Friday, June 7, 2013

For the Boys

I happen to be mother of three handsome and incredible sons, two of whom are now in that enchanted and sweaty age range of being able to date. (Mormon youth are asked not to date until they are 16 years old and this is the rule we have in our family.) As much as this milestone in their young lives lends itself to a serious case of middle-aged hyperventilating on my part, I know that my kids will navigate this time brilliantly.

Still, students of life can avoid many pitfalls by learning from the awkward steps of their elders. With that in mind may I bring a few items of note which may assist the bright youth of today in their dating pursuits.

This week I focus on young men.

Dates do not need to be elaborate or expensive to impress a girl. In fact when you go over the top it sends the message that this is a serious proposition. Case in point- while I was at BYUI living in a large off-campus apartment complex full to the brim with LDS girls one of my next door neighbors was asked to a school dance. The boy who did this wanted to make an impact so while she was at class he brought in 50 pounds of Hershey kisses and covered her bedroom floor ankle deep in chocolate. He then left a cutesy note that said “now that I kiss the floor you walk on, will you go to the dance with me.”  Aside from the diabetic coma enjoyed by everyone within a six-mile radius, the money and effort he put in to that endeavor did not pan out in the long run. She accepted but that was their only date. She liked him but the pressure she felt from that over the top effort scared her off.  

Also, first dates are not the time to take a girl to serious family events. A friend of mine once accepted an invitation to the movies and was told “we just need to stop at a family gathering for a minute” before they went to the theater.  That event turned out to be his grandmother’s funeral. Amazingly, she declined any 
further dates with this guy.

The lesson here is that most times the best dates are simple and inexpensive. Take a walk, fly a kite, go to the dollar movie. Casual environments allow you to get to know your date without anyone thinking that it is more than just a fun experience. Later in life, when you find someone really awesome you think you want to spend the rest of forever with, you can break out the skywriters and mariachi bands.

The right questions are good, the wrong ones will deep six your date. Asking your date personal questions about her interests and background are a great way to get to know someone. Girls love to talk and most of all about themselves. Doing this will make her feel important and that you are truly interested in her as a person. Questions to avoid would be things like "If there was a nuclear war that destroyed most of humanity, leaving only 5 men in existence for you to marry, would I be one of them?" or “What temple would you like to get married in?” If you whip those out on a first date don’t be surprised when she runs screaming into the sunset without you.

Do not treat the girl you are out with like she is one of “the guys”. Boys bond by insulting each other and using physical horseplay. Let me tell you right now that girls take what you say seriously, so do not call her “chubster” or “psycho” or any other demeaning nickname and insult her thinking it is funny. She may laugh, but deep down you are hurting her feelings. This will result in her texting every one of her 900 friends and telling them what a jerk you are thus reducing the pool of those willing to go out with you in the future. Remember who she is as a daughter of God and treat her with respect.  

Also, comparing arm hair amount, neck size, and athletic prowess should be avoided. It’s not her fault that you have the neck of a chicken or that you can destroy her in a weight lifting competition. These kinds of things will not make the kind of impression you are hoping for.

Let her see the real you. You are a fabulous kid with much to offer so there is no need to show her how you can pop your pecs or brag about the time you “totally saved a guy’s life” by some superhuman feat, and if you work at McDonald’s don’t tell her you are a Fast Food Engineer. Other titles to avoid are Pork Rind Expert and Aspiring Beta Tester. She will see right through that and know it means you are a chronic basement dwelling Cheeto eating gamer. Which leads to my next point.

Don’t be a chronic basement dwelling Cheeto eating gamer! There is a whole beautiful world outside of the internet and your game console. Read, think, look at art, go camping, play a sport, learn to work with your hands, have some interests outside of a dark stinky room full of boys staring at a TV nineteen hours a day. No girl in her right mind wants to date someone whose sole love in life is gaming. She also does not want to hear about how epic it was when you beat level 42 in record time so get outside, it won’t hurt I promise.

Keep an open mind. The girls you ask out don’t always need to be the Homecoming Queen or in the Peanut Festival Court. There are loads of intelligent, fun, girls out there who lovely both inside and out. Learn to recognize that beauty comes in many different forms and not just the kind that is on the cover of magazines. When you do this you will gain the benefit of meeting a lot of really great young women.

Stay Safe. This is advice that pertains to both boys and girls. Always let a friend or parent know where you will be and what time you will be home. Keep a phone with you and stay in public places. If something doesn’t seem right don’t be afraid to end the evening politely.

Also, there are a lot of girls out there who think that a date must end in a physical way. Date girls who have high standards and make sure that when you ask someone out they know that you are going to stay morally chaste and expect the same from them. Boys can have a massive influence on the girls around them by quietly and courageously standing for truth and righteousness. Give sincere complements when they dress modestly and let people know that you find honest, virtuous girls as the most attractive in the world. They will raise their standards when they see you lead out.

In the end these are going to be some of the most exciting times of your life. Appreciate it and try not to 
stress. Ask for dates and if you are turned down let it go and move on. There are girls out there just waiting to get to know someone as remarkable as you. And when you are accepted let them see the real you, stay safe, have fun, treat them with respect, and most importantly act so that you may keep the companionship of the Spirit. Doing this stuff and listening to your parents will help make it all a life learning and awesome experience.

Happy Dating!




  1. I might also suggest adding to the end of your fabulous post, that as they let the young ladies they want to date know that they find honesty and virtue to be attractive, make sure that they are striving to cultivate that same honesty, virtue, and sincerity within themselves. You can't tell someone you want a girl to have all these wonderful characteristics and then not worry about developing them within yourself. LIke that time Greg Weyerman told me I was not a good dancer, but that he was asking me to dance because HE was nice and trying to make me feel good, and that if I watched him, I could pick up some pointers. Turns out he was a horrible dancer and kept stepping on my feet. And he smelled.

    And thanks for your amazing anecdotes-I really feel sorry for some of your friends! They must have had some really rotten dating experiences... Maybe one of these days you can post some ideas on how to not be awkward around members of the opposite sex as a teenager so your friends can get some ideas on how to teach their children NOT to follow in their pathetic footsteps. Just an idea.

  2. And the picture of BLTs on the top of your page is making me really hungry.

  3. Excellent ideas, I feel a series coming on this subject. Stay tuned. Although I really don't think the awkward thing is something that can be overcome without harsh experience in most cases. I'm still awkward around new people and I'm 37.

    I'm rather proud of my BLT banner, it was my first real photoshop project. Love you Wendy and thanks for being such a super commentor. If that is an actual word...


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