Where is the love? Kiwi single Catholics grapple with today’s dating scene

Single Catholic women say it is hard to find men ready for marriage (Photo: Arina Krasnikova)


Catholic and Single? Looking to get married, but not finding a suitable match? No this is not an ad, nor an agency to match you with your perfect man/woman. But if you were looking for a Catholic spouse, read on!

For some single Catholic women, finding a husband is not a breezy walk in the park. It has become more increasingly apparent in recent years, that more women are single or taking longer to enter into a relationship than their counterparts from previous generations. It’s taking them much longer to find a suitable spouse, Catholic or otherwise.

Anecdotally, women say their “one” is nowhere to be found; in fact it’s been noted that the pool out there is “bleak”, but is that true? If it is, then where are all the good Catholic men? And why are Catholic women in their 20s, 30s and 40s complaining about being single still?

Meet Jeanette Hancock, a 42-year-old who has never had a boyfriend and isn’t afraid to speak out on this subject. In her experience, Hancock says that the Catholic dating scene has become “bleak” and “shocking”, pointing out that her friends, both Catholic and non-Catholic, had similar grievances.

She has concerns over lack of respect and passivity shown by some men.

There are some men who exhibit poor work ethics, poor education, and lack of motivation and values, yet expect much more from their prospective wives, she added.

Hancock says that some men have no desire for change. And then there’s online dating and its ever-changing landscape. Hancock views the internet dating world as another tool to meet people, particularly in New Zealand.

“The dating arena has also changed, even in the last ten years. I’ve noticed it. Once upon a time if you went on a dating site, you’d find well-written profiles, lots of photos, dudes who had real hopes and dreams, and knew what they wanted.

“Now you have those disgusting dehumanising swipe apps, or profiles with ‘don’t know what I want, just looking for now’ level of interaction.”

And then there’s the Church. Hancock explains that it’s become cliché to turn up to a Church event expecting or hoping to interact with guys and girls, only to find out that the only people who turn up are women.

“These places are loaded with women. I think there’s been a significant feminising of our Church community. Balance is good, we should chase balance, but it’s basically just women at these places now.”

She says that women are “in more of a rush” to get married given their biological clocks, something that men either forget, don’t care about, or don’t consider important when dating women.

“A Protestant girlfriend told me she was sort of dating a guy who she thought was a ‘unicorn’. Had a really good job, good finances, wasn’t ugly, crazy or creepy. But he was hard to pin down, hard to get commitment out of. He occasionally would ghost.

“She eventually got sick of it, and called him out on it. He basically told her he could wait, he was in no rush, and there could be better fish in the sea. He was 45.”

Hancock noted seeing Catholic men often chasing after younger-looking females, preferring them over older ones.

“I think it’s a wider cultural thing, a lack of communication skills, conflict resolution, and most importantly, too many people don’t know how to accept flaws in another.”

She also raised concerns about the influence of pornography on men’s expectations and behaviours.

On the other hand, Danielle Windfuhr summed up her viewpoint by deciding to date outside the Catholic/Christian pool, reflecting the sentiments of many who have faced similar challenges like Hancock.

Marianne Hull, 28, was single for a long time before she found her now-husband at a Catholic summer school. She wrestled with many questions, like why it was taking so long to find a man, and wondering if there were fewer men actively seeking out women online, on dating apps or in real life.

“For instance, more girls will be willing to join ‘Catholic Match’ than guys. Also it seems like more girls are in a ‘hurry’ than guys are.”

She also admits to entertaining a mindset culture that points fingers at men for not taking the initiative. She later explains why this mindset wasn’t helpful, and how she overcame it.

In the 2018 census, there were nearly 470,000 Catholics in total in Aotearoa. This is compared to just over 490,000 in the 2013 census, and just over 500,000 in the 2006 census.

As of the end of 2021, the percentage of female population in New Zealand was 50.85 per cent compared to 49.15 per cent for males. Therefore, we could cautiously postulate that there are more Catholic females than there are males.

Specific statistics on how many women are single and dating is hard to acquire.

In the United States, there are approximately 61.9 million people who identify with the Catholic Faith. Of that, 46 per cent are men, and over half (54 per cent) are women. According to Pew Research, 18 per cent of American Catholic women are single, as against 25 per cent of men.

Hull also made a point about the cultural aspect of dating. She highlighted how, in New Zealand, women frequently take the initiative in dating and/or asking men out, which contrasts with some traditional Catholic cultures. But that’s not all.

“I also believe there’s a lot of pressure and expectations from females towards males. Some females expect men to be like Jesus, while being controlling, manipulating, dramatic and gossipers.”

She says that it is more likely that a girl complains about how a guy is, versus a guy complains about a girl.

“When [men] do complain, it’s common to think about them as [idiots] but, when we do, it it’s considered normal. In many ways I believe we expect males to think or act like we do, but their brains are wired completely differently.”

Hull provided insights into books that have helped expand her horizons a little bit, and is challenging others to do the same. She says that  women have a role to play in understanding the male brain, and not put so much pressure on men.

“I am not saying it is all the females’ fault, but I think we should be fair when we make a claim as such, and understand in which ways we might actually play a role in this issue. Probably an unpopular opinion, but I believe it’s important to take the males’ perspective on what we do as well.”

One of the books she recommends is “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine and “The Male Brain: A Breakthrough Understanding of How Men and Boys Think”, written by the same author. She also suggests women read “The Empowered Wife”.

“The [latter book’s] title sounds deceiving, but it’s actually such an eye-opening book about how we sometimes want men to take the initiative, but only on our terms. This really wrecks their desire because they don’t want to be bossed around. Let’s face it, no one likes to be bossed around.”

Another good book, she says, that explains why there are “so many boys and not enough men” is “The Wounded Male” by Steven Farmer.

“It’s fundamental in understanding the toxic masculinity. I have met many Catholic men who are wounded, but don’t even realise it because they have been taught to shove it all down.”

The importance of open dialogue and mutual respect between men and women cannot be understated in this context. In finding a life partner, someone’s attitude and willingness to try something different, learn something different and think something different, is paramount.

While the statistics and anecdotes may paint a certain picture, it’s essential to remember that each individual’s path to love and partnership is unique. There are good Catholic men and women out there, and the search for the right match may require patience, perseverance, and a willingness to explore different avenues.



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NZ Catholic contributor

Reader Interactions


  1. Regina says

    Materialism and bearing children do not go hand in hand.
    NZ birthrate is nothing to write home about- less than 2.0
    Afghanistan birthrate is 4.0
    “Invisible Partners” by Sanford discusses “anima” and “animus”
    which when affected is falling in love. Good psychological explanation.
    In one city in Croatia, there are no divorces, with couples placing their
    hands over the crucifix in the marriage ceremony, establishing Christ
    in the center of their marriage.
    People who attend church regularly often find partners in church.
    Mike Pence is one of these.

  2. Gregory says

    Amso makes a lot of great points… that will be ignored because the causes are too difficult to be faced by the people who contributed to the problem and have the power to address it.

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