Wednesday, 19 February 2020

How To Write a Dating or Matrimonial Profile

As you might have noticed, I have just ventured into the world of matchmaking. Part of the process is inviting applicants to fill in some details about themselves. I don't know if it's because we don't encourage self expression in India, or because written communication is sometimes hard, but many people seem to get stuck at the 'About Me' section. 

Why is this section important? Because you are more than a checklist, more than a list of beliefs of even hobbies. (You are definitely way more than your height, weight, complexion, salary or degrees which is why those aren't even a part of the form.) 

You are a unique, unrepeatable creation of God, and it is that unique person that needs to shine out of a profile. When another person reads that profile, they need to get a glimpse of YOU, not a generic list of traits that could be practically anyone. Easier said than done though, right? 

Here are some tips that might make it easier:

1. Be prepared to write at least two short paragraphs for each of these type of questions (or more, if you feel inspired.) A few adjectives on their own don't say much. Set aside some time to think and prepare what you want to say and how you want to describe yourself. If you don't care enough to work on it, it is less likely that someone viewing your profile will care enough to pursue the person behind the description.

2. Think of some of the words that could describe you. It could describe the work you do, the things you get excited about, your skills and talents, your good qualities, your quirks and oddities. 

3. Ask a close friend (or a few of them) to describe you as they see you, and if their descriptions seem apt, use them. I once wrote a dating profile for a close friend, and she loved it because I knew her well and was able to encapsulate what made her unique and lovable.

4. Be very honest. Don't make yourself sound more or less than you really are. Don't be afraid to be yourself, because it is the real you that you are taking into dating and marriage. Just don't make yourself sound like a paragon of all the virtues, or joke about real vices. 

5. Don't write generic words like god-fearing, caring, homely, etc. Try to find either more specific words or explain what you mean. 'I love cooking and finding ways to care for the people in my family.' 'I value family prayer and always try to do what God asks me to do.'

6. If you're still having a hard time, here are a list of words or phrases as well as questions you can ask yourself that might spark ideas. Don't just pick from this list, but try to be creative in your choice of words, and think deeply about what YOU are like, and what YOU want.

What are some words that describe your personality?

Examples: Funny, loud, adventurous, over-thinker, positive, lively, chatty, easygoing, control freak, hardworking, honest, blunt, serious, organized, ambitious, exuberant, high energy, mischievous, sarcastic, simple, lifelong learner, introvert, extrovert, life of the party, good listener, quiet, thoughtful, always on the move, deep thinker, active, introspective, sensitive, outgoing, quirky, unconventional, emotional, empathetic, compassionate, motivated, competitive, goal-oriented, neat freak, absent-minded, patient, creative, practical, trustworthy, reliable, energetic, loyal, non-judgmental, determined, passionate, persistent, decisive, loner, daydreamer, independent, contemplative, prayerful, lover of people, lover of God, peaceful.

What do you like to spend your time on?

Examples:  I love making birthday cards for my friends, you can usually find me playing online word games, I spend a lot of time baking and trying out new recipes for my family, I love talking to people and finding out what makes them tick, I love my job and spend a lot of time learning more about my field, my friends and I put on karaoke videos on Youtube and sing and dance for fun (we are a crazy bunch), I am obsessed with cars and can identify the make and model of most cars as I pass them, I tend to watch a lot of documentaries, I love gardening and have started growing some vegetables, I often go out with friends and listen to their problems and counsel them, I love organizing social events for people to get together, I spend most weekends running or climbing mountains or finding new physical challenges to conquer, I love hanging out with my family and chatting about everything over a cup of tea. I spend a lot of time reading Catholic blogs and study apologetics for fun. I am in a worship band and we get together every weekend to sing God's praises. I tutor underprivileged kids on the weekends.

What are some dreams or hopes you have?*

Examples: I hope to start an NGO one day that reaches out to street children and gives them a safe place to study and play. I am trying to read 50 books this year. I hope to visit all the continents of the world with my family. I would love to learn more about the bible and even teach others about it. I hope to start my own catering business one day (maybe with the help of my spouse). I want to buy a car, have a bunch of kids and do road trips all over India. I would love to be part of a musical. I want to start my own vegetable garden. 

What kind of family and marriage do you hope to have? 

Examples: I want to have the kind of home and family where the poor are always welcome to share a meal. I hope my spouse and I will be able to grow together and learn together about how to keep our marriage strong. I would like to be able to communicate well with my spouse in a way where we both feel comfortable sharing the little, big, and most intimate details of our life. I would love to do ministry with my spouse, reaching out to others and sharing Jesus together. I would like a marriage where we are equals, sharing responsibilities especially in the home and in raising children. I visualize a family that is an active part of a Christian community, not isolated or alone. I would like my spouse and I to teach our children to love God and to be adventurous in serving Him. I want an honest marriage where we are comfortable talking about our past wounds and helping each other heal. I would like a marriage where in-laws and outsiders do not interfere and we make our own choices according to God's will. 

What kind of spouse are you hoping for?

Examples: Someone who listens to and respects my desires and thoughts and feelings. Someone who loves God and puts Him first. Someone who is calm even in the face of trials and provocation. Someone who is financially responsible and willing to work hard for the sake of the family. Someone who is affectionate and loving. Someone who is as adventurous as I am. Someone who supports my desire to stay home and focus on our young children. Someone who is comfortable with sharing household and parenting responsibilities. Someone who is willing to support me in my dreams and career. Someone who does not drink alcohol (or drinks only occasionally in moderation). Someone who will be a good father. Someone who will prioritize family over career. Someone who is willing to be part of the prayer community that I am in. Someone who will love my family as his/her own. Someone who will love me in spite of my health issues. Someone who flexible and adaptable. 

Examples of deal-breakers: Someone who expects me to join the joint family and become like a servant of the home. Someone who will not accept the responsibility of my aged parents. Someone who is a workaholic. Someone who loses his/her temper and shouts and screams when angry. Someone who is very introverted. Someone who will not allow me to work outside the home. Someone who is controlling. Someone who is very conservative or liberal. Someone who smokes or drinks. Someone who only wants one or two children. Someone who cares too much about what people say (or what their parents say). Someone who is not open to my charismatic prayer community. Someone who does not follow the teachings of the Church. Someone who hates dogs. Someone who is too serious and doesn't like to go for movies or parties. Someone who is too frivolous and only likes to play, never pray.

Examples of non-negotiables (this overlaps with deal-breakers): I can only marry someone who is willing to move to my city. I am only open to someone who is willing to prioritize prayer and the spiritual life of our family. I am only open to someone who has lived away from home for some time (for work/studies). I am only open to someone willing to take at least a few months to date/court/get to know each other. I need someone who is willing to accept my choice to live as a missionary. I need someone who is fluent in English/ my mother tongue. 

Picking a profile pic: Let people get a glimpse of who you really are by giving a real smile, taking a close up photo, and removing all obstacles like sunglasses or hats. Stand up straight, no need to pose in front of a car or bike, be casual but alive. A photo says so much. And it isn't too difficult to get good quality photos these days - just catch a friend with a good phone camera, find a nice backdrop (nature is usually great), be willing to pose for a few shots and choose the best one.

Anything to add? Any other ideas or suggestions for writing dating or matrimonial profiles?

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Introducing the Catholic Disciples Matchmaking Service

UPDATED: Here's the link to the Google form to register:

Are you a Catholic disciple who feels called to marriage but have almost given up hope of finding a like-minded partner? Have you ever wished that someone would introduce you to more like-minded potential partners? Have you ever bemoaned the lack of easy ways to connect with eligible Catholic disciples? Has the traditional arranged marriage system and the casual dating system failed you so far?

Do you know people like that and wish you could help them out?

I’m here to help! (God willing) I’ve been pondering a matchmaking service for a while – but one with a difference.

First of all, who am I and why do I think I'm qualified to run this?

My name is Susanna, I'm a 33 year old (almost 34) Catholic disciple who has been working with young people for over a decade. I've run across the same problems and struggles again and again - disciples who feel that they have no options when it comes to looking for a good spouse. I've had my own struggles, but last year MY matchmaker (aka God) worked things out beautifully and I married another Catholic disciple and have begun to live out my vocation with him (fun read: one year ago I wrote 'What It's Like To Have a Catholic Boyfriend'). I'm based close to Mumbai, but I'm originally from Pune. My only qualification is that I feel inspired by the Holy Spirit to do this, and I don't know anyone else in India who is doing it. I've written a lot about relationships, dating, courtship, etc, and guided some people in real life too.

Second, what does ‘Catholic disciple’ mean?

Catholic – Faithful to all the teachings of the Church including the tough ones, willing to learn and grow in knowledge and practice of the Catholic faith, openness to and love for Mary, the saints and the sacraments; and committed to the Catholic understanding of marriage and family.

Disciple –  Committed to doing the will of Christ, trying to walk with Him every day, having a personal relationship with Jesus through a prayer life, dealing with personal sin, pursuing holiness, willing to ‘go wherever He asks you to go, do whatever He asks you to do, say whatever He asks you to say, and give up whatever He asks you to give up’.

Here’s what Catholic disciple does NOT mean: Perfect in every way, no longer struggling with any sin, only interested in talking about religious topics, extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of the Catholic faith, fanatical about all things Catholic. Yeah, no.

So how is Catholic Disciples Matchmaking Service going to work? 

1. Interested people fill in a Google form to help me get to know you better. It will include a photo, a bio, and a bunch of relevant questions. Job, salary, height, complexion, educational qualifications are NOT asked here. (If those are important to you, this is not a good place to join. You will eventually learn these thing after meeting someone, but they are not the most important things.) Instead, there will be questions about your interests, priorities, spiritual life and hopes for a spouse. The form should include a name and number of a priest you know who can vouch for you if necessary. Members pay a one-time registration fee.

2. As matchmaker, I personally will go through each member’s profile, and match members. I will send the photo and profile to two matched people, and if they both say yes, I’ll give them each other’s email ids to start a correspondence. If they feel comfortable doing so, they exchange numbers and eventually meet. There will be certain dating guidelines that all members should agree to – for example, that they should try to meet in person within a month of communicating (even if they’re from different cities), that both agree that no commitments or promises are implied in agreeing to go on a date, that they will maintain good boundaries, etc.

3. Once the two members have met in person, they will each debrief with me, and let me know what they thought and if they want to move ahead. Dating and courtship guidance will continue for those who want it.

4. As matchmaker I’m here to help and facilitate, but I am ultimately not responsible for your choices. It is up to each member to take this seriously, to be holy and responsible and prudent in the way they go about this process.

5. I hope to eventually add relationship advice videos and posts which will be available to members only.

What kind of attitude should a potential member have? 

1. Openness: Don’t come with a cardboard cut-out of the perfect spouse, or over specific ideas of how gorgeous they are, or where they are located, or their cultural background. Let God surprise you!

2. Adventurousness: You have to be willing to take a risk , to be courageous, to meet more than one person who may NOT be right for you. If you aren’t willing to take a risk, how can you hope for something amazing to happen to you?

3. Patience: It may not happen immediately, and it may not happen in your expected time frame. Some people take longer than others to know for sure. Marriage is a big enough commitment to merit investing time and patience into the search for the right spouse.

4. Willingness to step out of your comfort zone: Whether it means travelling to a different city for a date, or learning about love languages and marriage preparation and discernment, or more about your faith, or trying out spiritual activities that are new for you, or just learning to communicate with a completely different person, you can’t play it safe, or protect yourself completely. Be a learner! Whether or not you land up marrying that particular person, God can teach you a lot through the process.

5. Openness to God’s guidance: Commit to daily prayer for your future spouse, try out a novena or ask for a particular saint’s intercession and help, get your spiritual life in order, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you at each step. Trust that HE is your ultimate matchmaker.

Interested? Have suggestions? Have ideas about how to publicize this service? Shoot me an email at The Google form should be live in a week.

P.S This service is mostly aimed at people in India to make real-life meeting more possible, but if you have the possibility of visiting India regularly (like our many Indian friends working in Middle-Eastern countries), you are welcome too.

UPDATED: Indians from other countries have expressed an interest too, so go ahead and register wherever you are, and if God sends other people from your part of the world, I'll set them up with you. If you are in the US, I'd suggest you look up Emily Zanotti, the Catholic Yenta, who is doing something very similar there.

P.P.S. Please share this blog post in all the Catholic disciples' groups you can think of, and ask individuals to spread the word too! 

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Five Hacks to Be More Disciplined and Productive

Hello to all the undisciplined, lazy, unmotivated, negative people out there! This is for you. You’re not alone, you’re not a complete failure, and things CAN and WILL get better.

1. Stop telling yourself you are undisciplined and have no self control and you can’t help it: Like my dad keeps saying, “It’s all in the mind.” Well, maybe not ALL, but a lot of it. If you put yourself in a box, and slap a label on it, guess what, you’re going to stay there. It’s okay to admit it’s a struggle, but remind yourself it’s possible to change, even if it happens one small habit-changing step at a time. Think of the other areas that you used to struggle with ten years ago that you no longer even think about. Also, stop celebrating laziness and indiscipline and making jokes about it. It’s holding you back.

2. Acknowledge the main areas of indiscipline in your life: When it comes to time-wasting, you know I’m talking about your phone. You’re not alone. Apparently a LOT of people are struggling with phone addictions, but not everyone knows they are, or are willing to do anything about it. How do you know your phone use is becoming a problem? When you can’t go anywhere without your phone, when you automatically reach for it as soon as you have a minute free, when you return to social media sites just to refresh your feed, when you haven’t read a book in months or years, when you are in the middle of a conversation or a movie or even a book and you reach for your phone again… I’m here to tell you – YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. Another typical area of indiscipline is going to sleep on time (connected with phone use) and eating unhealthily. If you don’t acknowledge where the problem lies, you cannot move forward.

3. Place some obstacles between you and your favourite areas of indiscipline: I don’t have Facebook and Youtube apps on my phone, I have to go the browser and find them. I used to have to put in the password every time I used Facebook. I don’t allow notifications from any of my apps, so I basically don’t allow distractions to pop up in my life screaming “LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME!” Choose certain hours of the day where you and your family members place your phones out of reach, and choose to talk or read a book or play a game instead. Just physically putting it out of reach helps. Don’t buy the junk food you want to avoid. If it is in your house, guess what – you’re going to eat it in a moment of weakness. You’re a lot less likely to go down to the shop and buy snacks than just pull it out of the kitchen cupboard.

4. Take the drastic step of deleting accounts or subscriptions or games: Whenever I feel like something is going out of control, when I know I can’t rely on my own sense of balance and will-power to help me use that thing well, I have to be ruthless. After messing up several times, I realize I cannot have Netflix or Amazon prime or anything with TV shows on my phone. So I finally just deleted my subscriptions and we currently live in the olden times and watch DVD movies for movie night. I feel stupid that I can’t keep it under control, but you know, maybe I have an addictive personality, and I’m much happier with zero TV shows in my life than with non-stop obsessive TV show bingeing. (Also, long-duration entertainment (aka TV shows) sucks the depth out of your spiritual life.)

5. Give yourself positive achievable goals to replace bad habits: Fill in the empty spaces with good goals and make them easy to achieve - place good books by your bed, fill your home with fruit and healthy snacks, take up a hobby, start listening to a good podcast. Sacrifice has to be for some purpose. Decide what you REALLY want, and make a list and a plan to fill your free time. Celebrate small victories, and get someone to celebrate with you. Basically, set yourself up for success. Once you taste success – you finished reading a book! You lost some weight! You wrote a story! You created art! You woke up in the morning feeling rested and energetic! – you will want more of it. And then you will be able to take on slightly harder goals.

Alright, guys! What other hacks have worked for you?