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10 tips for dating a priest

10 tips for dating a priest

With Valentine’s Day upon us, The Revd. Kelvin Holdsworth offers 10 tips for dating priests:

  1. Firstly, accept that clergy are people, just like everyone else.
    I’ve met people who believed that when they were ordained, God would take away all their romantic emotions and leave them pure and holy in order to get on with saving the world. Trouble is, no-one ever told God that this was what should happen and God isn’t in the sublimation business. Indeed, a more healthy way to look at clerical life is to remember that it is supposed to be at its heart about being very much yourself and very much about living life with passion. That means all kinds of passion. Oh yes, that kind of passion too.
  2. Secondly, accept that clergy are people not like anyone else.
    Hath not a priest eyes? Hath not a priest hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a lay person is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
    Well no – if you tickle us we might laugh but we might also worry that someone might tell the bishop that tickling has occurred. (This applies even if the bishop is tickle-positive). If we go out for a Friday night boogie and a beer, we are probably going to enjoy it more if we are somewhere where everyone else in the gin-joint doesn’t normally see us in a dog-collar. Hearing a confession (from a third party) in the middle of a date can be a bit of a passion killer.
  3. Try very hard not to fall in love with anyone who claims to be celibate or who is supposed to be celibate.
    Some parts of the church insist on celibacy for clerics. Not all of those clerics manage it. However falling in love with those clergy tends to be bad news for the people falling in love with them. Indeed, this situation generally seems to me to be a lot worse for the lay person in the relationship than the cleric. Here there be dragons.
  4. Clergy feel they can ask anything they choose to ask when on a date. Deal with it.
    Oh, this one is very unfair and no mistake. The thing is, most clergy are perfectly at home in the realm of the emotions. We are used to people telling us how they feel and we are used to listening for what people are not telling us. We know the questions to ask. At best this can make us sensitive, at worst intrusive. We are used to operating the midst of the blood and fire of human relationships. There’s not much you can say to us that will shock us. This can lead to intimacy (or worse, apparent intimacy) developing quite quickly. Beware!
  5. You can’t compete with a vocation so you might as well collaborate with it.
  6. It is almost impossible to have an good relationship if you don’t meet as equals.
  7. If you find a member of the clergy attractive in their dog-collar, don’t be surprised if the same clergy-person is not interested in you.
  8. Clergy have a whole load of expectations put upon them about sex. They may not share these expectations.
  9. It is more likely to work if faith is a common factor.
  10. Don’t be deceived by their public profile and behaviour, most clergy are very shy and private.

Read them in full here.

Do you think this applies to dating women who are priests?

Photographer – Gordon Smith


posted by Ann Fontaine


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Frankie Andreu

Is it permitted for an Episcopalian priest to have sexual relations outside of marriage? According to my pastor it is not, but does anyone here know the Church teachings on this? Thank you?

Elouise Weaver

…. Aren’t most (Protestant) priests already married before Seminary?

David Streever

My (admittedly singular) experience of knowing Yale Divinity students says no, unless most of the seminarians I met didn’t go on to become priests!

John Chilton

#5. “You can’t compete with a vocation so you might as well collaborate with it.”

I want to give this a generous interpretation. But for clarity, is Kevin saying that most clergy fail to achieve a healthy balance between labor and life? And their partner should enable that imbalance?

Whit Johnstone

I think what he’s saying is “don’t tell a priest that he needs to change jobs or dump you, because he or she will either dump you or leave the prieshood and be miserable.” Demanding that your partner give up on a career that they enjoy for your sake is a bad idea in any relationship.

Nick Porter

I would hope that would go without saying. :-/

David Streever

John, I had the same thought (as the very happy spouse of a priest!)

Rod Gillis

This is not really my area, and I realize the article is about dating priests; but I’m thinking, if you are priest and interested in getting dates, might be a good idea not be so much of clothes horse as the guy in the photo. Just sayin.

Whit Johnstone

He’s a Provost – the dean of a Scottish cathedral- they’re supposed to wear copes.

Rod Gillis

PS: the lol retort was in response to Anne’s reply, which I thought très drôle ( :

Ann Fontaine

I wish there was a like button on this comment feed. Rod

Rod Gillis

I know, I’m a retired Canon, previously an Archdeacon, so I’m familiar with the get-up. It’s just that I can never resist a joke about our Pythonesque Anglican haberdashery.

Ann Fontaine

That was the choice of your editor, Rod. Kelvin is usually much more dressed down. Check out his blog for more photos.

Rod Gillis


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