Are You Truly Free to Commit to a Relationship?


As a single Catholic, and someone who is actively looking for a solid relationship that leads to marriage, how would you define the word, “attractive”? What is it about someone that you find attractive?

People spend a LOT of money trying to be attractive, especially women. The cost of looking good these days—makeup, clothing, jewelry, hair—is astronomical! The Huffington Post recently had an article that compared the dollar amount a group of women spent on their hair annually and I took a minute to calculate what the average annual expense was per woman… roughly $4,000! Then, there’s dentistry and teeth whitening, salon services, gym memberships, etc. And after all that money spent on our exterior appearance, we keep looking for more ways to be attractive. People spend money on cars that turn heads and make statements. Even your living space makes a statement about you. After all that money is spent, wouldn’t you be disappointed if you still were not considered attractive? Well, it happens more than you think. You can be drop-dead gorgeous and be the most unattractive person in the world.

Attractiveness comes from within, and it’s not just about having a positive attitude. It’s about who you are as a person and how much you love. If you haven’t focused on your inner attractiveness and how you interact with others, none of that other stuff really matters. Being attractive is not just about your outward presentation, it’s an entire package! So I would like to offer you six factors that, if you cultivate them, will help you to become more attractive, and I’ll do this in a 3-part series. Today, however, we’ll just talk about the first attraction factor, which is being Available.

So, what does being available actually refer to? You’re single, right? Isn’t that enough?

Being available means you are truly free to commit to a relationship. There is no unwanted baggage, there are no strings attached to other people. But being available doesn’t mean the same thing for all singles, so I’d like to break it down for you:

For widows and widowers: Being available simply means being healed from your loss. In no way do I suggest you should forget about your spouse or rush to move forward. The memory of your spouse is sacred and your marriage is a huge part of who you are. But to be available, you must be past the grieving stage. Bereavement holds a different time frame for each person who goes through it, and you will know when you have made peace with the death of your spouse. To try and date while you are still grieving will only lead to more hurt and disappointment in the future.

For divorced men and women: It’s important that you have been through the annulment process and have a decree of nullity that states you are not bound to your ex-spouse and you are free to date and marry. If you date without having taken this step, you are taking a great risk. You might fall in love and then decide to go through the process, but there no guarantees you will receive a decree of nullity and that could spell disaster for you.

The other point to consider is the risk you take with your soul. The Church assumes all marriages are valid unless proven otherwise by the annulment process. If you don’t give a tribunal the opportunity to determine whether or not you had a valid marriage bond, then you are considered married in the eyes of the Church, regardless of having a civil divorce decree. So it’s important to make sure you are truly free to date in that sense.

Also, because you’ve endured the traumatic loss of your marriage, you need to make sure you are not dating with the intention of finding a cure for your hurt. You will find much healing as you go through the annulment process, but also, in attending mass and receiving the sacraments. These things will help your heart become truly free from attachments and baggage and ready to give to someone else.

For those who have never been married: Do you have unresolved feelings from past relationships? Are you holding on to the hope that someone who broke up with you will come back? Do you harbor resentment for someone in the past who has hurt you? These things clutter your heart with negativity and bad feelings. Where is the room for love?

There is a great joy in meeting someone you really like, dating, and falling in love. You should be able to experience the thrill of giving your heart to someone special and that comes through being truly free to give your heart to someone else.

I encourage you to take some time, preferably in Eucharistic adoration, and reflect upon any of these issues you may need to address. Take the time to resolve your past relationship issues, it’s worth every moment you spend.

Please send your comments and questions to and follow me on Twitter at @lisaduffy.



  1. Gloria-390145 November 6, 2013 Reply

    It’s been 6 yrs ago that I went through a bad break up! I can relate to Richard, I didn’t need the help after a bad injury and having to have surgery. I just needed his moral support.” The thing is that there are people that are in relationships when everything is good but cannot handle the bad that life brings.” Yes, it took a long time for me to forgive him! “”How can a person that claims to Love me, just leave me.” The lack of confidence in dating again was just shot down.” But with prayer and me being a woman of faith, I can say that I have a met a man that loves me for who I am.” Time heals all wounds!

  2. Irene-1017833 October 9, 2013 Reply

    I like the comments.

  3. Anne-76457 October 9, 2013 Reply

    Never said better ! Thanx Lady !!

  4. Roy-811837 October 9, 2013 Reply

    Thnx for the encouraging article Lisa .A person i guess for commitment has to be emotionally,mentally and more or less physical does play a role and understanding between the partners .
    About past experiences or mental blocks we keep spinning a web of insecurity and fear around us as we age .we got to pray for Grace.

  5. Aloysius A. October 9, 2013 Reply

    Thank you so much

  6. Kevin-984387 October 8, 2013 Reply

    “”The Church assumes all marriages are valid unless proven otherwise by the annulment process. “” I am curious how individuals with a religious vocation: priest, brother, sister, are released from their vows. Do they go through a process of review like that of annulment of a marriage? If not why not? Why is the standard different for married people? Is there a difference with these vows of obedience, chastity, poverty ? Yes these vows have different goals from those of married persons but there are strong similarities.

    • Patricia-847518 October 9, 2013 Reply

      Kevin, yes, religious also need to go through a process to be discharged (if I can use that term) from their vows. I believe they need to go through the Holy Father for that. At least a girlfriend that was in the religious life needed to go through the Holy Father to be released of her vows.

    • Dominic-981542 October 11, 2013 Reply

      Kevin . . Annulment process is only if you want to be remarried in the church again .
      other wise every one is free to leave at any time they want , its called free will , But it may not be the right choice to will but free to do so any way .
      And so are religious people free to leave at any time they so wish to , with or with out the approval of the Church . .Its not as if the religious is going to re enter into another religious life like remarrying . . . so its not double standards . . If you have no intentions of remarrying , Then you don’t need a annulment . . Just like the 72 who left Christ saying this teaching is to hard to bare who can stand it . . they were free to go . .
      Because man are not perfect there is a process to make sure the annulment is of a case that was not a real marriage were two became one.

  7. Richard-711426 October 8, 2013 Reply

    Its been more than 1 1/2 years, I’m still recovering from a relationship I thought had so much promise. What impacted me so much is that I was caught completely flat footed and at a time of vulnerability. Injured from a work related accident and seriously ill from an infection related to the same. She called me on the phone to tell me she wasn’t good at relationships and she didn’t want to help me. Its over! I didn’t really need the help, but it sure would of been great to have the moral support and know that she would be there in thick and thin through three months of hospitalization. I’ve forgiven her on many occasions and have tried to move on and put this episode behind me. However, I find a definite lack of confidence in myself and have retreated from even asking anyone out. Never before have I been so affected like this. I’m aware it has nothing to do with the other person, they haven’t done anything to me. I’m just afraid!

    • Jeff-985148 October 10, 2013 Reply

      I’m very sorry to hear that, my friend. Prayers for an emotional recovery from this. Have you considered talking with a professional about this? It has helped me get over many things from my past.

  8. Vinitha-878677 October 8, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for this article Lisa. It could not have come at a better time than now!

  9. Ann-69118 October 8, 2013 Reply

    Never married but not looking for any ex’s to come back or wanting them to. I move on and don’t tend to hold on to old relationships but past relationships have made me cautious about where I give my heart that said I always try to give people a chance and don’t assume others will react a certain way based on how someone else did. I can’t say I have no baggage. Who makes it to a certain age and doesn’t but I don’t let it hang out there and drag it from one relationship to the next.

    • Jason-862068 October 8, 2013 Reply

      Everyone carries baggage as it’s part of our cross. It matters how you carry it. Choosing to live in the moment demands that we lift ourselves out of the mire and not be so hesitant to have fun and go on the date with a sense of freedom once going through the process Lisa explained for whatever state in life you are. The point is there should be no excuse to go meet with someone you have an even a small attraction with, after deciding to meet in a public place, dive in. Forget marrying the person on the first date, be yourself at your best! Afflicting the comfortable, Jason

      • Ann-69118 October 9, 2013 Reply

        Couldn’t agree more. A date is just a chance to get to know someone.

      • Dominic-981542 October 11, 2013 Reply

        I had a similar Reply Jason until I saw yours , I agree with you Though.
        I don’t think Lisa meant not to meet any one but before committing to some one to be free in your heart from any one still attached to it . . There are baggage’s every one will always have regardless if they can see it all not and there are baggage’s that we need to be free from .
        Lisa is Right and so are you and most people in there own right are . . because there’s always more to be said.

  10. James-653120 October 8, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for the encouragement, Lisa!

  11. Henny-956284 October 7, 2013 Reply

    I always like your piece of writings Lisa!

  12. Chad-988613 October 7, 2013 Reply

    Getting to know people on this site and giving ones heart to someone are two different things. I do agree that we should contemplate and take active steps to overcome anything that negates our freedom of loving another. A question I didn’t see in the article (so I offer it now) that also negates being truly free is: -are you holding on to the hope that a friend (of the opposite sex) -who is considered ‘just a friend’ will turn into more?

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