LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


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A Shout Out to Single Men (from the series: Single and Married in the LDS Church)

Re-posted by permission from Exponent II. Suzette:

single-man.jpgFour years ago, I published this post on single Mormon men. I think this series on singles is a good time to bring it back (with a few edits and updates) for a re-post. This article does not address divorced men in specific, but the same principles apply. Divorced men in the church are often viewed with more suspicion and judgment than never-been-married men. I hope this post will help us to re-evaluate how we view and treat our single men.

Throughout my single adult life, I’ve heard a lot criticism about Single Mormon Men (SMM). People say that they are selfish, lazy, irresponsible, and just plain weird. Everyone seems to have an opinion about SMM, including Nicole Hardy who calls them “left overs: awkward, uncompromising, and unlucky” (“Single, Female, Mormon, Alone”, NYTimes, 1/2011). I’ve read many unflattering theories for their singleness on Mormon blogs across the internet.

These men rarely get a break: the prophet is on their case about being unmarried, bishops keep the pressure on about dating, parents are ever inquiring, and ward members eye them suspiciously. Even single women (I am very sorry to say) seem to have free reign in their verbal flogging. There is a constant call for them to grow up, man up, career up, and get married already.

 

The SMM response to this censure? To walk away.

 

Jared Whitley writes “most single LDS males are probably not willing to complain … so they do the only thing they can do: suffer in quiet desperation [or] seek refuge elsewhere. [This] means leaving the Mormon Church, which compounds the imbalanced gender ratios among LDS singles.” (How Targeting LDS Males for Declining Marriage Rates Misses the Mark )

 

This needs to change.

 

These men are kind, genuine, engaging people – who are largely undeserving of the criticism they receive.

My experience with SMM is different from the opinions above. I have many positive experiences with SMM.

  • Last spring, for example, I put together an Easter event and rounded up dozens of people to help and to sing. Half of those who said “yes” were SMM.
  • Yesterday, I called three friends for a favor; the one who came through was a SMM.
  • In my daily life, SMM are interesting parts to my email strings, intelligent contributors to my conversations, and fun companions on a variety dinners, outings, and road trips.
  • They have given me blessings when I’ve been ill, brought me food when I’ve been recovering, reviewed my resumes, proofed my Exponent articles, and, along with my girl friends and married friends, have supported me in difficult times.
  • In their wards, I have watched them camp with the Young Men, visit the needy, lead missionary efforts, teach lessons, and sing in choirs.

To be realistic, they do have problems. But these problems are no more remarkable than yours or mine. Yes, they have disappointed me. And so have my single girl friends, my married friends, and my family.

I’d like to have more SMM around. I believe if they feel valued and loved in their friendships and wards – they’ll stay around. And we’ll be better for it.

 How to keep SMM around?

  • Appreciate them for all the ways they serve.
  • Give them callings at church that will allow them to use their skills and talents.
  • Call them for blessings.
  • Invite them to dinner, parties, and fun events.
  • Talk to them (for heaven sake). Ask them about their jobs and their interests.
  • Support them when they are in need.
  • Don’t make assumptions – any assumptions.
  • Be short on advise and long on love.

In short, treat them like you treat your friends. I believe if we engage our SMM, we will find our Mormon community stronger, more vibrant, and more supported. We need all the members in the Body of Christ.


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How to be a Good Parent to Single Mormon Adults (from the series: Single and Married in the LDS Church)

by Amanda Waterhouse at Exponent II, reposted here by permission. See the original post here. Singles: you may want to pass this along to your parents! It’s very tastefully done.

Note from Suzette: Amanda has spelled out several excellent ideas for good parenting to single Mormon adults. These same principles apply if you have single adult ward members or single adult friends. These missteps really do happen! (ie: couch sleeping, kids tables, invasive questions on dating, strange advice on marriage that might have applied years ago, awkward family picture moments, and even ignoring.) Hoping that when we all know better – we do better.

 

I’ll begin succinctly: Don’t treat a single adult differently than your other children.

You may not intend to; I hope you don’t intend to; but it is not unusual for single adults to be given an “other” status in their own families as much as they are given one at church.   Here are a few things to keep in mind that may help keep your interactions with your single child in balance:

  • Be aware of accommodations you make for the spouses of your children that put the single adult in a less-than desirable place. I understand the instinct to give more privacy to the marrieds, but if it is really fair to expect the single adult to always take the couch/backseat/kid’s table? (Yes, kid’s table. It happens.)
  • Don’t assume that their schedule is more flexible/less important than everyone else’s schedules. Yes, it is easier when there’s only one person’s time to account for; but please remember the toll it takes to always be the one who accommodates everyone else.
  • Be careful with the lure of grandchildren. By all means be outstanding, present, supportive, loving grandparents; but please recognize that the single child may be left out. Do you visit the single child as much as the ones with grandkids? Do you see the single child in his/her home, or do they only see you when they join you at the married’s house? When the family gets together, is it all about the babies and the recitals and what the kids want to do, or is there time for the adults to be adults?
  • Take an interest in their interests. Find out what your single child is doing and then learn about it yourself! Just as you might bone up on the latest Pixar release to talk to your grandkids, keep up with your single child’s hobbies, interests, and career.
  • Acknowledge that the older your child gets, your personal experience with singleness loses relevance.
  • Talk to your single child. Rather than focusing on what’s not happening, focus on what is happening. This doesn’t mean that talking about dating is completely taboo; it can be just as annoying to have your parents avoid that subject altogether. Just be aware of the balance of topics in your conversations and make sure that you acknowledge everything your single adult is rather than what he/she is not.
  • Understand that it is challenging to be single in this church, which means your single adult might have doubts, ask questions, or feel like he/she just doesn’t fit in as a Mormon anymore. Don’t freak out about this or rush in to “fix” things. Listen to your child; hear his/her perspective.
  • Remember that marriage doesn’t fix everything. Your child can have a full, enriching, fascinating, and worthwhile as a single adult. Love them, support them, listen to them, and please just make sure they know that they are enough, just as they are.

Amanda Waterhouse teaches theater and a whole lot more in a high school outside of Denver. She loves traveling, Michelin restaurants, Marvel movies, and the Oxford comma.


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Exponent II Series: Single and Married in the LDS Church

Exponent II (an online magazine for LDS women) is doing a series of articles this week on being single in the Church and they’ve graciously given me permission to re-post them. Please go check out their site here. The opening explanation is by Suzette: 

“The church still struggles with ways to value variations on its strong family theme,” I recently said to a friend in a discussion about The Family Proclamation.

The theme variation that most directly impacts me is singlehood. As a life-long single member of a church that values marriage, couple sealings, family history and child rearing it is often difficult to keep my footing.

I do believe the gospel is for everyone and I (fortunately) have a caring spiritual home in the warmth and openness of my ward – but still there are struggles. I grieve the life I had intended for myself and the children I hoped for. I wonder about the next life as a single daughter of God. I am continually forced to “fit myself in” to lessons and talks that do not allow room for my variation. (Luckily, I no longer worry about where to sit in sacrament meeting, because my ward is inviting on every pew.) For other single members, the struggle to fit into their ward, socially, is significant. Some feel confused and hurt by counsel from uninformed Bishops. And many wrestle with self-esteem because of their inability to meet an unattainable standard. For all singles there are painful realities couched within Mormon Doctrine about the links between marriage and salvation.

Like most single members, I love families. I am blessed with a good family of origin, I value the families in my ward, and I believe that the family unit is a great way to traverse the journey of mortality. However, the continual rhetoric about “The Family” can (often in unintended ways) exclude single members and create pain in our lives. Whether we choose to stay with the church, or leave it, life can be lonely and full of self-doubt.

Conversely, I’ll be the first to admit that single life is pretty sweet. There are advantages that I would not like to trade for another life’s path. I am not waiting; I am not half-a-soul. I am, myself, a whole daughter of God ready to serve and contribute and share. That is how I hope to be seen.

The church rarely turns away from work – and I believe there is work to do on full inclusion for single members. Problems can be found in curriculum and in our ideas about eternal life. Problems can be found on both sides of the single/married coin: in the attitudes of married members toward single members and in the attitudes of single members toward ourselves.

For the next two weeks, this series, “Single and Married in the LDS Church”, will address some of these problems and concerns. It is our hope to inform, explain, and find solutions to bring the Body of Christ together. Our contributors are mostly single themselves and themes will include

  • the unique contributions of single members
  • dispelling myths about singles
  • how to be a good parent to single adults – and how to including singles in your community as a married member
  • how to speak for ourselves in positive says – as single members
  • the interface of single members in a variety of contexts, such as sexuality, employment, the temple
  • a focus on specific single situations such as single parents and divorce
  • an introspective look at grieving as a single member

We hope you will enjoy the series, share the posts with others, and comment with your own stories and experiences.


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Unrequited Love

Thpurple-42887_640.pngey say that most people have dealt with unrequited love at least once in their lifetime, at least 98% according to an estimate in this article in Psychology Today . I think most of us who are single are nodding our heads sadly in agreement.

How to deal with it

  1. Remember that what was in your head probably won’t match what would actually happen had you been in a relationship with this person, no matter how good a person they may be. Even in marriages, the way you think things are going to go and the way they actually go are usually two very different things: and you don’t know this person that well.
  2. Most likely this has happened to you before. You overcame it and then you found new people to be interested in. Sometimes that took a while. Maybe it’s time again to get a better relationship with yourself, or your siblings or parents, or other family or friends. It’s hard when, each time, it seems like you’ve found an even better match for yourself but then it doesn’t work out yet again. This is not the end of the road. Maybe it’s time to focus on service or work or school or a church calling for a while.

Where do I go from here?

I hate getting over crushes or unrequited love: call it what fits you best. You have to go through the pain of realizing that something you’d hoped for, something important to you, may never be. At certain times in my life this has been harder than others. I had someone writing me when I was on my mission. Towards the end he was still writing. I was freaking out because I wasn’t sure what I thought, but in theory (because of the letters he was writing), he was still there.

Only he wasn’t. I got home to find out that he was engaged to someone else. It was a heartbreaking time for me. I had at least hoped I’d come home to have him as my friend, there, to talk about my mission with, as we’d corresponded nearly the whole time. Even though I wasn’t sure that I wanted more than that, the loss of the friendship was the most difficult. heart-642154_640.png

Another time period in my life I really liked someone and just wanted to get to go out with him. What I didn’t know what that he was dating someone else on the sly (heard of “stealth dating?”) and so when I told him how I felt he turned me down. Even though I felt embarrassed, I tried again a few months later. I got the same response and was mortified when I decided what a fool I’d made out of myself. To this day I still wonder if the girl he was dating (who became his wife) was bugged by me, or if she realizes that I’m long over it and that I saw almost immediately that they were a much better match, once they finally “came out” as a couple.

Getting over both these situations was painful, but tools our Heavenly Father has given us ultimately brought peace and healing for those times and others. In Isaiah 49:16 the Lord reminds us that he’s always there for us:

16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

 

Heavenly Father does want us to be happy and if we pray for his help, He will help us move on and he will help us through the pain. The pain can be a bittersweet opportunity to look at ourselves and say, “Why am I hurting? What was I expecting?” and we can use these answers for future goals and expectations. Sometimes some of the greatest things we do come on the heals of painful experiences.


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Face to Face with Elder Holland: lots for singles

This was a conversation between Young Singles Adults throughout the world and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Carole M. Stephens from the Relief Society General Presidency , and Elder Donald Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy. The questions and answers throughout the evening were all just as applicable to singles of any age as they were to the YSA. I give it Five Stars. Give it a listen.


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Sheri Dew on the Atonement and Being Single

Read text of entire talk here

Watch entire talk on YouTube

Sheri Dew

photo from LDS.org

There Is Power in the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Until I was in my thirties, I thought the Atonement was basically for sinners—meaning that it allowed us to repent. But then I suffered a heartbreaking personal loss and began to learn that there was so much more to this sublime doctrine.

My solution initially to my heartbreak was to exercise so much faith that the Lord would have to give me what I wanted—which was a husband. Believe me, if fasting and prayer and temple attendance automatically resulted in a husband, I’d have one.

Well, the Lord hasn’t even yet given me a husband; but He did heal my heart. And in doing so, He taught me that He not only paid the price for sin but compensated for all of the pain we experience in life. He taught me that because of His Atonement, we have access to His grace, or enabling power—power that frees us from sin; power to be healed emotionally, physically, and spiritually; power to “loose the bands of death” (Alma 7:12); power to turn weakness into strength (see Ether 12:27); and power to receive salvation through faith on His name (see Mosiah 3:19). It is because of the Atonement that, if we build our foundation on Christ, the devil can have no power over us (see Helaman 5:12).

There is power in God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ—power that we may access through the word, the Holy Ghost, the priesthood, and the ordinances of the holy temple.