Dear Celibate: Advice for a 24 y.o.

Dear Celibate:
I am 24 years old, almost 25, and am a recent convert to the Church.  I live in the NE, where there aren't many members.  This summer though, I am moving to Arizona where there are lots of singles (hopefully my age?).  I recently had a very hard break up to a guy that I was supposed to marry.  It has been very tough for me, but I am starting to move on and realize that there has to be something better out there for me.  I know I shouldn't say this, but I feel old (according to Mormon standards) and I am worried about meeting a guy in Arizona my age or older.  My question to you is, what would you tell your 25-year-old self if you could go back and do it again?

Dear 24 year old,

 Congratulations on joining the church. The best way to get over a lost love is to find a new one. So, good for you for getting out there.
First, YOU ARE NOT OLD!!!!!  Snap out of it. I know it seems that way at church. But that is a warped perception of reality.
Second:  There are tons of Mormons in Arizona. You should be fine out there. However, coming from the east coast and being a convert, you will find dating Mo'men tricky.  Honestly, I still don't know how to date them.  They do not behave the way east coast non-LDS men do.  In my experience GENERALLY, I've found that they don't ask women out, they have no assertiveness and they prefer to date/marry below themselves, and they fear accomplished independent women.  Also, they like cheesy home-crafted gifts from women-- at least, the women seem to think so.  I wish I could tell you more about them, but it's outside my expertise.  The best thing to do is find some good girlfriends in the church who aren't jealous of you.  (That means that have to be as pretty as you are or prettier and have healthy self-esteems.)   Sadly, you can't trust some of the other single women because some of them can be vicious when it comes to dating.  That's what happens when you raise women to be desperate for marriage.  Try to find a nice western LDS friend who could explain how to date Mormon men.   ***MOST IMPORTANTLY: Don't feel bad about yourself if they are not asking you out.  It's not you, it's them. ****

What would I do differently if I could go back?  If only I could have the last five years of my life back!  But I've got ten years on you so here's what I've learned.

  • NEVER sell yourself short. Don't think that because you are old (which you are NOT) or a convert or whatever that you have to date/marry someone below yourself.  Demand equality in your partner.  Equal intellect, equal education, equal values. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.  I wasted a lot of time on losers because I thought that was the best I could do.  My standards get higher as I get older.
  • Don't date someone just because he is there. I did a lot of this in my 20s. The guy was okay, he asked me out so I said yes because there was no one else around. You are wasting your time. Don't. 
  • Learn how to say 'No'.  Just say no if you are not interested in seeing someone.  Say No when he wants to go further physically than you do. I had a boyfriend I never liked for 6 months because I didn't know how to say 'No' the first time he asked me out and then I didn't know how to dump him after I kept saying 'yes'. 
  • Don't make excuses for him.  If he is treating you badly, there is NO EXCUSE.  We have a tendency to explain away men's bad behavior so we can make them seem better than they are, so we can see them the way we want them to be.  If he is treating you badly in the beginning, it will only get worse later on.  RUN--Do not walk. 
  • Take control.   Take control of the relationship and make him come to you. Do not call first, do not always answer, do not try to advance the relationship in any way.  Always try to keep your hand.  When you give him too much, they have a tendency to run away.  I learned this the hard way because I don't like playing games. But you have to do it. Do not be too available, always leave them wanting more. Always be the one to end the dates.  You say when it's time to go home, not him. You be the one to end phone conversations, etc. Your life will be much better this way, I promise. 
  • Don't be a pleaser.  It is not your job to please any man. You should NOT try to make him like you. He either does or he doesn't.  If you try to win him over, you will lose.  He will think you are throwing yourself at him and be repulsed. 
  • Your friends are ALWAYS right.   If your family and friends don't like your boyfriend, then there is a reason.  He probably isn't good enough for you.  They have your best interests at heart and they can see the dude objectively. I've never heard of a case where the friends were wrong.  Save yourself some heartache and listen to them.
  • If chastity with him is easy, move on.  That means you don't have the right chemistry, and you will wish things were different after the honeymoon.  (I learned this from two married friends.) 
  • Make sure he likes you enough.  A man who likes you enough, or likes you the right way, will feel privileged to be with  you.  He will feel the need to be worthy of you and behave accordingly.  He will court you and make you feel like the most special woman on earth.  If you get the feeling that he thinks you're privileged to be with him, dump him immediately. It will only get worse.

I hope this is helpful.  Good luck.  My sister got married in Phoenix at age 28 or 27. You really have nothing to worry about.

P.S. I'm sorry this took so long, I was busy for the holidays and have internet issues again.


Craig said...

Interesting post - but it looks as if you have an anti-Mormon bias here.

"In GENERAL, I've found that they don't ask women out, they have no assertiveness..." My male friends and I make a concerted effort to go on at least one date per week. I may have to ask out 10-20 girls before I get a date, but I do try.

"...they prefer to date/marry below themselves......and they fear accomplished, independent women..." Are you serious? Most other guys I know really like women who are successful, who use their talents and contribute. Perhaps we know that perfection is not possible in a person, so we find someone who is growing in that direction. Unlike women who (in GENERAL) expect men to be perfect before they even entertain dating them. No wonder there are so many single women in the Church.

"...Demand equality in your partner. Equal intellect, equal education, equal values. Otherwise, you are wasting your time..." Such a loaded statement. Define "equal". Like I explained earlier, women want perfection personified, rather than perfection in the making.
Although the Lord is more lenient on women than He is on men when it comes to being married, He does expect His daughters to be realistic in their choice of companion. Certainly don't persist with the losers, but don't overlook the imperfect, but intelligent and capable men out there. You (and women in GENERAL) might be pleasantly surprised. :)



Jill said...

It is important to be careful about generalizing. In my experience, most well educated Mormon girls are good friends, regardless of how they look. I think that having friends with low self-esteem is problematic in any group.

Although some men probably feel threatened by high achieving, independent girls, I think that it is probably rarely a deal breaker. Some girls have a very abrasive way of showing that they are independent and intelligent. My friends from BYU went to law school, business school, studied abroad, launched successful careers and supported themselves. Almost all of them are happily married-to Mormon men.

SavvyD said...

THIS IS A GREAT POST! Just so you know, I find that ALL CHRISTIAN MEN OF ANY CHURCH ACT THE SAME WAY! Why? Because they can. I posted a treatise on marriage by a man who is a Christian and in a rock band. He says men are jerks. He included himself. That man is Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes.

Also, don't makes excuses about men being "intimidated" by your level of success. There are many women who are far less "successful" or working menial jobs who are having an equally hard time finding a date.

I'm tapped out of answers and only full of more questions.

SavvyD said...

@Craig The last time I was asked out at church was 5 years ago. I would give a quality guy a chance, but they seem to have this same reaction of expecting the woman to be perfect before they'll even entertain dating her. And if she's perfect, then she's clearly too good for him. So they defeat themselves. And then there's the issue of so many people having crushes on someone who is completely unattainable. And then yet another issue of people having crushes on attainable people but being too afraid to say something. So many relationships never start because of fear.

J.L. said...

I do have an anti-mormon bias when it comes to men. I can only speak from my own experience living on the east coast. And the word "Generally" was used to acknowledge that not every LDS man is that way. I'm suggesting over 50% are. I could be wrong. I would love to be wrong. But I'm not the only one who has had these experiences. Read the comments to the posts under the Mo'men label. I'm thrilled to hear that you and your friends are not that way. God bless you.

You make some good points. I spent one year in a singles ward and made one girl friend. There were some back-stabbing girls. I hope you are right that most women are good friends.

Stay strong sister.

City JL said...

Craig again,
First, I really appreciate your comment. It's important to have men speak up with their viewpoint.

I think you might have misunderstood my demand equality point. I do not mean perfection by any means. I mean, date someone who is like you. I spent a decade dating without any dealbreakers other than not liking the man. I dated uneducated, non-ambitious, unattractive, and non-intellectuals. Those relationships failed. The disparity between us could not be overcome. We didn't understand each other in significant ways. And the men were insecure about the disparity and never able to trust me. Now that I'm older, I no longer want to waste time on those relationships.

I hope this clears it up.