LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


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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

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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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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