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Friday, October 5, 2012

Are 30+ Year Old Divorced Men at BYU "Creepers"?

Dear Bro Jo,

I am 30 years old, and turn 31 soon, and now I reluctantly find myself back in the Provo dating scene after a recent unwanted divorce. I did everything I could to salvage my marriage, but my wife (whom I married when she was 19) was unwilling to make any sustained efforts towards reconciliation, and I believe that she secretly relished the thought of being single again because she bought into the worldly view that she had jumped into marriage too young and never got to experience enough of the singles life.

Even though my ex is LDS, and considers herself temple worthy, no counsel from Church leadership could persuade her to attempt reconciliation or even marriage counseling, because she said she had received "personal revelation" that ending our marriage was the right choice, and was strongly supported by her family in leaving me.

Even after a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote her a personal letter urging her to try marriage counseling she was unwilling.

Most frustrating was that there were none of the typical problems in our marriage that might justify a divorce, no infidelity, no physical abuse, no abandonment, and no financial difficulties. I have been going to marriage counseling alone through LDS Family Services, speaking with my Bishop, and attending the temple.

I have had two bishops, two therapists, and multiple friends all tell me the same basic thing... while no marriage is perfect, this was a rare completely one sided divorce, I deserved better, and I should not beat myself up about it and need to just move on.

The problem I face is a judgmental nature I am surprised to find in the Provo dating scene that never seemed present when I was single before.

Although I own my own business and do not need further education to support a family, I have chosen to come back to school to finish my undergrad because I feel that education is a worthy pursuit in its own right, and that I should take advantage of my newfound lack of responsibilities and abundance of free time to do something good to improve myself.

I find myself on campuses often attempting to flirt with BYU students and UVU students, who I find are all between 18-26, the few attractive ones I find on campus over age 24 are ALWAYS married.

There are very few women over 25 who have never been married that possess the character traits I find important. This is Provo and there are lots of good and worthy young men here to marry, so there is a good bit of truth to the thought that many of the best young women are married before they turn 25.

I have no problem dating other divorcees, but am avoiding women who left their husbands in the past because I feel it shows that if they ran from one marriage they may run from another.

My LDS therapist, and Bishop both fully SUPPORT, and helped me make this decision regarding women whom left their husbands, but since approximately 4/5 divorces in Utah are instigated by women, this does seriously decrease my dating pool.

I have never actually met a woman under 32 who was widowed or left by her husband. I dislike online dating, and "age out" of the YSA program in less than 30 days, so meeting girls at school seems one of my best and last chances at finding people to date.

While no one would mistake me for an Abercrombie and Fitch model, I am moderately attractive, younger looking, dress well, and am confident and charming, so things usually go very positively at first when I approach women.

Unfortunately though, whenever age comes up and they find out I am 30 things quickly deteriorate.

When a LDS girl finds out you are 30 years old the next question, 100% of the time, is why aren't you married?

I always answer honestly that I am divorced, and try not to make a big deal of it, but I have had many girls turn cold after finding out I was 30 years old and divorced, and the few that survive shocker #1 turn cold when they ask if I have children and discover that have a daughter.

Even Brigham Young said if you are my age and not married you are a menace to society.

It's as if my marital past somehow "proves" I am a bad guy, or would not make a good husband or father. I even had the joyous pleasure of reading one 22 year old girl's post on Facebook after meeting me where she expressed frustration about how she "finally met a guy that was nice, smart, kinda handsome, and pretty much perfect" until she found out he was "30 FREAKING years old, and divorced, and had a kid!"

She ended this post with the words "Creepy Old Man!"

Afterwards no less than 6 of her friends, all attractive female BYU students I would have considered in my dating age range, made comments in support of her "Creepy" characterization of me, none of them having ever met me. One even said I was "probably a pervert" because I was hitting on college girls.

Thankfully my name was never mentioned in the post.

Just a short time ago I was happily married with a beautiful young family, in a successful career, and EQP in my family ward. By any standard, I was living the typical LDS version of a wonderful life.

Now I find myself worried about impressing a seemingly endless array of shockingly immature college girls, and frequently feeling a victim of stigma, with nowhere to belong. I am a young man at 30, and even younger at heart, Should I lie about my age and past, or answer age questions in a vague way by saying "I'm a junior" or something like that?

Should I answer questions about marriage with "its complicated?"

I am afraid they may assume I am currently married!

I do not feel that I should have to lower my standards in order to find a spouse, but I am finding it very difficult to get past my past!

Any advice would be appreciated.


30 and not a "Creeper."

Dear 30,

Nope. You shouldn't lie or mislead. (I know you know that, but you did ask.)

All that will do is manifest your reputation as a "creeper". Perhaps there's a way to deliver the information that isn't so abrasive, defensive or "in-your-face"; something flirty or with a little humor, like: "Don't you think a great guy like me should be married? I am having a really difficult time here finding women who won't be quick to judge me when they find out I'm divorced. You don't happen to know anyone like that, do you?"

See the difference?

Honest, but illicits sympathy and has a purpose.

Don't lower your standards, but widen your circle. (Although you may want to rethink what's really important when you label girls as "unattractive" . . .) I know it may not seem like it, but I promise you that BYU is home to THOUSANDS of single sisters over the age of 25. The cliche that "all the good ones are taken" is just not true.

 Trust me.

I have an email in-box full of letters from some of those women.

Frankly, 22 is too young for you. Not that there aren't some mature, ready-to-accept-someone-who's-past-isn't-perfect women at the Y . . . but they're rare. (As you've found out.)

I wrote a little tirade on the Facebook fan page (click HERE) a while back that went something like this:

I think University Ward Bishoprics should require all of the single brethren in their ward over 25, RM or not, to date all of the single sisters in their ward 25 or older before dating anyone younger than them, and RM Sisters twice. Those brethren should go on a date every week until they've dated all of those sisters, and every time a new one moves in, they have to date her, too, and to qualify as a date he needs to Plan, Pick Up, and Pay.

And I'm not talking about one of those cheap, under $3 Mormon teen dates, I'm talking about $25+; buy her dinner, you cheapskate! Can't afford it? Get a job! If you don't have a job, well then . . . no wonder you're still single. While you're on the date, TALK TO HER. Get to know her better as a person. Treat her like she's special and important - trust me, she deserves it.

And, if you're not the creeper you say you are, and if you're lucky enough that she'll let you, at the end of the date thank her for going out with your sorry carcass and try to kiss her on the cheek goodnight.
Until you've done all of that, you should be forbidden from having the phone numbers of the younger sisters in your ward - so don't even ask for the "new ward phone list". In fact, I think it would be great if the under-25 sisters would all band together in a showing of sisterhood and refuse to even talk to you until you've accomplished the assignment.

Like I said, it was a tirade, but I think it makes a pretty valid point, too (if I do say so myself).

Your problem isn't the judgment of others, and honestly, I'm not surprised about the "judgmental" looks and comments; and I don't think you should be either. (People in the Church are still just people, my friend. They have opinions, make mistakes, and are by no means perfect. You're not. I'm certainly not. So why should everyone else be just because they're going to the Y? The best thing you and I can do about that is to be less judgmental ourselves.)

Your problem is that you were in a bad marriage with a woman you should not have picked. Rather than replace her, its time to find a woman of substance, faith and character. Sure, she may be hard to find, but not impossible, and oh, so worth the effort.

As you’re looking remember this: real women are not still "hotties" at 60, (and guys aren't either, by the way), but your grandpa wouldn't trade your grandma for anything. When you understand why, you'll know what you're really supposed to be looking for in an Eternal Companion.

Widen your circle. Be genuine and sincere. Be you. Be honest.

And be willing to date some girls you might not have considered before.

Ignore the rude comments, immature posts, and unrealistic opinions of others.

Stay positive. Chicks dig that.

Wishing you the best,

- Bro Jo


Anonymous said...

Thanks Bro Jo, for the way you answered this man. This post goes to my heart as someone who is dealing with the LDS view of divorce/"older" men and "younger" women etc. It's hard. But it's harder without the Lord. Education during this time of this man's life is a worthy pursuit, but if he can use this time to make the Lord the most important thing in his life and have a better relationship with the Lord than he ever had with his previous spouse, he'll make it and succeed gloriously. I pray for him, my friend in similar circumstances and everyone who needs to have that relationship with the Lord. It's the greatest blessing.

Dave Baird said...

It is a little known fact that the YSA age originally was 18-25 years old, and YSA wards were formed near colleges and university to accommodate YSA members away from home. The age group was expanded in the 80s to account for the ever growing numbers of singles in the church.

When I was in the YSA age group I noticed the distinction of age groups within the 18-30 year olds, among them is the 25+ group, which I affectionately called the 300 Club (300 months = 25 years). I also had a conversation with an Institute Director's secretary in which she stated that once you're outside college or even the traditional college age, you'll find it more difficult to find a spouse. Several years later this would be supported by comments from Elder Ballard himself at a YSA stake conference in Orem, UT. Okay, enough history. To my point.

30 and non-creeper, you're not really YSA anymore. That's okay because you're in the Mid-Single Adults now (30-45), which I think should be 25-40. There are various groups and wards that meet in Utah County that you can explore. Honestly, the dating college girls days are over. They'll just distract you from the more attractive, mature women you'll find in your age circle... that you can be honest with! Good luck to ya!

Megan said...

I'm 23 and I've known several men in my YSA ward or are School friends that are over 25 and aren't married. Some of them are divorced and most likely it is the woman's fault and only one of them actually was the reason. I wouldn't date any of them. Some of them really are creepy and their is a reason they aren't married yet, others just aren't my type and I'm not attracted to them, or they don't have characteristics I like.
If the right guy for me came along and he was divorced it wouldn't matter because I like who he is. If a nice mature woman can't see that then she isn't worth it.

Dave Johnston said...

@ David -

I love "mid-single adults"!


Points well made.

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

This man claims there were no "typical problems" present in their marriage that might justify divorce, but he fails to mention pornography--unfortunately all to common and a destroyer of so many marriages and families. The fact that he left it out makes me wonder if he struggled with pornography use.
I recently left my husband (after only 9 months of marriage) because of his addiction to pornography. During the time we were married (before I knew of his addiction), we attended the temple together and were each active in our ward callings. He still fails to see his actions as a violation of the law of chastity, or as any type of infidelity. He currently claims to friends that I left him because I "didn't like married life." He refused to see how his actions affected our relationship, and denied the need for help or the need to change. This ultimately led me to leave my marriage.
I filed for divorce with full support from our Bishop and my LDS Family Services counselor.
The man that writes this letter is greatly limiting his dating pool by vowing only to date never-wed women, or only divorcees that were left by their husbands. His self-made rule would disqualify me from dating him, even though I consider myself pretty date-able material. Not to be conceited, but I have my beauty, my degrees(!), my career, my testimony, wonderful parents and siblings, and no financial debt.