Why Do Men Discerning a Vocation to the Priesthood or Religious Life Still Date?
Interesting article from patheos.com.
Dating the Discerning Man…
… “I’m discerning a vocation”. When I, as a single woman hear those words from a man, especially one I’m interested in or dating, they get interpreted as the Catholic equivalent to “it’s not you, it’s me”. I hear them and move on. In fact, I’d go as so far to say whenever I hear a man is discerning a vocation I immediately place him in my Friend Zone and he becomes off romantic limits. There’s a whole slew of men like this on Catholic Match. I’d wager they’re over there on Ave Maria too.
I respect a man’s desire to consider the priesthood. I encourage it. Lord knows we can always use more wonderful priests. Don’t let me get in the way of that. I wonder, and I’m just wondering out loud here, why they do that though- why do men who are considering whether they have a calling place personal ads on dating sites and extend dinner invitations to women? A genuine calling to serve the Lord isn’t supposed to be a second choice… if I can’t find a wife I guess there’s nothing else to do but become a priest.
In all fairness women do this too. They think, “if I don’t get married by 40 I guess I’ll become a nun”. Even I’ve entertained thoughts of getting to a nunnery, but when I was honest with myself those thoughts were not serious. Usually my desires are accompanied by the need for spiritual solitude and prayer. Once those needs are met, in adoration or at a retreat, the desire to take the habit disappears. So maybe this is why so many of my married friends tell me not to immediately discount a man who says he’s considering a vocation. Maybe, they say, the man is only in need of spiritual rejuvenation or a partner that will help live his faith more profoundly. Fair enough. I suppose.
What do you think? Is it wrong for a man who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood or Religious life to also date? Yes and no.
Assuming that the man is honest about his discernment so that the woman know what she might be facing in the future, it is not wrong on its face.
However, given the emotional fragility of people in general, is it fair to date anyone seriously, and watch their growing attachment to you, knowing that you may eventually leave them for the priesthood or Religious life?
People who argue that it’s fair are also the same people who argue that if a man tells a woman he is not seeking a long term relationship, if she gets attached, it’s her fault.
Life is a little more nuanced than that. Morally, if someone is discerning and dating, they should never allow the relationship to progress to a point where the woman is praying that the man chooses her.
Better yet, maybe it’s better to have friendships but not date at all.
What are your thoughts?