LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


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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.

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Unstuck

Part II of Two.  Go here for Part I, Stuck.

Review from before, some of the ways we can get “stuck in our ways”:

  1. We become too particular
  2. We’re unwilling to compromise on things that don’t matter that much
  3. Afraid of change, even if we don’t like where we are, and sometimes because we do, because it’s hard to believe it could get better
  4. Afraid of the sacrifices involved in friendships, dating, and marriage
  5. We always hang out with the same people, when finding the right person for us may require branching out
  6. It’s hard to believe that finding a new way of doing things may be the right answer for us

*Before I go on, though, I thought my friend Bob brought up another very important point.  I knew Bob in college.  Bob always had a lot of friends, but like so many, didn’t end up married until his late thirties.  Again, like so many, he wondered what he was doing wrong.  The answer to his prayers (that he gave me permission to share) was that he would find someone in time, and that he needed to be patient.

Although none of us is perfect, it us unfortunately true that even those who want to get married the most and pray and strive to do their best will sometimes just have to wait.  This situation could also fill volumes.  But we also shouldn’t give up and give in to fear and turn into hermits.  Striving to “not be stuck” in our social, professional, and family lives can fill that time and bring us a lot more happiness than I think we realize.  Progressing in whatever areas are available for us to progress in are always positives when we do them in wisdom and order.

Carol Tuttle, one of my favorite authors on relationships and an expert on how different personalities view the world, has written several books on how four basic different types of people often do things, based on the ancient Chinese “elements” of air, water, fire, and earth.  She calls these Types 1,2,3, and 4.  I’ll leave it up to you to check out one of her books and figure out which element you think you may “lead” with, but here I relate some of her advice on the four main ways that people get “stuck” in life.

She teaches these  about people being “stuck” in general, but I realized the other night while I was pondering this blog entry that they also apply quite well to dating. You may use them as either! Most people probably do these things so often, it becomes an ingrained habit that they don’t recognize in themselves. In order to know which one of these you may be doing, you need to be honest with yourself. You can find videos that explain these more thoroughly on YouTube. (Do a search for “Carol Tuttle” and “stuck”. Which of these do you think applies to you?

1. Loves the “idea” of new possibilities so much that they create excuses about moving on or trying something new.
2. You worry so much about what might be or could be or could go wrong, that you don’t make a decision. These could either be big or small decisions about dating or relationships. Or you’re continually “gathering details” about what kind of person you might need, or analyzing situations, and never move on.
3. Your life is so busy and full of things that you don’t stop and take time to meditate on what is most important, or what you could be doing better in your dating life or in making yourself a better companion. In other words, by rushing around and doing “more,” you’re actually settling for less.
4. You’re so busy critiquing possible matches from the get go that you don’t investigate further what might be good possibilities, or you’re too picky all around. This reminds me of a quote someone mentioned in Sunday School recently: “Go and do, don’t sit and stew.”

Ways of becoming “unstuck.”
1. Try new things
2. Consider new people
3. Consider what patterns you fall into with all your relationships, and not just in dating.
4. If #2 above applies to you, try working smarter, not harder.
5. Consider again if you may be too picky. If your friends and family will be honest with you about this, try taking their advice. Remember, “a date is only a date.”


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STUCK

Part 1 of 2
Stuck in Your Ways?”
So, while I said that I would do this blog, to the best of my ability, “with great love and not too much criticism,” that did not mean that “with love” meant I would not include the blunt and occasionally uncomfortable. I think this site would do very little good without it. But what does “not too much criticism mean?” For a general audience, I think it means just that: remember that any opinions contained herein, whether from me, the people I interview, or guest posters, is just that: *general.* It is for pondering, and for deciding, “does that apply to me?” And if so, “how much?” None of us is here to do anything but our best. And all of us is in need of improvement.

So, will improvement mean that we’ll magically lose all our problems and find the spouse of our dreams tomorrow? Of course not. But we could make another step in the “right” direction, spouse or no spouse.

One thing I notice when talking to friends who are single, or friends who are married and are looking back on their single days, is that there is quite the variety of opinions as to why each of us, (or even more fun) those OTHER people are still single. Since we can’t contain anywhere near all of that or a part of that in one post, it will bring us to this first question.

My first semester back at school after my mission, my best friend and our 25 year old roommate were musing on what it means to get “older than about 24” and how it makes one “stuck in your ways” and how they didn’t want it to happen to them, or to someone they might marry. It wasn’t something I’d ever heard before, so I was intrigued. My own parents were 32 and 25 when they married, and I had no idea if they had felt that way, “way back” in 1960 when they got married. I ended up getting married at 24, and when I found myself divorced at 32, somehow I remembered that conversation and wondered if the other singles my age that I met were going to be “stuck in their ways.” Now, even though my divorce was 8 years ago, I’m still not sure of that answer. So here are the answers I got from friends with more experience being single under their belts than I have:

photo by Miguel Angel Pasalodos: "Walking in Circles"

photo by Miguel Angel Pasalodos: “Walking in Circles”

 

(Some names have been changed by request)

Discussion with Jenny, Emily, Bruce, and Mark:

Q: What does it mean to be stuck in your ways?

(For this discussion, we will answer generally much of the time)

All three: It’s understandable to get somewhat stuck in your ways, because as you get older, you want to be able to settle into what works for you. When you’re young you’re naive, but as you get older, you get to choose what you think is best. The problem is when you get married and the other person has a way of doing things that works just as well, and you need to accept that it’s not the “wrong” way and that you may have to adjust.

Q: Do you think married people get stuck in their ways, too?

Group: Yes! But at least they get to get “stuck in their ways” together, in similar ways.

Q: So what is the bad side of getting stuck in your ways?

Emily: you can become too particular.

Jenny: unwilling to compromise.

All: It’s easy to get “comfy,” and even if you want to get married, change is scary.

Q: do you think people in our ward are stuck in their ways?

All: yes. (And everyone agreed that we’re all stuck in our ways in some way or another.)

Mark: cliques can be a problem (all nod heads) but I don’t think we have much of that in our ward.

Emily: yes, and people get comfortable with those they already know, so it’s understandable. But I think in our ward people do try to get to know each other.

Me (insert): so maybe the problem with cliques is if people are afraid of getting to know others, how will they ever get married?

I also talked with my friend Katrina, who often has interesting and fun things to say. First, these are the things we came up with:

What does being s.i.y.w., in different ways, do to a person?

• Afraid to move on
• Too used to being single
• Keeps dating the same kind of people over and over again (will devote another blog post to this one later!)
• Would rather avoid pain, so is thus more content to stay where one is
• Keeps trying the same thing (definition of insanity)

And then Katrina added this one, which I had not thought of:

• Keeps blaming one’s current situation on everyone else (this comes in all degrees)
*OR*
• Keeps blaming oneself on past problems not of one’s own creating (abuse, etc.) and is afraid to move on

What can we do about it? More next time in “Part II of ‘STUCK,’ or ‘How to get unstuck.