If you’re single and looking to connect with other Catholic singles, we invite you to visit CatholicMatch.com for additional resources. Today’s article was written by Stephanie Weinert.
As I mentioned in last month’s column , on July 3rd I’ll celebrate my first wedding anniversary with Peter Weinert, my incredible husband whom I met on CatholicMatch.com. Throughout this first year of our marriage, we’ve told our ‘ Catholic Match Success Story ‘ countless times in answer to the classic newlywed question ‘So…how did you two meet?’
Along with the questions for more details about our story, Peter and I also receive a lot of solicitations from single people for advice on how to act, react, and not act on a dating website.
When a person initially joins an online singles service, the enormous number of fellow members, online activities, and suggested additions to your personal profile can be intimidating. Many of us have learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t in online behavior and online meetings. Last month I shared with you ten recommendations for interaction on a dating website. This month I’d like to share with you ten suggestions for what NOT to do online. It’s my hope that these tips will aid you in meeting your own special Catholic match very soon.
1. [Don’t] Put a timeline on God and the Internet.
It’s not uncommon for a single person to create a profile on a dating website, pay for a six or twelve month subscription, and tell themselves that they’ll give the internet x-amount of months to work for them, after which they’ll call it quits.
I first signed up for a Catholic Match membership almost three years before I met my husband. I was often tempted to let my profile go inactive instead of renewing my membership. I am immensely grateful to God and my Guardian Angel, who must have inspired me to renew my membership that last time…which was three weeks before my (now) husband returned from a 19-month tour in Iraq with the U.S. military, signed up for the first time on Catholic Match, and started emailing me.
God’s timeline for meeting your future spouse might be utterly different than your own. Don’t place a deadline or a timeline on your online membership — trust God, and keep your profile active as much as possible.
2. [Don’t] Pretend you’re interested when you’re really not.
You’re not being kind to your fellow Catholic Match member or to yourself if you pretend you’re interested in his or her attentions when in fact you are sure that you’re not. It is both unwise and uncharitable to waste an interested party’s time (let alone your own!) by feigning interest. Do the truly kind and honorable thing and graciously decline the attentions of someone who’s expressed interest that you cannot return.
3. [Don’t] Date more than one person at the same time.
It can be tempting to fall into behavior on the Internet that you would never allow yourself in ‘real life’ scenarios. If you would not date more than one person at a time if you met in a bar, at a bowling alley, at church or at the dog park, then don’t date more than one woman or gentleman online either. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t dialogue with more than one person at a time if you are single and unattached — it’s healthy to meet many people and learn as much as you can about them. However, if you’ve made a commitment to someone you met online to pursue them past the initial phases of online meeting, allow the two of you the necessary time and space to discern God’s will for the future.
4. [Don’t] Say too much too soon.
In our age of virtual media and Web 2.0 technology, it’s tempting to disclose in a blog, on your Facebook wall, or in other social networking profiles, information that you would never disclose to a stranger you just met on a sidewalk outside your place of employment. And yet, millions of Internet users throw caution to the wind when it comes to posting private information about themselves on the Web. Be sensible and prudent in what you disclose to someone online whom you’ve never met in person — even when you meet on a Catholic website. It’s never wise to throw discretion to the wind — especially online. First allow your relationship to grow through emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings, building trust and friendship with each other.
5. [Don’t] Set too narrow a radius for finding your Match.
It amazes me how many members of dating sites set a very narrow search radius for finding a spouse. I’ve read Catholic Match profiles where members state they want their match to be everything from: live in the same town, be a member of the same parish, or even live in the same part of town as they do.
Don’t severely limit the work of the Holy Spirit and the ability of an online singles site to help you find a beautiful, godly relationship. Unless you have a serious reason for doing so, expand your search radius and widen your acceptable range of travel to allow a special someone to fine you…even if it be from across the miles.
Peter and I lived over 500 miles apart from the moment we met on Catholic Match until the day we returned from our honeymoon and he took me home to Maryland. We spent every spare penny on plane tickets and gas mileage to make our dating and engagement relationship possible. I can honestly tell you — it was worth it a million trillion times over.
6. [Don’t] Be a monopolizer
I absolutely love the Chat features on Catholic Match — what a great way to learn more about a potential suitor, especially before talking on the phone or in person. It’s a great ‘in between’ mode of communication between reading each other’s profiles and emailing each other, and meeting in person for the first time.
However, as much as I love the CM Chat features, as a single person I did not love being bombarded by chat invitations from the same people every single time I signed into my CM profile. I encountered some fellow users who it seemed hit the ‘Invite to Chat’ button every time they saw a buddy sign into their CM account. I’ve since heard from other online users that they too have encountered the occasional ‘chat-a-holic’ on a singles’ site.
Nobody likes to feel harassed or have their time completely monopolized online unless they are in a committed relationship or are discerning such a relationship with someone. Be respectful in how you use features like chats and emotigrams when contacting a fellow online member. Be friendly, show interest, and be up front with your intentions, but don’t use a dating website as a way to constantly monopolize the time and attentions of someone you are not interested in seriously pursuing.
7. [Don’t] Be a nuisance.
If you’ve expressed interest in someone you met online and they have graciously but clearly declined your attentions, then do the honorable thing and move on.
Don’t be a nuisance who still browses the person’s profile every day, or sends frequent emotigrams, chat invitations, and emails ‘just to check in’. Courteously give the other person the space he or she deserves, especially if the person has been up front and honest in turning you down.
8. [Don’t] Get discouraged after your first online disappointment or breakup.
Relationship disappointments and breakups hurt — sometimes very badly. It’s easy to feel like throwing in the towel and calling it quits after your first online disappointment. However, be encouraged that God often uses our brokenness and discouragement to teach us important lessons about ourselves, about life, and about what we should be looking for in a future relationship.
I remember when my first relationship that stemmed from meeting online ended. It had been a long distance relationship, and in the aftermath I wasn’t sure I wanted to try online dating or long distance relationships again any time soon. I’m so glad I persevered through my disappointment and found the courage to try again. If I hadn’t, I’m not sure how or when I would have ever met the man whom God brought into my life to be my husband.
9. [Don’t] Blame Catholic Match or online dating in general when a relationship doesn’t work out.
I’ll never forget the phone call I received from my girlfriend about 10 minutes after she had experienced her first online dating disappointment. She was calling to inform me that she was planning to cancel her Catholic Match account because the whole ‘online thing’ obviously wasn’t working.
I asked my friend if she had met the same guy at a country club, would she be calling to cancel her golf membership because of the breakup? She agreed that of course she wouldn’t.
Remember that a dating website is a means for meeting people — one fantastic means among many other wonderful ways to meet your future spouse. Don’t blame Catholic Match, or any other online site, for your dating disappointments. It’s not the website’s fault; it’s a natural part of life that happens to most of us. Canceling your CM account after a disappointment won’t help your chances of finding a spouse in the long run, and in fact can only harm your chances.
10. [Don’t] Forget to pray for a spouse.
‘Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you.’ — Matthew 7:7
Stephanie Wood Weinert is a freelance writer, media personality, wife and stay-at-home-mom. She works part-time from home for Family Life Center International. Stephanie and Peter live in Virginia with their newborn son Mark. You can contact Stephanie through her 4Marks profile at www.4marks.com/StephanieWood
If you’re single and looking to connect with other Catholic singles, we invite you to visit CatholicMatch.com for additional resources.