Dating can be one of the hardest experiences one can go through. For some it is short, my older sister was married at 18, and for others it is long, my oldest sister was married at 26. For those who end up in the dating phase of life longer than they planned it becomes one of their greatest trials to endure cheerfully.
It is extremely easy to blame all of your dating problems on the opposite gender, but that leads to nothing but bitterness. Instead, of saying “If only girls did this” or “If only guys did that” each one of us can change dating! We can each take the lead and change dating ourselves! To borrow from the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi and adapt it “Be the change that you wish to see in dating.”
Here are six ways we can be the change we wish to see in the Mormon dating game!
1st. Ditch the lists.
Almost everyone has a list, some people write them down, others it’s only in their mind. Take a second real quick and write down what’s on your list, what are you looking for in your ideal man/woman?
Is your list good or bad? Whereas there is nothing inherently bad about making a list, most lists are becoming extremely poisonous. An example of a poisonous list is “He needs to make 100k+, he needs to go to BYU, he must be taller than me.” What makes this list bad? It focuses only on the temporal aspects of someone, not the eternal.
You are going to be sealed for eternity, instead of focusing on the temporal focus on the eternal. Take your list and put an E next to everything that is an eternal attribute or characteristic, then put a T next to everything that is not eternal. Ditch everything that has a T next to it. Or at least realize that the temporal things are only added perks. Remember the counsel that the Lord gave Samuel “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
“Do not expect perfection in your choice of a mate. Do not be so concerned about his physical appearance and his bank account that you overlook his more important qualities. Of course, he should be attractive to you, and he should be able to financially provide for you. But, does he have a strong testimony? Does he live the principles of the gospel and magnify his priesthood? Is he active in his ward and stake? Does he love home and family, and will he be a faithful husband and a good father? These are qualities that really matter.”
~Ezra Taft Benson
2nd. Decide that God will always be first in your life and your spouse second.
One of the keys to a happy and successful marriage is putting the needs, wants, and desires of someone in front of your own. It is learning to not be selfish, but to think of others. Your future wife/husband should always come before you. With your time actions and money never be selfish. But remember, whereas your future spouse should be in front of you, never put them in front of God.
Arguably the best dating advice was given to Moses on mount Sinai, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) Jesus further declared “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart” (Matthew 22:37) Learning to love God is the most important aspect of your future marriage, for your marriage covenant includes God. Decide today never to break any covenants, decide to be faithful to God under any circumstance.
If you don’t value your relationship with God and put Him above all else, nothing else will matter. The reason your relationship with God matters is because marriage is eternal, but it is only is eternal if we keep our covenants and marriage is a three-way covenant with God. Broken covenants always lead to heartache. Therefore finding someone who has the same priorities of first God, second spouse, is vital to a happy marriage.
I once heard it said, Run as fast towards God as you can and if someone keeps up introduce yourself! So if you have not found someone yet, then focus on running towards God.
“Believe that your faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does. You separate dating from discipleship at your peril.”
~Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.
3rd. Focus on becoming.
Instead of becoming discouraged with dating and falling into the trap of becoming bitter at the opposite gender, focus on becoming. Ask yourself some soul-searching questions like.
“Am I the type of person I would want to marry?”
“Am I the type of person my spouse is looking for?”
“What goals can I set become better?”
Set goals for self-improvement and focus on becoming a man/woman of God. By focusing on becoming you will find less bitterness in waiting. Because instead of ‘just’ waiting you will be growing. So study the scriptures, learn how the Spirit speaks to you, make, keep and honor all of your covenants. Serve others, and be build His Kingdom, think about becoming a temple worker even!
As you set goals and work towards them, you will find life more enjoyable and the journey easier to walk.
“If you want to marry a wholesome, attractive, honest, happy, hardworking, spiritual person, be that kind of person.”
~Elder Robert D. Hales
4th. Go on dates.
Sister Paige Holland told us something interesting at a Valentine’s Day fireside at UVU last year. She also said, “Go on dates, and if you are not getting asked out, do what you need to do, but go on dates.” She then added, “Don’t be afraid of blind dates!” I echo Sister Holland. Go on dates. If you like someone, ask them on a date. I know, it’s a novel idea but it works! Worse case scenario they turn you down.
And whereas it is the man’s cultural duty to take the initiative that does not mean ladies can’t ask guys on dates. In a matter of fact, girls asking guys on dates is actually a good thing. As it will develop experience and empathy into what guys go through. From the anxiety of asking, to the excitement of yes, and the defeat of a no. It is 100% ok for a girl to ask a guy on a date, but it is 100% not ok for the guy to expect girls to ask them. Don’t be a victim, be a doer.
I can’t speak for ladies, but here is the deal about us guys. We don’t read minds and we can’t really pick up on hints. Reading hints is like reading texts, 90% of the time we interpret them wrong. So if you like us, and want us to get the message then actually act, say something, do something, or even ask us on a date or at least make yourself approachable and available.
Marriage is combined effort from both parties, and dating should be as well. So if the man (or lady), will not put in the effort or commitment to make a relationship work then move along.
5th. Find balance in your life.
When I was a missionary I realized I was not living my life in proper balance. I had let myself go and I no longer felt comfortable in my own body, I weighed over 300 lbs. I actually jumped off the scale when it passed 300 because I was too afraid and ashamed to see what I really weighed. But when I found balance in my life by eating smart, exercising, and focusing on spiritual growth, I started to lose weight. So far I have lost over 70 lbs!
Within our society, we often swing on the extremes. In no other area is this as prominent than physical health. Often we either watch everything we eat or we eat everything in sight. Finding balance in life is vital to dating and preparation for marriage. We cannot neglect the spiritual or the physical aspects of our life and be healthy, we must find the balance. As a recovering unbalanced person, let me say, if you are physically or spiritually out of shape, then fix it! It is unrealistic for you to seek a spiritually and physically fit companion if you are not physically and spiritually fit yourself. And remember, being fit is NOT ‘being skinny’.
“Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it!”
~Elder Jörg Klebingat
6th. Realize the importance of marriage and make time for dating.
Why do we go to college? To get a degree.
Why do we want a degree? To get a job.
Why do we want a job? To earn money.
Why do we want money? To provide for a family.
College, degrees, jobs, and money are means to an end. They are NOT the end.
When we allow ourselves to become so preoccupied with these things that we do not make the time to date we are making the means an end. This will ALWAYS lead to regret. Dating itself is a means to an end, the end of an eternal family. Realize the importance of marriage and make time do dating! Never let your career prevent you from actually achieving the goal of an eternal marriage. Always keep things in proper perspective, the most important thing you will do on earth is to find a worthy companion and start an eternal family with. Ask yourself, what matters most? Am I focusing on it?
“the most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person in the right place by the right authority”
~ Elder Bruce R. McConkie
For more quotes on dating from the Prophets and Apostles see this collection!