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!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dating in Utah: "When There's Nothing Left to Burn, You Have to Set Yourself on Fire"

Hey everyone, it's been a while, so I guess it's time to get back on the blogger kick... How's the dating world out there? I hope you are doing great, or at least better than me. Well I guess that's enough of the small talk, let's cut to the chase. Let's get real, there's a part of dating that no one really wants to talk about, you know that  part that where that "perfect" girl or guy decides that you might not be perfect for them, you know the "break-up". It's never easy to either break-up or being broken-up with, especially the latter because as Nada Surf put it so eloquently back in the 90s, " Even if you've gone together for only a short time, And haven't been too serious, There's still a feeling of rejection When someone says she prefers the company of others To your exclusive company," but the truth of the matter is that the way you handle a break up is a real good indicator of your level of dating future. Let's get real, it's a lot easier to get upset and distant( if you're in an abusive or manipulative situation, this is the appropriate reaction, never forget how much you're worth) but there are a lot of times that relationships end, not because someone is being unfaithful or a straight up jerk, but because it just wasn't the right fit. If anyone can remember back to my last blog, I tried to talk about how the real purpose of dating is to find one person to spend your life and eternity with. It's really easy to get distracted from this when you're getting broken up with but at the same time you can't force your will on others. At stake conference today, one of the speakers was talking about that we spend a lot of time praying for the will of others to coincide with our will, for example "please bless my neighbor that he'll come to church next Sunday, so I can feel less guilty about missing home teaching him" does anyone see what's wrong with that, other than the home teaching part? When we pray for people's will to be in harmony with our will, we're really just praying to take away their agency. I'm not trying to sound self-righteous, in all actuality I've done this a lot in the past, but if you think about, by praying or trying to force our thoughts and ideas we're taking away the opportunity of others to choose for themselves. We're, in a small way, acting on Satan's plan from the pre-mortal world. I'm not saying we're sinning, most of the time we have the best intentions, but we're often denying the opportunity to grow. So what does this have to do with break-ups you might ask? If we spend most of our time talking about how terrible are ex is because they didn't want to date us anymore aren't we doing something kind of similar? Like I said before there are plenty of reasons to burn bridges with people who we've dated in the past(unfortunately these are often the kind of relationships that last because of manipulation) but should I really be angry that someone gave me a chance and for whatever reason it didn't work out? If you thought someone was worth giving your trust to enough to get in a relationship and their only crime is that they don't feel that you are their "perfect" match, are they not worth maintaining a friendship with? I know this viewpoint is probably a bit controversial, but from my previous experience, life works out better when spend less time questioning other's motives and more time accepting their right to have them. Last summer, I had the opportunity to date a girl we'll call "Brittany" to give her a name, she was a real fun and free-spirited girl to be around and I really enjoyed the time I had to spend with her. However, as time went on, it became apparent that things probably weren't going to work out romantically, so before things got serious, she broke things off. I really did like her and it would have been really easy to get upset because things didn't work out the way I wanted them to, but instead I tried my best to make a conscious decision to respect her right to feel that way. I'm not trying to brag about my ability to be awesome right now, rather I'm trying to point out her awesomeness to tell you the truth. She was real upfront and honest, and even though we might not have been dating anymore she still went out of her way to make me feel important. I could have burned the bridge right there and she definitely could have, but because we decided to both put an effort in maintaining a friendship after we still are on good terms today. I don't know if either of us would be interested in giving a romantic relationship a shot again in the future, but we're at least at a point where we can feel comfortable our friendship. She even went out of her way to leave a really sincere and confidence boosting message this week to me, even though we haven't had face to face interaction in months. I can think of other examples but I think the point I'm trying to make is that if you can really try your best to keep yourself connected to the people who are worth keeping around even if they might not be your "soul-mate" you might get the chance to develop some really great friendships that might be of more substance than your romantic relationship might have been. Don't try to force the issue, instead be grateful for the opportunities you have that can help you become that "perfect" person for someone down the road.
Now for the song I quoted earlier, a 90's classic Here's Nada Surf with Popular

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dating in Utah: It Just Ain't Workin' Out

So unlike my past blogs the video posted above is 100% relevant to the topic at hand so give it a watch, because not only will it help you relate to the blog a bit more, it will help you relate to my life. I have to often remind myself what the purpose of dating actually is because otherwise it's hard not to look at it pessimistically. I mean I'd probably have enough money for a new car or house if I somehow could have never payed for a date. Don't get me wrong I love going out on dates and getting to know all sorts of different lovely ladies. I also love not spending my Friday nights alone, but as of late it seems like I'm just investing in a lot of other people's future wives. This is where the reminder to myself about the purpose of dating comes into play. Unless you live in some sort of polygamous community, the purpose of dating is to find ONE person that   finds you as important as you find them important. I know this is tougher than it sounds but really is there a reason to be discouraged if you give your "heart" to someone and they don't feel the same way? Yeah of  course there is but there are plenty of other people that you still haven't gotten to know and that honestly might be a better fit for you. I guess I've never understood why people get super immature and basically childish when someone decides that they aren't right fit for them, there is nothing wrong with someone deciding that, if you think they are worth dating, don't you think they should be entitled to their own feelings? I'm not discouraging persistence, however I think that people need to remember the ultimate goal of dating to find ONE person so if you're not the one for them, it's ok to be ok with that. Now for my next thought, if you're interested in someone, let them know! I feel like that this is the difference between people in a perpetual state of "single" on their relationship status on Facebook and those who you find constantly in a relationship even though everyone seems to think they're full of themselves. If there is some guy/girl you find yourself attracted to, go out of your way to make sure that person gets to know you, not only you, the best version of you you can be. People generally like when someone else shows a genuine interest in who they are, so essentially you're guaranteeing yourself a more successful dating life by putting yourself out on a limb by getting to know that girl/guy you find so attractive, ask questions about them, focus on them and make sure that you let them know that you want to spend time with them... You'll know they're worth keeping around if they show a sincere interest in you, and if they don't, no worries I bet you can find someone else you're attracted to that feels the same way about you! I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that the more open you are to different experiences, the more happy you'll because after all you're just looking for ONE person to spend you're life with. Eventually someone will take your "heart" and treat it the same way you would.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dating in Utah: The Dating Monster in a Digital World

So I figure that after a few weeks off I might as well put together a little something something for you all. As we all know the world is going through a communications revolution, it has never been easier to stay in touch with with the people we know, we have texting, facebook, skype, google+ and a plethora of other ways for us to communicate.
Of course with all of these relatively new and unique ways of communicating, the world of dating has changed dramatically as well. Think about it, at least 20% of successful relationships start with people meeting online rather than in person. If you look back even ten years, people didn't have to worry about what their new boyfriend was saying through text messages or posting on facebook because those weren't really viable options for building a relationship or didn't exist... So in other words there have never been so many options for communication and building relationships in the history of the world ever and we have the unique opportunity/challenge of managing relationships through these unique mediums of communication. I kind of chuckle to myself when older adults tell me that they would have never sent a text message to a boy/girl they were interested in to have a conversation or ask them on a date because they didn't have that option so of course it's easy to pretend like they wouldn't have, but I highly doubt that their generation would have been any different. That being said, I feel like there should be some established ground rules for dating in a digital world.
1. Face to face communication should be priority #1
Fact: If you can't have a face to face conversation with a person your dating life will be more difficult. This doesn't mean that you can just make small talk, you have to be able to communicate your emotions openly. If you feel like if you had to break up with someone and you couldn't tell them face to face then you probably have some work to do in this category. There are so many elements in human communication that aren't verbal, like proximics, vocal tone, touch, and non-verbal facial cues that make conversation easier to understand so you don't run into the classic sarcasm over text problem or offending someone over the phone accidentally because of a lack of social cues. Basically there should be a premium on face to face conversation/communication for a successful relationship to develop
2. When to call/ When to text? The eternal debate...
I can't tell you how many times I've ran into very passionate conversations about this very issues, is it ok to ask someone on a date over text or should I call? Is there any benefit to carrying on a text conversation with a person that I might be interested in? My answer is simple to the date question, call first, leave a voicemail if no one answers and wait for them to call back. Every girl I've ever talked to has told me that they prefer to be asked out on a date through a phone call because it feels like someone is important enough to take time out of their schedule, however there is a caveat to this that I don't think most people think about. There have been numerous times that I've called a girl to ask them on a date and nobody answered, so I left a voicemail only to get a text back the next day to let me know that they could/couldn't make it No offense but doesn't this seem like a double standard to anyone? Girls expect you to call but they text you back if they don't answer? Just a thought... The problem is that unless you're in a committed relationship with someone it's just easier to ignore a phone call, whereas if someone sends you a text you can respond at your own convenience. I've been asked out over text messages before and I wasn't offended, I was just happy to have the opportunity to go on the date(it's amazing how much easier life is if you just enjoy the company you have around you) I also feel like it's super awkward to be texting someone and all of the sudden to call them just to ask them on a date especially if said date has already been mentioned in the text conversation. Then again I'm not really a fan of social mores that have no real context. Which brings me to the next question, would you rather spend 20 minutes on the phone per week with your crush and then do something on the weekend or would you rather text your crush for an hour or two, three or four times a week and then do something on the weekend? I'm not going to answer that question but I think it's a question that we all have to ask, texting is obviously less personal but it's a lot more convenient for both parties, especially in a society built on doing as much with the time you have as possible. I personally would rather talk to someone obviously but texting is a nice alternative to keep in touch and carry on a conversation. My best advice would be to be flexible and willing to do both because in this technology driven world, versatility is possibly your most valuable asset.
3. Don't be afraid of online dating!
I've written about this a previous blog but I feel like online dating is really underrated not because it's necessarily better than traditional dating, however it gives you access to a bunch of other people looking to date just like you! I've met a ton of great people that I wouldn't have had the opportunity otherwise because of online dating. The thing that's nice about online dating that instead of seeing one or two people you might be interested in at a huge party where you'll never really have a chance to get to know them, you get to single out, send a message, if they respond great! If not, no big deal, you never really had anything invested with them anyways and you can probably find someone else that you're interested in... sure there are people that are creepers but you can control whether or not you meet them and where you meet them so you have control of the situation... Don't get me wrong I love meeting people in person and developing a friendship with them before actually dating them but at the same time it's nice to have other options if things don't work out with your personal contacts... I'm not saying that online dating is for everyone but from my personal experience 99% of the people are normal people just looking for someone to make their life more complete...

Anyways I hope my random babbling has been productive and that your dating life in a digital world is a little less complicated after today. Now on a completely different note here's another great cover of a super talented singer/songwriter from the 70s by a super talented modern artist James Blake!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dating in Utah: What is Love?(Baby don't hurt me no more?)

So I've came to the sudden realization that I'm slacking a bit on the blogging duties lately, but here's a new post just time for Valentine's Day! Oh wait, missed the boat on that one too... Well I'm just going to write what I would have anyways! So recently I've been reading a book called "The Good Among the Great" that talks about 19 personality traits that some of the most revered, successful men in the world carry that have helped them become the people they are today. After being autonomous, the second attribute listed is the ability to love.  I guess the season and the book got me thinking about what love actually is. I, myself, don't think I've ever been in love, there have been plenty of people that I've been attracted to or liked a whole bunch but I've experienced the "L" word. I've seen other people who love each other so I know it exists, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't know what to do even if I knew what love felt like. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I don't think I'm capable of loving someone or falling in love myself, but I just don't know if I buy into the whole commercialization of what love should be. I just find it hard to believe that love is what they try to sell me in chick flicks. Is it really all about two super-attractive people who serendipitously meet each other only to fall out of love due to some screw-up by the guy(explain to me why the guy always screws it up?) but in the end fate conquers all and they live happily ever after. Forgive me for thinking that love isn't really that sentimental. Love isn't about whether or not you like the flowers that guy bought you are your favorite, or the size of the ring on your finger... If it were so materialistic then divorce wouldn't be so rampant in our society (if anything the materialism of our society has made things worse). And no offense to any Romeo and Juliet, or even Bruno Mars fans out there, I don't see what's so romantic about catching a grenade for ya... Is love really so tragic or desperate that you would give your life for someone who doesn't really care about you to prove your love to them, all you're really doing is proving your recklessness and fragility. For some reason I don't think that true love should be something painful, desperate or needy. Instead love should be a merging of two different people complimenting each other to the point that each person can become their best possible self. How does taking a grenade help you become a better person(I'm not really a fan of the whole martyr thing if you can't tell). Love should be reciprocal, complimentary. I have to wonder what the divorce rate in the US would look like if instead of marrying for "love", we took the opportunity to make each other better instead of focusing on how we're going to prove our love. To quote Maslow, one of the most influential thinkers of our time, " the fusion of love and respect shows itself in the fact that people cannot be said in the ordinary sense of the word to 'need' each other, as do ordinary lovers. The can be extremely close together, and yet go apart when necessary without collapsing... These people remain themselves and remain ultimately masters of themselves as well, living by their own standards even though enjoying each other immensely." Like I said earlier I feel like love is more about finding someone who helps you become your best self. I think that's the key when it ultimately comes down to it. Now I'm not saying that love doesn't strike at random(my parents were sharing a hospital room when they met for pete's sake) but I am saying if that person doesn't compliment who you are, it's going to be hard for the love to last.
Here's a story of a good friend of mine that kind of illustrates my point(if you want the whole story, check out her blog
I don't think there's one right person for everyone either.  I met and went out with a LOT of really nice, incredibly great guys.  The last guy I dated before I met Matt was great.  He treated me super awesome and was very smart and hardworking and respectful.  I don't know why things didn't feel right with him but they just didn't quite click.  And now it's looking like I may be going to grad school in Washington (I hope- if they let me in!) and moving there is something he wouldn't have been able to do.  I feel like my education is something that is important to Heavenly Father and He let me fall in love (and more importantly let fall in love with me) someone that would be capable and willing to move to where I'm going to school.  I think sometimes there are reasons for why things happen in life and sometimes we really don't understand the reasons until much later-if ever.  So until we can that divine intervention and the craziness stops- we just have to keep playing the game and learn what we can from it.  I definitely met a lot of amazing people through my years of dating and learned a lot from them.  There are a lot of people I admire a lot- a lot who are going to have super lucky wives someday.  There just for whatever reason wasn't that clicking thing that happens when Heavenly Father joins the paths of two individual people and puts them onto the same one. 
I think that this story is not only inspirational, but does a good job of demonstrating what I've been trying to say, love is about finding someone who helps you become your best self! And now a word from one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite artists

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dating in Utah: The Singles Ward Scene

We've all been there, sitting there on Sundays and someone we've never really said a word to in our lives comes up to us starts talking to us for no apparent reason and then tells us how they had a "revelation" the night before in the most poignant and vivid dream you've ever heard that they're your soul-mate.... Needless to say, awkwardness takes it place in what was an already uncomfortable situation, after you finally get away from your supposedly new found soul-mate, you get home, you have three new Facebook messages from your long lost lover, basically forcing you to give them a chance, and it all goes downhill from here.After a weekend of turmoil, you decide to tell them the truth that you think they're crazy, rumors spread, and when all is said and done, you're back in the home ward by the next week, happy with your new calling as a primary teacher. This might be a slight exaggeration but dating in the singles ward can be a complicated animal, if things work out, great, you've found an eternal companion in less than six months probably, if they don't chances are you share common friends , rumors about your relationship's demise will be greatly exaggerated and half of your social contacts are now out of the picture because they don't want to step on your ex's toes.  So now that I've spent half of my blog on the perils of dating in the singles ward, let's get real for a bit. It's totally appropriate to take a chance on someone in your ward, singles wards are designed to help people meet and I know a ton of happily married couples that met their spouses in the singles ward. You just have to remember three rules going into a potential relationship with someone from the singles ward.

1. Ask yourself "If things don't work out, am I capable of maintaining a platonic friendship with this person?"  
This question is applicable in all circumstances where you will probably continue to see the person in a social situation with common friends, like class or work but especially with a singles ward because you'll see each other at least once a week in a situation where you should be having the most spiritual moment of your week If you're going to be distracted with animosity towards the person you've dated, it's going to be extremely difficult for you to maintain a sense of spirituality at church and possibly down the road in your everyday life. So if you're going to date someone in the singles ward be mature enough to accept that things might not work out and secure enough with yourself when you see him/her on a date with someone else in the ward to not be jealous.
2. Be secure enough to realize that you'll be the subject of ward gossip 
People love to talk especially when two people share the same social group. If you're not ok with your relationship becoming like a mini tabloid relationship within your social group then you probably hold off on the relationship until you're at a point that you're ok with it. I'm not saying deny your feelings, I'm just trying to point out that relationships between members of the same social group add a different dimension to a relationship involving every one around them. So if people pick sides, don't be offended, a lot people just don't know how to handle complicated situations, give people the benefit of the doubt and understand that they're trying...
3.Don't let dating someone get in the way of the reason you're actually at church
I kinda addressed this earlier but remember the point of church is to bring you closer to your heavenly father. The social aspect of church is great and really important especially in a singles ward, but if you're reason for going to church is an attractive member of the opposite sex, you can find yourself in a precarious situation if things don't go as you have them planned. Just make sure your relationship with your Heavenly Father is as good as your relationship with your "soul-mate" and things should work out great!
Anyways I hope this helps, and like I said before dating in the singles ward is a great opportunity but I hope these guidelines help you avoid a lot of the undesired consequences that often happen in in-ward relationships.  And now a great youtube video about nice guys.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dating in Utah: What a Girl Wants! and other random ramblings from my head

Over the course of this blog I've given a variety of opinions on various issues about dating but today I go where very few men dare to go. Today I try to delve into the greatest of human mysteries, the female mind. K maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but according to every romantic comedy ever written every problem that has ever happened in any relationship is caused by a fundamental difference in the way that men and women think that can only be overcome by an epic kiss at the end of the movie. However when I took a communication and gender class in college the first point that was made in the book for the class was that there is less than a 1% biological difference in the way that women and men think so I decided to set my self out on a quest to find out what women actually want out of a relationship. I do believe that there are some key differences in the way that women and men communicate that need to be addressed, however as hopefully everyone will see men and women essentially want the same thing when it comes to relationships but I'll let you be the judge. So here are the results of my completely scientific text message survey that I obviously spent lots of time analyzing numerically...
1. What are the top three qualities that you look for in a guy?
There were some very definite patterns in this question. Women want dedicated, motivated, hard-working men. According to evolutionary psychologists, this is because women need security when they are making commitments to men because let's be frank women have a lot more invested when it comes to long-term relationships, they need to know that their children and themselves will be taken care of securely. Dedication shows that men are willing to make an investment not only in themselves but in others as well. Women also want honest, loyal men, also for the LDS guys out there, they want worthy strong priesthood holders(surprise right?). I felt like this is pretty self-explanatory, I personally feel like the best way for anyone to show that they care about a person is by being honest with them because it eliminates a lot of the insecurities that come with human interaction. There is not a more solid ground for building great communication than honesty. Women also want someone they can laugh with/have fun with. Don't be a douche or a stick in the mud, if you aren't someone that people can picture as their best friend it's going to be hard for them to commit to a relationship. Finally physical attraction is important, but if you can be yourself people will be more attracted to you, confidence is the single most attractive trait anyone one can have.
2. After you've gone on a few dates with a guy, how do you know if you're interested in a more serious relationship with a guy?
I realized when I wrote this question that it was a bit vague but I figured that if guys could understand how girls approach relationships, it could help get rid of a lot of the awkwardness and miscommunication that come in the early stages of budding relationships. The truth of the matter is that women will want to spend time with you if they want something to happen. They have to have fun with you. They want to feel appreciated. They need to feel like that you are willing to make a commitment. Possibly most importantly, women need to feel comfortable and have to feel that "connection" or in other words they have to feel like that they can get close emotionally with a guy. So to the guys reading this out there do your best to make girls feel comfortable and your odds of developing a more serious relationship will go up tremendously.
3. What are your biggest pet peeves when it comes to dating?
Going into this I kinda had an idea what to expect, but I was shocked with how unified girls were on this one. Guys be warned... If you don't have a plan on your dates, you've probably committed the cardinal sin of dating... Women want you to have a plan because if you don't it's shows that you don't care enough about the time they are decent enough to share with you. It also shows that you're lazy and unmotivated which is probably the worst possible combination you can be. Girls also don't want you to talk too much or talk just about yourself, ask questions! Dates are for getting to know each other so if you're doing all the talking or not asking questions it's going create issues. Women want to feel like they are important to you, they don't want to be the last priority on your list! Back to the whole security thing from before. It's all about making sure people feel secure and comfortable around you... So instead of putting out the least amount of effort possible, go out of your way to show how important your girl is to you, never pass up an opportunity to make her feel special. Put forth the effort and eventually some girl will realize how awesome you are and that you're worth the risk. Obviously it works both ladies, if you truly appreciate the man that you want eventually guys are going to realize that your quite the catch, just be confident in who you are and love yourself and the rest will follow!
Next week I want to answer your questions so hit me up!
if you want to text me or send me a message on facebook or Google+
Heck if you want to hit me up with a tweet @bchristlieb21 or #ihaveadatingquestion
 you can even leave a comment on the blog too!
Now that I've been as obnoxious as possible, hope you enjoyed my blog this week Now here's a clip from The Science of Sex Appeal that I mentioned earlier, it's one of my favorite documentaries so I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dating in Utah: The Pursuit of Happiness

So up to this point, I've blogged my opinions about all sorts of stuff, trying to help people find success in dating. Today I'm going to take a different approach, I've never really talked about what I want out of a relationship. So if this post is considered vain or inflating, that's not my intentions consider this more of an ad out of the personals or an about me on an online dating profile. I'm realize that my views on dating differ from a lot of other guys, I've never really viewed dating as a competition or a trophy show. That sort of approach to dating really has never made sense to me, you know like the whole "make out and move on" approach, sure you get your kicks but to quote Kanye "in the end, it's still so lonely..." I don't know what my problem is but I have a hard time dating someone that I don't feel like I could have a real emotional connection with. Call me crazy but I  don't have a specific criterion on what I would consider a perfect woman either. I figure if I had a list it would probably get in the way when I actually found "the one". I mean sure it would be nice if the girl of my dreams was a brunette with a gorgeous smile, but if she's blonde or a redhead it wouldn't stop me from giving it a go. I guess the only specific criteria I personally have is that whoever I end up with make me happy and that I can make them just as happy to be with me. I guess some of my biggest regrets are the times that I tried fit a square peg into a round hole, either for my own satisfaction or because I felt like I would be letting the girl down if I didn't give it a shot knowing that although they were great people, I really didn't feel like I could be truly happy with them. Call me crazy but isn't that what we all want out of relationships? Yet I'm left to wonder how many times I gave up what could have been a real lasting relationship trying to pursue something that in the long run I knew deep down wouldn't work out. I wonder how many times I stared happiness in the face and glanced away. This probably sounds really simplistic but when it comes down to it, how many problems in relationships would be solved if just truly wanted to be with the person we were with  and they wanted to be with us just as much. Would their be trust issues? Sure everyone would still have their quarrels and disagreements but if we truly wanted the best for both parties, we would do everything we could to resolve the issues and move forward. Call me idealistic, but I'm not convinced that I need a huge house on the coast or a couple of fancy cars to be happy, I just want someone to hold close me and who wants to be seen by my side. I guess the reason that I decided to write this blog today is because I believe that most people feel this way, both men and women, so let's be honest with each other. Let's get over our little games and be frank with people, it'll help to get rid of the awkwardness in our lives with the people we care about. If you're not happy where you are, try something else, if you are happy but that happiness isn't reciprocated, have the courage to realize that you can't be truly happy with someone who isn't truly happy to be with you. I hope this doesn't sound preachy or remedial; I really just feel like if we could keep things in perspective, we'd all have a bit more success in dating and in life down the road. So may your pursuit of happiness bring you what you seek no matter what it may entail.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dating in Utah: All the Single Ladies?

Recently I had a discussion with a friend of mine about this guy that she was trying to date. She started explaining to me that she knew that he was into her, and that she was interested in him but he was afraid of trying to take her on a second date because of the implications that come with multiple dates(I guess finding someone attractive is questionable on some sort of moral level I haven't gotten to yet) but she didn't know how to make him feel comfortable with his attraction toward her. We continued to talk and I put in my two cents but this conversation got me thinking about what might be the most common dating conversation when singles ward's have open discussions, you know the one, it usually comes from the 30 year old girl with 2 weeks left before her 31st birthday, realizing that this might be her last chance to go on a date with anyone under the age of 40, she pipes up, "Do you think it's ok for girls to ask guys on dates if they're interested?" From there pandemonium ensues, the guy who's been asked on one too many dates by girls over a Facebook message vehemently opposes, whereas the shy guy who has never asked a girl out on a date in his life raises his hand to voice his approval. From there the relief society president tries to make a spiritual application to their discussion while the elder's quorum president is arm wrestling for no apparent reason, the bishop's wife tries to give her best input on how it's the priesthood responsibility of the elders to go on dates whether they find their date attractive or not but by now none of the elders are listening anymore because an arm-wrestling tournament has broken out and Bishop and the ward mission leader are next on the card. Ok this might be a slight exaggeration, but anyone who has sat through a combined priesthood/relief society meeting on dating knows that it's not that far off... However I feel like in the world we live in, it's a completely relevant question. So can a girl ask a guy on a date in a ultra-conservative dating culture and hope for any success? I personally have been on a lot of fun and productive dates where I was asked out by a girl(Gasp!) but if you're asking out a guy and want something more than just a date to come out of it, then let me give you a bit of advice.
1. Make the guy feel important and needed
For a lot guys out there, they might feel like their surrendering their man card by going out on a date that you asked them on because they've been taught that they should be the ones doing the asking their whole lives(ultra-conservative dating culture remember) so make him feel like he's still doing the manly thing by going on a date with you. If he offers to pay(which any guy worth dating would) let him, let him open doors for you and even pull out you seat for you at dinner. I know this all seems a bit traditional, but when you give guys the opportunity to be gentleman, they'll usually step up to the occasion and might just begin to man up...
2. Don't pull the desperate card.
I'm pretty sure this works both ways but as far as I'm concerned there might be nothing less attractive than someone who is completely needy and desperate. I'm ok with someone being attracted to me and I'm more than willing to give everyone a fair shot but if a girl asks me on a first date when we're going to get married and what the name of our third daughter is going to be, I hate to break it to her, I'm not going to ask her on a second date. I'm all about dating and committed relationships but if you lay out all your chips on the first hand chances are that you won't be in the game very long. I'm not saying that avoid talking about relationships but your chances of ending up in a relationship increase exponentially if the girl has enough self-respect and class to be ok with herself  regardless of how this first date goes.
3. Be bold, but not over-bearing...
Admittedly, this section is probably a combo of the two sections above but I don't think that it makes it any less important. If you're interested in a guy, feel free to show it, you don't have to ask for an engagement ring on the first date, but feel free to flirt with him. Contrary to popular opinion, guys do want attention, it's just a different type of attention, they want to feel like they can trust you, secure, and needed. If you go out of your way to give a sincere compliment or two during a date, chances are that your soon to be Prince Charming will actually become that Prince Charming you seek because he'll feel comfortable around you and will be able to open up because they know they can trust you. You see the key to building any sort of relationship is building a foundation of trust and openness so build that foundation first and then start asking about the ring after.

Well I hope that I did enough to shake up a few antiquated views on dating, but if you like the old-fashioned approach to dating I totally respect that, but as an single member of the church with a chin beard(Gasp! How can he live with himself?) I feel like people should worry a little less about what's protocol and start worrying a little bit more about the people they're trying to date. Always be proactive! Even if you don't feel like asking the guy you like on a date, let him know that you're interested in trying things out at least because then the ball is in his court and you can live without regrets because even if things don't work out, you can say that you did everything you could so you can have closure, or even better you can develop a real, lasting, worthwhile relationship!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dating in Utah: 99 Ways to Screw Up a Date and Still Come Away Happy

I realized that a long time ago that God has a serious sense of humor. I'm also pretty sure that if He watches our lives like we watch cable or Netflix, my dating life would be on his favorites list. Not because I'm so romantic or anything like that, it's probably more the opposite. I think he'd just watch waiting for me to screw it up somehow.  I don't know how I manage to make a fool of myself so easily. I guess no matter how many times you drive up the wrong canyon, or your fork breaks in your mouth while your eating a burrito, or drop half of your sandwich into your soup at dinner it doesn't get old(obviously these are all bizarrely specific hypothetical examples that aren't based on actual real-life experiences at all). Oddly enough, I'm grateful for all of my awkward date experiences because there comes a point where after you've embarrassed yourself so much it doesn't even matter anymore, it actually becomes more like a game than anything, you know like what awkward adventure is going to try to ruin my night tonight? If there's anything that I've learned from innate ability to screw things up it's that if you can laugh at yourself, you'll be happy no matter what life decides to gift wrap all nice and neat for you. And as much as I would like my life to be like Casablanca or The Notebook, I realize that I have a lot more in common with Steve Carell than I do with Humphrey Bogart. The truth is that even "a bull in a china shop" can be romantic when the occasion calls for it, but most of the time I'm just my wonderfully awkward self, prepared for whatever situation approaches me in front of a girl with a beautiful eyes and a gorgeous smile and even better personality. In fact, when, on the rare occasion I catch that gorgeous girl slip up from her perpetual state of perfection and embarrass herself, I don't think there is anything that makes her more attractive than a girl who's secure enough to laugh at herself. There is some so reassuring about someone who is ok with not being perfect all the time because let's face it, dating is awkward, love is awkward, life is awkward. So what's the point in stressing about it? Remember those hypothetical situations I mentioned earlier, funny thing is that I went on at least one more date with each of the girls who sat through my awkwardness (well except the most recent, but she hasn't defriended me on Facebook yet, fingers crossed) because contrary to popular opinion, you don't need go on a perfect date to be happy, in fact, most people are pretty understanding when you give them a chance to be. So no matter how many times the big man upstairs tries to throw a curveball to your plans (I believe 5 was the count on my most recent date) as long as you can try to look on the bright side of things and laugh about it, chances are you'll come back feeling like you've had one of the best nights of your life.

If laughing at yourself doesn't prove to be effective try this strategy on for size