How to Get to I Do is a fascinating psychological study of the contemporary Catholic dating scene, but I would hesitate to recommend it as a guide for anyone who wishes to actually find a husband.
Author Amy Bonaccorso is described in the back-of-the-book flavour text as a “veteran of the Christian dating scene,” and so she is. She spent nearly ten years searching for men at Christian college groups, parish social events, and on on-line dating sites. Although numbers are not given, one has the impression that she dated dozens, if not hundreds, of men before settling down with her husband. Her insights are certaintly hard-won, and there is a lot of good advice here, unfortunately what she consistently illustrates through her practical examples and her personal anecdotes soundly contradicts the thesis of her book. She promises to help young Christian women to get down off their high horses, abandon their dreams of Prince Charming, get real, and get married. In practice, however, the horse is only lowered by a couple of millimetres, and one is largely advised to settle for Prince Charming’s slightly-less-charming younger brother.
One of the lines that I found most telling was the claim that “Even the most patient, long-suffering women eventually need to abandon men who say they love Christ but who nevertheless lack good relationship skills." This, for me, sums of the tone of the book. Bonaccorso seems to think that most men are simply not relationship material. They are insufficiently sincere, honest, faithful, chaste, affluent, well-educated, respectful, or well-mannered to function as a life-partner. The majority of her practical advice focuses on recognizing and weeding out unworthy candidates. Although she often says that it is necessary to be compassionate, understanding, patient, and humble, it is difficult to square this with most of the specific behaviours and practices that she recommends. Bonaccorso does eventually find a husband, but this reviewer gets the impression that it is more in spite of her methodology than because of it.
This book seems to take it for granted that the average unmarried Catholic woman is financially independent, has lots of disposable income, lives in a large city, and has a huge amount of free time to spend perusing on-line profiles and going on trial dates. Bonaccorso further assumes that you are desirable, well-educated and self-confident enough to attract a large pool of potential marriage candidates who can be easily discarded if they don’t make the cut.
Needless to say, this is worse than useless advice for the majority of girls who have suffered for a long time in the Catholic dating scene, most of whom are fighting over the relatively small handful of chaste and devout men that haven’t been snapped up by the end of high-school. She does not give advice for the perennially lonely, the socially awkward, the inexperienced, and the chronically shy – yet that probably describes the greater part of her readership. Perhaps Catholic girls who love Jesus but “lack good relationship skills” are to be thrown into the same outer darkness as the similarly afflicted men, permanently unloved and unlovable, even by the most long-suffering of Saints?
I wrote this review for Tiber River, created by Aquinas and More.
You can get the book here.