Condemnation of current LDS dating habits

Elder Oaks made some fascinating comments about current LDS dating habits during the May 1 CES fireside. I will give lengthy excerpts below, but to sum up: young LDS men and women need to pair off more and grow up and get married. No more hanging out like the folks on “Friends.” This is what I would term a serious “call to repentence.”

First, an important comment: I have very little experience with the LDS dating scene. My wife and I met on LDS singles two weeks after I put my profile on there. She is the only LDS woman I have ever met or hung out with. So, I am singularly unqualified to give opinions on Elder Oaks’ talk.

My wife, however, does have a lot of experience in the LDS dating world. And she agrees heartily with Elder Oaks’ comments. My wife says there is a whole group of young LDS men and women who love to hang out in womens’ apartments and watch TV, play video games and eat food prepared by the aforementioned and increasingly stressed young women. She says the environment allows men to postpone making commitments. Her advice to the young, unmarried men and women who read Elder Oaks’ thoughts: “follow the words of the Apostle!”

So here’s what Elder Oaks had to say, according to the May 7 edition of Church News:

He said there is a trend among young adults to “postpone adult responsibilities, including marriage and family.” Young adults are “hanging out” with members of the opposite sex rather than having traditional one-on-one dates.

“For the benefit of some of you who are not middle-aged or older, I also may need to describe was dating is. Unlike hanging out, dating is not a team sport. Dating is pairing off to experience the kind of one-on-one associations and temporary commitment that can lead to marriage in some rare and treasured cases.”

He listed some trends that have made dating rare: 1)cultural tides against commitments in family relationships. “Dating involves commitments, if only for a few hours. Hanging out requires no commitments, at least not for the men if the women provide food and shelter.” 2)the women’s movement discourages dating. “As women’s options have increased and some have become more aggressive, some men have become reluctant to take the traditional male initiatives, such as asking for dates, lest they be thought to qualify for the dreaded label of ‘male chavinist.’ ” 3)TV programs such as “Friends” glamorize hanging out. 4)Dates need to be less expensive and simpler so people can afford to go out on a date.

Addressing returned missionaries, Elder Oaks said: “It is time for you to grow up. Gather your courage and look for someone to pair off with.” He told the young women: “Resist too much hanging out, and encourage dates that are simple.” He told the women to quit subsidizing freeloaders, to lock up the pantry and bolt the doors, hanging out a sign, “will open for individual dates.”

You gotta love Elder Oaks’ penchant for taking on the tough subjects. Sounds like good advice to me. I never would have found the happiness I have with my wife if I hadn’t focused laser-like on finding a temple-worthy LDS wife.

So, what does the rest of the bloggernacle think of Elder Oaks’ advice?

This entry was posted in Any by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

272 thoughts on “Condemnation of current LDS dating habits

  1. The transcripts don’t appear to be available yet, but you can listen to the fireside here. When the transcript becomes available it should be found here.

  2. His talk was well received by our YSA ward. We discussed it in family home evening and then again at institute. All seemed to accept his council well. However, they all really felt the ball was left in the guys court for certain.

  3. What’s the rush? I personally think that young people who have experienced a little more of life and are more comfortable with themselves will make much better husbands and wives,not to mention mothers and fathers.

    More importantly, what’s Oaks’ interest in the subject? Why should it even be on the Church’s agenda? If they want to address sexual immorality, then they should address it, but not by making it sound like all young people who aren’t married need to grow up.

  4. I find this talk troubling. I am ALL FOR taking time before getting married. LIFE EXPERIENCES are a MUST before entering into a marraige. Young kids need to outgrow selfishness and just because you enter a marraige does not make you automatically an ADULT. Divorce rates are still stagering. People are living longer, make sure you marry the right person and if hanging out with people to narrow it down it a way for you to do this, then by all means… go chill, just not at Central Perk.

  5. I have the justification that my stake president advised me not to rush into getting married immediately following my mission. It took 5 and a half years for me to finally “grow up” and get married, the engagement wasn’t lengthy, and I don’t think I had the attitude during those years of “putting it off”.

    Dating is expensive. My wife told me about a girl she knew that I had taken out on a first date long before we ever met. That date was a fun Saturday afternoon activity grabbing lunch at Wendy’s and playing frisbee in the park. My wife told me that this girl said it was a lame date. As I recall that was one of the least expensive dates I ever had (probably $8-9), but at the time I must have thought that girls didn’t care about how much a guy will shell out.

    So my impression is, much more counsel should be given to the sisters about not judging a potential suitor by the price of the meal, etc. he provides on a date. Guys in their early 20′s, fresh off their missions, with student loans, $8/hr part-time jobs, etc. just can’t afford the high expectations of those they court. “Hanging out”, although it can be abused, is at least an inexpensive way to actually get to know those of the opposite sex, providing at least some context before pairing off on formal dates.

  6. I didn’t hear this fireside, so my response is based solely on this excerpt, but I don’t like Elder Oaks’ condemnation of single women. I’m not one of those women who has the “guys” over for dinner or treats or movies (partly because when I want male company I date and partly because I’m not interested in marriage at the moment) but I feel sympathetic to the plight of the many women who do. I think many women feel like “hanging out” is one way, perhaps the only way, to get to know someone who may not be asking them out. What else are women in this situation supposed to do? They might ask men out on dates themselves but this is generally discouraged in our culture.

    Further, there are many women in the church who won’t ever get married. Should these women just resign themselves to never having male friends? Likewise, women who will likely marry should not restrict friendships with men just because they wouldn’t dream of marrying them. Some of my closest friends are male. If I had only developed friendships with men based on who I thought might qualify as a potential marriage partner, I would have lost out on many cherished relationships. My life is richer because of the wonderful men I’ve “hung out” with over the years.

    Lastly, I think blaming the women’s movement for men’s reluctance to date is an unfortunate and unnecessary dig at the women’s movement and, more importantly, an inaccurate portrayal of what’s really going on. It is too simplistic to suggest that men don’t ask women out because they think they will be considered “male chauvinist” by women. This doesn’t sound the least bit like any of the single LDS men or women I know. I think it is just as likely that “men’s hearts are failing them for FEAR,” or that the “love of men” is “waxing cold” for quite different reasons—laziness, faithlessness, selfishness, and so forth.

  7. I’m not going to add any comments until I can actually read what Elder Oaks said…

  8. My marriage was a result of what started out as hanging out. One thing I liked about it is that we found our personalities to be fairly compatible without any relationship pressure (though the pressures did eventually come). On the surface, Elder Oaks’s counsel would seem to contradict Pres. Hinckley, who has described his own experience of pairing off as the natural result of running with a group of people. Of course, really there probably is no contradiction. Having not read the talk, Elder Oaks is probably speaking about hanging out that isn’t progressing anywhere.

  9. Ben and Jared, I’m pretty sure my post accurately captured the Church News excerpts from Elder Oaks’ talk. But you can go to http://www.ldschurchnews.com and read the entire story. I agree that sometimes when you read the entire talk you get context you don’t get from excerpts, but the Church News story repeats a very large portion of his talk word for word.

  10. I think Elder Oaks was merely offering a bit of strategy to women who really do want to be married. I think the hanging out thing works great during high school and early years before marraige is appropriate. I agree with Elder Oaks that if a guy can enjoy your company with very little effort on his part, why would he go to the trouble to date you?

  11. Mark, not all women expect guys to take them on pricey dates (and why would you want to date a girl who’s that shallow?)! I’d say by far my cheapest boyfriend was my husband: we went to dollar movies, went hiking, cooked tin-foil dinners in the great outdoors, played UNO, etc. But I appreciated that he treated me like someone special, asked me out, made the plans, etc. Too many of my friends had guys who would just hang out with them, or show up randomly from time to time expecting them to be free, and still expect commitment-free make-outs. These guys did need to grow up. I think Elder Oaks is right, though, that it’s not all up to the guys. I think women need to have higher standards in the way they’ll allow themselves to be treated.

  12. None of this surprises me. Elder Oaks is addressing a problematic social dynamic that we’ve been reading about in the ‘Nacle and that I’ve heard about from my single sister-in-law. In a lot of singles’ wards there are slightly older eligible bachelors who are getting attention from the single women who are older and younger than them. A woman often wants to hold back from actually asking the guy out, but still doesn’t want to be in the position of waiting passively and doing nothing. Aha … she and her roommates (who might be in the same situation) will make meals and invite guys over … with the hope that this will create the social bridge that will lead to romantic relationships.

    Though it isn’t his intention, I’m wondering a little if these instructions from Elder Oaks won’t result in LDS single women (rather than the single men) being more assertive and direct. Instead of the girls making a meal and inviting the guys over, it might result in the girl (singular) making a meal and inviting the guy (singular) she likes to come over for dinner. I’m not saying I hope for this to be the new dynamic … it’s just a possibility in a social dynamic where eligible women sometimes/often outnumber eligible men.

  13. I didn’t hear Oaks’s talk, but I’m glad SOMEBODY addressed this problem. The complacency of the single Mormon male is amazing and quite frequently heartbreaking. The single Mormon dating world is just plain messed up and I despair of it ever being appropriate or fruitful. I think one problem is men thinking that women expect committment after one date. They just assume that all of us are marriage crazy. I do not feel marriage crazy; I just would like the chance to get to know Mormon men and spend individual time with them. I am a 26-year-old who grew up in Utah and went to BYU; Mormon men should not be mysterious to me at this point, but they are. I’m about ready to wash my hands of them.

  14. With all due respect to DHO, I think this is more of a talk about his general opinions about dating, and not to be taken out of context and used as doctrinal prohibitions against people hanging out with each other and the like.

    Mormon guys are pretty lame about asking girls out, but so are the non-Mormon guys. I will say that non-Mormon guys generally try harder, though – since they expect to be rewarded for being nice by having sex with you after the third or fourth date. No such luck for Mormon guys, so why should they make much of an effort?

  15. Melissa writes:

    I’m not one of those women who has the “guys” over for dinner or treats or movies

    From everything I’ve heard about your treat-making abilities, that’s a great loss to “the guys.”

    Of course, I ought to look on the bright side. Perhaps this means that you’ll decide to turn your culinary inclinations towards, say, desserts for your co-bloggers . . .

    :P

  16. Tess,

    They should make an effort so that they can EVENTUALLY have sex (i.e. get married)! They have entirely different expectations, obviously, than non-Mormon guys and thus have different “incentives” to date. I don’t think the knowledge that they won’t get to have sex in three or four dates keeps Mormon men from dating; they would never expect that. They don’t date, among other reasons, because in most places they are vastly outnumbered by women and can sit back and take it easy while the women flock to them. I would probably do the same thing if the tables were turned; I don’t exactly blame them. It can be confusing and paralyzing to have so many excellent options (single Mormon women being in general amazingly accomplished).

  17. Minerva – you’re right. Also, I forgot that it is not uncommon for Mormon men to marry after the third or fourth date, so I stand corrected.

    It IS embarrassing to see so many Mormon women fawning over the men in singles wards. I think the reason why I had so many dates was that I didn’t spend much time fawning. That, and the fact that I’m irresistably gorgeous, of course. :)

  18. Capt. Jack, Ali, and Melissa, I’m surprised to see such negative reactions.

    Captain, do you really think the subject of helping young people move toward eternal marriage is really outside the purview of an apostle? Elder Oaks’ advice to young people must be confined strictly to counsel on avoiding sexual immorality? What’s your source for that?

    Ali: “LIFE EXPERIENCES are a MUST before entering into a marriage.” [sic] Right. That’s why every single marriage between nineteen year olds fails, huh? No, life experience is a plus in marriage, just like commitment, love, compatability, etc. To stand by a hard and fast rule prohibiting all nineteen year olds to get married is like standing by a hard and fast rule prohibiting sixteen year olds to drive. There are many, many cases where marriage is just fine for a nineteen year old, and that’s speaking just empirically, without reliance on the sturdy endorsements of church leaders.

    Melissa, I think you’ve taken Elder Oaks’ comments more broadly than they were intended. I strongly doubt that he’s come out against all friendships between women and men. I think on a micro level there are hundreds of circumstances in which Elder Oaks would find an exception to his general rule. But he has drawn a general rule: That the construct and institution of dating is suffering, but is desirable, and therefore should be rebuilt. You make legitimate points about some of the challenges facing single women today. But far from downplaying those challenges, Elder Oaks is seeking to address them, which should be validating for those he’s speaking to.

    Sorry for the rant, it’s just a little surprising to see people so quick to place their own judgments over those of a very bright, very inspired, apostle. Maybe we should spend just a tad bit more time thinking about what he says before we dismiss it out of hand.

  19. Tess:

    it is not uncommon for Mormon men to marry after the third or fourth date

    You should amend that to say that it is not uncommon for Mormon men to get engaged after the third or fourth date. I submit that getting married right after the third or fourth date is, in fact, rather uncommon among Mormon men.

  20. Sorry for the rant, it’s just a little surprising to see people so quick to place their own judgments over those of a very bright, very inspired, apostle. Maybe we should spend just a tad bit more time thinking about what he says before we dismiss it out of hand.

    Amen.

  21. I really appreciated Elder Oaks’ remarks, especially after seeing a heart-broken little sister time and time and time again because of the frustrating inability of young men to do anything more than “hang out.”

    Amen, Elder Oaks. Thank you for your wise and inspired counsel.

  22. It’s interesting that the men on this blog are usually calling the women to repentence. Just my observation, but I sometimes wonder if there are any “liberal” men out there in the bloggernacle. Maybe they are just keeping quiet, or am I just on the wrong blogs…

    Anyway, I agree that we shouldn’t dismiss Elder Oaks’ comments out of hand. He makes some very good points about current dating practices. I don’t think Melissa or the other people who disagreed with some of DHO’s remarks were being disrespectful to him. Isn’t it okay to disagree with the GA’s, while still being respectful and following their general counsel?

  23. Yes I do.

    Most people in this world end up married. Mormon young people are no exception–leave them alone and they will end up married as well, and if they take their time they’ll end up more happily married.

    I for one want my two daughters to concentrate on finding out who they are before they start bringing others into the world, and before they are linked for time and eternity to a man. Call me kooky, but I happen to think that women, LDS or not, can and should find happiness as singles before making the committment to be married. That means getting an education. That means having fun with others their age. If Oaks thinks that’s hanging out, well, I guess I want them to hang out.

  24. Of course, Tess. I think it is. And I agree that I have not heard anyone be disrespectful either.

    I thought he was more calling the lazy, indolent, stupid, perverted young men to repentance than he was any of our sisters.

  25. Tess,

    I think it is okay to disagree, and it is possible to disagree and still sustain.

    And you definitely are on the wrong blog for liberal Mormon men!

    You need to give me some pointers on snagging Mormon men! Or is it hopeless if I’m not irresistibly gorgeous? Shucks.

  26. Captain Jack,

    It is indeed important for women to find out who they are, get educated, etc., but I don’t think marriage necessarily must preclude that stuff. I think I always thought it did, and so I equated marriage with death until I was about 21.

    I have been grateful for my singlehood in that I’ve had the chance to have time to figure myself out a bit as an adult. But the reality is that part of being an adult is exploring and expressing sexuality and since we single adult Mormons can’t do that without serious consequences, there is a block in our progression. That is why I think early marriage is not a bad idea.

  27. Tess,

    I think that the general received wisdom is that Millenial Star is one of the blogs where you’re most likely to be called to repentance. Also, I hear some complaints that M* is particularly male-dominated, though I think they make a good-faith effort not to be.

    The other options which you might want to explore:

    Feminist Mormon Housewives — the name says it all. Saucy, fun commentary, lots of discussion of women’s issues.
    By Common Consent — first major liberal group blog in the ‘nacle. (Not leaving-the-church liberal, but “I’m gonna go watch some R-rated movies, da**it!” liberal.) Has a number of female contributors. Known for sarcastic/irreverent tone.
    Times and Seasons — tries to be a more-or-less centrist and serious blog. It has four female contributors, and draws a higher volume of comments than other LDS blogs. (Full disclosure — I blog at T & S).

    You may also want to check with the LDS blog aggregation websites which collect posts from all over. The two major aggregators are at the Archipelago and Planet LDS.

  28. Minerva – I’m beginning to think that “liberal Mormon men” is an oxymoron akin to “feminist Mormon”….

    Anyway, yes, being gorgeous is generally the number one predictor of dating prospects. So, get blond highlights, lose a few pounds, start buying clothes from J.Crew or Abercrombie, and you’ll get noticed. The good news is that people are generally superficial about appearances – Mormons and non-Mormons – so good looks can get you pretty far in life (and good looks backed up with substance will get you even farther)…

  29. Kaimi, you really need to repent about advertising for other blogs on our blog. Also, you need to repent about misspelling “Millennial,” especially when it’s right up there on the top of the page. In addition, you need to repent for mentioning the words “feminist” and “liberal” in a positive light on our conservative blog.

    Sincerely,

    A Man Who Blogs at M*

    P.S. I’m pretty sure if you give me more time, I’ll think up other things for which you should repent.

  30. Tess,

    You may be right…though I think that there are more and more young feminist Mormons. Or at least much more powerful strains of feminism in their thought.

    And on the other point…I’m doomed!

  31. Thanks for the suggestions, Kaimi. I do check out FMH and BCC once in awhile when work is boring (like today). I’ve been reading and commenting on the bloggernacle for awhile now, and I’ve found it to be dominated by men who feel obliged to tell people how they should run their lives. I’m of course overgeneralizing here, and I do enjoy reading the blogs, very much so, but, ironically, it seems like the men have way more time than women to devote to blogging. So we mostly hear from the men (who seem to be overwhelmingly conservative). Anyway, I just wish there were more give and take and real discussion in the posts and the comments. It seems that people are pretty locked into their positions here. Which may be the point of blogging, right? To stake a position and defend it? Maybe I’m missing the point of it all. (sorry for the threadjack)

  32. I think that the general received wisdom is that Millenial Star is one of the blogs where you’re most likely to be called to repentance.

    Really? We’re not all prescriptivists. I tend to post on scriptural topics…

  33. Ryan – By no means did I say nineteen year olds should not marry. Of course, some work, but I will say that if a person is able to go through some trials/”life experiences” before they get married it can only make them a better spouse. (The selfishness is less pronounced)

    And I do stand by my point that just because a person enters a marraige, it does not make them automatically an adult. Marraige is hard work (but definately worth it). Some young people get a massive reality check without when they enter marraige. It’s hard enough to “find yourself” on your own. Being responsible for a partnership is a lot of added pressure. The twenties are all about forming your adult self and sometimes you can change dramatically!

  34. After I got married, if my wife said something I disagreed with, I just rolled my eyes, sighed, and said “teenagers these days,” which I could do because she was only 19…

    It probably annoyed her to no end.

    Of course, this random thought has nothing to do with the fact that young men are lazy and need to get away from the video games that haunt their lives and start dating again.

  35. Ali,

    I agree that being married doesn’t make you an adult. And you can certainly be an adult without being married (we shouldn’t even have to say this). But I still think sexuality is an important facet of adulthood and thus single Mormons’ progression is stymied in this area. Perhaps married Mormons’ progression is stymied in ways I don’t understand as a single Mormon.

    And I also think that, sure, the twenties are about forming your adult self, but there’s no reason that you can’t figure that out in tandem with someone else.

  36. Ali, you might be surprised to hear that I largely agree with you. I met my wife when I was 21 and she was 19, but we didn’t get married until two years later. A lot of that had to do with the fact that we were both pretty immature and underdeveloped at the time. Now, I’m grateful for the intervening two years in which we were both able to grow up and abandon a lot of our stupidity and naivete.

    However, it’s important not to take the wrong conclusions from that experience. Yes, it helped me, but I don’t know that waiting a few extra years was absolutely necessary. Further, I don’t know that the intervening two years would have been important for anyone else. My older brother got married very young and also has a pretty happy marriage. The point is that with marriage, it’s basically impossible to make broad statements. UNLESS, one has a revelatory source for one’s statements. That’s why you and I may opine based on our experiences, but Elder Oaks has a much better store of wisdom from which to draw in making his prescriptions.

    As for the idea that I’ve called anyone to repentance, that’s a bit silly. There should be no question that a huge variety of opinions are welcome on this blog, as has been proved consistently in hundreds of discussions. (whereas I’ve seen other blogs known for being more liberal erase comments that were offensive for no other reason than that they challenged some opinions of a permablogger). The fact that I happen to disagree with some comments does not constitute censorship or preaching. I think it’s unfair to ghettoize the opinions of those who take a more orthodox tack by labeling such opinions as calls to repentance, when they’re really nothing more than any other comment on this blog: a statement of the author’s opinion, meant to further the discussion and make a point.

  37. Minerva – Yes you can do all these things together. I’m just hoping to save a few people some heartache. In my mind there is so much pressure for young people to get married. Having sex should not be the driving force when entering a union (although sadly I think it is for many)

    I guess I’m on my own here, but I was just hoping to start a dialogue about some healthy alternatives for people in their twenties. I think there is a “tunnel mentality”. (Must go on mission, must meet spouse, get married, have children, become bishop).

    Life is a journey and why the rush?

  38. Dang- I really missed the boat on becoming the bishop! Where’s Eric S. when I need him-? there’s a man with influence…

  39. Ryan – I agree with you. I think people are more sensitive to orthodox views, because the orthodox views are easier to justify in the Church. There is room for all opinions in the bloggernacle, but when your opinion is the same as DHO’s “opinion”, there’s not much room for disagreement.

  40. Jordan: You are so right! Because once they get married, they can return to video games haunting their lives! :) [which comment my wife probably doesn't appreciate to no end...]

  41. Ali,

    Are you married? It kind of sounds like you are, else maybe you’d understand what the rush is. I would never get married just to be able to have sex, but it is extremely difficult to live a chaste life as an adult. I am not saying it is difficult to live the law of chastity; I feel like I have this down by now. I am saying it is difficult to live an adult life without a sexuality. Do you see the difference?

    I don’t feel like I was ever pressured to get married, and I still don’t feel pressure even though in my family I guess I am approaching old maidenhood (ridiculous at 26!)

    I have taken been living at least some semblance of a “healthy alternative”: living and working in NYC, pursuing a masters degree, being in various film, book, and writing groups.

    Ultimately these things are just straight up not satisfying. I don’t know if most other single Mormon women would agree with me, but that’s my two cents.

  42. I’d like to hear a bit more about the social habits of young single LDS adults in the bloggernacle (mostly because I have no knowledge of their social habits). My wife went to Ricks (back when it was still Ricks), went on a mission and then went to Colorado State University, which has a large LDS population. She had a very active young single adult LDS social life. But her complaint was that the men loved to hang out and not go on one-on-one dates — and in fact she tells stories about her stake president and bishops calling the men to repentence (there’s that phrase again) about not taking the young women out on dates. So, Elder Oaks’ talk had special resonance with my wife because she saw the phenomenon herself. I’d be interested to hear if this is a trend that others have noticed besides my wife and a few other people who have posted on this board.

  43. Jordan,

    Reminds me of my own little running joke. When my wife was pregnant, shortly after we got married, I would tell her “you’re a statistic!” since she was a teen pregnancy. (Nineteen, married, and pregnant). It was a joke I employed often; she tolerated it, as she often does with my humor.

  44. Geoff,

    It’s a big problem. There’s just a lot of hanging out, serial talks at parties and activities, etc. I know some people do go on dates, but it’s not really talked about. It’s called stealth dating, like it’s something shameful.

  45. Minerva – I have gone through a few bumps which shape my opinions here. I feel I can relate with you a little. I am 26 as well. Let me also say, that I admire what you are doing in your life and think it is a great example to other single LDS women.

    Things will happen for you and you will be quite the catch with all the accomplishments you mention.

  46. Funny what wives have to tolerate.

    I am interested to understand better why some people seem to think that Elder Oaks comments were a call for young women to repent. They seemed to me more like a call to repentance for what seem to be ever more lazy young men!

  47. A lot of the hanging out is because the guys don’t particularly like the girls in the ward as potential girlfriends but just want to be friends. I think the whole bit about telling guys to date in good counsel. I know lots of guys who did the nicmo thing but formally dated rarely. Having said that though not all people are necessarily socially mature enough to be dating confidently right off their mission. People mature at different rates and I think it can especially be intimidating for people who didn’t date much prior to college. I think that sometimes those who didn’t struggle dating have a hard time relating…

  48. Ali,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence! And sorry if I was too personal…

  49. Clark said: “A lot of the hanging out is because the guys don’t particularly like the girls in the ward as potential girlfriends but just want to be friends.”

    This is a pretty big problem too. I have heard over and over about non-Mormon guys visiting singles wards and being blown away by how amazing the women are. Mormon guys are really really picky. I don’t even pretend to know what they are looking for.

  50. We can’t pretend that dating difficulties are only experienced by women or that women can’t be picky. I had at least a few roommates at BYU who were very frustrated to graduate unmarried and leave the state for advanced degree programs at other schools. One of them made a similar complaint to that being voiced by women here. He was finding that girls loved to have him as a “buddy” or “friend” — they enjoyed “hanging out” with him — but they weren’t generally interested in him romantically.

    It really only takes one reciprocation of love for a person to feel valued and to shed all the frustrations of dating life. But sometimes it takes awhile (too long many feel) for all those stars and planets to align themselves.

  51. I’m a single 27 year-old male. I live in NYC, and used to live in DC and Provo, so I think I have a fairly good feel for single LDS dating practices. I think “hanging out” really only goes on when a guy isn’t romantically interested in a girl, but enjoys her company and wants to spend time with her. I think for the most part when a guy meets a girl he’s interested in, he asks her out. (Some guys are too shy, or too insecure, or too cheap, but I think they’re the exception.) Thus, the problem really isn’t one of guys not asking out girls in whom they have interest, but rather, guys not meeting enough girls in whom they have interest (and vice versa).

  52. Hmmm, a 26-year-old single LDS woman. A 27-year-old single male. Hmmm. Can we turn this into M* LDS singles? The blessings could be countless.

  53. Davis,

    I have seen some young (usually late teens, early 20s) men who are too lazy to wash their own clothes, let alone ask a girl out, even when he likes her. I think the behavior at which Elder Oaks is aiming is the “let’s-hang-out-because-I’m-too-lazy-to-make-any-kind-of-commitment” type, not the type that happens between dear friends.

  54. Danithew,

    The solution is to date more, to widen the scope of the women you date. Since there seems to be a tacit or not so tacit agreement that the ball is in the guys’ court, they need to expand their experience. In most singles wards, just a handful of women get asked out while the rest are ignored. I am not saying that women can’t go ahead and ask men out (though I have been assured that this behavior would be ultimately fruitless anyway); they can and do. But the reason that some women do not ask men out is not that they are picky; it is that they have traditional views on who should do the asking. Of course there are picky women who turn down dates, but this is probably the women who get asked out a lot. Women who do not date a lot are much less likely to turn down an opportunity to spend time alone with a half decent guy. Men who do not date the women in their ward are either too picky, very shy, have other emotional problems, or are gay.

  55. Davis,

    We meet again! I’m sorry if I have a really hard time believing that LDS men are not meeting women they are interested in. I mean, I’m in your ward. I know the caliber of the women you go to church with every Sunday. Heavens. See my comment #51 about non-Mormon guys’ reactions to LDS women.

  56. Jordan: re: young women repenting. Maybe I’m just a radical feminist; but I don’t think women take enough initiative in dating. I.e. it isn’t a sin for a woman to ask a man out on a date; and in fact, it might get her more dates where the guy asks her out…

    and then again; maybe i was just a radical feminist looking for a strong willed woman [happily, it worked out for me :) ]

  57. I attended the CES fireside at my local Stake Center. Some background on my single status should be enlightening when considering my opinion of the talk. Please don’t take any of this as bragging, I’m simply trying to illustrate my situation:

    • I’m a recently returned missionary; been home nine months.
    • I’ve attended the YSA branch since my first week home.
    • I regularly attend institute classes (Monday to Thursday at 8:00AM and Wednesday night classes along with all of the activities).
    • I am currently the Branch Clerk (previously membership clerk), a Sunday school teacher and home teaching supervisor.
    • I speak with a High Councilman every third Sunday, and have been since I first returned from the field.

    I haven’t dated since I’ve been home; not once. To my knowledge (and I have good sources) nobody is attracted to me whatsoever.

    Elder Oak’s talk really pierced my heart and I felt my own guilt for my lack of obedience in this field. Many people moped and murmured about the talk, but I couldn’t because I knew he was right and I need to do better. I have no complaints about his talk, he was spot on. What I do have a complaint about are the perceptions of the single sisters who took the talk as a good round of man-bashing. “You guys should be ashamed,” or “Man, Elder Oaks went off on you guys” were the only comments from the sisters. I asked several sisters, “did you here what he said about single sisters?” “He said something about sisters?”

    It seems to me that shows one of the main problems of the LDS dating scene. I think it’s a failing part of our culture as well. Men have to do everything which is not how marriage works, so why should it be how dating works? For instance, one of my major turn-offs with the sisters in my branch is that they really seem to not be mature in the gospel. They don’t seem to really know much, and they don’t have the gospel as an integral part of their lives. They are very nice, and sweet, and very beautiful, but I just don’t think I could talk to any of them for more than twenty minutes before the conversation well runs dry; I’d give a gospel conversation ten minutes. Don’t think I’m being overly picky either, this is how most of the guys feel in my branch, thus sisters don’t usually get asked out on dates.

    Another problem is that there is far too much pressure. I had a friend who asked a girl out in the branch. They went on a few dates and got along wonderful. Well, it didn’t take but a couple of weeks for the rumors to start,
    “did you hear Chris and Natalie are getting married.”
    “What? I don’t think so.”
    “Yeah, I heard about it from…”
    And meanwhile someone tells Natalie, “so, I heard Chris proposed.”
    “No, he didn’t…why would you say that?”
    “Oh, maybe he’s going to.”

    So, Natalie Freaks out and won’t talk to him anymore. It’s like if you date more than once you’re going to get married, thus girls reject the guys left and right because you’ve only got one shot.

    I’ve made a determination that I’m going to ask someone out, and I’ll do it; but please, somebody help the sisters get out of their world of E True Hollywood Story and The Bachelor! I want someone to be my wife who’s constantly reaching and growing, not plateauing, awaiting the arrival for her knight in shinning armor to wisp her away to the temple and then live happily ever after. I want someone who knows the gospel, and is enriching their lives. I’m sure there’s plenty out there, but I haven’t found many yet where I’m at.

  58. Unmarried women . . . guys who don’t date . . . the solution is obvious: Plural marriage!

    :P

    (Kaimi runs away as all of the women pelt him with small rocks).

  59. Her name was ‘nerva…
    She was a blogger…
    On that blog millenial star in the bloggernacle choir…

    His name was Davis,
    he was a hellion…
    almost thirty and not married in that sinful New York City..

    Will they find love…

    In the ‘nacle, the bloggernaaaaa-cle…

    They fell in love…

    (With some phrases kept out, who can guess what tune these lyrics should match…?)

  60. Aaron,

    Since you haven’t spent one-on-one time with the women in your branch, you are probably not qualified to ascertain the depth of their minds and personalities. Give it a try! Be patient!

  61. I remember a YSA bishop giving a very pointed talk about dating. It went something like this: “Men, you’re not Brad Pitt! So quit thinking she’s got to be Halle Berry before you’ll go out with her! Ladies, you’re not Halle Berry, so quit waiting for Brad Pitt to ask you out! Date each other!”

    Classic, simply classic.

    As a YSA, I didn’t date or hang out. I was a total social loser. Now that I am an OSA (Older Single Adult), I have gained some confidence. Now I say things like, “you should ask me out!” to any guy who looks like he has enough initiative to brush his teeth regularly. Amazingly, most men consider it a compliment (and here I used to think I was charity date material), and a significant portion do ask me out. That solves the problem of getting dates, while still trying to follow the traditional role of the man doing the asking.

  62. (btw- no disrespect intended.)

    And Minerva wins the prize. A date with the bachelor behind the curtain. But wait- oh, darn it. He’s too busy playing video games and eating pizza- I don’t even think he got dressed today. And what would he have worn anyway, since he has no clean laundry…

  63. Aaron, did you see anything ironic about having both of these statements in your comment:

    “To my knowledge (and I have good sources) nobody is attracted to me whatsoever.”

    “They don’t seem to really know much, and they don’t have the gospel as an integral part of their lives. They are very nice, and sweet, and very beautiful, but I just don’t think I could talk to any of them for more than twenty minutes before the conversation well runs dry; I’d give a gospel conversation ten minutes.”

    Sounds like it’s mutual lack of attraction.

    BTW, cut them some slack on short gospel conversations – you’ve just spent two years talking about nothing but gospel (and it sounds like you’ve still got that missionary glow about you), while they’ve been out just living life. Talk to them about life. The gospel will work itself in. Either that or go find a sister RM.

  64. Overall I agree with you Minerva.

    I’ve brought this up a time or two already in the ‘Nacle … but I held a unique job at BYU years ago in relation to a study on dating that was done by the Family Sciene Department. My job was to transcribe the interviews. They interviewed freshman and newly returned missionaries and asked them questions about their dating backgrounds, their parents and their current dating experiences. The initial goal was to follow some people through courtship from first date to marriage. I think funding ran out, but not before they had a ton of interviews with all kinds of interesting information.

    Some of the graduate students who got together ended up writing a research paper on “Female Dating Strategies at BYU” and they came to the conclusion that the girls who dated the most were the ones who consistently provided feedback to guys that made the guys absolutely sure that the girls would accept a request for a date. The basic conclusion of the study is that the majority of men will not ask a woman out until they are absolutely sure the woman will say yes. In other words, many men are dating cowards and aren’t willing to risk rejection.

    So how does a woman let a man know she’ll say yes to a date? She’ll drop really lame lines on him … for example: “You should call me sometime” or “We should do something sometime.” After a first date, if the woman wants to see the man again, she should say “That was really fun. We should do this again sometime.”

    Some of the female graduate students who worked on the paper had previously felt that these lines were degrading and stupid and had refused to use them. They began to employ these lines and found (on the average) that their dating increased by as much as fifty percent. After all these years (since typing these interviews up) I might be remembering the exact percentage a little bit wrong … but it was a very dramatic shift.’

    I might have written about this once or two many times too many in the ‘Nacle already. I promise to never bring it up again.

  65. I think some of the comments at the beginning were due to the fact that people have not read or heard DOH’s talk. Geoff did an fair job in summing up the apostle’s comments, but left out a few key parts.

    Mark Simmons laments the fact that dates are so expensive. Elder Oaks roundly condemned expensive dates as a major part of the problem. He specifically criticized the way many Mormons ask each other out using elaborate gimmicks. I’m sure you all know what I mean-with balloons or candy bar poster boards or scavenger hunts. And then the person asked is forced to answer in a similarly elaborate way. This trend runs quite rampant in Utah and at BYU and I wonder if Elder Oaks’ talk will diminish its popularity. He also condemned elaborate dates, using an example of a couple who were having a fancy dinner on the median of a busy road (I witnessed a similar occurrence myself). Instead of creative and expensive dates Elder Oaks said, hey, why not use the telephone and say “What are you doing tonight? Want to go to a movie?†He emphasized that dates should be simple and sweet. And should NOT imply a future together.

    Melissa remarked that she did not like the way she felt DOH was condemning single women. This was definitely not the impression one left the devotional with. It was by and large a condemnation of single men. DOH was simply encouraging women to not let the men walk over them, by facilitating their freeloading ways. It was a call for young men to stop being wimpy and not start asking women out on dates. And in an unusual departure for a devotional, DOH has his second wife Kristin speak. She was a single woman for decades (although she has a Ph.D and is quite cute, which makes her singleness so baffling-single men really do need to shape up!). Kristin gave good honest advice to single young woman. She said that they had to face the fact that some of them would not get married in this life. She told them to stop “marking time,†and waiting around to get married. She urged them to get on with their lives, to pursue other goals and passions. It was really very refreshing.

    Finally, Geoff, you seem very supportive of DOH’s talk. But at one point he totally denounces the internet as a valid way of finding a mate. I assume that the “LDS singles†you referred to in your post was the internet site, and is how you found your wife. What did you think of DOH’s comments on that point?

    The talk is really worth a listen. I have never laughed so hard and long at any devotional or church talk in my life. People were rolling in the aisles. Who knew DOH has such a humorous side to him?

  66. I taught my 19 year old daughter that hanging out was not a date. A date is a guy calls you, asks you out, comes to the door, opens the car door, and he pays.

    While I thought it was wonderful that she had a nice group of friends who did a lot of wholesome things together, there was a point where I felt some disrespect was involved for the girls–the boys would call at the last minute, the girls would drive over and they would watch a movie. No effort for the boys at all.

    My husband was in a college ward bishopric and they were taught to discourage hanging out, in part because they often “hung out” in someone’s bedroom watching tv and when the others would leave, the kids would get in trouble.

    I guess this would also involve moderation.

  67. Dallin H. Oakes makes for the acronym DHO … but I liked the DOH appelation while it lasted. Maybe we should ask him to change his name order.

  68. I am a 25-year old unmarried male who has spent the last four years doing much more hanging out than dating. I stand wholly condemned by Elder Oaks.

    On the one hand, I like hanging out. It has many benefits. You generally get to know lots of people instead of just one. There are none of the awkward conventions of “a dateâ€. Everyone is at ease and enjoys themselves. Many girls who don’t get asked out as often prefer the hanging out method because they are more involved that way. It’s less expensive, and did I mention everyone enjoys it more.

    This is not the first time we’ve heard this stuff. We’ve been getting “hanging out†condemnation for years from Bishops, Stake Presidents and the like. I think this may be the first it’s come from an Apostle. Not sure though, because it always goes in one ear and out the other anyways. Frequently Bishops say it as a means to get the less-pretty girls asked out more. But it didn’t work that way. When he emphasized dating, the prettier girls just got asked out twice as often and less-pretty girls started spending more weekends alone. Unfortunate.

    On the other hand, I must grudgingly admit that Elder Oaks is probably right. Maybe there’s a reason an Apostle had to come out and say it, because we haven’t been listening to our local leaders. I don’t know, maybe I’m too picky, maybe I’m too lazy, maybe I’m too scared. Maybe all of the above. I still prefer hanging out, but I find it difficult to dismiss the words of an Apostle.

    The problem is this. I’ve known plenty of guys who go on dates every single Friday and Saturday and didn’t get married for years. At the same time, I’ve known guys who only hung out, met the right person, dated and got married. I don’t notice a necessary correlation between frequency of dates and marriage. Gosh, I should stop rationalizing and find a date.

  69. Lyle-

    I never said anything about young women “repenting,” so I’m not sure what you mean.

    I do think Elder Oaks’ talk was a clarion call for young men to get off their duff, and not for women to do so. The fact that he explicitly mentions men seems to support that.

    That’s not to say anything against or be construed in any way against more assertive women. The fact that you think women ought to be more assertive doesn’t change the fact that too many of our younger men are lazy slobs.

  70. He denounced meeting people via the Internet? NO!!! I just started finding people on the Internet!! What’s he got against the Internet? Is it based on horror stories, or on actual facts? Here’s me, questioning an Apostle because he’s threatening my social life.

  71. Minerva:

    Since you haven’t spent one-on-one time with the women in your branch, you are probably not qualified to ascertain the depth of their minds and personalities. Give it a try! Be patient!

    Actually, and perhaps I shouldn’t confess past transgressions, I have spent a lot of time with them “hanging out.” This includes alone time, which is not a date, since I’m supposedly undateable. Yous ee, I’m what girls see as a Gay Best Friend, they treat me like a gay guy, just so we can still be friends. I guess I should get my second head removed and that unibrow waxed.]

  72. Janey

    Sounds like it’s mutual lack of attraction.

    BTW, cut them some slack on short gospel conversations – you’ve just spent two years talking about nothing but gospel (and it sounds like you’ve still got that missionary glow about you), while they’ve been out just living life. Talk to them about life. The gospel will work itself in. Either that or go find a sister RM.

    I apologize, I was not really clear, but I am going to follow Elder Oak’s counsel and date. These opinions are gathered from intensive hanging out and asking straight out. A sister RM would be great for me. I do talk about life, and therein lies the conundrum. Girls tell me what an awesome guy I am, how easy I am to talk to, etc. etc. etc. Yet they all say they just aren’t attracted to me, or “don’t like me like that.” SO it’s not like I’m not getting to know them, it’s like they cut me off from it. I’m going to be better, thanks for the call to repentance though.

  73. Geez … what’s wrong with the internet? I have an uncle an aunt who were thoroughly delighted to find each other by that means. They are good faithful LDS people. For a variety of reasons, some people are isolated and this is the best way for them to meet compatible LDS peers of the opposite sex.

    Now that I think about it, we also have a newly married couple in our ward who met over an internet dating service.

    I say that if a method works for you, and you meet qualified worthy people by that means, then you should continue to use that method.

  74. using an internet dating/meeting service has _never_ been condemned by the Prophet. However, he has warned against using internet “chat rooms.” These two phenom are entirely different and further, the context was different also. The context of “chat rooms” is fear of young women or boys being molested. This context doesn’t exist for adults seeking a marriage partner, or even just a date.

    p.s. as i met and married my wife through an lds internet dating service; perhaps i ahve a conflict of interest.

  75. I don’t think that Minerva and Janey are being fair to Aaron. I think I understand where he is coming from.

    Janey, why should “life” be separated from the Gospel? Why isn’t it possible for people to be interested in the ultimate questions of existence and still be living “life”? My personal exploration of such issues did not begin on my mission and it did not end after, and I was frankly disappointed in many of the young women I met who were not at all interested in discussing these things. Any bright young woman should be thinking about these things. It should not be necessary for her to be a returned missionary.

    I’m uncomfortable with the assumption that Aaron is wrong. I admit that he may be jumping to conclusions, but it seems like both Minerva and Janey have automatically assumed that his assessment of some of the women in his ward is wrong. It may just be right, or at least more right than wrong.

  76. When I was single there was a certain sister in our ward who was consistently able to get men to ask her out. When asked how she did it, she said that it was all about body language:

    When there was a certain guy who she wanted to ask her out, she would look him directly in the eye while thinking the phrase “You know you want me.” Even though she knew no such thing, and even though she was a very wonderful, intelligent, chaste woman who was certainly not interested in making out–she just wanted to get to know them better–she claimed that thinking this phrase while looking right in the guy’s eye caused her to communicate to him, through unconscious body-language triggered by the phrase, that she was interested in being asked out.

    By doing this, she was able to get 8 out of 10 guys to ask her out on a date. While it may be nothing more than folklore, it seemed to work for her. And I imagine that looking a guy in the eye and while thinking such a phrase would have a marked effect on body language and lend to an appearance of confidence and emotional energy (both of which can be very attractive).

  77. Some of the graduate students who got together ended up writing a research paper on “Female Dating Strategies at BYU” and they came to the conclusion that the girls who dated the most were the ones who consistently provided feedback to guys that made the guys absolutely sure that the girls would accept a request for a date. The basic conclusion of the study is that the majority of men will not ask a woman out until they are absolutely sure the woman will say yes. In other words, many men are dating cowards and aren’t willing to risk rejection.

    So how does a woman let a man know she’ll say yes to a date? She’ll drop really lame lines on him … for example: “You should call me sometime” or “We should do something sometime.” After a first date, if the woman wants to see the man again, she should say “That was really fun. We should do this again sometime.”

    Danithew, I couldn’t agree with this more! Things girls say like “I can’t believe he’s so cheap” and making negative comments about appearances on a regular basis really scares the bajinkins out of guys, even the attractive cool ones.

  78. LOL. That’s a good story JMX. Somehow I don’t think we’ll ever hear that one in a fireside from behind the pulpit, but maybe there’s a bit of truth there.

    In Ruth Chapter 3, Naomi gives Ruth some pretty interesting courtship advice. It worked. I guess that was all that mattered.

  79. “The basic conclusion of the study is that the majority of men will not ask a woman out until they are absolutely sure the woman will say yes. In other words, many men are dating cowards and aren’t willing to risk rejection.”

    Alternatively:

    The basic conclusion of the study is that the majority of men will not ask a woman out until they are absolutely sure the woman will say yes. In other words, [women have poor communicating skills when it comes to letting men know they are interested in a date].

    Afterall…we live in an age of equality; let the blame be dished out equally.

  80. I would like to voice my full support of young marriage to everyone who cares. My wife and I are today celebrating our six month anniversary! I am 20 and we got married only days after her 18th b-day this year. I know that some of the ‘honeymoon magic’ might be making this post biased, but I still can’t say enough good things about being married young! I think that the only thing you really need in order to marry young is maturity. We have both been out in “the world” already for a good while, have had our number of dates respectably, worked, been in college, and have each wrecked at least one motor vehicle (allright, i’ve killed 3 – 4 if you count my truck that is getting scraped at the end of the month when inspection is up) anyways we both have the maturity level at a young age to dedicate ourselves to eachother and that is what is important. I have seen other couples that have marriges that are having troubles already and I attribute that to immaturity – these kids didn’t have jobs, one didn’t even have a drivers licence, and only one was taking college courses. I think that as long as a certain maturity level is met, young marriage can be a huge advantage for all LDS, and should I be in a position to do so one day, I will encourage it.

  81. Great story JMX. I’ll second it – attitude is everything. I was a bit chubby as a YSA – not unhealthfully so, but enough that I felt insecure about my looks. I had lots of guy friends, but no dating life at all. I couldn’t believe that anyone would ever be interested in me. I was very meek and awkward, would never have dreamed of flirting with someone, because hey – why on earth would they be interested in ME?

    At 23, I lost 15 pounds and my self esteem really skyrocketed, changing my attitude quite a bit. I was friendly, I flirted, I felt confident and fabulous. I strutted my stuff. I got scads of attention, and went from hanging out every weekend, to being too busy to hang out because I was busy dating. I ended up meeting my husband and getting married shortly afterward.

    Now when I look at pictures and video of myself from that time period, I can see that there was almost NO DIFFERENCE in how I looked in the before and after pictures. Truly, I looked about the same. But I thought I was hot stuff after losing the weight, and that turned out to be the key.

    If you believe you are someone worth dating, other people tend to believe it as well…

  82. It’s interesting to see how much stuff is in that talk, besides the issue of dating. At first when I was reading it, I was wondering if I was reading the right talk.

  83. “postpone adult responsibilities, including marriage and family”

    18 married and with child is not adult,, it is stupid. Todays society offers you chances to live before you give it up. It is hard to spend the summer in Paris with a 2 year old. It is hard to spend a season manning a sailing boat when you have a husband. Our society gives people a chance to see things our parents never could see. Going from high school directly into marriage is not a transition, it is a trap.

    I say postpone and mature before you make a choice that will effect you the rest of your life. Not just you but any children you have and everyone you associate with. You mess up as a youth you lose a summer. You mess up as an adult and you’re stuck with it till you die. Most people that age do not understand the real nature of being an adult, and forcing them to be one before they are ready is the reason for so many unhappy families, children, and parents.

    It is not a sin to be young and dumb. It should be a sin to be young dumb and married because everyone said you should.

  84. Hey Gunner … take it easy. How is someone who had a baby at eighteen going to feel when you call them stupid? We can’t always know what goes into making that decision and it is entirely possible the Holy Spirit could inspire a couple to start their family right away. What is right or wrong for one person isn’t always the same for another.

    My grandmother had well over thirty grandchildren and many many great-grandchildren when she passed away recently. I don’t even know at what ages she and grandpa started their family, but what an amazing legacy they left behind. I’ll never be able to match it but I’ll always respect it. I might be lucky to live long enough to see one or two grandchildren come into the world. I’m just trying to say that yesterday’s seeming foolishness might be tomorrow’s wisdom and the future’s inheritance.

  85. Eric said: “Many girls who don’t get asked out as often prefer the hanging out method because they are more involved that way. It’s less expensive, and did I mention everyone enjoys it more.”

    I very much disagree with this. I would much much rather be asked out than hang out. Hanging out makes me feel insecure, unattractive, and unsure of what on earth is going on. Being asked out makes me feel like I know what is going on and thus makes me feel secure and wanted.

  86. Wow, Gunner. You are going to get seriously flamed (or ignored). I agree with some of what you are saying, though. All this talk of pregnant teenagers, however comical and humorous (and married), makes me a bit uncomfortable. Yes, there are mature 19 year olds, and yes, marriages between teenagers definitely work out, but, but, but, 19 is SO YOUNG!!! I don’t think 19 year olds are stupid for getting married and having babies, but I hope they do it for the right reasons, as Danithew says.

    But, it think the topic of getting married young deserves its own post (like Davis’ above).

  87. The thing is that hanging out is the best way to find somebody anyway. At least at first. When you’re not looking is when you find him.

    Dates are uncomfortable and awkward and you sit around and have a hard time talking.

    Hanging out is how you knock down those walls with that person so that you can date without it being uncomfortable. That’s what I did with my husband. We knew each other before we started dating. We had friends in common and had attended some events with just groups of people. We hung out at Institute. And then we started dating.

    Our first date, which was actually before we had started hanging out and getting to know each other, was terribly awkward and I swore I’d never date him again! Didn’t work, of course, but it wasn’t until we hung out a little that we could start dating well.

  88. Mardell,

    That’s very interesting. Maybe I wouldn’t like dating if I did it more often. To me being asked on a date is a symbolic gesture of respect and attraction that is absent in hanging out.

  89. I was only asked out on 3 dates in high school and 2 in college. But that never stopped me from dating. I asked out many guys in high school and in college. Just get yourself out there and have a good time. We live in the 21st century, women can call men just as well as any man.

  90. Minerva,

    I agree. I was talking about hanging out as opposed to sitting at home alone for some girls. And obviously everyone prefers to be on a date with someone they’re interested in as opposed to hanging out.

    But I suppose hanging out with friends they enjoy vs. being on a date with someone their not interested in is a matter of preference. I think most guys prefer the former, but I understand why some girls might prefer the latter. That might be why there’s such a conflict in the first place.

  91. My take was that “hanging out” in the way described by Eric and Mardell was not the sort of behavior Elder Oaks was speaking out against. Rather, he seemed to be speaking out against the men who are so dang lazy that they wouldn’t ask a woman on a date if she were the last girl on earth. I would wager that most of the people who post here aren’t the type of male-sloth I am referring to. I have some relatives who fit the description, though.

  92. Mardell,

    I do ask men out. Or rather I did. I had a New Years resolution one year that I would go on a date every month. So most months I had to ask a guy out. It was pretty humiliating a lot of the time (you wouldn’t believe how many guys turned me down), but I’m glad I did it. In August of that year, I started dating someone (NOT someone I asked out, btw) and that lasted for a little over a year. I’m still recovering from that and don’t really feel very much like being assertive. But since it’s worked for me in the past, I will probably do it again in the future.

  93. Jordan,

    That’s what I keep telling myself!
    No, seriously, after rereading Oaks’ talk, I think that might be the case. I think there may be some misconceptions among older folks about what exactly occurs in the hanging out process. It’s not quite as static as it sounds. Especially in places like BYU. I do think he’s talking about those who are trying to avoid or put off marriage.

  94. A few thoughts on the above comments. (50 since I made mine this afternoon!)

    1. I think many want to hang out so as to meet and get to know women so as to know *who* to ask out. I’m not quite sure what the alternative is – cold calling people you’ve never even talked to based upon their picture in the ward directory?

    2. Dating in ones ward usually sucks. I gave up on it. Too many problems of too many sorts not to mention that it actually is hard to get into a situation where you can comfortably ask someone out. Of course I met my wife in a ward. (Although since by then I was overage I technically wasn’t a member of the ward) But then I hung out with my wife doing the flirting thing before asking her out.

    3. BYU women by and large, I hate to say, have few hobbies, few interests, and are boring to talk to. I know many will now chime in and dispute this. But by and large the dating situation around BYU is that girls are looking to be entertained and contribute relatively little to the dating experience. It isn’t just that dating is intimidating to guys – it’s that it is typically a lose-lose situation here. I actually got to the point that I *hated* dating BYU women. If you just hang out you can have fun – but it’s typically hard to take things too seriously. Obviously others will disagree based upon the number of marriages. But I think there really are some problems in this regard.

    4. Related to the above, it’s hard to figure out *what* women want on a date here. If you do the typical date that you’d do elsewhere, such as a nice dinner or anything but the movie or hang out, then 95% of all women get intimidated or think you’re after something. No women I dated from outside the BYU culture felt that way. All the women in the BYU culture did. My wife even jokes about wondering what was up when I took her out to dinner. Part of that is the culture of the “hang out.” Women wonder what’s up when a guy breaks the “hang out” tradition. It makes it very difficult for guys to enjoy serious formal dates. As I said it is lose-lose.

    5. Regarding intimidation. After a few bad experiences it gets intimidating. Of course if you are mature enough about it all you just laugh at such experiences. And everyone has them. But for someone who isn’t…

    6. Best thing that happened to me was giving up on the BYU dating scene. It’s amazing how warped it is. Then when I came back to it I didn’t take it so seriously and had a lot more confidence. The problem is that at BYU lurking in the background is the fear or anxiety over “this might be my eternal mate.” That just warps dating. (Sorry – it does. You can’t be natural.) Thus all the silliness. You just have to not care. But even sincere people do. Thus the problems.

    The solution? I don’t know. I think the problems are deeper than just the “hanging out.”

  95. There are a lot of single Mormon men who really are being lazy and need a kick in the behind. This is a serious problem. An equally serious problem, though, is that dating is soooo significant among Mormons. Not only monetarily. People are so eager for drama and marriage that every gesture toward dating is scrutinized. As a result, the potential costs of asking out the wrong person at the wrong time (now her friends won’t go out with you, etc.) rise high enough that one has to be rather confident something good will happen, for it to make sense, and hence it often doesn’t. As it happens, solving one of these problems would do quite a lot to solve the other. If the guys who are not going on dates would start asking women out, it would make life a lot easier for those of us who do, but only with great trepidation! Is this an impossible bootstrap problem, or a chance to solve both problems conveniently at once?

  96. Its interesting to read Clark Goble’s comments about dating at BYU being warped. I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong — but dating in other parts of the country might be even more warped. Fresh out of high school, when I first moved out to BYU from back east, I thought I was in a dating heaven — the dating scene there was like a revelation to me. If you count going to a fireside on Sunday with someone, a guy could go out with two or three attractive girls in one weekend and no one was offended — whereas in New York there was a sense (at least from my perspective) that if a guy went on one date it was already a serious relationship. There was one occasion during my first freshman semester I tried to go on two dates in one evening — ending one date at about 11:00pm and then taking another girl to the midnight movie. It was a little crazy and exhausting to try something like that (and I never did it again) but the open dating atmosphere at BYU made it possible. Even as an active dater at BYU before and after the mission, I still didn’t end up meeting my wife until I was twenty-eight years old. I didn’t meet her at BYU either, though we are both BYU graduates. Sometimes it just takes awhile.

  97. Katie (#69) says Elder Oaks has “totally denounced” the internet as a way to find a mate. I don’t believe that’s what he said. I think his point was that many people wouldn’t need to use the internet if they would adopt sound dating practices rather than hanging out. I think the internet is like any other forum for dating — you always need to be careful. There are losers and bad people on LDS Singles, just like anywhere else. Given that I live in Miami with its very small LDS population (and no singles wards), there was very little hope of my finding a temple-worthy wife without something like LDS Singles. And, it all worked out extremely well, my wife and I are as happy as could be, with our first baby due around Father’s Day.

  98. Forget LDS Singles. Let’s talk about the hilarity to be found on LDS Linkup. Many members of my branch have gotten addicted over the last few months, culminating in the first counselor encouraging everyone from the pulpit to join.

    Besides, if LDS Linkup is a problem, then at least one permablogger here is in serious trouble (yes, Davis Bell, I’m talking to YOU).

  99. Gunner: Calling marriage and parenthood a trap sounds very C.S. Lewis; aka Screwtape. Your stupid is another persons faithful obedience and eternity. Maybe it is _harder_ to see Paris with a 2 year old. It certainly isn’t impossible. However, in eternity…you can have all the time you want to browse Paris. If you don’t have any posterity though…you might be a little alone in Paris.

  100. Elder Oaks talk was about many things, the dating was only one of them. But I agree with everything he said.

    An aside, I know some really great guys who took a long time to decide on a girl. They did right, are happy and have good marriages.

    The only thing that worries me about that is how do those guys go that long without sex? Well, worries is a strong word. Perplexes. And I believe they did, they are honest kids. I just don’t understand that. Neither did their mother. You gotta admire that.

  101. Lyle,

    Gunner does have a point in that people should stop to count the costs of something before jumping in. That’s biblical advice. It doesn’t mean that we should/cannot get married and have children young, but it does mean that we have to prayerfully and thoughtfully ensure that we (and our prospective spouses!) are ready for the sort of eternal commitment that marriage and family brings.

    I don’t think that this kind of careful deliberation is inconsistent with getting married young. It’s just the sort of care that we ought to use in all facets of life and living the gospel.

    Re seeing Paris, etc. It is hard, and so I think younger people ought to do as much of that as they can before they get married. That said, both my brother John and I have lived and travelled abroad with family and young children as graduate students. I lived in England with my wife and young son where I got a master’s degree. While there, we travelled in England and Europe. Having a kid did not hold us back at all- it may have made things a little less convenient at times, but it was a joy.

    Still, I feel like my wife and I carefully weighed our very personal decision to have children at that very early stage of our life together. If you don’t do the kind of careful soul-searching that ought to be done before entering into an eternal relationship or bringing a child of God into the world, then marriage and family at a young age simply for the sake of doing it at a young age really CAN BE and in fact IS a trap.

    I can see where Gunner is coming from, Lyle, and am surprised that you can’t. Married at 18 with a kid really CAN be stupid, depending on how the life-altering decision was approached. Making such huge decisions to fit in with the culture or just because you think it is expected of you, rather than after meaningful soul-searching and inspiration, really does lead to a trap.

  102. Clark writes, it’s hard to figure out *what* women want on a date here.

    I’m sorry it was hard for you to figure out what women want on a date, but let me make it plain for others who are still in dating mode. Regardless of the “hang out” culture, which I don’t like personally although I will continue to defend it for others, all the single women I know would be impressed with the following:

    1. Ask for dates in advance
    2. Make a plan–it doesn’t have to be elaborate, but don’t show up and ask your date what she wants to do. You might consider asking her beforehand what she’d enjoy (ahem, in case she doesn’t like Bon Jovi), but don’t come to her door after asking her out without giving some thought to how you’ll spend the time together.
    3. Always be punctual (showing up late for dates shows disrespect for her time)
    4. Don’t flirt with her room-mates before or after the date. If you are interested in dating her room-mates or friends don’t make it obvious when you take her out.
    5. Leave your cell phone at home (or turn it off—completely). NEVER take a call on a date. There is nothing ruder than carrying on a conversation with someone else while you are on a date. Give her your full attention.
    6. When you ask someone out you are in charge of paying. When I plan an activity with someone I plan to pay. When you plan an activity with someone you should plan to pay. I think some guys feel like going dutch (decided spur of the moment) relieves the pressure—as though, all of a sudden springing the bill on you means that this wasn’t really a date and he wasn’t ever really interested enough in you to take you out. This is just rude and will definitely lead to some discomfort in the moment and lack of trust in you longterm.

    Can you tell I’ve had some really bad dating experiences ;)

    The men I’ve loved longest and best are those who have treated me with respect and courtesy in these simple ways in our dating.

    The bottom line is that dating IS risky. If you aren’t willing to take the risks you probably shouldn’t be dating at all. I’ll end with a good story.

    Last week someone I barely know asked me out. I asked for a raincheck because of my schedule. He wasn’t offended or hurt and didn’t read too much into my inability to accept his invitation. He didn’t let his pride interfere–causing him to back off or be cold or indignant. In fact, he rescheduled with me immediately. This sweet guy had everything to lose by asking me out. He had no reason to believe that I would accept his invitation and then I actually didn’t (because I couldn’t). But, he was undeterred without being unannoying and suggested something else at a time that was more convenient for me. These are small things, but they speak volumes about his character. I know he’s not going to play games with me because he’s not more interested in protecting himself than he is in spending time with me. I deeply respect his willingess to take a risk—to put himself on the line in an honest, unafraid sort of way.

  103. By the way:

    Kaimi (#29): Times and Seasons — tries to be a more-or-less centrist and serious blog. It has four female contributors, and draws a higher volume of comments than other LDS blogs. (Full disclosure — I blog at T & S).

    Comments on Times & Seasons, May 17, 2005: 145.

    Comments on Millennial Star, May 17, 2005: 160. (give or take four or five).

    Hah! Sure, I know this must happen only once in a while, but it’s nice to know that on the day Kaimi made his statement, he was wrong!

  104. Melissa,

    Very good example. That sounds like a very mature, secure guy.

  105. Melissa, from the perspective of an experienced male dater, you give excellent advice. Thanks for sharing it. You should pass this on to our poor, put-upon Davis Bell.

  106. I once was regularly hearing a girl complain “the garbage gets taken out more often than I do.” She’d say that over and over again. Finally I asked her: “Is there anyone specific you are interested in dating?” Her response: “No.”

    My impression is that some people are more deliberate and sensible about dating — there’s not a person of interest in their lives — yet they still feel a bit pained when they see that other people are actively dating and having fun.

    So I guess one of the first questions I’d ask of a woman or man who is frustrated with dating in general is: “Do you know a specific person you want to date?” If the answer is “No” then its important to recognize that and focus on other things — or perhaps to keep an eye open until that person shows up. There’s no point in complaining about a lack of dates if there isn’t anyone specific you’re interested in being with.

  107. Clark,

    That IS most what women want. You probably spent your single days dating women that everyone else asked out all the time and who were thus blase about men unless the men really really tried to wow them.

  108. Here’s Elder Oaks’ specific statement about the Internet as a way to meet people:

    My single brothers and sisters, follow the simple dating pattern and you don’t need to do your shopping on the internet through chat rooms or dating services — two alternatives that can be very dangerous or at least unnecessary or ineffective.

    So it sounds like the Internet is still okay, although not the preferred method. Happy me, I can still meet guys online.

  109. Maybe personnal experiance made me state things harsher then I should have. So I am sorry for the sound of anger in my comment.

    I was raised in a rural area of Ky and it has tarnished my view of people in the church who push marriage so much. I have seen to many people get married right out of school and end up in a trailer park for life. There were few members in my area so most of what I saw was just the community. The people who lived better lives, who had a fulfilling experiance as an adult were the ones who finshed school, who maybe travelled in the military or just travelled, who even left the county.

    When I think of getting married while young I see a women looking older then she should dragging around to many kids, and a husband on third shift. The mobile home is extra, sort of the icing on the cake.

    I had a bishop in Ky who gave a talk once that has stuck with me to this day. Just one line of it and it has effected me so much. He said “most people cannot tell the difference between intense emotions and the spirit”.

    People. There is not a lot more intense then the feeling created by the hormones of youth. Dating in the real world is good, it helps develop the skills needed that high school play dating does not. But is the sole reason for dating to get married?

    He told the women to quit subsidizing freeloaders, to lock up the pantry and bolt the doors, hanging out a sign, “will open for individual dates.”

    This is what bothered me the most. Are women only to look at themselves as dating material when it comes to men? This “dating or nothing” type phrase is unsettling for me.

    Is this CES fireside online somewhere so I could listen to the whole thing?

  110. Jordan: It’s because of you and John that I wrote what I did; i.e. it is possible. Gunner seemed to be badmouthing marriage; not advocating weighing costs. If I misread…then all three of us are in accord. :)

  111. I don’t believe Elder Oakes has ever seen an episode of Friends, or has the slightest idea what the show is about. If he did he would know that 5 out of 6 characters on the show got married as a result of all that “hanging out” (well Ross and Rachel got married and then divorced, but we all know that that after they got back together on the final episode they will get married again).

    To say that Friends “glamorizes” hanging out, would be like saying Stargate “glamorizes” interstellar travel, Fraser “glamorizes” radio talk shows, and Seinfeld “glamorizes” nothing.

    Returned missionaries are told to grow up, and that part of growing up should be to get married and have children. Why can’t part of growing up be taking stock of your financial situation, realizing the burdens that marriage/children will entail, and planning accordingly to meet those challenges. Not all returned missionaries are ready and/or qualified to take on these duties after coming home, many need further “development”.

    And young women should be tought to evaluate potential husbands on more then just his returned missionary status. Those who have been on a mission know this is no kind of qualification at all. There are good missionaries and terrible missionaries, and all colors of the spectrum in between. The best missionary can still be the worst husband, and vice versa.

    I see nothing wrong with “hanging out”. It is a relaxed atmosphere where people can interact and get to know one another before pairing off. I met my wife this way, and many of my best friends also married girls from our “group” and we all remain close friends to this day.

  112. Ryan,

    Comments are a funny thing. I’ve found that certain topics — sex, abortion, sex, politics, sex, women’s issues, and sex — tend to drive a large number of comments. Half the time, the threads that get 200 comments are the last ones that we would actually want people spending much time on. Meanwhile, some intricate historical or theological post gets five comments.

    But I was putting that description up not to try to boast, but just to give an accurate description. T & S is a place where comment discussions move very fast most of the time, and this can be a good thing or a bad thing. Some people like that level of movement (obviously, or we wouldn’t get the discussions). Some don’t, and one of the consistent complaints that we get from readers is that there are 50 or 100 comments on every post and they feel that it would be a full-time job to keep up with any discussion at T & S. (Those readers tend to try to feel more comfortable at slightly less-busy corners of the nacle, settling in as regulars at smaller and less hectic blogs like Nine Moons, Dave’s, or Splendid Sun).

  113. Kaimi, I agree that the worth of comments is limited in the eyes of permabloggers. Just giving you a hard time about your characterization, which on 29 of 30 days is probably 100% accurate. By the way, no one gets victimized by the commenter indifference toward too-overblown or pedantic posts like I do.

  114. …maybe Oaks should drop the pretense and simply come out for arranged marriages at 16.

    We’re no longer in the 19th century. What business is it of Oaks on how this generation chooses to socialize and choose a life partner?

    Early marriages with lots of babies and parents who are not established is not a recipe for happiness.

  115. Diana, I brought this up before, but haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer: Is there a line at which Elder Oaks is no longer able to give counsel on certain subjects? If so, what is that line, and what is your source for placing it there?

  116. Diana: “What business is it of Oaks on how this generation chooses to socialize and choose a life partner?”

    DHO is an apostle and therefore has a responsibility to preach to the people under his stewardship (i.e. us). He has probably heard that the LDS singles dating scene is completely messed up and is using his pulpit to try to remedy the problems.

  117. Ryan asked:

    “Is there a line at which Elder Oaks is no longer able to give counsel on certain subjects? If so, what is that line, and what is your source for placing it there?”

    He can give all the counsel he wants, but prescribing dating practices trivializes his role as a spiritual leader; let’s hear about the truly important things in life from our leaders rather than whether we watch too many episodes of ‘Friends.’

    As for my source for having an opinion – my own experiences and critical thinking skills.

  118. And what is the point of having prophets if we dismiss their counsel every time conflicts with our own opinions?

  119. Early marriages with lots of babies and parents who are not established is not a recipe for happiness.

    you’re right and wrong at the same time, in my opinion. It can be, but only if it was entered into after lots of prayerful thought and deliberation. If it’s not, it could probably be pretty hellish.

    But I can attest from personal experience that “early marriages with lots of babies and parents who are not established” CAN be a recipe for happiness. I’ve just now finished school and started working a “real” job, and am about to celebrate 8 wonderful years, and my beautiful children (while frustrating at times as kids can be) generally bring my life a richness that cannot be paralleled.

  120. Diana, I think you misunderstand what a spiritual leader should do. On a local basis, it is exactly the job of a spiritual leader to provide direction on issues such as home, family and marriage. In a bishopric, that’s what you talk about most. So, it would be remiss for the apostle of a global church not to discuss these topics. It’s absurd to imagine a spiritual leader who says, “I know the members are concerned about dating and marriage, but I’m not going to talk about it. I’m only going to discuss the First Vision and Family History.” You may not like his opinion, but it’s exactly his job to offer it. Whether you or anybody else chooses to follow his advice is a different matter.

  121. Diana,

    For some, dating IS one of the “important” things of life.

  122. What is the immorality that Elder Oaks is attempting to remedy? I can’t find it.

    The bottom line is he’s concerned that not enough young people are marrying early and having children. And why is that important? I interpret his comments as being more about control and the make-up of the church as an institution, as opposed to spirituality being a light towards happiness.

  123. Ryan asks:

    “And what is the point of having prophets if we dismiss their counsel every time conflicts with our own opinions?”

    I wasn’t aware that Elder Oaks was the Prophet; and since revelation changes over the years it makes sense that our God-given minds are employed to help sort it out.

  124. Diana,

    No offense, but I think you misinterpret the good Apostle. As far as I could see, Elder Oaks extremely light-hearted comments on this issue, comprising a small portion of his entire talk, were aimed at the pervasive sloth and laziness of many upcoming young male adults. These are people too lazy to even wash their own clothes or cook their own food.

    Wouldn’t you agree that an apostolic admonition against such idleness is in order? I can’t see how his comments could be construed to force the eternal and very serious covenant of marriage on people not yet prepared to receive it.

  125. Diana,

    I disagree about the bottom line. We are in a church that teaches that marriage is necessary for exaltation. This sort of preaching is not just about social control.

    The immoralities he’s trying to remedy are perhaps taking other people for granted, sexual impurity born of frustration, etc.

  126. I think dating practices are some of the more important decisions in life. It’s where the *most* important choice outside of joining the gospel is made. It is also where typically the more egregious sins take place. (Let’s face it – few people are apt to sin worse than fornication) It is also where a lot of broken hearts taken place. I’d also say, for single members over 25 – a fast growing population – it is where the church is having the greatest troubles. (IMO) So I think it not only important that Elder Oaks deal with the issue but that the brethren be aware of it. I think though it is also very difficult for them precisely because of the generation gap and the fact most of them probably married early when frankly dating is much easier and different.

    Minerva, it is the sad experience of most men that what women say they want and what they show they want rarely match. (I’m sure that goes the other way as well – but I’m not the best judge of that) I’ve met many a woman complaining about her experiences of men being jerks. They all say they are just looking for a nice guy. And in most cases they can’t stand to actually date nice guys but want the guys they say they don’t like.

    I halfway wonder if women don’t say something different in public about what they like than what they say in private. (Frankly most guys do – but I think everyone knows that about guys) The big three (music, money, and athletics) does seem to rule a disproportionate number of women.

  127. Clark,

    Of course women say different things in public than in private. I don’t know if I should say what I’m tempted to say, which is “especially Mormon women.”

    The whole nice guys finish last thing used to be very confusing to me. I thought “of course I want to date nice guys.” Then I dated a nice guy for about a year, and I realized that I had a hard time telling if I was attracted to him because it had all come together so easily. Where was the sturm und drang I’d always expected to surround love? I realized that for me attraction and desire were hinged on a drive to conquer something difficult (“This guy is so surly/angsty/shy/hardcore that if I can win him over, that will prove I’m lovable/sexy/powerful”). I think a lot of women want to conquer difficult men. That’s why there are songs like “The Leader of the Pack.”

    I think it is possible that strange fantasies and the like would be proven wrong if people would date a lot and date all sorts of people. This is why, I repeat, I am a proponent of willy-nilly dating. I am very glad I took the time to date someone so different from my fantasy. I learned a lot and believe others would learn a lot if they tried things like this too.

  128. I’m sure there aren’t many Woody Allen fans out there in the bloggernacle, but this thread is starting to remind me of my favorite Woody Allen quote:

    “I’d never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member.”

    Or how about this one from “Annie Hall” (go out and rent this movie tonight if you’ve never seen this movie):

    A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.

  129. Tess,

    Yes! I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, and I’ve always resonated with the “I’d never joing a club…” line (I think this actually might have been borrowed from the Marx Brothers…does anyone know…as if it mattered)

  130. This thread is really hurting my feelings. Melissa’s list of what women want is a nice list, a wish list, but all I really want is to find someone to talk to, someone that understands me.

    In other words, I am tired of being alone. That’s all.

  131. “I wasn’t aware that Elder Oaks was the Prophet”

    Well, we sustain him every General Conference not only as a Prophet, but a Seer and Revelator also. I suppose we can start scrutinizing Almulek’s words because he wasn’t ‘the’ Prophet. That was Alma ya know.

  132. Jenn,

    I’m sorry that the discussion is hurting your feelings! It’s hurting mine too, to tell you the truth. I’m sorry if I’ve said anything that’s been offensive or mean!

  133. No… it’s not offensive or mean, it’s just a reminder of how sucky dating is.

  134. You know, dating really is hard.

    Still I wonder why feelings are hurt when Elder Oaks condemns lazy, aimless boys. I think this statement was well-timed and very relevant for many of the younger men I see in the Church, including some of my own relatives.

  135. I don’t think it’s Elder Oaks’ comments that are hurting feelings. It’s the dredging up of all of the problems and quirks in the Mormon dating scene that make life hell for some of us.

    That said, I don’t really think it helps for men to be lambasted from the pulpit all the time. So much compassion is poured out on women from the pulpit…why not men? If I were a man, I would tune out so much berating after a while too.

  136. For those who are looking to increase their dating prospects, I highly recommend getting a dog. Not many people can resist stopping and talking to the owner of a really cute puppy or cool looking dog.

    Dogs love you no matter what you look like, they’ll listen to you for hours wagging their tails as you complain about work or how much dating sucks, walking a dog gets you out of the house and into your community, and (most important for the women on this thread) guys who like dogs are huge catch.

    Get thee to an animal shelter henceforth!

  137. Diana said:

    Early marriages with lots of babies and parents who are not established is not a recipe for happiness.

    My sample size is small, but my experience says otherwise.

    I married at 21, just before I began my senior year in college. After graduation, I went to law school.

    Our first child was born the summer before law school, our second was born just before my third year, and our third was born after just a year of practice.

    We were young, we weren’t established (at least not in the way the world defines established–secure in career, some amount of assets saved, etc.), but we were and continue to be happy.

    On the other hand, I think that we were very well established in some matters that have made a huge difference. We had similar attitudes toward the gospel and the Church, and felt secure in those attitudes. We had similar ideas about what we wanted our family to be. We were both incurable tight-wads. And those established matters have led to a happy and fulfilling life together.

  138. Mark- sounds similar to me. Married at 22, one kid in undergrad, one during grad school, and one during my first year of law school.

    Glad to see another young married person with kids who turned out happy.

  139. Yes, but I can especially resist anything to do with dogs. Or cats.

  140. Since we’re on the topic of dating, you know what would be a fun thread (well, at least I would find it fun)? I think it would be fun if we all shared the things we look for to decide whether or not a person is dateable, i.e., does he eat his peas with a knife? is she a low talker? does she have man hands?

    As for me, I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals (if they are nice to them and don’t get all uptight about messes, or if they liked to light cats’ tails on fire and incinerate spiders- these people are probably closet sociopaths). Anyway, guess this doesn’t have much to do with the Church, but I think it would be a fun thread.

    P.S. Remember when Jerry Seinfeld tells Elaine that he thinks 98% of the population is undateable? (UNDATEABLE!!!!) And then Elaine asks – how are all these people getting together, then? And Jerry says, alcohol!!! Guess that’s another strike against Mormon dating ;)

  141. I don’t have time to read all the comments so I don’t know if this has been covered before but . . .

    “2)the women’s movement discourages dating. “As women’s options have increased and some have become more aggressive, some men have become reluctant to take the traditional male initiatives, such as asking for dates, lest they be thought to qualify for the dreaded label of ‘male chavinist.’

    ARRRRGGGG!

    Yes, let’s blame the aggressive women for the men’s reluctance. That’ll teach the men to take responsibility for themselves!

  142. Elder Oaks sure has been striking out among the feminists lately!

    I think that’s a good point, Lisa. But in defense of Elder Oaks, I don’t think he was so much blaming women as he was providing one of many “contributing factors” that sought to explain the phenomenon of decreased dating and marriage among the saints.

    I’m not sure how much weight this particular factor holds though; at least, I don’t believe it’s ever affected my attitudes towards dating. But I can understand how the de-emphasis of gender roles on both sides would also lead towards the de-emphasis of the traditional role of the man as the date-asker. As such, I don’t think that Elder Oaks is casting blame on individuals but on social trends as a whole.

  143. They don’t date, among other reasons, because in most places they are vastly outnumbered by women and can sit back and take it easy while the women flock to them.

    Funny, I’ve heard this sort of thing several times but never experienced it. I guess I must be pretty unappealing. Or maybe there are other reasons why dating is daunting. I think it is easy to suppose that dating is easy, if you aren’t the one who actually has to select an appropriate who, what, and where. If dating is so easy, I’m surprised more women haven’t asked me out. In the past few years I have been invited to a few parties (that lots of people were invited to), and asked to this or that event in a datelike way several times by women I had already been on several dates with. Once I was invited to go to a movie by a woman I hadn’t asked out — that was pretty exciting! It wasn’t exactly out of the blue, though, either; I had made a point of bumping into her a few times, had some nice conversations, and was working up to asking her out myself.

    I know some people do go on dates, but it’s not really talked about. It’s called stealth dating, like it’s something shameful.

    Hm. Or how about, “like it’s something that, when publicly noticed, can lead to a variety of undesirable consequences.” Like various kinds of speculation (a la Aaron’s #59), or “Why did so-and-so go out with so-and-so, and not so-and-so (or me)?” — hurt feelings?, or, if someone goes on dates with any frequency, the impression that he or she is a player. For example. Then there are the rumors that circulate after a break-up! All this talk about what is wrong with the dating world makes a guy feel like he is under some pretty heavy scrutiny.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about it. The Mormon dating scene is seriously disfunctional, and I am as eager as anyone to try to figure out how to fix it. I certainly haven’t always approached dating in the best way. But conversations that are mainly about what someone else should do differently very easily become something other than constructive!

  144. Ben,

    I say hang the rumour mill and date as much as you want. Buck the junior high system!

    Women probably haven’t asked you out because A LOT of Mormon women have a policy not to ask men out. I don’t agree with it, but there you have it.

    I hope that my comments have not been exclusively blame-placing. I think that this is a problem that both men and women share culpability in. I have just been trying to offer suggestions based on the many conversations and thoughts I’ve had on this subject.

  145. re #157: That is a good point. And Elder Oaks counsel would thus be an inspired response to the rising and ever more prevalent mentality displayed in Wolfe’s book.

  146. Re: A general theory of why the Mormon dating scene sucks.

    See Aaron Goodwin’s #75 and 76 and Clark Goble’s #136.

    Aaron — I don’t know if you are still following this thread, I’ve just come over here from the other single men thread, but I commend you on your perspicacity in identifying the “gay friend” phenomenon so early in your single adult life. It has taken me years to recognize what was happening to me, and now I’m afraid I am hopelessly and permanently slotted in that pigeonhole in the little Mormon social world here. Obviously, since I am stuck inside the “respected as a friend, but not interesting as a romantic prospect” box (even as many Mormon women bemoan the lack of prospects), I can’t claim to be able to comment objectively. However, I don’t think that you and I are alone. In fact my observation is that the absolutely true high school principle that girls usually aren’t interested in dating nice guys (which Clark alludes to in his #136 above) continues with full force into adult life.

    And from this phenomenon I am now going to derive a general theory of why the LDS dating scene sucks.

    We will borrow the terminology used for this phenomenon in our popular culture: “cads” vs. “dads.” The universal rule is that women are romantically attracted to cads, but want to marry dads. In the wider non-Mormon culture, all men act like cads, so there is a lot of social activity. This is why to Mormon women the grass looks greener over there. (Another manifestation of this phenomenon are all the comments we see here about “but non-Mormon men find Mormon women so attractive” without acknowledging that what the non-Mormon men are seeing and seeking are fresh, unembittered prospects for sex). How do non-Mormon women eventually find non-Mormon “dads” to marry? Because the non-Mormon dads mostly know to act like cads so they get into the pool of prospects and the non-Mormon women stumble on to them and grab them after learning by sad experience what it is really like to be with a real cad.

    In contrast, in the Mormon world, men are socialized to be, and act like, dads. Those who display cad-like behavior are disowned, if not excommunicated. However, Mormon women are still as subject to the rule as non-Mormon women. Faced with a pool of prospects thin on cads, or cad-behaving dads, Mormon women are uninterested in their Mormon prospects and send the signals to that effect. Commentators here have admitted that they are flirtier with non-Mormon men, and young Aaron is only one of many heterosexual Mormon men who get treated like a “gay friend” by Mormon women.

    Granted there are some Mormon women who can get past the rule and look for openly dad-like men to date. However, because of the wide availablilty of dads in the pool of Mormon men (due to the way they are socialized) and the social custom of relatively early marraige (at least in comparison to the larger culture) these Mormon women are selected out of the Mormon social scene by marriage fairly quickly, leaving a very large proportion of single Mormon women who think they want a dad but are only excited by men who act like cads.

    A vicious negative feedback loop then begins. Single Mormon women blow off the mostly dad-like Mormon men or treat them like “gay friends.” Single Mormon “dads” are quickly discouraged by this, especially because many of them have low self-confidence about their attractiveness to women since as “nice guys” they had horrible dating lives when they were teenagers. As a result, Mormon women do not have as much dating activity as non-Mormon women. Deprived of dating activity, they do not have the sad experiences with cads which enable non-Mormon women to overcome their attraction to cads and settle on a dad for marriage. Subconsciously, the single Mormon women continue to look for cad-like men and behavior and continue to send negative social signals to the predominantly dad-like pool of single Mormon men, who get even more discouraged furthering reinforcing the cycle and thereby yielding a dating scene which sucks.

  147. Here’s a suggestion for breaking out of the “gay friend” role. Pick a girl who considers you that way (whom you’re interested in), and try to hold her hand, or put your arm around your shoulders, or just give her a long hot look. Ask her to dance at some dumb ward activity and pull her a little closer than usual. Tell her she’s gorgeous. Send some signals that you’re not gay, and see what happens!

    Let me know if it works.

    I remember having a ‘gay friend’ once, whom I treated just that way – he was a cool buddy. Months later, I found out he’d been really interested in dating me. I had no idea he was interested in me as anything other than a buddy. If he had so much as flirted with me, wow, I would have responded! But he never sent any signals, so I didn’t either.

    Some people you’re not interested in until you know they’re interested in you, but things could still get interesting, you know?

  148. As a 30 year old female, never married, I’ll just say that I couldn’t be more thrilled with DHO’s talk. There are way too many 30+ yr old men still hanging out in groups, and relying on some poor young woman to make his Sunday dinner. I know a very socially active 33 yr old attractive man who admits he has not asked a woman out in three years. The girls are doing all of the “group work” for him. The men need to learn to be men and get off their butts and proactively make a future for themselves. And the women need to stop thinking that making a nice Sunday dinner is being proactive. Being proactive is walking up to a member of the opposite sex and saying “You, me, Friday night.”
    Here’s a great story on exactly that topic from Meridian Magazine’s “A Single Thought” called “Engagement Chicken.” http://www.meridianmagazine.com/singlethought/050519chicken.html

    PS- I’m all for people hanging out and just getting to know each other for a few years. But somewhere after age 26 get off the couch and get a life!

  149. Here’s a suggestion for breaking out of the “gay friend” role. Pick a girl who considers you that way (whom you’re interested in), and try to hold her hand, or put your arm around your shoulders, or just give her a long hot look. Ask her to dance at some dumb ward activity and pull her a little closer than usual. Tell her she’s gorgeous. Send some signals that you’re not gay, and see what happens!

    Let me know if it works.

    -Janey

    Janey, I’ve definitely done that before and it’s never worked. They either think I’m just joking arround, or freak out and studiously avoid me. I think, personally, I’m pigeonholed into the “Gay Best Friend” catagory because of my physical appearance (overweight) and my personality. I’m very outgoing, funny, and smart; however I’m not taken seriously because of my outrageous personality; “Oh, it’s just another one of Aaron’s jokes.”

    But I don’t want to turn this into something all about me; I was told today that tons of girls at the singles branch would date me, well then, why the crap am I not aware of this? I’m a pretty observant person, I remember everything about everyone, and I am very blessed to be able to descern in others their feelings, how they are doing. If in every other catagory it works, why not in romance? Would it be right out to suggest that perhaps our sisters need to do better at sending signals; at letting us know what they really want instead of waiting arround to say, “yes, no, no, no, no, oh yes, oooh heavens no!” Shouldn’t we get some sort of hint that we’ve got a chance?

  150. I did not understand Oak’s comment about how we single women need to accept that we may never be married but he makes no such comment about single men needing to accept this and move on with their lives. Why do women always have to sit back and accept being single? I harbor no illusions about getting married in the church. I am 24 and single. It may not happen which I can accept but I hate that men aren’t asked to accept it in the same way.

  151. kathleen,

    Wow. You’re single and you “hate that men aren’t asked to accept†singlehood? That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a Mormon girl say that. Normally, girls are angry because of the exact opposite. Too many guys are too accepting of singlehood.

    But Elder Oaks never said girls need to “sit back and accept being singleâ€. In fact, encouraged girls to encourage guys about dating.

    Young women, resist too much hanging out, and encourage dates that are simple, inexpensive, and frequent. Don’t make it easy for young men to hang out in a setting where you women provide the food.

    He did, however, tell women not to put their lives on hold until they got married. This may be what triggered your comment. I think he is speaking to the statistical fact that there are more single women than men in the church and that it is inevitable that some will not find marriage prospects. Men, on the other hand, have no excuse, because they can always find someone.

  152. Eric,

    I agree with Kathy. I don’t think single men should be lambasted so much but rather should be given the same compassion as single women. I feel like a lot of guys react to the lambasting by digging their heels in even more when it comes to dating. If they were harangued less often, maybe they would date more. And that would benefit all of us single women!

  153. Before I married I think I didn’t date much because I was picky. When my husband asked me out I said yes, but was completely uninterested in him and immediately started worrying about how to send the proper signals that I was not interested in him.
    However, he moved quickly and by acting like a boyfriend who was interested in dating me I viewed him in that context. Endless hanging out would only have served for me to continue to view him as someone I wasn’t interested in and have me giving off the uninterested signals.
    I think the real problem in dating (its been 13 years for me but I imagine it is worse) is that a “date” seems to mean you’ve chosen a person for a relationship. In my scenario, why is it that a simple date made me so nervous that I immediately wondered how to discourage him? Because going on was rare and it signaled too much. This was not the case in my parents generation.
    In high school it is understandable. Its immature. To label people and have such status tiers that who you date is so important.
    After high school, is it really that important if others speculate or link your names?
    I think that perhaps I wasn’t the only one who was too picky. By viewing a first date as some sort of commitment, it means that you are judging people too quickly. Waiting to find out all about them (or letting them find out all about you) before the first date.
    Ben, your comment about working up to asking a girl out made me wonder. Do you need more confidence, more courage? Is it that you want to know more about her? Or her to know more about you? Is it that you think a date is the culmination of hours of a pre-dating relationship to know that you can commit to a 4 hour event?
    A date with a man you don’t have a friendship with is actually less pressure than a date with a man you have an acquaintance/friendship with already. The former means you get to explore and enjoy getting to know each other. The latter means that you are attempting to change an existing relationship. Way more pressure to “know your own mind.” And way less flexibility.

  154. Less or more haranguing is not the point. What I have been trying to point out in my comments here is that the paucity of casual dating in Mormon circles comes from deep social dynamics that no amount of exhortation alone is going to change, even if it comes from people as estimable as Minerva and Elder Oaks. What will it take? Here are Mr. Z’s Four Fundamentals for Promoting Casual Dating and Marriage Among the Saints:

    (1) Reduce the religious paranoia about ‘making out’ so Mormon men who are men have some of the natural incentive God gave them to pursue women. How you do this in a Church context without freaking out the traditionalists and sending the wrong signals to the cads I don’t know. Maybe it has to be done locally like the bishop in comment #57 on the other thread rather than as a general public statement.

    (2) Some frank talk to LDS women about their expectations in men. The preference for the cad over the dad in dating is a subconscious phenomenon and the negative signals Mormon women send to the dads are unconscious as well. For example, in #160 above, Janey says she didn’t send signals to her “gay friend.” But she did, we always send signals. She was sending signals that “I like you but not like that” but wasn’t even aware of it. We can only break the cycle by making women consciously aware of it.

    (3) Abolish those gossip hothouses, the singles wards. Do have lots of singles activities, preferably ones which provide opportunities for ‘hanging out’ and casual interaction (i.e. not those horrid dances and conferences where it is incredibly awkward to talk to other people). You do have to meet someone in order to date them and men do need settings where they can comfortably meet women that they might date. If the Church is going to close down the ‘salons’ in Mormon women’s apartments, it has the responsiblity of replacing them.

    (4) How about the married people helping out? There are cultures where it is considered a responsibility of married adults to introduce single adults to the best prospects they can find (as opposed to the impulse for charity dating that seems to prevail in what little blind dating occurs in Mormondom). The Talmud teaches that someone whose introductions result in the marriages of three Jewish couples is guaranteed a place in paradise. I have seen studies somewhere that say that there needs to be a pool of at least two to three hundred prospects before people find a compatible mate. There are many areas of the Church where the pool of prospects is much thinner than that. That is why people resort to the internet, and I think that Elder Oaks must have been forgetting his time in Chicago when he suggested that single Saints could find potential mates without going beyond their immediate local areas. In my experience, outside of Utah, the social networks of married adults are seriously underused in helping single adult Saints meet each other.

    Do these four things, and then it is OK to harangue Mormon men about casual dating.

  155. I hereby sustain zeezrom as singles rep to the General Authorities. All in favor, please signify. All opposed, go away.

    This was my favorite quote:

    Reduce the religious paranoia about ‘making out’ so Mormon men who are men have some of the natural incentive God gave them to pursue women.

    YES!!

    Seriously though, zeezrom made some excellent points. If you’ve got the email address for a singles ward bishop, send it to them.

  156. Zeezrom,

    Your #2 is just further exhortation, which you said above is not going to change anything.

    I agree with #1 and think making out is not just an incentive for guys! :)

    I must say I also agree with # 3&4 too…though dances held in neat places (NOT the church gym) are not that bad.

  157. Here here, Janey. Maybe you could be co-representatives so there would be a female voice in the mix.

  158. even if it comes from people as estimable as Minerva

    Zeezrom, are you making fun of me?

  159. Re #171:

    “Reduce the religious paranoia about ‘making out’ so Mormon men who are men have some of the natural incentive God gave them to pursue women.”

    (1) Why is it “paranoia”?

    (2) Are Mormon men who don’t believe in NCMO’s not men?

    Here’s Elder Hafen:

    “[A]lways be emotionally honest in the expression of affection. Sometimes you are not as careful as you might be about when, how, and to whom you express your feelings of affection. You must realize that the desire to express affection can be motivated by things other than true love. In short, one might simply say: save your kisses—you might need them some day. And when any of you—men or women—are given entrance to the heart of a trusting young friend, you stand on holy ground. In such a place you must be honest with yourself—and with your friend—about love and the expression of its symbols.”

  160. Nat,

    I don’t want to belittle what Elder Hafen said in any way, but I am willing to bet his audience was made up of teenagers.

    Does this make a difference?

  161. Re #176:

    Elder Hafen’s words were originally delivered at a BYU devotional. I see no indication that he thought his counsel was to be discarded once YSAs got in their mid-20s. In fact, one of the groups he specifically addresses are those who will not be married “until the autumn of [their lives]“.

  162. Nat –

    I said that proposal #1 was probably not something that could be advocated as a general public statement. Probably a discreet letter to bishops saying something along these lines:

    “Dear Bishops:

    The Church teaches that sexual relations outside of marriage are strictly forbidden and that unmarried couples should exercise restraint in physical contact before marriage to avoid any conduct which would prevent them from being able to enter into marriage in the house of the Lord. However, bishops should be aware that this teaching does not prohibit all physical contact between unmarried couples. Unmarried couples of marriageable age should not be taught that moderate kissing and other limited physical contact while clothed will make them unworthy to attend the temple. Although not contrary to Church teaching for those who wish to follow it, it is not Church teaching that “the first kiss should be over the altar” and bishops should not counsel single adults that they must follow such a policy. Bishops should counsel single adult brethren who do not have a serious impediment that would make marraige unadvisable that it is important that they pursue many one-on-one dating opportunities with a goal of meeting a worthy sister with whom they may join in the new and everlasting covenant.”

  163. Zeezrom,

    I agree with #2, but #1, firstly, I don’t think there’s any paranoia about it, I think the opposite is really the problem in the Church, it’s like it’s expected. But number two sounds like it would help a great deal.

    As far as the Elder Hafen quote, I’m totally supportive of that point of view and hold to it myself. I’ve seen too many people seared over by too easy a handout of physical intimacy.

  164. I agree with zeezrom and Minerva about Elder Hafen’s comments. To counsel that no kissing occur except in a committed relationship is a little harsh. To those who think my attitude is wanton, please include in your lecture the age you were at marriage, whether your first kiss was with your fiance, and whether you ever kissed someone who didn’t mean much to you.

    Ncmo, as defined in zeezrom’s letter to the bishops, is just fine. It’s much better than trying to stifle or satisfy sexual urges alone. Because once you’re alone, you’ve got masturbation and porn. Let’s give Elder Hafen a choice between ncmo, porn and masturbation and see which one he thinks is least problematic.

    Yeah, I know some people can go for decades and lifetimes suppressing their sexuality and be just fine. But some of the rest of us need a little physical affection once in a while. I know that I’m a much happier person when I feel like the opposite sex thinks I’m hot, and fun to kiss.

    Aaron brings up a good point though. It’s possible to get emotionally burned in situations where one person has genuine feelings for the other, while the other just wants the ncmo. To solve this problem, I suggest that all ncmo take place between total strangers.

  165. I suggest that all ncmo take place between total strangers.

    Janey,

    I’m absolutely shocked.

  166. Re #180:

    “I agree with zeezrom and Minerva about Elder Hafen’s comments.”

    As far as I can tell, Zeezrom made no comment on Elder Hafen’s remarks, and Minerva’s only assertion relative to them–that they must have been aimed at teens–is demonstrably false.

    “Ncmo, as defined in zeezrom’s letter to the bishops, is just fine.”

    If NCMO is “moderate kissing”, what is immoderate kissing?

    “Let’s give Elder Hafen a choice between ncmo, porn and masturbation and see which one he thinks is least problematic.”

    This is, of course, a false trichotomy. Elder Hafen clearly believes that none of these practices is to be engaged in. Unlike rutting animals, our Father’s children are capable of bridling their passions.

    “But some of the rest of us need a little physical affection once in a while.”

    So give your mother a hug.

    “I know that I’m a much happier person when I feel like the opposite sex thinks I’m hot, and fun to kiss.”

    Why stop at kissing?

  167. Why stop at kissing?

    Because, Nat, more than that is breaking the law of chastity. Janey understands that for sure. Prolonged kissing does not necessarily lead to sex, no matter what horror stories you’ve heard.

    Can I ask how old you are, Nat?

  168. Re #183:

    “Because, Nat, more than [kissing] is breaking the law of chastity.”

    (1) Who says that’s where the line is? Does, say, Elder Scott agree with you?

    (2) Why do you want to avoid breaking the law of chastity?

  169. I avoid breaking the law of chastity because I have covenanted to keep it.

    I do not know if Elder Scott agrees with me about kissing. I only know that I still have a temple recommend.

  170. Re #185:

    “I avoid breaking the law of chastity because I have covenanted to keep it.”

    Is that the only reason?

  171. If NCMO is “moderate kissing”, what is immoderate kissing?

    I can only appeal to the Supreme Court’s definition of ‘obscenity’: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.”

    Prolonged kissing does not necessarily lead to sex, no matter what horror stories you’ve heard.

    True.

    Nat – you didn’t answer the question about how old you are.

  172. Re #183:

    The Church publication True to the Faith (in the preface of which the First Presidency says that they are “especially mindful of youth, young single adults, and new converts”) has this to say under “Keeping the Law of Chastity”:

    “If you are single and dating, always treat your date with respect. Never treat him or her as an object to be used for lustful desires. Carefully plan positive and constructive activities so that you and your date are not left alone without anything to do. Stay in areas of safety where you can easily control yourself. Do not participate in conversations or activities that arouse sexual feelings. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie with or on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do such things with you.”

    Re #187:

    Read Elder Hafen’s talk and see if he doesn’t give you some other reasons.

  173. There was this guy in my ward at BYU who got engaged. He wouldn’t hold his fiance’s hand, or even sit by her on the couch. He didn’t want to stir any wicked desires. Their first kiss was over the altar. That’s probably how physical relationships between unmarried people ought to be handled in an ideal world.

    I’m still gonna kiss guys.

  174. I think there’s a difference between kissing and “passionate kissing.” I see NCMO as definitely passionate kissing, if it wasn’t why would anybody do it? I know, personally, I could not arouse those desires and keep it there, sooner or later I’d make a big mistake.

  175. Realistically though Minerva, I think you’ll agree most ncmos also end up doing a lot of bumping and grinding. (DHing was the term around Provo while I was single)

  176. Clark,

    I beg to differ. I have never done that and I have had nearly a dozen ncmos.

  177. I’m not saying everyone does it Minerva. Merely that it is extremely common. With an emphasis on extremely.

  178. I agree with Clark. In a make out session it is quite difficult to keep just kissing just kissing. I’m not quite as experienced in the realm of NCMOs, as I don’t really find it satisfying.

    As I’ve been reading this thread of comments, it seems the general sentiment is that those who are against NCMOs are either married or old fashioned, and I don’t think that has to be the case.

    What happens in NCMO is that each party makes the other an object – a sexual object, and that’s just not okay. I can understand non-commital dating. We do need to get to know other people, but what is the point of non-commital make out? Because it’s fun and it feels good?

    Our bodies are temples. We shouldn’t be placing them in situations which would leave us vulnerable to desecration.

  179. The reactions here illustrate the point I was trying to make in #1 of my comment 170 and comment #178 above. I have no problem with the policy expressed by Elder Hafen and the handbook cited in #189. There are cads out there and there needs to be a firm line to hinder them from exploiting women. However there is also a large population of single “dads” out there, many of whom are a little or more than a little freaked out by the mixed messages they receive from the Church about physical contact before marriage. Is kissing OK or isn’t it? What is the spiritual import of kissing a woman? They know from personal observation that the people who engage in heavier ‘making out’ are also the ones who (as a general rule with a very few exceptions) end up with those lovely temple weddings and eternal families. Yet they hear nothing encouraging, only scary warnings, about the issue of physical connection with women. As shy people (remember, these are often the nice guys that girls weren’t interested in in high school) this is already a hard enough of a personal issue without a huge spiritual load thrown on top of natural awkwardness. For MANY LDS men, the message they need is ‘don’t be afraid to kiss a woman’ but all they have ever heard in Church comes down to ‘be very afraid of kissing women.’

    Because this is an issue that is going to vary considerably for different men my suggestion is that bishops should deal with it individually. Clearly there are men for whom the message needs to be “cut out the NCMO,” but there are also men who need to be told, “go ahead and kiss her some, you need to start thinking more about your wedding night rather than standards night.”

    To Minerva re: #172: I don’t see my suggestion #2 as exhortation. I see it as a very serious discussion topic: ‘what are you looking for in a man?’ What if he is someone you enjoy being with, is kind of funny, OK looking, in love with you, a good priesthood holder, but not “exciting.” Why are bad boy rappers and sports stars so appealing? If women hate it when men just look at their bodies, do women do anything similar when they look for thrills and high achievement in men?

    To Nat Whilk — I expected that kind of reaction to my suggestion #1. Hopefully the comment above and my comment #178 clarify what I am getting at. However, you seem to be a married person. I would be very curious as to what you and other married persons here think of suggestion #4 in my comment #170. I mean it very seriously. Lack of ways to meet serious LDS dating prospects is a MUCH, MUCH larger impediment to LDS marriage than the phenomenon Elder Oaks was critiquing.

  180. There are cads out there and there needs to be a firm line to hinder them from exploiting women.

    This statement bothers me because it intimates that physical pleasure is not a temptation for women. NCMOs are generally two people exploiting each other…not just the man exploiting the woman.

    To Minerva re: #172: I don’t see my suggestion #2 as exhortation. I see it as a very serious discussion topic: ‘what are you looking for in a man?’ What if he is someone you enjoy being with, is kind of funny, OK looking, in love with you, a good priesthood holder, but not “exciting.” Why are bad boy rappers and sports stars so appealing? If women hate it when men just look at their bodies, do women do anything similar when they look for thrills and high achievement in men?

    Where do you suggest this discussion take place? I agree that it needs to happen, but it sounded like you want it to come from over the pulpit, which will make it parallel to the current over-the-pulpit “discussions” about men and their bad dating habits.

  181. I meant to go on, but I had to switch computers.

    Your suggestion that women are looking for rap stars, sports heros, and other thrilling characters does not jive with my experience with LDS women. Most of my friends are very genuine, intelligent women who are looking for genuine, intelligent men. They just aren’t being asked out, and they assume that it’s because they are not blond, thin, fashionable, tan, etc., etc., enough. My guess is, and maybe I’m wrong, that the women who ARE looking for thrilling men are the women who are drop-dead gorgeous, because they are used to being pursued and can thus be more picky. The men in the Church who are not “thrilling/dangerous/bad” are frustrated because these highly attractive women do not give them the time of day. They need to set their sights on the other women who get less attention. They would find a willing dating pool right before their eyes.

    And I 100% agree with you on this whole kissing thing. People should not be afraid to show physical affection.

  182. Minerva –

    I responded to these comments in my comment on the other thread.

  183. Minerva –

    I responded to these comments in my comment on the other thread.

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