Adventures in online dating, part three: My Catholic Match experience

If you had told me two years ago that I would someday write a post about my experience using Catholic Match, I would have laughed hysterically and insisted that you must be thinking of some other Turning the Paige blog. After all, I would never try online dating, let alone Catholic Match — not after some of the stories I’d heard from my girlfriends. But over the years, it’s amazing how many of my “nevers” have become an integral part of my life. After all, I “never” thought I’d become Catholic, either — but that’s a story for another post.

For background, be sure to check out part one and part two of my online dating series, where I describe how I finally overcame my resistance to meeting My Person on the interwebz, my initial adventures on Coffee Meets Bagel, and why I eventually switched to Catholic Match. In my last post, I also shared more about my vocational discernment journey, and what was going on in my mind and heart around the time I started online dating.

All caught up? Okay, let’s go!

Even after I had decided that I wanted to try a faith-focused dating site, I was still very reluctant to pay for it. I’m a pretty frugal gal, and I was coming off 5 months of unemployment, so the thought of exchanging my hard-earned cash money for a service that could amount to little more than an inbox full of creepy messages — well, it wasn’t the most appealing. At the time, Catholic Match allowed you to create an account and browse profiles for free, but you had to pay to actually use the messaging features. So I decided to take a look and see if there were any guys who piqued my interest before I switched to the paid version of the site.

I set up some basic search parameters around age, geographic location, etc., and as I scrolled through the resulting list of profiles, I was pleasantly surprised. A number of guys actually seemed cute and normal. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! I also found the structure of Catholic Match profiles to be quite helpful in determining whether I wanted to reach out to someone. Whereas Coffee Meets Bagel provided only bare-bones information, Catholic Match offered an in-depth look at each individual’s personality, interests, faith, family of origin, and even appearance (from eye color to body type to any tattoos/piercings). Personally, I found the “Introduction” and “Ideal Match” sections to be the most insightful. Both were free text boxes, so users’ personalities could really shine through in their responses. If a guy sounded pretentious about his faith, or if he sounded like he didn’t take anything seriously, or if he was simply searching for someone to birth 10 children for him (yes, a real thing that happens on Catholic dating sites) — in the words of Ariana Grande, “THANK U, NEXT.”

There was one particular profile that really caught my eye — a handsome, dark-haired man in a navy suit and pale pink tie who worked in music education. He professed a love for the Eucharist and said he felt awed and humbled by all that the Lord had done in his life. Hmmm, I thought. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all…

Before I knew it, I had entered my credit card information and dropped $29.99 for my first 30 days. I distinctly remember telling the Lord, I’m ONLY paying for one month. ONE MONTH, I say! If I didn’t make any real connections during that time, I planned to take a break from online dating altogether. (Remember, folks, I was still recovering from the Smelly Fish Market saga. My mind, heart, and nose could only take so much.)

So I sent a message to Mr. Pink Tie, who by that time had indicated his mutual interest by “liking” my profile. I also reached out to a few other guys who seemed promising. My messages weren’t anything groundbreaking — I simply wanted to demonstrate that I had read their profiles and wanted to know more. For example, I asked Mr. Pink Tie which instruments he played, and I asked another guy about his recent mission trip. At the same time, dozens of other men started sending me their own introductory messages, which ranged from sweet and thoughtful to STRANGER DANGER (and everything in between). Luckily, my friends had warned me about the onslaught of communication I could expect to receive as a new user, so I had braced myself and was willing to tolerate it while I eagerly awaited responses to my messages. And fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long.

Within 24 hours, Mr. Pink Tie had replied and said that he was a “multi-instrumentalist,” a term that made me think he was either super cool OR totally full of it. Knowing that so much can get lost in translation online, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. It turns out that he wasn’t full of it at all — on the contrary, his words were animated by a deep sense of humility and appreciation for his life and everything in it. We proceeded to message back and forth for about two weeks, discussing everything from our favorite podcasts to our families to our faith journeys. He had been on vacation when I first reached out, so when he finally returned to Texas, we moved the conversation to FaceTime.

I’ll never forget the moment when I answered that first call and saw him in real life for the very first time. He was seated in his at-home music studio, surrounded by an artfully arranged collection of instruments and equipment, and somehow, he was even more handsome than his pictures let on. (In my Coffee Meets Bagel experience, I had found that many guys used pictures that were 5+ years old and didn’t accurately represent their current appearance.) His calm demeanor immediately put me at ease, and although he seemed like an overall pretty serious guy, he also had one of the biggest smiles I’d ever seen. We proceeded to talk for what felt like 10 minutes but turned out to be 2 hours. Before we said goodnight, he asked if I’d like to go for a hike a week from Saturday. Oooh! I thought. He’s outdoorsy and athletic, too. I could hardly wait.

In the meantime, I also FaceTimed with two other men from Catholic Match. With the first guy, I had a fun and engaging conversation, and we continued texting for a week or two afterward, until things naturally fizzled. With the second, things crashed and burned almost instantly — he gave off majorly sexist vibes and seemed strangely preoccupied with whether or not I was on a diet/watching my figure. In the words of Lizzo, “Why are men great til they gotta be great?” Needless to say, that was our first and last video chat.

The day finally came for my hiking date with Mr. Pink Tie. I ran my choice of outfit, hair, and makeup by one of my roommates (I wanted to look cute enough for a date but also casual enough for a hike but also breezy and effortless and totally unplanned, ya know?) and was still getting ready when he arrived at my door early. Wow! I thought. He’s not only athletic but punctual, too! Over time I would learn that he was actually neither, but those qualities quickly faded into the background as I came to know him as he really was.

Our first date lasted 6 or 7 hours, as we totally lost track of time and also got lost on the path. Little did I know that he hadn’t gone on a long walk since way before the pandemic and was so sore the next day that he could barely move. Little did he know that I have a bladder the size of a peanut and really needed to find a bathroom about an hour into our adventure. We eventually found one, but it was clear that neither of us wanted the conversation to end. A year later, as we are in the early stages of wedding planning, I can still say the same.

I originally wanted this post to be a full review of Catholic Match, but I don’t feel I’m the best person for that job. On one hand, the platform exceeded my every expectation by connecting me to the love of my life. One the other hand, I was only an active user for, like, a hot second, so my experience is rather limited. My primary takeaway would be that apps like Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, and Hinge can be great, and I know plenty of successful relationships that have started there. But for anyone discouraged by a lack of meaningful connections on these apps, I’d encourage you to try a site (religious or not) that provides more in-depth information on each user (think, eHarmony, etc.). Sure, people can say anything they want online and project any image they’d like, but I feel a bit more confident about my chances with someone who has paid to use the site and taken the time to carefully answer a litany of questions.

The other lesson here was one that I continue to learn over and over and over throughout my life: God is so big and my trust in Him can be so small. I thought I was providing Him with such a tight deadline for my time on Catholic Match; meanwhile, the Lord, creator of heaven and earth, the Alpha and the Omega, was essentially like, “An entire month? Hold my beer.” Because it didn’t take a month. It didn’t even take a week. Within 24 hours of signing up, I had unknowingly introduced myself to my future husband. I still get chills every time I think about it.

So would I recommend Catholic Match? Probably. Was it worth the investment? Without a doubt. As I joked to our priest in marriage prep, Mr. Pink Tie was the “best $29.99 I ever spent.” He truly is the “ideal match” I described in my profile — and so much more. But whether or not things work out the way we want or plan, we can always, always, always trust in the Lord.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!