I’ve had the honor of meeting numerous Catholic Match members, both in person and through CM’s online community. Over the years, one of the ‘phenomena” of the Catholic Match community that has always intrigued me (and I must admit, sometimes puzzled me), is the plethora of opinions on those three hot button words: “long distance relationships” (LDRs for short).
In a world where “online dating” has lost much of the “stigma” attached in its infancy, I would’ve guessed that the majority of singles would be relatively relaxed when it came to search radiuses and what they write in their profiles and interview questions about how far they are willing to “look.”
Oddly enough, this is not the case. The debate about “how far is too far” and “are LRDs really worth it”, rages as intensely as ever.
Do you limit the geographic distance you’re willing to search for a spouse? If so, what’s your reason – your core intention – for not being open to a LDR? Is it financial restrictions or a physical disability? If so, those are serious reasons and definitely should be taken into consideration when you select how far you’re willing to search.
In my experience, however, the overwhelming majority of dating site users I have polled give, shall we say, less serious reasons for limiting their search.
Some of the most popular reasons I’ve encountered include:
• My job is here – and I wouldn’t want to leave it.
• I’ve worked hard to climb the ladder at this company – I can’t jeopardize that with a long distance boyfriend – what if he wanted me to move to marry him?
• I hate traveling.
• He can come to me if he wants to, but the girl shouldn’t have to change her whole life for a boyfriend.
• My whole family lives in this town.
• It’s too expensive to fly and I hate driving.
• I’ve always wanted to get married and settle down in this neighborhood.
• I’ve lived here my whole life – this is where I want to raise a family.
• I’m not moving for a wife, so why should I travel for a girlfriend?
It starts to look a bit selfish when it’s typed out on paper, but countless singles have reasons similar to the above for limiting their field of potential dates.
So. Are these reasons good reasons? Should we really be putting our careers, our relatives, our hometowns, our pocketbooks, our comfort levels, etc – above the potential of meeting a future husband or wife who doesn’t happen to live in the same town as we do? Of course, it’s totally and completely our choice. But many of us need to stop complaining about the fact we’re still single if we’re unwilling to make sacrifices and do hard things for the sake of finding a spouse.
An Interesting Parallel
I have numerous friends who’ve met their spouses online. While I was composing my thoughts for this article, I made a mental list of all the couples I know who first met on a dating website. Oddly enough, there was one thing in common with all of these friends: they all met their spouses outside their geographic areas.
Of course, I’ve read success stories on Catholic Match where the couple went online and realized that they lived in the same town, their parents knew each other, AND they attended to the same church. But these stories seem to be atypical.
It’s much more common to hear stories like my friend Dan, who lived in Pittsburgh and met his wife, Celeste from Maryland, in the Catholic Match forums. Or tales like my friend Mary, who lived in Wisconsin before Sean from Iowa found her profile online, and drove the hundreds of miles to visit her one weekend each month. And then there’s Yvonne from Australia, who met Jacob in a Catholic singles chat room. Jacob sure got a lot of use out of that laptop in his Palm Beach, Florida living room, before his and Yvonne’s Down Under wedding.
Melissa and Joe
Melissa and Joe’s story is one of my all-time favorites…because in a big way, this particular couple changed my own perspective on the LDR question.
Melissa lived in Oregon, and when she joined a Catholic dating website, she very specifically stated in her profile that she was only interested in communicating with men within a 60 mile radius of where she lived.
Joe lived in Wisconsin. For weeks he respectfully yet persistently emailed Melissa. While Missy enjoyed his emails, she was also slightly annoyed that this guy from the Cheese State kept contacting her when her profile firmly stated her wishes. Finally she confronted him outright: “Why do you keep emailing me when my profile says I’m only interested in local dates?”
Joe’s reply shook Melissa out of her comfort zone:
“Most guys would travel half way around the world any day of the week to win a million bucks- me included. In my estimation a godly Catholic wife is worth infinitely more. If you’re that woman for me, I’d travel way farther than Oregon to be in a relationship with you.”
Joe and Melissa are now happily married.
Count the Cost, Weigh the Rewards
Long distance relationships are not easy – to this I can firmly and personally attest. I’ve been dating a wonderful man whom I met on Catholic Match for the past year, and we live about five hundred miles apart from each other. (I often tease my friends that they should buy stock in Verizon Wireless and US Airways, since I singlehandedly keep both companies in business.)
There has been much sacrifice involved in my long distance relationship. And yet, neither one of us would change things for the world. The financial and time sacrifices have drawn us closer together, and have taught us how to budget, prioritize, and sacrifice for something that’s worth it – a million times over.
My challenge to each one of my readers is to deeply, thoughtfully, prayerfully examine your intentions for limiting your search radius for a spouse.
If you are called to the vocation of marriage, is finding that person whom God has hand-picked for you the most important thing in your life? Is anything – job, friends, relatives, comfort zone, even finances – worth placing in front of the love of a lifetime?
Love demands sacrifice, and sacrifice expands our capacity to love. Widening your online search radius might very well be your first step in finding both.
(P.S. If you start searching outside your 60 mile radius on Catholic Match and find your future spouse – I’d really REALLY like to hear about it.
Stephanie Wood is the coordinator of NextWave Faithful, a young adult division of
Family Life Center International
that seeks to motivate, equip, and encourage young adults during
their “transition years” to live faithful lives for Jesus Christ and
His Church. She is the host of “NextWave Live” on the EWTN Global
Catholic Radio Network, and is a frequent speaker and writer on topics
relating to Catholicism and young adult life. Stephanie can be reached