LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single

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What do movies communicate about love?

The_Magic_of_a_Photogram_by_Floss_DefoeWhat parts of movies and other entertainment do you wish could be real? Just one of many for me would be the “food fight” scene from the movie Hook where the late Robin Williams’ character, a now middle-aged Peter Pan, finally finds his imagination again with the help of the Lost Boys. The food is the bright colors of Play Dough, but more appetizing, with the thickness and what looks to be the texture of just slightly melted ice cream, or pudding in rainbow colors. It shows up as if by magic when Williams, as Peter Pan, begins to remember what it’s really like to be a boy in a match of words/calling each other names with the Lost Boys’ current leader, Rufio. hook pie

So, of course I’m not expecting to wake up one day and find out that I suddenly have the ability to produce candy colored food out of nowhere, or find some Pixie Dust and be able to fly. Are there, though, themes in even the most innocuous love stories and romantic comedies in movies and television that might make me expect more out of relationships than is really there, or than I’d really want?

Which brings us to *this article from the Deseret News* (but I’m not going to bring up that one movie again, since we already went there.)

Which begs the question: What are adolescents and adults alike learning from the romance films of today? Research shows that such films can convey values and ideals that influence the way society views romantic relationships. And while those ideals may not be as extreme as what’s offered by “Fifty Shades of Grey,” it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily healthy.

“Media can provide models,” said Julia Lippman, lead researcher in a 2014 study titled “Isn’t It Romantic? Differential Associations Between Romantic Screen Media Genres and Romantic Beliefs.” “It’s not to say (media) has a determining influence — peers, family and school contribute as well. But we know from research that when (adolescents) don’t feel that they can talk to parents, or they don’t think they are getting information they want, they find ways of getting it on their own. If they are not learning about what healthy relationships look like from home, they’ll find it in the media.”

Love finds a waymulan_by_Mulan10

Lippman, a researcher at the University of Michigan, has identified different dimensions to romanticism: love finds a way, one and only, idealization and love at first sight. Her research indicates that the “endorsement of romantic ideals may have both positive and negative consequences.”

“One of the things movies communicate is that love finds a way,” Lippman said. “If it’s meant to be, you’ll find a way to be together.”

This ideal, Lippman said, is generally linked to positive outcomes. Take, for instance, Princess Buttercup from the 1987 cult classic “The Princess Bride,” who believes that true love endures. According to Lippman, people may hold similar views that allow their relationship to endure.

“People who watch more (romantic-themed films) are more likely to endorse (romantic ideals) such as love finds a way,” Lippman said. “People are seeing these ideals portrayed and are adopting romantic beliefs. People who endorse beliefs tend to have happier relationships.”

For example, Lippman said, if a woman finds an irritating quirk about her partner, she may decide she can live with it because “love finds a way.”

“The potential for good is absolutely there,” Lippman said.

Relationship destiny the_notebook_quote_by_dramaqueen56-d30slvy

Films such as the 2001 romantic comedy “Serendipity” and the 2004 blockbuster “The Notebook” encapsulate the idea of two protagonists caught in a sphere of relationship destiny: soul mates destined to find each other despite opposition.

Yet the idea of a “one and only” is a distorted view of love, according to psychologist Bjarne M. Holmes, associate professor and program director for psychology at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

Holmes conducted a study in 2007 of romance-oriented media and how it correlated with beliefs in romantic relationship destiny.

According to the study, “The notion that one can find a romantic partner that fits perfectly with preconceived standards is an unrealistic view that fails to take into account the work required to develop and maintain a healthy and loving relationship.”

Holmes found in his research that there are implications to the concept of relationship destiny, including the notion that with the existence of a soul mate comes instantaneous satisfaction and happiness upon entering into a serendipitous relationship.

Additionally, Holmes found, there is the belief that a successful long-term relationship is not attainable with anyone but a person’s “one and only.”

And this belief is not necessarily helping the masses of audience members who pour into theaters to suspend reality for upward of two hours.

Say Anything“I would say there are not many pros from buying into relationship destiny,” Holmes said in an interview with the Deseret News. “We are shown consistently (through research) that if you hold and believe in the notion of predestined soul mates, you are less likely to be happy in relationships.”

In fact, Holmes said, individuals deeply invested in relationship destiny are more likely to break up. The reasoning is simple, he explained: Couples who enter into a relationship where one or both parties believe in the soul mate concept are more likely to end the relationship when challenges arise.

“When things don’t go so well, they think, ‘Wait, why are we having problems? Maybe this isn’t my soul mate,'” Holmes said.

As referenced in Holmes’ research, in a 2003 study by psychologists Litsa Renee Tanner, Shelley A. Haddock, Toni Schindler Zimmerman and Lori K. Lund, researchers analyzed themes surrounding love in 26 classic animated Disney films. The results showed an emphasis on “love at first sight.” In fact, in 18 of the 26 analyzed films, couples met, fell in love almost instantaneously and lived idyllic lives.

According to Holmes’ research, “when notions are in place about some easily achieved state of romantic bliss, satisfaction with one’s own relationship may decrease.”

“I find a lot of people in our culture put so much emphasis — reinforced in popular culture and film — on finding the right person, not an emphasis on what you do over time if you want happiness and longevity,” Holmes said.



The ‘attunement’ effect 

ronald-colman-403399_640When soul mates find each other in romantic films, a deep, personal connection is often portrayed.

A 2005 study by Tracy Sutton and Gregory Fouts from the University of Calgary illustrated what has been referred to in the field of psychology as “affect attunement.” Attunement is “a dynamic process of emotional exchange in which two individuals experience a sense of ‘oneness’ and intersubjective relatedness,” according to Sutton and Fouts’ research.

Additional research collected by Sutton and Fouts shows that this attunement has been described as the idea of soul mates.

Sutton and Fouts’ research also included how attunement is depicted in films through industry techniques: music, pace, number of cuts, camera shots and lighting levels.

Music, they found, establishes the tone or feeling of the film.

“More lyrical and slower-tempo music may reflect being in the ‘flow’ with another and ‘in the moment’ in which time ‘slows down’ or ‘stands still,’ common perceptions associated with ‘chemistry,'” according to the study.chemistry

Other techniques, such as close-up camera angles, portray intimacy on screen. According to the research, these camera shots “may be used to indicate an intimate connection or the unspoken, internal dialogue of the characters.”

Additionally, low lighting can communicate privacy or intimacy.

Of the films examined in Sutton and Fouts’ research, 79 percent used music to portray chemistry.

The sellout

Ultimately, Holmes said, the status of soul mate takes years to developafrican-couple-438586-gallery

Yet audiences today are paying upward of $10 a ticket to see love that bends time and reality to come to fruition. And it is wrapped up in two hours or less.

“People are selling themselves short if they are front-loading all these characteristics they expect the person to be their ideal mate to have,” Holmes said.

Holmes said that when it comes to romance, it’s a process.

“In reality, you don’t meet your soul mate,” he said. “You develop that over time. You create your own culture over time between two people.”

Films today skip the work and immediately arrive at relationship bliss, Holmes said.

And, what’s more, after analyzing the content of popular romantic movies, Holmes said researchers identified a media trend that portrays couples who have experienced a long-term relationship in a negative light.

“The relationship is often bickering,” Holmes said. “The irony of that is (in reality there are) a lot of people who are very happy together and have figured out what works for them. That’s who these younger people should be looking to.”



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True Story: Supposed detours and new blessings

This was a Facebook post from an amazing friend, who also happens to be an amazing writer. Her posts frequently inspire me, but I thought this one in particular needed to be shared with all of you. She graciously gave her assent.

Today would have been my 20th wedding anniversary. Sometimes it still punches me in the gut, the way the worst of life–despite all I wanted and lived for–came in and snatched away all those firsts, those layers of experience and the person I experienced them with. How I lived through those weird but empowering years as a middle-aged single when I came to know and love myself as an individual. And now, a nearly 40 year old newlywed starting from the beginning again–empty bank accounts, rental home, one car, new kids, new family, new last name, new quirks to embrace. It’s not what I expected and I am happy, at peace, in a different way than I expected at this point in my life. But, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Would I counsel my children to plan their lives to divorce somewhere in the middle so they could find someone more “compatible” for the next half? Heck no! But would I counsel them that there can be second chances at happily ever after? Yes. And I can show them. And am.

…Jennifer Sanders Peterson


Family clip art

Kylee Shields: Let’s Talk About Sex

*Warning there are going to be adult words/content in this post*

Recently, a male friend of mine asked, “Can I ask you a very personal question?” Because I trusted him and because I knew if I didn’t want to answer that would be the end of that I said, “Yes.”  He continued, “Can we have a conversation about how you deal with your sex drive as a 34 y.o single female?” That was the beginning of an incredible conversation.

About 3 weeks previous to that conversation I was sitting with a friend who had left the LDS church and we, among other things, ended up talking about sex. My friend, who was struggling with many things in the church, had “messed up” with his girlfriend and got his temple recommend taken. He talked with me about how hard he had struggled, as a guy, to not give into his sexual desires. How he tried to avoid p*rnography and m#sturbation. Sure, he struggled in those areas but he was really trying to be “a good man.” He wanted to work with his Bishop and his girlfriend but he could no longer …READ MORE HERE

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Recommended Book

I highly recommend this blog to single parents, especially if you’ve recently become single/divorced. However, it also has good tips for those of us who have been divorced for a while. He’s a Christian minister who regularly posts short and concise but helpful tips. This one is a book recommendation. I haven’t read it, but I remember that during the early years of my separation and divorce, learning to handle well what the author calls “The Switching Hour” being crucial for the well being of my kids during what was a very difficult time for them. It’s still a skill that I need to pay attention to, even though my divorce was almost nine years ago. (yikes)


Top 10 List for Single Men

Today’s post comes from a former bishop of the Huntington Beach 1st Ward, Huntington Beach CA Stake (combined family/Mid-Single’s ward), Steve Lang.  He was known by some at single’s conferences as “The Surfing Bishop,” (which, truth be told, could be said of many bishopric members in Huntington Beach.)  Bishop Lang has been a bishop three times, and two of the three were single’s wards.  At one point the Young Single Adult Ward over which he presided had over 1,000 members.  He gave this list as part of a talk at the Huntington Beach Mid-Single’s Conference a few years ago, and graciously gave me permission to share it with you.*

And no, there isn’t as of yet a list for the women! I’ve started one, but please share with me your ideas for it either as a comment here or in an e-mail.  Ideas from both men and women much appreciated! Thanks! 


Top 10 Reasons I’m not married yet

For the Men

Number 10 – I haven’t met a Spiritual Angelina Jolie lookalike with a trust fund…YET

Advice: when you get home tonight take your shirt off, sit on the bed, and look in the mirror. Show me your bank statement.

Number 9 – Married life will most likely cut into my World of Warcraft time…

Advice: GO outside, GO to the Temple, Do your Home teaching, and GO out on Dates, Serve others.

Number 8 – I can hardly support myself; plus I’m still not sure what I’m going to be when I grow up….

Advice: “A rolling stone gathers no Moss” do what you know and know what you do… WORK

Number 7 – My “One True Love” is married to a dentist, living in Orem, and has 2.3 children…

Advice: Move on, get a life; realize she’s not coming back… forget yourself…

Number 6 – I have already been married, as soon as the reception was over she turned into the Wicked Witch of the West… Now I’m scared … it will take an Act of Congress before I get married again…

Advice: there are 3 parts of the sealing ceremony… If you didn’t break yours that’s the best you can do… 2nd Article of Faith: We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adams transgression…

Number 5 – None of the women I’m interested in will date with me…

Advice: when you get home tonight take your shirt off, sit on the bed, and look in the mirror…

Number 4 – I will never be able to have a successful marriage. I have accumulated some baggage… I’ve made mistakes that leave me feeling unworthy… I have developed a dark habit…

Advice: John 8…

Number 3 – My parents are divorced. It scared me. I’m stuck in between them. I don’t ever want my children to go thru what I have…

Advice: So what? If your dad jumps off a bridge does that mean you have to do it also??? 2nd Article of Faith.

Number 2 – My siblings are married and struggle… Their kids are brats… They have financial trouble… Every time they argue my sister calls me and gives me way too much information…

Advice: you’re not your sibling, there is absolutely no reason that you have to repeat anything your sibling does… or doesn’t do… watch and learn.

The Number One reason I’m not married yet is: I don’t want to make a mistake… I’m scared… I wonder if it’s my lot in life to be single…

Advice: Maybe it is your lot in life… WRONG. You can do it… who wants you to be happy? And who wants you to be single?… President James E. Faust – said “… don’t take too much counsel from your fears…”


Top Ten Reasons I shouldn’t give up and /or what to do about it …

For the Men

Number 10 – I just haven’t met Mrs. Right yet… Maybe she’s here…. Will the real Mrs. Right please raise your hand…

Advice: Men, these women have non-member men asking them out constantly… but they WANT a righteous Priesthood holder; don’t underestimate yourselves… Don’t underestimate Mrs. Right here…

Number 9 – The longer I’m single the weirder I’m getting…

Advice: self explanatory… You guys are like beautiful Ferraris driving around stuck in 2nd gear… when you become a family it’s like sliding that puppy into 5th gear and fulfilling your potential… everything becomes a purpose in raising your family…

Number 8 – I don’t feel worthy… I’m discouraged…

Advice: Moses 1:39 for behold this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of YOU…

Number 7 – You need to propagate your seed…

Advice: Abrahamic covenant…see Addendum below

Number 6 – You hold the Priesthood of God… (Most of you) You have been ordained and for ordained to be a Husband and father and to become like our Heavenly Father…

Advice: D&C 84:34-41 Oath and Covenant of The Priesthood…

Number 5 – Nothing worthwhile is easy… This life is a test…

Advice: When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden they were commanded to earn their sustenance by working 6 days a week, by the sweat of their face shalt they eat their bread… Genesis 3:16-19

Number 4 – True Joy comes from giving… When we become a Family… We become like our Heavenly Father and his Son…

Advice: There are 3 phases to Mans life … Phase 1… we believe in Santa Claus… Phase 2 we don’t… Phase 3 ….You are Santa Claus… Phase 4 …you look like Santa Claus… (When you get home tonight take your shirt off, sit on the bed, and look in the mirror…)

Number 3 – Nothing you ever do will please your Heavenly Father, Savior, Earthly Parents, Future In laws, future spouse and most importantly yourself… than becoming a Family…

Advice: Genesis 2:24 “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh…”

Number 2 – It’s not good for man to be alone… The first conversation God and the Savior had regarding us after they had created Adam was… “Is it good for man to be alone? NOPE.”

The Number One reason is… We are exalted as Families… Moses 1:39… D&C 132: 19 The new and everlasting covenant…


Addendum – Abrahamic Covenant

Abraham received the gospel and was ordained a high priest (D&C 84:14; Abraham 1:2). He later entered into celestial marriage, which is the covenant of exaltation (D&C 131:1-4; 132:19, 29). In connection with the covenants he made, he received great promises from the Lord concerning his family. Among these promises were the following:

  • His posterity would be numerous
  • His seed or descendants would receive the gospel and bear the priesthood.
  • Through the ministry of his seed “all the families of the earth would be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.”

Together, all the covenants and promises that Abraham received from the Lord are called the Abrahamic covenant, even if he or she is not a literal descendant of Abraham.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you are a child of the covenant. You have received the everlasting gospel and inherited the same promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You have the right to the blessings of the priesthood and to eternal life, according to your faithfulness in receiving the ordinances of salvation and keeping the associated covenants. Nations of the earth will be blessed by your efforts and the labors of your posterity.

*thanks also to Christian Ziebarth for the transcript of this Top 10 List 

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To The Single Parents

As a single parent myself (although one in an unusual situation at the moment) my heart goes out to the struggles of other single parents.  During my divorce, I was in a ward in Los Angeles near UCLA with mostly young students and student families, and there were only two other single parents in the ward that I was aware of.  They immediately reached out to me and I learned of the special “club” that many single parents seem to share: one for all, and all for one.  My Relief Society President (married) was excited to share with me a new online “community” of those who are LDS called LDS Linkup and emphasized that it wasn’t specifically for dating.  We formed a group there for single parents, and it was extremely helpful to me, even if it was “just” online.  While I haven’t been on Linkup in several years, so I can’t vouch for what it’s like now, I’m still grateful for the online relationships I made there that helped get me through, and more importantly for the friends in real life who reached out to me because their families had unfortunately also been touched by divorce.

I’m excited to share the things I’ve found that have helped me through my journey in the hopes of making it easier for someone else, and look for more things to share with you as well.  And *please* share the things that have worked for you, and perhaps the things that haven’t been so helpful.  For the future, what are some of the things people that said that have not been so helpful?  Please e-mail me or post. If you could accompany it by something people have done or said that has been helpful, or your own idea of something that would be helpful, please include that too!

For today, a list of things on the Church’s website that I often turned to for help, or that I’ve found since then:

  1. In general, just listening to the recordings of General Conference or the audio scriptures has been very helpful.  Parents in general can find it difficult to find time to sit down and read, but these resources mean that you can do other things that have to get done and hopefully listen at the same time.  Or, if you want to read, but it just seems to take too much energy for the few minutes you do have to sit down, sometimes it can bring that added peace that seems illusive during a busy day.
  2. If you have the resources to do so, listen to the scriptures or General Conference in the car.
  3. Gospel Library Support Materials for Parents
  4. Do a search on  for single parenting, singles, parenting, etc.  (the language on the Church’s site can be changed by clicking on the icon on the top that looks like the Earth)
  5. Various talks and articles on single parenting from
  6. Resources for Single Parent Families

We are capable of doing our most important job to the best of our ability: us, and the Lord.

Coming soon for Single Parents: 

  1. Learning to accept help: how, when, and why
  2. My latest favorite parenting book