Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's not my fault, so you have to change!

I know it's been quite some time since I have pontificated my egocentric views on dating. This last year has been a challenging one for me personally as I feel I have regressed into some of the negative and ineffective patterns of which I have so adamantly protested in my previous blogs. In an attempt to adjust some of those patterns I figured I'd blog some more of my thoughts for the purpose of creating additional motivation for me to practice what I will preach. As always my primary intention is to help others who may find anything I share helpful in anyway.

Over the years I realized a strong tendency in myself to blame my "woes" on the female gender as a whole, and I have also witnessed this same pattern in many other guy friends of mine. Of course I have also seen the same blame game on the other side as well as I have heard countless women criticize and condemn men as a whole for their problems. You know what kind of statements I'm talking about,

Men Rants:
"Women only date jerks!"
"Women don't appreciate a nice guy!"
"Women make it too hard to ask them on dates!"
"Women only want men who look like Brad Pitt!"

Women Rents:
"Men are Jerks!"
"Men don't ask women out on dates!"
"Men aren't gentlemen and chivalrous anymore!"
"Men only want women with a perfect body and who look like super models!"

It took me a while to finally realize the folly in such blatant critical expressions toward an entire gender, and now I have really tried to avoid making such harsh and absolute accusations for several reasons.

First, they simply are not true. In reference to the "man rants," There are plenty of women who despise jerks, and find nice men extremely attractive. There are plenty of women who have fallen in love with and married men who are fat, bald, ugly, short, and non athletic or in other words come no where close to resembling Brad Pritt, Chris Hansen, or Ryan Reynolds. The same could be said in response to the criticisms expressed toward men by women.

As I have reflected on why it is that in my life I have been so quick to pass such blanket judgments towards women from time to time, it occurred to me that what I was really doing was avoiding the necessity to confront my own weaknesses and insecurities. If I blame women for my problems, then it alleviates me having to do anything, and necessitates that women must, as a gender, change for ME to be happy. What a powerless position to take!

Upon recognizing this error I determined that my happiness was in my own hands. If women were turning me down or passing up an opportunity to date me, then there must be something I AM doing that is causing the result. If my results are recurring then it is clearly my incorrect actions that are causing the result. It has been said that to do same thing and expect a different result is insanity....Well I would summarize that doing the same thing in hopes that other people will do something differently is no less insane.

However, this is where it gets tough, and in my case it was very painful. I had to be honest with myself. I had to take responsibility for my actions, my demeanor, my character, my approach, my behavior, my appearance and my tactics. If my struggle in dating was indeed a result of my own actions, demeanor, appearance and the like, that would mean that there is something about me that I could work on changing... Humble pie is never delicious.

But my desire to experience different results outweighed my desire to remain in my box of bitterness and cast stones at half the earth's population for my having to stay in that box. I made a list of everything that I felt was unattractive about me, to me. I feel there is an important distinction between what you find attractive about yourself and what you THINK other's find attractive or unattractive about yourself. And that is because I strongly believe that being your best self, or in other words being a person that you yourself like being around is so very crucial. However, if you try to change yourself based on what you think others opinions are of you, you will only be losing yourself in the process.

I wanted to become and I am becoming what I really feel is the best version of myself, and that came by me labeling what it was that bothered me about me. I understand that this takes a lot of emotional mettle, and in this world ripe with depression and self-defamation I would encourage you to be very careful that this does not turn into "beating yourself up." Rather this is an opportunity for you to take control and responsibility of your own actions and recognize that you have the power to change within you whatever you want!

Some questions to consider,

Am I kind
Am I friendly towards people
Am I fun to be around
Am I approachable
Am I easy to talk to
Do I laugh too loud
Do I dominate conversations
Am I cocky
Am I boring
Am I too overbearing
Am I too emotional
Am I too dramatic
Could I use a more fashionable wardrobe
Could I lose a few pounds
Could I gain a little muscle
Could I exercise more
Could I be more involved socially
Could I be more educated
Could I take on an interesting hobby
Could I be clean, physically, emotionally or spiritually
Could I be more organized
Could I work harder
Could I be more driven
Do I get out enough to meet new people
Do I shy away from opportunities
Am critical of others
Am I bitter
Am I angry
Am I too weird or socially awkward (this is a big one for me!)
Do I push people away
Am I too clingy

These are just a few examples of questions to ask yourself that might be lead to some powerful self-discovery. I would recommend taking one aspect of your personality, or character that you would like to work on that you feel would make you more happy with yourself and set up a plan and a goal on how you can work on that aspect. I am a big believer of one thing at a time, as it can get overbearing if you are trying to improve upon too many weaknesses at one. You don't build Rome overnight, be patient, and be encouraging.

The next step is to make a list of EVERYTHING you like about yourself, what are your talents, what are your gifts, and what are you good at. EVERYONE is good at something. I feel this is so crucial because of what I mentioned before, if you only focus on the negative it can turn into "beating yourself up." You have something that is amazing about you and that you're really good at, label them and write them down. Then, pick one of those things that you are going to find a way to use to help others. Everyone feels good when they do something they are good at, so make sure you add this step to the process.

As I went through this process I realized that not only was I excited at the notion that I was able to start working on improving myself but I also noticed that a lot of my bitterness toward women was fading away and I no longer regarding them as "the enemy." This also turned to more favorable experiences with ladies.

Over the last few months I have recognized a slip back into my bitterness box but I have recommitted myself to taking control of my behavior, attitude, actions and demeanor. I offer my sincerest apologies to any ladies who may have caught a whiff of my bitterness and hope you can forgive me for doing so.

To anyone out there right now who is sitting in your bitter box and blaming the opposite gender for your woes, trust me I've been there, it's hard. I feel for you and the negative experiences you've had that must have occurred on a consistent basis to bring you to such depths. My best advice I can offer in love and hope is that, you have the power and control over your own happiness. Not a single person or an entire gender can bring you down unless you allow them to render you powerless and a victim to your own bitterness. Don't let them, you got this!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dating Difficulties Part 4: THE GAME

Well it has been awhile since my last post. One of the main reasons was I became involved in a relationship and my focus turned from sharing my view points on dating to focusing on the relationship of which I was involved. Although the relationship did ultimately come to an end I considered the experience rewarding and she and I ended the relationship on good terms.

Now I am back in dating mode and have once again been inspired to share my thoughts and experiences with all who have the patience to read a blog! So here we go with Part 4!!

In regards to dating so many talk about "the game" or game playing. I often hear men and women alike say things like, "I hate playing games," or "I hate it when girls (or guys) play games!" I am quite certain I have expressed a similar frustration on many occasions. But what is "the game" in regards to dating, and if so many people hate it why is there so much of it going on!?

To me game playing is when someone behaves in a manner that falsifies or disguises their true intentions or their true character and personality. For example a man may behave in a manner that would suggest to a woman that he is interested in a long-term relationship, when in reality he is only interested in a quick fling; or a woman may be ambiguous with her true feelings toward a man who she knows is interested in her, because she likes the attention, free dates and flattery but she knows deep down that she has no real feelings for him. This is not to suggest that all game playing is of malicious intent, but I'll discuss that in the context of why is there so much game playing going on, if so many people hate it!?

I figure there are two types of "game players" in the dating world that I have experienced. The first type is those who play games with the intent to take something from the person they are playing such as, affection, gifts, time and/or adoration. The second type is those who play games as way to protect themselves from getting hurt or taken advantage of...and most likely from other game players. Fight fire with fire! I have felt in the past when girls (and guys do it too, myself included) would be ambiguous and dishonest with their true feelings, inconsistent with their behavior, interested one day and disinterested another day, would make plans and then cancel them with shallow excuses and in some cases with excuses that turned out to be completely false. I used to shake my fist of fury at all this "game playing" going on and couldn't figure out why this would happen so much!!

Although I have experienced these types of behaviors many times with women I learned that not all of them were behaving in this manner for the same reason. Most of the time such inconsistent behavior was a girl communicating to me that she was just not really interested but didn't quite have the heart and courage to just tell me straight up to leave her the heck alone, and hopes that if she cancels enough times I'll get the hint and go away. However, there are times when I realized that the girl had been hurt in the past, and the notion of being interested and allowing another relationship to grow was scary and uncomfortable, as it can be for all of us. "Game playing" for those individuals is not a way for them to take advantage of others, but a way to hopefully protect themselves from men who might indeed be game players themselves, trying to take advantage. And I apologize if it sounds like I'm only approaching this from the women's perspective, because men definitely do this as well. No one wants to get hurt and everyone wants to try and prevent the replication of prior hurtful experiences.

The only solution as I see it is a reiteration of my previous blog post. We have to be willing to give each new possible dating relationship an honest and open chance. Just because a certain type of person has hurt is in the past does not mean that every other person who has a similar description will do the same.

For those of us who are trying to find that great relationship and who truly want to find love and give love, we can all try to not be guilty of the very game playing we so despise. We can be honest in our intentions, and clear in our communications. We can mean what we say and say what we mean. If we know we're not interested in someone who is interested in us, we can kindly, clearly and appropriately express to them that the feelings are unfortunately not reciprocated. It's hard and hurtful enough to get rejected, but so much more painful when that rejection has been coupled with "games" and has been dragged out over a long period of time.

We can all change our own behavior and commit to not playing games, for as the lyric in one of the first songs I ever wrote says, "the thing about games is someone always gets played..."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Open and honest communication seems to be a very popular topic in any discussion regarding successful relationships. What I find very ironic is that open and honest communication is almost completely absent in dating, or at least I have not seen witnessed it regularly in my experience. I have observed that this absence of, or resistance to communicating openly in the early phases of courtship is due to the notion that having to do so somehow diminishes the romanticism and spontaneity of dating. It’s almost as if it is expected that the relationship will happen spontaneously and romantically without either party having to openly communicate what they are thinking or feeling; and if communication is required too early on then the relationship must not be "meant to be.". I feel this is largely due to the impact that Hollywood movies have had on our perception of what romance and courtship is supposed to look and feel like. Movies often times (and I recognize I am over-generalizing here) portray the notion that romance, dating and courtship all happen spontaneously. A man and woman find each other in a series of spontaneous, happenstance experiences and before they even have time to discuss their relationship, they are kissing under the star-light in a Gondola ride while an Italian crooner sings “That’s amore.” Rarely do I see in romance movies two couples who openly and honestly communicate their feelings and intentions during the courtship process.

So, what is “open and honest communication,” in the context of dating? I’ll give an example from my life. A little while ago I was dating a girl, and it was going well. We were starting to see each other fairly regularly and it was clear that we had an interest in each other. A few weeks into our courtship and after seeing each other a few times that week I called and asked her out for Friday night. She let me know that she had to work until 9pm and had to get up early Saturday morning, but that she would like to see me still. I suggested an activity that would not keep her up too late but would allow us an opportunity to spend some time together, and she accepted the proposal gladly. However, the day before our date she called me and told me that she was cancelling our date because she was going to be getting off work late and had to work early in the morning. This excuse for cancelling the date surprised me, because we had already discussed those concerns when I asked her out. I was very much surprised that she would call and cancel citing concerns that we had already addressed as the reason for doing so. I could tell that something was off, even though she may have been telling me the “truth” about why she was cancelling the date, I did not feel she was being completely honest. Us human beings are masters at telling the truth, dishonestly. Her lack of being forthright and honest with me, caused a minor rift in our courtship, which in its infancy could have been disastrous.

Luckily, with this particular young lady, our courtship continued after this date cancellation, and as our relationship became a little more comfortable and sincere she confessed to me that the “real” reason she cancelled the date that night was that she felt we were spending too much time together. Even though we had a date planned for Friday night, we had ended up seeing each other on Thursday as well and she did not want to see me two nights in a row unless we were exclusively dating. She felt it important to make sure that she was still allowing herself other social opportunities until she was ready and certain that she wanted an exclusive romantic relationship with me. Now, had she expressed that to me when she cancelled the date I would have been completely understanding and supportive of her cancelling the date on me. However, when she cancelled the date on me she did not mention any of that, but used another excuse, which all though true, was not open and honest.

Feeling comfortable with communicating our feelings, thoughts and intentions is such a crucial component of all successful relationships, and it seems that lack of effective communication can almost always be discovered in failing relationships. If this is such a key component to successful, healthy and happy relationships, why not institute this key principle immediately in the dating process? I understand it may not be as romantic, and we would all like everyone who we have a romantic interest in to be able to read our minds and our subtle cues, but the reality is humans are not mind-readers and require at least some, if not quite a bit, straight forward communication before we truly understand how another person thinks or feels. Ironically enough the spontaneous relationships so glamorized in Hollywood movies are in reality by far the most scripted, planned, produced, rehearsed and down-right NON-spontaneous relationships on the planet! Screen writers meticulously write out every word the characters will say, and create the scenes where the characters will meet, and create the characters who are meant for each other, and the actors rehearse their lines and timing again and again to make sure the romantic relationship is portrayed as though it was a 100% spontaneous!

Now, I understand that there is such a thing as over-communication, and I understand that there is such a thing as two people being able to get on the same page without having to discuss every nuance of the relationship, but I do not feel over-communication destroys nearly as many possible relationships or existing relationships as non-communication, lack of communication, or dishonest communication. So if communication is so vital to successful relationships, and dating is the pattern and preparation for those relationships, why not start off day one of a new possible and hopeful relationship by committing to be honest, and open with your feelings and thoughts. Commit yourself to saying what is not just true, but what is also honest and forthright. I am convinced that doing so will not only alleviate a tremendous amount of frustration, guess-work, heartbreak and confusion in our dating and relationship experiences, but will also allow for more opportunities to attract a person into our life who is also a like communicator. Leave the scripted relationships to Hollywood and communicate honestly and openly with all whom you date, and interact.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Part II: One for all
This blog is actually inspired by recent events which helped solidify a concept that I was not previously able to formulate into words. It seems that bad relationship/dating experiences have a cumulative emotional effect with a strong tendency to trend downwards. These bad experiences can create in the mind a negative expectation towards the opposite gender where we will generalize the entire human population of women or men based on those experiences. For example if a girl stands me up for a date, or cancels rudely last minute, I might create a negative expectation and generalization in my mind of, “Girls are flakey.” If a man leads a certain girl to believe that he is genuinely interested in her only to find out that he is dating several other women as well she might make the generalization, “all guys are jerks!” The reality is the individuals who created those negative expectations and experiences in our mind may actually possess those negative attributes, however the great downfall I have experienced in my dating is career is then assuming that because one woman (or man) is that way, ALL of them must be that way!
This tendency to over-generalize I feel has been a great hindrance to my dating experience. I feel it created within me a tremendous amount of emotional baggage that I constantly added to with each negative experience. This created two fundamental problems in my dating pursuits.
1. I fell victim to the great human fallacy of confirmation bias. Because I had created a negative expectation and generalized opinion of all women I had to prove myself right. We can do this so often throughout our life, and it can be tremendously destructive to our capacity to grow, love, experience life, succeed, risk, challenge, forgive, and be loved. The moment I would meet any woman I had already predetermined that she was flakey, or not interested in dating nice guys, or that she was going to find me unattractive, or that she was going to friend zone me, or that she was going to stand me up for my date, or that she was going to date a jerk instead of me, or whatever other negative expectation that I had created and attached to all women. I would therefore, either consciously or sub-consciously sabotage or manipulate the situation to prove myself right! And as soon as I recognized even a faint possibility that a woman might behave in a manner that was consonant with my preconceived notion I would then write her off, and toss the negative experience on top the pile of my emotional baggage
2.  Now that I was towing around this huge pile of emotional dirty laundry, it made it almost impossible for any woman to enter into a healthy relationship with me, even if she was successful at subverting my preconceived notions. Instead of approaching each possible romantic interest with a clean slate I was rather almost saying, “Hi, nice to meet you, would you please do my emotional laundry for me?” We all know how much women hate it when their men don’t clean up their clothes! Now, I’m not even in a relationship with a girl and I’m asking her to do all the dirty laundry that I had allowed to pile up because of my negative experiences with women, when that particular woman had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LAUNDRY! I was in essence requiring that woman to prove that she is not one of “those” girls that I had bad experiences with by her demonstrating a willingness to do all of THEIR chores. Expecting that a new romantic interest will somehow undo all of the mistakes of other people, mistakes she herself did not make, is unfair, unhealthy and in my experience destructive to the possibility of a relationship with that person.
Condemning all women (or men) because of the behavior of one woman (or man) or treating one woman (or man)because of the behavior of all the previous can never yield positive results. As hard as it is, and trust me this is one of the most difficult hurdles for me to clear and I am still working on it, is allowing each new interest a clean slate, a fair shot and a chance to get to know me without having to sift through my emotional garbage. I’ve had to recognize that just because one girl, or two girls, or ten girls exhibited a certain behavior towards me in the past that I found offensive and hurtful does not mean that all 3.5 billion women in the world would all do the same.  I have also had to confess to myself that if I have seen a certain pattern of negative behavior in how women have treated me that it is probably more likely in response to something I AM doing sub-consciously to confirm my own bias, and not necessarily a reflection of who that individual person is. My challenge is to pick up my own emotional garbage bags and throw them away and then take my own dirty emotional laundry to the Laundromat. Then when I meet a new girl she is not immediately confronted with the task of acting as my emotional maid before she even knows if she wants anything to do with my laundry in the first place…

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dating Difficulties Part I

It’s quite interesting to look back at the evolution of view-point and perspective in your life and recognize that how you view the world today differs quite drastically from even just a few years ago. This has been the case with me as I recognize that my thoughts and opinions on dating, relationships, courtship and friendship have been gradually adjusted each day as to only faintly resemble what they were when I first entered into the "singles scene." I feel as though I want to express some of these view-points and hope to do so in a manner that will not excite offense or ill-feelings toward any person nor do I mean to embarrass, judge or condemn anyone. I understand that each person goes through life and gains experience and with that experience comes their personalized view-point and perspective. Perhaps my introspection and desire to express my thoughts is aroused by a milestone that will occur in my life in the next few weeks. I will be turning 31 and as such will no longer be eligible to attend a singles ward congregation for my church. Confronting the reality that after 10 years of attending a congregation consisting only of other single adults of my faith, I am still single and will shortly be joining a congregation made up primarily of married couples, babies, children and young adults under the age of 18, has not been an easy task for me. Furthermore, as I review even my most recent dating experiences as well as those long past I must confess that I have made just about every blunder a man can make in regards to dating, so much so that my perspective and view-point on dating in many instances is exactly contrary to much of  my dating behavior. I therefore can only claim that by my insistent and consistent failure have I obtained this understanding. It is coupled with an exhaustive study of books, lectures, conversations with friends and family, personal observation and of course my ever growing experience. I make no claim of authenticity of my opinions nor do I claim myself to be a master of that which I have learned. I recognize that I am nothing more than a student of life who constantly turns in essays with typos, grammatical errors and insufficient research. I only offer to those who read this that I will be completely honest and open, I will not sugar coat or will I patronize, but I will be genuine and sincere in my intent to share. My intent is simply the hope that I can spare someone, anyone, any of the difficulty and frustration I have experienced through a long arduous journey of dating. If what I have to say resonates with no more than one individual who is able to use my experiences and insight to help them recognize when the stove is hot and not to touch, then I will consider it a success...

Dating Difficulties Part 1: Expectation

It has finally occurred to me that perhaps one of the greatest frustrations in dating, and perhaps life, is unfulfilled expectations. I know in the LDS culture marriage is so highly taught, encouraged and expected that is places a tremendous amount of intensity and expectation on dating and courtship. When I think of so many of my dating experiences I realize that before I would even knew a girl’s name I was sizing her up for marriage from across the room. If I found her attractive "enough" I would then try to meet her, hope she seemed interested, try to get her number, ask her out on a date, etc. etc. Little did I realize that for me this "intent" of mine was actually a tremendous stumbling block to my capacity to create meaningful dating experiences. I was so focused on the objective of marriage that I was ignoring what, and even more importantly WHO I was interacting with. Instead of a beautiful individual human being with experiences, passions, disappointments, history, talents, weaknesses, and virtues I was only interested in whether or not they would be my wife. Notice the expectation, and what an expectation!!!! Yet I was generating that expectation from the first moments a woman was introduced within my atmosphere. No wonder I was constantly disappointed and frustrated. 

There is another great fallacy to this ideology and that is I was looking for a woman who would fulfill some sort of preconceived notion of what I wanted from a partner. I was approaching dating as though every woman was a possible Santa's sleigh, full of toys and joys that would make me happy forever and if it turned out there wasn’t a pair of roller blades and an ex-box in the sleigh I would stomp my feet and pout! What a foolish expectation to project on someone who I scarcely knew, and because of that expectation I would most likely never really know

After years and years of generating unrealistic and unfair expectations on women to whom I had scarcely taken the time to know I have now finally tried to allow myself the opportunity of generating healthy and meaningful relationships with women without immediately expecting that the relationship will lead to a marriage partnership, but rather approach it as an opportunity to have my life enhanced by an individual who has unique experiences, a unique past, unique characteristics and unique attributes. Should our interactions become more romantic then they become romantic, if they tend to lean toward friendship then they lean to friendship, if the interactions fade all together then they fade all together. Training myself to resist the tendency to immediately size up every woman as the future Mrs. Green has consequently diminished a tremendous deal of my frustration and discouragement toward dating and women in general, and has led to many enhancing and meaningful friendships, interactions and dates that may not have occurred had I forfeited the probable interaction the moment I deemed marriage unlikely. 

As it has now become apparent that my social interactions will shortly be limited due to the circumstances of which I have become subject I am tremendously grateful for those women in my life who are there even though we are not husband and wife. I am so grateful for friendship and relationship even without romance. I can only speculate as to what fulfillment and friends I would have had I recognized my folly earlier in life, but as we all know such speculations warrant no entertainment. 

So to conclude part I of this endeavor I have espoused (there was an intended pun in that word usage) we will only be married to one person, as so, every other person in the world will not be married to us. What a tremendous opportunity to create meaningful relationships with all those individuals who we meet on the way who can enhance our life if we allow them to; And what a missed opportunity should we immediately place expectations on those who we feel could be more and what a disappointment to discard them when they fail to meet our lofty expectation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Help us Out ladies!

I was talking to a good female friend of mine last night. We've known eachother several years and have many deep conversations. Last night we were on the topic of how women choose to reject men and the excuses they use to do so.

For example, a guy gets up all his courage to ask out a girl. After small talk he finally gets the guts and asks, "So, would you like to go to dinner Thursday night?"

Now lets say that the girl in her mind know's full well that she is not actually all that interested in the guy. Maybe she is just not feeling attracted to him, maybe his personality type is not right for her, maybe she is MORE interested in another guy and wants to keep her options open, or whatever reason she has for not being interested. So, girl thinks of some excuse like, "Oh, thanks for the invite but I already have plans with my girlfriends that night, sorry."

Guy cordially ends the conversation and hangs up.

Now I asked my friend why girls make up excuses, whether true or not (by that I mean, maybe the girl really had already made plans with her girlfriends) instead of just stating the real reason.

She responded with, "Well we don't want to hurt their feelings." That opened up a can for me, and I expressed some pretty heartfelt opinions of which I will express now.

I have been rejected my fair share by the lady folk, and I have come to learn that MOST women, at least those I associated with, are not cold heartless man-eating beasts, who delight feasting upon the shattered remains of broken hearts, crushed hopes and dreams, while drinking the bitter tears of their failed suitors. But I have found that women can be indecisive, a little careless, maybe selfish, and lacking courage to not only speak the truth but to be forthright with their intentions and interest level.

So why would I say that a girl is not being truthful when she makes an honest excuse to a guy such as, "I am spending time with my girlfriends that night." I feel it is wrong not because it is not true, but because it is MISLEADING.

The guy after hearing that excuse has no real idea if the girl is really interested or not and he is left with all kinds of questions that will plague him and torture him. "Should I ask her out again?" "How long should I wait?" "Should I wait and see if she tries to contact me next? "Should I call her again?" "Is she really interested?" "Is she lying and has another date that night?" And so and so forth. If you girls think that because you have successfully avoided a date with a guy by making an excuse (whether true or not) that you have been "honest" with him I must disagree.

Now if you are truly a good natured woman, and legitamately do not want to hurt the guy, and you know by going out with him you will just lead him on more, good for you, you are close. I do not believe in pity dates, or giving a guy a chance if you just know for sure you are not going to be excited to go out with him. Being disinterested is NOT a sin, but you can take you good nature and desire not to hurt the guy to the next level; and that is by not only being honest about why you can't go out that night, but also why you are not interested in going out with him at all.

This is hard I know, and takes a lot of courage. But think of it like this....

We all know relationships are difficult, dating is a major pain in the rear and NO one likes to reject any more than anyone likes to get rejected. My heartfelt apologies too all you super beauties out there who must continually reject constant solicitians for romance by unwanted suitors, that is the lot for you ladies, just as it is the lot for some of us men to feel the continual lack luster enthusiasim expressed by an uninterested girl as she attempts to "not hurt us," by honestly misleading us.
But if you are truly interested in not hurting that poor guy that just doesn't quite meet your standards, think of it like this...

You have two options.

#1 You can turn the guy down temporally for the one date by being honest but misleading and giving him an excuse that is surficial, and not the real reason why you are not going out with him. This approach will guarantee to cause him more pain, and this pain will be dragged out through several weeks, months, or even years as the guy is not really sure where he stands with you. To me, this is cruel, and disrespectful behavior.

#2 You can buck up, and break that poor gents' heart right then and there with no mixed words, and be completely honesty and NOT misleading. A statement like, "I am so flattered that you would ask me out, but I am not interested in a romantic relationship with you, and feel it would be wrong of me to lead you on by going out with you." OUCH! Yes, it will hurt the guy, but in a FAR less cruel and lasting manner. He will get off the phone, maybe call his guy buddies and complain for awhile, and then move on! In a week or so he will have moved onto his next rejection...

If you take option #1 the guy may eventually get the clue and stop purusing you, but I guarantee he will not appreciate or respect the manner in which you rejected him. He will probably tell his guy buddies and female friends at how you were dishonest and misleading towards him. He will probably have a hard time being your friend afterwards as he will feel like you are not respectful. But more than anything you will have hurt him a lot more, and for a longer period of time. (Wasn't your intention in making an excuse NOT to hurt him?)

If you take option #2, Guy will still be hurt, probably, as I said no one likes to be rejected. If you were his princess, yes his hopes and dreams will still feel crushed. BUT, I guarantee he will have a greater deal of respect for you, and maybe will even be cool being friends with you and nice to you once his tender heart has mended a little, because you will have only hurt him a little and only once.

I remember a girl right after my mission that I had taken out once. When I called and asked her for a second date, she stumbled to find the words but finally said with courage and respect, "Paul, I have lead guys on in the past and I don't want to do that to you, I just want you to know that I am not interested in you romantically..." I was shocked. I was hurt. But I got it over it really quickly. And I always, always respected her for being SO respectful of my feelings. It is NOT wrong to be disinterested in a guy, and guys understand that, they may not admit it, but they understand it. But although you may be disinterested that does not mean you have the right to be disrespectful and misleading, because that is wrong.

That young lady and I did enjoy a friendship over the years, she married and has a baby and last I saw her was doing very well and is happy. She and I sat and chatted like good friends for about 30 minutes after a wedding reception where we ran into each other. However, for the girls who were misleading, lacked the courage to tell me not only the convenient truth, but the inconvenient truths as well, I do find myself having a hard time being friends with them or respecting them as friends on into the future.

So my lady friends, each of us are planning on getting married only once, that means a LOT of rejections and being rejected. Maybe we can all make the dating process a little less terrifying by just being honest with our interest level off the bat.

And now for a list of honest excuses I have received from girls who have turned me down either for dates or relationships....

-I have a girls night
-I am watching softball
-I am scrapbooking with my mother
-I have to study
-I have class the next morning
-I have so much to do, I don't know how I'm going to get it all done!?
-I am honestly booked up this entire month (that cracked me up)
-I am not dating right now (I almost said, I know, that's why I'm asking you out, hahaha)
-Maybe we can get a group of friends and do something, in a group! (not quite what I was going for)
-I have a hair appointment (yeah, I litereally got that one)
-Um, I'm busy can I take a raincheck ('m going to write a whole other blog on why I hate it when girl's ask for rainchecks, big pet peeve of mine, maybe I'll write on that one next.)
-I just got into a relationship with another guy
-I don't feel safe when you hug me
-I just don't know where you're coming from
-Maybe antoher night (we all know maybe pretty much always means no)
-I told my roommate I'd help her with homework
-I prayed about it and know I'm not going to marry you (can't argue with that)
-Something came up last second (I later found out her ex-fiancee told her he put ME up to asking her out, so she cancelled on me)
-I just feel like you're going to break my heart (preemptive strike, I guess)

Ahhh, after 8 years of dating since my mission, I have seen it all....Well, except of course it just working out! hahaha

Be cool ladies, help us guys out by being straight up with us, we'll respect you for it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Teaching the Gospel

A friend of mine asked me for some advice on teaching a relief society lesson, and I wrote the following at one sitting with few corrections, haha. I have a tremendous passion for teaching Sunday School and thought maybe some people out there in blogger land might find some insight from what I have learned after serving as a missionary for 2 years, and a gospel doctrines teacher for 5 years.

Well if there is one thing I have learned about teaching the gospel it is that what you say is not nearly as important as how the material is presented.

The church has provided manuals with plenty of lesson material to insure that the content is unified across the globe and beneficial to the Saints. Our responsibility as teachers is not so much providing content, but providing presentation of material in a way that allows the class to become engaged in the content, and to grow spiritually from it.

Here are a few guide lines.

1. Start the lesson by giving the class something that everyone can do on their own and quietly. I have found this provides a spirit of unity, and allows the Spirit to begin to communicate with individuals of the class. One thing I do is have the entire class read quietly to themselves a portion of the scriptures being studied. In my opinion, don’t EVER do group activities, or split the class up and have them discuss as groups certain aspects of the lesson. I find this to be very distracting and adds a social pressure to the lesson, creating discomfort and apathy for many. But, if you approach the class and say something like, “I would like to give the Spirit the opportunity to inspire us as individuals to contribute to the discussion today. Please take a few minutes to read the following scriptures to yourself, and allow the Spirit to inspire your with any comments, experiences, or insight to these scriptures.” Then let the class read quietly for a few minutes and ponder quietly. There is a certain magic to having an entire class completely silent, studying the same passages of scripture in unity, with a purpose but without feeling a pressure to discuss those scriptures with a group or in front of the class if they don’t want to. If you want to give some sort of direction concerning the scriptures such as, “How can we see these scriptures play out in our lives today?” So they have a little bit of a spring board can also be of benefit depending on the type of scriptural passage you’re reading.

2. Let the class talk!!! Stand up there quietly and patiently, and wait for them to raise their hands. Don’t get nervous if things are quiet. A class will test their teacher; it is kind of a sub-conscious phenomenon. If you talk, the class will let you talk and talk. If you want to do all the work, they will let you, and if they choose to tune in every now and again, they will. If you want the class to be engaged and to actively participate, you need to show patience and restraint by standing quietly until they realize that you are not going to say anything, and the responsibility to contribute to the lesson belongs to all who are in attendance.

3. This goes along with number 2, ask questions, and NEVER answer your own question. Once you are in the lesson, find ways to ask open ended questions that don’t have 1 right answer as those questions do not prompt discussion, for example.

BAD QUESTION: What are the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel?

You can see how that question only has ONE correct answer, faith, repentance, baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. A class will reluctantly answer that question, because it is boring, and does not cause them to think. Questions should be designed to challenge the class and prompt them to respond by asking a question that requires them to think, to feel, or to draw on their intelligence and experience. And most importantly a good question has NO wrong answer, for example.

GOOD QUESTION: Why do you feel that faith and repentance are the first principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Oh man, you ask a question like that, you’ll have a few second pause (again, stand patiently and do NOT say a THING, let the class know that they have to answer these questions, and that you are not going to bail them out. So many teachers do their classes a tremendous disservice by asking a question, and then before the class has time to think they already respond to their own question and commentate on it. A class will shut down very fast if you show them that you do not trust them to respond. Ask the question, and stand their patiently until someone responds. Sometimes I’ll even make a joke and say something like, “I have all day class,” just to make sure they understand that I am not going to bail them out) and I guarantee the class will raise their hands. You’ll probably have several. Make sure you address EVERY hand that has been raised. Just to help me remember if there are multiple hands I’ll point to all of them in order and say, “you first, then you, then you etc.” That way the class knows that EVERY comment and answer is going to be heard and validated. You will find that as people start making comments it will inspire other individuals who will want to respond and raise their hands. Everybody has a voice, this is not YOUR lesson, it is the Lord’s lesson, and everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the Spirit of the lesson by adding their inspired comments to the lesson.

Now here is the amazing part. If you have a good set up like I said, by allowing the entire class to read a scripture silently to themselves, you will get a good 5-15 minutes of discussion before you have even had to do ANYTHING. Once the comments stop from your opening scripture exercise then you can go to a more traditional approach of studying the lesson, using the technique of asking good questions. The important thing when you get to this phase is to make sure that you read scriptures with purpose and announce that purpose to the class. The purpose again should be open ended, for example

BAD PURPOSE: We are going to read Moroni 10:4 what does Moroni say we can do to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon?? Can I get a volunteer to read.

If you approach reading the scriptures like that, you are again going to get a lot of hesitation, because the question has only ONE right answer, “read and ask God.” If you want to create an atmosphere of spiritual discussion I would suggest an approach like this.

GOOD PURPOSE: WE are going to read Moroni 10:4, while we are reading this I want you to pay attention to how you feel about these verses and why you feel they are so significant to us today?

Or something along those lines, I think you get the idea. That way when the class is hearing someone read the scripture out loud, they have an open ended purpose that they can respond to. When the scripture is done being read, simply thank the reader and then say, “What did you feel?” And again, stand quietly, and let the class respond. By now, they will be so involved in your lesson that everyone will want to raise their hand first so they can make sure to get their comments in.

Here is the beauty part, if you have a good set up, and 2 or 3 solid “good questions” and “good approaches” to reading the scriptures, the class will do almost ALL the talking for you. All you need to do is come prepared before hand with what scriptures you feel are most significant from the class from the lesson material, (it can be any portion of the manual, quotes from prophets, the scriptures associated with the lesson, or whatever material is in the lesson manual. Do not try and bring in outside sources to a lesson, stick with the materials and resources in the manual, and the scriptures and doctrinal principles associated with those scriptures)

Here is my standard timeline for a 45 minute lesson

Min. 0-15 opening prayer, introduction to lesson, and then give class an opportunity to read to themselves and then respond.

Min. 15-40 Prepare 3-5 questions that relate to a different portion of the subject matter provided by the manual. Each question should allow the class to comment on those scriptures while also allowing the Spirit to further solidify gospel topics and doctrines to them. Be sure to include your own feedback as well, but NOT at the expense of the classes comments. Remember, the classes comments come first. It will be necessary, however, to help steer the class back on track if the comments start to stray from the subject matter. Think of yourself as a moderator, more than a teacher.

Min. 40-45 Always conclude with your testimony of the gospel, as well as a call to action to the class. “I pray we can all exercise greater faith,” that is kind of general, if you’re more specific its better, like, “I challenge all of you to read your scriptures at least 15 minutes a day this week,” or something like that, as well as your testimony as to why that has helped you, or how the lesson has impacted your life. If you have a testimony and passion of what you are teaching, your class will feel that and the Spirit will convey that to them as well.

A few more effective tools you can use is to bare your testimony several times throughout the lesson, it really breaks up the lesson and provides a powerful spiritual surge to the lesson. We have trained ourselves to bear testimony only at the end of our lessons, try to discipline yourself to bear your testimony throughout the lesson it will really benefit the class, especially if you bear testimony of things that have just happened, such as, “I want you to know that I felt the Spirit when you shared that experience with us, and I know that what you felt was the Spirit, because I feel it here with us now.” When you feel the Spirit in the lesson, and call attention to it and bear testimony that He is present right then, it really has a powerful effect on the lesson.

Again, this is all framework that will provide an atmosphere for the Spirit to teach a powerful lesson. Teachers get too concerned about trying to have some new incredible angle to approach a subject, or to have the most profound quote, or really they just want to set themselves up as being spiritual or full of knowledge. Ask yourself this question, who is more knowledgeable about any gospel subject, me, or the Holy Spirit?? My goal as teacher has been to teach as LITTLE as possible, I want the Holy Spirit to teach the lesson, as only HE knows what it is the class needs to hear, what it is they are struggling with, what experience and testimony they have had that they can share to the benefit of the class. If your lesson is on obedience, or faith, of the atonement, or prayer, or temple work, well let the Spirit decide what parts of the lesson will be beneficial, let Him inspire the class members to respond to the questions He has inspired you to ask. Prepare yourself with questions, prayer and humility, and let the Spirit handle the content. If you do this people will come up to you after “your” lesson and say, “That was the best lesson I have ever had,” or even, “you are the best teacher I have ever had.” I have heard those compliments so many times after my lessons, and when I hear them all I can say is, “It wasn’t me who taught that lesson it was the Spirit.” And you better believe He is a fantastic teacher, it was the Holy Spirit whom Christ said, “Will teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance.” (John 14:26)