male that has feelings for a girl. Just because you may eventually become a priest, that doesn’t remove those feelings. Talk things over with both a spiritual director and the director of formation with the diocese you are interested in joining.

Good luck in your discernment.


#3

It is difficult to tell exactly what answer to give to this, because there are SO many variables and I'd have to have a close idea of exactly who you are in order to give a perfectly accurate answer, but I can give a basic idea of my opinion in this matter.

To start off, I'd like to mention something my mother always used to say. She'd say that a first date, that is, lunch with someone or some other casual event, is NOT getting engaged.

She would say this to people who were stressing out over deciding to accept an invite to a first date, wondering if this was the right person, etc, etc, but really the first date is just a first meeting to get to know each other, nothing more serious than that.

On the other hand, if you are absolutely sure of a call to the priesthood, and you are sensing that you should pursue that, it isn't a good idea to go relationship hunting. It will be distracting to what you believe to be your true vocation to go off pursuing others.


#4

In regards to dating while discerning, it probably depends on exactly how certain you are, but I remember something Cardinal Dolan said at the Fordham thing with him and Colbert a while back:

The audience sent in questions by Twitter and e-mail…. Among them: “I am considering the priesthood. Would it be prudent to avoid dating?”

Cardinal Dolan responded that, on the contrary, “it’s good” to date, partly to discern whether the celibate life of a priest is what you want. Then he added, “By the way, let me give you the phone numbers of my nieces.”

Mr. Colbert said, “It’s actually a great pickup line: I’m seriously considering the priesthood. You can change my mind.”

cal-catholic.com/wordpress/2012/09/20/cardinal-dolan-and-stephen-colbert-do-comedy-at-fordham/

For the rest, I would just point out that (at least in my opinion) being initially drawn to someone by familiarity isn't necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it wouldn't be a good enough reason to get married, but it seems like as good an excuse to want to get know someone better and decide if that's a good idea. So even if you are correct that she's primarily interested in you now because you're familiar, that seems like a completely neutral thing.

I mean, my dad used M&M's to bribe my mom to date him based purely on the fact that he passed her at work a couple times and thought the back of her head was cute. If that can lead to 30 years of marriage (so far), then I don't see "used to be my sister's roommate and remembers seeing me around" as being a motivation that will necessarily ruin the whole thing.

(We are also friends with a family where the wife asked one of her friends to go tell the husband that he should ask her out, which isn't entirely direct but which doesn't exactly count as the husband taking the initiative either.)


#5

You might not be called to the priest hood, discernment goes both ways. Since you haven't thought about being married before or felt you were too shy and awkward, maybe God is putting someone else in your path to tell you something. This sound hokey, but the Movie,
Sound of Music was about this sort of thing. A young woman thought she was called to the religious life. While tutoring children, she falls in love with the father and what happens is that her true calling comes out, to be a wife and mother. We loose sight of the basic story in all the music but that may be what is happening with you. it is not one is better or more spiritual than the other, it is what God is calling for you. Even though you feel shy, awkward, never had a date, doesn't mean that God is not calling you to marriage and having some big dating life doesn't make one a good spouse later on. You just are not use to having feelings for a girl but that doesn't mean you can't or that you shouldn't. You seem to have some social skill because it seems like you have a good friend and that is the best basis for a marriage. Give yourself a chance and you will be in my prayers.


#6

First, I’d like to start by saying that I think the only person that can figure this is you. . .with God’s help. God will lead you in the right direction ultimately.

Being unsure about your call to religious life is okay. Does it mean you won’t end up there? Not at all. Does it mean that you should not “discern” other possibilities? Not at all. By the latter I mean that we are all called by God to different vocations. Discerning which one is always a challenge. For me, I was called to the sacrament of marriage and raising children while trying to be a good Catholic. For others, it may be a call to single life, but finding ways to serve God without living a formal religious vocation. For yet others, it might be a call to religious life.

As much as you are unsure about the call to religious life, it sounds like you are unsure about whether this girl is something serious either. If it were me, I’d maybe spend some time with her. . .initially as a friend. . .let her know you’d like to get to know her and in that process you’ll both likely discuss where you are at in your lives. You can perhaps, at the right time, let her know that you’ve considered a vocation in religious life. But, all along, I’d say be honest. Make sure she understands this is not a commitment to a relationship per se right now, but more of a friendship.

At the end of all of this, you might get clarity around what direction your life is headed and you’ll know which path to take.

God Bless you and your journey.


#7

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