You see a web-based dating profile that catches your eye. Their pictures draw you, this person seems interesting. You need to get to know much more about them. You may could hit it off. Maybe you like the same kinds of food or benefit from the same humor when it comes to movies.
Then you see they live over five hours away. Would you perform the whole long distance relationship thing? You hesitate.
Maybe you can relate to this with regards to long distance dating? While an extended distance relationship might not be your ideal first choice, don’t close yourself off to the idea of it just because it wasn’t necessarily what you were looking for.
Discernment is really a principle of Christian living that affects us in every area of life. We have to know how to discern and type through all sorts of things from career choices to online dating or serious relationships.
When specifically discussing a long distance relationship, there are a few basic discernment principles that may be useful in navigating this in Catholic dating.
Begin with holy detachment
Ignatian discernment offers the best ideas for sound, prudent discernment. The very first rule of Saint Ignatius can be summarized in the phrase of “holy detachment.” When deciding between various options, you need to be detached in the outcome in either direction, and fully tuned in to what God's will is.
Sometimes whenever we get emotionally mounted on an outcome, it can cloud our vision or desires. Having holy detachment permits us to get out the way in which many allow the Holy Spirit to maneuver, act, and reveal a path in time.
Then create a benefits and drawbacks list
Maybe causeing this to be kind of list sounds a little over simplistic, but I’ve found making lists such as this helpful in my own discernment. Seeing the great and not-so-good reasons for a potential decision (just like a long distance relationship) might help me flush out my own desires, emotions, and feelings about making a choice.
Consider writing your lists while in Eucharistic Adoration, or bring previously written ones with you to pray over when you sit with Jesus. Taking certain situations (like making big decisions) straight to Jesus never hurts and I always have felt more peace and guidance when I do so within my own life.
Make this discernment a conversation
If you’re already dating someone and discerning how you can further navigate an extended distance relationship, have open and honest conversations on all the factors that play in to the situation. Tell each other the way you see the situation, and what you individually provide it.
What are the factors or concerns you see with next stages in a long distance relationship? Does your partner have concerns? Where would you see your relationship headed in the future? Will certainly one of you eventually need to move?
Talking through all the different pieces can help clarify intentions and hopefully provide you with a sense of the following steps to take.
Ask the Holy Spirit for ardent clarity
This is a prayer I have relied on often in my own life with regards to personal discernment. Praying and asking the Holy Spirit for ardent clarity is a powerful prayer which has never failed me yet. It is a prayer God will answer because it is great for me. God wants we to know his will for our lives and unique situations.
The Holy Spirit will always show up to reveal, inspire, make things clear, and bring the peace of God.
Be open to the possibility of meeting and connecting with someone who may not reside in your hometown, state, or even country! Wherever that message or relationship takes you, have principles in place that will help you decide in wholeness and peace.