LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


Leave a comment

Dates or Commodities?

032This may be a controversial post.  I keep trying to search for the best way to write it, so that I get my point across without targeting ways of searching for a spouse that may be mostly harmless. Personally, I think the healthiest way to view of singles activities is that of not just possibilities for dating partners, but also for making and keeping friends, and for expanding our way of viewing people in general.  But of course, we want to spend our time as productively as possible.  We want to be able to spend most of our “dating time” with people that may actually work with us. How each of us decides we need to divide up that time is up to us, but if at the start we view it as a race to finding someone with a certain list of possibly unreachable (and unnecessary) qualifications as soon as possible, (yes, possibly the old “Are you being too picky” shtick, maybe)  we could end up miserable not just while looking for that unattainable mate, but also miserable after we find that dream person that ends up to not be quite what we expected.

*I will again steer you towards Dating Coach Alisa Goodwin Snell’s “Avoid Settling – Create Your Top Ten List” audio. Do you treat potential dates and friends of the opposite sex like friends, or commodities?

American_CashI would never presume that most of us do this all, or even most of the time: but do we do it sometimes? And does it get in our way? I’ve collected stories that I’ll put in my next post where friends felt that they were made to be more as “objects” than partners or people, but I am still afraid that you’ll take the more obvious examples and be afraid to apply the milder versions of it to yourself.

I think the best examples of the more mild versions are when we have something on our list that may be almost impossible to find. But first, here are the stories, first from the women. The men get tomorrow’s post, so stay tuned  for that These stories come from the *feelings* of those I spoke with, and aren’t necessarily about how I view things, but rather how what others do made or makes them feel:

Olivia: I got interviewed on a date once. He asked me how often I changed my sheets, how serious I was about my career, and if I liked cleaning. He had a specific type of person in mind, I guess.

Courtney: One guy I dated expected me to be there constantly when he wanted to talk to me but would disappear for a while when it suited him. He assumed that all male friends I had were romantic interests and tried to forbid me from talking to them, but he started hanging out with another girl a lot who he thought was cute. So, basically, double standards. It felt like he was a person who was “allowed” to be complex, but I was expected to be constant, predictable, and obedient.

Ellen: I used to get ‘if only you were more confident/ sociable/ happy.’ The exact thing to make me less so. And ‘my friends’ girlfriends are all schoolgirls, MY girlfriend is 2 years older than me and has had a job.’ Definitely felt like a commodity there.

Gayla: I can honestly say I have never had that experience. I started dating at age 16. My Sr. HS year boyfriend was the most amazing. And I would have probably married him had we been in the same place at the same time. He is a month older than I. Still great friends. But I was 19 when I got married. I think he married 3 years later. ( And he has been married 3 times. This last time, he was in the right place and made some changes to take her to the right place.) In 28 years, I have never felt like a commodity.

Mikayla: I had a man tell me he was looking for someone between the ages of 18 and 25 because those were the prime child bearing years. Man, he would have been disappointed when it turned out I couldn’t get pregnant. Infertility_causes

Claudia: I could write a book on the subject. Let’s see… (a) unabashedly “appreciating the menu” when out with a date [there’s a difference between noting aesthetic beauty and equating the attractive gender to food] (b) marking territory through semi-intimate physical contact [being “handsy” is not seductive, it’s the equivalent of a conceptual leash] (c)consistently scheduling everything around one’s own convenience, rather than taking both parties into consideration (d) ignoring non-verbal cues [ie. tired, not in the mood, upset, irritated], or if the non-verbal cues are noted, attempting to alter them to something more comfortable instead of addressing them or at least acknowledging them (e) objectifying and belittling language in reference to the significant other (f) sarcastic comments: it’s all too often a means of masking a statement that hits a little too close to home (g) making jokes at the expense of the significant other, or to belittle the relationship

Julie: I had one ask me about my finances, if I had debt, etc. It felt like he was trying to decide if I was worth a financial risk to him. This conversation happened over the phone after I had met him at a dance. I didn’t date him.

Dana:  He should instruct his family ahead of time not to comment on her “child bearin’ hips” even if they mean it as a compliment.

Anne: I have to say that when my daughter started dating her now husband, they have known each other for years through school, he did tell her she had child bearing hips. She said it was a good thing. His dad is a OB. That is dinner table talk with his all medical family. My daughter is medical, also.

Melissa: I used to be a “people watcher”, but it made my boyfriend (now husband) so uncomfortable that I had to stop. I have to be careful, even after 16 years of marriage not to make eye contact with any men in my vicinity, for any reason, and most definitely no talking. 

McMansions

McMansions

Anne: I don’t think I could do that! I smile at everyone!

Erin: Melissa, I’m sorry – that sounds very challenging!

Erin – My husband was 45 when we started dating, and he found me on a dating site. I didn’t find him, because I was 30 and definitely not searching in the 40+ category. He said right from his very first contact that he was seeking out younger women because he would like to have a family, and most women his age could not. I can see how that could be creepy, but it also makes sense. I mean, if you want a family, most women 45+ physically cannot do that, so I understand the desire to look for younger women. Perhaps I’ve just got my head stuck in the sand to make myself feel better.

And now I’m so hung up on our financial issues (I’m the provider and don’t want to be) and other issues, that we still haven’t even tried to have children. Poor guy.

Keri: I dated someone once who would ask for my opinion, but then immediately stomp all over them. I stopped offering them. He said it was because his family just loved to debate. I felt like he was just looking for someone to agree with him. 

Great Debaters

Great Debaters

Bethany: I unknowingly fell in love and then married someone quite a bit younger than me. I was embarrassed at the time-he thought I was younger, and I thought he was older;) He encouraged me to get over my sensitivity to the age difference. BEST decision I ever made. Cannot say enough good things about being married to someone younger- keeps my frame of reference younger, … he was raised a generation later-so is much more self-sufficient with house chores, longer money making life than me, stronger longer, fresher perspective. Really-cannot say enough good things about this if it’s the right guy. Which in my case, it was.

Claudia: speaking of commodities and the entitled-to-have-a-woman-with-education, how about the men whose laundry list includes “someone who can get me into the US”? I ran into quite a few of those.

Kim: I once dated a guy who loved that I could sing, but he only wanted me to sing for him. He didn’t want me to do theatre or perform in front of an audience. Fortunately, I realized that wasn’t for me before I married him. Whew! My husband of 20 years is an actor himself and would never dream of asking me to keep my talent at home.

Bethany: Really Kim ? I always wondered what that would be like-kind of like your own personal Angel of Music? But not for public. My husband has a directing background, and it’s so nice being married to someone who understands.phantom mask flickr

Courtney: Rachel, did he wear a half mask and leave roses everywhere?

Kim: No, this guy was not an angel of music. He didn’t sing or dance or do anything creative himself. He was a nice enough guy. But he was 6 years older than I (which is a lot when you’re 20 and he’s 26. I was barely out of my teens and he was close to 30!) He also had a pretty clear idea of what he wanted in a woman — which was NOT who I was or am. Thank goodness I realized it in time! I’m sure there is a lovely lady out there somewhere who is happy to sing just for him.. and cook.. and be traditional and submissive. NOT me!

Jenny: I hate it when a man “leads” me from your back when we are going in somewhere. I know they think it’s protective, but (I find) it annoying, I can decide where to go.

 

"friends" by Alex

“friends” by Alex

How to not treat potential spouses/dates as commodities,  advice from various sources: From Melanie Notkin:

I’ve learned that every connection and every moment, has a purpose. And while I may not recognize that purpose in that very moment, I know that I will learn something about someone new and probably something about myself. Plus, with that attitude, I often have a great time regardless of how I feel about the man I’m with. It’s a night out, … maybe dinner, maybe a movie, … what’s not to appreciate?

Marriage, like other relationships with people we love in our lives, is about service and sacrifice.  I think we usually know intellectually that marriage won’t be the end of our troubles, but sometimes we still aim for that.  But LDS blogger Seth Adam Smith says it much better than I ever could:

In fact, if you’re doing it right, love, marriage, and family will be the most painful things you’ll ever experience. Not because they’re bad things, but because to love at all means to open yourselves up to vulnerability and pain. And to love someone completely—as you do in marriage—is to put your whole heart on the line. True love will be painful. True love should be painful. To be clear, when I say that true love should be painful I am not referring to abusive, obsessive, or co-dependent relationships; those relationships are predicated upon selfishness and will inevitably produce a pain that’s destructive and detrimental. No, the “painful love” to which I am referring are those relationships that help us grow beyond ourselves. Because we are all imperfect, we will inevitably get hurt. But that hurt has the ability to make us stronger than before. Marriage and family relationships are to our hearts like exercise is to our muscles.♥♥♥

photo by Ken Lund

photo by Ken Lund

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Appearance in Dating, Part II: Real Stories

heart addictedI asked some married friends if they would share their stories about what they were looking for while they were dating, and if it changed once they met their spouse.  I was delighted with the responses.  These friends come from a few different countries; although most are American.  They also come from several different faiths, not just LDS.  What they do represent still, I think, is how different things can turn out from what you think you want; and also the benefit of learning to look for (or just recognize) the things that matter most.

Once again, I’m not saying that appearance doesn’t matter at all.  I’m just acknowledging that perhaps, sometimes, we’re too picky in the things that don’t matter, so that a re-evaluation of our motives from time to time is probably a good idea.

The names have all been changed:

Will:
My wife did a couple of things that were unique.
 
I met her online. Her profile had 3 different photos of her that looked so completely different, I was perplexed to know who she actually was. One with platinum blonde hair, the other with a short brunette bob and the last bright red shoulder length hair wrap around sunglasses and a skateboard. It peaked my curiosity.
 
She contacted me and we had a lot of friends and common interests. It was somewhat shocking to me because we lived three states away.
 
Then I found she had a blog. As I browsed through her writings and her history, her words just grabbed me from the insides. This is a clairvoyant woman of depth and insight and intelligence. And she’s funny! I spoke out loud to myself, “I want to make out with her brain“!
 
I had to see who she was. She agreed to Skype with me because I was so curious as to who this mystery woman was. I this who I’ve been waiting for my whole life?
 
She was surprisingly super normal. She was nice. She was pretty. Our conversation was ok, but it did not strike me (as) anything I had to pursue right away. I had just started dating after my 2 year separation / divorce and I was ready to explore my options. I didn’t see how this woman (that lived so far away) was any different from any of the other women I could be dating locally. I wasn’t sure she was my “type”. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.
 
So I kept dating. A lot. She flew out once and we spent a day together. She was nice. We had fun. I was pursuing another relationship.
 
But we kept in touch. We shared with each other our dating woes and single parent problems. When I was feeling low, she sent me a pie. When she was having problems with a guy she was dating, I shared advice. We developed a long term friendship. We would talk late into the night but not on romantic terms but as friends that really liked each other. This relationship grew much differently that I had expected. We had developed a real love for each other. Over this time I could tell that it wasn’t infatuation. It wasn’t hormones. it was a different creature than I thought love was.
 
She flew out again a year later. 
 
And then I held her hand. It fit my hand perfectly. There was magic. And then we kissed. We were married 5 months later. I’m so happy that I found the love of my life. We are so emotionally, spiritually and physically compatible it still boggles me that it wasn’t evident right away.
 
 
Now that I’ve told our story, I must emphasize that I came from an ugly divorce. The relationship of my first wife started with a kiss. The physical attraction was huge and loud and overwhelming. But because we started kissing before we got to really know each other and build a relationship of trust, It impaired us from the beginning. I dare say that we never achieved a solid level of trust. And though we were both spiritual people, we were not spiritually connected. After our marriage, our physical relationship crumbled so quickly and left us with very little to stand on.
 
With my current wife, I was physically intrigued just enough to try and get to know her, but we started on a friendship of mutual admiration and trust. We grew a relationship over time and it was not clear to me how compatible we actually were until we had developed a real emotional bond. She was so my type but I didn’t initially see it (she saw it. She’s smart). I had no idea that love could be so wonderful. It’s incredible. And just like a good movie, it ended with a kiss.
Samantha:
Attracted? Dark and handsome with a wonderful smile and the ability to make me laugh. (He failed on the tall part of tall dark and handsome). He was also 15 years older and very kind. That spoke to me because of my childhood. I needed a gentle-man… then and now. 
Now? My girls just sigh and shake their heads when I say how cute their dad is …..His jokes fall flat a lot of the time now but he has regained his smile after some years of terrible turmoil and I’m glad to see it.
Also, he has the most wonderful soft skin.
Was this the type I’d expected to marry? I’d given up dating 2 years before at 19 ’cause they were all either jerks or married and had gone to night school to up my qualifications as I planned to fend for myself for life.
I can’t speak to who he expected to marry because, I found out a few years later from friends, that he, at 37 was a confirmed bachelor when I met him.
We confirmed our love to each other a week after our first date…. this year will be 36 years.
Keiko:
 I had really dated a wide range of “types” so I didn’t really have one. I thought Al was handsome right away, but it was the fact that we talked really well right away-that doesn’t always happen for either of us, that sold me. He thought I was pretty and had great curves. He fit the requirements list I made when I was younger-smart, moral, funny, hard-working, kind…
Michelle:
 Like Samantha– before I married I was attracted to the tall, dark, and handsome, but really good social skills were the most important to me. My husband is tall-ish (6’2″) and dark (1/2 Mayan) and very handsome, but mostly he won me over by being genuinely interested in what I said and my life. He is able to be interested and care about lots of people in a way that I’m not. He always learns everyone’s names at Church and work and their personal stories too.Plus, there is no point in being handsome if you don’t make eye contact and SMILE!!!
Jenny:
 I was attracted to my husband’s blue eyes and voice. He was attracted to the back of my head (I had long hair at the time) and he was interested what the other side looked like. Those were our first opinions if each other.
I was always attracted to tall, dark, and handsome, not short, freckled and Jewish. He told me I possessed four out of five qualifications: brown hair, brown eyes, curves, and the name Jennifer. The only quality I don’t have is a Cuban accent like Daisy Fuentes. He is a kind, loving, romantic, sweet man. Those are very important qualities to me.
Gena:
 Because I met him 10 years ago in grade 8, up until that point, all I knew I liked in men was cool hair (long or spiky or crazy colors) and relatively hairless body. Roberto was quiet (hadn’t learned much English yet), wore all black for convenience, simple hair, and shy of me, but his eyes had this alert, calculating, intense quality to them that I couldn’t help being drawn in by. The reason we started dating in grade 10 was those intense, intelligent eyes, tall frame, deep conversation on a wide range of subjects, and, most importantly, treating me as a friend and conversation partner instead of a piece of meat, as other high-schoolers tend to do. Also, in grade 10 I convinced him to grow his hair out. By graduation it was down to his bum. In the last 5 years his skinny teen frame has become man shaped, and now I realize how much I love broad shoulders and facial hair . Groomed facial hair, mind you. His hair has been tamed to shoulder length too. Roberto’s priority is clothing. Before we dated, his ideal girl would dress tastefully and flattering to her body. Not frumpy, not naked, not a nun. Skirts no longer than the knee, shirts that don’t turn the torso into a box curtain or frilly mess, etc. Today he still has discerning taste in clothes, both for himself and I. I trust his judgement when shopping. If I try on a dress and he pauses, then says “… you know those frilly orange tree fungi?” I’m not buying that dress . 
Claudia:
 I am attracted to tall men: my husband is 6’5, and all the men i dated before him, were of similar height. Before meeting him, though, i liked dark haired, dark skinned men (Latin, preferably of my same ethnicity). Then one day i met him, he’s very white, green eyed, and very handsome and big. Not just tall and gangly legged (if that makes any sense)- he used to be a football player when he was in college, and grew up in a farm. I also have a thing for strong men, i guess (still get weak knees after 8 years, LOL) and fell for him because he’s just amazing (i might be a little biased). He’s a very confident, responsible man, kind, romantic and loves adventure (he’s traveled half the world and he’s only 34). He’s also an amazing cook, and a great dancer. He’s very passionate about what he likes, and you can see that in his eyes when he’s talking about it (and his whole body- he speaks while pacing around and gesticulates quite a bit, which struck me as interesting when we first met, because i had the idea that American men, specially the ones from the Midwest, were all soft spoken.   I am a year older than him, by the way- but everyone thinks it’s the other way around.
Mari:
I had a few rules that I didn’t deviate from. I would only accept men who were taller than me, with broader shoulders than mine. They had to be solidly built, not slender like a marathon runner. I demanded high intelligence. I didn’t go for conventional good looks or popularity. I almost always went for the geeks. I saw them as diamonds in the rough. I saw their potential and desired to assist them in reaching it. My biggest crushes, though, were on older men in their 50’s and 60’s. I ended up marrying a man who ticked all the boxes on my list, except that he was a “youngster” only 4 years my senior. I was his first girlfriend ever, but he didn’t mind that I’d gotten a rather early start and already had a “past”. We were set up on a blind date by a mutual friend and got married less than 6 months later. He was just graduating from college and I was fresh out of high school. My family cheered about my “good catch”. His family was horrified, said I was too young and too poor and uneducated.  His PG version is that he was first attracted to my blue eyes. But also he could sense a “wildness” behind my calm, quiet exterior that made him unable to take his mind off of me. I, on the other hand, don’t remember anything in particular that attracted me physically to him. In the beginning I simply thought of him as a good man with good potential. I felt neutral. It was all business to me. I was never infatuated with him. He jokes that I was too busy creating my own “arranged marriage” to worry about infatuation. I knew infatuation would have muddled my objectivity, and my goal was to find a suitable partner and hope infatuation followed. Looking back on it, I think I married him because he passed all my tests and was the only man I couldn’t scare away. He was durable! He keeps me grounded and I keep him jumping. He affectionately calls me his feral cat. Now, 25 years later as he approaches the magical age of 50, there are moments here and there when he looks inexplicably good to me. Its as though I am 14 years old caught up in an “older man” crush all over again. Lucky him! Lucky me! 
Nicole:
The first thing that I noticed when I saw my husband was his smile. I saw him through a doorway as I walked by, and he was laughing. He was so confident and happy, and I knew I wanted to meet him. I still love his laugh.
Faith:
I always had a thing for Josh Groban-esque dark curls. I saw this guy from behind and thought “Dang, I want my kids to have that hair.” Then somebody tapped him on the shoulder and he turned around. I thought, “Sweet, he’s cute, too! That’s the one.” I proceeded to Facebook-stalk him and officially met him a week later. Seven months later, we were married. What can I say? I knew what I wanted  It’s been 4 1/2 years, and sometimes I look at him, when he keeps his hair long enough to be curly, and I remember our whirlwind romance and think, “Dang, I scored.”
Maia:
 I dated a guy in my 20s who was fun, but also very sarcastic, made fun of people, didn’t like my family, and made fun of everything. So, after we broke up, I made a list of what I wanted in a spouse. The top qualities were “considerate of others” and “non-judgemental”. I also wanted someone who liked my family, who I could connect with and feel comfortable talking to, someone who loved animals, and someone my same religion. When I met my husband 8 years later, we met at the mailbox of our apartment complex. I said, “Oh, are you my new neighbor?” and we talked for an hour. After a couple of months, I looked at my list, and noticed he had every single thing I wanted (and more) except he didn’t go to church and didn’t play basketball. After we got more serious, he did go to church with me so that happened after we met. 
I didn’t really have a requirement on looks, I just wanted to be attracted to whoever I married. He liked dating girls he met in bars who were wild and fun, but after awhile, it wasn’t working for him, so he was looking for someone who was loyal and intelligent when we met. We both found that through our experiences of dating a lot of people we were able to figure out and fine tune what we wanted in a partner.
Matt:
I was always partial to red heads and brunettes. I never was very interested in blondes. Blonde girls all look the same to me. Michayla’s a petite little red head with green eyes, and I was always fond of her when we were youth, though we never really dated exclusively until we were engaged (long story there). The other girl I was once interested in was tallish (she was as tall as I in heels) and brunette.So she and Michayla are sort of opposites, though they both have green eyes, so I guess I’ve always had a thing for green eyes.
Olivia:
Appearance wise, I was always attracted to softer-looking, dark haired, tall, musician/artistic type of men (or boys, as it were, since I was 17 when I met my husband). My husband is about 2 inches taller than me, lighter hair, built more like an athlete than a musician. He wasn’t as attractive as many of the others I was interested in but there was something about his personality that stuck with me. He had/has this easy way about him. Strong, deep rooted convictions but he has always had the ability to loosen me up and make me laugh and have fun. I always thought I would marry a musician and that we would make wonderful music together. Instead, I got a tone deaf, hard working, rugged farmer. And he is the perfect man for me because he brings out the best in me 
It also helps that we were raised with similar faiths and both raised as farmers. We got married at 19 and had very little issues adjusting to married life and each other. Pretty much smooth sailing in that dept. We had discussed all of the big ticket issues and agreed on pretty much all of them (there are a couple areas we don’t see eye to eye but they don’t really affect out daily life).  My mom always said that when there are two different faiths laying in bed at night, the devil will sleep on the pillow in between. (Doesn’t translate extremely well but you get the point)


4 Comments

Age Differences in Dating

An oft discussed question among singles: how much does a large age difference matter for a potential spouse?

This is an issue that I’m rather familiar with. After my mom passed away, my father married a woman (my step mom) who is 22 years younger than him.  (It’s worked out well for them, but I’ll talk about that in another post). As for me, I’m 41 in a ward for singles ages 31 to 45.  When it comes to making friends, I’m an all age opportunist, but as I’ve gotten to the “older section” of  mid-singles, I’m finding that most of the men in my ward are younger than me.  Even though I think most people in my ward who know me know that I have a 15 year old son and an 11 year old daughter, and that I served a mission, so they must know how old I am; but they still seem to think I’m younger than them, because, I guess, I appear younger than I am.  (I’m not bragging, that’s what they tell me. Not that I’m complaining! Thanks Dad, for the good genes.) Then after I become friends with someone or go out on a date, I find out that they’re (gasp) 5 years or more younger than me, and I feel awkward and *old*.  But, of course, 41 is NOT old.  Of course.  And my ex-husband, who at the time was the youngest person I ever dated, was only 20 months younger than me.  But my sweet daughter loves to remind me that “Mom, you’re the oldest one in the family!”  Why yes, yes I am.

So how much does it matter?  One concern that I have is that if I marry someone who is younger than me and has never had any children, what will it be like for him if for some reason I’m not able to have anymore children?  And I definitely want to avoid those older men who seem to want to marry a younger woman “just so he can have more kids.”  Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of finding someone my age or older who already has kids, because we’d have that in common, but sometimes the older men at activities for all ages (just some of them) make us “younger” women feel like breeding machines.

Now, before anyone gets offended, I say these things with a lot of humor.  I most definitely don’t blame anyone for wanting children. And, as usual, I’m going to leave the expertise to someone else.  This is a topic I’ve wanted to bring up, and so when I came across this article  today, I thought it would be fun to share it:

Age gap: She’s old enough to be his … wife

Stigma?  Recently when with friends, one of them (who is actually older than me, yay) was pondering whether there’s more of a stigma these days for an older woman to date younger men, or older men to date women.  I’m not sure, but our general consensus seemed to be that it was only creepy if the older (or younger) person had ulterior motives.  I’m good with that.  But I still feel a little awkward when a guy is too young to remember Oingo Boingo, or when the first Star Wars movie (Episode 4, A New Hope) came out in the theater.  I guess that’s my issue.

And, as a last thought, The 1/2 + 7 Rule.  My in-laws loved to tout this as an efficient way to decide if someone else is in your acceptable age range.  I’m not sure that they felt it was a hard and fast rule, but it was a fun mathematical tool, and my father in law loves math.  So, for fun, I share this handy table from Wikipedia that I happened to find when I Googled “age gap.”  It’s true.  Just don’t think it’s a good idea to use as a tool to try and convince someone to go out with you.  Or do.  I’d like to hear what happens.  Just don’t blame me.

And soon to come, stories from friends with age gaps in their relationship (including those in my family). Because the stories are more fun than the “rules.”

Image

Graph from: Wikipedia