That attitude can greatly bless the lives of us LDS singles as we interact with each other. Too often we see opportunities to interact through the lens of dating, which often pulls us away from blessing others’ lives. Seeing through the lens of friendship, we’ll more often provide needed assistance. It’s time for LDS singles to re-hoist friendship in dating and singles groups.
In the video, John admits he couldn’t “fix” Troy, nor did he attempt to. In fact, the casual observer might conclude John didn’t do much at all.
John certainly wanted to help, but given everything so many others were doing, John didn’t see much for him to do. Then he started doing something more of us need to do more often; he listened. John invited Troy to ride with him in his truck and let Troy say whatever he wanted. John simply listened.
There’s probably a lot the video doesn’t show. But the simple act of listening is beyond profound. We all have a basic human need to be heard and to feel understood. By not directing Troy or trying to give him something, John showed complete respect for Troy’s agency. And by simply listening to Troy, John declared he would stand by Troy regardless of the path Troy chose or what pace he pursued. That’s the mark of a true friend.
What blessing could we be to other LDS singles if we simply listened more? Instead of interacting only with those whom we want to date, what if we interacted with everyone with an interest in understanding them or simply letting them be heard? By putting aside the personal agenda, we re-hoist friendship to its rightful valued place.
Many LDS singles see a duality in their local Church community, especially in geographic wards. There’s the singles and the marrieds. It’s an extremely common perspective among singles.
But the story in the video takes a different perspective. The two groups there were the grieving (Troy and his family) and the supporters (everyone else trying to help). That’s significant. John viewed Troy as a brother, not someone fundamentally different. If we LDS singles could see one another more as brothers and sisters, we could re-hoist friendship in a new culture of togetherness.
Now, I know some of you are saying. “Yeah, but John and Troy are both married, so of course John would see Troy as one of his group.” Perhaps, but John could’ve found a substantial enough difference if he looked for it. The point is he didn’t. He saw Troy as just as much a person as he was, and that view allowed him to feel more compassion and more desire to be the true friend he was.
John also involved others in demonstrating support for Troy. The scene where John and the group present the jersey to Troy just jerks my tears. Then there’s what appears to be his ward releasing balloons in celebration of his son’s birthday. As John continued standing by Troy, many other opportunities to show support probably presented themselves. And they all helped Troy along his path.
What if we singles involved one another in supporting each other? What if, instead of everyone doing their own thing, everyone reached out to include everyone? What if we each told each other, “Come talk with me,” “Come sit with me”, and “Come do what I’m doing with me”? Real friends bring everyone in. That may be the best support for singles dealing with their pain and grief, many of whom struggle unbeknownst to those around them.
Let’s re-hoist friendship in all our interactions with each other. By listening to one another, seeing one another as brothers and sisters, and involving others in building community, we not only embrace but also embody true friendship. By bringing ourselves closer to each other, we bring ourselves closer to God. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Today will soon be yesterday
Time passes by so quickly. It seems only yesterday I came home from my mission. Yet in reality it’s been not one day but almost 10,000 days — 27 years. That number staggers my imagination.
And what changes have occurred in all that time? I’ve grown in ways I never imagined when I looked into the future 27 years ago. Many are quite positive, but many have me living far beneath my dreams. Comparing what I saw for myself then with what I see in myself now reveals vast differences that beg the questions: How did I get here? How did it come to this?
Many LDS singles ask themselves similar questions as they take stock of themselves. They live far beneath the dreams they had when they were younger. And with the world becoming ever more chaotic, they wonder how those dreams have any chance of coming true.
Much lies outside your own individual power to change, but much more remains within it. As President Nelson reminds us,
That last part — how you spend your time each day — is key. Your best life is the collection of results you desire. Results come only from action. And every action, in order to exist, must occupy space and time. You can’t change the past, and the future’s always a day away. All you have is here and now. And it turns out that’s all you need to begin living your best life.
It’s time to start moving
Far too many of us hold ourselves back from our best life. We focus on the obstacles instead of the opportunities. We keep looking for and listening to excuses instead of ways to move forward. And without forward motion, we’ll never develop the momentum we need to push through tough times.
Some hear these arguments and decide to fool themselves. They leverage lessons from their past to formulate brilliant plans for moving forward. They feel good about themselves after spending inordinate amounts of time planning and preparing. But those good feelings never translate into a new life. Their actions don’t deliver the results of their dreams but rather trick their minds into thinking they’ve done something substantial when in reality they haven’t.
President Nelson understood that situation. He taught,
It’s forward momentum that keeps you moving from one success to another. Momentum carries you through life’s rough seasons and makes your dreams come true. And the only way to get momentum is to start moving and then keep moving. Now is the time to start moving.
Right now is the time
Everything we talk about on Joy in the Journey Radio is meant to help LDS singles live their best life. And all of it will mean absolutely nothing for you unless you wield your power of agency to do what you can with what you have right here right now.
All you have is this moment. When you waste it, nothing in your life changes, at least not for the better. So don’t waste it. Begin gathering momentum now. Live within your covenants more completely now. Make more time for the temple now. Take more action towards the results you want in life now.
Now is the time because now is the only time you have. Once the present becomes the past, you can’t change it. And when you allow enough present moments to become past regrets you can’t change, your present life falls far below your dreams, leaving you to wonder how you ever got there to begin with.
Don’t wait, and don’t doubt yourself. Start taking action towards your best life. Now is the time. When you diligently take advantage of each present moment, they’ll become past successes that taken together will lift you into your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Faith clarifies vision
We all judge too much by what we see directly around us, and this feature especially manifests itself in dating. Far too often LDS singles look around for someone they’d like to date and, not seeing what they define as acceptable, quickly become discouraged. That scene repeated often enough leads to hopelessness in the future.
Bright futures start with faith. Faith helps you see what’s there but not readily seen. In the context of dating, this could mean, first, you don’t see that acceptable candidates around you because they aren’t doing what you normally do and going where you normally go. When you branch out and see new vistas, you’re more likely to cross paths with them. The world is a bigger place than your own backyard.
Second, faith helps you see the person you discounted may be the one you’re looking for. So many singles insist on having the “perfect” partner that they reject knowing many less-than-top-shelf candidates who’d make good partners. Falsely assuming only the best can produce joy in life has kept and continues to keep many LDS singles single long than need be.
Action feeds power
Lack of hope in the future often attends feeling powerless. A focus there will lead only to despair. To change your reality, you must change your focus. Instead of focusing on the “evidence” for why what you want won’t happen, seek out reasons to believe.
Those reasons to believe will be easier to embrace when you take proper action. I’ve never seen anyone busy working to make his or her dreams a reality feeling powerless, and neither have you. That’s because it’s impossible. When you busy yourself with the business of doing, you’re so immersed in evidence of your own power you can’t feel powerless. It’s when you’re not doing anything that feelings of powerlessness can take hold.
Start feeling that power and savoring your life by listing what makes up your best life. If you could have your best life, what would it look like? What would you be doing? Put those activities on your list. Then start to fill your calendar with those activities.
So if you think your best life involves horse riding, great. When are you going to ride that horse? If you think your best life involves learning how to crochet, great. When will you learn that? Whatever you want your life to be, start doing what you can to live that life. Don’t let what you lack prevent you from embracing — and finding joy in — what you already have.
Partner with Him
While you’re making that list, don’t forget to partner with the Lord. When you include Him in crafting your best life, you’ll get there much more easily than if you go it alone. He might even help you see that what you think is your best life really isn’t. Make the course correction He suggests, and you’ll not leave any joy on the table.
The key to maximizing joy in life is focusing on fundamentals. Far too many LDS singles focus on finding ways to cross paths with that special someone, all the while forgetting that if they aren’t agreeable enough, no quantity of paths crossed will produce the desired result. When you focus first on living your best life as much as you can, you make yourself more agreeable and your life more inviting. That life is also the more joyful one, and that joy will only increase your attractiveness to a potential companion.
The future really is as bright as your faith. When you focus on fundamentals, you can take more effective action. More effective action produces more effective results. More effective results will help you feel more powerful and desirous to do more, and thus the cycle continues ever upward. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
My release augments my discouragement with the attitude my stake has for singles. The older couple serving in place of our non-existing reps were organizing an occasional activity before their release. Now there’s nothing. How can I believe my leaders really care about singles when I don’t see any action on the singles front?
Now enter my philosophical moment. Reflecting on much of what I share here on Joy in the Journey Radio, I’ve seen the need to take my own medicine. It’s time to own my life, and the first step is acknowledging the truth: I don’t have the results I want because of choices I made. In the end, what you think, what you give, and what you are determine what you get in life.
What you think
We often highlight on this program the connection between how you think and the results you get. As my recent experience shows, it’s one that is all too easy to forget. Having that idea infused into your nature isn’t the factory default setting.
That natural default is to blame the outside — blame people outside of yourself, blame outside circumstances, blame whatever lies outside your control. But by placing responsibility for your life outside yourself, you also place outside yourself the power to change that life. That’s why you’ll never have your best life if you don’t own your life. Until you take responsibility for all the results you have in your life, you’ll never wield the power you need to change your life into your best life.
And you have that power within you, for the Lord has declared it (D&C 58:28). Once you own your life, you’ll not only see that power you have within you more clearly but also wield it more effectively. Thinking in those terms always leads to better results in life, no matter your circumstances.
What you give
Once you start acting on more effective thinking, you’ll see your life begin to change, starting with the way you feel inside. The more you act on more effective thinking, the more effective your actions become at producing the results you want to see in life and the more you find yourself giving.
That shouldn’t surprise any long time members of our audience. We’ve often discussed our definition of happiness — giving your all to all the right things for you. The key part of that definition is that first word: giving. So many chase after having whatever they think will make them happy, and all of them sooner or later face the truth of their unhappiness. Happiness is not about having. It’s about giving.
And true to the Law of Restoration, life always returns to you what you give to it. What you send out always comes back. So if you want to get more out of your life, give more to it. And the definition of happiness we’ve discussed so often here is the key to what you give — your all to all the right things for you.
What you are
When you consistently take more effective actions bolstered by more effective thinking long enough, it becomes a habit. That habit played out long enough becomes your character. You become what you consistently do.
We all have the potential to be great, but whether or not you reach that potential depends entirely on the choices you make. You have the power within you to make those choices. It’s called agency, and you begin to wield that power by owning your life. The first step is acknowledging you don’t have the results you want because of choices you made in what you’ve thought, given, and been.
What you think, what you give, and what you are determine what you get in life. You get to choose all three, and it’s never too late to make a better choice. So don’t wait. Make the better choice now! When you own your life and choose to be more effective in what you think, what you give, and what you are, you’ll be on the road to your best life. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
What impressed me about Sister Porter’s approach was her use of singles to exemplify her ultimate message of the valuable contribution LDS singles can make in their world. It’s a message we’ve been promulgating here at Joy in the Journey Radio by encouraging LDS singles to adopt a personal ministry. We all can powerfully influence those around us for good, and we’ll make that difference in others’ lives when we heed the lessons at the well.
You determine your future
I love the introduction Sister Porter gives to her remarks. She was happily married and serving with her husband in the Church in Eastern Europe. Then her husband’s health took a turn for the worse, and in short order she found herself single.
I don’t know if she actually thought of herself as single. She didn’t mention that in her address, and I know many who’ve lost a spouse to death still consider themselves married by virtue of their temple covenants. If your spouse is not in this life living with you, you may be married for the purposes of eternity, but for the purposes of this life, you’re single.
You also have a wonderful opportunity to effect much good. It starts when you realize your past and present circumstances don’t determine your future. In referencing her unexpected return to singlehood, Sister Porter shared,
The woman at Jacob’s well exemplified this attitude, which applies just as much to men as it does to women. She did not allow her past or present condition to determine her future. She chose to testify of the Savior, and her choice blessed many others.
You have the power
Likewise, LDS singles can chose to embrace a new future by making the higher choice. Too often LDS singles play the victim, thinking that their past is prologue and nothing they do will make any difference.
But that’s true for you only if you decide it is. You’ve been blessed with agency, the second most underappreciated gift of God. And it’s the second most underappreciated gift of God because so many simply don’t realize the power that’s in them because of this gift.
Sister Porter recognized it. After quoting D&C 58:26-28 and emphasizing that last phrase in the verses — “for the power is in them” — she declared,
You’re not in this alone! No matter your past or present circumstances, you can choose to let your light shine, share your goodness with others, and put a dent in the universe. With the creator of heaven and earth at your side, why choose anything else?
You make the difference
This is how great ends come out of small beginnings. The Lord is the Master Gardener, the one best suited to help you grow into the fullness of your potential. He can transform the seemingly meager contributions you make into extraordinary differences.
Sister Porter shared three examples from the Master’s teachings that demonstrate this effect, one involving salt, one involving leaven, and one involving light. Each of these items in even seemingly small amounts makes a tremendous difference in their separate contexts.
Likewise, though your efforts may seem small and inconsequential, you can make a tremendous difference in your world. Your salt can flavor the lives of others, your leaven can lighten their loads, and your light can disperse the darkness surrounding them. As Sister Porter taught,
Heed the lessons at the well and make the higher choice. When you do, the Savior can turn your seemingly small service into the difference others need in their lives. In easing the burdens of others, you’ll find your own burdens eased. In helping others grow, you’ll find your own growth. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
And that’s the rub. Bettering our position to receive a miracle requires work, and most of us don’t want to work for our miracles. We just want them to appear. Yet miracles still follow universal law. Appropriate work on our part aligns us with the universal law governing the miracles we seek. That often involves delivering value, because at the end of the day, it’s all about value.
Focus on fundamentals
So many of our desired miracles involve other people using their agency to advantage us. The miracle of companionship is one such example. Yet this miracle like all others follows universal law, which begs the question: What laws govern the occurrence of this miracle?
The answer resides in the fundamentals of the dating journey. Those who align themselves with the fundamentals position themselves to receive that miracle more easily. Those who don’t stumble and trip up over and over again.
Stepping back and looking at the fundamentals, it’s easy to see they’re all about value. Arriving at any stage of the dating journey requires an agreement, and you secure any agreement by being agreeable enough. That means providing sufficient value. At the end of the day, it really is all about value.
Do the work
And that’s where work comes in. We can change ourselves and our environment to become more agreeable by offering more value and thereby position ourselves to receive more easily the miracle we seek. And we’re not in this alone. When we partner with the Lord, He’ll help us (1) to know what work we need to do and (2) to do that work.
We start by understanding what value we offer today. Those who already offer great value have less to do, whereas those offering less value have more work to do. Either way, we should seek input from others when assessing the value we offer. We’re all inherently biased to overestimate the value we offer. That bias blinds us from many of the imperfections diminishing our value. Input from others combined with counseling with the Lord can help us overcome our inherent bias and blindness.
So when that 400-pound single adult partners with the Lord and considers input received from others, the realization comes that losing weight and taking better care of one’s body will ease the arrival of the companionship miracle. Partnering with the Lord, that single adult seeks and follows guidance to assemble a plan and then involves the Lord in executing that plan. Losing weight then becomes not just a physical change but a spiritual adventure experienced step by step at the Lord’s side with the intention of easing a miracle into one’s life. Can we not feel the increased power behind this approach to securing miracles? It all starts with a focus on value.
Hold the line
As we work to improve the value we offer, we need to remember value has different meanings in different contexts. We also shouldn’t forget everything’s interconnected.
For instance, value in the dating context isn’t value in the eternal context. We all already have immense value in eternity as children of God, but we all have different value when it comes to dating. The value of an attribute differs with context, but low value in one particular context often means a lack of attributes valued in that context.
When we see ourselves lacking the valued attributes in the context of a desired miracle, we shouldn’t surrender to despair. Instead, we should partner with the Lord and get to work. We should look for invigoration in meeting the challenge and work with faith that, with the all-powerful Lord at our side, we can make any miracle happen. Making gains in one area of our lives can strengthen us in other areas, giving us a further boost towards making our miracle happen.
At the end of the day, it’s all about value. Looking through that lens can provide a clarity of vision regarding needed changes. As we make those changes in partnership with the Lord, we can feel more confidence as we ease the miracles we seek into our lives and more gratitude when those miracles finally appear. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Yes, I know how incredible that may sound to some, especially if your life hasn’t gone the way you expected. You’ve probably also had some painful experiences involving either someone else deciding against you in a single instance or many others using their agency across multiple instances. Maybe you’ve experienced both. But even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles.
Believe in miracles
We typically think of miracles as events that defy the laws of nature. For me, miracles are manifestations of one or more universal laws we don’t understand fully.
This shift in perspective is essential to why I say we should seek and expect miracles. The perspectives we take and the assumptions we embrace are everything; they’re key components of our thinking, which produces our actions, which in turn produces our results. In the end, we all want results, so when we don’t get desired results, we need to examine our thinking.
President Nelson begins his comments on miracles with this declaration:
First, he illustrates his concept with the words of a single adult! And this wasn’t just any single. No, Moroni had everything ripped from him. He witnessed the destruction of his people in a horrible war, leaving him to wander alone for the safety of his own life. Yet he still declared fervent belief in miracles.
All lives have painful disappointments, but most don’t compare to Moroni’s. If in his circumstances he could find the strength to believe in miracles, could we not muster the courage to do the same?
President Nelson continued,
It’s not just Moroni but every book of scripture declaring belief in miracles — all the more reason to question our perspectives and assumptions leading us to disbelieve in miracles. While we question, we should remember the Prophet’s caveat: Miracles can take time and may not unfold how we expect. So often LDS singles seeking a miracle expect something so inconsistent with universal law they take the absence of their miracle as evidence against miracles.
Do the work
That last phrase caught my attention. How many LDS singles have approached their desire for a miracle “doubting nothing”? Most of us have doubts, some so much so they’re consumed by them. And yet “doubting nothing” is part of the price of faith we must pay for admission to the miracle show.
That means we’ve got work to do. It’s no surprise then to see President Nelson’s next words:
How often have we advocated taking ownership of your life, or doing what’s in your power, or partnering with the Lord? Results come from only one thing — action. To score points, you must quit sitting on the sidelines and get on the field. So often the miracle we want is perfection delivered to our doorstep. In reality, we need to partner with the Lord, accept His guidance, and do the work that will create our miracle.
Trust His promises
So many LDS singles wanting a miracle are faint. They’re weary. They’re beat down by the vicissitudes of life that point their gaze towards their weaknesses and imperfections, leaving them to wonder how their miracle could ever happen.
But none of that matters when you partner with the Lord, for He “giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” With Him, we can do anything, even move the mountain seemingly standing before us.
So yes, even if you’ve had the whole world against you, I still say seek and expect miracles. Believe they can happen for you. Partner with the Lord and do the work you must do to have your miracle. You can then live with confidence that in time your miracle will happen. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
To assist all in gaining and maintaining positive spiritual momentum, the Prophet makes five recommendations:
Far be it from me to discount the covenant path. It’s so essential the Prophet lists it first among his recommendations. That said, I’d like to begin with his second point: Discover the joy of daily repentance.
When I was a young man, I thought of repentance as something for the big wrongs we do. Few if any of us do anything big every day, so in this view, repentance becomes an occasional activity. Yet President Nelson’s sees more broadly. Not only should we embrace repentance daily, we can also find joy when we do.
Simply put, daily repentance is just daily improvement, making small changes every day that move us forward. President Nelson taught,
If that’s true, then daily repentance is the key to daily progress.
These ideas apply directly to LDS singles who want more from their lives. Far too many of us are waiting around for our happily ever after to be thrust upon us. We need to use the gift of agency God has granted us and choose to do the little things day by day that will over time aggregate into the happily ever after we seek.
And since we’re talking here about singles, it shouldn’t surprise anyone I’ll focus on the Prophet’s fourth suggestion: Seek and expect miracles. The battering many singles receive from ineffective approaches to dating leave many thinking the only way their happily ever after will come to them is by a miracle.
That thinking has led also to this conclusion: The miracle they need just won’t happen. They don’t see any way anyone they like could like them. They don’t see how anyone would accept them with all their imperfections and disadvantages.
But President Nelson sees very differently. He declared,
In the end, it all comes down to what you really believe. If you don’t believe, you won’t receive. Faith must precede the miracle. And as President Nelson taught, it must be the kind of faith that doubts nothing.
We’ll of course discuss these and more points from President Nelson’s address in the broadcast today. In the end, we always get what we give. Those who consistently give the small contributions to their success day in and day out will eventually get the success they seek.
In all of our efforts, we must remember patience. It takes time to build momentum. As we discussed earlier, just doing 1% more each day will result in a 38% improvement after one year. The first three months of that year, you go from your baseline (where you are now) to 2X. But in the last three months, you go from 15X to 38X. Why the vast difference in improvement? Because you have momentum by the time you reach the last three months, but when you just start out, you don’t.
And you can best hold to momentum when you partner with the Lord. He can show you the 1% improvement you need to make every day. He can support you in making it every day. He can strengthen you with patience as you build your needed momentum.
So experience the power of spiritual momentum. Make the small changes every day you need to make to lay your daily brick, and in time you’ll have a wonderful edifice housing your dreams and the best life that awaits you there. 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.
That said, the deal breaker lists many LDS singles have align more with worldly values than eternal ones and are anything but short. For all the talk in church about being spiritual, evidence that LDS singles are influenced by the dating culture of the world abounds in the choices LDS singles make when dating. But when you understand their effect, it’s easy to see we need to scrap dating checklists.
Dating is not shopping
For anything in life, some approaches are simply more effective than others. Part of what makes an approach more effective is the joy it can provide throughout your journey and not just how quickly it can get you to the end. Case in point: The shopping list I mentioned earlier. Here’s a ready example of how we should not approach dating.
Although every relationship has a transactional aspect, romantic relationships are not as fulfilling and ennobling if they’re entirely transactional. In fact, purely transactional relationships always eventually break down. That’s because a tit-for-tat approach never produces the best relationships. They develop as each partner freely gives to the other without expecting anything in return.
Approaching dating with a shopping attitude promotes just the opposite. The relationship you have with the worker at the checkout stand is purely transactional. You’re not looking for anything long-term or complicated. You’re looking for a quick way to exchange the value you have (your money) for the value you want (the items in your cart) and then to walk away.
It’s not hard to see how that approach to dating isn’t all that effective, and yet our language betrays us. Language always reveals thinking, and when we talk about people who are no longer available to date as “off the market,” we’re clearly thinking of dating like shopping.
It’s how you think
That’s not the only way we approach dating like shopping. We talk about potential dating candidates in terms of their “market value,” with top shelf candidates having high market value and others having low market value. We scroll through dating apps and online dating profiles the same way we shop for something online. And we constantly think of dating as the search for someone with qualities we want, very much like the way we think of shopping as the search for something with qualities we want.
That thinking of dating as shopping naturally drives us to make a list. As I said previously, lists aren’t necessarily bad. If it’s short and contains only deal breakers aligned with eternal values, a dating list can be very effective. That said, the lists many LDS singles have are anything but short and often contain few if any items aligned with eternal values. For example, your partner’s height has nothing to do with eternal progression, and yet how many singles insist on dating only those who meet a minimum height requirement?
Proper lists for dating
As I said before, the best relationships come from each partner freely giving to the other without expecting anything in return. That doesn’t mean we’re interchangeable parts. Dating does have a transactional aspect, and using a few essential items to build a foundation for your relationship can satisfy that transactional aspect. That’s where the short list I mentioned earlier can prove effective.
The problem comes when that list isn’t short. We don’t want just anyone, so we add deal breakers to a list to qualify candidates. But every item we add reduces our dating pool and with it our probability of success. In this way, long lists of deal breakers assure singles stay single.
That’s why we need to scrap dating checklists. They represent a less effective approach that decreases the probability of success. In their place, we should embrace a new dating attitude, one less focused on finding perfection and more focused on supporting others to become more perfected. We could even extend that to ourselves focusing more on what we bring to a potential relationship than what we want to have. Making these changes in our thinking will produce more effective actions which in turn will yield more effective results. And that will bring us more joy in our 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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