Dating Advice for Mormon Men

Updated with a new #8! 

A frequent commenter on this blog recently suggested I write a book of dating advice for LDS singles.  I don't feel qualified to write that book for women, I feel like I haven't figured it out for myself yet.  But, I definitely know what the Mormon men out there are doing wrong.  This got me thinking. First, I'm not trying to beat up on Mormon men, they've got it hard enough. But there are patterns I've noticed that are hurting the men's chances with the ladies.

So I'd like to share some advice right now.  Below is a list of tips for avoiding the most obnoxious LDS male dating behavior that makes women like me run screaming back into non-LDS land. (This is not exclusive to Mormon men, but for some reason, the prevalence is much higher.)*

*All Mormon men do not need this advice, some of them are very good daters.

1. Women don't like cheap.  
I don't know what goes on in Utah, but in the rest of the world, frugality is NOT cool or impressive on a date. VERY unattractive.  Women are impressed by your financial power and success, this is an evolutionary fact. Nature has dictated that we be attracted by men who can take care of our physical needs.  As disgusting as that is, and it pains me to say it, but it is absolutely true. Before you men get judgmental about it, it's the equivalent to the way Nature made you attracted to beauty (or fertile women with good DNA).  Even if you're not financially successful, you should treat her as though you did have the cash. (Cut back on your video game habit if you have to.)  If you like the woman, take her to a nice restaurant and treat her like a queen. The sexiest line I've ever heard from a man was, "You don't ever have to worry about how much anything costs." All of my girlfriends swooned when I told them about it.

2.  Do not make a big show out of paying the check
Don't show off how much tip you are leaving (but don't be chintzy on the tip either, we notice), do not tell your date how much dinner cost or your tickets or whatever.  And for the love of all things holy, do not complain about how much it cost.  That says to us that you don't think our company is worth that amount of money.  She will never want to go out with you again. 

3. Dress up.  
My biggest pet peeve, and it's worse with LDS guys, is a man showing up for a first date, or any date in jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes.  (Unless it's appropriate to the event you are attending, but even then, you should try to dress up as much as possible.) Because the woman probably spent AT LEAST an hour getting dressed up for him and he shows up in clothes he'd wear to hang out with the guys. It pisses me off.  It is disrespectful.  It tells me that you do not like me enough to bother getting dressed.  It's a compliment for you to dress up for your date. And it scores you instant points right at the beginning.

4. Ask the woman out on a date and be a man about it.    
Ask her out to her face. Do not text, do not email, do not IM. The phone is acceptable, the other forms of media are weenie and make you look like a weenie. So if she does accept, you already have a strike against you. You should make all the plans for the first date.  Have everything taken care of ahead of time. Just make sure you talk to her first. You don't want to take a vegetarian to a steakhouse. 

5. Ask the woman on a real date and be a man about it.
This is not a typo, it bears repeating. Do not ask a woman on a stealth date. You all know you have done this. In order to avoid getting rejected, you ask the women to an ambiguous activity in an ambiguous way so that she could construe it as friendly instead of a date. It is annoying not to know if the man I'm about to go out with is interested in dating me or not. And it is annoying for me not to know whether I'm dressing up for a date or whether I can expect to pay for myself or not.  ANNOYING.  It makes you look like a weenie and gives you negative points.  Be direct. Let the woman know you are taking her out because you like her.  We like that.

6. Do not be coy, do not make us chase you.  
We don't want to chase you.  Because the man who tells us directly that he likes us and wants to date us and asks us out on real dates is right around the corner.  That man will get the girl, not you. We aren't programmed to be aggressive, and it hurts our self-esteem. Many of us have non-Mormon men assertively chasing us.  That makes the shy Mormon boys look bad, and again, weenie. So you're already losing before you even got to the plate. You're a grown man, get over it and grow a pair.   

7. Show some manners.  
Good manners go an awful long way with the ladies.  It tells us that you respect us and that you like us enough to treat us well. It's also a preview of how you might treat your wife.  Please and thank you, hold the door, show her consideration, offer your coat if she's cold, etc. Everything your mother taught you. For example, if you're meeting your date at the theater and she happened to have bought the last ticket unknowingly (though she shouldn't be buying it in the first place) DO NOT LEAVE HER AT THE THEATER by herself.  Buy 2 tickets to another movie, or sneak in with her anyway. Or, DO NOT PEE IN THE PARKING LOT IN FRONT OF HER. Especially after she asked you not to do it.

How could I forget this last one? It's the absolute WORST behavior!

8. Do not audition us for dates! Commit to one night with a woman already!!
Really.  If you find a woman intriguing or at all interesting, ask her on a date (see #4, #5).  That's what other men do.  It's one night of your life.   So, if it sucks, now you know and you can move on.  Think of all the time you just saved yourself.   You don't have to wonder about her anymore.  No more auditions or tests.  One date and it's "Next".   Not to mention that this makes women angry.   If a man can't commit to spending two hours with me, then he is an annoying weenie.

An example:  There are now 3 eligible men in my ward (which is unprecedented, we've had a 200% increase!).  One of them isn't interested in me.  One stares at me but won't speak.  The third says hello (and it took him two years to do that) and makes googly eyes at me.  I'd go out with any of them if they asked.  But unless they man up and do it, I couldn't care less. 

NOTE: When I feel so-so about a man and then he treats me well and does all of the above, my so-so turns into yes-yes.  Likewise, I could be really excited about a man until he fails to do the above, moving him down to so-so or no-no. These behaviors often determine whether you get a second date or not. They are that important.

Some readers might think this is so obvious they don't need to be said. But, you'd be wrong about that. I've had the dates to prove it.  Believe me, an awful lot of men out there never learned any of this, or they forgot it, or, they think they are god's gift to women and can act like jerks if they want to. Good luck with that.


The Rival

It makes me sad mostly.  Another single woman 30+ in my ward has tried to befriend me.  But.  I don't care for her friendship.  I tried.  I could tell she was lonely and  in need of companionship, I knew what that was like. So, I felt duty-bound to accept her overtures as a comrade in arms.  Some expensive debacles later, I realized that I couldn't afford her friendship.  We have since maintained a fake friendship at church which makes me somewhat ill, but it's not worth having a conflict over.  Now, however, she is treating me like her rival. 

Last summer I met a nice Mormon man online and I asked him out because he was attractive, employed and local.  He took me to a soccer game.  I knew by the end of the night that I did not want to go out with him again.  Meanwhile, I was still trying to be a real friend to the woman.  When she asked about my weekend, I told her about the date.  She nearly drooled at the mention of a man who took me to a soccer game.  She went on and on about how much she loved soccer, that she used to play in college, blah blah. 

The dude emailed me because he wanted to go out again.  I felt bad because he was sweet and good.  But, we had nothing in common except the church and I didn't find his company compelling.  I asked the woman if she was interested in meeting him.  She was very interested.  So I set it up. They both agreed as long as I was there too. *Groan.*  I organized the whole thing, considering it a duty of friendship. 

She wanted to go to the mall. *Double groan.*  She needed a ride, she always does.  Fine.  (I was also still wearing the splint having just had a metal plate surgically attached to my wrist and was still in pain but able to drive.)  I was in the middle of my summer financial fiasco and had just enough from unemployment to pay my rent.  My friend knew this, I had described my situation in detail so she'd know that I couldn't spend any money.

I had never been to this mall.  When we got there she told me to park at a large retailer across the street to avoid the parking fee.  She promised that everyone else who drove her to the mall ALWAYS parked there. It was perfectly safe.  I didn't see the very small signs warning mall patrons not to park there.  After the date, which seemed to go well enough, the gentleman walked us to the parking lot.  We couldn't find my car! At first I thought it was stolen.  I don't have comprehensive insurance so I started freaking out.

Then my friend said, "Maybe they towed your car?"  "WHAT???? Why would they tow my car?"  "Because the signs say you are not allowed to park here to go to the mall."  But. You told me to park here. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? I could not afford to get my car out of impound.  I couldn't even afford to get home on the bus.  We found the no parking signs and called the tow company. They confirmed they had my car.  I started to cry.

I asked the gentleman if he could drive me home.  He agreed, but then he asked me how much it cost.  $190.  He offered to take me to the lot and lend me the money to get my car. (!!!)  He was the absolute definition of a gentleman.  Sooo sweet.  I promised him that I would get the money from my parents and pay him back right away.  So we got my car.  The woman.  She said she was very sorry.  That was all.  She offered no help with the cost.  She never offered to pay for any of it at all.  Not one single red cent. I only parked there solely because of her.  Nada.  Nothing.  Not even an apology for not helping me to pay.  

Before we all parted, the two of them said they wanted to go out again, for thai food.  The three of us.  I said I couldn't afford it and they offered to pay for me.  Fine.  I didn't want to go but I owed the very, very nice man.  

The next week, we went out. I could barely stand the sight of the woman because I was so angry.  But I put on my best fakey-fake demeanor (which isn't very good.)  The two of them ordered appetizers and juice and desserts.  I thought they were paying, so I ordered along with them.  Then the check came, $60 after tax and tip.  I happened to have a $20 in my pocket because I was going to the ATM afterwards to deposit it because my account was $20 short of the rent.  If I didn't get it in there, the check could bounce.  

Everyone looked at the check uncomfortably and said nothing.  I couldn't stand it.  I wanted to go home already, I had some work on a research proposal that I needed done yesterday.  So I picked up the check and said, "Why don't we each pay 20?"  I expected them to protest and offer to pay my share.  They did not.  My rent check bounced.  For the second month in a row.  I could be evicted for that in Jersey.  They both wanted to do this again.  Not on a cold day in hell.  They never went out together.  I ignored her calls afterwards because I knew I couldn't be civil with her. 

We've been fake friends ever since.  A few weeks ago, we were sitting together in Sunday school when an attractive man in his 30s, very smartly dressed, approached us.  I had never seen him before. They knew each other and started chatting.  I waited for the woman to introduce me.  She did not.  I even tried inserting myself into the conversation but she shut me out.  Eventually, after five minutes or so, I walked away.  Later, I asked her who he was.  She said, "Oh! That's so and so. You don't know him? I thought you did.  He always introduces himself to new people.  If I had known I would have introduced you."  I asked if she was dating him.  She said, "No. But he's good looking, right?' "Right. You should go out with him." "Me? Oh, no, no, no. I couldn't." "Okay."  I took that as the all clear for me to date him should the opportunity arise.  

Since, I have seen the smart man looking at me, often.  So, a week or two after not meeting him, the woman and I were talking in the lobby.  He was leaving, saw us, turned around and came over to talk.  He asked her about something.  I waited to be introduced.  I was not.  The woman, not only did not introduce me, she turned her body so that her back was facing me and I was shut out of the conversation, again.  At one point, the man looked right at me and asked if I ever got migraines.  I said 'no' and he looked disappointed then turned back to the woman. Oh, those suave single mormon men!   I got bored and walked away.  This time, her omission was not accidental.  She knew I hadn't met him.  She, clearly, did not want me to meet him.  Whatever.  I went home.  

It's been a few months.  The man travels for business so he's not always there.  He looks but he has never approached.  I tried to smile at him last week but he wouldn't make eye contact.  I suspect my 'friend' told him I had a boyfriend.  Because she knew I had one once.   She asked me about him on the first day I didn't meet the smart man.   I told her that my boyfriend kept breaking up with me so I really didn't know what my situation was, other than I probably didn't have a boyfriend.  So, now, in addition to not liking her, I don't trust her.

If I cared, I would go introduce myself to the man.  But I don't.  I just can't believe the juvenile behavior of that woman.  It's pitiful and sad.   


another bad day

The levels of my incompetence and failure are astounding.  I just defaulted on my student loan. I didn't qualify for an economic hardship deferment because I was only working part-time.  You have to be full-time.  They could have told me this last month when I tried to file but they said I didn't send proof of income that time.  Or, when I tried to file for deferment when I was unemployed, they just denied it.  They didn't bother to tell me that I needed a special form. Chase Bank works with the Devil.  Their policies are purposefully evil and designed to screw their own customers.

Ultimately, the fault is mine. I didn't do the right paperwork on time.  I am incapable of running my own stupid life. Every year my life gets materially worse.  Speaking of the devil, Capital One Bank is suing me for 7k on a 3k credit card balance, that 3k is all fees and interest charges, 39%. I don't know what the other thousands are for.  Their lawyers are getting nasty.  They wrote a letter to the Judge stating that I "was misleading at best" in my Motion to Vacate their premature Summary Default.   The case defaulted 34 days after the date of service.  I'm supposed to have 35 days. Hence, it was illegal.  END OF STORY, I WIN.  That was a fun day at the courthouse when they wouldn't let me file.  I think I had a psychotic break, I started cussing and screaming at the woman in the filing office.  That's the day I ran off my xbf for good.

Had a mood crash today, after I got the news about my loan. All I wanted to do was drive to Brooklyn to see him.  I wanted to feel ok for a little while.  My friends are all out of town so there was no where else to go.  I needed to feel safe for a minute.  But there's no point in both of us hurting.

It could be worse. It could be worse. It could be worse. My car is running. I haven't broken any bones, I don't need surgery.  I'm not up all night because of the crushing pain in my arm. I'm able to feed myself.  No one has seized the rent money in my bank account. I'm not in a dysfunctional relationship with an inappropriate man. This isn't like last summer.

I've started writing a novel, which is very boring because everyone in New York is writing a novel.  Among just the people I know, I would need two hands to count the number who are writing a novel.  But, this is urgent.  I need this.  For one thing, to give me something to obsess over other than myself.  I feel boxed in, like all my options have been cut off and I have no where to go.  Like it's now or never.  I'm going to finish by the end of the summer if it kills me.  At this point, not writing may kill me first.  


I Am Not Single. I Am on Vacation

Being on vacation is awesome.  Being unemployed is painful and depressing.  I've decided to take a summer vacation, not be unemployed.  The two concepts have few differences.  In both cases: I don't have to get up early in the morning, I have few responsibilities, and my time is my own.  Whether I feel good or bad about it depends on the way I define my situation.  I choose vacation and awesomeness, not unemployment and misery.  Because, the way we define our state absolutely affects how we feel about it.

I think this applies to my single status as well.  I am not in a relationship.  But,  I do not feel single either.  I am on vacation from my relationships, in between them.  The two are very similar: no relationship obligations, no stress over relationship status, no worries about someone else, no answering to anyone, no disagreements or misunderstandings, and, no hurt feelings.  Awesomeness.  (This is not say there are not really sucky things about being single, only that we don't have to feel so bad about it.)  Being on vacation is better than being single because: vacations are temporary, they're fun, good for one's emotional health, voluntary, and  most importantly, they imply the existence of something from which we are taking a break.  Vacation implies the existence of a relationship.  This is a vast improvement over singleness which can feel interminable and involuntary, with a dash of inferiority.

My friend complained of waking up to "single suckhood".  I know what that's like.  But I'm not feeling it right now.  I'm sad about my break-up but not about my circumstances.  I don't really feel single.  I feel between relationships.  So, I know the label "Single" creates more yuckiness than is necessary. It's the connotation of incompleteness, single as opposed to whole.  Being incomplete, there is something wrong with my life, and wrong with me.  In addition to that, we're surrounded by negative judgments and we absorb the negativity.

"Poor girl, still single."
"Don't worry, the Lord will reward you in the eternities."
"I sure feel sorry for her, not getting to be a mother."
"There must be something wrong with him, he's single."
"He's failing his responsibility as a man by not getting married."
"They're single, but by no fault of their own." 

We've all heard these at church.  We believe them, often, we put them on ourselves.  If you're single, those words probably make you ill.  Why? Because they mean that your life is less than.  Sometimes, people think they are comforting you with these words.   But they're not because the implications sting:  it means that they think you need comforting simply because you are single.  And because this kind of thinking leads to destructive ruminations: I am an object of pity.  My life is tragic.  I deserve to be rewarded for suffering my terrible life.   I need to wait for another person before my life is valid.  I am nothing without children.  Being single is a failing.  I am not a real man.   So, of course being 'single' makes us feel bad.  These conclusions are wrong.  I have decided to free myself from them.  I don't have to define myself that way.  I'm on vacation.
We've heard this before, we should stop thinking negatively and we'll be happier.   This may sound like the same pablum regularly served up to us, "You should enjoy being single,"  "You'll miss it later",  "Stop feeling sorry for yourself" .  . .  blah, blah.  Despite being well-meant, and bless their hearts for trying, that doesn't help either.  The only thing they mean is that you should stop feeling bad.  I'd love to stop feeling bad!   But, how?  Sometimes we're told,  "Don't give up", or "Stay busy".  Great.  But that doesn't really work.  Staying busy distracts you from negative thoughts.  Which is good, but it doesn't change the way you define yourself.  And no matter how busy you are, you still have to go to bed at night, and lie there alone and in silence.  That's when it really haunts you.  Especially the long lonely nights when you can't sleep.   I am single.  There is something wrong with me. No. There is not.

There is nothing wrong with me.  My life is not incomplete, nor lacking.  I have challenges, just like everyone else.  Consider this parallel: I am not wealthy.  I would like to be.  Some things in my life would be easier if I were.  But this doesn't make my life incomplete, or wrong.  (Despite the propaganda from American Consumerism.)  I made the choices that brought me to this financial state.  I wouldn't change most of those decisions.  Being broke stinks, but it is not a measure of my value as a human being.  It's the consequence of certain circumstances and bad luck, it is not a condemnation.

Likewise, I am single because of bad luck and, as a result of certain circumstances and choices I've made.  I didn't go to BYU.  I didn't move to Utah.  I pursued my education and career instead of men.  I chose not to pretend to be like women that Mormon men prefer.  I rejected the men who wanted to marry me because I knew we wouldn't be happy.  I chose to stay faithful to my religion.   I wouldn't change any of that.  And, for a long time, I wasn't ready.  I had a lot of issues to deal with.   I own the responsibility for all of this.  I am not a victim.  That this is taking so long,  is probably where bad luck comes in.  Such is life.  The point is, singleness is not a condemnation. 

So, I will not think of myself as single and sorry.  I am on a relationship vacation. 


No Small Miracles, #1

My life has been peppered with miracles, some bigger than others.  Some, were small things that maybe shouldn't have happened because the odds were staggering, but, they happened anyway.  These little moments are easy to ignore, or brush off as coincidence or luck.  And, maybe they were.  Other events, cannot be denied in any such way.  I have had some undeniably miraculous things happen to me.  

Because I am at a low point in my life, lost and going nowhere, I find myself in need of a real miracle, or several, big or small.  So, I want to show some gratitude for the ones already received. Maybe I've used up my fair share already, fair enough.  Some of them were spectacular. 

#1. The Cello:
Growing up, at some point, I fell in love with the cello. It was such a seductive instrument. It made sad, deep resonating notes that seemed to cry the sounds of my soul.  I could feel the tones deep below my skin down to my bones.  Unfortunately, cellos are expensive.  

To fully appreciate the story, one should know my musical background.
I had piano lessons at age 9, learned to read music and had shown some aptitude. But my older brother quit when I got better than he. Then I wanted to quit too.  I didn't want to ask my family for an expensive instrument.  I still yearned to make music, so I joined the Jr. High Marching Band.   I played the saxophone, got pretty good and had fun. But, I didn't want to join the high school band.  Instead, I wanted to join a punk rock band. So I bought an electric bass guitar. I  taught myself to play.  Sadly, I was too shy to find band-mates.  So I played alone, not much fun on a bass.  Same thing happened in college.

So, instead, I picked up the piano again and took lessons in the music department. I got better but never mastered the damn thing. The piano is not my instrument. I can play pieces I've learned but I can't sight read. When the department bought a cello I signed up for lessons.  I took two semesters and really enjoyed it.  It was easy for me and I did well with little practice.  Then,  I got overwhelmed with classes because  my mood disorder made everything almost impossible, including the discipline required to practice.  I always regretted that and planned to buy myself a cello one day. I really wanted to learn.  I've kept that desire throughout my life. (I never finished grad school so I've never had the money.)

I neglected music after I moved to NY. I had no money, no instruments, no time.  I burned myself out with grad school, teaching, the arduousness of poverty, and my ever-blossoming madness.  Four years ago, in 2006, I hit rock bottom.  I was off my medications, at the mercy of my unstable mind which abused me with obsessions and anxiety.  I needed help. Music.  I always felt better emotionally when I had a musical outlet.  If I could get the pain out, physically, with sound and rhythm, then it wouldn't be inside me anymore.  I needed a cello.  I started searching online, ebay and Craigs List.   There were some cheap ones, but it was a fantasy.  I didn't have the money.  

Then I really bottomed out and become non-functional.  So I moved back in with my mother to rest and heal.  I got a new therapist.  I told her about my cello dream. She said I should make my father buy me one.  I didn't bother.  I came back to NYC in January 2007, medicated and functional.  Ready to try again.  But I still needed music.  I still wanted a cello.  However, living paycheck to paycheck on my adjuncting wages didn't allow me the luxury of buying an instrument. 

That summer, the landlord got fined again for using the basement for storage. It's a fire hazard.  Rather than just sending tenants nasty letters telling us to clean our crap,  the  owners actually went through their stuff.  They cleared a ton of old junk from one of the rooms, things that looked like they had been there 50 years.  They put some of it into piles.  One day, while waiting on my laundry, I took a look at the piles.  Then, I saw it.  That looked exactly like a cello case.  There couldn't possibly be a cello in there, could there?  No. But, who keeps an empty instrument case?  I walked across the dark room to get a better look.  It was old and dusty, the latches and hinges were rusty.  I opened it.

Yes.  There was a cello.  Just sitting there. How old was this thing?  The case looked like it was from the 40s.  I picked it up carefully to examine it.  It was beautiful, though it did need some work.  The bridge and endpin were missing. It was made of Tiger-flame maple, had a real ebony fingerboard, and was all in one piece.  I got so excited.  Obviously, no one wanted this. It had clearly been in this basement for decades.  I went right upstairs to ask if I could have it.

The old woman answered the door.  She didn't know who it belonged to.  Her husband came out next and said it was junk.  They were throwing it out.  (These are the same philistines who want to tear down the large beautiful old tree in front of the building because it sheds in the summer.)  They didn't know why I wanted it, but I could take it.  It was mine.  Woo Hoo! 

It took six months before I could afford the repairs. Turns out that it's a German cello, more than 100 years old.  There's no label and no way to tell exactly how old, so the luthier told me.  That means it's worth several thousand dollars because the tone gets better as the wood ages.  It has that delicious old wood resonance so coveted by cello players.  The sound is amazing, so warm, deep and rich.  The notes are layered, not mono-tonal, as though more than one instrument were playing.  I've never heard anything like it.  The men in the music store couldn't believe I'd found it and  got it for free.  They wanted to buy it, but I wasn't selling.

I've named him Gregory. Cellos do look feminine but this bad boy goes between my legs, so it's a 'he'.  I'm learning to play, on my own. I remember the basics from college.  It does make a joyful noise.  Playing is extremely therapeutic.  It's also extremely sensual and an excellent release for that annoying extra energy with which we celibate singles must contend. 

This cello was a gift.  It might as well have fallen out of heaven like manna and dropped into my lap.  No one can tell me this wasn't a miracle.  Nor was this a small miracle.  Valuable, beautiful, abandoned instruments do not just appear in musty old basement trash piles for people who happened to have been trying to buy that exact instrument for years. I've never heard of anything like that happening to anyone else. I will never forget this gift.

Cellos are expensive instruments to maintain.  One of the seams split this winter because I didn't have a case that closed all the way.  The vacillating humidity and temperature from the old radiators in my apartment made the wood expand and shrink too rapidly.  I got a good case for Christmas, but it was too late. Then, because it sat so long without use, the bridge broke off again.  It can be repaired, but, I can't spare the money right now.  Time for another miracle.