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Needs Vs. Nice To Haves

March  24th,  2022
By Kaitlyn Ripplinger read
Posted in Culture

When I was a student in high school, I heard a women’s talk at a conference.  During this conference, the speaker talked about the list of standards we must have as women for the men we choose to date. Afterwards, we were encouraged to write down attributes that were mandatory.  Following our own personal brainstorming, we were encouraged to share with each other in our small group.  I was surprised to see the specific “must haves” shared- often having to do with physical aspects like height or hair color, loads of hobbies they wanted to share, very specific personality traits, and expecting him to already be Saint Joseph-level holy.   

I want to affirm that it is good to have a basic standard to ask the people you date to uphold. I hope any person you date is striving for virtue, considerate of others, and seeks clarity with you!  That is a bare minimum!  Your dignity requires these.

However, I think sometimes on the opposite side, we can become so specific and ask that the person be at perfection. Now I do not know about you, but I am not anywhere near perfect myself.  I am still selfish sometimes, my room is occasionally messy, and I am not always patient with others.  To expect perfect practice of all virtues from someone is not only unfair, but unrealistic. Unless you yourself are without needing improvement, it does not make sense to expect perfection from another if you are not there.  

As well, by having such a narrow view of a physical “type”, we might easily already dismiss a great guy before even getting the chance to know him.  Attraction is good and a necessary part of a romantic relationship.  Physical attraction when rightly integrated is something that helps lead us to maybe  initiate the conversation with the other, or cause a stirring in our heart to want to get to know them.  Physical attraction however has the capacity to grow over time.  In my own life, I have noticed that most of the good men I ended up liking romantically I did not initially experience strong physical attraction. The attraction developed after hearing about their caring heart, generous nature, or zeal for life.  

I once heard someone describe dating like going to a grocery store.  You might have a grocery list with ideas of foods you will need to pick up for the week.  While at the store, perusing the aisles, you might realize, “they do not have this brand of chocolate chips I want!” Although that initially can be disappointing, you come to the conclusion that perhaps, you don’t actually need those specific chocolate chips.  And while you are wandering the baking aisle, you gleefully realize in surprise they have sprinkles in your favorite color available! That even if you did not come to the store for it, you can appreciate the beautiful, unexpected blessings of other aspects.  I think this can describe dating so well- again, it is not bad and even very good and necessary to have a basic framework of standards.  But allow the Lord to surprise you!  He knows what you need more than you do.  While you might be convinced your “type” is a 6’0”, dark haired, outgoing athlete, maybe the person God has in mind for you is a 5’7” artist who will love you to holiness in the way God designed.  

After discussing these abstractly, what are good “must haves” for a dating relationship?

I am going to share some of the basics for me:

1- Catholic who makes faith a priority

While I do not think all around you have to have the standard of Catholic, I know for myself it is a

priority that any man I consider marriage with be Catholic.  My faith is the utmost important thing in my life, and I desire that my children grow up in a single-faith household. As well, with a practicing Catholic, there are many values and morals that will inevitably align.  Especially on difficult topics, I desire to know we are on the same team and have each other for this support.

2-maturity and intentionality in pursuit

After painful heartbreaks and situationships, I made a standard for myself- that from now on, I will not allow half-hearted pursuit or “playing games” situations.  If I am going to allow any facet of my heart to be given, it needs to be with a man who does not make me second-guess his desire to pursue me.  This of course helps avoid heartache at this point, but also because I desire from a spouse someone who is clear, sincere, and intentional.

3-striving to become a better person every day

There are a few key aspects in this: consistency and willingness to grow.  Virtue is the habitual disposition to do the good.  If it is habitual, this happens much more often than not.  So while they might struggle to be patient in some situations, the majority of the time, they choose to do the right thing.  The other aspect involves more of a disposition than specifics.  It would be much better to be with someone who maybe lacks the habits but is striving to grow in it than someone who is 80% there but stagnant and unwilling to grow!  At least with the former, there will be an upwards trajectory.  This also does not lock people into unnecessary boxes as the first sight.

Have standards that must be met. But do not let such a narrow view, particularly in physical attributes, hinder you from considering a person who might just be what you need.

About the Author

Kaitlyn is a 2021 graduate from Benedictine College where she studied music and theology. She was born and raised in North Dakota, where she initially fell in love with Christ and grew in relationship with Him. After taking a class about Pope Saint John Paul II her junior year, Kaitlyn was drawn more deeply to the conviction to "love people, use things". Although she doesn't remember precisely when she learned about the Culture Project, she was drawn to their mission of upholding the dignity of human life and reminding others that they are loved immensely by the Father. "The Lord has revealed to my heart a calling to be his missionary. I desire to answer this call by sharing his message of authentic love."

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