Last semester I had a student who loudly declared that she’d never read a book. This declaration was promptly followed by the insistence that my class wouldn’t change that fact and that she had no intention of reading a book. Ever.
At the time I quickly redirected the class’ attention to avoid giving her center stage – and to get back to work. But in my mind, I thought, I have my work cut out for me this semester!
Of course, having taught in the public sector for so many years, I understood how this could happen. She is a product of the New York City school system; students fall through the cracks every day. It is possible to pass classes just by showing up and behaving well enough to be ignored.
I am faced with college students like this every semester. But what set her apart was her complete lack of shyness about it. Most students would not want to admit such a thing, particularly at her age, 23.
Aside from my professional knowledge, however, I was completely baffled. I cannot remember my life before reading. I could not imagine a life without reading. I always have a book in my bag and usually read between one and three books a week. By the time I was her age, I’d read hundreds of books. How could she be so adamant in her refusal?
A new perspective
Later that week, though, as I was struggling with my Plank Pose in Yoga class, it occurred to me: She is a star athlete; I bet she could do a Plank Pose in her sleep! I’m also sure that she can do many other things I cannot. I would not hesitate to announce to her that I’d never played on a baseball team. Wasn’t it the same thing?
I just had to think of it in terms of coping skills. We tend to excel at the things we like and avoid the things we don’t. We also can’t be good at things we’ve never learned how to do. She was simply announcing that she’s avoiding something she doesn’t like and hasn’t been good at. So indeed, I really did have my work cut out for me!
These ideas got me thinking about something completely unrelated: online dating. Is anyone really good at it? How could that even be measured? By the number of dates one makes?
There are far too many factors to gauge a successful online dater. But in thinking about my student, I started to wonder: What are we avoiding simply because we don’t know how to do it?
What if someone is new to online dating, or to CatholicMatch, and never learns the ropes? How many CatholicMatch members have left because they gave up hope too quickly?
But what about just a simple bit of standard advice for online dating? If we are new to this, how could we maximize our chances of meeting quality Catholics?
Online Dating 101
One resource to utilize right away is the forums. Hundreds of people contribute to thousands of conversations ranging from heated political debates, biblical exegesis, prayer support and recipe exchanges. There are also quotes, celebrity gossip, jokes and status updates. It can be a lot of fun, and meeting lots of people is inevitable.
Another excellent use of the forums is to ask for feedback on your profile. CatholicMatch members are very generous with their time and often give excellent advice. Someone may suggest a different profile picture, for example, or to add a few interview questions. Some profiles undergo a wonderful transformation and get a lot of attention!
One way to become more skilled at well, anything, is to ask people who have done it before. They may have some particular strategy that you may not have thought of or have an approach that paid off for them.
It is interesting to see how the stigma of online dating has faded over the years. Perhaps a younger person, unaware of the former stigma, has ideas about how to utilize the site in a way you hadn’t thought of.
Another thing to keep in mind is the old adage we heard in grade school: practice makes perfect. Don’t expect results overnight, don’t expect responses every time, and don’t expect that a few mistakes here and there could be avoided.
Until we get more adept at the medium, we may have a stumbling block or two. But the important thing is to not let it stop us in our search for a life partner.
The third question we asked each of our 12 featured CatholicMatch members in their Q&As last Christmas is: “What’s your CatholicMatch strategy?” Check out their responses here.