Knowing the right etiquette for courting within the Catholic faith can make the difference between a date that is a dud and one that leads to many more. It's essential to openly communicate with your date while displaying the correct Catholic code of conduct to make a good impression. While you lean on the teachings of the Church for guidance, keep honesty and genuine concern for your date as a priority.
Early in the Relationship
As 1 Corinthians 15:33 states, bad company can ruin good morals. Catholics need to be mindful who they ask out, so it's best to get to know each other a fair bit before that first date. A few telephone conversations or socializing within a group enables a couple to learn more about one another in a very casual way. When one party has decided to ask out the other party, it doesn't matter if it's a male or female extending the invite.
Dress Code for Dates
Fornication is a sin, and Jesus teaches that even lustful thoughts can be sinful, so Catholic couples should dress modestly on dates. In "Love and Responsibility," Pope John Paul II emphasized that, since men are more visually attracted, women must consider male psychology when deciding how to dress. Catholic women should avoid tops that are very revealing or skirts that are too short when dressing for a date.
In choosing to deepen a relationship, it's important for a Catholic to consider whether her potential partner will help her get into God's Kingdom and if he is open to her moral convictions. An open, honest conversation about salvation is necessary, whether dating within the religion or outside of it. Because the Catholic Church gives very specific instructions on many aspects of relationships and especially marriage, it's important for a couple to communicate honestly and thoroughly about their expectations for the relationship and what they both ultimately want. For example, contraception is banned by the Catholic Church, and that is something a couple needs to agree on for a long-term relationship, whether or not they are both religious.
Public Displays of Affection
It's appropriate to hold hands on a date. A modest, brief kiss for a greeting or parting is acceptable as well. However, according to Our Sunday Visitor, deep or long kisses are not appropriate for Catholics in public. While kissing and showing affection fulfills a human need, it should be kept modest and private.
The Importance of Abstinence
Catholics are traditionally taught to remain abstinent before marriage. The church teaches that sex is for marriage and procreation, not for irresponsible pleasure or vanity. Unmarried couples are expected to exert self-control over their desires. Although dating etiquette changes slightly with each generation that defines what works for the times, important rules apply throughout the years. The hook-up culture is as prevalent at Catholic colleges as it is at secular colleges, according to U.S. Catholic, but many young believers resist the culture and follow the teachings of the Church. In fact, the Catholic Church recently warned couples not to live together before marriage.
Dating After Divorce
Catholics need to show care when asking out someone who's been divorced. Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D., reports in Our Sunday Visitor that “marriage enjoys the favor of the law” in the Church. He advises that dating is only appropriate if an annulment is given for the marriage. If a divorcing Catholic does receive a declaration of nullity, it's appropriate to ask her out and proceed with dating as one would if she hadn't been married.
- EWTN: Principles for Christian Dating
- U.S. Catholic: Sex, Lies, and Hook-up Culture
- How to Get to 'I Do': A Dating Guide for Catholic Women; Amy Bonaccorso
- The Herald Sun: E-dating Etiquette Says Don't Press Reply
- Our Sunday Visitor: Divorced and Dating?
- Our Sunday Visitor: Purity, Chastity and Dating
- National Catholic Register: The Do's and Don'ts of Dating
- Open Bible: Dating
- Love and Responsibility; Pope John Paul II
- The New Yorker: Why Is The Catholic Church Going to Court?
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