Jill Duggar Meets Her Fiance For the First Time: A Peek Into the World of Online Dating

Perhaps you saw the news a couple of weeks ago that Jill Duggar, from the famed Duggar Family (19 Kids and Counting), had finally met her fiance Derick Dillard in person.  With the pair for their first face-to-face meeting in Nepal was Jill’s father, Jim Bob Duggar.

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It’s an unusual love story, to be sure:  Jill and Derick met on-line.  They were introduced by Jill’s father, Jim Bob, who thought they would be a perfect match for one another.

When they first talked via Skype, Derick was in Japan.   There was the first official meeting in April in Nepal, where they confirmed their plans to marry, with her father on hand as chaperone.  Since then, Derick’s travels have taken him to India and Israel, then to Arkansas, where he met the Duggar family for the first time.

From RealityTV Magazine:

As Jill told People in an earlier interview, the first few months of her courtship with Derick were tough. “I was in love with someone I had never met in person, but we really knew each other well.”

Finally, after a seemingly endless wait, Jill traveled with Jim Bob to Nepal to meet the love of her life. Jill later explained that, although she was forced to deal with jet lag and camera crews, her first visit with Derick was incredibly special. “We enjoyed the first several days getting to spend time together and getting to see things together.”

Jill, 23, and Derick, 25, agreed to hold hands during their engagement, but will save their first kiss for their wedding day.  They don’t have long to wait:  The wedding will take place this summer.

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The news of the unusual courtship took me back to the story of two good friends who met on-line through Ave Maria Singles.  I contacted Joe, now the proud father of five, to ask his reflections on the whole on-line dating thing.  Joe wrote back:

We were the 100th couple to marry from Ave Maria Single Catholics, thanks to Angelo gifting Renee a subscription. I had to buy mine (I think it was $60).

The pros:  You got A LOT of personal information on the person’s faith life and reasoning for that faith life before even meeting – most of the time people don’t get around to talking about God, faith, values (like raising children, contraception, abortion, the eucharist, prayer etc.) until much further along in a relationship when emotions can easily affect one’s decisions.

I met some women on Ave Maria Single Catholics who volunteered info that were ‘non-starters’ for me – such as that they were OK with contraception or other heterodox ideas. The thing is, women can only see the profiles of men, and men can only see the profiles of women, so one wouldn’t know “the competition” – I think this made it easier to be one’s self vs. take on the ‘best practices’ approach of some template. On the other hand, and this is a con….people can lie.

The cons:  Some people lied – not to me, but a mutual friend of ours had no end of trouble with guys on the site – guys who ‘on paper’ sounded orthodox but who were really either losers or scoundrels looking for some innocent dove.

Another potential negative is that many relationships start out long distance. You really ought to get to know the other person “in their natural habitat” with their friends, where they hang out etc. vs. just one on one or occasional visits when people are naturally on their best behavior. Anyone can be pleasant for 3 days.

This includes getting to know their family and long time friends. Fortunately we had many in common through FUS so it worked out for us but I’m not sure it’ll work for everyone.

Joe now works for the Diocese of Savannah; his wife Renee is a busy homeschooling mom of six.  They are involved in church choir and various other activities.

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Founded 15 years ago by my friend Anthony Buono, Ave Maria Singles now boasts more than 2,000 happy couples who tied the knot after first getting to know one another on the website.  A brief explanation from the Ave Maria Singles website:

Our core mission at AveMariaSingles is simple. We exist to help you find the spouse God created for you. We are uniquely suited to fulfilling this mission because we have spent 15 years building a community of active, passionate Catholics focused on forming meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Every member of the AveMariaSingles community shares your desire to experience all the blessings and challenges of a true Catholic marriage. A divine love is waiting for you, and membership in the AveMariaSingles community will make your journey toward that love a more satisfying and rewarding one.

Our site is dedicated to Blessed Pope John Paul II under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Here is one testimonial from a satisfied customer:

“There were many things I liked about Ave Maria Singles versus other Catholic dating sites. I loved the fact that members must provide a detailed explanation regarding their spiritual beliefs and values. I desired to find a man who would one day be the spiritual head of the household. Because Ave Maria required that he make explicit exactly what he believes, I didn’t have to waste time getting to know a man who was not 100% Catholic and loved the Lord above anything else.

I also liked it that a membership fee was required. The fee showed that the men on the site were serious and committed to finding a Catholic woman with whom they would enter into the Sacrament of Marriage. The one-time fee was also appealing to me. A monthly fee would have made me feel as though I was on a time crunch to locate my future spouse. With a one-time fee, I was able to be patient as I waited upon the Lord to reveal him to me.

I know that one downside to Ave Maria is that there aren’t as many members as compared to other sites. I understand that this may reduce your chances of finding the one God has for you. However, God has ONE for you! This is where prayer comes in. If you are feeling the Lord lead you to join this site, this may very well be the place you find that one person! That was the case for me and my wonderful husband.

Joining Ave Maria Singles was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I would recommend this site to anyone who is serious about discerning the vocation of marriage.”

Here’s how the on-line courtship process worked for one happy couple:

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  • Ambaa

    Such a Hindu way of doing things!

    • kathyschiffer

      Well, you know, the high divorce rate (and the high cohabitation rate) among couples doing it the “ordinary” way makes ideas like this worth exploring!

      • Ambaa

        True! 🙂

  • Having watched the Duggars, Jill was at first talking to Derrick, then after they met in Nepal, to discern if there was a real connection, she agreed to court him which can lead to marriage. When he returned to America and after courting some more then he became her fiance after asking her dad and proposing. I think getting to know someone really well by talking first and making sure you have similar desires and morals is wise and I too have many friends who met and married through Catholic Match and Ave Maria singles.

  • In the days before online dating, my wife and I used a similar service- but it was secular *and* far more expensive. Each introduction cost me $100. Her grandmother paid for hers, and I don’t remember if they charged less to women.

    Ave Maria sounds great, but I hesitate to recommend it to my nephews or my son, for fear of breaking our family tradition of converting our women to the faith (my mother is a convert, my wife is a convert, my sister-in-law is a convert).