Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Not Alone Series: Dating Fast

We've all likely heard about [dating fasts], but have you ever done one? If so, what was your experience? If you haven't, would you consider doing one? Why or why not?

It was the first day of first semester my sophomore year. I had three or four classes that Monday, all on the main quad, which afforded me plenty of time to get to class early. I treated each classroom the same: arrived 5-7 minutes early, strategically selected my seat, and watched as my classmates arrived.
Specifically, watched as my male classmates arrived.

I made mental notes on where the cute ones sat, whether or not they glanced my way as they chose their seats, and how near me they placed themselves.

This continued on throughout the week, until my Friday "African Music" class. This was my most interesting class, with a teacher who was encouraging of self-love and virtue and would dance for us on the regular. I should have been captivated. 

But I was sitting behind and to the right of one of my male peers. One of the star QBs, he was well-known on campus and cute to boot. I remember sitting behind him, analyzing his perfect jawline and strong shoulders, day-dreaming about our potential future together. 

We'd tell our kids how we met in college, laughed over our enthusiastic music teacher, and quickly fell in love. What an unexpected pair, the two of us: star athlete and devoutly Catholic good-girl.

It was somewhere in the middle of this daydream that I had a realization: how many times had I danced this routine throughout the week?

How many young men had I ogled and planned my life with, unbeknownst to them?
What was I doing?! 

Rather than see these men as brothers in Christ first, I was sizing them all up as potential love interests.

Over that weekend, I analyzed my actions, thoughts, and emotions. I determined that this had gotten out of hand. I needed to stop this way of thinking and change how I viewed the men in my life.

And that's when I started my first intentional dating fast.

Throughout the next couple of months, I focused on intentionally changing the way I thought of every man my eyes came across. I began to think of them as brothers in Christ, and desire holiness for them, rather than a romantic relationship with me.

It was hard, to be sure. This way of thinking doesn't come naturally for most of us, but in a way, it was freeing.

Knowing that the only relationship I was pursing was my relationship with God allowed me to treat every man in my life as a friend first. I was able to be my most authentic self because I wasn't trying to be the woman I thought men desired.

This first fast led to the deepening of my bond with Christ and helped me to hear, for the first time, His call for me to marriage.

I didn't have a specific time-frame set for this fast, so it kind of just tapered off in mid-October. Of course, old habits died hard and over the next couple of years, I fell into many of the same traps I had before. But this theme of seeing all men in my life as brothers in Christ allowed me to have more authentic friendships.

I entered my second intentional dating fast at the end of my Junior year, this one being more structured than my first. Starting in February and ending in May, I entered this fast because I began to see myself picking up these old habits. I had developed feelings for a friend of mine who was just entering the Church and I noticed myself attending events or doing certain things simply because I knew he would be there. This desire to develop a relationship with him was dictating my life.

I needed to be free from dating, or the possibility of dating, and so I fasted. 
I needed to draw closer to the Lord, depend on Him alone, and so I fasted.

This dating fast was exceptionally fruitful. I was able to see that the qualities I saw in my friend were ones I really wanted in a future husband, but even more than these qualities, I need to be able to be my true self with this future spouse. 

Again, I saw myself become free of the box I was trying to fit myself into. I realized that my future spouse, whoever he is, wouldn't want me to be the person I think he wants me to be, but desires me to be me.

And so, I'm a huge supporter of dating fasts. I know many other NAS ladies have written this week that they've been on unintentional dating fasts for some time, and believe me, I get that. :) I've been there.

But there's something to be said for taking an intentional step back from thinking about potential romantic interests, seeking out romantic relationships, and focusing entirely on God.

Natalie hit the nail of the head when she wrote about the tendency toward dating fasts as a formula to finding your future spouse. We cannot attempt to trick God like that. But, I'm guilty of that as well!

"Ok, Lord, I'm not looking for him...just do whatever you want.... *peeking* ...ok, really, just bring him whenever you want..."

....as if this will trick God into bringing me my future spouse. Yeah, He's smarter than that.

Really, the point of a dating fast, for me, is to re-center myself on what, or who, is really important. Dating fasts don't have to be long-term. I know people who've taken 1-5 year intentional dating fasts, but maybe just take a short one....like a month or two.

One book I love is The Dating Fast

Katherine Becker wrote this as a guide for anyone seeking to renew their relationship with Christ. It's a day by day guide, with reflections and challenges for every day.

I won't make a blanket statement that every. single. person. NEEDS to take a dating fast. Buuuut I do think they can be helpful and fruitful.

If you're curious about how taking a dating fast could be fruitful, I'd encourage you to try it out. If you have a spiritual director, maybe broach the topic with them and see what they think about you taking an intentional dating fast. Even if you haven't been in a relationship or had a date in years, being intentional about this break from dating could be fruitful.

What do you think about dating fasts? Ever taken one before? Comment below with your thoughts and head over to Jen's to see what others are saying!


Next week's topic:
Encouraging Men
We seem to always have something say about guys treating us right! Or, not right! But, what does that mean? Have you ever thought to share those insights so guys have a better idea on what to say/how to act? Well, let's do it! What are some good habits guys can take up when dealing with us ladies?

3/17: Challenge!
It's that time again! In the past, we've challenged ourselves to grow and/or take steps toward moving closer to our vocation. These challenges have come in all different forms! Trying online dating, getting more involved in our young adult ministry, and working on discipline have all been past personal challenges. What is one thing you want to challenge yourself to do that might help you along on your path toward God's will...or maybe just help you become more open to God's will?
Share what you're planning to challenge yourself with and why, then in 2 weeks we'll write on how this challenge went!!

3/24: Lent
We're more than half way through Lent... how's it going?! What did you decide to give up/take up? Did you make any spiritual goals? How have you grown thus far and how do you hope to make the most of the remainder of the season?

3/31: Expectations vs Reality... of the Single Life
Have you ever had people in your life who have expectations of what your life is like, as a single person? Do friends or family ever make assumptions about your life simply because you're unmarried? Did you ever had expectations about being single which turned out to be different than the reality? How do you manage the expectations of others with the reality of your day-to-day?

4/7: Challenge Check-in!
A couple weeks ago, we set to challenge ourselves! What did you decide on and what did you end up doing? Was this a fruitful experience for you? Why or why not?

4/14: Christian Friendship
What does it mean to be a friend based in Christ? Do Christian friends hold each other higher? Do we hold each other accountable? How do these friendships differ from non-Christian based friendships? Do they differ? Is one better than the other?


  1. That makes a lot of sense. I had no idea there was an actual BOOK on the subject! I'm not totally sold on the idea of a dating fast, but I definitely follow your reasoning.

  2. I think we have very similar ideas with the emotional dating fast. When I began reading your post and you were telling the story of noticing all the cute boys in your class and writing your "how we meet" story in your head I was like yes! yes! yes! Thanks for the shout out, glad I am not the only one that sees that problem. Also I find it intriguing that you enjoyed that book because I was very blah about it and didn't find it that great.

    1. I liked the book because I need structure for long-term anythings...so, I liked how every day gave me a new virtue/thought to focus on. Surely, it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it was nice for me to have some guidance in a dating fast :)

  3. i once dated a forever alone girl, it was something new for me, https://kovla.com/blog/dating-the-forever-alone-woman-9-things-you-should-know/ read my thoughts about it, i think you will enjoy it, and also you can take something from it to your new article, enjoy

  4. This helps a lot! I'm in the final days of my first dating fast - and I'm reading that book as well lol.


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