December 12, 2008

Successful Dating

I was recently asked, “So why don't guys ask girls out more often? Sorry, we just had an enrichment activity that was a dating panel, and this question was asked, but I felt like there was not a good answer given...” I responded, “It varies from guy to guy, from time to time.” I went on to give a few reasons that have kept me or others from dating, so far as I saw it. But, these reasons boil down to having an enjoyable and successful dating experience. The fear of having a negative experience, or experiences that repeatedly end in disappointment, will make dating into drudgery and hopes for marriage into myth. Young men of the marrying age can have a productive, meaningful and successful dating experience as they date with wisdom and energy. Specifically, they will be most successful as they use good sense in forming dating habits according to an appropriate perspective, frequency and mode of dating. The details of these principles may be found meaningful to young women, but are primarily directed to young men.

Perspective on Girls and Dating
The way we see dating and the way we look at our dates has large sway over the quality of our dates. My roommate asked me one night, “If the church told you that you had to get married in a week for some special assignment, who would you choose?” One of us asked my sister the same question the next day. She responded, not with a name, but expressing that she would care less about how cute the boy was and more about what kind of boy he was. She said that she would approach dating very differently. We should probably all approach dating with more perspective. Perhaps as boys we don’t think very deeply about how deeply our wives will impact our lives. Your wife will help to define you—will represent you. Your wife will determine in large part who your children become; they will be like her. Your wife will be part of almost every household conversation. Your wife will be your partner in eternity and exaltation. She must be your equal and your companion. You must be a complementary pair. The attitude that we have toward the girls we date will influence who we date and finally marry.
How should we look at girls and dating? By what measure should we measure? While the tape measure is handy in making clothes, that’s never primarily been the man’s art. Values and essential characteristics: that is the measure—that is that tape—that is the whole nine yards. When we look at a girl—when we talk with a girl, we should probe for her values, we should identify in her the essential characteristics of a good wife. Richard G. Scott outlined the essentials as follows, “There is more to a foundation of eternal marriage than a pretty face or an attractive figure. There is more to consider than popularity or charisma. As you seek an eternal companion, look for someone who is developing the essential attributes that bring happiness: a deep love of the Lord and of His commandments, a determination to live them, one that is kindly understanding, forgiving of others, and willing to give of self, with the desire to have a family crowned with beautiful children and a commitment to teach them the principles of truth in the home.”1 These constitute a rock foundation for marriage, and they also direct our sights in the right direction when dating. On the same level, it is important that we are conscious of the values that those we date espouse—you will marry both. If you are in agreement on the things that you value most, your disagreements can be of little consequence. The most difficult disagreements come from difference on deeply-held values. It is important that the Spirit influences our perceptions and attractions. As we have the right perspective, we will be more likely to date girls with whom we can enjoy happiness in marriage (through the eternities) and more immediately, with whom we can enjoy a date or two, perhaps more.

Quantity and Frequency of Dates
Dating quantity (when there’s not enough of it) is detrimental to proper dating. You can’t date if you don’t date—it’s simple enough. So how much dating is enough dating? Charles B. Beckart counseled, “Experience the wonder of the weekly date. Not only does the much-recommended weekly date allow husband and wife to spend time in enjoyable activities together, it also sends the message that the relationship is important.”2 If it’s important in marriage, it is a must for single-adult dating, especially when the opportunities are abundantly available; weekly dates are not only important in order to expedite the “quest for a spouse,” they are essential for developing an active dating mindset. You’re not likely to find a spouse when you’re not talking to or meeting girls. When you buy a car, there is value in finding the best car at a price you can afford, both economically and for your peace of mind. If you know that you made a valiant effort in your car hunt, there should be no room for regret when there are problems with your car. Similarly, you can have greater confidence in a choice for marriage—when the time for asking comes—when you know that you have chosen carefully, having explored your options and acted accordingly. So, back to the original question, exactly how much dating is appropriate? Note how Dallin H. Oaks puts it, “Simple and more frequent dates allow both men and women to “shop around” in a way that allows extensive evaluation of the prospects.”3 Frequent. We should date frequently. That will yield the best experience.

Mode of Dating
It is important that we have good dates. If we enjoy it, we’ll do it again. Our dates should have a few qualities so that they’re good and sustainable. First dates are a great way to get to know someone in a noncommittal way (besides for the time commitment). Because we are counseled to date a variety of people frequently, until we enter the realm of courtship, we are better off with more dates rather than longer dates. I feel bad for the girl who accepts a date invitation only to find herself on a dating-marathon. If there is time in an evening for six hours of dating, perhaps we should divide it between two or three girls, avoiding the eternal date. A good first date should allow a couple to get to know each other one-on-one. There should be time to talk and interact. An activity should encourage interaction. Displaying affection should be far from the focus of a first date.
Dating in general must balance several aspects. The meat of dating is coming to understand another person through talking and interacting. Affection and romance should be restrained from whiting out the entire relationship. Sharing affection should have a place in dating, but it can short-circuit the development of a deeper more significant relationship if left unchecked. President Benson and his wife Flora provide a template for dating. His biographer described their dating, writing that they “talked for hours, exploring their feelings about a future together. … The more they talked, the more comfortable they felt with each other.”4 Quoting President Benson, “I discovered in Flora a great character and a rare combination of virtues.”5 If we are to recognize essential qualities in a girl (like those discussed in the perspective section) we must date in a way that allows us to see them. Our dating activities will set the stage upon which we will get to know a girl.

Finally, you can’t grow a garden by reading a book. Elder Oaks encapsulates my closing sentiment, “Start with a variety of dates with a variety of young women, and when that phase yields a good prospect, proceed to courtship. It’s marriage time.”6 Exaltation cannot be gained without temple marriage, and right dating is a vital step for that. So, plant a few garden seeds, go on a few dates. Water the soil with a few more dates, and then see which garden plant you will attempt to harvest through courtship. As young men use wisdom in their dating perspective and in their frequency and mode of dating, they will find more success and joy as life and dating happily roll along. Young men can have a more productive, meaningful and successful dating experience as they enthusiastically tend to their dating garden as wise and dutiful gardeners.

September 17, 2008

What's new in the swing of things

School is swinging back and will be hitting hard especially as tests begin to stack up. So what's new this year? For one thing, I'm not probably doing quite as well in school. Also, I'm taking time to work, to have a little fun with Paula, Devin and roommates. I'm visiting Joe and Brittany a little more often, and making use of Joe's years of dating experience by receiving dating counseling from him and Brittany, and I'm getting seven hours of sleep each night. Well, it's back to homework!

September 07, 2008

Moving On

Well, it's a new semester and a new apartment, even a new ward. It has been fun to have Paula nearby. She's cooked me dinner a few times and I hope she's found me nearly as helpful as she is. The new ward seems relatively friendly although it seems very big after having been in a smaller summer ward in which it is easy to get to know and be friends with a majority of the ward.

For the dating update, yesterday night I went on a date with a girl who invited me to go see Prince Caspian. It was a double and the movie was very entertaining. I would readily recommend it to any who haven't yet seen it. She actually had paid for me in advance. They were $1 tickets. So that was very nice of her. I hope she enjoyed the movie as much as I did.

On my own initiative, I did go to the MTC in response to an email asking for help at the teaching center where missionaries teach outsiders like myself. That was yesterday. I was first paired with a nice kid Rob from Las Vegas. After the first phase when the missionaries "took us to church on a bus" we had ten minutes to wait for them to plan their lesson and come visit us. During that time, a nice girl named Brittany, from Washington, was added to the room and we got to know her. She is a music education major, which I think is actually longer than Chemical Engineering and is also working to save money. Perhaps that is why after I emailed her (using the BYU directory to get her email address) she said she was too busy to bike to the creamery with me or anything. But, I'll give it another shot in a week or so.

That's the update.

May 31, 2008

A Nice Saturday

Today was a nice day. I woke up late (getting out of bed about 9:15) and made eggs and bacon. I did alright. I cleaned up in the kitchen for a bit then went to school to do physics. At about 12:45 I headed home.

I recently got in touch with a friend from pre-school and had been able to schedule lunch with her (Tammy). Although I lost her address (it was erased), I remembered the name of the apartments. Knocking on a door I thought might be hers I found someone who had a directory to see where she lived. It was fun to see my friend from so long ago. Whatever familiarity was lost through the years was compensated for in the quality of food. Tammy had some good cinnamon bread made and also a good dough for pizza (it was wheat). So, we just needed a few things from the store. We biked to Smith's and got pepperonies and a few other toppings and whatever then rode home. She seemed to know what she was doing while we made the pizza and that was confirmed upon eating it. She's a neat and nice girl. I'll have to see if she wants to play frisbee or anything in the future.

This evening I went shopping with Eldon and Stephanie and Sophie. That was fun. Eldon and I have a new Navy Seal-level shopping exercise that we can show any who are interested. It involves standing on the front of the other's cart while pushing your own. While this may sound easy, you should try it. It is especially hard when the pusher stops you.

We're making progress at work, which is good. It will be fun to have Paula around next semester.

May 21, 2008

Plowing before Planting

For those interested to know the progress of my social life, I shall give a brief report. On Sundays we have gone out of our natural routine and invited people over for get-to-know-you games and for treats after ward prayer (on Sunday night in many BYU wards, the ward, which all lives within a block or two, gets together to sing a hymn, have a spiritual thought, make announcements, and get to know each other by introducing an apartment and then just talking). We were assigned to get to know some apartments this week, particular apartments. So, Jamie, one of my roommates, went to go visit our assignments. On our last assigned stop we found the three girls home. We had a good talk with the three of them that lasted about 1 1/2 hours. It was pretty fun. We laughed and seemed to get along. A funny point: on Sunday in Sunday school I came in and there were two girls sitting to the edge of a row leaving two open seats. I asked if I could have the seat nearest them and they said okay. So, I talked to them both, and it was interesting that one was from Round Rock (Austin). Well, she didn't really seem to me to want to talk to me on Sunday, so I didn't invite her for games or anything. Well, upon visiting her apartment I wasn't quite sure she was herself (no glasses and different hair-do) but once all three were there, I knew it was. Well, we were getting to know each other and she asked where I was from. Obviously she didn't remember who I was or didn't remember our comments about Austin and me knowing boys from her ward. Well, I responded to her question by saying, Well, I know you're from Austin. Then all clicked and she recognized me as the boy who sat by her at church. So, maybe I'll go running with her or something. Who knows. But, all the girls there were very nice, one was engaged. I enjoyed asking them about their dating lives and experiences (the two are just plain single) so it was fun to ask a few sort of awkward questions. We left on good terms. Well, I'll be getting up early tomorrow for another day of fun and learning and work and homework, and physics test and chemistry lab write-ups.

May 16, 2008

Summer Term

The summer term has been especially busy for me. I'm taking six credits which is the minimum number to qualify as a full-time scholarship-eligible student. My classes are Physics 220 -Electricity (3 credits), Organic Chemistry Lab (2 credits), and Judaism and the Gospel (1 credit). The most stressful seems to be the O-chem Lab. We are in class for 14-15 hr/week. Then it requires about 5-6 hours out of class each week (at least). Then our teacher advised us we'd need 20 hours a week out of class at least to manage the class. My religion class takes about 2 hours/week. I'm also working on average 15-17 hours/week. Then I'm in Physics 6 hours/week and religion 2 hours/week. So, that adds up to 68 hours/week. Then you have to add meal time and laundry, and writing this blog. Then after adding my visits to Joe&Brittany and Eldon&Stephanie, in which time I often just do homework, plus some minimal social time, I've found myself extremely busy. On Monday I got up at 4:00am to do homework due at 8am and 10am. Today I got up at 6:00am. Yesterday I went to bed at 1:00am. I slept in on Thursday for a break until about 7:15 or so--I don't really remember. But, I look forward to the summer term of 40 hours work weeks and that's it. Well, I'm going to go do my physics lab and then go eat dinner, then maybe I'll play or do homework. I've recognized the truth in Melissa's comment that blogs are more interesting when there are entries written.

April 18, 2008

Finals Fun

This week has been a busy one (which isn't unusual). I've been taking and preparing for finals. There really just isn't time to appropriately prepare for each final. If I was actually dating, it would be even more complicated, although perhaps more fun. There has been a little excitement in this pretty dull time.

For three nights we've had a hit and runner leave little things, a quarter, a penny in an egg, one brownie, one cookie. This has gone on for about three nights. The first night I wasn't home when it happened. The second night we were too slow getting to the door to catch them. They came twice. The third night, this mystery person came and I bolted out the door, but didn't go the right direction. But, hopefully tonight, if they come again, I will chase them down and catch them. Once I catch them, I'll let them go. So, that's been kind of fun to get a late night run looking for this person.

I already took my religion and jazz history finals. The religion went really well, and the jazz history was a little unsure. Well, I'm going to go ahead and work on my Chemical Engineering study so that I can do OK on the final. I wish that I had something a little more exciting to report back, but I really don't.


April 11, 2008

My Blog

This is my personal blog. This blog is focused on me and I figured I would have more to say about the past than the future, so, my life in Retrospect seemed to be a good foundation for the blog. Of course, the past is meaningless without a future--so the title isn't designed to limit my perspective to the past only. Hopefully this will be useful to family to know what I'm up to or to Devin and Chase when it's getting late and I'm not home yet--so that they don't worry.

Frisbee training with Joe and Eldon went well today. We not only practiced catching and throwing, but we worked on our sprinting long passes. We then had dinner, prepared by the women (specifically, Brittany held Sophie and Stephanie cooked). The food was very good and then I finished my laundry. I didn't do it last week because of conference, so it was good. I'd been wearing all of my socks for the second time this week. I smelled them each morning and they smelled alright. I guess if you only wear them one day in seven, they have time to deodorize and smell alright with each wearing. Two questions for grandma: In your childhood, were socks washed with each wearing or did you wash them less often? Or, is that even something important enough to remember 80 years later? Assignment for Paula, Mom, Dad, John or Melissa: Help grandma to post her first reply to a blog.

That's all for tonight. I now understand why some people use blogs instead of diaries. Ann Frank wrote "Dear Kitty"--addressing her entries to some real or imaginary cat named Kitty that would never read her diary. When writing a public entry, I can imagine that some family member or person will read my entry and so that gives me an audience that is more realistic than a Kitty. So, I hope from time to time you all have the chance to check in on me. This isn't to replace phone calls to me, or letters.