Be friends first , sweethearts later …

So I’ve been trying to write a post about dating for a while but it’s never felt right, or I haven’t been in the righthead space to write  one but I felt inspired this week. Now, I am not claiming to be an expert in dating . I’ve been single for a few months and I’m really ok with that , I understand why things happened the way they did and I’m good with it. Anyways, this post is more of a discussion of young adult dating in the LDS community. I would actually love to hear your comments on this. 

So Mormons have this stigma of getting married really quick, and really young , and then having big families .  Let’s talk about that. Yes a lot of young LDS members get married between the ages of 18-25 . A few hundred years ago that would have been considered old and now it’s considered too young. In some instances it can be . I’m 25 and I know that I’m not ready for marriage , I do however have some younger friends that have gotten married , haven’t finished school and may not be working in the best jobs and may only have one income but guess what? They are happy and doing alright . They found their lobster , are strong in their faith in Christ, striving every day to uphold their Temple marriage , and now they get even more of their mortal existence with their eternal companion. I know that when you find the person you know without a doubt is the one you’ll spend eternity with you’ll want that eternity to start sooner  so younger marriages make sence. Similarly, with short courting times , when you know you know right ? Yeah that’s still so crazy to me meeting, dating and marrying someone in the course of a year .

Some believe that we as Mormons, have been counseled to get married as quickly as we can , when in reality “getting married as soon as possible” has been warped by both members and non members alike . 

Since moving to Utah I’ve heard many things many that have struck me as a bit odd and at times scandelous . Let me give a few examples. 

         So recently an aquaintance of mine began dating a girl , he took her home to meet his family , introduced her as his girlfriend , went on a theme park day with the entire family and when they came home , J found out that this girl was still looking at other options because it had been more 3 weeks and there had been no ring yet.   At this I was like woah!!!!!! Back Up !!! She let him introduced  her as his girlfriend and she looking at “options”?. Now I’m not judging her, I’m in no position to do so, and I had also been hearing about relationship that ended when no ring was quickly presented. I just come from a state where this in the LDS community isn’t common so it ws shocking to hear that this was a real reason relationships ended.

 Yes Dallin H. Oaks said the following :” simple and more frequent dates allow both men and women to ‘shop around’ in a way that allows extensive evaluation of the prospects ” however there was a lot more to it that just this. Here he encouraged us to date in order to get get to know a person , but he also follows it up with “[it] gives opportunity to learn how to initiate and sustain a mature relationship. None of that happens in hanging out ”  but at the same time hes telling us that we date to see if a mature relationship might be possible . And even more so I don’t believe he is in any way telling us to start a relationship and still ‘shop around ‘ .

Let’s go back to this thing about girls in Utah expecting a ring in three to four weeks . Ok, sometimes when you know you know, but we still should not set a timeline going into a relationship , we need to take the time to get to know the person we’re dating. Starting a relationship with a timeline can actually be hurtful. We aren’t here on our time, we are here to do the things the lord has planed for us . Yes, we do have agency , that’s such a gift to us so let’s use it wisely and listen to the prompting a of how to proceed in choices not jump ahead of what he has in store for us and potentially miss out on a great growth opportunity . Let’s look at what our prophet Thomas S. Monson counsels us :  “We hope youth will avoid too quick courtships. It is important that each young person become acquainted with the person he plans to marry, that there is certainty that each is looking down the same pathway, with the same eternal objectives in mind.”  Here he’s telling us to take the time to really know the person we hope to marry, to know if you are compatible for eternity not just right now . 

My friend recently met a guy at church and being the friendly person she began to talk to him since he was new to the ward and to the area. Well turns out this guy quickly developed a crush on my friend. Two weeks later she meets his roommate and we’ll, this one develops an even bigger crush on her and is constantly processing feelings .. ok lets go back to the ” let’s be friends first ” you can’t profess love right away nor expect others to reciprocate those feelings just because you think the Lord is telling you that you are supposed to be with that person . This is a prime example of our natural man taking over and our desires pushing aside the counsel and guidance of our apostle and prophet . Side note these two guys are from another country, so it brings forth the question is the need to be married getting quickly being pushed in other countries due to language barriers and misinterpretation, or being mingled with cultural traditions that make it seem that early and quick marriages are expected? 

I do have friends who met someone “fell in love” , got married and are now unfortunately divorced . What do they say to this ? “We moved too fast , and didn’t give ourselves the time to be best friends , to get to know each other well. We decided to ignore the promptings that advised us against a too fast courtship and marriage.” Life goes on now and they now have a testimony of how important it is to take sincere time to get to know the person they wish and plan  to marry . 

Ok let’s talk about dating nowadays . For those that go to a small ward it may be easier to meet people but those in huge wards like the ones in Utah it can actually be hard . My roommate and I know this first hand , we came here from a super friendly ward  with about 50 active members and moved to a ward where sacrament can hold up to 200 people , but we really only know who like 20 of those are. So meeting people is a bit harder especially since most people here are still in school and we’re not and we have demanding jobs so getting the chance to meet people is harder.

Well this little app recently came out. It’s  mostly aimed for lds singles but we are human so how we proceed with this is a sensitive issue . Brother Larry M Gibson said the following about online dating : “It would seem that with all of the social media, we should easily be better connected than ever before. In ways, however, technology may be causing us to have relationships that are less meaningful. Merely tweeting, texting, emailing and friending cannot genuinely create a well-rounded relationship. Spending real face-to-face time with other people is necessary to build true friendships.” Here he counsels us to not just have and online relationship, but to try to make that face to face interaction safely  possible . Even then once in an established relationship it is important to have that face to face connection, just as the  following sister said “If we would know true love and understanding one for another, we must realize that communication is more than a sharing of words. It is the wise sharing of emotions, feelings and concerns. It is the sharing of oneself totally.”

Let’s get real , so this app is made for LDS singles , but it’s not closed off to non members since it is not owned by the church . This means that you have to be careful with your matches. Be firm in your standards , don’t lower them just to meet someone , and just because they are on an mostly LDS app doesn’t mean that everyone may be living the standards we have been taught . So if you get someone that’s like hey “let’s go for a midnight drive ” or “hey wanna go to a movie and cuddle ” and the one inspired soda drinks called ‘NCMOs’ you might want to say “No thanks” . Those are most likely not righteous ways to start getting to know someone and can be hurtful and separate us from the path to return to our Heavenly Father.

So personally I don’t feel the need to get married right now , but that’s  because I have other things I want to do and through prayer I know that working on these goals will lead me to my eternal companion. For those that are older don’t fret about not being my married yet , focus on the Lord and he will guide you to where you need to be to meet that special person . This isn’t to say that you should give up on dating , but to make new friends, try new things while still holding on to your faith that you’ll meet that right person. Don’t let others make you feel bad for being single.

We are young adults and are suceptible to many of the same challenges that others around the woprld face but we know what our Lord expects of us and we know the path that we must stay on in order to be worthy of an eternal temple marriage . Let’s not twist the guidance we have been given to give into our natural man or assume that we are being pressured to get married soon. Things happen in His time not ours , he have to always remember that . Let’s get out of the stigma that Mormon get married early and quickly and focus on building strong faith centered eternal marriages when the time is right . Let me just quote one of my favorite Dan and Shay songsto finish up  “We’ll build this love from the ground up , from now until forever “. I love this song because it embodies what love should be starting from nothing into something so beautiful . So let’s keep that in  mind and grow our current or future relationships from friends to sweethearts to eternal companion. 

I would love to hear from you guys : what helps you center your relationships in the gospel , how is it dating in smaller LDS communities or even at BYU campuses compared to other schools? What talks have changed the way to think about dating ? 

Also please follow my blog and share it with your friends if you like it. The purpose is to share the gospel with both members and non members alike . Thanks for reading ! 

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