Learning not to compromise my faith when dating

Breaking up with someone you love deeply is a heart-wrenching experience. It feels like tearing a piece of your soul away. Yet, there are times when God calls us to make difficult decisions for the sake of that very soul.

Just a few years before I met my husband, I was in a long-term relationship I thought was meant to last forever. We had shared countless memories, dreams and hopes, but, as it turns out, not all relationships are destined to last, and not all are spiritually enriching. As I journeyed from a heart-wrenching breakup to the joyous embrace of marriage, there are three recurring themes that resonate in my prayers and reflections.

1. Being evenly yoked

The term “being evenly yoked” is not just a quaint metaphor; it’s a concept rooted in Scripture and essential to romantic relationships. In 2 Corinthians, we are told, “Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers” (v. 6:14). While God does work in mixed-faith marriages, entering into one is not something that should be taken lightly. Scripture clearly encourages us to seek compatibility in our faith.

Want more Radiant? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!

Think about your relationship. Is one of you constantly dragging the other to Mass or reminding the other to pray? Is one person significantly farther along in their faith journey than the other? This misalignment can be a clear indication that you may not be evenly yoked, and it’s time to reflect on the direction of your relationship. Listen to the instincts God gave you. If you experience unease in your spiritual life as a couple, take it to the Lord.

Respecting the dignity of your partner’s walk with the Lord is a concept often overlooked in modern dating. Once someone put this idea in my head about my own relationship, it was hard to unhear. Ask yourself: Are they praying for their sake or yours? Is your partner growing closer to God simply to make you happy, or do you see God genuinely pulling them closer? If you feel your partner is simply trying to live up to your expectations, letting them go and allowing them to pursue God freely might be the most merciful choice. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize the truth when such high emotions are involved.

2. Feelings do not dictate God’s will

With our lives feeling constantly on display through social media, we often get caught up in the whirlwind of emotion. We believe love is defined solely by the intensity of our feelings. However, it’s crucial to remember that feelings are not always an accurate reflection of God’s will for our lives. While God doesn’t want you to be miserable, suffering is very necessary in order to grow.

As Catholics, we know love itself is not merely a feeling. Love is a choice, a commitment and a daily decision. It’s not just the butterflies and euphoria we associate with romance, but also the hard work of self-sacrifice and perseverance. It’s a love that emulates the love of Christ. When we allow feelings to be the sole determinant of our relationships, we risk ignoring the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

A popular word used in modern dating is “compatibility.” In college, I was chatting with a young woman at a retreat who knew she needed to break up with her boyfriend. Spiritually, he was dragging her down, and she felt as if she were babysitting him through his faith. When asked what her reservations about the breakup were, the ever-so common phrase slipped right out of her mouth: “But we’re just so compatible!”

The word itself comes from the latin com meaning “together” and pati meaning “to suffer.” So being compatible translates to “suffering together.” Love is not about whether or not another person makes you feel good. It’s about whether or not you can run this earthly race together!

Prayer and discernment are key in understanding God’s will. Frequent the confessional. Participate in Eucharistic adoration as much as possible. Pray as many Rosaries as you need to. It was through prayer and reflection that I realized my relationship, while filled with affection, was lacking in spiritual depth and alignment. It was then that I truly understood that sometimes God’s will calls us to make difficult choices.

3. Surrendering your life to the will of God

The core of our Catholic faith is surrendering our lives to the will of God, even when it means letting go of something dear to us. Mortification, the act of self-denial for a higher purpose, becomes crucial in discerning the path God has prepared for us. Pray with Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’”

Letting go of my relationship was not easy. It required a willingness to carry my cross and trust God had a greater plan. It was a mortification of my desires for the sake of a more profound spiritual connection with God.

As I reflect on these past few years, I can testify to the peace and spiritual growth that came with this surrender. Ending the relationship, though painful, opened up a new chapter in my life where I could focus on my spiritual journey and align my desires more closely with God’s will. I took time to form my interior life on my own, in my season of singleness, so I was ready once I met my husband.

Knowing when to let a relationship go is not a decision to be made lightly, especially when deep emotions are involved. While the decision may be difficult, God rewards our obedience with peace, growth and a deeper connection with him. Trust in his guidance, and know his plan is always better than we can imagine.

@Copyright 2021. All rights reserved.