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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Little More Action

Dear Bro Jo,

First off, I'd like to thank you. My older cousin gave me your Guide to Casual Group Dating for my 16th birthday, and I love it! It's got great advice and I've spent hours thinking about how I'll put them into practice. I can tell that you know what you're doing, which is good because I wouldn't come to you with this otherwise.

The actual issue is that I've been 16 for three months now. I want to go on a date, but the entire high school mentality is thwarting my efforts. Teens where I live want to get a boy/girlfriend and stay boy/girlfriends. They don't leave any room for a dating option. Not just this, but my 'primary candidates' (who are members) have 'paired up' with my best friends, and I don't feel comfortable asking them, or any girl that has already 'paired up', on a date. I know these girls well, and I think they're great people, but it's becoming increasingly harder to be around them and my friends.

I don't have many other options. Anybody I feel like I possibly could have a chance with dating has either paired up, or I don't feel comfortable enough to ask them (Keep in mind that I'm really shy and take a long time to make friends). I also feel like I've put myself at a disadvantage. In school, I'm a smart one. I pay attention, I can reason, and I've got a very good memory, enough to make classmates look at me odd when I answer a questions. I'm an Eagle Scout, but other teens don't recognize it's value. I feel like I've got my goals and standards in the right place, but I'm not sure they recognize that. I feel a little out of place with the local teenagers. Does that make sense or am I just confusing you?

In counseling with my parents, we've come to the conclusion to wait. In October, my 6 month driving restriction will be lifted and I can take passengers ,I'll be back in school and able to actually take people on dates, and things may happen among my friends and their relationships over the summer that will be to my benefit.

I'm the kind of kid that gets information and advice from every possible source, and then makes a battle plan based off the 'data'. I'm hoping you can help me out here!


Grey Skies in Seattle

Dear Seattle,

There are always options.

You may be forced to break out of your comfort zone. That's one of the great lessons that Casual Group Dating teaches, and frankly why I think it's a good part of preparing for one's mission.

You may be alone in your area, but you're not alone in the world. Guys everywhere are facing the same problem: the Church teaches us to avoid serious relationships in our teens, encourages us to go on Casual Group Dates, and yet even within our own membership many teens and their parents just don't get it.

I'm not going to disagree with your parents, but I wouldn't encourage you to wait, either. In my opinion many of us misread the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet. We read that teens can go on group dates when they're ready, and we misinterpret that to say "don't have to go on dates if they’re not ready". Not to play semantics, but those are two different things.

[Note to parents: Don't "shield" your child from dating! Just because you're not ready, or you’re panicked, irrational or overprotective; just because they're nervous and inexperienced; those aren't reasons to stunt your child's social growth. Hesitation isn't always righteous or inspired; sometimes it’s an excuse not to do what it’s Time to Do; sometimes instead of helping, in our paranoia we become the problem.]

Setting up those first few Casual Group Dates are like getting a shot or jumping in cold water: it needs to get done, even though it’s scary, and you'll be better off once you do.

The thing is, Seattle, you're going to have to step up and be a leader on this one. Someone has to be the first person to do it right, and in this case it sounds like it will have to be you.

That may mean including people in your dating group that aren't LDS. (There's nothing wrong with that, by the way. As long as everyone follows the rules, it doesn't matter who you team up with or whom you ask out.)

It may mean asking out someone's "girlfriend". (You'll be surprised how many "boyfriends" never actually take out on dates the girl they're "dating" and how many girls would love to go out with a guy who isn't expecting anything physical from them.)

It may mean asking out girls who don't fit your criteria of "primary candidates". (Which means, my brother, you need to expand your thinking.)

Stop worrying about others recognizing your greatness, and put your training and skills into practice, Eagle Scout.

Fewer excuses. More action.

You can sing the Elvis song now . . . if you want.

- Bro Jo

1 comment:

Laura said...

Being a girl who was never asked out until her second year of college, I say do NOT just "wait". That is what all of the guys did in my ward. It was no fun. I can promise that there are girls - member or not - who would just love to have a fun group date with no physical or personal commitment. One reason high school relationships are a bad idea is because high school students are so young, despite their feeling and belief that they are more mature than their classmates. In some areas they may be more mature, but when it comes to hormones and ability to control emotions and make important decisions, nearly all high schoolers should really just wait on the serious single dating. Group dating is PERFECT for you guys though. Get some friends together, each of you invite a girl, and go bowling or play laser tag or something. At least from what I saw in high school, the concept that you could take girls out on a date with a group, have fun, and have no commitment but build friendships and EXPERIENCE... it was simply unknown.

I know it's frustrating, but please don't give up. Remember to just have fun. Forget about any insecurities. Just be honest with yourself, have dignity, and you will have nothing to be ashamed of. And you'll have fun. :)