LDS Singles

Thriving and Growing as an LDS Single


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Dates as Commodities: the Men’s Stories

Aproned men

*If you missed Part 1 of this, click here.

Now it’s time for the men’s stories: under what circumstances do men feel like commodities rather than friends or potential partners?

You may be able to guess some of them. They’re all real stories from people I talked with, I just changed the names. Unfortunately, I think the women enjoyed talking more than the men did, so I don’t have nearly as much from the men. But, I think the men who did share gave some great, common examples of how men can feel when taken for granted. And, as with the women, these stories represent how these men felt, and are not necessarily indicative of my opinions: the point is to understand where they’re coming from. Here we go…

Steven: More like a commodity than a person? Well, since I was usually the one initiating a date, I was probably more guilty of commoditizing women than the other way around. I guess the worst that I might have felt was as if I was a checklist more than a person–served a mission, check; active church-goer, check; orthodox believer, not-really check; business-major who’d pull a great income, no-way. I suppose those are the sorts of dating pressures I’ve occasional felt, but I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship now where I don’t feel so evaluated.

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Marco: What stands out most for me were my cars. I had two. The first was an ugly, rickety, tin can, orange Kia Rio, (which) was my primary vehicle. Several women whom I asked out turned me down. However! My other car was a sleek, silver, two seater convertible which I seldom drove. Some of the women who turned me down for dates in the Kia sprang to new life upon seeing the convertible. “When are you asking me out again?” “Never.” I had heard of such shallow practices but never believed them to be true. They’re true.OldChevyVan

Spider Convertible*
David: I’m pretty sure some girls made their decision not to date me based on what they perceived my financial situation to be. I have mixed feelings about it because you don’t want to tell a woman, “No, you have to be poor!” But sometimes you’d like them to see that relationships can be built through struggling together, and that her husband might make more and more money as time goes on, and even if he doesn’t it’s still not the only factor.

I do know that shortly after I moved (in with my roommate) Ethan, he got a new job, and I distinctly remember hearing one girl in the mid-single’s ward say that of course she would date him now that he was making $95,000 a year.
It was just weird to hear somebody make such a distinct correlation between a guy’s salary and whether they would date him or not. That’s why a girl shouldn’t look at a guy’s present financial situation as the prime indicator of whether they should date him or not, because his situation could change for better or for worse. The economy took a downturn and he lost that job just three years later, and was mostly out of work for almost six years after that.

commodity

commodity

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Jeff: This is a challenging question to answer. I came from the last generation where men paid for the date and I still feel that way. I felt like commodity in marriage, but never during dating. I worked very hard to support us. I felt like I rarely asked her to do much. Late in the marriage when the Bishop himself began to challenge her to do more to help with the marriage, and she didn’t do anything, I was like, “why am I sacrificing for this marriage like this, when she won’t do anything?” The divorce quickly followed. The first year we had both worked: my money paid the bills, her money she spent on herself. The 2nd year she stopped working and started raiding our checking account, and stopped going to church too. The 3rd year we divorced.
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Abraham: I have never chosen to feel like a commodity, regardless of what anyone has said or done. I don’t manifest my insecurities that way. If I start to feel hopeless, I get offended and swear. If I feel like I’m not in control, I stay up all night. If I feel I can’t get what I want, I eat something. If I want to avoid the truth, I watch TV or play mindless video games. Lastly, more to the point sometimes I feel like a nuisance and a bother around others which isn’t good, practically when you’re trying to impress someone; I guess that’s my insecurity.

*If you missed Part 1 of this, click here.

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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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Here’s The Best Advice From A Single Guy Who Spent A Year Interviewing Couples

ImageNate Bagley says he was sick of hearing love stories that fell into one of two categories — scandal and divorce, and unrealistic fairytale.

So he started a Kickstarter and used his life savings to tour the country and interview couples in happy, long-term relationships.

He now hopes to make a documentary from the interviews, and has many of them already uploaded on his website, The Loveumentary. This is some of the best advice that he shared with Reddit:

On the key things that make a relationship successful:

“This was actually one of the most surprising things I learned on the journey.

Self Love: The happiest couples always consisted of two (sometimes more) emotionally healthy and independently happy individuals. These people practiced self-love. They treated themselves with the same type of care that they treated their partner… or at least they tried to.

Emotionally healthy people know how to forgive, they are able to acknowledge their part in any disagreement or conflict and take responsibility for it. They are self-aware enough to be assertive, to pull their weight, and to give love when it’s most difficult.

Commitment: After that emotional health came an unquestioning level of commitment. The happiest couples knew that if (difficulties came) [edited], their significant other wasn’t going to walk out on them. They knew that even if things got hard – no, especially if things got hard — they were better off together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

Trust: Happy couples trust each other… and they have earned each others’ trust. They don’t worry about the other person trying to undermine them or sabotage them, because they’ve proven over and over again that they are each other’s biggest advocate. That trust is built through actions, not words. It’s day after day after day of fidelity, service, emotional security, reliability.

Establish that foundation, and you’re in good shape.

Intentionality: This is the icing on the cake. There’s a difference between the couple who drives through the rainstorm and the couple who pulls their car to the side of the road to make out in the rain. (Yes, that’s a true story.) There’s a difference between the couple who kisses for 10 seconds or longer when they say goodbye to each other rather than just giving each other a peck… or nothing at all. There’s a difference between the couples who encourage each other to pursue their personal goals at the expense of their own discomfort or inconvenience… even if it means their partner has to stage kiss another woman.

The couples who try on a daily basis to experience some sort of meaningful connection, or create a fun memory are the couples who shattered my perception of what was possible in a loving relationship.”

On the best advice he was given:

“One woman in Georgia gave some pretty amazing advice. She and and her husband have been married for over 60 years, and after being asked what her best relationship advice would be, she paused and said…

‘Don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most.’”

more HERE from Business Insider Australia


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True Love SHOULD Be Painful

Seth Adam Smith

For whatever reason, we seem to have this funny idea that love is supposed to be bliss or that when we get married we’ve somehow achieved a state of “happily-ever-after.”

Well, that’s just not true. Love is actually quite painful.

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…

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