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.

 

paisley

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.”

older-couple-418612-wallpaper


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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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