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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tired of Trying

Dear Bro Jo,

I know you get a lot of these letters, but I need someone to listen to me who won’t lie in order to make me feel better. I hope you can handle one more.

I’m a 23 year old single, LDS woman. I recently graduated from university and moved from a college town brimming with YSAs to one with one with a comparatively tiny singles' ward.

I know that making this change was the right thing to do, my new ward has been very welcoming, and I’m excited to be in this new phase of life. However, I now find myself in a much smaller dating pool where the men don’t have much interest in dating.

For example, the Bishopric and their wives recently organized a date night to which no one came.

No one.

I’m not all that anxious to get married.

I feel like there are still some things I need to do before I’m ready for that. In a lot of ways I have maturing to do, and I've had personal revelation that I need to be furthering my schooling and thinking about a career (for the time being).

All the same, I do realize that marriage is incredibly important and is something I am preparing for and desperately want to happen someday, when I meet the right man.

I recognize that in order to prepare for and make this possible when the time does come, I need to be dating. My problem is that even when I lived somewhere filled with good men who wanted to get married I was rarely asked out. In my seven years of dating I’ve gone on two dates.

I’ve been asked out a couple more times than that, but during college I was very busy and my schedule was a barrier.

I did what I could to encourage invitations and would suggest alternate times and days when I couldn’t accept dates, but if I couldn’t make it for when they asked they’d never ask again.

I’ve never been kissed; no guy has ever even tried to hold my hand.

That’s completely abnormal for a 23 year old, isn’t it?

At times this makes me feel like I must be undesirable in every way, despite the fact that I live my life in accordance to the gospel and deep down I believe I’m intelligent, attractive, funny, and kind.

There are a lot of days where it’s incredibly hard to keep believing that I’m a worthwhile person and deserve to find a righteous man to marry.

All the evidence says the men I know don’t see me as a prospective date, let alone a prospective eternal companion.

I may not be the most outgoing person, but I attend all my church meetings as well as what ward and institute activities my schedule allows.

I mingle and talk with people I haven’t yet met as well as those I know, and I do my best to flirt.

Socializing and putting myself out there is something I have to work on consistently, especially during the periods I feel the most down about myself. It's something I consciously try to become better at every day and has been a slow process but I’ve become more outgoing and open in the last several years.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen any results from all this hard work (the last time I was asked out was two and a half years ago, and it was a blind date my roommate set up so she could go out with his roommate) and I’m about ready to give up and accept the fact that I’m going to live my life alone. 

How can I find the motivation to keep trying when all the effort I've been putting in has gotten me nothing and leaves me exhausted?

Thanks for being a listening ear,

- Tired of Trying

Dear Tired,

Each of us has different trials in our lives, though if we think about it we're never alone; nor are we the only ones to ever deal with that which we must deal.

If you'll tolerate one correction: personal revelation can never contradict the will of God, it's the calling of the Prophet to let us know the will of God, and recent Prophets have all been clear that marriage should not be delayed for education or career.

And it's my opinion that "lack of personal maturity" is more of an excuse than a realization.

I'm certainly more mature than I was when I got married nearly 25 years ago (although Sister Jo might dispute that), but that doesn't mean I should have put off marriage from then until now.

The one bit of advice I can give you as a Young Single Adult Sister (you are still quite young, you know) regarding the single life in a small LDS population area is that you may need to do quite a bit of ego boosting and training the single men your age about dating.

Regardless of you lack of experience, you very likely will have to take the lead on this one.

That means no hanging out, and encouraging guys to ask you out.

And that may mean being a tad forward.

You may want to check out: Bro Jo's "HOW a GIRL CAN GET a GUY to ASK HER on a DATE"

It's not that unusual that you haven't been kissed yet, but don't let that shy you away from the opportunity should it arise.

Lastly, sometimes you'll feel motivated and sometimes less so. In those moments, the moments when you feel most blue, go find an opportunity to be of service to someone. Helping them feel better will help you feel better.

Good luck!

And keep us posted.

- Bro Jo


Anonymous said...

While we cannot receive personal revelation that contradicts commandments, general counsel is not binding and most certainly can be negated by personal revelation

Anonymous said...

I was very recently a 23-year-old woman, (a birthday just happened) and I'm still one of those who's never been kissed and no one's tried to hold my hand. Saying that I've gone on three times as many dates total since age 16 as you have still isn't very many. And I totally get your location and situation with work and other things because it's also mine. So hooray, there are two of us! Lol.

I just wanted to say that though I probably will, and you probably will, meet your spouse by dating, and though the general authorities do encourage dating (as opposed to other ways of socializing that are more popular nowadays) I've realized that we're not limited to dating in order to find our spouse. And quite a few people even claim, after years of being married, that they never "dated" the person they met and married. So don't feel like just because we get no dates means we can't possibly get married, either. If we ask the Lord to help us know how to spend our time (I need to do better at that, though in my case I feel that the Lord has one particular project He'd like me to finish right now before moving on) He'll tell us, and what He says is always going to be best for us to do right now. And doing those activities may very well lead to finding a husband though they're not "dating" or "going on dates."

I'm kind of surprised that BroJo would say that a person's revelation to focus on career or education for now could contradict the prophets' telling us that marriage shouldn't be delayed and so it's not possible that a person could be told to focus on those things. I firmly believe that marriage shouldn't be delayed, but in spite of my efforts, I haven't met someone who will build a marriage with me yet, and in fact the Lord has led me to focus on something of a career and some education; and that's after I already finished a degree, all the while looking for marriage and being willing to give my schedule up to marry if I had the opportunity. It's just as huge of a test to be willing not to give those things up yet when you kind of want to be able to, if the Lord wants you to keep doing those things, as it is a test to be willing to give them up.

Anonymous said...

"As a General Authority it is my responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don't try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules...But don't ask me to give an opinion on your exception. I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord" (The Dedication of a Lifetime, CES Fireside, May 1 2005).

Personal revelation would be the very things that have to be worked out individually between a person and the Lord. If she has prayed and gotten an answer from God telling her specifically how her life should be conducted, and that answer is not something that would be sinful, then she is justified in following that revelation.

Looks like she is trying to follow Elder Oaks' counsel in this case.

Anonymous said...

Any younger college girls reading this, it just goes to show you: Take advantage of the times guys ask you out, and do as much as you can to move things around to be available for dates. There are girls out there that get asked out a lot by RM's when they're 18-19, but they refuse to go out because they're scared of dating older guys. When they get into their 20's and "older" compared to the other younger girls, they're no longer as pursued and they wonder why guys don't ask them out.

Take the opportunities as they come. We like to think about "the Lord's time" as a time that comes AFTER the time we want, requiring patience and wait from our part. However, sometimes "the Lord's time" comes BEFORE we may want it. It's important to be ready for both.

Tired said...

Hi Jo Bro and commenters, I'm the original letter writer and thought I'd leave an update.

Obviously I still read the blog on occasion, and I was surprised to see my letter published over two years after I sent it!

I think the most important update has to with with my state of mind. At the time I hadn't accepted it, but I suffer from depression and social anxiety disorder. Moving far away from my support system of family and friends didn't make my struggles any easier, but it (along with Elder Holland's talk "Like a Broken Vessel" in the October 2013 General Conference) did push me to seek help. Therapy and antidepressants have done wonders for my psyche, self-worth, and ability to build relationships! So to anyone out there who finds doing every day things (like getting out of bed in the morning, eating breakfast, leaving the house and talking to people, or liking yourself) to be incredibly difficult, PLEASE talk to someone about it. Life is hard, but it doesn't have to be THAT hard.

Bro Jo, your advice to serve others also greatly helped me. I was blessed in many ways for putting more effort into my callings and trying to serve those around me. One of these blessings was connecting with someone who is now one of my best friends! On the surface we have nothing in common, but it turns out we've experienced similar trials and have been able to support one another through them. I never would have gotten to truly know her if I hadn't been looking for ways to serve.

I do want to clarify something. Marriage and family has *always* been my number 1 goal. While I'm not perfect, and I did (and still do) need to work on my dating and communication skills, I do what I can to meet worthy men and get to know them. I think in my original letter I may have made it sound like I avoided or put off dating and marriage, and to some extent that may have been true.

At the time, hearing Bro Jo's chastisement really struck me the wrong way, and I see similar sentiments in the comments. I stand by my decision to further my education and career, and in hindsight I see God's hand in these decisions even more than I did before. However, to some extent I *was* making excuses. For instance, I'd skip activities (and chances to socialize with worthy men) to study, telling myself that my schoolwork would suffer. However, if I had sacrificed some Netflix time the day before I'd have been able to go. God inspired me to further my education and prepare for a career, but there's still time for other things.

To wrap up, after making changes, I dated more in that tiny YSA ward than I ever did in areas with abundant church members. While I still haven't found my eternal companion (or even had my hand held or been kissed... to do this day no one has tried, even on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th dates and not-so-subtle hints... I'm not yet brave enough to initiate those moves) I have been incredibly blessed by the relationships I built in the ward, especially those with the men I dated.

I've since finished graduate school and am now preparing to move (yet again) to an area where there isn't even a YSA ward. While I know the dating pool for me will continue to be sparse, I'm hopeful that I can still find worthy men to date. After all, in the end I only need the one. :)

Bro Jo said...

Dear Tired,

How wonderful to hear from you!

And I'm glad you're doing so well.

Thank you for your kindness and the update.

May the Lord continue to bless you,

- Bro Jo