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For Introductions, Who Takes the First Step,
Man or Woman?

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
The following well-written letter provides me the opportunity to address questions that I have heard more than once in the past few years: that is, what is the role of the young man in approaching a young woman he would like to meet, and, vice versa, the part of the woman in meeting the man.

Dear Dr. Horvat,

Thank you so much for your website. I’ve never seen so much tradition and orthodoxy in one place! It is really useful in these times.

I have some questions in my mind on a subject that I don’t think has been directly mentioned on your website (I may be wrong). I refer to the initial stages of the meeting between a traditional Catholic man and woman for the intention of marriage.

intros

Proper introductions being practiced in a 1950s school; those rules are lost today

I am a single millennial Catholic lady wanting to meet a traditional man for marriage. Am I right to think that the man should always approach the woman at first instance? Even in an online context, i.e. on social media?

Is there any precedent for the correct way of managing this issue? Some ladies I know (also traditional Catholic women) who are now married say they made the first move! To me this is too forward! They say they connected with various potential suitors on social media (messaged them, liked their photos, etc) I have not done this as I do not want to assume the "male role." Am I being too extreme here?

Also, what do you think of men approaching women at church? Is this ok or does it show a lack of respect? I attend the TLM.

Finally, if a man shows some interest, i.e staring often, is it ok to smile at him to show that I am available? (Assuming I am also interested) Or should I simply wait for him to approach? Sorry for these trivial questions, it’s just that I feel that most Catholics have become so modernized and men rather effeminate, and I definitely want to attract the right man (masculine, alpha, Godly) in a way that is pleasing to God.

  Many thanks and prayers for you,

  C.S.


Appropriate introductions

In the past, there was indeed a correct way for a young woman to meet a young man. The man was always expected to approach the lady at the first instance. A young woman who made the first approach to a man would be considered brazen and forward, and would not be respected by an upright Catholic man or his family.

Introduction

A gentleman introduces a young man to his niece

The young man whose attention was drawn to a Catholic maiden would seek a means to have an introduction: through a family member, relative or mutual friend. The responsibility for this bit of maneuvering fell to him, and not to the young lady.

Above all, a young lady was never to make obvious plays for the attention of a young man, or insinuate that she wanted an invitation from him. This would actually be considered daring, which would not please a young man looking for a modest spouse.

Suitable occasions for introductions

Parties & excursions: In times past, the mother of the young lady desiring a good marriage would create conditions for her to meet future suitors. The normal way would be a festivity or an excursion in which a number of young people would meet under the watch of the parents. This used to be the healthy atmosphere for a young man to approach a young lady. Clearly, this system can be re-established, as long as the families know one another and can arrange meetings this way.

picnic

A picnic by the lake, a proper opportunity for an introduction; below, young women offer themselves on a Catholic dating app

apps
Family acquaintances: In traditional Catholic families and communities, relatives and friends would always make introductions between potential marriage partners. For example, an aunt or uncle might introduce a nephew to a friend's daughter who was a good practicing Catholic of the same social level. This is, I believe, still a very good way for young persons to meet today, although it has become much more difficult for traditional Catholics whose circle of trusted relatives and friends is usually much smaller than it was in times past.

After Mass gathering: Because social gatherings are common after Mass in traditional Catholic communities, it would be suitable for a young man to introduce himself to a young woman in such an instance, if in fact he has not been able to find anyone who can introduce him to her. It is not a lack of respect, but a practical matter, since this can be one of the few opportunities he has to meet a like-minded woman who takes her Catholic faith seriously.

In such a case, the man should take the lead in the conversation that follows. That is, it is the man who should be prepared to make amiable conversation, asking general rather than personal questions, always maintaining a polite, manly and respectful demeanor. I believe that this post-Mass gathering should not be preceded by flirting or an exchange of smiles during the Mass. Mass should be kept for us to honor God, not to advance our personal plans for the future.

Online introductions: I am not a proponent of the on-line dating website, first, because by its very name and nature, it promotes the idea of dating by shopping around a bevy of women or men to find the one you like vs. courtship.

If, however, one feels the imperative need to find a spouse, the same rules mentioned above should apply. It should be the man who initiates the on-line conversation, and arranges for a meeting at the home of the young lady. I believe that the rules of courting should not be left off during the period of getting to know one another, with parental chaperoning of both the online exchanges and any actual physical meeting.

Egalitarian relationships & marriages

That this question must be asked today illustrates how egalitarianism has entered every terrain, including that of introductions and courtship. Like you, I also know many traditional Catholic young ladies who think nothing of taking the first initiative in meeting men.

forward

It is not uncommon for a woman to introduce herself to some unknown young man...

flirting

...or flirt outrageously

proposing

No wonder it is the woman who sometimes ends up proposing...

They are following the egalitarian feminist trends of the modern world, and this spirit usually enters their relationship and marriage. It is why so many married women – yes, even Catholic traditionalists – have the final word in the home, treating their charming husbands, whom they successfully wooed, like little boys.

A man who understands his role as the leader and head of the home will not be interested in a woman who pursues him. He will be the one to choose and pursue the woman who will be his wife and the mother of his children, a woman willing to submit to his decisions and trust his moral virtue and goodness. If a woman chases him, his first instinct should be to steer away from her, realizing that she is likely to want to take the reins in the relationship, both now and later.

Sadly, the modern trend of girls calling or texting boys, young women introducing themselves to men who catch their fancy, etc., in short, the reversal of the proper order, has produced a pitiful specimen: the young man who is too timid or lazy to make the effort to look for and court a woman on his own. He is the one who waits to be called, chased after and given gifts. Or, as you noted, he stands at a distance staring fixedly at the embarrassed young woman, too fearful to hazard an introduction.

These behaviors of the girl and the boy are not only inappropriate, but censurable.

How disgraceful to see the virile hunter become the hunted.

Do what is right or what is expedient?

The modern Catholic young lady may object: "If I wait for an interesting young man to introduce himself to me, I may never meet anyone. You just admitted that many young men do not realize it is their responsibility to initiate a conversation. The bold girls will take all the men and I will be left with no one."

respectful courtship

A gentleman admires feminine charm & reserve

Now, if you want to do what is expedient, you may join the crowd and not fear to take the initiative to meet men. But, you will bear the consequences of your action in your future marriage life and with your children, who will always be badly influenced by this choice.

However, f you want to be counter-revolutionary and not be feminist, then you will wait for the young man to take the first initiative. This does not mean that if a man looks in your direction with interest, you cannot venture a slight smile or sign in return to offer a bit of encouragement should he be timid. If he is not, it will make no difference; caught by your feminine spirit, he will find the way to meet you.

A young woman seeking to preserve her modesty should not be looking boldly at the young men she sees, smiling at any man who looks her way. She should carefully guard her gaze and by her demeanor show her reserve, keeping at a distance from men. An honorable man will respect her behavior and be drawn to her because of her modesty and reserve.

If young women were wise enough to realize how charming and fascinating a demure femininity is to a man worthy of the name, they would certainly think twice about taking on the frivolous, flippant, bold spirit of the modern woman. The charm and mystery of femininity lie in the delicacy, reserve and modesty of a lady, and inspires the admiration and even reverence of a good man. It is this admiration that provides the real foundation for a good marriage.

Prayer & confidence

Now, this path demands both prayer and confidence. You should pray that Our Lady sends you the right husband if marriage is your vocation and a firm confidence that this will happen in the timeline of God and if it is His will.

zelie martin

Louis & Zelie Martin

In the life of Zelie Guérin Martin, we read that the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux was drawn to the religious life, but was prevented from entering due to her poor health. She asked God to send her not only a good, but a fervent Catholic husband if she should marry.

One afternoon the delicate 27-year-old lace-maker was crossing the St. Leonard Bridge in Alençon and saw the watchmaker Louis Martin for the first time. Their glances met; each felt an attraction to the other but not a word was exchanged. They were soon introduced by Louis' mother, who attended a lace-making class given by Zelie, and the courtship started soon afterwards.

Should a worthy man not appear, continue to pray, trusting that, if it be for your good and for His glory, God will in due time provide.

One should also consider that perhaps in these very difficult times where the world is facing a great chastisement from Heaven, God may be calling many to His special service in the often ignored vocation of the single life. Our Lady may be asking both young men and women to dedicate their lives in this grand fight of the Counter-Revolution for the restoration of the Church and Christian Civilization.

Her plan for you may be different from what you think, and it is good to always be ready to enter into her service if she shows you a different, more perfect path to follow to reach the final port of Heaven.


Posted September 24, 2020

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