The natural man and woman (and yes, they are worth distinguishing) drive the dating decisions of far too many LDS singles to prize the worldly over the eternal. The natural mindset informs our assumptions about what’s acceptable, which in turn drives our dating thinking and dating behavior. When you view the bigger picture, it’s not hard to see we need to reject the natural mindset.
Begin with awareness
This may shock many, but it needs to be said because awareness is the first step towards positive change. The vast majority of LDS singles make decisions about dating with the natural mindset. They prioritize self and attributes that don’t really matter in the hereafter (or even very long in this life, for that matter) over what will truly matter in the eternities to come. Their thinking is all about this life and more specifically, their life.
In contrast, the covenant mindset prioritizes making and keeping sacred covenants. Covenant men and women value consistently living the restored gospel. Having a covenant-minded partner is more important to them than physical attraction, money, fame, or status. Covenant men and women will choose to date someone who may lack in those attributes but who has that commitment to the covenant lifestyle.
Now, I want to make clear I’m not suggesting any two active LDS singles should come together on that basis alone. We’re not interchangeable parts. We’re all unique, nuanced individuals, and our dating decisions should acknowledge that individuality. But that individuality finds best expression within a covenant relationship with someone who prioritizes covenant living.
Recognize the danger
Yet many LDS singles prioritize finding someone who today excels in desired attributes. They want perfection up front when the perfection they insist on having really comes only after a lifetime of work. It’s an impossible standard leaving many singles unnecessarily single.
And there’s a dangerous assumption lurking behind that standard. It’s the assumption your marriage is all about you — your happiness, your life, your eternity. But correctly understood, your marriage is not about you.
Yes, it has to do with you, but it’s not entirely about you nor even principally about you. Your marriage is about your companion and your children — the family you’ll create together. That often means giving up something you want for yourself in order to prioritize something for them.
That’s why the natural mindset is so dangerous. Thinking your marriage is all about you engenders a selfish approach to dating and marriage, one that prioritizes what you want over making and keeping sacred covenants. What do you expect results from that approach? It’s exactly what we increasingly see — more and more singles remaining single and more and more singles who do get married struggling to make their marriage last. You don’t get maximum happiness outside covenant living, and the covenant lifestyle doesn’t work when you prioritize self over covenant living.
Correct your thinking
And that’s why the natural man and the natural woman are enemies of God. When you prioritize self over covenants, you prevent families, which play a key role in our Heavenly Father’s plan, from being created and nourished.
The real obstruction is the insistence on having nothing but the best in a companion. It’s the associated idea that “settling for second best” can’t lead to happiness that prevents us from having our maximum happiness. Only inside sacred covenants can we find maximum happiness. Happiness is about giving, not having. So few of us are genuinely top shelf by worldly standards anyway that allowing the natural mindset to drive our dating decisions under the false belief that “settling for second best” leads only to misery is what’s really making us miserable.
If you want your dating journey to lead to maximum happiness, reject the natural mindset. Start by learning what you need to reject. Consciously choose to act with a priority of covenant living rather than selfish desire. And embrace Christ’s wondrous Atonement. When you do, He’ll purify your desires so that what you sincerely want is what you should want. Then making the right choices becomes easier. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
It takes practice, but it’s not difficult to think like the opposite gender. Both men and women think logically and rationally. Yes, it’s true. Men use intellectual logic based in reason. Women use emotional logic based in feeling. Once you understand these principles, remembering five magic words can help you experience more dating success.
Dealing with men
Of course, men and women have their own five magic words because men and women think differently. So first, brethren, let’s be gentlemen and help the ladies understand the five magic words for men: It must make intellectual sense.
Now, I can already hear some of you objecting, “Men are always following their hormones. They’re always chasing the hotties! Where’s the intellectual logic there?”
All men do think with their head. Unfortunately many don’t use the one between their shoulders. But let’s get real, ladies. Those are natural men chasing youth and beauty. Once you lose yours, they’ll lose you. What you really want is a covenant man who’ll prioritize making and keeping sacred covenants, take ownership of his life, and demonstrate leadership by making something of himself.
These men aren’t following hormones as much as they follow what makes sense. That’s how masculine men process thinking — with intellectual logic. If it makes sense, they accept it. If it doesn’t make sense, they reject it.
So ladies, stop, for example, trying to attract a man by increasing your own status. That works to attract a woman because it aligns with how a woman thinks. But men don’t think like women. It makes no sense to follow status because that doesn’t offer a man anything he values. And what sense does it make to chase after something of no value? It must make intellectual sense.
Dealing with women
Of course, women have their own five magic words. So brethren, let’s huddle around and learn the five magic words for women: New experience with desired emotion.
Once you understand these five magic words, you’ll have come a long way towards understanding women. That may surprise men fooled by the common myth that women are illogical and irrational. That’s simply not true. Women are completely logical and totally rational. Their logic simply has a different base.
Where men base their logic in intellect, women base their logic in emotion. Just as men accept what makes sense and reject what doesn’t, women accept what feels good and reject what doesn’t, because feeling good is the emotional equivalent of making sense. That’s why the five magic words for interacting with women are new experience with desired emotion.
Any man who’s had any experience with women can understand that experience better after applying the five magic words to view it. Once he does, he’ll understand why women always chase the bad boy, the muscle man, the money man, or the famous man. These men offer new experience with desired emotion.
Making better progress
There’s so much more about the five magic words that we’ll get into in the course of the broadcast today. They represent the key to learning how to think like the opposite gender. And it’s that type of thinking that can unlock the door to greater success with dating.
After all, it all goes back to the fundamentals we’ve discussed so often on this program and The World of TED. Every stage in the dating journey has an agreement. If you don’t secure the agreement for a particular stage, you don’t progress there. And the way to secure an agreement is to be agreeable enough.
Women who can offer men what makes intellectual sense and men who can offer women new experience with desired emotion have a huge advantage in being perceived as agreeable enough. So remember the five magic words. They’ll help you see the world through the eyes of the opposite gender. That perspective can help you approach dating prospects more effectively, encouraging better results. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
After inviting a student to read the first stanza of Robert Herrick’s oft-quoted poem “To the Virgins to Make Much of Time,” Mr. Keating draws the students into a discussion about the meaning of the poem. Carpe diem is probably the best known Latin expression among the common populace today, most of whom don’t speak Latin. Yet for as well known as the Latin phrase meaning “seize the day” is, few actually practice it.
And that was the whole point of Mr. Keating’s lecture. We each have a window of opportunity while we live, and that opportunity is to seize the moment in front of us and make the most of it. This was Mr. Keating’s message in his first lecture. “Seize the day, boys! Make your life extraordinary!”
Make the conscious choice
I’m not sure why it didn’t hit me earlier, but this is a perfect message of LDS singles. Too many waste their lives away waiting for something wonderful to happen, as though the blessings they want in their life will appear magically at their front door.
Here’s the problem with that approach: It wastes opportunity. The same agency that singles use to waste away their time waiting for their blessings is the same agency they could be using to make their lives extraordinary.
But most don’t make their lives anything, let alone extraordinary. They simply flow with the waves of life, going wherever they’ll carry them. This is the path of the natural man and the natural woman. Simply following the impulse of the biological programming within our physical bodies is easy, and that programming would have us staying where it is “safe.”
But the extraordinary life doesn’t come to anyone who simply goes with the flow. Rather it comes to those who will make their own waves to create the currents that carry them to the destination they desire. They make conscious choices to act against the natural impulse to go with the flow.
Wield your greater power
Conscious choice is the key not only to making one’s life extraordinary but also to encouraging the blessings you want in your life to come into your life. Notice I said encourage, not make. Many blessings require the agency of another to decide in your favor.
That truth doesn’t diminish the greater power we each have to achieve the results we desire. Too many focus on what is outside their control, and that focus belittles the power we each have to change our lives for the better and make them truly extraordinary. In reality, many exercise their agency in accordance with what is presented to them. And you choose what you present to them every single day (pun intended).
So what should you choose to present to others in order to attract the results you desire? If you want an extraordinary life, then present the elements that will attract an extraordinary life. This is more than just the activity you embrace in your life. This is also, and perhaps more importantly, the assumptions and attitude you embody.
Focusing on what you can do will enable you to feel more of the power you truly have within you. And by acting on that truth, by doing what you can do, you’ll feel more powerful more often.
Start with what’s interesting
When you make your life extraordinary, you make yourself more attractive. So where do you start? How do you start?
The extraordinary life is an attractive life, but it is also an interesting one. So start by making your life more interesting. And the easiest place to begin is with your own imagination. What do you think makes a life interesting? Put those things one by one in your life. And don’t rely on what others think is interesting. Follow what you yourself genuinely think is interesting.
Make your life extraordinary. Take action to start living your life. The more interesting you make your life, the more attractive it will be to others and the more enticed they will be to share it with you. When you leverage the power you have in your own agency, you can make your life more than you imagined it could be. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Put the Lord first
Understandably, the weight of life presses on us all. For many LDS singles who’ve lived years without the righteous blessings they desire, that weight can be heavy indeed. A pessimistic outlook on the future that often attends that weight doesn’t help.
But there is always hope because there is always Christ. He can help us go forward when we feel there is no way forward because He is the Way. When we give our heartfelt all to Him, He gives us access to His power. And with His power, we can do all things.
That includes maximizing our joy in LDS singles life. We can find balance amongst all the tensions of life when we put the Savior and our discipleship to Him first and give our all to Him and His work. As Elder Uchtdorf explained,
This is how LDS singles can move their lives forward.
Find a new approach
This doesn’t mean your solution to the challenges of LDS singles life is more church. The solution is more you. When you give more of yourself to what you do, you create the space in which you can have more joy in your life.
It’s that giving more of yourself that actually creates that space for more joy. That’s why time and time again I’ve defined happiness as giving your all to all the right things for you. That’s why for years I’ve encouraged LDS singles to embrace a personal ministry. Like the widow’s mite which Elder Uchtdorf referenced to begin his remarks, your contribution to making the world a better place is worthwhile when it represents your all because it’s only in giving your all that you become a better you.
I can understand why so many LDS singles want to give up on their lives. Dating often results in frustration and other negative emotions. Then there’s loneliness. And those singles who are also parents have double duty in raising their children. I get it.
But I also get that frustration is a sign you’re going about something the wrong way. So when you feel life isn’t working right, it’s really you that isn’t working right. You need a new approach! Elder Uchtdorf explained how putting the Lord first helps us each find the new approach we need.
Just keep moving forward
When you partner with the Lord by putting Him and His work first and then taking counsel from Him, He Who is the Way will show you the way. This principle works in every aspect of life, not just discipleship. When you give more of you to all you do, you can get more out of what you do.
So if you aren’t getting what you want out of dating, give more of you to it. Start by learning the fundamentals. If you aren’t getting more of what you want from your occupation, give more of you to it. And so it goes for every aspect of life.
You can find the balance and lift you need when you give your all and keep moving forward. So don’t stop. Don’t stagnate. Don’t wallow in the mire of despair. Don’t wrap yourself in pity. Focus on where you want to go and keep moving forward. As Elder Uchtdorf taught,
Give your heartfelt all to all you do. You’ll create the space for more joy in your life. You’ll see life turning around for you. And you’ll find more balance and lift in your life as you come closer to the Lord. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly Internet radio show and podcast to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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