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Hale, who lives in Washington and works for the faith-based advocacy group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, says he is looking for a partner who challenges him.

“What I’m looking for in a relationship is a person that can draw me outside of myself,” he says.

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, 59 percent of people ages 18 to 29 were married in 1960. While it seems that there are more ways than ever to find a spouse—online dating and social media alongside the more traditional methods of parish events or friends of friends, among others—this array of options can also be overwhelming.

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Pennacchia was raised Catholic, but she’s not limiting her dating prospects to people within the Catholic faith. “It has shaped how I relate to people and what I want out of relationships, but I’m thinking less about ‘Oh, you’re not Catholic,’ than ‘Oh, you don’t agree with economic justice.’ ” For Pennacchia, finding a partner is not a priority or even a certainty.

“People talk [about love and marriage] in a way that assumes your life will turn out in a certain way,” she says.

And Catholics who consider themselves loosely affiliated with the church are more open to dating outside the faith than young adults were 30 years ago.

Yet young people of all stripes express frustration with the uncertainty of today’s dating culture.

Upon my arrival at the bar, I immediately regretted it. “Huh, that’s sexy,” he said, taking another sip of his beer.

The man who would be my date for the evening was already two drinks in, and he greeted me with an awkward hug. This particular gentleman didn’t turn out to be my soul mate.After graduating with a theology degree from Fordham University in 2012, Stephanie Pennacchia, 24, joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Los Angeles, where she worked at a drop-in center for teens experiencing homelessness.Today she is as a social worker who assists chronically homeless adults and says she is looking for someone with whom she can discuss her work and her spirituality.In 2013 Kania traveled to the National Catholic Singles Conference in Philadelphia.She went for the speakers, the fellowship, and the info on theology of the body, but not necessarily to meet someone, she says. No matter what, she says, “I pray for myself and for my future spouse as we both are on our path to grow closer to the Lord, and if it is God’s will, we will meet when we are both ready.” Yet for other young adults, dating events geared specifically toward Catholics—or even general Catholic events—are less-than-ideal places to find a mate.“But it’s hard to say that I’m actively looking.” Kania earned her doctorate in physical therapy and works at a hospital in Wallingford, Connecticut.

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