Three Reasons Why We're Ringless

5/02/2014 The Charmer 10 Comments

I mentioned in my last post that I've been wondering why so many incredible people don't seem to be making the transition from single to spouse. (I'm still curious to hear your opinions on the matter, so please comment away and let your thoughts be heard!) I've narrowed it down to three things, which, in my opinion, seem to be the main culprits of ringless ring fingers.
1. Fear
For many single people, the thought of marriage is a scary one. I will be the first to admit that I am a gamophobe. If I had to pin down my top 3 fears, I'd say they are getting into a car accident, getting mugged, and getting married. Some of you may laugh at me. It's fine; I can take it. I know it may sound ridiculous, but there are just so many things about marriage that freak me out. It makes me nervous to think about choosing ONE person that I am going to be with forever. It makes me nervous to think about having children and raising a family, especially given my severe lack of domestic traits. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. For me and for a lot of other unmarried folk, it is just so much more comfortable to stay single. Being single is less threatening. We know how to be single. We don't know (or don't think we know) how to be married. Granted, I know these are all just excuses, and from a spiritual perspective we need to recognize that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not and has NEVER been about being "comfortable" or complacent. But still; it doesn't mean these fears just go away. For those of you who WERE terrified of tying the knot but ARE married, what are some things that helped you?
Runaway bride, anyone?
2. Not interested
Recently I've met more and more young single adults that just aren't interested in getting married. I actually went on a date last night with a guy who is 29 and is pretty content where he's at. I guess I need to give him some credit because he is going on dates and such, but his attitude was really more of "it'll happen when it happens." He told me that he's happy with how his life is right now and he figures he's still got a few years of singledom ahead of him. I don't want it to sound like I am passing judgment on him; to be honest, I kind of feel the same way. The idea of staying single for a few more years is an appealing one, especially because there are so many things that I think I want to do with my life! However, at the same time, we need to analyze what our priorities are. If one of our top priorities in life is to get married and raise a family, isn't that something we should probably be pursuing? It's true that not everyone is ready to get married when they're in the 22-25 range. But I think that purposefully putting it off too long can be a bad idea. I know that for me, at least, the longer I am by myself and the more "single" habits I develop, the harder it will be to eventually settle down and share my life with someone else.
Now some of you might be saying, Okay, Miss Charmer, are you saying that because I'm 27 and not married it's MY FAULT?! No, I assure you that I am not. This brings me to what I think is the most common reason that so many of us are still hanging out in YSA wards....
3. Not meeting "the one"
What it really seems to come down to is that we are just not meeting our Mr. or Ms. Right. So our problem appears to be FINDING that person. Think of all the online dating websites (and nowadays, dating apps) that have been created to remedy this problem; I'm sure more than a few of you have dabbled on Tinder and some of you have probably tried other sites like eHarmony or The only reason these sites exist is because FINDING a mate has become a universal problem! There are literally HUNDREDS of reasons why someone may struggle to find a companion. Location is a HUGE factor; my best friend who lives in Cambodia has a lot harder time finding eligible single men than my friends who live in Provo. Personal preference is another factor; let's be honest, some of us are just plain picky.
But what I want to focus on is something I've observed a lot both at BYU and here in my current singles ward that I think contributes because I think it might be something we can actually change.

As a society, we are forgetting how to spend one-on-one time truly getting to know a person.
And, if you don't feel like you really know someone...why on earth would you decide to marry them?
A lot of us spend so much time on social media and on our phones having conversations consisting mainly of hashtags and emoticons that our time spent in real face-to-face conversations diminishes. I am guilty of having friends that I've talked to more via Facebook than in real life...and these weren't friends that lived across the country, either.
I also feel like often when we do have face-to-face conversations, they center around very surface-level subjects. How's work, don't you love this weather, have you seen the new captain america movie? I don't think there's anything wrong with small talk, but what I DO think is sad is how many conversations I've had with the same people that never progressed beyond small talk. That means that even though I may have talked to this person multiple times, we've NEVER talked about anything real. (Yes, I am guilty of this, too.) Why do we do this? Are we afraid of offending people, so we avoid subjects that may trigger a deeper-level response? Are we ourselves afraid of opening up and letting others peer into our deeper thoughts? These are all rhetorical questions, but I think they are ones that are worth thinking about.
The last thing I want to discuss is another phenomenon that in my opinion, makes it hard to truly get to know a person: hanging out. Now, before you freak out, know that I love hanging out with people. I love movie nights and karaoke parties. I think spending time in groups is fabulous. BUT I also recognize that it can often limit our ability to have these deeper-level conversations with people.
For example: The members of my current ward hang out all the time. They literally have movie nights every other night., not so much. I've been to a few of these movie nights (as many as my sleep schedule will allow!) and even though I usually have a good time, I'm sad to say that I don't really know a whole lot about the people in the group. Sure, I know where they work and who served missions and who is most likely to crack jokes during the movie. But I don't feel like I know any of them that well. Group settings are a lot of fun, but when you only spend time with others in groups, it's hard to get to know them well enough to want to date, much less marry, them.
This must be why, when Elder Oaks came to my mission, he told us missionaries that we'd better not come home and just "hang out." Talking about RMs who do this, he said, "Doggone it, they come home and don't get married! They do this thing called 'hanging out.' And although it may not be a sin, it is close to it!"

Well, there's my 2 cents. Looks like I'd better start working on my conversation skills. What do you think?

The Charmer

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The Lady said...

Not that I am disagreeing with you in any way, or disagreeing with Elder Oaks (Heaven forbid), but a guy friend wrote this and I think he has some intriguing points:

As for myself, I have no idea where I stand.

The Charmer said...

Please, by all means, disagree with me! I just really want to hear what others think.

The Charmer said...

Mmm, I liked the article. Interesting to be able to read a guy's perspective on the issue. I think it would make my romantic little heart break a little, though, to believe the idea that there is no such thing as "traditional" dating anymore.

From the same blog, here's a post taking the opposite stance....

Sarah said...

So, as a now married for four and a half years (forever, right?) Person who once hada somewhat fear of getting married... This is how I got over it... I didn't limit myself. Sure, I felt nowhere near getting ready to be married when i was single, and as a child of several failed marriages, felt like tying myself to someone willy nilly was terrifying. BUT, I never said never. I left my heart and mind open to the possibility without over thinking it or thinking about it too little (if that makes sense). I knew what I wanted in a guy but left myself open to the fact that no one would be prince charming. After all, I was utterly imperfect, so a perfect guy would just make me feel lame. No bueno. In the end, it was right and wasn't scary when I was dating my now husband. We dated for ten months, broke up once for three weeks, got back together and were engaged for two months. It was not an easy dating experience, but neither of us knelt over that alter with unreal expectations. We knew what we were getting and we were beyond excited about it.

As for my two cents on the stereotypical non married slash having a hard time getting married single person... Well often they're too picky (you aren't perfect so don't expect someone else to be), sometimes they're too self centered and immature to handle the give and take of a real relationship, but often it is the whole group thing. You like a guy or a girl? Talk to them away from the group. Get over your shyness, come to terms with the inevitable awkwardness, and have as many one on one conversations as you possibly can. Even if you don't end up dating or marrying the person, the good you gain from a real conversation where you listen more than you talk to another child of God is invaluable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advice! I have a question. I often hear about how we shouldn't be picky like Sarah mentioned above. I know that I can't expect some perfect guy to come out of nowhere and sweep me off my feet, but I am wondering what I should/shouldn't be picky about... I mean, I don't think I have unrealistic expectations, but then again, doesn't everyone? What types of things should I be willing to compromise and what types of things should be deal breakers? I know that a lot of it is based on personal preference, but I just want to know how I can be realistic with my expectations.

So your original premise was that so many incredible people were not getting married. I have some thoughts on that sub segment of the population. First of all, the term “incredible guy” is used far too liberally, but I know some legit, actually incredible guys. Like the incredible guys I know would spit on the incredible guys most people talk about, if it were not for them being so incredibly nice (which of course is all part of their incredibility). The incredible guys I am thinking of are spiritual, confident, attractive, smart and ambitious. Like “going to Ivy league schools for grad school and working for the most prestigious companies, but still having time to be the elders quorum president and run a non-profit (and marathons) on the side” kind of guys. These are the guys I wonder why they are not married yet.

My friends that fit this category all want to get married (among many other goals), are not overly afraid of getting married, and are definitely not afraid of asking a girl on a date. But they sometimes stay single way longer that you would expect for 2 reasons:

1.They are super picky. If you are that driven and successful, you are not going to settle just for anyone. They all want and expect very attractive, smart, spiritual, interesting girls.

2.Circumstances. All the guys I know that are in this boat are both a) super busy and b) after graduating move to areas with not a high Mormon population density. Which coupled with reason 1 means they don’t do a ton of dating.

My early hypothesis is that they will eventually either get lucky/lower their expectations/move back to Mormondom/master online dating haha.

Anonymous said...

To address the topic of overcoming fear- especially the last four paragraphs:

Just a couple of thoughts from a former commitment-phobe turned wife of 7 years with 2 kids. Like seriously. I knew my husband was right for me and the sealer still had to tell us that we didn't have to sit so far apart on the couch. I was a crying, emotional, FREAKED OUT mess!

1. It's okay to be afraid. I dodged marriage whenever I could. But then I met someone who I actually WANTED to be with. The important thing is to face the fears when you are prompted that he's worth it and God can help you with that. I promise.
2. When you DO know it's right, go for it. Open up. Be vulnerable.
3. For those wondering if they are being too picky - if you have a list of things you are looking for scratch it out and make a list of two or three deal-breakers. My husband was the complete opposite of what I thought I was looking for and who I had been dating previously and you know what? He's just right for me!
4. Don't waste your 20's because when you get into your 30's you don't want to look around and marry the first person you see who is willing because you're in a hurry!
5. Keep growing and moving forward. Marriage may not happen right away, or at all, so continue to be the best YOU!

The Old Fuddy-Duddy ;)

Emily said...

I like your observations. I have been married now for almost 6 years. I have to admit when I started dating my husband I wasn't thinking he was the "one". In fact, I remember thinking, "One date doesn't mean I have to marry him." I totally LOVE my husband but for me it started out as going on a date because I didn't have any big objections with the guy. I remember thinking, well, there is nothing WRONG with him...

As I got to know him I realized more and more that he was perfect for me. Yes, there are always going to be things in your "list" of the perfect husband that don't get checked off. And some of the items are important. My first boyfriend and I were discussing marriage and it actually made me sad thinking about it because I was having to do some MAJOR changing from what I wanted in a husband/family. Luckily that relationship didn't work out. I think you should be happy thinking about your future together.

But be willing to go on a date or two with a guy you don't think you are really interested might be surprised! (and I know you are already doing that). I also see the appeal in not being in a rush to get married because everyone has their own exciting plans and sometimes it seems like marriage would put those plans on hold. But it is wonderful to have another person to do everything with and who wants to be with you more than anyone else.

Emily said...

PS. I just read the link from the Lady and I didn't agree very much with his article. Yes, I do agree that sometimes asking a person on a date can make them afraid you are wanting too much commitment too fast. But it is also partly how you act on the date. Are you making it a bigger deal than it needs to be? A great "casual" date is better than a hang out. Get some buddies to ask girls out but let the girls know it is a group date. That takes some of the awkwardness away from the first date if there are several other couples there. It's sort of like a hang out except it's planned, paid for, and paired off. Then you can see how that goes and decide on a single date from there. If not, it is easier (in my opinion) to stay friends because that first date didn't seem like such a big deal.