Lately we’ve been discussing some of the challenges of LDS dating. Why is LDS dating so hard for so many?
Too often we put the cart before the horse by applying marriage standards to dating. We would enjoy our dating experiences more — and have more of them — if we evaluated potential dating partners against a standard for a date and not an eternal companion.
We also have the tendency to test our dates during the date. This practice prevents everyone from truly enjoying dating. And we just might walk away from a perfectly acceptable companion because we incorrectly judge anxiety over giving the right response as a lack of confidence or some other quality we believe that person needs to have.
We’ve seen answers to these challenges. We should apply dating standards to dates, not marriage standards. And we should evaluate our dates after rather than during the event. These answers require an incredible amount of honesty. And that presents a challenge in itself. How can we be as honest as we need to be when dating?
Pain is part of the plan
The biggest obstacle to honesty during dating is pride. We don’t want to hurt anyone else or have others perceive us as being hurtful.
Good intentions aside, sometimes people will get hurt. That’s part of this fallen world. That doesn’t excuse intentional harm, but it can help to know pain is part of the plan.
Pain is also part of our journey to the love of an eternal companion. You can’t enjoy the rewards of a romantic relationship without making yourself vulnerable. You have to risk getting hurt.
When you make yourself vulnerable, sometimes you’ll get the goods, and sometimes you won’t. Getting the goods feels super great. Not getting them feels super not so great.
Despite your best efforts, others will still get hurt. So lowering your expectations of what results from your words and actions may help. Yes, we should desire not to hurt others. But we should also understand it may happen anyway. And we should forgive ourselves when it does.
Pride resists the truth
None of that makes the truth any easier to speak if you don’t want others to think badly of you. How do you say what needs to be said when you know it will hurt someone else?
This question assumes there’s a way to communicate truth without that truth having its natural result. There isn’t. Truth is truth. When others realize the truth you speak, that truth will have its effect, be it good or bad.
Instead of fighting natural law, we would do better to align ourselves with it. Instead of looking to share truth without causing pain, we should simply accept that pain may result when we share the truth.
In other words, just say it.
Pride makes that sound incredibly difficult. But it’s not. Any difficulty lies in needing to be perceived in a particular way. That concern pressures us to act in some ways and resist acting in others. All that disappears when we stop caring about what others think.
What others think of you is none of your business. Your business is doing your best to treat others with dignity and respect. Only when you stop caring about what others think will you find the complete freedom to be who you really are. And that’s the person you want to share when dating.
Honesty is true freedom
Being honest doesn’t necessarily mean being harsh. We can communicate our standards without being overbearing or uncaring.
For example, suppose a guy invites a girl on a casual date, but the girl would rather not. A popular response is some variant of “I’m busy.” My favorite is “I have to wash my hair.”
This response isn’t completely honest. Yes, the girl may very well be busy, but here she’s really saying she doesn’t want to spend time with the guy without actually saying she doesn’t want to spend time with the guy. In effect, she’s telling the guy he isn’t worth the truth.
Contrast that harsh response with the simple, straightforward “Thanks, but I’m not interested.” That’s true; the girl’s not interested. She doesn’t have to divulge details. This of course disappoints the guy, but that’s assuaged by the knowledge he’s at least respected enough to be told the truth.
Complete honesty in dating will come more easily when you let go of your pride and stop caring about what others think of you. Only then will you be truly free to be the person the Lord wants you to be. Living in that space will more effectively attract to you the companion who really should be with you. 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 now I produce a weekly radio show 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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