Don’t let fear or excuses hold you back
Each of us has a unique vocation that we must discover in our walk with God. We must open our hearts to what God is calling us to do, this may be a call to religious life, to be single or the vocation of marriage. If you feel you are called to marriage and think this means that one day the door bell will ring and God will place your ideal other half before your eyes you are wrong!
The dating scene can be really difficult but sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. You can let your anxieties and fears overcome you and stay stuck to the couch or you can try to meet new people in different ways like new hobbies, prayer groups, online dating. The first important step is to keep an open mind. Don't have an ulterior motive when your are mixing in new circles. It certainly can be challenging trying to meet people. If marriage is your vocation you have to be proactive with an open mind and heart.
God is not going to put your perfect partner on your doorstep
The one thing that I have consistently found with my 30-something single friends is that they have decided that God has someone lined up for them therefore he or she will suddenly appear. They refuse to try new hobbies or consider people interested in them before ever giving them a chance. Yet, then they will sit at home, alone, lamenting their singleness. Does singleness lead to single mindedness? If you want to meet somebody, put simply, you need to get off your butt and get out there! This doesn't mean jumping into relationships, if anything the contrary is true. Build friendships first then if it’s right you will quickly spot the chemistry. It is scary putting yourself out there but it can also be fun and exciting too.
If you want to meet someone – then get out and meet people
If you want to meet someone the only way to do that is to get out and meet new people. This can be done in so many ways. Start a new hobby, volunteer at a new charity, try online dating. For example recently a group of friends started a hiking club (there are all sorts of Christian/Catholic Clubs with various activities on offer) on the first hike there was over 30 people, many of them single and new faces. Go to events and places where you will meet people with similar interests. Going to new events can take you way outside of your comfort zone, but we have to push ourselves in order to be able to grow and develop.
Looking to the United States many parishes have Catholic singles groups for people over 30. Perhaps if we got more involved in our local parish and formed a group where friendships and sometimes more could flourish it would be a good start. I have seen this suggested at various groups I am involved in, generally everyone likes the idea, but nobody wants to take the initiative to get it started. Maybe you can take the initiative! Do over 30s singles, get involved in parish life? How then are the people in the parish supposed to reach out to us? I have been regularly met with "what if I don't know anybody except you?" or "I don't know if it will be fun” when I have suggested to single friends going to events that like-minded people might be attending. It baffled me recently when a Catholic Valentine’s ball was on that several people I know who are actively looking for a relationship decided not to go for no good reason. Say yes, don't let fear or excuses hold you back.
Of course, the danger of any event is that you are merely showing up to scan the room to see if there is potential husband or wife material there. This attitude won't get you very far. If your constant focus is merely finding someone based on a pre-conceived criteria, the likelihood is you won't find anyone.
Open your heart and say ‘Yes’ when someone asks you out
Often times people who are single when they are asked out continuously say no or create barriers. Generally this is to people they don't know very well. So what are they saying no too? Something Superficial? Are expectations too high? My attitude has always been to give somebody a chance, what is the harm in having a relaxed cup of coffee with someone and taking the time out to get to know them better? My advice at this stage is to keep this between you until you have a clearer picture of where this new friendship may or may not be going, Catholic circles, like Ireland can be a small place and people like to have you 'married off' before you have even begun to know each other properly.
Ask people out – what are you afraid of?
The next thing to avoid is having an idea of this perfect Prince or Princess charming. I have said it before and I repeat, there is no such thing. When someone asks you out give them a chance.
Having a list of all the attributes your ideal partner should have won't get you very far, there is no such thing as a perfect person forget the boxes that you think need to be ticked and you might find yourself being pleasantly surprised.
So many people I meet are terrified about making that first move. Why? One of three things can happen. You ask someone out that you think might be a good match, if they are a nice person but are not interested they will let you down gently, which is not so bad, at least then you know and you can move on. Being let down is a reality of life, it has to happen probably more than once. If they are less than pleasant and let you down in the way which you feared then thank God, because you wouldn't want to go out with them anyway, you have dodged a bullet. The third option is they might actually say yes, you never know until you ask. When I first met my husband, I never would have thought he was my 'type' but God had other plans, I had an open heart, now I couldn't imagine ever loving anyone else. So break out of what you think you want and open yourself up to the plans God might have for your love life. When we trade our ideas for Gods we can rest assured were in for an adventure and Gods goal for us is happiness so what have you got to lose.
There is so many good things about dating in your 30s. You know what you want and what is important to you in a relationship. You are comfortable in yourself and ready to build a relationship based on truth, your values and the real you. You can see red flags sooner and know when to end relationships that are not working. The Gift of our faith is that the baggage you have from the past, God helps to heal and helps to wipe the slate clean. Saving sex for marriage also makes dating a lot less complicated. So really what is stopping you?!