Editor's note: Just a reminder that there is only one week left to apply for the National Catholic Singles Conference scholarship! Click here for more information and apply to the scholarship. We spoke with CatholicMatch Institute contributor, Heather Voccola about her experiences with online dating, what is important in her faith life and why she is attending the National Catholic Singles Conference August 8-10 in San Diego, Calif.
What was it that drew you to choose CatholicMatch as your online dating site?
Initially I had heard about the site from a couple of friends who were on it. Two of them actually met their spouses through the website and with my faith being such an important part of who I am, it made sense to me to start with a group of like-minded folks.
Before CatholicMatch had you ever thought of looking into the online dating scene?
I had considered other dating sites, but since my faith is so important to me, I really didn't want to have to address that with every new potential suitor that I met. CatholicMatch is honestly the perfect online dating community for me.
Initially I was concerned about my age. I thought that online dating was more for college-aged students and the younger set. I was also concerned about the long-distance relationship issue. When I signed up, I was surprised at the number of people, both men and women, that were my age. As for long-distance, I have met a few men who were not local and though it didn't turn into something long-lasting, my life has changed such that I can travel more often and the idea of something long-distance isn't as concerning now.
What is your impression of online dating now?
I believe that online dating is a great tool to get to know people. The world is so much smaller now that the internet exists, I really see online dating as a natural progression of that. As well, it is nice to meet people who already have the spiritual life in common. The way that CatholicMatch sets up the profiles really gives you a sense of how deeply people live their faith and I think that is important all around--from folks who attend the Latin Mass to folks who believe that faith is important but aren't regular Mass goers. The site is a tool which helps people to make connections on the level that each is most comfortable with.
What is the best dating advice that you have ever been given and has it helped in your online dating experience?
The best dating advice I have ever been given is to always be myself. I think, especially online, it is so important to be yourself. Convey your likes and dislikes with words. So much of this is done before ever meeting face to face, so I think giving an accurate representation of who you are is so important. That way, the first time you meet face to face, it's almost like seeing an old friend.
What is your ideal date?
Ideal date... I like conversation because it takes time to get to know someone--so dinner or something fun like bowling or mini-golf are good ways to have time to talk. I also like to travel so a day at the museum in NYC or Boston is right up my alley! I may be old-fashioned, but I expect the gentleman to make the arrangements and pick up the tab. These things let me know that he thinks I am worth his time and attention.
If someone were to ask you for dating advice, what would you tell them?
I believe having the proper expectations is important. What I mean is that when you are meeting someone you shouldn't be thinking right from the beginning "I'm meeting the person that I may marry." Instead, you should think, "I'm meeting this person whom God has put into my life. What kind of relationship is meant to develop?"
How do you keep work, writing, faith, and family balanced throughout your daily life?
I don't; not very well. I'm a single mom and I struggle trying to attend to all of my responsibilities. I tend to work longish days at the beginning of the week and a block of hours from home, so I can be more available to my girls and have family time on Friday. I still try to always be accessible to my daughters. This has taken different forms over the years. Since my daughters are older now, it tends to be chats at midnight. I'm working on revising my prayer schedule with my spiritual director and I try to attend daily Mass--working at a Catholic institution helps with that one! The writing is easiest to accomplish because it is my first love and I have scheduled time to write once during the week and at different times throughout the weekend. So no, it's not perfect, but I like to think I've got all the important stuff accounted for.
You're planning to attend that National Catholic Singles Conference in August, why did you decide to attend?
I decided to go to the NCSC because I am always looking forward to meeting new people and I wanted to have the opportunity to connect with CatholicMatch Institute blog readers. I am interested to know what types of issues they want to read about. I believe meeting people personally will help me to be able to better address the needs and wants of the divorced/annulled community that I am writing for. If I happen to meet a nice guy while I'm out there, that would be great too!
What do you hope to get out of the Conference?
I really enjoy meeting like-minded people. I hope to find a community of singles who take their faith seriously. I think this opportunity will be the best of both worlds--social and spiritual--and I'm really excited to attend.
What would you say to other single Catholics that are thinking of going to the National Catholic Singles Conference, but need some encouragement?
Going to the NCSC is a great opportunity to meet a variety of people who share the same values and the same faith. Since we as Catholics are called to live in relationship, the best thing we can do is build good and solid friendships to help us build up the kingdom. If you're on the fence, Go! It will be a great time. And the one obvious reason to attend the conference is the opportunity to meet a good Catholic spouse!