I went to lunch with a client of mine recently. I was there to persuade him to take a chance on a girl that I knew was interested in him. I’m pretty good at persuading and instigating…(especially in a game of truth or dare- I even have a marriage match that started with a good ol’ round of dare!) – but my client was not budging. I was perplexed. Currently his dating options are very limited. He doesn’t have much experience in the dating arena (or any actually) – so I felt this girl was a great step (one date…no biggie!) in the right direction even though he wasn’t super attracted to her. I never ask anyone to ‘settle’ – however in the kindest of ways I try to help them be realistic and understand the law of equality. Sometimes that’s a little sketchy and I try to be sensitive to that – I’m not out to lower anyone’s esteem.
In talking more with him I saw that he was going through a stage many young single adults go through. The stage of not really caring about our dating life at all. I have seen many friends decide they are “over it,” “tired of being so good,” or just “ready to date outside the church” feeling it would be so much easier. You know what? – I agree. Lots of times I’m over it, I’m a little exhausted by the seemingly lack of desire for a girl that’s trying really hard to be good, and dating outside the church would definitely prove to be more fruitful, fun, and esteem building! But just because I’ve thought it, doesn’t mean I dwell or act on it. I regroup, pull myself together, and remind myself how great it feels to be in a mutually loving relationship headed towards the Temple. My positive memories of great past relationships are a huge factor in my belief that I will have ‘it’ again someday and the wait will be well worth it. It’s easy for me to have faith in that.
It wasn’t so easy for my client to share my belief, vision, and confidence in a better future. As I tried to help him re-frame and reinstall hope in his dating pursuits he looked at me and said, “Tristen do you think that it’s a possibility to never connect with someone in the way you’re talking about?” Without hesitation I told him, “No- we are here to form and build lasting eternal relationships. It’s a central focus of God’s plan.” He replied solemnly with, “Well, I think I’m the exception to that rule. I’ve never connected with anyone. Not my family, not a girl, not a friend.”
My heart ached. Yet…at the same time I was so relieved to have figured out why my persuading skills seemed to be lacking. This was an easy fix! I saw the problem! No wonder he had no desire to take a girl out…let alone one that wasn’t super hot. He’s never experienced the joy that comes because of loving relationships! He’s never been attached to someone, sacrificed for someone, or lived for the happiness of someone else – so why would he care?! Geez- I wouldn’t either. But the best part is…all these things can be taught! You can learn how to get to know people. You can teach yourself how to sacrifice, be vulnerable, and put effort into the lives and happiness of others. We are here to build meaningful relationships, and we will be helped and guided to do so if that is our desire!
Now the men reading this might think I’m off. I know they want to say that if the girl was hot enough he could be motivated. But I hate to break it to you…you’re wrong. You are especially wrong when we’re talking about a member of the church that has a testimony and a foundation of some deep rooted principles. Why do you think so many LDS single guys date and date and date all the hot girls but will never really commit to them? Because if the hot girl has no depth or they can’t connect past her good looks at 2 in the morning – they realize deep down they don’t want to be stuck with that for eternity. He’ll just keep having fun with her but no real desire to have true commitment. I believe this is just one of the many reasons we have strayed from a culture of real romance and courting to a culture of hooking-up. People have to connect on a deeper and more mature level to build a lasting loving relationship. If you connect with someone, the motivation to do all that’s required to build that relationship can follow.
So from that point of realization with my client, we stopped our focus on dating and started our focus on how to build meaningful relationships – with family, with friends, and eventually with some women. I have full faith that as he begins to experience life connecting with people he will go from a ‘clear’ to a ‘Claritin clear’ kind of life. He will begin to see the world with a whole new vision. This guy hasn’t even started living. – but now I can hardly wait to see what the future holds for him!