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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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)


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How Important is Appearance in Dating?

woman and man look in mirrorI can’t imagine a question that more of us ask over the years to ourselves than this one.  I think that, although it perhaps is of lesser importance in some circles as we get older, it does still hold some sway.  And, perhaps for some, it can be used as yet another excuse to be afraid of marriage.  And as former mid-single’s Bishop Steve Lang pointed out, are some of us still looking for a spiritual Angelina Jolie, or a 30 or 40 or 50 year old President Uchtdorf, and missing someone who is very real and would be a good match for us in the process, because we don’t recognize the proverbial “diamond in the rough,” or just a “diamond in a white shirt and tie or dress” who teaches primary on Sunday or Scouts during the week?

In a classic talk about agency in love and marriage, Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy said:

For some people, falling in love is a magical encounter, something that seems to happen at first sight. For others, it is a growing affinity and attraction toward another, like budding blossoms that flower into a beautiful bouquet. Though the first type of love may also bloom like the second, it is often merely glandular, a cotton candy kind of love that has no substance. While it may begin with warm cuddles in moonlit glades, it can soon grow cold as honeymoon memories fade and familiarity turns to faultfinding.1
As quoted by Hathaway, Chas (2011-07-11). Marriage is Ordained of God But WHO Came Up with Dating? (p. 87). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Kimberly Reid also gave some great advice  and quotes in an article in the Ensign:

We will date those to whom we are attracted in several different ways, and physical attraction is part of a healthy relationship. However, we live in a society that emphasizes the body and limits the definition of beauty. If we are not careful, we may adopt unrealistic standards.
More than 65 yearsago, writer C. S. Lewis observed that the adversary uses distorted body images in the media to direct “the desires of men to something which does not exist.” 4  That trend increases today.

The Screwtape Letters (1942, 1996), 107

As we seek an attractive companion, the Holy Ghost can help us discern lasting qualities like faith, character, and personality. Such qualities will keep the relationship strong when age and the tests of mortality change our appearance. President Boyd K. Packer, (then) Acting President of the Quorumof the Twelve Apostles, has taught that amid “all of the deception” that may initially occur in dating—including always looking our best—we should remember that appearance and style “are essentially unessential. ”We must ask ourselves, Would I want this person to be the parent of my children? 6  Such priorities reflect an eternal perspective.

Instead of contemplating what qualities others have that might fill our needs, we can turn to the true source of fulfillment—the Savior. As we serve Him, our desire to serve others will increase, we’ll build genuine friendships, and we’ll experience the love often described by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion.” 9 

Chas Hathaway also reminds us :

You should also keep in mind that a girl tends to think of herself as less attractive than she really is, while a guy tends to assume that he is more attractive than he really is. (see photo, above)

Hathaway, Chas (2011-07-11). Marriage is Ordained of God But WHO Came Up with Dating? (p. 80). Cedar Fort, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Despite what sometimes creeps in as over-attention to a potential date’s appearance or something similar, we do need to, of course, be attracted to them.  However, sometimes in our search for a possible reason as to why someone else isn’t interested in us, we jump to conclusions too quickly in an effort to make ourselves feel better.  If we’re doing all we can to take good care of ourselves and our health (both physical and mental, and spiritual) we have no reason to fear and can move forward with our head held high.  It may not help, at first, to lessen the sting of rejection, but worrying about things that we can’t change will never do us much good.  Also, in the long run, why would we want to be with someone who isn’t interested in us, for whatever reason?

Next post: fun stories from married friends as to what they were looking for before they got married, and what they ended up seeing in their spouse when they met.


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The Media, Self-Perception and Singledom Part 1

Media and RealityDove Real Beauty Sketches: if you haven’t seen this video that came out several weeks ago from Dove Beauty products, it’s based on the dilemma that seems to be too common today: that women think they’re much less beautiful (in the case of the Dove campaign, on the outside) than they really are.  If you have read or followed any of the research as to why that is, it’s a rather interesting story.  I will not go into my own opinions on the Dove campaign, as I feel its already been covered rather well all over the net.  And, if you’d like to know why it is that women (yes, and I also think men…but in a different way) feel so inadequate about their looks, my personal favorite source to go to is Lindsay and Lexie Kite of  Beauty Redefined.  I highly recommend going to their site and learning in a more detailed way than you may already be familiar with the role that money has played in the way media would have us see ourselves.  They both recently received their Ph.D.’s in media studies and the site outlines just some of the issues they’ve studied.  Because I’ve read more about the female issues regarding this (mostly because it’s easier to find) that’s mostly what you’ll find on their site, but I don’t think it’s too hard to come up with the things men are expected to be. Or is it?  Comment below.  

I don’t think it’s difficult at all to find parallels between the gospel and how the Lord would want us to view ourselves.  While he wants us to be healthy, the opposite focus of being too hard on ourselves actually usually has the opposite effect of either making it harder to lose weight for those who need to, to the all too common problem of anorexia.  As for myself, I was never anorexic, thank goodness, but while I was quite thin all through high school and into my mid-thirties, yet (especially in high school) I hated the shape of my body, because even if I lost weight, my large frame but small bones would never look as “thin” as a lot of smaller teenage girls, even if I lost all the fat in my body. I had at times bought into the idea that beauty was reliant not on health or taking care of oneself, but on a specific body type.

Corporations who sell makeup and clothes want people to be unhappy with the way they look, because studies show that people who are unhappy with their appearance will buy more clothes and more makeup.  The same goes for any corporation who sells just about anything.  If they can make you believe that you can’t be happy without it, you’re more likely to pine for it and (hopefully for them) find a way to buy it, even if you don’t need it.  In our society where most of us have our basic needs met, it’s effective.

So how does this relate to being single?  I’m not sure that it really relates to us anymore than those who are married.  One way it can sideline us, though, is by us letting ourselves believe that some of these lies are the reason why we’re single.

I’m not saying, at all, that working at being more attractive is a bad thing, or that trying to be healthy is bad.  (Of course not.)  What I am hoping to do is just to help make others more aware of just how skewed our views of ourselves and sometimes others can be.  Elder Holland gave a talk on this to the Young Women a few years ago that is better than anything I could ever come up with, so I’ll defer to him.  And of course, these are timeless truths that apply to everyone, and not just teenage girls.

Elder Holland talking to Young Women: it applies to ALL of YOU, too

I plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: “You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling [confident] is to always listen to your inner self—[the real you.]” 8 And in the kingdom of God, the real you is “more precious than rubies.” 9 Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.

Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.” 10

In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.” 11 And in secular society both vanity andimagination run wild. One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us. Yet at the end of the day there would still be those “in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers” as Lehi saw, 12 because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.

And our kids, nieces, nephews, and the primary kids and young men and young women we work with will notice our attitudes about these things in both obvious and subtle ways.  When we strengthen our own testimonies about our self-worth and self-image, they will want to improve as well.  They know that we’re not perfect, but they do want to emulate who we are whether we’re aware of it or not.  Perfection we’re not, but comforting and loving we can be. And, I truly believe that it makes it easier to live with oneself as well.  Aren’t we better company to ourselves when we realize who we really are?

Pinterest Board: I Like You Just the Way You Are

Girls Unstoppable: This Is How Family Impacts Girls’ Self-Worth (PHOTOS)

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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! 

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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…”

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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…

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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