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Guest Post: A Shout Out to Single Mormon Men

by Suzette Smith

(Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works in non-profit public health. She serves on the executive board of Exponent II and in the Relief Society of her ward.)

In my single adult life, I’ve listened to plenty of criticism for Single Mormon Men (SMM). I’ve heard that they are selfish, lazy, irresponsible, and just plain weird. In “Single, Female, Mormon, Alone” Nicole Hardy calls SMM “left overs: awkward, uncompromising, and unlucky”. (NYTimes, 1/2011) Everyone seems to have an opinion about SMM and I’ve read many unflattering theories for their singleness on Mormon blogs across the internet.

These guys just can’t catch a break. The prophet is on their case about being unmarried. Bishops keep the pressure on about dating. Parents are ever inquiring. Ward members eye them suspiciously. And single women (I am very sorry to say) seem to have free reign in their verbal flogging. There is a constant call for them to grow up, man up, career up, and get married, already.

The SMM response to this censure? To walk away. Jared Whitley writes “most single LDS males are probably not willing to complain … so they do the only thing they can do: suffer in quiet desperation [or] seek refuge elsewhere. [This] means leaving the Mormon Church, which compounds the imbalanced gender ratios among LDS singles.” (How Targeting LDS Males for Declining Marriage Rates Misses the Mark )

I’d like to see this change. (Both the harshness toward SMM and the leaving of SMM). I have positive experiences with SMM and I’d like to see other church members have good experiences too. Last spring, for example, I put together an Easter event and rounded up dozens of people to help and to sing. Half of those who said “yes” were SMM. Yesterday, I called three friends for a favor; the one who came through was a SMM. In my daily life, SMM are interesting parts to my email strings, intelligent contributors to my conversations, and fun companions at myriad dinners, outings, and road trips. They have given me blessings when I’ve been ill, brought me food when I’ve been recovering, reviewed my resumes, proofed my Exponent articles, and, along with my girl friends and married friends, have supported me in difficult times. In their wards, I have watched them camp with the Young Men, visit the needy, lead missionary efforts, teach lessons, and sing in choirs. In short, they are kind, genuine, engaging people and largely undeserving of the criticism they receive.

To be realistic, they do have problems. But these problems are no more remarkable than yours or mine. And, yes, they have disappointed me, just as my single girl friends, my married friends, and my family have.

I’d like to have more SMM around. I believe if they feel valued and loved in their friendships and wards – they’ll stay around. And we’ll be better for it.

What are your experiences with SMM? Can you share examples of successful ways to reach out and include them in wards and families?

 

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54 Responses

  1. Ben S says:

    I’ve had good experiences teaching the SMM in Institute.

    I think there’s definitely an imbalance. I can’t remember the last time I heard any criticism whatsoever of SMW.

    • Amy says:

      A very valid point, Ben. It’s too bad that humble pie isn’t largely a co-ed food… It is constantly served (often by well intentioned hosts) to SMM, but hardly ever to SMW. I have been truly humbled by friendly SMM who have helped me see the self-destructive behavior of SMW. Why aren’t more women humbled by these things? Because the SMM would, understandably, rather back away, either in self-defense or in kindness. Oh that we SMW would awake and live in that same kindness…

  2. Diane says:

    I think the same criticisms that SMM can be applied to SMW(Single Mormon Ladies) I think in fact I believe, SMW have it much worse because at least SMM are still valued precisely because they can give blessings etc, single women can’t perform any of these functions other than to act as support system for system that continually leaves her out

  3. Becky says:

    I don’t know, Diane. As a single woman I don’t receive nearly the criticisms I hear leveled at the single men. And I know I’m not even around to hear half of them. I’m constantly hearing good single men being told every detail of how they are not measuring up while hearing single women being, well, coddled. It’s an imbalance that is destructive on both sides.

  4. Caroline says:

    Suzette, thank you for this great post!

    My impression is also that people are far harder in their rhetoric upon SMM than SMW. And I think that’s because those people issuing criticisms are under the assumption that the man is the active agent in relationships and the woman is the passive. A woman must be chosen, while the man must choose. I think that sense of what a relationship is is highly problematic and perpetuates old traditional norms. I’d be far happier to see people lay off both single men and single women in their rhetoric. At least that way there wouldn’t be the perpetuation of these old ideas about men and women and relationships, and perhaps SMW would feel more empowered to go out and be the active agent.

    • Suzette Smith says:

      Caroline – I agree. The best approach is to leave both SMM and SMW alone for the most part – and support and love them. Relationships and “why we’re not married” have many pieces and parts and both function and dysfunction can be given to SMM and SMW.

      • Galdralag says:

        Hear, hear! Thanks for your post and comments Suzette. I have often felt similarly – SMM are criticized for their singledom to the point that it sometimes comes off as bullying. I can’t see how that’s helpful; singles in the Church are hardly unaware that they aren’t fulfilling the cultural ideal. Guilting them about their marital status and dating life isn’t going to suddenly startle them into marriage.

      • Bobman says:

        Or worse, it could startle them into a bad marriage. Is divorce better or worse than being single in Mormon culture?

      • Starfoxy says:

        Is divorce better or worse than being single in Mormon culture?
        I am firmly of the opinion that remaining unmarried would be preferable to entering a bad marriage (whether it ends in divorce or not). That said, I suspect that in practice we can be more forgiving of and kinder to (some) divorced men than we are to most never married men.
        Most members are willing to accept that at least sometimes divorce is better than staying married. And if you got married and then divorced, well, hey at least you tried. And ‘trying’ is something we seem to think unmarried men aren’t doing.
        In short, while almost no one would say it, I think we act like bad marriage then divorce is better than remaining single- which is really too bad.

      • Bobman says:

        That’s kind of what I was thinking. So I guess we shouldn’t pressure anyone into anything they’re not ready for (or that isn’t God’s plan/timing for them). Even if we treat divorced people better for at least trying, imagine the pain they had to go through in that bad marriage before divorce was finally chosen and finalized. And if children are in it then that complicates matters more.

        Even if unmarried men aren’t trying, is that really anyone’s business to try to “fix” them or what not? There are many things which discourage men from dating, which would be a whole post in itself. So maybe “not trying” is more like “giving up” in some cases (excluding the stereotypical man-boy). I guess if you’re a concerned leader or friend or something you could seek spiritual guidance on whether to say anything and if so what. Beyond that though, it’s kind of a cultural pressure thing and not doctrinally correct. So, yes… too bad.

      • Actually, having been a divorced single, I found the prejudice more in being divorced rather than just being single. There’s always the lingering wonder people have at what you did wrong. Its also near impossible to relate to the other singles because you’ve been through a major life experience they’ve never had.

        It does cut down on the “why arent you married yet” comments, though 😉

  5. Ru says:

    I do think SMM get more flak than SMW, but I’m not sure what can be done about it. The response is cultural, and I don’t just mean Mormon culture. You see a successful, smart, attractive woman, and if she’s single, the presumption is that she’s doing everything she can so hopefully she’ll meet “the one” sooner rather than later. You see a successful, smart, attractive man in the same position and wonder what he’s doing “wrong.”

    On the flip side, when you see an awkward single woman, you feel pity. When you see an awkward single man, you wonder why he doesn’t shape up. No, it’s not fair, but it’s true even outside church culture.

    In my last singles ward, this phenomenon was painfully obvious. At least half the women in that ward had little-to-no chance of getting married because they hadn’t developed basic social skills, because they made no effort with their appearances, because they had no ambition, etc., but no one ever acknowledged the obvious. Because they were “faithful” (presumably – they were at church, anyway), they “deserved” a husband. Meanwhile, the elders quorum was already literally half the size of the RS, and the bishop (who couldn’t bring himself to lecture this slew of awkward girls) lectured all the guys to “get it together.” The normal guys were likely looking at a grown woman with a copy of Twilight in her scripture tote (seriously) and thinking, “You have got to be kidding me.” The socially inept guys continued their socially inept ways. The majority of the normal women were lost in the shuffle, which started the cycle over again — bafflement that a lot fun, successful, nice, reasonably attractive young women weren’t getting married leading to browbeating the men.

    (Was it true all the time? Of course not, but the above generalization covered about 75% of the members in that ward.)

    A bishop (or other male church leader) is always going to feel more comfortable criticizing other men and “comforting” women. Pointing out to a woman that perhaps a better personality, social skills, or wardrobe might be in order is just too unchivalrous for most Mormon men, especially a married man. The only thing that can be done is to ask local leaders too back off the marriage pressure altogether, but I don’t think it will happen.

  6. Diane says:

    In response to my criticism that I feel that SMW feel the same cultural attitudes. I do not consider myself socially inept. A good friend of mine(s0meone who wouldn’t lie to not hurt my feelings) says that I have a social personality, meaning that I do not like to be around a lot of people, however, around people I know, I converse quite well. I think she is quite right in her assessment. A lot of my aloofness with people comes from how I grew up. First, I had a speech impediment which was not taken care of until I was older, so I was bullied quite bit, Second, I grew up in Foster Care. I do not fit the normal Mormon back ground so, I can not join in the normal conversations that most people in church engage, because quite honestly, I haven’t experienced any of the normal things that people have to talk about.

    I don’t apologize for my aloofness because when ever I have shared my experiences people in the church have been particularly harsh and even mean spirited in their respective remarks.

    I’m starting to think it is the same for the SMM, that’s why I stated that the same criticism can be made. Some of the SMM are probably experiencing things that the rest of the membership have no knowledge and the people around them make no attempt to find out what these people are about

  7. To me, it appears that there are more SMM who have no plans to ever be adults and move on with their lives outside their parents home, even after serving a mission, than there are SMW. I don’t really like the idea that marriage should be a necessary part of those plans. Marriage is not a means to an end, nor is it a measure of adulthood. It can’t fix anyone involved.

    There are a good number of men and women who are at a point where they don’t want to grow up, and it’s seeming to be more and more acceptable, culturally to do so. I don’t think anyone should be even thinking about marriage until they’ve learned to live independant of their families, as adults.

    Maybe its been too long since I was, myself, single. Maybe I’m harder on SMM than SMW because I was once a SMM, and one who had returned from a mission and had no plans or desire to get on with my life. I can only hope that my own sons will gain that desire to grow up earlier than I did; it would save years of heartache and time that cannot be taken back.

    For those who have contact with SMM/Fs, what can we do to help them grow?

    • Maureen says:

      What do you consider being an “adult” or “grown up”? Is it just “living outside a parent’s home”? If so have you taken into consideration the recession, unemployment rates, rising cost of education, etc. It may be more grown up/smart/frugal etc to remain at home for the time being.

      How do you know they don’t “*want* to grow up” or “have no plans”? Have you asked? I’m asking sincerely because I want to know, not trying to be contentious. As this has been no where near my experience.

      How long did that time in your life that you didn’t desire to “get on with your life” last? Do you really think it was that much of a detriment to you? Is there nothing you gained from it?

      • Being an adult has nothing to do with living outside of your parents home, but rather with being separate from your parents family (and becoming your own). It means taking responsibility for your own housing, cleaning, feeding, even if it means negotiating some of that being done by someone else (like a parent). Becoming an adult is also partially in learning to become selfless, rather than selfish.

        For my sons (now 12 and 14), I do what I can to help broaden their horizons beyond wanting to grow up to be a Jedi or assassin. I dont expect them to know what they want to be, but do want them to take their schoolwork more seriously, and not stay inside all day playing video games. I try to talk to them, indivudually, as often as I can. I think part of my fears are the same as for many parents – wanting to help our children learn from our mistakes and be better than we were, no matter what their path.

        How long did my stint in self-imposed childishness last? Til I was about 26, which included a mission, a marriage, 2 kids, and a divorce. Wouldn’t trade the 2 kids for anything, even if I could do it all over again.

      • ML says:

        You can have an adult relationship with your parents while you live with them. It just means that you contribute. A child is someone who requires their parents to provide everything. An adult contributes in any way they can to reciprocate what another adult is providing.

    • Becky says:

      Hmmm – I think the question ‘For those who have contact with SMM/Fs, what can we do to help them grow?’ kind of misses the point. Unless you would ask the same about married mormon males and females. (hopefully only because you have a particular stewardship) These are adults. It reminds me of a ward council I was in where the idea of creating an FHE group for the singles was discussed. One of the men in the room said that it was necessary to do so, because it was just as important for singles to have family home evening as it was for families. That may or may not be so, but that principle did not automatically lead to the conclusion that the program needed to be provided for the singles rather than simply allowing them to adapt the program to their own needs on their own. You know, like the married adults do. Treat adults as adults. It’s usually that simple.

    • Ron says:

      Actually, marriage IS a means to an end. Attaining the highest level in the celestial kingdom requires a temple marriage. Those of us trying hard to get there need to marry.

      • Bobman says:

        Never should any “righteousness” be viewed as a means to an end. All righteousness should be an end in itself or it isn’t really righteousness. It should come from who you are and what is right for you in Heavenly Father’s plan for you. Anything more or less than that is an act which may fall apart at any time.

        Marriage isn’t a means to an end anyhow, it is a very meaningful bond between a couple and by extension also with any children that come to that marriage. The fact that the highest level of the celestial kingdom requires a temple marriage is more a consequence of that bond than it is an end achieved by the act of a temple sealing covenant.

        And by “Heavenly Father’s plan for you” I mean the specific plan for YOU in particular. It may be wrong to marry a person or marry at a certain time in your life (like before completing a mission, or to someone who will never love you) but that doesn’t make marriage wrong. It may be right to marry EVENTUALLY but not at any point in your youth, child bearing age, or even life. God’s plan is a lot broader than simple means-to-an-end mentality or one-size-fits-all plans.

        That said, I found my wife early and we’re happily married. But this isn’t necessarily for everyone. Don’t forget that following the Spirit counts.

      • A Temple marriage is not necessarily a Celestial marriage. The goal (as just one step in progression) is to have a Celestial marriage. The sealing is so that two people can be together for eternity, not that they must be. A Temple sealing does not guarantee a happy marriage for anyone, living or dead, and the Celestial Kingdom is all about the joy of a Celestial marriage.

        This is why it is said that those who do not have the opportunity to marry will have that opportunity in the future; not so we can say that single (or unhappily married, or not sealed) people have missed their chance, but that there is still hope for the joy they have seen and desire to have. One of the greatest works of the Millenial era will be in making all marriages both Eternal and Celestial, forming bonds between those happily married in this life and between those who will find happiness with someone in the next.

        Above all, in dealing with those who are single, for any reason, we must remember that marriage is a duet. Not yet being married is not a sin, nor does it mean they are being too picky or are not listening to the Prophets – it simply means they have not yet found the one person with whom they can make beautiful, joyful, and Eternal music.

  8. M says:

    SMM, a topic I am all to apt to dwell on. As a fellow singleton, I think that it is a little unfair to label them (or us, why not lump the ladies in there with ’em) s a problem, make broad generalizations and exhort them to change their/our ways without recognizing them as individuals.

    Do single members have a problem? We all have problems. But those problems are not all the same. And not all single men live in their parents basements. Some are busy pursuing advanced degrees at prestigious universities, some are building their own businesses or working to affect social change.

    One thing that I find curious about the church culture is the divide between married and single members. From my experience in both family and singles wards it is the same. Married and single members don’t mix. Why is that? Is it just the women or is it the same with the men? Personally, I decided to move to an area where there are lots of singles just so I didn’t have to face the ostricization I’d experienced in family wards with few singles. We haven’t the plague – nor are we after your husbands.

    If members (married or not) really want to help SMM/Fs, get to know them as individuals. Invite them over. Befriend them. Ask them about their experiences, ambitions and struggles. Be supportive and encouraging.

    • Suzette Smith says:

      I have many married friends in my ward – and in my past wards. I have worked hard to cultivate those relationships. I think there is a divide between married and single in the church, but I don’t think either side creates the divide maliciously. Both sides need to work hard to close the divide.

      • M says:

        I agree that in general this divide is not malicious and that I could take it upon myself to bridge that gap. But instead I have given up. My married friends are notorious for canceling on me last minute and making me feel as though I am an intruding on their “family time”. I haven’t given up on the friendships all together but I’ve stopped making an effort.

        This probably isn’t all that healthy and it has certainly colored my opinion of marriage. But this isn’t just about me – I only share these thoughts because maybe other single members have had similar experiences, no?

      • Last minute cancellations are a fact of life when you have small children, but there’s no reason to make someone feel like they’re intruding on “family time” – anyone with my family is part of the family, no matter what other relationship there is.

        I, personally, wouldn’t even know how to start relationships with the singles of our ward. Its more difficult being male, since a married male trying to include a single in the family seems kinda creepy. I’m not in the market for a new wife, just new friends.

      • Bobman says:

        Frank – I feel that way all the time when I ‘m searching for friends among singles.

        I don’t want to come across creepy or unfaithful or anything, so I mostly look for couples my wife and I can get along with. That’s harder too because most couples don’t have 100% stuff in common among themselves, so finding a couple with enough in common with us to make a friendship work has been a disappointing road too.

        As a single, you only have to worry about how you relate to your friends, in a couple you have to worry about how much time you’re spending away or how well your spouse relates to them too. That just plain makes it harder.

      • Suzette Smith says:

        You could start by inviting a single member over for your family’s dinner. If you have common interests, you can take it from there. If not, maybe just dinner every now again. Not everyone is going to be friends, but I think it’s important to at least keep singles in mind when looking to expand your circles. The only way to integrate a minority into the majority – is for the majority to make room.

        I agree that it’s harder for married men to reach out to single, but I’ve seen it done.

        It’s all about trying and practicing and trying some more. On both sides.

      • Alisa says:

        As a married woman, I love our single friends. I am closer to the female ones mostly, but they are welcome to hang out with all my family. I still greatly mourn the loss of my old VT companion who moved 4 years ago, a single woman with a doctrate degree and my only deep friend I’ve ever had in the ward. We often did Sunday night dinners together, and I just loved our friendship. We didn’t have marriage in common, or kids in common, but we love ideas and discussion and music and supported each other, and that was what mattered.

        My husband is usually closer to the single guy friends we have, and they do guy activities together, but I enjoy it when the whole family associates together as well.

      • M says:

        Thank you Suzette, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. And I respect that married men don’t want to be creepy – thankyou for that. But there is a big difference between maintaining boundaries and ignoring someone. I few of years ago I moved across the country for grad school. I knew no one in the area. There were few members at my school and the ward had very few single members. I had hoped that my ward would provide a support system for me but I felt ostracized and ignored. I can only conclude that it was at least in part due to my marital status because a married couple that had moved into the ward at the same time were quickly befriended and integrated into the ward in a way that I was not. It was like they didn’t know what to do with me.

        It can be as simply as inviting them over for sunday dinner. Or asking them if they have plans for an upcoming holiday. Of course every person (single or married) has different needs at different times and if a particular single seems put-off by your invitation or declines, don’t write them all off as uninterested in your friendship.

  9. lanwenyi says:

    I had bad experiences with the older SMM in my last singles wards. I got tired of the complaining abt mommy and daddy not giving them enough spending cash, having no goals and nothing they were working toward, living at home but not saving for the future, and, most of all, whining about how “none of the girls will date” them.

    That said, the SMM I’ve met in family wards have tended to be strong and independent. They often were seeking a partner and were unhappy with the sappy-fawning the young SMW gave them when they were younger. However, as they got older, it got harder to relate to the much younger women. By then, it seemed as though older single women figured that there must be something wrong with them b/c they’d never been married.

    Others had proposed (sometimes multiple times), but no one had said yes. Are they supposed to hit someone over the head and drag them to the temple?

    Mormon, and often mainstream, culture expects the men to do the asking and for women to do the waiting/accepting, so cultural norms are harder on SM than on SW. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for SW either. I got really tired of being told that I needed to not be intelligent, not have opinions, and to spend more time doing hair and makeup if I wanted to get married (as all good Mormon “girls” should want, sigh).

    I wish that everyone, from the GAs down to old-member-who-has-a-long-winded-opinion-on-everything, would just lay off single people in general. The intense pressure to marry at any cost, even unhappily, is not healthy for anyone.

    FTR, my husband LOVES that I’m informed, passionate abt topics, and opinionated. We take turns playing devil’s advocate and debating both sides of issues. He has no problems w/ me having a simple hairdo and no makeup and that I care more about how comfortable an outfit is than how fashionable. He is my perfect match. He loves me for who I am.

    If I’d given up who I am to marry someone who didn’t value those things in me, I’d be desperately unhappy, even if I’d married in the Temple. Everyone deserves happiness in their lives. However, everyone’s happiness can come in different forms: married, single, traditional, non-traditional, Temple, non-member, etc.

  10. Kalliope says:

    I’m a 29 yo single LDS woman with a pack of 30+ SMM best friends, and a lot of times, I feel like I’m the only person speaking up to defend them. They are not lazy or awkward. They are not funny-looking or uncompromising. They are educated, hard-working, spiritual, amazing men. They are like brothers to me and I love each one of them. I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with ME for being 29 and unmarried, and I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with them, either. Every time a leader starts in on my demographic about marriage and dating, I groan and roll my eyes for all our sakes. I hope my dear friends can withstand all the BS… I worry for them.

  11. davis says:

    Having been single until almost 40, I have pretty much seen it all.
    Yes many SMM have some issues. Yes, those issues are pointed out frequently (especially by SMW).

    Some SMM seem unmotivated, uneducated and not very spiritual. This in general makes them not a very good prospect.

    SWM however have just as many issues. Most SMW can be classified as educated, motivated and committed to the gospel. They can also be classified as unable to compromise, selfish and judgmental. While most SMM that are trying to get married are usually attempting to change to make themselves more attractive to the opposite sex (better job, better education, more devout etc) most of the SMW I know do not feel that they need to make any effort whatsoever to make themselves more attractive to the men – “what you see is what you get and you had better like it or you are totally unacceptable to me”.

    In the end, it is still a bit of a game, and most older SMW seem to think they are somehow ‘above’ it. And in the end, it costs them a husband.

  12. davis says:

    I should state the SOME SMW can also be classified as unable to compromise, selfish and judgmental.

    • Ru says:

      I have to say, I do kind of agree with this. But I think the bigger problem is that for both SMM and SMW, the minority groups dominate the conversation.

      Are there unbending, selfish SMW out there who just feel “entitled” to a husband? Yes. Are there lazy, indifferent SMM just content to float through life? Yes. But I think in both cases, these groups make up the minority, and yet receive the lion’s share of the attention from church leaders. All the more reason to just stop putting pressure on singles entirely. Those two categories of people are not likely to ever change (the women because they never hear the criticism, the men because they don’t care.) Meanwhile, everyone else just feels additional pressure and judgment. It’s counterproductive.

      Most single Mormons I know in their mid-to-late twenties and older already want to be married — they aren’t doing anything “wrong,” (or if they are, it’s no more wrong than some of the things people who successfully marry do), they just haven’t met the right person. Talks directed at the entitled/lazy among us are just counterproductive.

    • M says:

      Davis – You say that

      “…most of the SMW I know do not feel that they need to make any effort whatsoever to make themselves more attractive to the men – ‘what you see is what you get and you had better like it or you are totally unacceptable to me’.”

      I wonder what that effort would look like. Are you speaking purely of physical appearance or more broadly? I find it really confusing navigating the divide between pursuing my passions, maintaining my independence and attracting a potential mate. For instance, are education, career ambition and firmly held opinions attractive or off-putting? Surely we can all work towards becoming more Christ-like and charitable, but what else.

      Please clarify.

      • M says:

        I hope that I don’t sound overly defensive here, it’s just that of all the SMW I know, (from my perspective) we are not a particularly passive or stubborn group (though often discouraged and frustrated). Most would give up a lot to marry a good man. And I wonder that some of us try to hard to attract the guy only to loose our selves along the way.

      • Davis says:

        When I said that SMW need to make an effort to be more attractive to men, I did not mean just physically attractive. It all depends on what kind of man a woman is looking for.

        At times, improved physical appearance may be an issue. It all depends if she is looking for a 10 herself or not. Usually it means that a woman has to make her self more available, and potentially interested in things other than what she has chosen to fill her life with herself.

        SMM and SMW need to flirt more. Of course, many think this is ridiculous but if you look around it is the women that are good at flirting that get asked out the most. Generally, most older single people are really bad at flirting. That is one of the reasons they are still single.

        Time and time again I have seen women destroy a possibility before it ever gets started by not being willing to change her schedule (ie. book club, dance class, workout schedule, hanging out with her girlfriends, whatever) in order to go on a date. If a woman is that rigid in how she wants her life to be run, it sends a bad signal to a guy that is contemplating trying to be a big part of her life.

        The biggest thing older SMW need to do is not make snap judgements. Friends of mine tend to decide if a man is worth dating within about 15 minutes of meeting him. If he happens to be goofing off with his buddies at the time, he is doomed. By the time a woman realizes that a man may in fact be date-able material, he is generally not at all interested in her because she blew him off so easily initially.

        The other thing SMW need to stop doing is comparing the men they date to their friends husbands or their fathers. The men they are comparing their dates to have had time – sometimes decades – to make the tiny modifications to their behavior that makes them more attractive to their spouse. They need to remember that even President Hinckley thought farting was funny when he was a teenager.

      • Davis says:

        To address your question more directly:

        “For instance, are education, career ambition and firmly held opinions attractive or off-putting?”

        No, these are not off-putting at all. Unless your opinion is so contrary to his on a volatile subject that it would cause too much tension.

        The one thing you said was telling however:

        “I find it really confusing navigating the divide between pursuing my passions, maintaining my independence and attracting a potential mate. ”

        In my opinion, making clear efforts to ‘maintain your independence’ sends a message to single men that you don’t really want to date. What are you trying to be independent from? Single men are attempting to discard their independence and form a partnership.

        The most attractive attitude is where a women is clearly capable of independently living and controlling her life, but really would rather not have to.

      • M says:

        Davis – Thank you for the thoughtful clarification. Yes, these are some things that many singles could work on.

        By way of clarification on my part, when I spoke of maintaining my independence, I was thinking primarily of financial independence (i.e. not living off my parents, paying my bills and such) though I have learned to be pretty independent in other aspects of my life as well – it is not the ultimate goal but a temporary necessity. Maybe I should work on being a little more needy (men seem to gobble that right up 😉 ).

    • Diane says:

      “SMW need to make themselves more attractive to men,”

      Highly offensive on many levels, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

      • Ru says:

        (Big tangent alert, feel free to skip.)

        Yes, but what does it say about someone when they don’t respect themselves or those around them enough to engage in basic social expectations? There are a lot of people who seem to have the attitude of, “You have to take me as I am, even if everything about my appearance says I don’t have a lot of respect for you or myself.”

        I’m not saying you have to spend an hour getting ready every morning, but if you’re going to work, a business meeting, court, on a date, to church, anything, you should make an effort to be presentable. If someone looks like they try, that’s enough, but a lot of people in society today don’t even try. Believe me, I’ve been in courtrooms and weddings both where people showed up in sweatshirts and jeans. And yes, this happens a lot in many singles wards. As my Catholic friend would say, “I find it infuriating that I could fix my hair and put on make up, put on a pair of nice slacks, a blouse, heels and jewelry, and I’d be fine at my church – but if I visited an LDS ward with family or friends, somehow I’m not dressed as ‘appropriately’ as someone who threw on a wrinkled khaki skirt ten minutes before arriving.”

        If you want to come to something without even having brushed your hair and expect people to find inner-beauty, it’s very likely that the inner attribute they’re going to notice most is laziness.

        (Yes, I know this sounds super shallow. It doesn’t mean it’s not true.)

      • Davis says:

        I said nothing of physical beauty at all. People can do many things to make themselves much more attractive to the opposite sex, and never change their physical appearance one bit.

      • M says:

        Ru – I totally agree that we as women (and might I add men in there too?) should make an effort to look our best and dress appropriately for the situation (I truthfully get really annoyed by what some people wear to church sometimes – that’s a discussion for another time, but polar fleece?!? seriously?). Also, from my observations this behavior is a trend that is not pervasive throughout the whole church. At my current ward, it is quite the opposite and Sacrament meeting has often been compared to fashion show. It is a challenge every sunday just to keep up with the high standard of dress.

  13. JM says:

    I’ll say it even if no one else will. I am a SMM with a home of my own, a job and a career. I am a functional person who is active in the Church. However, I don’t want to get married and I don’t understand why others do. I suppose they get different results when they run their own analysis of cost vs. benefit. That’s fine with me, but I don’t care very much that they are concerned (agitated, frustrated, annoyed?) with my conclusion.

    • Janna says:

      You bring up the one reason that many members of the church cannot quite seem to wrap their minds around – you don’t want to.

      It’s difficult for some people to consider that not marrying, for many people, is progression. For some, remaining single is healthy – a means to development.

      The reason this idea is so absurd to many Mormons is that the very doctrine of the church states that marriage IS the way to eternal progression. There is no other way.

      I’ve found that remaining single, at least up until now, has been right for me, too. So, I get you.

    • Ron says:

      No desire to attain the blessings of the celestial kingdom?

      • Bobman says:

        I have no desire to retire – right now. I’m not specifically saving and reviewing my plans, etc. I’ve not planned a date or what to do when I retire. But in all probability I’ll eventually retire if I live that long. At some point, I’ll even start planning for it in those details.

        People who have no desire to marry are probably right to feel that way at that time in their life. Their feelings may change, or may not. The important thing is that they follow the Spirit so they know they’re doing what is right for them at that time. They will not be denied any eternal blessing as a result, even if it means they don’t marry in this life.

      • Bobman says:

        On that same note, those of us who DO desire marriage should be sure we’re following the Spirit in every detail too, or our marriage will not help us attain the celestial kingdom or any blessings.

        The ordinance itself has little meaning if the Spirit is not in it.

  14. EmilyCC says:

    Awesome post, Suzette!

    A couple years ago, there was a big singles ward that split up and all the singles were asked to go to the family wards where they lived. Honestly, it has made such a difference in our family ward. Those women and men have taken leadership roles, hard HT/VT assignments, and truly have become some of my favorites in my ward (um, not because they do the hard work–so many of them are just plain amazing people).

    I have to say that Nate is better about being friends with the SMWs than I am about being friends with the SMMs. This is a good reminder for me to work on that.

  15. Ron says:

    Bobman, what does retirement have to do with attaining the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom? The Lord has taught us that marriage in the temple is a requirement for that.

  16. Karen Nihipali says:

    I am a single Mormon sister in the PHX, AZ area and I find that if I’m nice to the SMM they are nice to me. If I’m mean and rude to them they are rude and mean back. I find that if I flirt with them, they flirt back. I find that if I attend the temple they go and then attend activities later too because they see sisters there. I find that if I’m honest with them, they are honest back. I find that if they want to know something about me, it is because they are seriously interested. I also am flattered and find that if they want a kiss it is because they are REAL and HUMAN and WE ALL like touch. I love hugs, kisses and cuddles so I’m willing to share 🙂

    I’m grateful for SMM, they help me become better. They help me become a better daughter of God because it forces me to remember who I am and what I am doing here on earth and my purpose. I’m grateful for them too because they force me to remember that they are Sons of a Living God and that I too need to respect them and who they are, their feelings, their lives and the Priesthood in which they hold.

    I’m learning TONS in this single scene. If I don’t ever marry again, I’m OK with that. I can say to Heavenly Father that I at least tried and that I respected his SONS.

  1. September 15, 2011

    […] popped the question; this time, it’s in the Sacramento Bee, of all places. The Exponent has talked about it lately, and after a fireside with Elder Oaks on Sunday night, my Facebook feed has exploded with […]

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