Pretty Good Catholic

How to find, date, and marry someone who shares your faith

By Rachel Hoover Canto


A New Path to True Love

Pretty Good Catholic is the book you wish you had read before you started dating!

New author Rachel Hoover Canto tells her own amazing story while offering sharp-witted insights for both women and men. Learn how to set aside your checklist, date real people, and open your mind without lowering your standards.

If you’re looking for a modern, relatable, faithfully Catholic guide to dating—with advice that actually works—this is the book!

Spoiler alert: the author got engaged while writing! Congrats, Rachel and Enrique!


Rachel Hoover Canto

After Rachel Hoover graduated from college, she watched her friends get married while she suffered through some tough breakups. That got her thinking deeply about the whole Catholic dating situation, which (as you probably know) has its own set of quirks and challenges.

Trying to be proactive, she started a Catholic singles group in the Diocese of Nashville, interviewed people from CatholicMatch, and consulted a range of experts. After publishing several viral articles on Catholic dating, she wrote Pretty Good Catholic, which serves as a how-to guide for even the most discouraged single men and women. 

While writing, Rachel took her own advice and found the love of her life. She lives with her amazing new husband in Nashville.

Rachel has featured in major Catholic news outlets

Must-read for Catholics looking for love

“When it comes to love, Cole Porter observed that birds do it, bees do it—even sentimental trees do it. Unfortunately, men and women seem to have forgotten how. They have likewise forgotten the matrimonial structure of it, the procreative fact of it, and the sacramental reality of it. Fortunately, Rachel Canto offers an urgent guide for the bewildered would-be betrothed. Every amorously inclined Catholic should read this book.”

Michael Knowles
The Daily Wire

Fresh advice for your dating journey

“The Church is in dire need of strong Catholic marriages, but the modern dating landscape is filled with challenges and discouragement. Pretty Good Catholic offers a fresh approach to dating, with real-world advice for your own dating journey, or to support your loved ones in their search for a holy relationship.”

Mary Farrington
Newlywed and co-founder of Catholic Gigs

Less anxiety and more joy

“Witty, honest, and thorough… Pretty Good Catholic is a comprehensive ‘bible’ for dating that will transform your dating life into the glory that God intends for you. I wish I had this book when I was single; I would have had less anxiety and more real, joyful fun!”

Cristina Pineda
Professional Matchmaker

Truthful, brave, and counter-cultural

“It’s high time someone was truly forthcoming about the difficulty of Catholic dating! Rachel is open enough to tell her own story, and brave enough to offer counter-cultural advice that can actually help. If we want to grow the Kingdom and propagate the Faith, it starts with the essential building block: Catholic marriages. Every one of us knows someone who will benefit from this timely and insightful book!”

Jennifer Baugh
Founder of Young Catholic Professionals

It’s not you, it’s the culture

The stats on Catholic marriages are really bad. For even ten weddings in 1970, today there are only two. Percentage-wise, that’s a steeper decline than priestly ordinations.


Dating is Getting Harder

Having trouble finding a decent date? Someone who’s attractive, fun, and faithful? You’re not alone. The Catholic dating scene is not just frustrating, it’s downright discouraging. And it’s been getting worse. The number of Catholic weddings has plummeted by 77% over the past five decades. These days, it’s complicated to date in tight-knit Catholic circles—and finding love online has its own set of challenges. 

So what’s a faithful guy or girl to do? Are there even any good Catholic guys out there? Where can you find a beautiful girl who shares your faith?

Thankfully, you’re going to love the answers to these questions! Pretty Good Catholic is unlike any other dating book you’ve ever read, with advice that goes against conventional wisdom, while remaining faithfully Catholic and ultra practical.

Welcome to the new roadmap for finding a pretty, good Catholic!


Everyone’s having the same problems with dating…

Do these problems sound familiar?

  • You can’t find someone who’s single, interesting, and Catholic
  • Most people want to hook up almost right away
  • Catholic guys rarely approach you
  • Catholic girls don’t seem open to being approached
  • Going on even one date feels like a huge commitment
  • You’re getting friendzoned way too fast
  • You’re falling for people in your circle, but they don’t reciprocate 
  • Catholic guys only want to talk about theology and Church politics
  • Catholic girls seem unrealistically picky
  • You feel like you’re being interrogated on the first date
  • Online dating has proven to be much harder than it looks
  • You found a faithful person, but he or she is too far away
  • You’re finding chastity to be super difficult
  • Guys break up with you to discern priesthood 
  • Girls break up with you to enter the convent
  • You meet cute non-Catholics but are wary of moving forward
  • You’re getting discouraged and sometimes feel like giving up

Must-read, real-world advice

“Shockingly relatable. I think every young Catholic should read this before, during, and after college! This is the real stuff you need to know to date well in today’s culture.”

Chloe Quigley
Newlywed Catholic social media manager


Some Catholics are discovering a new way to date (and it’s not what you think)

Do you need a totally new approach to meeting people? Here’s what you’ll find in Pretty Good Catholic:

  • Why you should “default to yes” and just get to know people
  • Where and how to find “eligibles” in real life
  • How to open your mind without lowering your standards
  • How to quit online dating and start online meeting
  • When to ditch digital platforms in favor of in-person events
  • Why it’s okay to go to parish Bible studies (or any other event) looking for love
  • How to escape the annoying “friendzone” in tight-knit Catholic circles
  • How to think about dating non-Catholics. Should you flirt to convert?
  • How to stop deluding yourself about “friendlationships”
  • How to consider dating a Catholic from another “tribe” (Can a trad marry a charismatic?)
  • How to stop flip-flopping between marriage and religious life
  • How to hope in God, even in the loneliest depths of singlehood

Pretty Good Catholic is all about finding a good, holy spousebut you may have to let go of some preconceived ideas to get there!

The book is theologically solid, with lots of stories and humor. But most of all, it’s brutally honest about the broken dating culture, and offers a clear path forward for both men and women looking for “the one.”

Welcome to the new roadmap


Dating that’s purposeful, but not so weirdly intense

If you’ve had some bad experiences, or no experience at all, Pretty Good Catholic will help you date in a manner that is both purposeful and peaceful.

  • Why to stop conducting “spouse interviews” and just get to know people
  • How to survive long-distance relationships
  • How to avoid smothering “no-distance” relationships
  • How to prioritize your own growth in holiness while dating
  • How to be physically affectionate without having to go to Confession afterwards. 
  • How to approach dating people with children or an annulment
  • Why relationships are sometimes necessary for true inner healing
  • How to peacefully decide that you’ve found “the one”
  • How to have a happy, healthy, and short engagement

Oh, hey – this actually works

The author got engaged while writing the book… to a guy who was totally not her “type” (or so she thought).  It’s a really beautiful story, actually. See the last chapter in Pretty Good Catholic.

Congrats, Rachel and Enrique!


From the Introduction to Pretty Good Catholic

Something is wrong with Catholic dating culture. Maybe you’re experiencing it yourself: you ache to be married, but it seems like there just aren’t enough good Catholics out there to marry. 

My female friends say that all the men they meet are either religious and chaste, or interesting and attractive, but not both. They find an appealing Hinge profile that says “Catholic,” but learn on the first date that he hasn’t been to Mass in years. Meanwhile, the men at their parishes every Sunday seem awkward and unwilling to pursue them. 

But men say nearly the same thing: that it’s hard to find a woman who’s serious about her faith and fun to be around. One man said, “I find a lot of women don’t know how to have fun because almost everything is a sin. And that’s depressing.” Another shared on Reddit that he was ready to “give up on trying to find a woman”—at age twenty-four.

These anecdotes are backed up by marriage statistics. The number of Catholic weddings per year plummeted 77% from 1970 to 2021, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate—a sharper decline than that of priestly ordinations. Obviously there’s a problem with secular culture. But there’s also a problem with how practicing Catholics date and look for spouses.

A few years ago, observing this decline and feeling frustration with my own prolonged singleness, I began to try to answer this question. I conducted surveys and consulted experts. The top complaints boils down to this: “I haven’t found the right person.”

But if thousands of Catholics of both sexes are saying they can’t find good spouses, why aren’t they finding each other? If you’re on a college campus with a vibrant Newman center, or in a city with social opportunities for Catholic young adults, it should be easy to meet someone in person, right? 

The explosion of dating apps and websites, including several that are specifically for Catholics, should, in theory, make it easier than ever to meet a good Catholic spouse. Just create your profile, add a few filters, and wait for the matches to roll in.

Of course, if you’ve done anything to find a date, online or offline, you’re already laughing (or crying). It’s not quite that easy. It’s harder than it sounds to meet people, and when you do, it’s hard to get from meeting to a date. And when you do get to a date, it’s very hard to get all the way through a relationship to the altar. 

As I’ve gone through nearly a decade of dating myself and talked to many others who are on the same journey, I’ve discovered that there are countless problems with the Catholic dating scene, all layered one on top of the other. . . . 


And that’s what Pretty Good Catholic is all about. How do you navigate all the complex problems of modern dating and find an attractive, faithful spouse? I think you’ll be encouraged that there are actually very good answers to this question–not just theories, but practical, realistic ways to meet people, date well, and find true love.


Table of Contents

You Don’t Have a Type
Open Your Mind Without Lowering Your Standards

Online Meeting, Not Online Dating
Five Principles for Getting Offline as Quickly as Possible

In-Person Meeting
Putting Yourself Out There, Beyond Mass and Donuts

Just Get to Know People
Be Friends, But Not “Just Friends”

The Non-Exclusive Stage
Who Says You Shouldn’t “Date Around”?

Long-Distance and No-Distance Dating
How to Survive Being Separated and Avoid Being Smothered

    The Exclusive Stage
    Dealbreakers and Discernment

    Dating Outside Your Tribe
    Should I Date a Non-Catholic or a Different Type of Catholic?

    When Should We Kiss?
    The Chastity Talk I Wish I’d Heard as a Teen

    CHAPTER 10
    Wait, What If I’m Not the One?
    Sudden Vocational Discernment Syndrome and Other Difficulties

    CHAPTER 11
    The Engagement Stage
    Intensive Preparation for Marriage. . . Oh, and a Wedding

    God Won’t Show You Gold and Give You Silver

    Prayer to Find a Holy Spouse

    Father, in moments of doubt and anxiety, I come before You, laying aside my fears and placing my trust in Your divine plan. You know the desires of my heart, and I humbly ask for Your guidance in finding a good Catholic spouse.

    Grant me the strength to surrender my worries to You and the patience to wait for Your perfect timing. Help me to see Your hand in every step of this journey, knowing that You have a plan for my life.

    May Your wisdom guide me in choosing a partner who shares my faith, values, and commitment to serving You. Bless our paths to cross in Your perfect timing and grant us the grace to support and lead each other on the journey towards heaven.

    I entrust my search for a spouse into Your loving hands, knowing that You are the ultimate matchmaker. I believe you have a beautiful plan for my life, and I place all my trust in You.