Monday, September 15, 2008

Its All About Your Attitude (Marnie)

I gave some unsolicited advice to someone very close to me the other day and ended up offending her very deeply. I sometimes do that. I think I can help and it just makes things worse. Sometimes I worry that I'll do that here. I've learned some lessons through my experiences, but by no means do I think I have all the answers or know more than others. Or, that my apparent solution to my problems will work for anyone else. But because I'm supposed to discuss my experiences, I'm going to go ahead and talk about an observation I've made about myself - and pray I don't offend anyone or come off as smug or self-righteous!

When I moved to my young adult ward after I graduated from college eons ago, I was a much different person than I am now. Although I was well liked by others and got along great with people, I was bitter. Bitter against dating and guys. I blamed everything on the other sex for all my lack of dating and made it the excuse as to why I wasn't married. It wasn't always coming out of my mouth, but looking back now, it was way too often. (And I wondered why guys never asked me out!)

The comments I made were often saying that guys didn't step up to the plate enough and ask girls out. Or, that they didn't want to get married and follow God's plan. Or, that they just loved being single too much and didn't want to grow up and be an adult by committing to someone. Basically, men were the problem I wasn't married and they were even the enemy in my eyes.

I'm sure I believed it to a point. But really I didn't think all guys were bad. But blaming someone else for my problems was just tons easier than having faith that there were good guys out there. Because if there really were good guys out there that were looking for a wife, that would mean I wasn't good enough to be a contenders! (talk about a "defense mechanism"!)

With this terrible attitude, I really think that gave me a very bad reputation in the ward and put off a horrible vibe. I never lacked guy friends, but real dating potentials were nowhere to be found. Because who wants to take out a girl that thinks you are the enemy and that you won't ever live up to her standard? It seems so clear now how I was sabotaging myself, but at the time I had no idea what I was doing wrong.

To overcome this thinking process I required a major attitude adjustment. It took a lot of time and honest effort to get over that negative thinking and in it's place give across an openness and welcoming attitude toward men.

I had to stop making generalizations about guys and stop being so negative and pessimistic. I had to pray to get help to change that! I had to start looking for the positive in the single men I knew and tried to give credit when it was due. And I had to get over my pride and admit I was wrong about my perceptions. This came after MANY humbling experiences. (Praying for humility usually hurts A LOT but it did get the ball rolling...)

Overcoming that bitterness changed my dating life completely. I've dated more in the last 4 years then I ever did between the ages 16 to 33. And I have had 2 significant relationships (out of the overall 3 I've had!) They say you attract what you put out to the world and I think that change of attitude was a direct result of that.

And although there are days I've gotten discouraged with my "dating pool," I've tried HARD not to focus on that. Having that bitterness hiding inside of you eventually spews out in conversation and attitude. I'm terrible at hiding my real emotions anyway, so trying to hide that doesn't work with me. So I have to physically stop myself and try to get back on track of showing true charity to the male population. Because really, isn't that why we have marriage? To bring the sexes together and exhibit unconditional love and charity?

Plus, people get married all the time! There has to be men committing and stepping up to the plate if there are people getting married! And if they can get married, so can I! And if I'm not married, maybe I'M the one holding ME back!


Leah said...

One thing I've learned as a teacher is that blaming is bad - completely unproductive.

Anonymous said...

While I hear you on trying to be the best you can be, because you can only control yourself, I can't totally get into the extent of your positivity :) It contributes to how LDS women continually send the message to LDS men that the bar isn't that high. For example, I had a dream recently that all the single girls my age were in relief society holding babies (I know, funny, weird, whatever it's a dream). The guys our age in the ward came in and stole our babies and put them in the dumpster. My dream ended with all of the Relief Society sisters smiling and telling each other that "that's how men are" or "it's really hard for them and we should have charity". My dream is not inspired but just says how I really feel. And I trust that and accept my feelings as valid. I don't put myself down and say that I'm negative just because my experience echo's what apostles noticed: guys aren't asking us out enough! This is a serious thing, that men are reclusing in every age group. I don't hate them by any means, but I don't get unproductively positive about it. That will stop progress. That lowers the bar. I am positive, but I'm also mad when something serious is denied me because of selfishness. Because it's not like forgiving someone for not remembering your birthday or cutting you off in traffic. It's part of the disintegration of society! So absolutely we ladies have got to stay positive and decent and non-nasty. Let's just not get too positive before it's merited. Any statistic will show that women are hanging in there while men are playing video games or into porn or just playing. I mean, I'm just looking for an adult, and I want to find it in the church! And yet there I am, dating lds guys, consistently let down. But I'm still actively in the game. I date in the church even though I'm vocal about these feelings. In my book, the only reason to tone it down is if you want to attract men who of flimsy character who are unable to think of themselves objectively, such as you are obviously doing. You're expecting more of yourself than a potential partner. I like dating guys who are honest, not guys who snivel that women are bitter just because, hey, we aren't buying the crap that's being sold. I don't want perfect, but I deserve an equal. My positivity is an empowerment that I don't have to take anything less than I am, in the name of charity! Women in the church are STARKLY more educated, experienced, and active than men in the same age group. This is not because men are not capable. It is not charitable to enable them to be less than they are. Women may be more mature at age 12, but we are 30/40! It doesn't fly anymore now that we are all definitely adults. What do you think?

Bridget said...

Anonymous, your comments remind me of a theory I heard of guys and girls in the church. The theory goes something like this, because there are so many great single women in the church who are educated and successful and overall great people, our place on the scale of 1-10 drops two points just cuz there's so many of us. LDS guys have so many choices and therefore can pass over a really good girl in hopes of finding an even better girl...Guys on the other hand increase two points because there is a lesser number of really great single LDS guys.. for example if a guy out in the normal world is a 6, he will become an 8 in the LDS church market. Therefore LDS women overlook things that they normally wouldn't because he is LDS. I am not sure about this theory. I do know how when I think about it, it seems really discouraging. On the other hand, Marnie, what you propose in having charity for men, when in the past you have been one to blame them, brings peace to my soul, and I think...what a great idea. It is tough to be gotta take the good with the bad. While, Anonymous I relate to what you're the end.. I think yes, numbers wise there's more single women than men in the church.....question is what do we want our end result to be...and what can we do that is in our control to contribute to the realization of our desires? Above all, I want to be happy. It doesn't make me happy to focus on what men are doing face scrunches up in anxiety..and I can imagine it doesn't attract too many people, men or women. We do deserve equals...i, myself am looking for a good man..I won't settle for anything less...i'm willing to wait...i have discovered that staying home on a Saturday night, although not ideal doesn't kill me...and with the right attitude, can be used to cultivate my life to where I want it to be...regardless of who's asking me out. I also agree with "positivity is an empowerment" true..we don't have to take anything less than we are...i feel that's part of the whole plan...we are wanting to find that man that inspires us...and the more we accomplish...the more our man will need to be at a certain level to be our muses...saying that,the Lord knows what qualities will ultimately be best for us in a partner, and while dating someone we feel is below us is not warranted, making sure we're humble and really trying to follow the spirit in our decisions to date will always lead us in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good bridget. I loved that drop theory, that totally made my night. It is still so not acceptable or enlightened of our lds singles society, and not worthy of the incredible knowledge we all have in this gospel, but it was so dead-on as a description of what goes on. :) Really well-said. To a point, I agree with having the serenity to know what you can change and let go of what you can't change, etc. But I read the scriptures and feel compelled to draw the parallels from war chapters, that we cannot be just defenders or endurers. We have to act when precious beliefs are stolen or attacked. The family organization is under attack, our unborn children have been attacked in a sense, and we have to fight back. I also try to not focus on what men are doing wrong. But there it is at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There it is as I strategize work and career instead of kids. Serenity wins some ground, but we are not supposed to be alone. Blame should not be dwelt on, so I agree with what you were saying Leah. But it must be addressed, or I feel like I am not being responsible. We are not the only ones affected, so we can't only endure. In some sense, fighting back to protect our liberty and religion and families is a responsibility we unfortunately find ourselves facing. That probably sounds melodramatic so I'd better stop rambling :) but I appreciate that you let me wonder aloud and bounce some ideas off you ladies. Good luck out there! and i really liked the idea of finding muses, that was a cool thought to me

Leah said...

I too love those war chapters since it seems much of life feels like a war. The Book of Mormon prophets did a lot of calling to repentance, they said that the word was more powerful than the sword. I just remind myself sometimes that I can only work on myself. I also have to remind myself that God hasn't called me on a mission to call the men to repentance, so yes I need to be setting a good example (every member a missionary and stuff) but I don't think it is my stewardship to be forcing men to step it up a notch. Noticed I used the word forcing, I did so because I tend to cross the line with some men and feel it my job to fix them. One of my weaknesses. I'm working on accepting people and seeing the good they have. Sometimes we measure people on our personal scale and fail to realize that possibly on their personal scale we may not be scoring as high as we think. Anonymous - keep up the good posts. Maybe you can even have a guest post spot. Or maybe you can get a secret identity and join us on here!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog... Me, I'm in the 'over 25, still stuck in Provo, single as can be, 3 years past the date I was supposed to get married (finally over the angst) while watching all my friends (usually ages ranging from 18-23) get married and have children ' phase of my life. There's nothing like a Provo Utah dating story to make your toes curl... Or stomach retract... either way, I've got some GREAT battle stories.