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Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


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Book Review: Attached

A friend recommended this book, Attached: the New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find and Keep Love, which is based on the premise that we all handle relationships in primarily one of three ways: Secure, Anxious, or Avoidant.  I scored about equally on Secure and Anxious and my friend (his review and story is below) scored Avoidant and Anxious.  I would highly recommend this book solely on the insights this gave me. Also, it was an easy find at the library and an easy read.

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There were some minor things that bothered me. The authors put a lot of effort into the premise that Anxious/Avoidant relationships are difficult and should probably be avoided.  I agreed with that premise. However, they make a big deal out of finding ways that married Anxious/Avoidant couples can “cope” or non-married couple of this attachment style should probably cut things off: but they only put a cursory few paragraphs on how people’s attachment style can change. I think with the amount of “Secure” people in the world versus the amount of Anxious/Avoidant there don’t seem to be many opportunities to marry a “Secure” and thus I think there should have been more encouragement to see a therapist or get help from family. I’m not one to think that things have to be the way they are.

Another thought: a friend who is a therapist agreed with me that just because someone has anxiety or an anxiety disorder doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be anxious in their relationship style.

Anyway, on to my friend Ethan’s (name has been changed) story.

Allergic to Love
KNOW THYSELF was inscribed somewhere on the walls of the oracle at Delphi. It sounds trite, but I am 37.5 years old and still getting amazing jolts, shocking revelations about the whys behind my tendencies. My emotional makeup has elements I never knew about, although they affect my behavior and emotions anyway.
One recent revelation came from a book called Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment.
Pop-psychology and self-help literature can exist in worlds of their own, where laws are slightly different from those found in reality. They often tell us more about those who wrote them than about humanity in general.
However, when something works, it works. Who knows why magnets work? Regardless of how you explain it, they work.
When I find something that describes succinctly the how and why of my self-defeating behaviors, I treasure such epiphanies. This new book seems to describe why I am still single, afraid of love, and why I short-circuit my relationships and flee.

Attachment Styles
I feel like I have had a love-allergy ever since my divorce. (Love-phobia, even.) I was on Tinder, talking to a single mother my own age. She related that she was recently divorced. I related that I had just barely begun to open up emotionally again, to recuperate after my own divorce—over 13 years ago. She thought that was very funny, that it took me so long to thaw my feet. I giggle less and fret more about this emotional sluggishness.
I dated a girl who had just ended an engagement two months before we met, and she was ready to get back on the trail, hunting for Mr. Right. I was astonished at her quick turn-around time. Did she not care that much about the guy? Apathy and shallow feelings or lack of libido were not the reasons for her ability to let go and start over. The book described the reason for her emotional resilience, as well as my immensely cold feet and reluctant hesitation.

Attached describes three attachment styles: Secure, Anxious, and Avoidant. There is a test inside the book for self-evaluation. The girl who bounced back two months after her breakup? She was a Secure.
These people are the superheroes of romance, emotionally speaking. They give and receive affection readily; don’t play games; don’t expect that a fight or disagreement is the end of the relationship; and have no problem coaching their partners in how to be good at love, explaining how to meet their needs.
Anxious types worry when they are in a relationship. They are clingy, needy, nervous, hyper-sensitive to their partners’ moods, afraid that some text message or look (or the lack thereof) signals some displeasure portending the end of love. These poor souls are prone to jealousy, and easily hurt. They swing from ecstasy to despair in a heartbeat. Hovering over the phone waiting for a return call or text, assuming the worst all the time—this kind of desperate behavior typifies those with the Anxious attachment type.
Avoidants are allergic to love, in a sense. When they become attracted to someone, another system designed to inoculate them against affection throws them into a panic. They start to feel trapped, an irrational emotional claustrophobia, so to speak. They have one foot in the stirrup, and one foot on the ground. (How confident would you feel sitting on a plane next to someone wearing a parachute with his hand on the emergency exit? This is a good metaphor for the internal emotional posture of Avoidants.) These people can come off as heartless, behaving towards partners like cats toying with mice, instead of being loving and empathetic. They might be cruel, or flirt with someone other than their significant others, to deactivate love when attraction becomes too strong. Whenever attraction becomes too strong in themselves or especially others, they tend to bolt like frightened deer.
It is possible to possess elements of all three attachment types, though the authors assume that all people tend to favor one in particular.
What was my attachment type according to the test in the book? I scored high in both Avoidant and Anxious behaviors, and had almost nil in the Secure category.
According to the book, being Anxious or Avoidant does not mean the need for love and companionship and sex is diminished. It just means that these people are prone to self-defeating behaviors, bad love hygiene. They suggest being aware of these tendencies and behaviors, and why they surface, as well as suggesting courses of action to deal with them so that they do not torpedo romantic relationships.
Imagine a blood type that can’t donate to anyone, and can only receive blood from one type of donor. That’s a fair description of how the test in the book casts me.
The book suggests that Secures are like universal donors. Their calmness and openness rub off on both Anxious and Avoidant partners, and help them to begin to exhibit Secure behaviors. Like the tuning fork that causes sympathetic vibration in another tuning fork, Secures are medicinal for their insecure partners.
When an Anxious and Avoidant pair off, the Anxious will chase the Avoidant around trying to sooth her anxiety, and the Avoidant will become cold and insensitive and scarce in order to sooth his feeling of being smothered by the Anxious partner. A death trap, according to the book.
And a fair description of the shenanigans that went on during my brief marriage.
Excessive Immune Response
All this may sound strange to someone who isn’t Avoidant, but it really is like being allergic to love. That pleasurable sensation of being drawn to someone inevitably comes with an opposite and equal urge toward withdrawal, an instinct to bolt. I’ve heard about allergy sufferers who must carry epinephrine syringes to cope with accidental ingestion of peanuts. I wish there were such an inoculation against the fear of love that besets me.
One book about romantic love (Finding the Love of Your Life) asked the reader to create a personality portrait of the traits one’s ideal partner would possess, just to facilitate recognition of a good potential partner when one comes along. I drew a blank as I struggled to pick from the author’s list of traits—the words wouldn’t come. It was like a form of amnesia or mental paralysis. Something inside me recoiled from the Perfect Woman, even the task of describing her personality in writing.
Armed with the perspective of this book, I now have language to describe my bad behavior. I see why, being both Anxious and Avoidant, I get into relationships, then subconsciously sabotage them and bail whenever she gets too close for comfort.
When I’m in the middle of a relationship, I exhibit Anxious behaviors like hovering over the phone, worrying about little snips or criticisms, and fretting over the future. All this fretting turns to fuming, and I look for an escape hatch, often in the form of fault-finding.
The book describes strategies Avoidants adopt to kill love, to deactivate their attraction and thereby short-circuit relationships. Pining for a past relationship with someone and idealizing it, glossing over flaws and pretending it was so wonderful, is one of these strategies. How can I be with Miss Today when Miss Yesterday was so captivating?
Focusing on and magnifying a partner’s warts and flaws is another way of seeking for excuses to bail from a relationship.
(I often find myself drawn towards women with fatal flaws because such flaws look like a built-in escape hatch, a convenient way out of a relationship. If she’s too perfect, I might not be able to escape the swirling vortex of attraction. I never admitted any of this stuff to myself in words, until I read Attached.)
Are there silver linings for me? Anxious types can become hyper-sensitive to others’ feelings. Having an Anxious attachment style helps me to compensate for some of my male social obliviousness. Body language and hints can fly right by men, but when I am attracted to someone, the slightest twitch of the eyelid becomes a subject of interest, and I attempt to interpret these types of cues.
Being Avoidant could morph into being pickier about partners—not settling, not diving into unwise relationships (like I did when I got married). Caution will guide me to tie the knot firmly, with a rope that won’t fray. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m trying to be optimistic about my diagnosis of terminal love allergy.)
Independence Paradox
The book says that good relationships empower those in them to face the world. Being dependent on each other makes partners stand taller, and act with more apparent independence, confidence, and energy.
Those who approach the world alone might seem more independent, but they are not as secure because they are not fortified by emotional or physical intimacy. Unmet needs of any kind are a chink in the armor.
Ironically, being Avoidant means mistaking weakness—emotional starvation—for independence. Lone-wolf mystique is a big thing in America. We shun the collectivism of Asian societies, preferring to romanticize the iconic image of a solitary cowboy riding his horse mysteriously over the horizon, grimly rippling his jaw muscles and squinting eyes. We romanticize the alpha male man-on-a-mission.
Reality is a world of interdependence and interconnectedness. It starts with our mothers and branches out to fathers, grandparents, siblings, cousins, school mates, friends, coworkers, political parties, churches, and the whole world. When a mudslide across the world decimates a village, people who never met the villagers mobilize.
I made almost nothing I own, save a very few things. Am I independent because I roam the streets at night on staring at the stars? No, the food I eat, clothes I wear, car I drive, gasoline it burns, bed I sleep in, etc., where all made and shipped and sold to me by others.
Emotional sustenance is a real need, which is why solitary confinement is considered a severe form of punishment.
Why isolate myself?
“Introversion” is a term that gets overused to describe quiet and contemplative behavior. Someone who needs people a lot, yet fears them, is SHY, not introverted. Introverts may or may not be afraid of public speaking, but we need our space. We recharge our batteries during peaceful moments and alone-time; extroverts recharge by getting with groups of people and experience high levels of stimulation.
I am both introverted, and somewhat shy. All this means keeping me happy is easy and cheap (“alone” requires no money or planning; just walk away and there you are). Meeting other emotional needs? Combining Avoidant and Anxious and Introverted and Shy is a recipe for bachelorhood.
I hear Einstein wrote out some kind of contract for his first wife, including a bunch of stuff about how quiet she would be around him, and not bother him. This sounds juvenile, but there really are human beings (in case you were wondering) for whom peace is an end unto itself. Human contact is very stimulating—which is why extroverts crave it, and introverts often recoil.
Helpful Suggestions
A relationship (sigh) is mostly made of interaction with another human being. That means illusory independence has to give way to negotiating, stepping on each other’s toes, blame, constricted privacy, etc. It is like going from a single seat bike to a tandem bicycle. You have to agree and then start pedaling; otherwise you stop and disagree and discuss, or one partner is grumpy about the path the other has chosen for them.
This dreary description of being in a romantic or marriage relationship is, in itself, a pretty good sample of the kind of bitter bilge my brain comes up with in order to protect me from love. It is like a confused immune system, fighting off the good bacteria necessary for life (romantic Crohn’s Disease?).
What does Attached have to offer in the way of hope for the hopeless romantic (disaster area) like me?
In the first place, it gives room for fluidity. These labels are not set in stone, though habits of decades are hard to shake off in any case.
The most helpful part of the book (for me, so far) is a section of suggests from about page 127 to 130.
It is titled, EIGHT THINGS YOU CAN START DOING TODAY TO STOP PUSHING LOVE AWAY
I will sum them up here in my own words, with some commentary:
First, learn to identify deactivating strategies. Am I acting like an Avoidant? Am I fantasizing about love that can never be in order to escape love that is right in front of me? Am I magnifying my date’s flaws, and diminishing her qualities? This reminds me of the STOP survival rule: stranded in the wilderness, you must Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. Running and screaming will get you dehydrated and killed quickly; it is the calm castaway that survives.
Being aware of the habits that lead to bailing from a relationship is the first step toward stopping them in their tracks. I still need closeness and intimacy, regardless of how expensive my flawed instincts tell me they are.
Second, de-emphasize being a lone wolf, or romanticizing that form of isolationism. Focus on mutual support, togetherness. “Let’s get together, yeah yeah yeah…”
Third, find a secure partner. Your strength gives me strength. I heard that ancient Israelite soldiers who were overly afraid were asked to leave the battlefront—cowardice and panicky behavior are as contagious as laughter. A calm soldier calms his fellows down. (I have often thought that, the quieter a woman whispers, the louder it resonates in a man’s brain (which is why nagging backfires, I guess–but hints don’t work; you have to actually whisper).
Fourth, beware of my tendency to misinterpret behaviors. Is a joke mean-spirited, or good fun? I recently ran from a date because her jokes reminded me of my ex’s abusive and belittling humor. Does my significant other really feel kindly towards me, and have my interest at heart? The longer she stays with me, the more likely the answer is “yes.”
Fifth, enumerate reason to be grateful about a relationship. Focusing on flaws magnifies them and obscures the very real good that is there. Acknowledge the good your partner does, and has.
Sixth, forget the phantom ex. I am no longer in that relationship for a reason—several reasons, probably. If she was “all that,” I would still be with her, right? So stop using her as an excuse to bail on the relationship at hand.
Seventh, forget about “the one.” It is easy (too easy) to imagine an ideal partner. That is not real life. I recently explained to a friend an analogy. Imagine a grocery store where, instead of items on the shelves, you find nothing but shopping carts that have already been filled with assorted items by someone else before you got to the store. You can’t take anything out of the carts, or put anything in. You simply have to look around and choose a cart that most closely matches what you wanted to buy.
This is a lot like dating and courtship. Qualities are either in people, or they are not. Some things that we perceive as flaws are in people (though someone else might see that raucous laugh and bubbly personality as qualities instead of warts). We can do nothing to change others; we simply accept them or reject them. To think we can sculpt and manicure and fix a person after we get married is flirting with disaster.
I have learned through rough experiences recently that we cannot love people in slices—we either accept the whole person, or it is not really love.
What about helping others to change? Change is a voluntary act. We cannot choose change for another.
Eighth, adopt the distraction strategy. A date might include an activity where you are facing each other the whole time, which will activate attraction, and hence drive Avoidants to flee: try a date where you focus on something else. Imagine cooking together. You aren’t having a staring contest at a restaurant table; you are bustling around the kitchen.
This is a little like smuggling yourself into a relationship. Low-dose exposure to stimulus, with successive increases in exposure, can habituate the subject to the stimulus. Low doses of attraction mean less nervousness, and fewer attempts to bolt.
This is perhaps the suggestion from the book I think about most. A perfect date might include something that allows me to be something other than twitter-pated.
Lately it seems like I have been dragging a five foot long piece of toilet paper stuck to my heel around for twenty years, and this book barely pointed it out to me.
Is it too late? Am I doomed? I feel that coming to understand myself is a good omen. In order to predict and control something, you must first have at least some understanding of it.


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It’s Just a Date!!

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.

David Johansen, therapist and teacher of “How to Avoid Falling For a Jerk or Jerkette” in Utah County, based off of this book by John Van Epp, taught us this reassuring lesson:

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.

Paired off: dates don't have to be expensive.

Paired off: dates don’t have to be expensive.

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:

Marriage Dating bookI 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. man-963182_640

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. clasped-hands-541849_640

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Elder Holland on Delaying/Fearing Marriage

from

An Evening with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Be Not Afraid, Only Believe”

Address to CES Religious Educators • February 6, 2015 • Salt Lake Tabernacle

christmas-lights-929217-wallpaperLet me list some specific things that I think you should teach your students to be glad about and over which they should cease being fearful. I note, for example, getting married, having families, and welcoming children into the world. We in the presiding councils of the Church hear far too often—and perhaps you do as well—that many of our youth and young adults are terrified to get married. In extreme cases they are fearful that the world is about to end in blood and disaster—something they don’t want to take a spouse or child into. In less severe, more common cases, they are fearful that the world will just get more difficult, that jobs will be too hard to find, and that one should be out of school, out of debt, have a career, and own a home before considering marriage.

Good grief! On that formula Sister Holland and I still wouldn’t be married! Seriously, when we got married we were both still undergraduates at BYU, with neither set of parents able to help us at all financially, no way to imagine all the graduate education we had yet ahead of us, and this with $300 dollars between us on our wedding day! Now that may not be the ideal way to start a marriage, but what a marriage it has been and what we would have missed if we had waited even one day longer than we did once we knew that that marriage was right. Sure, there was sacrifice; certainly there were restless days and weeks and months; certainly there was some burning of the midnight oil. But I tremble to think what we would have lost if we had taken “counsel from our fears,” 15 as President James E. Faust would later tell me over and over and over that I and no one else should ever do. What if we had delayed inordinately? What would we have missed?meme-holland-future-1245993-gallery

I still think the best definition of marital love is James Thurber’s, who said simply that love is what you go through together. 16 I will be eternally grateful for what Pat was willing to go through with me—that she did not feel I had to have my degree and a car and a home and a career all in hand before we could marry.

And we wanted children as soon as we could get them, which in our case did not turn out to be as easy as we thought. In fact, if we hadn’t determined to have our family as promptly as we could, we might well have been a childless couple, as some of our friends and some of you, through no fault of your own, have found it your lot in life to be. It took us three years to have our first child, another three to get a second, and four to get a third. And then that was it. A full-term miscarriage for a fourth closed that door to us forever, so we have rejoiced in the three children we have been able to raise. But what would our lives have been like if we had waited or delayed or worried unduly about the economics of it all? Which of our children would we give back? With what memories or love or lessons with each of them would we ever part? I shudder to think of it.

holding-hands-411428_640Brethren and sisters, I think we have to start earlier to teach our students the place of marriage and family in the great plan of happiness. Waiting until they are of marriageable age puts us way behind the curve. And I don’t have to tell you that social trends, declining moral standards, and the “vain imagination” 17 of popular entertainment will regularly be in opposition to that teaching.

For example, it is alarming to us that in the last 50 years the natural median age for men to marry has risen from age 22 to age 28! That is the world’s figure, not the Church’s, but we eventually follow the world in some way in much of its social trending. Add to this such diverse influences on the young as the increased availability of birth control, the morally destructive rise of pornography, an increased disaffiliation with institutional religion, the pervasive quest for material goods generally, the rise of postmodern thought with its skepticism and subjectivity and you see the context for anxiety and fear that a rising generation can feel. With these kinds of winds blowing in their lives, they can be damaged almost before mature, married life has begun.what if you fly

Furthermore, so many young people I talk to fear that if they do marry they will be just another divorce statistic; they will be another individual who dove foolishly into marriage only to find there was no water in that pool. Couple that leeriness about the success of marriage with the tawdry, foul, often devilish mocking of chastity and fidelity and family life so regularly portrayed in movies and on television and you see the problem.

engaged-couple-1249058-galleryWe have our work cut out for us to preserve and perpetuate both the holiness and the happiness of marriage. You can begin by showing the blessing, the reward, and the reality of a happy marriage in your own lives. That doesn’t mean you should be Pollyannaish about marriage; every marriage takes work, and yours will too. But, as always, your first and most penetrating lessons to your students will be the lessons of your own life. You show them in word and deed that your marriage and your family mean everything to you because they should—they must. Help your students “be not afraid, only believe” 18 in marriage and family in these last days. Lucifer will make that harder and harder to do even as it becomes more and more important to do.

15. James E. Faust, “Be Not Afraid,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 6.
16. See James Thurber, in “Thurber,” Life, Mar. 14, 1960, 108.
17. 1 Nephi 12:18.
18. Mark 5:36.


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The 2 best blog entries for LDS singles, ever…

love-letter-241695_640Al Fox Carraway is often called “The Tattooed Mormon” because she does firesides, and has tattoos. Her husband, Ben Carraway, would like you to know why it is that he just doesn’t see her as “the tattooed Mormon” or “that famous girl.”

1) from Ben (full text at this link):

Let pasts go. Allow people to show you that they can change, grow, and become better. My wife was called out for how she looked on her first day in Utah because she was tattooed and holding a church book. That guy told her how foolish she looked. That’s messed up. When my wife and I meet people, a lot of the time I will notice their eyes just starring at her tattoos. To me she is not the ‘Tattood Mormon’ nor will she ever be in my eyes.

Marriage for us, I can firmly say, has not been hard one bit. Sure there have been life difficulties, but we get over them. I love her more and more everyday. I love her more than the day I married her. I find her even more attractive then when we first met. I fall in love with her everyday. Even to this day when I look in her deep blue eyes, I know why I married her. I married her not for her looks, sure that’s a bonus, but I married her for WHO she is.

2) And from Al (full text at the link):

It was a long and incredibly lonely time before I would even be considered for a date, mostly because guys couldn’t get past my appearance. And that was really hard, just barely moving to Utah against my will (but following God’s), being in a new place, not knowing what I was supposed to do there and feeling absolutely and completely alone. (No, not just because of the lack of boys, but in general and in every way you could probably think of). Guys my age were looking for temple worthy girls, however, I didn’t exactly look temple worthy, that they didn’t even speak to me. After my move across the country, it was the first time that it ever occurred to me that, appearance aside, my life before the church could stop guys from wanting to not alone date, but be friends. I would notice the kind of girls that were getting asked out and I began to be afraid that because I didn’t look “perfect,” grow up in a strong gospel centered family, or know how to cook or make my own skirts, I was forever going to be over looked.

A lesson I learned shortly after baptism— when I felt the weight of the world of problems come flooding into my life— I learned that if I continued to put God first, everything else would fall in to place.

You will be blessed with a companion that will help you in the ways you need, even if sometimes you feel like they don’t exist, or that you’re asking for too much or you’re too picky. Don’t let passing time allow doubts and settling to take over. Don’t lose patience and miss out on what He has in store for you. Don’t hold yourself back from learning and growing and experiencing other things. Just hold on and don’t lose confidence.  Heavenly Father knows what’s important to us and what we need.

Those who are single, don’t waste your thoughts comparing yourself and defining yourself by what you aren’tand what others are. Don’t allow yourself to question what is “wrong with you.”  Heavenly Father did not shortchange or screw up on you. Don’t stress. You just worry about you and worry about God.  Because the thing about Heavenly Father is that if we are trying and are patient, we will never be short-changed from the best blessings He has to offer.

Yeah, sure our future can be uncertain at times, but how exciting that is! How exciting it is to know it’s guided by God!

no-mistakes


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Here’s The Best Advice From A Single Guy Who Spent A Year Interviewing Couples

ImageNate Bagley says he was sick of hearing love stories that fell into one of two categories — scandal and divorce, and unrealistic fairytale.

So he started a Kickstarter and used his life savings to tour the country and interview couples in happy, long-term relationships.

He now hopes to make a documentary from the interviews, and has many of them already uploaded on his website, The Loveumentary. This is some of the best advice that he shared with Reddit:

On the key things that make a relationship successful:

“This was actually one of the most surprising things I learned on the journey.

Self Love: The happiest couples always consisted of two (sometimes more) emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. These people practiced self-love. They treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner… or at least they tried to.

Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it’s most difficult.

Commitment: After that emotional health came an unquestioning level of commitment. The happiest couples knew that if (difficulties came) [edited], their significant other wasn’t going to walk out on them. They knew that even if things got hard – no, especially if things got hard — they were better off together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Trust: Happy couples trust each other… and they have earned each others’ trust. They don’t worry about the other person trying to undermine them or sabotage them, because they’ve proven over and over again that they are each other’s biggest advocate. That trust is built through actions, not words. It’s day after day after day of fidelity, service, emotional security, reliability.

Establish that foundation, and you’re in good shape.

Intentionality: This is the icing on the cake. There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. (Yes, that’s a true story.) There’s a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck… or nothing at all. There’s a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience… even if it means their partner has to stage kiss another woman.

The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship.”

On the best advice he was given:

“One woman in Georgia gave some pretty amazing advice. She and and her husband have been married for over 60 years, and after being asked what her best relationship advice would be, she paused and said…

‘Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.’”

more HERE from Business Insider Australia

The State of the Mid-Singles Program

*Excellent article* link from Erin McBride of Meridian Magazine:

photo by makelessnoise on flickr

photo by makelessnoise on flickr

The mid-singles program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is still in its infancy. While unofficial program is several years old, the official, sanctioned program is only three years old. There are now 15 official “mid-singles” wards across the U.S, with wards as large as 800 attendees.

One of the first mid-singles wards, the Potomac Ward, just outside of Washington, D.C., in the Mount Vernon, Virginia Stake, was formed three years ago. When the ward began three years ago it started with just 60 members. The ward is now up to 369 members: 123 men, 246 women. In that time there have been 57 marriages. Since the start of 2014 there has been one marriage and one new engagement. (And the bishop, as well as the ward members, are hopeful there will be more.)

Every year Bishop Lewis Larsen gives the “state of the ward” address. (This is just outside of D.C. after all.) It is the one time a year he gives a strict and direct lecture on marriage, dating, and the lack of it. The questions and issues raised in this talk offer an important look at whether or not the mid-singles program is working.

Read more HERE


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Interview with Jill Stephens of “Let’s Make a Match”

I loved the book Emma and the movie version starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a young woman who, after successfully making one match between her governess and a local gentleman, decides that she must have a talent for it, and continues to try with  somewhat disastrous results for people she cares about. When I first saw the movie I could somewhat relate: I too had had one success (albeit unwittingly), which gave me a somewhat over-inflated ego in that area for a while and made me want to keep trying for matches among my friends and acquaintances. Yes, I did have good motives, and fortunately nothing as drastic happened to those of my acquaintance as did to Emma’s friends, but nothing great happened, either.

So, what is it that can make a good matchmaker? Matchmakers seem to be an up and coming phenomenon of sorts in the LDS world and elsewhere, similar to the matchmaker in “Fiddler on the Roof” but with a bit more leeway and much less parental involvement. When I became aware of matchmaker Jill Stephens, I was already fleetingly familiar with a Utah area matchmaker as well as dating coach Alisa Goodwin Snell, so I decided to ask her what the benefits are to using a matchmaker in lieu of the average online dating site or “going it alone” in the local singles seen, or even getting set up by family and friends. I also asked her what she thinks the biggest challenges are that singles today have to face.

Here’s just some of what Jill had to say:

• Geography is a big challenge for those who are LDS. Because so many would prefer someone of the same faith, it can be hard to find someone who is close by and who could be compatible.

• People are looking too much for perfection, whether it’s in themselves or in a companion.

• As far as inspiration is concerned, people just want to be told who they’re supposed to be with, (a lightning bolt, per se) but it doesn’t necessarily work that way. We are counseled to date (this applies both to LDS and not) but sometimes we don’t want to put the work and effort in (editor’s note: especially if we’ve been doing it for years). Go into it without expectations, wanting to get to know people and form friendships because that will lead to a bigger and better ending.

• Again, everyone has their own challenges that they’re facing, but one of the biggest ones is not having people near to date, or the resources to find what you’re looking for.

• Someone you’re dating can be a good person, but not necessarily highlight what is good in you, and vice versa.

• Don’t force a relationship if it’s not natural.

• Then, after you do your part, you can pray to see if this relationship you’re in is something Heavenly Father approves of.

• People can use help from an unbiased person when working on themselves and their dating skills. Swallowing your pride can be easier with a hired matchmaker than it is from friends who may have hidden agendas (though loving they may seem).

• Online, you can end up meeting a lot of jerks. (so true) Going through an actual person/matchmaker, you can bypass that because the matchmaker with sift through people for you.

A little about Jill:

Jill Stephens

Q: what made you decide to become a matchmaker?

J: I had introduced friends in the past who ended up getting married, and then I kept finding out about others who said I’d had a hand in them getting together without realizing it.  Then over the summer I was in the audience for a show that airs in March called “Ready for Love” and I realized I shared a lot of the same thought processes and talents as the matchmakers on the show: I was dying to jump on the stage and give advice.

Q: Who do you plan to serve as a matchmaker: just locals?  What area?

J: I want to help clients who are both LDS and not LDS.  Everyone needs help, and I don’t want to exclude anyone. Also, although I’m located in Los Angeles, I don’t plan on limiting my business geographically.

Q: I thought people might like to hear a little more about you personally.  Where are you from, and where have you lived? I loved the post you had on your Facebook about moving to L.A.: “People always ask if LA is a culture shock. What they don’t realize is that I’ve lived around rednecks all my life: it doesn’t get more shocking then that.” (She recently moved to the L.A. area.)

J: I’m originally from Athens, Georgia (college town) but spent a lot of time in Atlanta, claim Athens as home, and moved back there at age 18.  My father was in the Navy, so we moved all over the place.

Q: What is one of the funniest things that’s happened to you in your dating experiences?

J: I went on a blind date once and the guy wore a shirt with a naked mermaid on it. We met at a neutral place and he informed me he needed to relieve himself so I told him he could go in the building we met at. Instead, he decided to run over to the bushes. Later he called a friend who had just gotten married and asked if he had gotten any action. Anyone who knows me would know that didn’t sit well and I told him so.  Oh, and there was a house on the other side of the bushes!

Q: What other tips and advice do you have for singles? Would there be anything specific to the men or the women?

J: There are small things that can be done to make relationships better.  Selfishness usually breaks up marriages. As for dating, both women and men: don’t be too aggressive.  Guys who just jump out of the woodwork, be careful! (Get to know her first.) You may come on too strong at first. (As for women), you don’t have to ask the guy out, but do help him feel like he came up with the idea.

I personally find the idea of using a matchmaker intriguing.  I know so many singles who work so much and end up feeling too tired at the end of the day for social activities.  And, though many of my acquaintance have met their spouses on dating sites, most admit that you have to deal with some interesting situations to get there.  Perhaps for a lot of you out there, using a matchmaker could give you that extra boost without the extra headache of cyber dating.

Jill is running a special right now: $100 for a 6 month membership, which doesn’t start until she starts finding you matches. In other words, it won’t start until she has people for you to date.*   This deal is for everyone, not just those who are LDS, but you can definitely specify that you only want to date those who are LDS. I hope some of you take advantage of it!

You can get a hold of Jill on her business’ Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LetsMakeAMatch

*These are options of people you can go out with.  The fee starts whether or not you decide to go out with them.