Saturday, April 16, 2016

Why don't you date?

So this morning I woke up from a dream in which I was having a conversation with a good guy friend. And in our conversation, I was asking my friend why he doesn't date more. I think in my dream mind I was a little bit mad at him (as girls sometimes get with guys) because it seems like guys should be dating no matter what. They're the ones who should be initiating things, and so this guy's perpetual single-ness was making me upset. It was an affront to all the single girls out there who are waiting for the men to get a clue.

I should clarify that in real life, I am not actually upset with this guy about this nor am I upset with guys in general over this issue. (Unless my subconscious knows something I don't.) But just to be safe, I'm not going to use the guy's name. Also, it would be weird if I did because in my dream we were a lot better friends than we actually are in real life.

Anyway, this guy had no real response to the question, so then I started telling him all the reasons I suspected he wasn't dating much—things like fear and laziness. As you can imagine, the conversation became more and more tense because no one likes to be told with so much candor how irrational their choices are. That's why it's a very good thing this conversation happened in a dream instead of in real life.

But then something happened that I wasn't expecting. All of a sudden, my guy friend turned to me and said, "Well, why aren't you dating?"

Oh. . . Um . . .

And that's when I woke up.

With the kind of clarity that I only get first thing in the morning, I realized: all of my excuses for not making dating a priority in my life are actually pretty hollow or based on assumptions that are just not true.

And even if I'm not mad at my guy friend about this in real life, it's not fair of me to get mad (as I sometimes do) with guys for their lack of dating, when I'm not dating either. I mean, yes, I still fundamentally believe that guys should take the initiative. I don't believe that they always need to do the asking. I have asked guys out before and I'll probably do it again. But I think that it should be their call about whether or not to pursue a deeper relationship. And I don't plan to take the responsibility for that part of dating.

But there are still things I could be doing to make dating a priority in my life. And those things are not about losing weight and wearing more makeup. They're more about honestly assessing what my reservations are and learning to see things clearly and push myself past my fears.

I assume there will be people reading this who are single like me and they might relate to some of the things I'm about to say. Others of you reading have likely been married for years. If that's you, maybe you'll want to keep reading so that you understand what it's really like to be single and a woman and LDS and almost 31 and a half years old. I can't say that my personal list of reasons or excuses is universal. We all have our own. But I think that the married folks out there could still gain some insight from this.

So what are my reservations? What are my excuses?

Well, I came up with a list. In no particular order, except the order that I thought of them, here are the . . .

Top Ten Reasons I Don't Date:

1. I don't want to get involved with someone from Utah when I know I don't want to stay here forever.
2. No one is going to want to date me as I currently look (cue the body image issues).
3. It will be hard to find someone who shares my values. It goes without saying that I'm looking for someone who shares my religious beliefs, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about someone who values things like minimalism, simplicity, and living within my means. It also includes the worry that no one will want to date me when they find out I'm about to be living in a tiny house.
4. Speaking of my tiny house, I'm really focused on that right now. Once I get that done, then I'll start worrying about dating.
5. I haven't met anyone that I'm attracted to in a long time.
6. Dating can be expensive and I'm on a budget.
7. I'm busy with work right now.
8. I'm afraid of being rejected.
9. I lack the social skills necessary to date.
10. It often seems like dating only brings negative energy into my life and I don't want to be burdened with that. I'd rather just be happy being alone, which I am most of the time.

These are valid concerns—well, a lot of them are. Some are not. But I know that in the past they have held me back. So now I want to take the opportunity to refute them a little bit. Just like that dream conversation I was having with my friend, I'm about to have a conversation with myself (and, by extension, with all of you) about why I don't date more.

1. I don't want to get involved with someone from Utah when I know I don't want to stay here forever.
So don't date people who want to stay in Utah forever. If this is really that important to you, ask this question early in the process of getting to know someone and use it to weed through the prospects. But just because a man lives in Utah now doesn't mean he wants to forever. Remember, Heidi, you yourself are currently living in Utah. Also, this is a good reason to try online dating again—so that you meet people from all over. (More about this later.)

2. No one is going to want to date me as I currently look (cue the body image issues). 
I don't have time to get into all this today. Yes, it's important to be healthy, and I know that's something you want to work on more in the future. And it's also true that there are guys out there who will rule you out because of how you look. That's a shame. It really is. But there are also guys who wouldn't care one bit, and right now you're not even giving them the chance to decide for themselves. You're just stereotyping an entire gender, which is really uncool. Whether or not a guy wants to date you should be his choice. After all, you get really upset when a guy you like assumes that no one is into him and then just ignores any attempts you might make to prove otherwise. So how exactly can you justify doing the same thing to all the guys in the whole world? That just makes no sense.

3. It will be hard to find someone who shares my values, like minimalism, simplicity, and living within my means. And no one will want to date me when they find out I'm about to be living in a tiny house.
Yes. It will be hard to find someone who values all the same things you do. But it's not impossible. And the good news is that none of these "values" are really deal breakers for you. That is, just because you feel strongly about them doesn't mean that you hold others to that same standard. You don't expect or need people to agree with you. And you would be fine living one way while your boyfriend/fiance/spouse lived another way. Even the tiny house could fit into a future with the right person. As long as you're both mutually respectful of each other's values—and as long as you still agree on the gospel fundamentals (because those really are deal breakers)—you'll be just fine.

4. But why can't I just wait until I move into a tiny house? I need to focus on that right now.
I can see why it would be tempting to wait. But here's the thing: once you move into the house, there will be something else that you're really close to accomplishing, like writing another book or some other major life project that you decide to take on. That's just the kind of person you are. You're driven and you like to constantly keep moving. But that means that if you keep waiting until after you finish the next big thing, you will never. get. there. There will always be something else big on the horizon, some reason to put off dating a little longer.
I think you know deep down that this excuse is just a way to keep putting off the potential for pain a little bit longer. You're pretending to yourself that you're preparing when you're really just procrastinating.

5. I haven't met anyone that I'm attracted to in a long time.
Yes, which makes perfect sense because you rarely meet new people at all these days. But trust me, when you do, you're just as attracted to certain types of guys as you have always been. Remember all the cute guys you saw when you stopped by that older singles ward last week? I rest my case. The problem is not with the selection of single guys. It's with your lack of exposure to them. And that's something you can fix.

6. Dating can be expensive and I'm on a budget.
It can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be. You can date on a budget. Also—and I'm sorry to say this, but it's kind of true—this is one area where being the girl really works to your advantage. If anything, going on more dates and having guys pay for you once in awhile could actually help your budget.

7. I'm busy with work right now.
This would be a good excuse if it were true. But it sooooo isn't. You and I both know (because we're the same person) that work is not busy right now and that in fact you work for a great company that encourages you to have a life outside of work by keeping your work load manageable. This is not a real concern for you.

8. I'm afraid of being rejected.
Okay. This one is real. But I'd like to remind you that you've lived through rejection before and you survived it just fine, after awhile. Plus, as a writer and just a well-rounded human being, part of your job is to experience things so that you can write about them authentically and relate to others when they go through them. Even things like heartbreak. In fact, maybe especially the painful things that no one likes to feel or talk about. Sometimes those are the very things that people need to read about and relate to most. I'm not saying you need to go into it with the goal of getting hurt, but you can't let that fear keep you from experiencing the full spectrum of what life has to offer.

9. I lack the social skills necessary to date.
Dude. Your social skills are just fine. You may not be the world's best flirt, but you can carry on a conversation. You're funny and genuine and thoughtful. That's all you really need. The rest of it is just timing and circumstance. And a little patience doesn't hurt either.

10. Dating only brings negative energy into my life and I don't want to be burdened with that. I'd rather just learn to be happy being alone.
Yeah, I know that's been true for you a lot in the past. You have been dating for years, and you're still not married, which means that overall the experience can feel negative. But I don't think that means that it has to be that way. Just like with any other life experience, dating isn't inherently positive or negative. It's neutral. It's just dating. And it's up to you to frame the experience however you want to.
In the past, you may have chosen more negative framing than you should have. But that doesn't mean you have to keep choosing to see things that way in the future. You can still choose to focus on the positive aspects of dating. And you know that you can always choose to be happy. You're actually really good at that. Trust in your abilities as an optimist, and if you can feel yourself getting off track and starting to focus too much on the negatives, step back, take a deep breath, reread this post, and then get back out there and enjoy all the fun parts.

The thing about dating is that you may or may not find someone you want to get serious with, but your chances will be a lot better out there in the real world (or online) than they will be if you just keep sitting here, alone in your room or griping with your girlfriends about how guys are the problem. Even if that were true, that's outside your control. And you will be a lot happier if you learn to focus on what you can control.

That way, after you've cheerfully done all things that lie in your power, you can "stand still, with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed" (D&C 123:17).

So that's the conversation I had with myself this morning. I hope some part of it has been helpful to you. I can't say that I'm going to dive head first into dating up a storm tomorrow. But I am posting this as a challenge to myself to put myself out there more. And I hope that putting this online will help me to hold myself more accountable to that.

For more on this topic, I can recommend this excellent article from the April Ensign. And I can also recommend sitting down with yourself sometime to mull over these issues. You don't have to actually talk to yourself like I did. But I think that whatever it is that you're trying to achieve, whether it's dating or some other life goal, it's worth examining your own hangups and excuses and trying to work through them rationally, rather than letting your fears and feelings keep you from what you ultimately want.

Good luck out there, everyone! And have a wonderful weekend!


  1. Dating is fun sometimes and sometimes it's the worst. Remember how I didn't want to get married b/c there are so many great guys out there!? My biggest hurdle. Anyway, you're doing great. It's certainly not as easy as eating ice cream. Man, I sure do love me some ice cream.

    1. Haha. I love your comments! It is definitely not as easy as eating ice cream, but on rare occasions it's just as much fun. :)