The singles rep in a ward near where I used to live in California had a motto that I really liked,
“It’s Just a Date!”
His philosophy was that too many singles were, in their heads, making a date akin to marriage or at least some kind of commitment in their heads and were thus either 1.giving up on dating out of the fear of commitment, or 2. making a date out to be more than it was (getting to know someone) and thus expecting too much or scaring the other person away or getting deeply disappointed and giving up.
What is a first date for? To see if you want a second date. What is a second date for? To see if you want a third date. ….What is a 12th date for? To see if you want a 13th date. etc.
Dating will without a doubt have its share of heartaches, but it’s supposed to be fun.
I’m divorced (one of those people) and I thought it was perhaps telling that one of my friends while I was married was saying how much fun she’d had while dating. Now, she’s still very happily married and has been for over a decade now and in no way meant that she wanted anyone other than her husband….but she had fun dating, and I think she was a good example for me. I had dated a fair amount, too, while I was in college, and while I did have fun, sometimes I saw it as drudgery that had to be done before I found “the one” and “got it done.” I think I’ve enjoyed more this time around. just getting to know people, and perhaps I’ve worried less about the outcome; especially while on first dates.
Can you imagine if, at the end of every first or second date, you had to make a decision right then as to whether or not you were going to marry that person? So, why do we do that to ourselves in our heads? If you find yourself doing it again, repeat after me:
The purpose of the first date is to see if you want a second date. The purpose of the second date is to see if you want a third date. (rinse, reuse, and repeat as often as necessary)
Chas Hathaway, author of Marriage is Ordained of God, But Who Came Up With Dating, said of his own dating years:
I also realized that the only way to learn to play the dating game is to date, so I decided that I would go on dates more regularly. I didn’t tell myself I had to find a girlfriend right away. I just had to date. I was practicing and trying to master the dating game. I thought dating so often would be difficult and terribly stressful, but it turned out to be only challenging the first couple of times. After that, I started feeling more comfortable. Dating was fun, and it actually felt like I was making some kind of progress toward marriage.
Hathaway, Chas (2011-07-11). Marriage is Ordained of God But WHO Came Up with Dating? (p. 66). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I think that advice pertains to singles at any age. We can get rusty/picky/lose our focus and need to start up again with a new attitude.
For those of us who are “older,” that advice can seem stale. For a lot of people, they don’t live near any viable dating prospects. For some, it seems like a good time to take a break from dating for a while. No matter what the situation, this advice can always apply in one important way: getting to know new people, even outside the dating arena, keeps our social skills polished and helps us not feel as alone in the world. At times loneliness is still going to kick us in the behind and make us feel like life isn’t that great, but we can’t give up. People are still worth getting to know and getting to know better. Whether we’re an introvert, an extrovert, or an intravert, we all need human company at least part of the time. I know singles who give up on spending time with the opposite sex or making friends of the same sex out of frustration or desperation, but don’t let yourself succumb to that. Don’t give up.
Hathaway also says:
That period of my dating experience was incredibly enlightening. A seminary teacher once told me, “Go out with a hundred girls before you decide on a companion.” While I would not put a number on how many people to date, I would recommend to guys that they ask out several girls before choosing one. Not only will this provide social practice, but it will expose you to young women’s many qualities that will help you narrow down what you do and don’t want in a wife. For girls, if they get a lot of opportunity to date, they might want to do the same. This is often difficult for girls, however, since they are not generally the askers, and guys should not expect them to be.
Hathaway, Chas (2011-07-11). Marriage is Ordained of God But WHO Came Up with Dating? (p. 66). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I’ll echo what I just said: if you’re 35, 45, or 65 (or more) the same still applies. We need the company of others. If you have the means to date, just do it. If your prospects seem dim, just get to know people. Pray about it and don’t give up. Some of us will never get married, but we can still thrive with our friendships and family relationships. Pray to have what you need in your own life, even if it’s “just” comfort.
Women asking men out? Can we do that? It can be quite the controversial subject. I do have one friend who says he does not like being asked out, but when pressed, will say, “well, if it’s someone I like, that’s okay.”
Then there’s this phrase that I swear by: “It’s Just a Date.” Or, I think that’s how it should be. How can you get to know someone if you have to be practically engaged before you can go on one? But as a few friends from other cultures have told me (I live in the U.S.), in some places it can be more complicated. I’ve had friends from other countries tell me that where they’re from, if you go on a date, you are practically engaged.
But for today, I have two pieces of evidence to support both that it’s okay for women to ask men out, and that “It’s only a date!” is a philosophy that can work, at least here. I wouldn’t counsel anyone to pretend that their culture’s expectations don’t exist! Anyway, the first is from a married friend/practicing therapist/teacher of the Utah State Extension Class “How Not to Fall in Love With a Jerk or Jerkette” class Darren Johansen. (Also check out the book by Dr. VanEpp here.) He said that in the dozens of classes he’s taught, he always asks the guys if any of them minds getting asked out, and not once has any of them ever said he’d rather not. So.
My other humble offering? A year ago, through Matt Campbell I was introduced to Facebooker James Kiing’s great idea: “September is Take a Man Out On a Date Month.”
While it’s a bit of a mouthful, I, along with some friends, tried this last year. It was so much fun that we’ve done it two more times since, and are planning another one for the end of the month. And you know what? While some of us have been turned down, (the most common reason being that the guy already has a girlfriend), and while asking someone even for a lighthearted evening with friends can still be nerve-wracking, the feedback from all involved has only been positive. Okay, so it’s been hard to do, but the dates have been really fun. And more than worth it.
Our dates were simple, the good part was each other’s company. We didn’t quite make September, so we started in October.
October: We picked out pumpkins at a pumpkin patch, carved them at a friend’s house, and played games.
Group Date 2: We made crepes at our house (I have two roommates), talked, and played games.
Group Date 3: We went miniature golfing, then got food afterwards.
The ups and downs:
Some of us were turned down, but we rebounded and asked someone else.
There was a risk that we might ask out a guy who doesn’t want to be asked out by a woman, but as far as we could tell, that didn’t happen.
I suppose we were lucky that we all asked guys who genuinely seemed to have a good time.
We got to know our dates, and everyone else out on the date, better than we would have otherwise. It wasn’t necessarily a group of people who would have ended up being thrown together under different circumstances, and that made it fun.
*All of the women agreed that we have a new-found appreciation for men and what they go through and have been going through, having been in this position for so many years (we’re all in our 30’s and 40’s.)
We got some dating experience, and we didn’t have to sit around waiting for it.
We had fun.
We made new friends, or strengthened existing friendships.
So, if you think this might work in your culture and where you live, give it a try.
I had the rare opportunity, a few years ago, to live with my oldest niece for two years while she was finishing her teaching license requirements at BYU and I was back at BYU trying to finish my BA. She was still in the young BYU, early 20’s crowd (and met her husband during that time) and I was attending the “Midsingles Ward” (ages 30-45) that I’m still a member of today. In my niece I had a fun roommate, and I also had fun watching her and her friends’ experiences in the BYU dating scene.
I think it goes without saying that the dating scene among BYU students and that of singles over age 30 is different in many ways, and that anyone outside of Utah or older than 25 or 30 has fewer prospects for dating. However, I had a lot of fun recently interviewing singles of different ages and places as to their definition of what constitutes a “date” versus “hanging out.” Sound familiar?
As we near the 10th anniversary of Elder Oaks’ talk on May 1st…
I was recently divorced and attending classes at UCLA and the Westwood LDS Institute of Religion when Elder and Sister Oaks gave their now classic talks on “Hanging Out.” I was a little amused by the reaction it caused, with singles worrying that he was trying to say that we should never, ever spend time with a group of friends. The singles that I knew at UCLA seemed to me to be pretty brave about asking each other out, so I figured they were being hard on themselves. Hopefully we’re not still beating ourselves as singles, but can also be aware of where we need to leave our “safe place” and take some chances. (Incidentally, most of those students that I knew are now married with children, so they must have done something right.)
As for us “older folk,” and the YSA’s, are we avoiding dating by sticking to the safety of “hanging out”, or are we still making our best effort? That was the aspect of Elder Oaks’ and Sister Oaks’ talks that I remember most. You can go back and read it here. I think people forget that Sister Oaks spoke, too, because Elder Oaks dropped the “bombshell,” (depending on how you saw it), then she got to be the comforting, “I’ve been where you are before….” because she didn’t get married until she was in her 50’s. Maybe that’s why.
I had fun “interviewing” friends at church and singles in LDS Facebook groups on their thoughts these 10 years later. It turned out to be quite entertaining, and gave me some things to think about. I hope you enjoy it at least almost as much as I did. (All names changed.) Here you go:
Isaiah: Pairing off is the important part.
Hyeon: I prefer to become friends first before a date. I tried the dating thing first – it kills it.
Austin: You know it when you see it. Midsingles tend to stop at hanging out.
Luke: Make sure people know it’s a date. Having been hurt so much, hanging out is safer. Nobody gets hurt.
(Insert: I disagree with this to an extent. A lot of people can get hurt with hanging out, wondering why a certain person hasn’t asked them out, etc. But I think that depends on how you handle things emotionally, and what your expectations are.)
Jessica: A date is when two people, having common interests, participate in a mutually decided upon activity with the intent to analyze each other’s words, actions, and suitability for eternal companionship …my opinion of course.
Ian: Planned, paid for and paired off?
Jennifer: In order to clarify with men about if we are on a date, if a man asks me to hang out with them I ask “you mean like on a date?” So the ball is in their court. They will clarify for me and then I can decide do I want to hang or date. I now have no confusion, I force the issue.
Paul: I agree with Jessica, but would add, that is what I would say from a religious standpoint and it is regardless of whether the intent is there to analyze those things… and regardless of whether there are actually any common interests, because sometimes the date is solely to find out IF there are common interests, because one often does not know and if there are common interests, one often does not even notice they are actually analyzing words, actions and suitability for eternal companionship, as their intent may have only been to go have fun.
Stephanie: I had a “guy friend” for several years who continuously asked if he could come over to my house or if I would go to his (oh boy, I hope he doesn’t see this or he’ll recognize his story, haha) and watch a movie while cuddling. In my standard, that was a recipe for trouble and I didn’t want him around my children unless we had really had some official dating time under our belts. A while back he mentioned he was irritated with me because I kept shooting him down when he was asking me out. I was so confused. I guess it’s safe to say, in MY book, I never recognized asking to sit and cuddle on one of our couches as a date. I would say it’s when one asks another out to enjoy each other’s company if you already know each other or get to know each other, with the potential or possibility of a more close and intimate relationship. PS: (in case you’re wondering), I don’t have any problems with communication and I directly told him I didn’t feel what he was suggesting was appropriate unless we had actually dated so I was little irritated by his irritation and confusion.
Seong: Surely it’s not always realized, Paul (above comment). However, why would someone agree to a ‘date’ if there wasn’t at least one common interest? I wouldn’t agree to go on a date without first evaluating the situation to see if there is a reason to oblige.
Julie: Hanging out is when people are too scared to pair off. hhahaha Just kidding. Hanging out should be just friends and maybe it’s a chance to find people to ask out. A first date should be time spent with someone to get to know them and decide if you want to go out on a second date. That’s it. No commitment beyond that. The second date should help you get to know them more and decide if you’d like to have a 3rd date with them. That’s all. Simple, fun, laid back. Can we get over this idea that a date is a freaking marriage proposal? lol Then maybe more people would actually be going out on real dates. Also, dates do not need to require ANY money to be spent, I hear that excuse a lot and I think it’s silly. My most favorite dates consisted of hiking, having a picnic the guy made, or watching science/ nature documentaries cause I’m a geek like that. Another good example….I went on a really awkward date once where we went to a fun center place and did batting cages, go carts, golf, you name it. Hardly talked. The guy must have spent $80 on the two of us. The most fun part of the date was at the house afterward when we played air hockey in his basement! Could have skipped the money-sucking fun center and had a great free date instead.
Sasha: A fruit.
Eva: Hanging out is a group thing, if it’s one-on-one then it’s a date.
Paul: that common interest could be as simple as, you are both LDS and single… and that might be enough for some people. I have certainly dated plenty of women based on that premise. I used to travel a LOT at one point, and I went to church in wards or branches in not only other states but even in other countries.
Sometimes I was a short timer, only there for maybe a month or so, even less, and I’d go to an activity or an FHE for YSA or something, and meet people and ask a girl out on a date… one night before I left town, when I knew nothing about them, except, they were cute, they were members, and they were in the same place I was, and I wanted to know more about them. I met a lot of wonderful young women this way. Many I didn’t have enough in common with them to stay in touch, but I discovered that due to my many varied interests, I had at least something in common with everyone I ever met, even when they were not members and I met them in other ways, but I still knew very little to nothing about them. I found that my ability to ask along with her ability to answer was all we had to have in common to go out and have a good time, regardless of who they were or where I was…
Heck, to be honest, I have even went on dates with many different women where the only thing we had in common was that I barely spoke their language and they barely spoke mine (oh and we were both interested in learning each others language better too). At least until we went out and spent some time getting to know each other. Then we always found out there was plenty we had in common.
Jessica: I’m not arguing the simplicity of the common interest, just that there is some form of common ground present before agreeing to a date
Stephanie: I have to agree with Paul on this one, Jessica (which I rarely do because it’s so fun NOT to agree with him, haha), there have been several occasions when I’ve gone on a date with someone I briefly met at a singles conference or event that I didn’t have time to talk to at any length with before our date. I’ve also been set up by friends with guys I didn’t know at all but still considered it a date regardless of how “blind” it was. I think the definition has to do with the intent of the participants.
Matt: A date is spending time with someone, getting to know them on a personal level. A date is a way to open up and be who you are with someone you care about.
Sandy: To me a date is when two people interested in getting to know each other on a deeper level than just media meet up in a save environment and have a fun and mutually entertaining time together while getting to know what the person is all about in person
LaShaun: There are two kinds of dates. One is a dried fruit, the other is a social interaction between a man and a woman engaging in a mutually enjoyable activity. I think Canada is too cold (for) the dried fruit kind to grow, however they keep well and are sold in almost all grocery stores. They are the only kind of date I’ve had lately.
Crystal: Spending time one on one with the opposite sex.
Lauren: To quote Elder Oaks, “Paired off, planned out, and paid for.”
Rebecca: An arranged time to talk on the phone. lol
Nathan: A date is something that I do once a year just to shut my mother up.
Akahata: A date is an appointment that you make with someone that you want to get to know in a romantic way.
Jason: The sweet brown fruit of various types of palm trees
Akahata: A date is when two people are going to dinner. The guy is acting weird. The girl isnt feeling it and wants to leave but the guy tells her to get a ride lol
Holly: I was told by a guy friend, if he pays, you spend time together, it’s a date…. This confused me because that meant he and I had been on multiple dates without me knowing. My definition is in flux because of this.
Holly: Namon, we did walk around the table 3 times counter clock wise… uh, oh!
Jason: Yeah, I agree with Namon, why aren’t you with your husband, Holly? Tsk tsk.
Holly: Good question, I better go find him.
Jason: See Elder Oaks’ remarks about the 3 P’s…and it should be obvious that the intent is a date, for both parties. You can’t just like subversively string together the planning, the paying, and the paring off and be like “What?! Date #1! Ah yee-ah!” That’s not how it works… hahaha.
“Live MormonAds” Part 3, from an activity our ward did. For an explanation, see:
…And More to Come
Continued from Part 1: See if you can remember the talks that these came from.
Envy is the Mistake That Just Keeps On Giving
Do Your Calling Well: Serve Your Fellow Sister
Every Calling Is Important
Come and See
Exercise Your Faith
Fill the Whole Earth
Fear Not What Man Can Do
Free to Choose
Gather the Saints…