How to Use Discernment in Dating
What is discernment and how can we use it in important areas of our lives, like dating?!
Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about discernment: the dignity of the human person implies and requires uprightness of moral conscience. Conscience includes the perception of the principles of morality (synderesis); their application in the given circumstances by practical discernment of reasons and goods; and finally judgement about concrete acts yet to be performed or already performed. The truth about the moral good, stated in the law of reason, is recognized practically and concretely by the prudent judgement of conscience. We call that man prudent who chooses in conformity with this judgement (1780).
Let’s break that down. Discernment is simply the ability to perceive something correctly and then make a judgement about it. Perhaps the most well-known process of discernment has been outlined by St. Ignatius Loyola who gave us 14 Rules for discernment of spirits. These spiritual exercises are pretty well known. But the question is how can single Catholic women apply this information in the dating process?
Given the challenges of modern dating culture, most of us need some type of support. In earlier times, courtship (which preceded dating) was a pretty well-defined process with a defined end point (marriage) but today dating can be a minefield! Even if you came from a relatively stable 2-parent home (which isn’t the norm for many of us sadly) you may still find that dating in 2020 is hard!
St. Ignatius gave us 14 rules but I’m going to give you the three C’s of dating discernment:
Clarity: figure out what your end goal is. For most of the women reading this blog in the first place, it’s most likely marriage and motherhood. Do you feel any resistance to admitting it? I find that women today have some shame about admitting that they want to be a wife and mom or even a homemaker. If that’s your dream own it. Write it down. Daydream about it. Visualize it. Understand that your vision is a healthy and natural desire placed in your heart by God. Men will often ask you early in the dating process: “what are you looking for?” I want you to look him straight in the eyes and tell him the gist desire of your heart without any fear. (BUT there’s a way to say it though. More on feminine communication in a future post.) I know you’re thinking: won’t that scare him away? If your desire for long-term commitment and marriage scares a man away, he probably isn’t the man who would lead you there anyway. Let him go with grace.
Conviction: This is where your mindset and beliefs come in. You must have the conviction and faith that what you desire IS meant for you and that it’s possible! Because if it’s not even possible or you believe that the type of man you want doesn’t exist, then what’s the point? So this is where you possibly need to uproot any limiting beliefs and re-wire your brain around dating. Conviction is also where having standards and boundaries come in (more to come on this as well).
Courage: This is the most important ingredient IMO. The path to realizing your dream is rarely straight. There will be peaks but there will be some valleys as well. There may be some big rocks on the path. You may get side-tracked and veer off the path altogether. But this is all part of the process as you make your way to what’s destined for you. Do you have the courage to persevere?
I’d love to hear your comments below! This is where the support of a coach can help you to navigate the process. For more information about discernment coaching, send me an e-mail or use the form on my website to get in touch!