Saturday 1 September 2018

Dating Advice: The Party Option

As long-term readers know, I used to give dating advice to Catholic Singles and "other Singles of Good Will".

I quit when I realised that A) I had been married for too long and B) new technological advances (e.g. Tinder) had changed dating and C) very possibly human nature, too.

Technology made my own experiences obsolete. Not to put too fine a point on it, our brains are literally being shaped by our devices and  nobody my age grew up watching internet pron (do other people still render the word 'pron'?), which means that men who grew up using it are cognitively different from earlier generations of men. And I was so clueless when I first wrote about internet pron, I did not know women get addicted to it too.

So I quit giving advice and eventually the emails stopped coming. But this week I got a delightful SOS from a long-term reader about a young man with whom a priest had tried to set her up. The young man has not, however,  asked her out yet.

"[A male relation] has told me that the possibilities are A) he's clueless B) [...]  a wimp C) [...]  not interested or D) has SSA," your fellow reader wrote.

I am helpless before the severe problems that plague men whose internet use was not effectively monitored by their parents, but I DO  know what a Catholic woman can do when she wants to get to know a faithful Catholic man better.

First, she cannot ask him out blatantly on a date. "Ask him out" was the bad advice given to my generation. It was bad advice because it led to thousands of women paying for dinner for thousands of men who had no real interest in us but didn't want to hurt our feelings or thought that we (or any woman) were okay for now and Miss Perfect was sure to come along later.

If behind these words you hear a faint echo of the 1990s dating bible The Rules, you are so right.

The anthropological-hermeneutical standpoint of The Rules is that male human nature doesn't change, and that men-in-general love to solve puzzles, go hunting, and generally overcome challenges to get what they want. Men-in-general don't want long-term what they can too easily get short-term. Therefore, be friendly to men, but don't look overly available.

A fellow Rules devotee I used to argue the question if this need-for-a-challenge were innate or changed from culture-to-culture. This was a decade ago, before we knew what internet pron was doing to men's brains, and now she is the mother of children strictly forbidden from using electronic devices.

All the same, I stand by the "don't ask him out" rule. Actually, it's more important than ever, so as to avoid men hooked on immediate gratification.*

What a Single Catholic woman CAN do to get to know a particular Single Catholic man better is invite him to a small party at her house.

Frankly, I cannot see any harm in saying to a man recommended by a trusted priest, "Hey, I'm/my housemates and I are having a few friends from [place man is familiar with]  around for dinner on Friday night. Would you like to come?"

The reason for the smallness of the party is in case the young man hates large parties. Many people do. The "dinner" part makes the point of the party clear and is also an incentive, as it suggests a break from bachelor food.  And the very invitation is a signal to the young man is that he is considered worthy of an invite to a young woman's home. And even the strictest and retro of Young Fogeys (should he be such) could not find anything unfeminine in a party invitation.

If the young man turns down the party invitation, go ahead and have the dinner party anyway.  Hopefully you have planted the germ of the idea that you'd be open to spending time with him in his head. At a decent interval, perhaps three months, arrange another dinner party and invite him to that.  If he once again voices regret, then wash him out of your hair.

Incidentally, in my experience most non-predatory men are clueless and many supposed wimps are still good marriage material for somebody. Clearly the men who are not interested in you are NOT potential husbands, and neither are most men with SSA. However, they are still potential friends, so the dinner party is a good investment anyway.

*That said, a man may turn down a date because it sounds very complicated next to staying at home with internet pron. He will never tell you that though. You will erroneously think you did something wrong or aren't pretty enough or whatever, but the real reason will be Triple XXX. It's sad, but every revolution--including the Sexual Revolution---has casualties. The landscape is littered with the bodies of young men who are spiritually dead.


  1. I disagree with some of this article. Being invited to a small dinner party would be terrifying to me, and a lot of guys, as we are never taught manners and social situations that require them are sometimes just easier to avoid. A large party may be better. If you are wanting to host something just find out what partys he already goes to. Everyone is different. Hosting a Euchre tourny or some card game would be better for me. But I would not put all your eggs in the party basket. If he is a EF guy showing up at his mass would be a good idea.

    I would agree with never asking a guy out on a date tho. If you had been introduced through a priest why would you not just ask him why he originally thought to set you up and to tell the guy to get it in gear?

    1. Hooray for the male point of view! Aaron, you raise some really good points. Maybe instead of saying "dinner party", the hostess could say "I'm/We're having some people over to eat" or "I'm/we're having a barbecue." Whatever the norm is for the community. Where I am, small dinner parties (or large dinner parties, for people with the space or back gardens) are commonplace.

      And you have an excellent point about the priest although I am of two minds about this. Priest are darned if they do or if they don't. Sometimes people say priest SHOULD play matchmaker, but then when priests DO play matchmaker, they don't do it particularly well.