Scared that I'm still not ready to date


#1

I’m a 27, soon to be 28yr old single guy, a convert of 2 years. I try to live out my faith, and I want to follow the teachings of the Church 100%. I also feel called to married life, maybe to the diaconate in the future. I want to be a husband and father.

At the same time, I have made mistakes in my past, and those mistakes still often come to mind. There is rarely an hour that passes when I don’t dwell on my past sins, or fall into occasions for sin because of the ingrained pattern of the way I think, the way I look at people, etc. I’m always ashamed and sickened by these elements of my past, but they are still undeniably there.

The last 2 times I have been out on a first date with a girl, both practicing Catholics, we have kissed, nothing too passionate, and I didn’t initiate, but even though that seems too much contact for a first date in my book, I didn’t have the courage to say no, or to explain my boundaries for fear of looking prudish and old-fashioned. Neither of these dates led to a relationship. All the same, I occasionally have flashes that run through my mind of too much drink being consumed and a first date going way too far.Perhaps on some deep subconscious level I still want that to happen, though I am ashamed to admit it. I think this is more temptation than sin, but it makes me frightened that dating might be a near occasion of mortal sin for me.

Am I not ready to date yet? I am so aware of how much damage I have done to my sexual identity in the past, and how much time and intense penance it would take to return it to the state God intended it. I’m worried that if I wait that long before I start dating, it will be too late for me, I’d be too old to start anything, and I’ll end up alone. If that’s how it’s going to be, I may as well accept that now and enter a religious community so that I don’t wind up alone. I know some people are of the view that, if you are called to married life, your sexual identity will never be healed and at peace until you enter into married life, but I just don’t feel right. If I value a woman, I don’t want her to have to put up with marrying ‘damaged goods’, no matter what the potential for healing in the future.


#2

If you feel not ready to date...that is fine, date when you do feel ready.

In my early 20's i was in a very bad relationship with a manipulative, emotionally abusive, liar. After we broke up, I didn't date anyone for almost 2 years. Then I had 1 date that he never called me again.

Then I started dating my DH when I was almost 26.

I remember feeling very lonely during those times. :( Sometimes feeling alone causes us to seek out relationships that might not be the best for us....but feel better than being alone.

Try to leave your past behind. Has God forgiven you? Then shouldn't you forgive yourself too?

Prayers for you.


#3

my dear brother.. may i ask if you have any christian guy friends or have you joined the singles ministry at your church? the reason i ask is that the company of kind and loving christian friends will do a lot to take away this feeling of loneliness that u r going thru right now.. and as that feeling goes away, u will be able to better judge urself and others and get into a healthy relationship..

As far as you being 'damaged goods' is concerned, a contrite heart is more precious to God than all the saints! Jesus came to save the sinners and not saints.

Also, on a side note, I have to admit that you are incredibly naive to think that ur sin is something so great that God's grace and love cannot wash away!!!!
There is nothing, nothing, NOTHING in this world that cannot be purified by the Cross..

As far as "the ingrained pattern of the way I think, the way I look at people" -this aspect is concerned, believe me when I say everybody has bad thoughts come into their minds at one point or another... there have been many wives on this forum who have commented on having caught their husbands "looking at people" :).. if this were the defining criteria, we would have a lot more people in the convent!!:D
If you catch yourself doing this, remind yourself that you are not that person anymore and stop at that instant, slowly but surely, you will notice yourself doing it less and less.. and it will get easier and easier..

Hope this helps my friend to ease your burden.. keep posting on here while u continue on your journey and with God's grace we can help you out!


#4

[quote="DL82, post:1, topic:185605"]
I'm a 27, soon to be 28yr old single guy, a convert of 2 years. I try to live out my faith, and I want to follow the teachings of the Church 100%. I also feel called to married life, maybe to the diaconate in the future. I want to be a husband and father.

At the same time, I have made mistakes in my past, and those mistakes still often come to mind. There is rarely an hour that passes when I don't dwell on my past sins, or fall into occasions for sin because of the ingrained pattern of the way I think, the way I look at people, etc. I'm always ashamed and sickened by these elements of my past, but they are still undeniably there.

The last 2 times I have been out on a first date with a girl, both practicing Catholics, we have kissed, nothing too passionate, and I didn't initiate, but even though that seems too much contact for a first date in my book, I didn't have the courage to say no, or to explain my boundaries for fear of looking prudish and old-fashioned. Neither of these dates led to a relationship. All the same, I occasionally have flashes that run through my mind of too much drink being consumed and a first date going way too far.Perhaps on some deep subconscious level I still want that to happen, though I am ashamed to admit it. I think this is more temptation than sin, but it makes me frightened that dating might be a near occasion of mortal sin for me.

Am I not ready to date yet? I am so aware of how much damage I have done to my sexual identity in the past, and how much time and intense penance it would take to return it to the state God intended it. I'm worried that if I wait that long before I start dating, it will be too late for me, I'd be too old to start anything, and I'll end up alone. If that's how it's going to be, I may as well accept that now and enter a religious community so that I don't wind up alone. I know some people are of the view that, if you are called to married life, your sexual identity will never be healed and at peace until you enter into married life, but I just don't feel right. If I value a woman, I don't want her to have to put up with marrying 'damaged goods', no matter what the potential for healing in the future.

[/quote]

DL, you are honest with yourself but it also seems like you are letting the negativity take you down. I can't speak for God but i'm pretty sure that its not His intent for us to live in depression and have our past pro-actively degrade our future, especially if you have already been to Confession for those sins.

If you haven't already, please read the Confessions of St. Augustine and place your-self in his shoes as you read about his early life... and look at what he became for so many others..

Also, meditating on the beauty of the Psalms, especially by praying the Divine Office may help you think the way God wants you to think and eliminate the past thoughts that re-occur - reading the Holy Scriptures is a sure way of shining light on our minds and banishing the darkness.. In a like manner it may be worth reading about the author of most of those Psalms and how he lived before his conversion.

When true repentance occurs, monumental greatness is yours for the taking - by Gods grace if He wills it. Strive to be a Saint, and i'm sure you will not only be able to enter into your vocation, but be a profound model for others in the future. Think of all those who you will be able to help / bear witness to once you yourself have overcome your difficulties..


#5

You don’t seem ready to date.

Maybe talk to a counselor for a little while or something…

Time is on your side though, so don’t worry about that.


#6

[quote="ExDeoVita, post:4, topic:185605"]
DL, you are honest with yourself but it also seems like you are letting the negativity take you down. I can't speak for God but i'm pretty sure that its not His intent for us to live in depression and have our past pro-actively degrade our future, especially if you have already been to Confession for those sins.

If you haven't already, please read the Confessions of St. Augustine and place your-self in his shoes as you read about his early life... and look at what he became for so many others..

Also, meditating on the beauty of the Psalms, especially by praying the Divine Office may help you think the way God wants you to think and eliminate the past thoughts that re-occur - reading the Holy Scriptures is a sure way of shining light on our minds and banishing the darkness.. In a like manner it may be worth reading about the author of most of those Psalms and how he lived before his conversion.

When true repentance occurs, monumental greatness is yours for the taking - by Gods grace if He wills it. Strive to be a Saint, and i'm sure you will not only be able to enter into your vocation, but be a profound model for others in the future. Think of all those who you will be able to help / bear witness to once you yourself have overcome your difficulties..

[/quote]

I know all of this, but I think the truth is I still want some of the excitement of "following my heart" while dating. Now that I'm focussed so much on fighting against the least temptation to lust or to covet any woman, constantly on guard against the idea that I might want a girl for selfish reasons rather than for what I can give to her (and in all honesty, I don't know what I have to give to a wife, that really makes me question whether my vocation really is to marriage, yet I also know that I need a wife at my side in order to make the difference in the world that I feel called to). I'm constantly asking questions like "would our prayer life/apostolates be compatible?" "would she be spiritually good for me?" "would she make a good deacon's wife?" "would I be able to provide for her financial expectations?" It's all so cold and clinical, it leaves no space for just "falling for" someone, just following your heart, just falling in love. I know I made a lot of mistakes with my ex because I believed too much in the world's approach to love and relationships, but I also know that the difficulties, when they came, were worth bearing because I was in love with her, even though breaking up was the most painful thing I've ever known, I also know that I wouldn't want to not have known her (though of course I wish we hadn't sinned).

I guess I'm saying I feel like dating is no fun anymore. Not because there's no sex involved, but just because I doubt my sinful heart so much. Maybe I need more time to integrate, to become at home with my Catholic conscience, to learn to love the kind of rational discernment that I know I ought to practice.

Maybe I haven't yet got to the moment of 'true repentance' you talk about, though I have confessed my sins and resolved not to commit them again. I still find myself back in the confessional on at least a weekly basis, and largely because of momentary lapses in my thought life.

Or maybe I'm just being an unnecessary killjoy?


#7

DL82,

I will offer a different perspective.

I think you are doing fine. The fact that you're thinking of this stuff, your feelings, etc., indicates that you are noticing and are conscientious about what you need to do. I just think you are being a bit too scrupulous and a bit hard of yourself. Let me explain.

Everyone has bad thoughts, once in a while. The fact that you have them, doesn't make you unready to date. It makes you human.

As someone more erudite that I said, we can't help when a bird lands on our head, but we can keep it from building a nest there. Thoughts are the same way. We can't control the thoughts that pop into our head, but we can 'shoo them away' when we know they are bad ones.

You say you are "frightened that dating might be a near occasion of mortal sin for me." Guess what? Being frightened is understandible...the closer/more serious you get with your date, girlfriend, etc., the worse the temptations will sometimes become! However, that is no reason not to date in the first place. Just be strong, and know that God will help you when you call upon Him.

--VdT


#8

A more light-hearted point in my conflict between reason and emotion, I guess, is the difference between a ‘perfection’ that would make someone an ideal mother, companion, deaconess, and my personal preference for ‘imperfection’. It’s more than merely feeling that someone is out of my league, it’s just that, between two otherwise identical women, I will tend to be drawn to the one with the cute limp, the one with a slight pot-belly, the one who looks like she got dressed in the dark, the one whose jokes fall a bit flat (not all 4 at the same time, you understand, I’m just giving examples). I know it’s silly, but I feel like that’s too trivial and irrational a thing to get caught up in now, like most of the girls I know who are the perfect Catholics are also ‘perfect’ in lots of physical ways that frankly make them seem boring and incompatible with a shambling eccentric like myself.


#9

No one's perfect, and you don't need perfect. You just need perfect for you.

Shambling eccentric? Now that I can identify with...


#10

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