LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


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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 Christofferson to Singles: Care for Each Other

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In case you missed it, from the Church News:

Urging a group of more than 1,200 young single adults to care more about each other and make a “magnificent difference,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke at a devotional held in the Tempe Institute of Religion at Arizona State University on September 20.

“Please look out for each other,” he said. “In your wards, in your associations, your circle of acquaintances and friendships, care about each other, look after one another, and when someone seems weak or discouraged, put your arm around them. And when you are in that position, others can do the same. All of us need that at one time or another.”

He counseled them to do more by serving.

“But don’t just let it go; don’t just focus on yourself and say ‘I’m OK, I’m sorry for her’ or ‘I’m sorry for him,’” he counseled. “Do more than that, even though it may seem like a small thing. … You can truly minister to one another and make a magnificent difference. The power, as the scriptures says, is within you.”

Read more at the Church News website here.


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Elder Ballard on Texting

photo by Kamyar Adl

photo by Kamyar Adl

Want to ask someone out? Picking up your phone to text them to do it? Pluck up your courage and just call them instead. Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke to institute students at Weber State a few days ago, and among the things he said was advice on this subject.

The Apostle recalled that when he was a young college student and courting his future wife, Barbara, he always asked for dates either face-to-face or over the telephone. Texting an invitation for a date was not an option then—and it remains a poor option today, he said.

“Pick up the telephone and be a real live person on the other end.”

He also said to:

“…look out for people who are alone and need a friend,” he counseled.

“There shouldn’t be anyone on this campus that is lonely,” he said.

Ditto that in singles wards and family wards and at work and with our families.

For a lot more from his excellent talk, check out this excerpt from the Church News. 

I have to admit that on the few times in my adult life that I’ve asked men out, I’ve taken the “easy way out” and sent them e-mails. Have any thoughts? Post them below.

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Jealousy, the “Green-Eyed Monster”

ImageCattiness, jealous, envy, pride: all oft-used synonyms for what we call “the green-eyed monster.”  Valentine’s Day, or “Singles Awareness Day” (not my favorite term, despite my single status) is coming up and is likely to bring out in some of us the envy of our friends who are married or in relationships. And please remember, that while I’m writing this, I’m speaking in generalizations.  We are all jealous or envious (pick your favorite term) from time to time in our lives.  I will speak of it as a lifelong battle for all of us because all of us will need to improve upon it, in different ways, throughout our lives, whether single or married.

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Olmec-style mask from Tabasco (Mexico).

I think that I need to bring up that “cattiness” is often brought up as a frequent negative aspect of relationships between women because it is unfortunately true.  Sometimes we can be wonderfully supportive of each other, and sometimes not.  Whether it’s because of our chemistry or more because of sociology, I’m not sure, but women do seem to tote around the unnecessary burden of jealousy and act accordingly more than single men do.  If I were to write a “Top Ten list for Women” the same way that my former bishop, Steve Lang, did for the men, I’m afraid that I’d think this was probably up there pretty high for the sisters. Not that I could count myself out of that, of course!  The realization of it hits all of us from time to time, including the men. Whether it gets us all in the same areas, including dating, is probably not the case.  But, we all deal with it.  I think all of us could come up with examples of times when others treated us poorly out of envy or jealousy, and times when the tables were turned and we were the green-eyed monster, whether we were completely conscious of it at the time or not. One difficulty of this subject is, of course, is that marriage and companionship are righteous desires.  Of course these are good things for us to want! So how do we deal with the disappointments and resentments when they come along, and learn better each time how to not take them out on others? I think that the first thing to remember is that dating, like life, is not a competition.  Remember that the Lord knows what we need, and that “what is for us will not pass us by.” Image It is, undoubtedly, difficult to watch so many friends, family members, and strangers get married without the temptation to wonder why, to try and compare ourselves to them, and get angry at life and at Heavenly Father.  But we can have faith that there is a way through the trial, and eventually we will have our most righteous desires, even if sometimes that seems to be so far in the future that it will never come.Image

Another deep-seeded belief I think all of us have to some degree, but that we deny the existence of until it comes out because of an additional trial in our own lives,  is that if we do our absolute best that we will be able to avoid some of the trials that we fear the most, which often end up coming true.  I think almost every person reading this has at some point denied this, but as in learning the principle of patience, it ends up being a continual lifelong lesson.  Fear of the unknown is a strong pull for every child of Heavenly Father.  We don’t want to be the person who still isn’t married at the end of our lives.  Even though we know that (especially in our thirties and forties) we, personally, may still be unmarried, despite our own best efforts and self-perusal for faults, we start to pick at others in our minds (and sometimes verbally, and unasked) for the reasons why they’re still not married, or why they shouldn’t be dating that person we think might be better for us.  Sure, we don’t do it all the time.  But do these thought pop into our heads occasionally, to make us feel better, but enough to keep us from the occasionally painful “cleaning out” of our own faults that get in our way of improving?  They don’t have to get in our way of marriage possibilities to cause us harm to our spirit. Another lie that Satan tells us, and tempts us with in distorting (paradoxically) the good goals of self-improvement is that if we could just be better (in ways that causes despair or point us in the wrong direction) or if someone else could just be worse, maybe our dating lives or relationships could improve and we could get relief from the justifiable difficult loneliness that we often feel.  These feelings of false inadequacy can, in the extreme, make us feel unlovable to other and even make us feel as if God doesn’t love us.  They remind us of more worldly comparisons rather than the more just standards that our caring heavenly parents and our loving Savior Jesus Christ judge us by.  These feelings also keep us from pursuing better methods of overcoming the feelings of loneliness: love and concern for others, reaching out to others in service, learning to make deeper friendships or new friendships and being grateful for the things the Lord has given us.  As President Packer said,

I’ve had to evict some thoughts a hundred times before they would stay out. I have never been successful until I have put something edifying in their place.

I do not want my mind to be a dumping place for shabby ideas or thoughts, for disappointments, bitterness, envy, shame, hatred, worry, grief, or jealousy.

ImageA lot has been said in the media, and not just in church settings lately, about gratitude.  In addition to gratitude, though, I will propose that learning to more fully rejoice with others when they receive blessings that we do not have can be a difficult but extremely valuable tool in overcoming pride and jealousy.  As Elder Holland said, “Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those. Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving.”  entire talk here

Also, if you’re constantly thinking about “the one that got away,” (see #7 on this list!! applies even if you’re female of course) you need to stop looking back.  Sure, there are always things to learn from past relationships and sometimes even past crushes, but as President Monson has told us, we need to live in the present.

“Sometimes we let our thoughts of tomorrow take up too much of today. Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of our opportunity, and we must grasp it.”

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That same attitude can cause us to compare perhaps too much why we think we would be better off with some potential date than someone else we see them with .  Yes, it can be amazing sometimes how we compare ourselves and how we get stuck in these comparisons.  Learn to recognize them when you see yourself doing it.  Pray to figure out how to overcome these things.  Be patient with yourself.  It is a lifelong process for all of us, but if you have some of these comparison traps in yourself, (and some of them may be deep-rooted), start again now.

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And this, of course, leads us to the other side of the coin.  Sometimes we envy, and sometimes we’re on the other side, where a stranger (or even a friend) is envious of us.  Spouses sometimes envy each other.  (Nope, getting married WILL NOT cure it, sorry. You’ll still have to work on it sometimes!) Again, jealousy is something we will work at overcoming our whole life.  We need to learn to forgive and let it go.  If it’s someone we really care about, we may need to communicate with them honestly about our feelings and let them do the same. And when it comes to dealing with people who seem bent on hating us, it may be that the best thing to do is let them go.

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