I met M in the summer of 2010 on an online dating site. Of course, he didn’t tell me (or anyone) that he was an ordained Roman Catholic Priest at that time. We struck up a conversation and within 2 weeks decided to meet for coffee.

I knew I liked him immediately and he seemed to be drawn to me as well. On our second date, after pressing for a little more information about him, other than what he’d told me (he was currently in graduate school), he finally revealed his “profession.” I was definitely shocked, but it didn’t bother me.

I was raised Jewish and live a very open-minded type of life. I think people deserve to be happy and I believe that God would want us to be. I don’t think I had ever met a priest before and I knew nothing about Catholicism other than whatever I had garnered from news and popular culture. Anyway, M’s profession didn’t stop me from wanting to get to know him more, although he warned me that he was a year away from finishing school and wouldn’t be able to maintain a relationship after that. 

At first, I was alright with the idea of a short-term fling. I really liked him and was attracted to him. He obviously felt the same about me, but he did maintain some boundaries to the physical side of the relationship, at least at first. A few months in was when the problem really started. I was definitely falling in love with him and I knew he was doing the same, even though he kept insisting this relationship had a very definite end-date when he graduated. Nevertheless, we kept seeing one another. It was probably both the dumbest thing and the smartest thing I have ever done. While he was in school (thousands of miles from his hometown) getting further education in a specialized area for his future job, we maintained relative anonymity. My friends didn’t question what he “did” outside of being a grad student and no one in his world knew about me. 

After a year, we were definitely in too deep to stop but the time came for him to go back to his hometown. I couldn’t drop everything and follow him, so we maintained a long-distance relationship for 2 more years. We did try to end it at one point but neither of us wanted that. We would visit every few months but we wrote and talked on the phone daily. Throughout this time, he continued to insist that he could never leave the priesthood but I continued to love him despite that and couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. 

Around the 3-year mark, I decided I wanted a change of pace (and careers) and I moved out to be closer to him. We ended up buying a house about 20 minutes away from his home and parish, but over state lines so that I lived in a different diocese and he could come visit on the weekends, fairly anonymously. We lived this secret and double life quite well, even though it was hard on me both to see him so little – as you know, his job as a priest was very demanding – and to have to hide myself and our relationship from others who knew him. One of the hardest parts was not being able to spend holidays together. He had church and family obligations and I was alone, thousands of miles away from my family. Over time, I urged him to consider leaving active ministry, even to just take a break and figure things out, but it just wasn’t the right time and I felt in my heart that if I didn’t pressure him, he’d eventually come around. I had no doubt he loved me very much. The question was just always, did he love me “enough?” 

Another question was “how long can we keep this up?” We had a few close calls with being found out but we managed to keep our relationship a secret, even while living so close and spending so much time together. Until the Spring of 2016. That’s when everything changed. His Associate Pastor lived next door and had been noticing my car around regularly when I would come over for dinner or to visit M. Around April or May of 2016, almost 3 years after I had moved out there to live near M, and nearly 6 years into our relationship, this man decided to voice his concern to M’s church superiors. We don’t think he suspected the full truth of what was going on but he said he was concerned that M was becoming too close to a woman. 

In June of 2016, M was called to speak to his Vicar General, second in charge after the Bishop. The Vicar General relayed the concerns that had been brought to him by the Associate Pastor and M recalls having the realization that this was “it.” His moment of truth. He could easily have talked his way out of the situation and reassured his superior that nothing was happening, but he decided to come clean and reveal our long-time relationship and his choice to continue it. 

A few more conversations later, within about a week’s time, M was relieved of his duties and moved his few belongings into the house we owned across town. We lived together for a year before having our civil wedding and it took one more year for all of M’s paperwork to get fully completed to allow him to marry in the church. We had our Catholic wedding in the summer of 2018, almost exactly 8 years from our first date. 
Despite our happy ending, I don’t want to downplay how hard the entire thing was.

The relationship had very high highs and very low lows. There was nothing fun or exciting about being a secret. I often worried that M didn’t love me enough to make our relationship real, but I did have some deep faith or intuition that he did and I just had to be patient. I would never recommend this type of relationship to anyone else. I could have just as easily been heartbroken and shattered if M were not as good of a person as he is. If you are reading this and are in love with a priest, don’t ever be fooled into thinking that he will easily give up his vocation to be with you. I know the reality is that most never will. 

We are approaching our 2nd wedding anniversary and 9th anniversary of being together and I still love him as much as ever (possibly more). So I have no regrets, only gratitude that I get to tell a story that ends in our happiness. M is a braver and stronger person than he ever thought, and over the past couple of years we have made an amazing life for ourselves. I truly believe that God brought us together and I’m grateful to have found my soulmate, despite how difficult it was to get to this point.