Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thoughts on Gay Marriage

It's been a while since I blogged about something other than dating advice but this is something that has been weighing on my mind for a while. Before I start writing this though, I want to clarify that this is my opinion and I don't expect you to agree with me or to share my opinion, but I hope that you can at least respect it after I share it. So onto the show.

I don't know if I have a personality disorder or if it's just because I'm a Gemini but I've been divided on this issue for a long time. I feel like there are two parts of me constantly debating and trying to decide where to stand on the issue.

There is the side of me that thinks about my uncle Kim, who came to my parents and asked my mom give me his namesake as my middle name. So instead of being Bryant Grant after my dad, I'm Bryant Kim because of my uncle's request. You see my uncle was gay and had contracted HIV by the time I was born. He was aware that he wasn't going to have the opportunity to have his own children in his life. He died when I was seven but because of his request his name still lives on through me. It's hard for me not to think of him when I hear about the gay marriage debates. This side of me gets sick when I hear that people can be denied housing or get fired from work just because of their sexual orientation. This part of me has no problem with homosexual couples getting similar financial benefits as their heterosexual counterparts. This part of me doesn't understand why anyone should be discriminated solely based on their sexual orientation. This part of me is going to grad school to study to become a marriage and family therapist who is almost going to have gay clients that I will treat just like my heterosexual clients. This part of me is the social worker who has came to the conclusion after extensive observation of my clients that two gay parents who love and care about their kids is always better than a kid who has two heterosexual parents who could care less about their children. This part of me hurts when he hears other people use derogatory terms to describe homosexuals casually in conversation. This part of me understands that although I have a very strict set of morals, my moral values aren't shared by everyone in this world and that's ok. This part of me completely understands why his Facebook wall is covered in red equal signs and doesn't mind at all. 

Then there is the other part of me, the part of me that shouldn't have lived for more than 26 minutes, let alone for almost 26 years, but because of the faith of those closest to me and by a literal miracle through a priesthood blessing I'm still here. This is the part of me that spent two years dedicated to serving my God. This part of me completely believes in my religion and does everything I can to practice it. This is the part of me that understands that the single most important ordinance in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is temple marriage and why it's so important to Mormons as a religion. This part of me wants to do everything I can to help all those in need and truly wants the best for everyone. This part of me believes in modern and personal revelation and has received key guidance from both throughout my life. This part of me understands that although not everyone shares my moral beliefs, I do hold them and should do my best to live them. This is the part of me that wants to find a woman I can spend eternity with and have a family with. This part of me loves gays and wishes that we could find more common ground instead of finding more reasons to argue. This part of me doesn't understand how hard it must be to be told that you don't fit in because of who you are attracted to but wants to learn more so he can be more supportive of others, but that they can understand why I'm not posting a red equal sign on my profile.

I want my gay friends that I don't think that they are bad people for supporting their beliefs and wanting change. For the most part, I agree with what they are fighting for. I want my Mormon friends to know that I don't think they are out of line for fighting traditional marriage either, I understand why it's so important to the religion. I want both make sure that both parties know that I'm not trying to offend either party by not posting an equal sign or married man and woman on my facebook profile, it's just because I'm conflicted. To be honest, if there were an amendment to vote for today on Gay Marriage, I would abstain from voting because either way a part of me would leave unsatisfied with the way I voted. It's not because I'm uninformed, it's because I can understand both parties perspectives and to an extent agree with both sides. I guess my point is that I feel like this issue is more complicated than just marriage or no marriage. I want gay rights, but I want to ensure that there won't be consequences for my religion not to perform gay marriages because of their standards. I feel like this is the ultimate separations of church and state issue and I hope that we can look at it in that perspective.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dating in Utah: Auld Lang Syne!

Hey everybody! Let's hear it for surviving the Mayan Apocalypse and making it to 2013! I really thought that  an ancient extinct society really had us for a second but alas we came out on top, USA! USA! So now that I've had a bit of time to recover from that Mayan scare and reflect on the past year, I think 2012 might have been my most life-defining year to this point. I feel like life threw me a curveball for a bit but I really believe that I learned more about myself and who I am as a person more than I have since my mission. At the end of the day, I feel like there was one lesson in particular that kept resurfacing throughout the year that could be extremely pertinent when it comes to dating and life in general. I think we spend too much time letting our pasts define us as people.Over the past year, I had some of my best friends come up to me and tell me that they felt like they didn't deserve to be loved because of mistakes from their past. What really concerned me was that they were letting these decisions tear them down and make them feel like they weren't worthy of ever being loved.

We all make mistakes and do things we regret, it's part of the human experience. That's why there's an atonement in the first place because Heavenly Father understood that we couldn't learn without experience moments of weakness. Without screwing up every once in a while, we can't grow. I think that we spend too much time dwelling on how terrible we are and not enough time focusing on our personal growth. I'll be the first to admit that I struggled with this same insecurity growing up as a teenager because of some mistakes that I had made during my life. This guilt and constant dwelling on the past made it extremely hard to grow and develop my own self-worth. However as I've grown and stop letting guilt define my past and present, my self-esteem has grown and I've grown as a person. The fact of the matter is that everyone deserves to be loved no matter where they come from or what they've done. I'm not saying that it's not important to understand someone's past when you're going into a relationship, however I think it's imperative that we understand that people can change and grow. Most of all, we need to learn how to forgive ourselves so that we can accept the love others are willing to give to us if we just let them love us.

I can think of one particular example from earlier this year that really helped me understand the power of letting go of the past and focusing on our current progress can have. I had the opportunity to go on a date with a girl who had been previously married for the first time in my life. It would have been really easy for me to not give her a shot but as I had the chance to get to know her during the one date we went on, I was extremely impressed with the person that she was and how going through the trials that come with divorce made her a stronger person. She had come to the grips with the fact that she had gone through hard times and trials I couldn't imagine experiencing and really made the best of the situation. She learned from the past but didn't let that past define who she was as a person. Even though I only went on this one date with her and probably won't see her again, the one day I got to know her taught me more about growth than any other date I can remember. 

We aren't perfect and we're not supposed to be. It's one of the most beautiful aspects of the human experience. We're all different, we're all unique and yet there always seems to be a ying to our yang somewhere. We all have someone who cares about us and wants the best for us. The vast majority of us will experience love in all of it's romantic splendor at some point in our lives and we all deserve it. We are equally valuable to the human experience because we each bring something unique to it even if our contribution is a pretentious taste in music and TV or writing a silly dating blog once every couple of months. Speaking of pretentious music taste, it's my favorite part of the blog where I get to post an awesome video of great music. Here's a little Sharon Van Etten finish off the blog right!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dating in Utah: Just Like a Woman

Hey everyone, hope that the last few months haven't been too lonely without my blog, but I'm sure you've managed to get by. So this time around I wanted to address a few issues that have really on my mind when it comes to the culture of dating and to a lesser extent LDS culture in general. Recently, I was at a work conference addressing various issues of social work, including dealing with domestic violence and recovering abused teenage girls. I know, I'm already setting a really light mood but it comes with the territory and really it can be applied to a more general setting. While I was sitting in the conference, the presenter asked the question what does it mean to be a girl to you to the class. Mind you, I'm a social worker so the vast majority of the class were women who responded rather candidly to the question and their answers really caught me off guard. Response were shouted out throughout the room and the presenter began to fill with words like insecure, manipulative, catty, needy, attention hungry, slutty, impulsive, overly-emotional, and irrational. Occasionally, words like beautiful, respectful, loving, and caring would be added between the lines but the vast majority of the words on the board were negative connotations about what it means to be a woman and these were words coming from women. I couldn't get past the fact that when asked about how they viewed themselves, the majority of the time negative stereotypes kept coming up. I thought to myself is this really how women feel about themselves? Is this how society has taught them to think of themselves? It left me with a sour taste in my mouth to say the least.
The first thing I want to say before I start my rant if you will is how much I respect women in general. Contrary to what stereotypes might teach you about yourself, you have immense value in my eyes and that's why I try to make sure that girls that I associate with and date feel comfortable with me. I feel like I've had great examples through family and friends throughout my life that have taught me that women deserve to be treated with respect. For all the negative stereotypes that can be thrown out to minimize the value of women in the world, it's impossible to change the fact that you're extremely giving, caring, loving and beautiful. Don't let society define who you are as something shallow or hollow, you are the crown jewel of God's creations. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I'm a perfect example of how to treat women or anything like that, I'm far from it, however I do believe that it never hurts to reiterate the point that there is so much good that women do for us that never gets acknowledged or praised, and instead of focusing on that, we spend our time focusing on the thought that they are needy, hormonal, emotional roller-coasters. Instead of focusing on the divinity of their role as mothers, we degrade them with hurtful words and dismiss their opinions by calling them too emotional. What scares me the most is that this behavior of belittlement leads to destructive patterns where women are taken advantage of. As frightening as this is, it's estimated that 1 in 4 women will be a victim of severe domestic violence at some point and 1 in 3 will be sexually abused in some form during their life time. This has to stop, we need to empower the important women in our lives through praise instead of destroying their sense of self through abuse.
I feel like the issues of stereotypes of women are often magnified in LDS culture. I'm not saying by any stretch of the imagination that the doctrine of the church tries to belittle or alienate women, it often does the opposite( like this fantastic talk by Elder Richard G. Scott ) however do we realize the expectations that are placed on women in the church through our own social stigmas? Too often, the image of an ideal Mormon girl, is a blonde hair, blue eyed petite beauty queen, married by the age of 20, who also is the perfect housewife with 5 kids who is also expected to maintain a steady job and be the relief society president all at the same time. No wonder girls in the church have self-esteem problems and feel overwhelmed. We are setting a standard that is absurd! If you you're 27 and unmarried, or if you aren't a size 2, that shouldn't mean that you are failing as a daughter of God but all too often there are girls who feel that way. We have created a misguided standard for perfection in our culture and the effects are frightening. The Salt Lake area has the highest ratio of plastic surgeons per capita in the country because women don't feel attractive enough. It also boasts the most prescriptions for anti-anxiety/depression medications per capita in the country because women don't feel good about themselves. Imagine if we each took time to tell a girl how beautiful she looked, or how smart she is, or how much we respect what she does for us instead of judging her by an unrealistic standard. I personally believe that many of these issues would begin to dissipate. I recognize that I'm being very idealistic, however I really feel like if more girls had the chance to hear how much they matter to someone, maybe some of these negative social stigmas would disappear and be replaced by self-confidence and self-worth. Most importantly, they would begin to feel and recognize the divinity of their nature. Let's make sure that the women in our lives know how much they mean to us.     

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dating in Utah: "So you're saying there's a chance"

So it's been a while since I've blogged, I'll be honest. Life becomes a pretty good distraction at times, however I'm on my "comeback" tour if you will. So how has everybody been over the past few months? Any crazy dating stories or life events? I hope everyone is doing great and living the dream. So I guess I owe it to the blogging world to let you all know that this blog will be written from a decisively different tone. Anyone who has been around me over the past few weeks that my dating life has gotten a bit more interesting, and for the first time in the history of my blog I'll be writing this blog from the perspective of someone in the beginning stages of a committed relationship. So I hope you don't mind me sharing a bit of my individual perspective of how different life can be when you have someone significant to share your time with and some hints to get things started at least to help you develop your budding love interests.

1. Being open is the key to any successful relationship
I'll be the first to admit that I have trust issues when it comes to relationships. I wish that I didn't have to deal with them because I'm convinced that I would have been a more successful dater to this point. However, the one thing that helps me deal with my own trust issues are open and sincere communication. In the three weeks that I've been dating "Bon Qui Qui"(per her request) we've had our fair share of open and honest discussions about our feelings and status in life. She has really done a good job helping me deal with my own insecurities by being up front about her past and her desires which has helped me grow to trust her more and by her being open with me, it helps me know that she trusts me and that's a responsibility I take to heart. The fact of the matter is that is that by being open we've already avoided a lot of issues that could have ruined our relationship from the get-go. 

2. Your own personal insecurities don't go away just because you're in a relationship.
I feel like a big part of the reason that I've had a history of being a serial dater in the past is because I was too insecure with my own state in life to actually deal with the commitment that comes hand in hand with relationships. These personal insecurities and vulnerabilities haven't gone away over the past few weeks, if anything they have become more apparent. However one of the great things about "Bon Qui Qui" is that she has been willing to listen to my concerns and to help me deal with my own issues. I feel like that is one of the main reasons things have gone so well to this point, even though we each have our little quirks and insecurities, we've listened to each other and made an effort to help each other feel better about our own personal issues. So even though relationships automatically make you vulnerable, two people working together makes things a bit easier to deal with.

3. Embrace the quirky nature of relationships
Fact: anytime two people try to make any sort of romantic connection, there is going to be some awkwardness at some point. Just let it happen, if you make someone feel embarrassed or self-conscious during this transition toward a relationship it can prevent your relationship from being fully open. People are quirky and have their own individual ticks, recognizing and accepting those quirks is the first step to developing a real open communication pattern.

4. Girls secretly do want nice guys.
One of the first things I asked "Bon Qui Qui" after we started dating is why she was interested in pursuing something with me.The first thing she mentioned without hesitation was "you're nice." Obviously there is more to it, but I can say without hesitation because I went out of my way to make sure to show her that I cared about her, she gave me a chance she probably wouldn't have otherwise. Obviously it's not a perfect formula, but if you can be ok with yourself enough to treat people right while still being confident, people will want to date you at some point.  Be patient, because being with someone who wants to be with you is worth waiting for.

So I know that might be some generalized information but I feel like if you can start a relationship out on the right foot, it will make the long-term details and outcome a little easier to handle. I don't know if things will work out between me and "Bon Qui Qui" long-term, but I know that I'm content currently and I'm going to make sure that I do my best to make sure she knows that I care about her. Anyways, now onto my favorite part of the blog, the part where I get to post awesome music. Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dating in Utah: Can Someone Just Pick My Wife for Me?

Hey everyone! how's life? I guess it's time to blog so let's get on it. So when you study psychology in college you learn all sorts of random facts about the way we interact as human beings, however I think that there is one particular statistic that still stands out in my mind when it comes to relationships. I was sitting in my social psychology class minding my own business and out of nowhere, my professor dropped a bombshell about marital satisfaction in love marriages vs. arranged marriages. It turns out that couples in arranged marriages report feeling significantly more satisfied with their relationships when compared to people who "fall in love" and get married. I couldn't make sense of it, I mean if people pick who they want to be with, shouldn't they be significantly more happy than people have no say in the matter? I started thinking about it a bit more and it made a bit more sense however, people in arranged marriages learn over time to love the qualities in their partner that makes them worth loving or in other words instead of feeling overwhelming "bliss" at the beginning of a relationship, they learn how to respect and find the good in their arranged partner to develop a sense of companionship and camaraderie over time and eventually grow to love their partner. In our culture, where we put such an emphasis on the romantic feelings and bliss that come from that "one true love", we lose focus on the fact that when it really comes down to it, for us to be happy, we have to find someone who can be our companion before they can be our lover if that makes sense. To be clear, I'm not saying that arranged marriages are the way to go and that there is no hope for people who fall in love, but I am saying that we need to take more time to really consider what's important in our relationships to be successful. If we took more time to step back and think about why we're really dating someone maybe we can begin to develop that sense of companionship instead of focusing on the "romantic" side of a relationship. I do believe in the power of love and I think that it can help us overcome a lot of difficulties in our life but if "love" really conquers all, it should be able to conquer a 45% divorce rate too right? I get that there are a lot of cultural influences that go into things like this but I find it hard to believe that if we really took the time to look a little bit deeper and find the things we really love at the core of a person, we'd have a much higher success rate when it comes to our own relationships. Something I've never understood about dating is the "friend zone", what's the point of this fear we have of dating people we know and genuinely enjoy spending time with because of who they are because we just aren't "romantically attracted" to them? The fact that we eliminate a lot of our best connections from romantic involvement just because we know them and know can be happy spending time with them but don't find them "attractive" is silly. Don't get me wrong, I have friends that I probably wouldn't date but I feel like I have a lot of friends that if I would have met on a blind date or under different circumstances I could have had a very happy and successful relationship with, but because we already know each other and we're already friends it somehow would make it impossible for that to happen. Doesn't that sound absurd to anyone else? Isn't getting to know someone on a real, sincere personal level 1/2 of the battle when it comes to relationships? Anyways I guess it's time to get off the soapbox for a bit... I guess my point is that I think a lot of the time we're doing things in reverse when it comes to dating, we're worried about that "special feeling" when we should be more concerned with who the person we're dating really is and letting that "special feeling" come over time out of a real desire and compassion for the person we choose to let be that special person. Hope that makes sense! So now onto my favorite part of writing this blog, posting random music on the end in the hopes that I might give someone a chance to discover something great and new!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dating in Utah: Hey I just met you...

Hey everyone, long time no blog so let's get down to business. First things first, I want to thank everyone who took the time to read and/or comment on my last post, I really appreciate all the thought that was put into it to those who posted comments, like I have said in the past, that was a pretty awkward blog for me to write and I just want to thank you all for caring enough to read it. The number of people reading it was more than double a typical blog post and 100 more than my previous high so thanks! Now onto this edition of the Blog of B. The other day I had the opportunity to dress up in a garage rock wig and sunglasses and hide in a mall for a ward activity. Needless to say, it was pretty obvious that I was in costume considering that the longest hair on my head at the moment might be a centimeter long. So while I was minding my own business shopping in Dillard's, I heard random numbers being called over the PA system, I began to become curious if  my disguised shaggy appearance had struck the curiosity of an associate who decided that I was some sort of threat to their business. Sure enough after another random call of numbers over the intercom, a talking badge was informing that you can't take pictures in Dillard's and there was plenty of other places in the mall to take my incognito wig and glasses to. While I continued on my trek across the mall where I knew I'd be accepted(Macy's of course). I noticed all sorts of stairs and conversations about pondering whether or not I could actually grow the mop on top of my head, I began to wonder why it was such a big deal to people. I know for a fact that if I wasn't rocking my wig that no one would even bother concerning themselves with kicking me out of a store because nothing about me says shoplifter or criminal but something about a wig or a pair of trashy aviators does... However this got me thinking about the real power of first impressions. People stereotype because we need to be able to define things to feel in control. However, the majority of the time, there is a lot more to people than just what they display on the outside. I'm not immune to this in the least but I might be a culprit in the opposite way that you're expecting. Let me try to convey what I'm trying to relate like this. A few months ago I met a girl who would fit every snobby girl stereotype that I could think of, you know the type rocking the latest jeans and blouses from Nordstrom, perfect figure and confidence abounding. In other words, I made assumptions that she wasn't my type at all based on my preconceptions, I usually go for the girl next door type and I assumed that she probably wouldn't give me the time of day if she could think of something to talk about in the first place. However as time went on, I began to realize that she was completely different than what I would have assumed, she was smart, well-spoken, down to earth and even a bit insecure like everyone else, even though she was probably the last person I knew that had something to be insecure about. She turned out to be someone I could see myself developing a real and genuine friendship with but I almost cost myself a really good friend because of my own biases that I use to compensate for my own insecurity.  So I guess if there is a point that I can make from this post is that everyone is worth a shot no matter what biases or conceptions you might have about that "type" of person. I read an article once that talked about President Eyring going to the gas station with his dad, who was a world renowned scientist, taking time out of his busy schedule to ask the gas attendant about what was going on in the world. President Eyring asked his dad why he bothered spending his precious time asking some gas attendant what he thought about the world and his dad responded with this pragmatic advice, "I feel like there is something to learn from everyone." If you look at marriage statistics over the past twenty years, you'd come to the realization that couples that married into arraigned marriages are significantly more satisfied in their marriages than those who we're supposedly "in love:" I've always found this statistic really curious but I wonder if it's a statement of our inability to look past the surface and make real emotional connections with people because we base so much off our own ideas about how people and things are and so when we realize that the person we "loved" isn't the person we actually thought they were and so we justify falling out of love as excuse to cover our own insecurities. So I guess if there is anything I can ask my awesome readers to do, it's to put forth the effort to give someone a chance because you never know who really might be behind the wig and sunglasses. Feel free to add thoughts and comments, I'd love to hear your opinions and ideas about this! Now some great garage rock from a couple of Canucks!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dating in Utah: These Are My Confessions...

So I've decided to start this blog out with a caveat... I've been thinking about writing this particular blog for a few weeks now but I was worried about how it would be taken. I'm afraid it might sound vain or whiny, but I promise that's not my intention.I'm hoping that by, for lack of a better term, letting you into my mind for a bit I can make you a little more normal when you feel frustrated with dating. So let me start by pointing out I don't feel like dating itself is a burden, I mean spending normally uninterrupted time with someone you genuinely enjoy spending time with isn't really what I would consider terrible. I just wish that from time to time it would become something more than just a couple hours with someone I'd like to consider more than a friend but she doesn't feel the same. I feel like I've gotten in a routine of expecting nothing serious to ever come out of dating. As far as I know I've never been in "love", sometimes I sit and wonder if I'm even capable of being loved or falling in love. I feel like my brain gets in the way of my emotions and I think myself out something real more than once. I convince myself that I'm not happy but if I ever really just learned not how to think I could have been at least something other than a pseudo-relationship every once in a while. As I've gotten older and possibly more mature, ok maybe not, I feel like I've gotten better at controlling my insecurities like my jealousy and shyness but for whatever reason it hasn't really helped me get to a point that something substantial. I ask myself sometimes if it's wrong of me to want to date people who make me happy to be around, people who make me want to be better just because they deserve someone great... What's the point of dating if you don't set your aspirations high right? However as I go on more and more first dates and less and less second dates, I find it hard not to wonder if there isn't something wrong with me. I get that I don't have all that much on the top of the head, but is that really my only problem, the way I look? I get that looks are important, and I'd be lying if I said that looks weren't important to me, but that being said I really feel like I'm willing to give anyone an opportunity. I also feel like I have a lot to offer in relationships, when it comes down to it I just want an opportunity some girl like a princess, but that doesn't seem like enough anymore. I don't mean to sound cheesy but I really feel like that if I had the chance I'd do what I could to make whoever decided to give me a chance's life better. I really hope that this doesn't come off as insincere, I feel like if someone was willing to give me an opportunity to be part of their lives, it's the least I could do. The world is full of enough abuse and ignorance as it is, why should I contribute to it? but yet it seems like every time I look around some new tool is on the arm of a girl who doesn't deserve to be treated the way she is about to be treated... Don't get me wrong, I don't think that most guys are tools but when I see the way they treat women, I wonder what I'm doing so much worse than that guys like that. I wonder why girls settle for mediocrity like that? but then I ask myself am I really any better than those guys? Would I settle if I were the girls place? It's really easy to be judgmental though and I'm sure my own preconceptions might be a tad bit off, I just wish I could understand it. Really when it comes down to it, I just want to know what it's like to be in love and to be loved like anybody else. Well now that I've got that off my mind. feel free to post in the comments below privately or openly your own feelings towards dating, I'd love feedback on this one. Like I said before I'm sorry if this came off as whiny or conceited, I was really just trying to be as open as I could be so that others could know that they're not the only ones who feel like dating is difficult from time to time. So I hope this proves to be cathartic in a way... like I said I'd love to hear your stories as well so feel free to post them if you feel comfortable, or to leave feedback! Thanks! and now I leave you with Skinny Love. Enjoy!