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.