Friday, October 21, 2016

Notice: I'm giving up matchmaking!

Yep, it's true! I'm quitting my little hobby of many years. My yenta days (outside of family) are over.

Golde and Yenta, Fiddler on the Roof, United Artists

I'm a tiny bit sad about that, since I still get messages almost weekly asking for help in finding a good Catholic spouse, either for the inquirer or a loved one. I started a Catholic matchmaking yahoo email group (for like-minded Catholic moms) over a decade ago, and then a few years ago I started a private matchmaking blog that continued until recently. I even tried to get a couple of Catholic matchmaking Facebook groups off the ground.

But there is just not enough fruit to keep it up anymore, and very few people actually follow my advice anyway, which has been the deciding factor for me. There is so little time in life, and we all have to decide where to direct our energy most productively.

So, I'm going to throw out some (usually-rejected) advice here, and folks can decide whether or not that advice is worth implementing.

First, in my experience, the vast majority of people actively looking for a Catholic spouse are women in their late twenties to late thirties, well-educated, and situated in good careers. Very few men come on my radar screen, and very few solid Catholic men (meaning, faithful to Church teaching and with jobs and appropriate social skills) are still single past their mid-twenties. Most of those men are marrying young (a good thing!), but that leaves a problem for the ladies: There is a vast pool of lovely, accomplished, faithful Catholic women seeking, and not a very big pool of good men to complement that search.

And yes, that is depressing!

What I always say first to these incredible women: "Have you tried Catholic Match or Ave Maria Singles?" Often the answer is no, as they "don't want to do the online dating thing". Immediately I lament, because one must go where the Catholic men are to find Catholic men, and if they aren't finding them in their parishes (and they obviously are not), there is little chance that they will find a faithful Catholic man at the grocery store or in the corporate world.

God is not going to drop a husband into your lap from the heavens, ladies. You worked very hard getting that college degree (and then that master's degree), so you need to work just as diligently at your own vocation, which is much more important than your job or career in the long run.

Sometimes the women will tell me that they are already on Catholic Match or Ave Maria Singles, but that they have had no luck or have gone inactive. Some thoughts:

1) Yes, there are a lot of men on those sites who are not going to be good husband material, and some are downright awful (one of my first blog posts ever was about the pitfalls of Catholic Match), but it only takes one good guy out of thousands. You are looking for one, that is all. Keep going.

2) You may be way too picky. Life is not a Nicholas Sparks novel, and you are not likely to find an Eduardo Verástegui. If a man is decent, faithful, has good hygiene, and has the means to provide for his family, he is a catch, ladies! If you find that he is "not your type" after the first view of his profile, maybe give him a chance anyway. (I will be writing my next book about Catholic dating and marriage, and I will include the stories of how two of my own children married spouses who were "not their type" at first glance; praise God they persevered!)

3) If you insist on principle that the man must be the initiator while you passively wait for him to make the first contact, well, you may be waiting alone all of your life. I'm just being honest. If you want to find a husband, initiate the first conversation! I am so glad my daughter-in-law did that with my son. And I am glad I was the one who actively pursued my own dear husband so many years ago. :)

4) If you limit yourself to men in your geographical area, eschewing long-distance relationships, then you will indeed be limiting yourself. All three of my married children, and even Dean and I, had long-distance relationships while dating. Not one of us lived in the same state, much less the same city, when we met and dated the other.

Bottom line, marriage is not something magical like fairy dust or wishing on a star that just happens to you like a dream. Like holiness in general, it requires hard work, both before and after the vows.

I have a lot more to say on the matter, as you can imagine, and I will! But one last thought for this short blog post: Pray while you work. The 54-day Novena for finding a spouse is an amazing grace-filled prayer that can make your work of finding a spouse fruitful! Be open, be courageous, be prayerful!

Anyway, it's been fun playing yenta for so long, and I have loved getting to know so many wonderful folks through the process! Go out and promote marriage and family, my friends, as it's the only way to reverse the corrosive effects of the culture. The Church, as always, has the answer! We just need to stop standing in her way.


  1. #2 Heck to the yes!! My BFF found a wonderful man on Catholic Match, he made reservations, brought her flowers etc. But she didn't feel "a spark." So she never saw him again. I was aghast. I am still aghast years later. I am sorry you're giving up your matchmaking ways but these 4 thoughts are so important to be read!

  2. My hubby was "not my type" either. I think what saved us was we had a telephone conversation before we even met...and the seed had been planted. I liked him before I even laid eyes on him. He had met a friend of mine online and she decided he was too religious for her. She gave him my number and the rest is history.

  3. I was at the other end of your matchmaking skills ;) Remember?!!! Also- I was going to email you. Remember that guy Anthony who you profiled on your blog awhile ago?!! Well apparently he got married, lives near us now (we just figured this out through our friend) and we're hoping together with he and his wife soon!

  4. Madeline and More Than Anything, thank you! I wish more people got that!!

    Shannon, I do totally remember! That was so fun, those days when we were doing a bit of matchmaking for you and then finding your amazing hubby!!

    So good to hear about Anthony! That was one of the most popular posts at the time!! Hope he is well!!

  5. My oldest has found a very nice girl on Catholic Match...she is a couple of states away. It's early, but he just said to me, "She's perfect in every way. I don't want to mess this up." Happy sigh...

  6. Steph, hooray!!! I am so happy to hear that! And, I'm glad he started young. It's rough out there past a certain point (not so much for the young men, but still).

  7. I am not a Catholic but a committed Anglican Christian. I spent 8 years teaching in Pakistan and when I returned aged 36, I met my lovely, now deceased husband, through a Christian dating agency (no Internet then). He was a widower with a 17 year old daughter. We had over 30 wonderful years together and I have, without a

    labour pain to show for it, a loving step-daughter, three grand children and five beautiful great grand children. All you 30 something committed catholics, go for it, with prayer and a willingness to be flexible and loving. It is worth it.

  8. I have to say yes to the 54 day novena. When I was 15 (yikes, that's so young. I'm 46 now), I was introduced to my now husband. As soon as I saw him, I said that's the guy I'm going to marry. I said the 54 novena and he called me within days of finishing it. We've been together ever since and have three beautiful daughters.

    I know our story is unusual because we were so very young when we met and managed to stay together but I just had to attest to the power of this novena. Ladies, try it. Like Trump says, "What do you have to lose?" lol.

  9. Wilma and Mrs. C, thank you!! Great stories!

  10. Finding a person who strives for holiness is difficult. Thank God for CM as that is how I met my wife.

    As always, great post Leila.

    Semper Fi

  11. Luis, God bless you and your beautiful wife! :)

  12. Frustrating that so few will take your advice! My sister did all those things. She finally married a great Catholic guy who happened to be local. He is younger than she is, and she was almost 30 when it happened. She did the hard work, the online and long-distance dating, and it did happen for her even if in an unexpected way.

    I can't help but worry a little that we are having our third girl over here -- Haha! We have two boys, but sometimes I wish we had more boys to offer the world as they grow. I will just try to impart similar wisdom to my girls as they grow.

    I married young, but I took a gamble -- I married a Protestant. In fact, he was not even baptized yet. But he was going to Mass with me every Sunday up to and during our engagement, and he agreed to my Catholic requirements in marriage. I thank God that he gave us the graces to grow because my husband is now a Catholic, and my early faith that things would work themselves out didn't end up in heartache for us.

  13. Oh, and as far as making the first move goes: My younger sister, who barely ever dated when she was younger, emailed a soldier in Iraq thanking him for his service via Ave Maria Singles. They are married now. She was in her early 20's when they married. That one little innocent email -- an email where she had no expectations of a relationship -- led to their future and five kids now.

  14. Elizabeth, I love hearing stories like that!!

  15. I would not use Ava Maria because the owner of the site dose not practice what he preaches. Is it hard to know if what he says and how he treats his ex wife and children live up to any catholic standards.

  16. I am married to a Catholic (and a Catholic convert myself), but it is ROUGH out there. I didn't marry until 33, and it wasn't for lack of desire or trying. I would encourage the educated, successful women (as I am one also and was one when "on the hunt") to NOT compromise, all the while putting yourself out there as much as possible/appropriate. Practicing Catholics should only marry practicing Catholics. Better to remain single than to marry someone that will ask you to compromise your faith or actively tear it down. It is slim-pickings out there. If we ever have children, I will encourage them to marry young, if they find someone young. We are sold the lie that we should wait until education and career is solid and established. Men are so confused by the culture, they don't know how or when to man-up sometimes. I could write a book of opinions on the topic, but I agree with what you've said here, with a strong note of sympathy for those who are still looking.

  17. Unknown, I have no knowledge of what you are talking about. Are you sure you don't mean the guy who ran the Mary Foundation? Different guy. And what would that have to do with whether or not a dating site works?

    R, thank you! I agree! And I agree it's usually not a good idea to marry a non-Catholic! I did so, but God worked a miracle there. That is not always the case.

    1. No I mean the man who ran and still runs Ave Maria. How can you trust the person who is telling how to act and sets you up with your match is doing the right thing if he himself can not even try to live up to the catholic standers of catholic courtship and marriage.

    2. What is there to "trust"? If what you are saying is true (and I have no way of knowing), then how does that affect the marriage of two people who meet on AMS? He doesn't set people up personally. The adults who sign up get to know the other adult Catholics on the site who are looking for a spouse. So, I guess I don't understand your concern?

  18. NO!!! I love that you were doing the matchmaking as a hobby. I understand about needing to prioritize your time though, you are a busy lady :) I hear you about people not taking your advice. It can sometimes be frustrating when our single friends do not take our advice when they have asked for advice in the first place. We usually do not give advice without being asked so it's not like we are giving unsolicited advice which can be hurtful to someone already struggling in this area. I agree with all of your points about putting yourself out there and not looking at it like fairy tale because married life is no fairy tale; it is real and beautiful and sanctifying.

  19. R, yes, I agree that practicing Catholics should usually marry practicing Catholics. But my husband and I are part of the uncomfortable truth that sometimes it's not a bad idea to marry a non-Catholic. I usually focus on my sisters' stories when my unmarried friends would ask me advice on finding a husband. But then it always came around to my story -- Oh, but how did you find such a great Catholic man? Well, he wasn't Catholic when we got married. *Crickets* And then the questions...

    If you are one to engage a lot of different people and participate in apologetics, you might just find yourself in a long-term conversation with a man who is ripe for conversion. And while I do not advise thinking that this should lead to marriage, I have had to think through all the caveats and precautions should God drop that person in a friend's lap or in my grown child's lap. (I was looking for *only* a devout Catholic when I met my husband. God laughed, I guess. And I don't mean that I had this one soul mate or that I *had* to marry him, but God clearly knew what he was doing and I sensed that.)

    I think you hit on a key here when you write, "Better to remain single than to marry someone that will ask you to compromise your faith or actively tear it down." Not all Protestants -- especially those ripe for conversion -- will ask you to compromise your faith or actively tear it down. I would not have married my husband if he had been like that, and I made that clear in no uncertain terms. I was very strict about it; this is how it will be or we will not be married, and I had to be fine with him walking away should he be unable to accept that. It was still a gamble -- He could have changed or things could have gone sour. I do get that, and I don't generally advise people to marry a non-Catholic because it is a very tough discernment and a bigger gamble. But I guess the experience has forced me to be open to the unexpected.

    That being said, I don't use my individual case as blanket advice. I do agree with the statement that Catholics usually should marry Catholics, and I will focus on that with my kids too :).

  20. Elizabeth, you are right. I hate to paint with such a broad brush. I just come from a family of Protestants who HATE Catholics. And, it makes me sad to see "Catholic" friends marry outside the faith, then eventually either lose their faith or stop practicing. I have heard some say that it's better to marry an on-fire Protestant than a lukewarm Catholic. I think it depends on the case, but I can't imagine being married to a non-Catholic myself. Maybe because of the major wounding it has been in my family - the Reformation embodied.

  21. I totally understand, R. My husband's family is very anti-Catholic. He was raised that way. Most of them would not have advised him to marry me either! His parents are surprisingly and wonderfully supportive, though, even if his dad wishes he hadn't become Catholic.

    My extended family is also very mixed with lots of Catholic hostilities, but also agnostics, atheists, many different types of Protestants...So I totally understand those challenges. I am thankful that my husband and I are very much on the same page and both Catholic now even though we didn't start there. And I think I was very strict about discernment with him because of our family backgrounds.

    If my husband had been an "on-fire Protestant", that actually would have given me more pause. He was more of a conflicted and questioning Protestant.

  22. A little comment elaborating on Leila's advice about using online dating-- I believe the culture has changed regarding how people meet and ask each other out. We may not like it, but it has. In my personal experience as a Catholic single woman, men may be more comfortable asking women out whom they meet online, as opposed to women they meet in line at Starbucks. Men have told me that with the way the world is, they are afraid women might think they are creepy if they ask to exchange email addresses or meet again "in real life." Online, they know the woman is A) single (and unlikely to have a boyfriend already--cuts down on the embarrassment of immediate rejection) and B) looking, or open to dating (that's why she's there). Yes, we'd all love to meet our spouses at Mass or the grocery store, but "putting ourselves out there" today means making yourself "find-able" by those who may not cross your exact path in everyday life. Think about it: There are so many people who will never cross your path on the way home from work, your parish, or your gym, but they may live or work near you--or within a distance you find you can handle! It also gives both of you a way to look for people with the same values. So, for anyone on the fence, just join a good website like CatholicMatch. It can't hurt, and all it can do is help! Just add the online factor to everything else you do to help yourself meet real people in real life. You may be very glad you did.

  23. Stclementsdaughter, thank you for those excellent thoughts! :)

    I just met a couple tonight who met on Catholic Match and were recently married. I just love hearing that.

  24. Leila, I have seen God work great miracles of conversion through dating relationships. Sometimes the couple married, and other times they found the right person later. But God had serious reasons for the time they spent together. A friend told me his mom told him, "God brings people into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime." You don't know which it will be until you are literally at the altar, so it's important to be open and courageous. I love your blog and have been reading for a few years. :)

  25. More people should learn to be happy as singles.

  26. Husky Fan, people should learn to be happy wherever God has them at the moment, but we also have to remember that most people are called to be married. That is the natural way of things, according to God's design and plan. Even the Holy Father often laments (greatly) the fact that young people do not want to marry or are not marrying.


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