First of all, I'd just like to thank you for your blog.
I read through a lot of the posts (I just discovered it the other day), and even though the vast majority don't apply to me yet, I found them fascinating and informative.
You're a smart guy, and I appreciate you're sharing your wisdom with a generation as clueless and seemingly hopeless as mine.
Anyway, as I was going through the discussions, I realized that I have a problem that I haven't seen addressed yet.
It's kind of a tough situation, and I'm not really sure there's anything I can do to improve it. But I figured it can't hurt to ask your opinion.
A little background.
I'm a 17 year old guy, and as such I am of the appropriate age to start Group Dating.
Ever since I started liking girls, I've quietly looked forward to the day I would be able to begin socializing with them in the context of Casual Group Dating, to build friendships and exercise the skills I'm going to need to find an eternal companion.
Naturally, I won't be looking for a serious relationship until a long time after my mission, but that shouldn't make the concept of casual dating any less exciting right now, should it?
Either way, it doesn't really matter because my dating opportunities are basically nonexistent.
See, I live in Hawaii and the attitude toward dating over here is entirely different from that on the mainland.
That's to be expected - being that it's the most isolated spot on the planet, there are bound to be some cultural differences.
But I'm finding it hard to adapt to or even accept those cultural differences.
Basically, the idea of Casual Dating at all is widely condemned over here.
Even among Church members casually going out with a bunch of different people is seen as a bad thing because if you're not focusing on a steady boyfriend / girlfriend, you're promiscuous or a "player."
Which is of course totally unfair, because I'm not looking for romantic involvement
And it's not like I want to go break a bunch of girls' hearts ... I just want to have clean fun with the opposite sex.
I moved here from the east coast about four years ago, and I was raised with standard LDS dating guidelines ... the usual; "Once you turn 16, you can (and should) begin casually dating in groups - don't pair off."
So you can imagine my frustration when I moved here only to find that those guidelines are inapplicable because of preexisting cultural norms that I have absolutely no control over.
I've even had heated arguments with the youth leaders in my ward, during which I brought out my copy of the Strength of Youth and pointed out exactly what was appropriate for kids my age.
But all they do is shake their heads and tell me "That's not how things are here."
And of course, the "steady-dating only" philosophy so prevalent here presents another problem
Nearly all the girls in my ward and surrounding wards already have boyfriends.
And since my parents won't allow me to date outside of the Church, my options are severely limited.
I've been on exactly one date since I've turned 16, and it was with another non-native girl who was raised with the same ideas towards dating that I was.
The other couple consisted of her brother, the only other guy who was remotely interested in participating in this type of dating, and another girl who is now romantically involved once again (she was between boyfriends at the moment).
Unfortunately, both my date and her brother are now back on the mainland and I'm left alone in the most anti-causal-dating environment on the planet.
I'm considering giving up on all things female until after my mission.
It's not an attractive (no pun intended) option, but it's looking like the only one.
Any advice for me?
- Hawaiian Wanting Dates
Well, if it means anything, you're not a "lone man in the garden"!
The cultural challenges you're having in Hawaii exist everywhere.
I get letters from around the world from youth who feel exactly like you do.
Guys AND girls; and, yes, even from the East Coast.
Heck, the Jo Boys have had the same problem here in Montana.
It took the oldest more than a while to more firmly establish Casual Group Dating culture in his school, and he suffered a few flaming defeats along the way.
You've got a lot of work ahead of you if you intend to change things, and the fact that your local Church leadership isn't being supportive won't make things any easier.
As I see it, you've got three fronts to fight.
1. Regarding your local leadership, work your way up the Priesthood Line of Authority with your "they won't support the For the Strength of Youth".
Problem with the YM President? Talk to the Bishop.
Problem with the Bishop? Talk to the Stake President.
Problem there? Write a letter to the Area Authority 70 or the General YM Presidency or even the First Presidency.
Each step of the way ask them what you've asked me. "My local Church leadership is teaching us to ignore the part of the FtSoY pamphlet that talks about not pairing off; what do you suggest I do?"
2. Work with the youth in your ward and stake, one kid at a time, to gain some allies.
You need a good dating buddy, or two. I'll just bet that there's a couple other guys that deep down feel exactly like you do: they want to go out with girls but they don't want the drama and the temptation that comes with committed teen relationships.
You might have to widen your circle of friends, and you and your friends are likely going to have to widen your prospective dating pool. I mentioned the oldest Jo Boy; because of some Milquetoast LDS dudes and some "need a boyfriend to make me feel valuable" LDS girls, he had to expand outside the Church.
A lot of work, but worth the effort.
3. And that leads us to your parents.
You haven't really indicated one way or the other, but make sure they know of the challenges you're facing and your fervent desire to hold true to your standards.
Make sure it doesn't come across as "I hate living here", but rather "mom, dad, I'm having some challenges and I sure could use your help".
Perhaps if they better understand what Casual Group Dating entails they'll jump on board. Share the Rules with them (they're on the side of the blog page).
And after all of that my friend, you may just have to wait like you said. Look, it's worth the effort.
Everything of value is.
Never give up on your standards; never stop listening to prophetic advice; and never give in to the pressure to be like everyone else.
I'll help along the way as best I can.
- Bro Jo