Where are all the good men?

As somebody who has written a lot about dating, I have gotten a lot of feedback from single adults — ladies and gentlemen who haven’t tied the knot and want to, who routinely ask an honest question.

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“Where are all the good men?” or, “Where are all the good women?” The question is probably rooted in each person’s not so satisfactory experiences — the guys she meets aren’t into her, the girls he’s into aren’t into him. Some can’t get dates and others don’t enjoy the dates they get.

They are single and don’t want to be, and in many cases, rightly have flexible preferences (e.g., “I like beards, but I don’t require a dude to have one.”) and stable standards: they want a Catholic spouse, somebody committed to their sainthood, who seeks Christ first, who practice virtues — people who, in our culture, are few and far between.

So they ask me where the good men are, or where the good women are, which inspires my own question: What exactly have you done in effort to find them?

And that’s a sincere question, not an accusatory one — I don’t ask because I don’t think you’ve made an effort. I probably don’t even know you, so I have no idea. I ask as an invitation to think critically about whatever effort you have made.

Because women who haven’t found a good man and men who haven’t found a good woman know as well as I do that it isn’t because good men and women who meet your standards don’t exist. They do. I meet some every time I speak at a Theology on Tap, at a conference, or at a church.

But you also know perfectly well that if you have not found one yet, it is not because you don’t have access to any.

That ceases to be an excuse if you have, say, a driver’s license, or the Internet, or friends who have friends who are single. Stop looking at your small town or at your parish’s demographics like they are insurmountable obstacles — they are hurdles, and it is your job to jump over them.

Is it inconvenient to travel farther for Mass or young adult events because you’re in your thirties but live in the old person capital of your state? You bet. Is it inconvenient to make time for this when you think you have none to spare? Heck yes it is.

But inconvenience is not a reason a person can’t access a new pool of people to meet. His or her unwillingness to tolerate inconvenience is the reason.

And do you know what else I think you probably already know?

That sometimes, the steps we take to meet good men or women do not work — which inspires another question: If you believe your vocation is marriage and the steps you have taken so far to meet somebody haven’t worked, why do you keep taking them?

Maybe it’s time to do something different. To admit some responsibility. To stop asking where the good men and women are and to acknowledge that good, Catholic men and women almost always will be hard to find. To stop using that as an excuse to claim defeat, and to use it instead as what it’s supposed to be: a reason to do work.

A reason to more-than-just show up.

A reason to try new ways or places when the old ones haven’t worked.

This is an invitation to consider the choices a person makes when he or she is truly committed to finding a spouse. It’s an opportunity to prove that you are committed, or — as may be the case — to prove that you aren’t.

And it is permission to accept that a person’s commitment to finding a spouse doesn’t guarantee that he or she will find one, and to care less about that than about abandoning ourselves to whatever God’s will turns out to be.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Liberty

    Really? That’s your advice? How’s that working out for you? Put your money where your mouth or stop lecturing others on how their efforts aren’t enough.

    • Larry Bud

      I’d like to know too. Should I get my parish to issue beanies and blinking lights to all the singles? ‘Cause whatever they’ve been doing in the 30 years since I moved here, ain’t working. No one’s ever asked me if I’m single, even though I show up for mass by myself, week after week and year after year. Should I hit on every woman who comes to mass alone? Chase ’em through the parking lot? Either the single mass-going women are invisible, or I am, or maybe both.

      • “No one’s ever asked me if I’m single…”
        Are you kidding me with this comment? You are literally doing the thing that the article is telling you not to do. That comment is so passive. The point of the article was to take responsibility and stop being passive and whiny and such.

        “No one ever asked me”
        So what you’re saying is people need to notice you, come up to you, and then talk to you about your singleness. Instead of…? Instead of you going up to a woman and initiating the conversation. The truth is you will remain invisible as long as you are passive.

        Maybe you aren’t in real life. I don’t know you. But man o man, you should reread this post.

        • Larry Bud

          You completely missed my point. Singles are invisible at mass. They come and go unnoticed.

          If the church has any concern about reversing the shocking decline in the number of church marriages, they could provide opportunities for the unmarried people to simply identify each other. I’d be glad to start a conversation with a single mass-going lady, if I knew that was what she was. And not a wife whose husband is at work, or whose kids are sick, etc. Mass is just not the place to hit on random women.

          Not whiny, just totally realistic.

          • It’s Mass, not a ballroom. “If the church…could provide opportunities…” Wha? You’re a part of “The Church”. You go provide those opportunities for other singles. Go to your parish priest tomorrow and say, “This parish (not “the church” btw) doesn’t do enough for singles. I want to help change that. Can we host a dinner/movie night/theology on tap/concert/etc. and advertise it from the pulpit and in the bulletin?”

            Boom. You just created the opportunity.

            Or you could wait around for someone else to do the work. The best way to meet a single Mass-going lady is to meet her not at Mass. Mass ain’t for scoping out the field. Create a separate venue for that and you’ll be surprised.

          • Arleen Spenceley

            PREACH, Michael.

          • Larry Bud

            OK, kids. You’re doing just super for yourselves!

            Sheesh.

          • lukecarey

            Let me take a stab at this. My guess is that your mom kept making your lunch well into college? Is the entire world supposed to cater to you? This is why you cant get any daates. Girls dont want to date a guy that lacks self-respect.

          • Matthew Sewell

            Not helping, Luke.

    • She’s pretty open about how that’s working out for her. She’s pursuing a vocation to marriage by not being afraid to mix it up. She goes on dates. She’s not a spectator. She’s single and writes honestly about her relationships in her book, which you should buy from her.

      Too much needlessly defensive anger in your comment. And she’s not lecturing. She’s writing a blog post that you opted to read.

      Stay feisty. Seems to be working out for you.

  • Alma Martinez

    Sometimes, the list we have isn’t going to be out there. I might have this list of things, that involve the Catholic faith, but then compromise if I meet a Protestant gentleman who loves me deeply, who would respect my faith, and respect my wishes to raise the children Catholic. And, you know what, it’s actually happened in my own family and those spouses have converted, becoming devout Catholics. I also have a coworker who converted after his marriage to a cradle Catholic. Not saying that we should date to convert someone; but, sometimes God works in mysterious ways. I have a feeling I’m not going to date a Catholic. It’s just a feeling I get after I’ve tried my best to put myself out there and expand my boundaries geographically on Catholic dating sites and Catholic events like Theology on Tap, for example. Sure, there are success stories on these sites and for those who wait for an already converted/or cradle Catholic, but my story might be different. I don’t think there’s a set formula for every single Catholic wanting to find that special someone.

  • caribou1

    My two cents and experience(first hand) and anecdotal is this:
    We, both single men and women, need to be honest with ourselves on what we want.
    What we say we want vs the actual behavior in term of fostering a relationship.
    Its no secret that many men look for, “value”, pursue, attractive women and are willing to overlook other deficiencies or adjust priorities/principles in such a search. Now this superficiality is fostered, celebrated to an extent by our culture so its easier in a sense for men own up to this. Of course its not a good thing and we should mature beyond this. I like to think as I have gotten older this tendency has weakened and that my main priority is compatibility in terms of a faith building, Christ following potential wife.
    Now women need to own up to their form of superficiality – say it or mature/grow past it.
    That tendency is valuing men based on their income. I’m sorry if this comes across as bitter or cynical – but I have found the biggest impediment to a relationship is being a part of the working poor. And it is disheartening to have things turn cold once a women realizes your part of that demographic and if things progress and we end up together – there’s probably not going a life in the suburbs in a “McMansion.”

    Now, I do not think all women are like this – but I do think I higher percentage than are willing to admit themselves are.

    With that said I know I ought to continue to put myself in situations where I can meet a Catholic/Christian woman who sees the big picture of myself and life in general and not be discouraged by past experiences.

    Hope this didn’t come across as too bitter or defeatist.

    • According to studies, men value women based on physical attractiveness and women prioritize income. You’re right on the money, but don’t get discouraged brother! God loves you as a single person right now. You aren’t broken. You’re His.

      • caribou1

        Thanks for the words of encouragement. Sometimes society(that often includes people of faith) implies a brokenness or incompleteness because of ones single status, I know that is a false evaluation but its nice to reminded by others now and then.

  • Kyle

    People’s “standards” can sometimes be frustrating, particularly when they seem not well placed. I know mine have caused a few awkward dates and conversations. But I believe I did my best, at the time, to explain what I believe. For me now, my “standards” go into faith, friendship and compatible life goals.

    Personally in my life I probably do not change things up enough, I tend to get stuck in patterns.

    • What a great and honest comment! We all get stuck in patterns and sometimes have unrealistic expectations when it comes to love, romance and finding a person to spend the rest of your life with. Our media saturated culture hurts the cause of lasting love in so many ways.

      I always say, when meeting someone new who is a potential date, start with the human and proceed to friendship. Dates aren’t mean to flush out all quirks and pitfalls of incompatibility. I think some people (not you, my commenting friend) are just too eager or impatient to let friendship blossom.

      Stay honest.

      • Matthew Sewell

        I can attest to having done the latter, and been too eager and impatient to let friendship blossom first. I’ve instead, as Fr. Mike Schmitz once analogized, tried to pry the blooming flower open prematurely to see what’s inside, and the results were a failed marriage that should never have progressed that far in the first place.

        I’m a 100% fan now of being patient (God help me) and pursuing the friendship before all else.

  • John Morgan

    You’re not going to find decent men with attitudes of disrespect and arrogance, while holding onto the holy grail of marriage as the be-all and end-all of human existence.

    • What the heck are you saying in this post: “without letting go of disrespect, arrogance, superiority…”?

      Are you saying that women will find decent men when they stop acting superior to decent men? If I’m misreading you, my bad. If I’m not, you have some baggage that needs to be addressed in your attitudes towards women. I might be wrong, which I’ll readily admit because I am an idiot, but this sounds like you’re saying you’ve been disrespected by arrogant women in your past and THAT’S why it’s not working out, rather than the fact that maybe their standards were too high for you. Am I wrong? I’m probably wrong.

      • Larry Bud

        Are you going to argue with every single comment in this post? Turn off the computer and go outside and play, please.

        • lukecarey

          He’s not, but I will. We need saints of heroic virtue. Not heroic complaints.

        • I responded to the passive men asking for “The Church” to fix their problems or women to change who the are. I also complimented the fellow named “Kyle” right below this post.

          Also, I played outside for like two hours today, Larry. I’m done with the swing set and the slide. I just had a Coke Zero and my computer is connected to an Uninterruptible Power Supply. So yeah, I’m here all night my friend.

      • John Morgan

        I’m saying that I don’t think God’s creation order placed women in charge of sexual ethics, boundaries, or the value of human life. I think we all share those responsibilities. I don’t have “baggage” that needs to be addressed. I don’t have women in my past. I’m not working on anything, including marriage. And I’m fairly content with my standards. I will say, though, that I think the millennial generation has a kind of disrespect and rudeness that sets them apart from other generations.

  • Don Frampton

    From my experiences, women don’t know what they truly want and men don’t know how to behave.

    By this I mean that women have a lot of conflicting views of what they want based on each individual thing. Equal job opportunities, equal pay. I and most men agree with women on this. Women want men to treat them as equals and won’t accept anything less. The flipping of the coin comes when women demand to be treated the same and equal to men then in the very next breath, the same women demand that men chase them, be the one to ask women on a date, plan the date, spend money for the date, then expect the man to follow up.

    Why can’t these same liberated women that won’t let any man tell them what to do nor hold them back with everything else in their lives also take the initiative and ask out the men? Make the plans and pay? At least split the expenses.

    All of this and many other items that would take a lot of time to post are several of the main causes for most men that have some experience in dating, relationships and divorce to simply OPT-OUT.

    Many men have learned through repeatedly banging their heads against the wall that it’s not worth it. Habits are formed from historical patterns. Men can’t stop on a dime and switch themselves based on the specific moment when women want us to be “Alpa” and then “Homogenized” the very next minute.

    Women are frustrated that men can’t be what they want yet have multiple versions of what men should be based on each specific event and time. Men are frustrated and increasingly giving up on women because we simply cannot contort our bodies and minds in a way that will satisfy women.

    Look at most marriages and/or long term relationships. Women look angry, men look defeated. Men crawl into their “man-caves” be it basement, garage, shed, where ever they can go to get away.

    Most men don’t see it ever improving. We try and prevent other single men and those younger men entering adulthood from having to go through this.