Hi Orthogals!!! I am so happy to stumble upon other Orthodox Christians! I have such problems with dating. First of all, I live in an isolated area. Number of Orthodox Christians besides myself is probably zero. It’s really hard to find any good Orthodox guys. So I’ve pretty much resigned myself to never finding any and have tried settling with guys who aren’t Orthodox and who aren’t even Christians or religious in any way.
While I met some pretty cool people this way, most of them weren’t interested in any type of serious commitment. They were also extremely damaged; for some reason I attract people with issues. For example, one guy I dated was addicted to weed and another had alcoholic parents and a messy dating past in which every relationship he’s ever had, he’s been cheated on. It’s in my nature to try and see the good in everyone and so I give them all a chance and every time I end up making serious mistakes and wind up in a worse place than I was before. I know that when I get married eventually, I want to marry a guy who’s Orthodox. So why do I date all these other guys when I know my religion is important to me? Well, I see it as either I will be alone or with someone who is not Orthodox.
My parents tell me to give them a try because they are converts and firmly believe that people can change, which I also believe. On the flip side, my friends keep telling me I shouldn’t bother giving anyone a chance who isn’t a Christian. This leaves me torn and I am not sure what to do anymore. I don’t even think I know what love feels like so how would I know if a person is right for me or not? I’ve never met one who really seemed like they wanted to get to know me better. I feel like there is no way I will ever successfully find a guy who is Orthodox. At this point, my views on dating and ever even getting married are pretty hopeless. Have any of you ever felt this way? Am I the only one?
Dating is hard. You have our deepest sympathies. I guarantee you that almost every single Orthodox gal has despaired that she won’t find an Orthodox Christian guy to marry. In fact, our blog got started due to this frustration!
One of us (Anna) lives in the US county with the most Orthodox Christians, and she still hasn’t managed to get married! That said, having a community and the friendship of other Orthodox Christians is invaluable. Where you live is not far from many other Orthodox communities. Is driving to other parishes an option for you? Is there a chance you can move sooner or later?
Virtual communities are another way to meet more Orthodox Christians. For example:
-Start a blog and link to other Orthodox Christians. Leave comments on Orthodox blogs.
-Use Tumblr or Twitter or Facebook to find Orthodox users
Real-life options include:
-Go to college conference http://www.ocf.net/wikis/programs/college-conference.aspx
-Go on Real Break http://www.ocf.net/wikis/programs/real-break-program.aspx
-Volunteer to be a counselor at an Orthodox camp
It sounds like you have a lot of anxiety about finding the right person and get conflicting advice from family members. Despite what a lot of people will tell single Orthodox Christians, it’s not our job to convert the people we date to Orthodoxy. We do believe that if you don’t have core values in common with the guy you are dating, marriage with him probably won’t work very well. We are not saying to not date non-Christian guys, just that it’s smart to look out for red flags that you know will mean that the relationship won’t work out. Dating guys who aren’t Christians, or Christians who don’t believe in waiting until after marriage to have sex, can be really tricky. So be prepared to give The Talk. Auntie Seraphic has a great post on this here.
From your letter, what it sounds like you want is someone who shares your values and has good character. That’s great! That means you’re more likely to end up with the right person for you. However, since it sounds like you tend to attract guys who aren’t good for you, it would be worthwhile to figure out why you’re okay with putting up with them in your life. Please don’t use boyfriends to fill any loneliness in your life. A mark of adulthood is choosing to be lonely than being with people who aren’t good for you. A book you might find helpful is Boundaries in Dating. Another one would be Codependent No More, especially if you continue to attract alcoholics.
If the choice is between being alone or being with someone heterodox and unhealthy for you, choose to be single. You can glorify God and live a beautiful life while single—it can be downright awesome—but crummy relationships can do damage. Build a great life alone first.
One of us in high school (Brigid) was friends with some terrible people, and some good people who were lousy friends for her, because they were accidentally toxic/emotional vampires despite their “good hearts”. And it was hard for her to learn that you can love someone from over there without having to let them become close or involved in your life. And you definitely don’t have to date them.
Since there isn’t currently someone that you’re considering getting married to, we suggest focusing on other areas of your life. Depending on your age, and this may sound really boring but bear with us, we mean going to church and regularly participating in confession and communion, making friends with quality people, working towards goals, for instance in fitness or writing or crafting, getting an education, getting a job, traveling.
There is so much more to life than romantic relationships. Fill your life with awesome, beautiful goals and hobbies, build strong friendships, and trust that God has good things in store for you.