Tim James and his wife Adeline, both Catholics, met while braving the harrowing waters of online dating, eventually marrying. Photo submitted to The B.C. Catholic

Catholic seeking Catholic: the online reality

By  Tim James, Canadian Catholic News
  • February 14, 2024

VANCOUVER -- If you’d like to date, and meet, a Catholic man or woman, don’t expect TV shows to help. While platforms like Netflix offer shows such as Jewish Matchmaking, there aren’t any Catholic counterparts.

So how do young adults of faith connect with potential husbands and wives in the 21st century? The most common method, in my experience, is online dating.

It was a profile on Bumble, an online secular dating app, that eventually helped me find my wife after years of unsuccessful dating, mostly online.

My journey to meet Adeline, my wife, included dating outside of the faith, as the field of potential Catholic matches in Metro Vancouver can appear limited, especially if you attend the same young adults group each month.

Secular dating apps became my friend, eventually introducing me to Adeline, who is Catholic. But this one success came after roughly 40 unsuccessful online matches.

For me, “Catholic” wasn’t a requirement for a wife. I’ve observed that relationships can be successful despite only one person identifying with the Catholic faith. My wife and I know several couples who are being married in the Catholic Church this year, despite not sharing the faith. It’s also been my experience that both partners being Catholic, sometimes in name only, doesn’t ensure that they’re devout or strong in their faith.

However, it was important for me to look for someone with similar beliefs. And since my circle of friends is not entirely Catholic, it was also a priority to find a wife who could be comfortable around diverse people and situations.

In 2016, at age 27, I started online dating. I signed up for catholicmatch.com and christianmingle.com. Meantime, I went to swing dance in Abbotsford. It was an opportunity to learn a skill (dance) and to meet new people in a safe environment. One of the dancers happened to be Catholic, and we started to dance (and talk), resulting in an actual relationship.

Although this was a more traditional way of meeting, it was the only relationship that developed through eight years of dance. We eventually realized we weren’t for each other and ended our relationship on good terms.

During the start of COVID in 2020, I returned to online dating. This time, I tried Catholic Match, “the #1 Catholic dating site,” according to its website. While I made an online connection and we exchanged messages, we didn’t meet up for a few weeks. Once we did, we walked around Fort Langley and discussed many things. It was apparent we weren’t a match, but it hadn’t been clear until we met face-to-face.

The experience highlighted for me the importance of meeting in-person, and encouraged me to suggest getting together for a coffee date as soon as possible.

The Bumble app, which requires that “women make the first move” by sending the first message, provided a connection in 2020. The app allows individuals to identify their religion, but “Catholic” was not an option at that point (this has since changed). As a result, two “Christians” connected and walked around Langley spending a couple of hours together laughing and telling stories, until the question “Which church do you attend?” finally came up.

She identified with a Protestant church, and I said mine was Immaculate Conception in Delta. That prompted a text afterward to say she was not interested in dating a Catholic.

It wasn’t the only time “Catholic” was a bad word, but the experience didn’t stop me from dating outside of the faith.

Catholic Match, which currently costs $10.99 a month for six months, connects marriage seekers with Catholics around the world — including Poland. Searching through profiles in 2021 led me to a Polish woman who occasionally visited family in Vancouver. We chatted for weeks, which was a challenge due to the time difference. It was also challenging when we realized our different political perspectives, despite applying both through a Catholic lens. Having fruitful discussion isn’t easy when you can’t meet in-person.

Imagine an environment where a group of young people, mostly Catholic, meet monthly to discuss topics related to “facing their future.” Personal Project is run by the International Federation for Family Development, a non-governmental agency which helped me to end a relationship thanks to the important discussions that took place. The program also introduced me to another young lady. Although we weren’t a perfect connection, one of her Catholic friends caught my attention at a party we were both attending. (I still wonder, is it acceptable to tell someone she’s not a match, but you wouldn’t mind being introduced to her Catholic friend? After all, as Catholics search for love, it might help if we work together.)

Another match made on catholicmatch.com only lasted two dates. However, we stayed connected on Facebook, and she reached out months later to ask if I’d be interested in going out with her friend. We set up a date, during which her friend and I were able to discuss our faith and similarities. It wasn’t meant to be, but I’m thankful for the opportunity. To this day, the original date and I remain connected on Facebook.

Another date wasn’t Catholic, but she was a successful teacher on the North Shore. She messaged me on Bumble and agreed to meet for a drink. We had great conversation and enjoyed a few drinks and a meal, resulting in a pricey bill. We met again but eventually realized we weren’t a match, highlighting the importance of meeting in-person as soon as possible, but for a coffee rather than dinner.

On secular dating apps like Hinge or Bumble, members can currently list themselves as “Catholic.” However, this doesn’t mean they practise their faith. I connected in 2021 with a Catholic who was funny and attractive. We hit it off, but it eventually became clear that although she identified as Catholic, she didn’t attend Mass or share important beliefs. We discussed this and agreed to go our separate ways.

Returning to Bumble, I was messaged by a woman from Port Coquitlam who identified as Catholic. We connected, and fast-forward to the present, we’ve been married for one year.

Online dating was successful for me and others I know. However, I’m not suggesting it’s the only way to meet someone, especially if the preference is Catholic. My wife and I have discussed how we had mutual friends, both lived in the Lower Mainland, but never (knowingly) crossed paths. This is where we may be able to help other Catholics connect. Married people should assist those who are trying to meet a potential husband or wife by inviting them to events where other singles are around. It’s not matchmaking but providing opportunities.

Earlier this year, we had a bowling event in which Adeline invited her single friends, and I invited mine. We mixed in some couples so it wouldn’t be awkward. Everyone had an excellent time, even if no one matched (yet).

Trying to find your future husband or wife can take some effort, patience and prayer (St. Raphael is the patron saint of those seeking a marriage partner). But stick with it. If God is calling you to marriage, it will happen in His time.

And it will change your life.

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