Should people in discernment date?

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Dating while discerning depends a lot on where you are in your discernment. If you are looking at your life and trying to figure out what path would best help you become fully who you are, then I encourage you to explore the possibilities! Date, visit religious communities, do a year of service, try out a new job, and go where you feel alive.

Do these things responsibly of course. Be honest with the person you are dating and be honest with yourself. As you continue to explore, you will find that some of your choices feel more in sync with how you want to be in the world and how you feel God is calling you. That’s the time when you might begin to focus yourself and your search.

If you are at a point in your life where you have explored many options and are ready to commit yourself more fully to one pathway and give yourself to pursuing God in that manner (whether it is a relationship or ministry or way of life), then you will have to make serious choices in regard to the possibilities you have been exploring.

Becoming a member of a religious community or a hermit or a priest doesn’t magically happen on the day you enter. It occurs gradually because you’ve already begun to make choices in your life that resonate with consecrated life. You aren’t dating because “you are not supposed to do that in discernment” but because it’s not where you feel most alive to your calling from God. That doesn’t mean that a relationship was no good or wrong, only that you want to pursue wholeheartedly another way of being for God.

My prayers are with each of you who are called to find their way in the midst of relationships, commitments, and longings. I highly recommend that you have a good spiritual director who can help you navigate these waters and remain true to yourself and God.

Reprinted with permission from ©TrueQuest Communications.

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  1. Fr. Scott Kallal, Apostles of the Interior Life 12 year ago

    Yikes! In my experience dating before having discerned a call to marriage can lead to pain and confusion for both parties when the relationship ends because of a call. I would agree that having experiences during the discernment process can help to clarify what you want: work, living environment, volunteering, even visiting communities or seminaries. However, any normal human being will be drawn naturally toward marriage. The question is if there is a supernatural call beyond that to consecration. Someone in discernment can "err" because of a lack of freedom during the process. Also, I know of one young man who has felt hurt, angry, and confused because 3 times he has been left by woman who wanted to enter the convent. A more responsible path would be to build up your basic Christian life - prayer, sacraments, virtue, service - and eliminate the possibility of consecrated life or priesthood BEFORE dating.

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