Tag Archives: relationships

Ask A Friend: What Is Appropriate Dating Behavior?

Dear Paul,

If you had someone who was very interested in you and you dated off and on for a year and a half and you found out he/she had been talking secretly to your close sister/brother or friend to get information about you…Information like if you like him, if you’re seeing others and what you’re doing with those other people… who the other people are etc…what would you do? Would that bother you or would you recognize he’s only doing it because he/she likes you so much? Deal breaker?

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your question. This is an interesting question to address as it has many components. What it boils down to is, “what is considered appropriate dating behavior?” What is appropriate varies greatly in each situation based on such things as the length and depth of the relationship, dating expectations, and whether these expectations were clearly communicated. I am going to discuss three major aspects of dating which seems to be a cause of much frustration and hopefully you’ll be able to apply these aspects to your current situation. The first is what I call the Hollywood effect, second, the push for persistence, and finally, communication and expectations.

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1. The Hollywood Effect

Whether we like it or not, we have all been influenced by Hollywood romances. Most Hollywood movies portray romance as something that happens with complete serendipity. Men and women meet in unsuspecting circumstances, they just happen to have quirky things in common, and things fall into place by the end of the movie by fate and happenstance. I recognize I’m overgeneralizing, but I have found that these Hollywood plots create a false ideal that relationships in the real world are to happen in a likewise manner. Therefore, I have witnessed men and women go to great lengths to try and fabricate this sense of romantic serendipity by trying to investigate as much about their romantic interest as they can when seeking to date someone.

For example, before taking a girl out on a date, let’s say I want to make the date seem as romantic as possible. In order for the date to be romantic, I want to make sure I understand what some of the girls likes and dislikes are and see if I can come up with a date that will appeal to certain aspects of her personality. Now, I could just ask her but that seems to lack the romantic spontaneity of Hollywood movies, so instead I check out her Facebook and learn that she plays guitar and loves folk music. So, I decide to take her to a concert. I have now created a situation where I am taking her on a date that will seem as though we have so much in common, increasing the romantic potential. If I wanted to know more about the girl I could also start contacting her family and close friends to get more information. Whether or not this behavior is appropriate, as mentioned before, really depends on a number of different variables.

2. Push for Persistence

How many times have we heard a married woman tell a story that goes something like this, “When I first met my husband I wasn’t interested at all! He asked me out several times and I turned him down. Well, he kept asking me out and finally I said yes. After two years of dating on and off I finally knew I couldn’t live without him and we’ve been happily married for 30 years!” Throughout my life I have been encouraged countless times to be persistent when it comes to dating. Don’t give up! Keep trying! She’ll realize you’re the right man for her if you just keep pursuing!

Even as recent as last General Conference, Elder Ballard told the story of how he met his wife at a dance and said, “ I got her telephone number and called her to ask her out, but she was busy with school and social commitments. Thankfully, my mission taught me to be persistent even in the face of discouragement, and I was eventually able to make a date. Now, 64 years later, there are seven children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who stand as evidence of the significant truth that no matter how good your message is, you may not get a chance to deliver it without consistent, persistent follow-up.”

It’s important to understand men have been given this message many times throughout their lives and that they may not always respond to rejection by being rejected. Although stories and experiences like Elder Ballard’s definitely exist, I would suspect that there are far more stories of men who were persistent and never ended up with the girl they were pursuing, in spite of all evidence that the girl was not interested in the first place and never would be. But those stories don’t usually end up in the Ensign. I mention the push for persistence just to provide some context to why a gentleman may still be pursuing long after you’ve made your lack of interest clear. Which brings me to my last and final point.

3. Communication and Expectations

I have heard time and time again that one of the biggest struggles with relationships is effective communication and expectations. Yet it seems that in dating there is little discussion regarding these two principles. I would postulate that this is due largely to the Hollywood effect, and individuals suspecting that during courtship everything should just happen naturally without having to communicate.

In contrast to such unrealistic expectations, why not set a pattern of healthy courtship by learning to communicate expectations clearly? This can be done without becoming overbearing and in a manner that will still allow for all the fun and excitement of dating. Take something as simple as a girl letting a possible suitor know that, “On a first date it is important to me to get to know someone in a public setting before I am ready to spend time with them one on one.” The gentleman now knows the expectations of the girl and can be sure to plan a date that is sensitive to her expectations.

Regarding your situation with the gentleman who is still pursuing and asking your family for more information, it is your right to communicate to him your expectations for your relationship. If his behavior is not appropriate to you and makes you uncomfortable, then you have the right to communicate that with him clearly. Try sending him a message that goes something like, “Hello, my sister informed me that you’ve been asking her questions about me. I wanted to communicate with you that this behavior makes me uncomfortable and I feel it is a violation of my privacy. I appreciate you taking an interest in my life, but please know that I do not have an interest in dating you and would ask that you please be respectful of my boundaries. I think you are a great guy so I wanted to respect your feelings by being completely clear with you. Thank you for understanding.”

I wish I could promise that such clear communication will be appreciated, but I have learned from many women that not every man is respectful in these situations, however, most guys will appreciate your efforts. If a man does become upset and writes back something harsh or attacking, again be respectful and clearly communicate your expectations. For example, something like, “I am sorry that my being honest with you was offensive, I know it’s never fun to be turned down by someone. I ask that you please be respectful of my boundaries and that you do not speak to me in such harsh language. If you cannot be respectful, I will block any future messages or communication If you can be respectful and understanding of my feelings and boundaries, it’s possible we could maintain a platonic friendship. Thank you.”

Once you have clearly communicated your expectations, you will be able to quickly determine if a gentleman pursuing you really respects you. If you communicate expectations and a guy trying to date you seems to disregard your communication and does not show concern for your feelings, take that as a huge red flag that you are being dated by a jerk. Jerks only care about themselves and will not be considerate of your feelings or boundaries.

I do not know the man who is pursuing you, so I cannot say if he is a jerk with no respect of your boundaries, or if he is just a hopeless romantic seeking to create that Hollywood, serendipitous relationship. Regardless, you have a right to your privacy and to communicate your boundaries and expectations.

Dating can be a tremendous challenge for everyone. However, we can all do our part by trying to be as respectful as we can while also being willing to communicate openly our boundaries, expectations and feelings. I hope you will find success as you seek out a relationship that will bring joy and happiness into your life.

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Paul Green

Paul Green

Paul Green, is a real estate broker and professional improvisational comedian, actor and trainer. He has trained thousands of professionals and teenagers on principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking and has provided heart-filled advice and encouragement to all who he has had an opportunity to interact. His greatest passion is helping individuals find creative and uplifting solutions to the many challenges of life by applying the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looks forward to hearing and understanding the challenges of his readers and helping them to overcome these challenges.  For his full bio, click here

To submit an anonymous question to Paul:

1. Send a message to the LDS Single Friends Facebook Page or send an email to paulgreencanhelp@gmail.com

2. Please “like” LDS Single Friends on Facebook and invite your fellow LDS singles to join our online community! 

3. If your question is chosen, look for Paul’s response on this blog and on LDS Single Friends. To make sure that you never miss an advice column from Paul, you can subscribe to this blog through the form below. 

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Ask A Friend: How Can A Convert Adapt To Mormon Dating?

Dear Paul,  

I am struggling and I need some advice or encouragement or wisdom, I recently got back in the dating scene. I’ve been single forever and my last serious relationship was before I got baptized in 2010. I don’t have very much experience with Mormon dating and I struggle to keep my thoughts clean. I don’t want to fall back into past behaviors and I feel like I’m having a hard time staying true to myself.

Dating guys, and being attracted to guys, reminds me of the past in relationships where I was used for sex and not valued. I’m having a hard time believing someone could fall in love with me as an EC [eternal companion]. Do those relationships progress just like non-member relationships? I just want to be myself but I’ve never had a serious romantic relationship as a member of the church…

Dear writer,

Thank you so much for your question. Your concerns and reservations are felt by many, both in and outside of the church. We all have desires for intimacy but also want to make sure that we are striving for relationships of meaning and value. As Latter-day Saints, we definitely choose to follow a strict standard of chastity, which the Lord has commanded. However, just because you are new to the church, your struggles are no different than those of lifelong church members. All of us strive to exercise faith and diligence in obeying the commandments and all of us are just as prone to the natural man as any other.

Regarding the progression of LDS relationships compared to non-member relationships, it is difficult to say because relationships are so drastically varied. The rate at which two individuals meet, court, and enter into different levels of commitment changes from couple to couple. However, there are guidelines that will make the process of Mormon dating easier, so I would encourage you to do the following:

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  1. Take an inventory of your expectations before entering certain levels of affection and commitment. In other words, set your own standards, because no one else will set them for you. If you want a guy to call you and ask you out on an official date, instead of texting you to “hang out,” then don’t date guys who do not meet that standard. If a guy texts you to hang out, communicate that you are looking for a man who appreciates traditional dating, not just hanging out.


    Dating is challenging for men as well as women, and a lot of guys have been burned, rejected, ignored, stood up and disrespected as well. Consequently, they often have no idea how to approach a woman in any particular situation. However if you make your standards clear, a guy who is really interested will respect your standards. If he’s really interested, he will call and ask you out on a date! Setting a pattern of clearly stating expectations and communicating them will provide a strong foundation for any relationship, whether brand new or seasoned. 

  1. Next, set standards for the levels of affection you are comfortable. No man has any right to your affections no matter how much money he spent on a date, no matter how much time he has spent with you, or how many dates he has taken you on. Your affection is priceless and is only to be expressed when you are good and ready, not when the man expects it or seeks for it. 
  1. The first few dates should be spent having a good time, enjoying a wholesome activity, establishing emotional and spiritual connections, and building physical chemistry and anticipation through dancing, hiking, baking cookies, rock climbing, laser tag, bowling, finger painting, and other involved, yet light-heart activities.  
  1. Regarding personal displays of affection, hugs are sufficient for the first few dates. If a man seems a little aggressive or anxious to progress to kissing and cuddling, especially while lying down, or seems to always suggest activities at night, or one on one at his house or yours, I would be cautious about his true intentions. If a man does seem to be pushing for dates that may not be wholesome in their intent, I would again recommend clearly communicating your expectations and standards. For example, saying something like, “I appreciate the invitation to come over to your house tonight, but I like to have several opportunities to spend time with a man in a more public setting before spending time one on one at their property. Let me know if you have another activity in mind that would be fun.”After three or four dates it may be appropriate, if you feel comfortable, to hold hands, and perhaps even a peck or two. These are my own recommendations for time frames that are appropriate to express affection, but of course, you may adapt them to your comfort level. I would strongly caution against any kissing in overtly intimate settings, such as lying down on a couch watching a movie, swimming alone, in the car etc. And I would definitely caution against any excessive kissing, making out, tongue kissing, necking, etc. Think of it like this: Is the kiss romantic, sweet, fun and building your connection to each other emotionally, physically and spiritually, or is it more passionate, intense and sexual in nature? The latter is best experienced a lot further down the road, and if avoided early on, would help prevent the relationship from leading to regretful behaviors that would result in guilt and shame.
  1. Regarding frequency of dates, starting out, I would recommend no more than one date a week, if not every other week. We seem to be so anxious to get into a relationship that as soon as we meet someone we like, we want to spend every waking moment with them. Although there are plenty of success stories of such romantic whimsy, I would say jumping head first into a relationship will make physical intimacy progress rather quickly, making it difficult to keep standards and commandments. If this type of intimacy occurs too quickly, when you are uncertain if you want to be exclusive with this individual, it can create confusion, shame and even guilt if the affection progresses to a point that has compromised chastity.Dating is a process, and if you respect the process and allow the relationship to grow and progress steadily, you will find yourself on far more solid ground then by going full steam out of the gate. After three or four dates, it may be appropriate to begin seeing each other once or twice a week and involving each other in activities such as family dinners, work parties or social events. This is one step away from exclusivity and as the relationship progresses, becoming exclusive would be the final step in courtship before engagement and marriage.
  1. One final word of caution, and this may seem extreme, but I would avoid any excessive making out until you are at least engaged, if not already married. Also avoid being alone in compromising situations such as a bedroom, a dark living room, etc. Remember that as much as the Lord wants us to be happy and find fulfilling eternal relationships, the adversary wants us to slip up by making bad decisions and compromising our eternal destiny.Our society seems to place sexual interaction as the most crucial and fundamental focal point of all relationships. Although it is definitely an important component, there are other aspects that are far more crucial and necessary in an eternal relationship, such as compatibility, spiritual sensitivity, a desire to live the gospel, open and respectful communication, sacrifice, patience, forgiveness, etc.  A relationship based on these attributes will have a greater capacity to last into eternity than a relationship based on making out for a couple hours after knowing each other for a week.

I appreciate your openness and your concerns. Have faith that God will bless you if you are obedient and set up boundaries to help protect your virtue, the law of chastity and the sanctity of the priesthood that the men you will be dating hold. When a man recognizes your standards and you carry yourself with respect and dignity, he WILL respect your standards and will never do anything to compromise his chances with you. If he is truly interested in you as a person and as a prospective eternal companion, if he makes a mistake, he will recognize his error and will seek your forgiveness.

You made such a courageous decision to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ, great blessings await you as you continue to be faithful. You need not fear Mormon dating, God is aware of your concerns and He will bless you and guide you as you seek to find a man worthy of enjoying the blessings of eternity by your side.

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Paul Green

Paul Green

Paul Green, is a real estate broker and professional improvisational comedian, actor and trainer. He has trained thousands of professionals and teenagers on principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking and has provided heart-filled advice and encouragement to all who he has had an opportunity to interact. His greatest passion is helping individuals find creative and uplifting solutions to the many challenges of life by applying the principles and doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looks forward to hearing and understanding the challenges of his readers and helping them to overcome these challenges.  For his full bio, click here

To submit an anonymous question to Paul:

1. Send a message to the LDS Single Friends Facebook Page or send an email to paulgreencanhelp@gmail.com

 

2. Please “like” LDS Single Friends on Facebook and invite your fellow LDS singles to join our online community! 

3. If your question is chosen, look for Paul’s response on this blog and on LDS Single Friends. To make sure that you never miss an advice column from Paul, you can subscribe to this blog through the form below. 

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Introducing Paul Green, Advice Columnist for LDS Single Friends


We’re pleased to introduce Paul Green, our new advice columnist for LDS Single Friends. Paul has been well prepared by the Lord to take on this role and we hope that the LDS single adult community will take advantage of his insights and expertise. Here’s his bio below:

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Paul Green

Paul Green

Paul Green is a renaissance man in every sense of the word, he is an entrepreneur, actor, comedian, musician, athlete, humanitarian, writer and much more. He served a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Cleveland Ohio and upon returning noticed a cultural shift in the church regarding marriage, divorce, dating, relationships, and parenting. Through his experience serving in the LDS church, he had the opportunity to meet and associate with many single adults from a variety of circumstances. Many of these singles would confide and open up to him, helping Paul gain a greater and deeper sympathy for the tremendous and heart wrenching challenges associated with being single parents and divorcees and the struggles of trying to date again after having extremely traumatizing experiences in their first marriages.    

As he learned how to listen with his whole heart to the challenges of others, Paul was also facing his own challenges as a single man in the LDS church. At the age of 33, Paul has never been married and has faced his own set of challenges as a single man, striving to live the gospel and serve in the kingdom of God while lacking one of the most significant pieces of a truly gospel centered life, a spouse and children. After struggling with dating and relationships after returning from his mission, he spent several years in intense study of relationships, communication, and human interaction to better understand why dating is such a challenge for so many, while it seems so natural for others. After many personal discoveries he began blogging some of his discoveries in a blog entitled, “dating difficulties.” This was his first attempt at writing for the benefit of others. Many expressed positive appreciation for his insights and comments, and one reader even offered to help him write and publish a book!

At about the same time that Paul began his quest to understand dating, he also discovered he had a natural gift and talent for improvisational comedy and performance. He started performing with a local improv troupe that performed regularly. As an improviser, he began to learn and utilize principles of leadership, communication, team building and creative thinking in his personal and professional relationships. He was also given the opportunity to teach workshops to help others find greater success in their own personal and professional lives. These opportunities, coupled with his life experiences, helped him discover his great passion for helping others find more creative and effective solutions to overcome the many challenges and trials that all of us face in mortality. 

Paul was put on this world to serve and love others with his whole heart, full of compassion, sympathy and understanding of any challenge that anyone can face in life. Whatever you are struggling with at this point in your life, whether it be illness, loneliness, depression, trials of faith, doubt, fear, apprehension, family concerns, divorce, singleness, financial, spiritual, emotional, struggles with same-gender attraction etc., his only desire is to help! Feel free to write in and see if Paul has any advice that will help you push through your current trial to receive the blessing that awaits all after the trial of faith!

Single, but not singled out

Single, but not singled out: Why a gospel-centered life is the best choice for a single adult

As an active Mormon, being single is not the lifestyle I would have chosen for myself. Having been taught about family relationships at an early age, I never doubted the importance of marriage. Yet despite choosing to follow the path laid out to me through the church – a mission, education, and career – I’ve found myself alone in a family-oriented religion.

My situation is hardly unique. Single adults are a growing demographic in the United States, and about half of American adults, or 100 million, are single. Even within the Mormon Church, it’s estimated that at least one-third of its adult members are single.

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Single adults have many challenges during these formative years as they prepare for careers, marriage, and family life. It’s easy to be distracted by the temptations of the world, to take the seemingly easy route through life that leads to instant gratification. Being a Mormon single adult also creates unique expectations and challenges to overcome.

Being Mormon and Single

Because of the culture of the Mormon Church, it’s sometimes easy to feel alone and isolated simply because of your marital status. In a church that highly values marriage and family, people are often critical of singles because they assume that something must be “wrong” with us. It’s tough to remain single while you see people around you marry and settle down, especially when you can’t figure out exactly what makes them better marriage material than you. It hurts to feel that despite doing everything you can to be eligible for the Lord’s blessings, you have not yet received the earnest desire of your heart.   

As a Mormon single adult, I also have fears I have to live with:

The fear of not being able to find an eternal companion and having to face life alone.

The fear of being ostracized by other church members and not fitting in because of the shallow judgments of others. 

Or worst of all, the fear that perhaps the problem is me and that I’m still single because there’s something wrong with me I haven’t yet recognized.

It’s easy to lose faith, to question if God really does have a plan for you, to wonder if you’ll fit in as an active single Mormon. Perhaps in part for these reasons, it’s estimated that half of the Mormon single adult population is not active in the church. But although I have these fears, they’ve become manageable through knowing and living gospel principles.

Despite the challenges that face Mormon single adults, I choose to remain active in the gospel for three specific reasons.

First, I choose to be active because the gospel is true for everyone, married or single. Because of the teachings of the gospel, I understand that being married or single doesn’t change your value in the eyes of the Lord. Being a single adult in the church does not make you a second class citizen; it simply means that you have not yet had the opportunity of finding a companion.

Everyone’s path in life is different and we all have unique challenges to overcome as we work towards becoming like our Heavenly Father. What really matters is how we choose to face these challenges. When I feel discouraged, I remind myself of a story told by Elder Anderson about a convert who sacrificed everything – his family relationships, his career, and other opportunities in life – just so he could be baptized. When questioned about why he made his decision, with tears in his eyes, he said, “It’s true, isn’t it? Then what else matters?”

My personal testimony has helped sustain me as a Mormon single adult. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “When [an individual] is motivated by great and powerful convictions of truth, he disciplines himself, not because of the demands made by the church but because of the knowledge within his heart.” Because I know the gospel is true, it helps me stay active in the church – no matter how difficult or lonely the path might be.

Second, I choose to be active in the gospel because it creates the best possible lifestyle for a single adult. The teachings of Jesus Christ allow me to anchor my life to something that stays constant in a world of change. It’s given me the guidance and support to make the best possible life decisions. It’s given me the ability to go through life and make choices that will bring lasting happiness, rather than be satisfied with short-term, temporary pleasure.

It’s true that living the gospel doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have a life free of pain, loneliness, or trials. Being an active Mormon single adult can be difficult sometimes. But it’s worth it. Living the gospel has brought purpose to my life as a single adult and it’s brought me lasting happiness that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s allowed me to experience sacred moments of pure joy that only come through obeying gospel principles.  

It’s brought me joy from knowing about my divine potential and that I can become more like my Heavenly Father.

It’s allowed me to feel peace from knowing that although my life may not have turned out the way I envisioned, it’s still acceptable to God.

It’s helped me obtain serenity when my heartfelt prayers are answered, even when it’s not necessarily in the way and timeframe I would have liked.

When I have these sacred experiences, it gives me a brief taste of the eternal joy that awaits me if I’m faithful in this life. The gospel is called the plan of happiness for good reason and I wouldn’t trade these blessings for anything else.

Third, I choose to be active in the gospel because it gives me an eternal perspective. This means that I make choices in life that will bring me happiness for eternity, not just for the relatively short timeframe of mortality. Ten years, twenty years, even a hundred years is less than a blink of an eye compared to eternity.

Because whatever choices we make in this life will determine our destiny for eternity, we have so much to lose if we allow our focus to hang on our marital status. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen from single adults is losing sight of our place in God’s kingdom simply because we haven’t yet found an eternal companion. We are a chosen generation and we should act accordingly – single or not, married or not.

Having an eternal perspective means that we’re willing to accept the Lord’s timetable for our lives. If we recognize that the Lord wants to bless us in His own time, we earnestly strive to prepare ourselves for eternal marriage, keep a positive attitude, and make the most of our available opportunities.

The Lord's blessings will come

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It’s challenging to keep an eternal perspective when faced with disappointment, heartache, and a sense of loss. But we need to remind ourselves that this life is a test, an opportunity to prove ourselves. If we live faithfully, whatever blessings go unfulfilled in this life will be made up for in the next. Because of my perspective, each year that goes by isn’t viewed as another year being single – it’s viewed as another year in keeping myself worthy to receive the Lord’s blessings, regardless of whether these blessings happen in this life or the next.

Conclusion

I know that regardless of our marital status, the gospel is worth living. I truly believe that despite the challenges we face as single adults, we are on a path that leads to eternal joy. The gospel has given me a purpose in life, the strength to persevere, and the ability to stay optimistic about my future. As a great man once said, “the future is as bright as your faith.”

Image courtesy of www.creativeldsquotes.com

Image courtesy of www.creativeldsquotes.com

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