This blog post is inspired by a message a male TCF reader sent me via email.
He is interested in a young lady who recently started attending his parish church and asks “would it be too direct of me to ask her out on a couple’s date with my godfather and his wife? Or should I wait a few months? I’m torn between moving too fast but also feeling like I’m waiting (artificially) to show my intentions.”
So let us break this down according to the Stages of A Catholic Courtship
The first stage would be the Friendship Stage.
He can definitely ask her out now, but he should ask her on very casual dates, like a coffee date, inviting her to join him for a Mass or a Catholic event, visiting a local museum, attending a Bible study group, inviting her to go bowling…..stuff like that.
Keep it very casual and only have dates ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS.
If you are both students, this is also a time you can invite her to any school or uni-related events, seminars etc.
Please see further advice for Catholic dating while at University or college HERE.
Limit phone conversations to no more than once a week for no longer than 15-20mins, and limit texts to once every 2 days.
Excessive communication will cloud your judgement.
During this time, he should be assessing her for any RED FLAGS and be ready to walk away or ease off the dates if there is anything that makes him feel she is unsuitable for him.
In the friendship stage, he definitely should not be introducing her to family or godparents just yet, but he can ask her to an event where she gets to meet some of his friends.
Observe her behaviour and interactions when she meets your friends, and also observe how your friends interact and react to her. Consider any feedback that you receive from your friends about her – many times, our friends can spot red flags and problematic issues before we do because they are not emotionally invested in the person as we are.
The friendship stage will last about 8-12 weeks, so don’t invite her out to meet your friends more than 2 or 3 times; the rest of your dates should be getting to know her more.
Once he is convinced that he wants to get to know her more, he can officially ask her to be exclusive after 3 months.
This is now the Courtship Stage.
This is the stage where he can introduce her to family members, any children you may have and godparents, and she should also introduce him to her own family members.
The Courtship stage will last about 6-9 months and you can have double-dates with other similar couples.
Dates in the courtship stage should be one-on-one, and no more than once a week.
After the engagement and betrothal stage, you can have double-dates with parents or godparents.
Pacing ourselves this way when dating and expressing interest in someone not only enables us to build a strong foundation for a very happy and successful marriage, but it will keep us alert and protect us from unsuitable, predatory or manipulative partners.
Our Lady, Seat Of Wisdom, pray for us
ad Jesum per Mariam