Dating Goals

As some of you may already know, I’m getting a dating advice book ready for publication. My wife and I have a dating advice blog as well, which we’ve neglected a bit lately, but since I post fairly regularly on this blog, I thought I’d post the entries for that blog in both places. So here’s the entry for today!

Photo by Shelly Hathaway at shellyhathaway.com

Photo by Shelly Hathaway at shellyhathaway.com

One of the important lessons I had to learn quickly in dating is to not let fear of the future rule the present. I suppose I wasn’t unique in wanting to get just the right girl on the first try. As a teenager, I used to think to myself: wouldn’t it be cool if the first girl I ever have 2 dates with turns out to be my wife? Well, that goal was spoiled in high school when a girl I asked out asked me to a school dance, and we never went out again.

So modified my goal: Wouldn’t it be cool if the first girl I went out with twicewhere I did the asking both times, was the girl I ended up marrying? Well, shortly after my mission I went on a blind date with a girl, and it went well. I thought I might kind of like her, so I asked her out again. That didn’t last, though we did go on a total of three dates.

So I modified my goal again: Maybe the first girl I go on more than 3 dates with will be my wife someday. Well, a year or two after my mission, I met a girl who I liked, who liked me, and we hit it off okay at first – we even decided after “the talk” (we’ll discuss what ‘the talk’ is later), that we would consider each other boyfriend and girlfriend. A couple weeks later, we broke it off.

So much for my goals. I hadn’t yet held hands, kissed a girl, or fallen in love, so I thought about forming new goals around those things. But after that last failure, those kinds of goals suddenly seemed silly. The point was not to succeed without failure, the point was to succeed. I was looking for an eternal companion, and if that meant first holding hands with or falling in love with a number of girls I wouldn’t end up marrying, so be it. The Lord never said I had to get it right on my first try.

In fact, I think there is benefit in dating a good number of girls, and if in that process you find one that you think just might have a slight chance of being the one for you, don’t be afraid to encourage things to progress that way. That’s how relationships are formed, and once you find someone that meets your basic requirements, it will likely take risk and commitment to learn about the deeper aspects of the person’s life. You aren’t likely to find out a person’s dirt or gems on the basis of simple friendship. And once you do get close enough, and make simple commitments to each other, you will find out more about your date than you could in casual dating.

You need to learn as much as you appropriately can about a person before deciding to marry them. You won’t learn everything before marriage, but the more you learn, the more equipped you are to make that decision.

One day I attended a fireside talk by John Bytheway. His topic was “What I Wish I’d Known When I Was Single.” The whole talk was basically about single life and the dating game. One of the things he mentioned was that in his search for a wife, there came a time that he decided he would go on a date at least once a week.

I thought a lot about that resolution. By this time in my life, I had slowed my dating progress and was going out about once a month or so on average, and didn’t feel like I was getting much accomplished in the dating scheme. So I made a similar resolution (though not as intense): I would ask a girl on a date at least every other week. That was my rule.

For me, this was a very effective plan. For one thing, it got me going on dates often, and going on dates provided the social and emotional development I needed to be able to handle the whole dating experience. Of course, some of the early attempts at this program were rather humiliating, but with practice, asking girls on dates became far less traumatic.

Second, following this plan allowed me to focus on what I could control. My job was to ask a girl on a date. If she said “no,” then I was off the hook for a couple weeks. It never does any good for anyone to focus on what they can’t control. I could not control her response. I could only improve myself and try again with a different girl later. I’d try to give myself a better hairstyle or wear a different deodorant. I’d try working out a bit more and cutting back on my bad habits.

This pattern of every other week dating (and it wasn’t too long before I was going on dates at least every other week,) turned out to be one of the most fun periods of my life. I learned a lot, spent a lot, and met a lot of great people. Though it could be frustrating when these efforts didn’t seem to lead to any serious relationships, I was learning how to interact with girls, and learning what to look for – and look out for.

Revolutionizing the Course of the Universe

This story took place a short time before Jenni and I were married.

Revolutionize

It was a very dull day at Deseret Book as I leaned against the counter, chin in hands, waiting for something to happen. One of my co-workers stood only a few feet away, bored as I was.

“So,” I said, trying to break the monotony, “What should I do to revolutionize the course of the world today?”

He thought a moment. “Got any bombs? You could always blow up an important building somewhere.”

“That’s true. But I don’t have any bombs. Besides, that’s a bad thing, and there are plenty of bad things going on all the time. I need to find something good to do.”

“That’s true,” he replied. Then we both fell back into silence.

I began thinking more about our conversation. What could one do to revolutionize the course of the world? What about the universe? Could one person effect the destiny of the universe?

There have been many people who have changed the course of life on this planet; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. George Washington led a revolutionary war that led to the foundation of what might be considered the most powerful nation in world history. But did those things change the destiny of the universe?

It occurred to me that the person who best fit that description would have to be Jesus Christ. Not only did he save the destiny of every person who would ever live, but He provided a way for us to become like His Father.

Now there’s a new approach to the question. If I have potential to become like my Father in Heaven, then certainly I have power to effect the destiny of the universe.
So I guess the next question would have to be, what can I do today to best effect that progress? Of course, a response as broad as “live the gospel” wasn’t really a sufficient, since I had been striving to do that my whole life.

Then I realized that I was in the process of beginning one of the major aspects of the perfecting process. I was about to get married in the temple. I decided that maybe the best thing I could do to work toward that goal would be to strengthen my relationship with Jenni. How could I do that? That question is easy. I could be kind and loving to her.

I looked around the store. Everything was quiet, normal, ordinary. Customers came in and left. Employees straightened bookshelves or stood patiently waiting for something to happen. I had a date with Jenni scheduled for that night. I decided that tonight I would change the course of the universe – I would show love and kindness towards her.

Date Ideas for Breaking the Ice

Breaking-the-ice

Jenni and I are writing a book together about dating, and one of the chapters discusses various types of dating ideas.  I thought it might be fun to share some of those categories of date ideas on this blog, such as creative date ideas, funny date ideas, educational date ideas, etc.  This is the section (so far) about date ideas to help break the ice.  Sometimes the hardest part of going out with someone is just penetrating the shell of awkwardness that is inherent in first (and sometimes second) dates. Here are some ideas that might help both of you feel more relaxed and have a great time.

  1. Do a group date. They’re not just for teenagers, and it’s easier to keep conversation alive in a group. If you really want to help your date feel comfortable, plan a double date and have a friend of yours ask out your date’s friend, and then go do something as a group. With their friend there, your date will be more likely to act natural and have fun. If you don’t want to line people up, just plan a group date of three or four couples. If you get enough good people together for a fun activity, everyone is likely to have a great time.

  2. Go to a mall, museum, zoo, or gallery. If you walk around a mall or gallery together, there is a lot to see, and a lot to spark conversation. Zoos and Museums have a lot to see, hear, and explore. Anywhere where there are many kinds of displays of different kinds will provide dozens of avenues for conversation. If conversation starts, don’t rush through it to get to the next display, but use the opportunity to learn about your date and to help them get comfortable talking with you. The conversations that you have will do more for nurturing a potential relationship than anything else.

  3. Do something athletic such as a sport together. Even something as simple as Frisbee can be a lot of fun on a date. If you are both decent at a certain sport, play it together. Sometimes doing something physically active can help both of you get your mind off the fact that you are on a date. When your body or mind is active and focused, your emotions are generally positive, and your experience together will likely be uplifting and fun.

  4. Anything you can do that will get both of you laughing; a funny movie, a clean comedy show – whatever it may be.  Humor breaks ice faster than almost anything.

Do you know of other date ideas that might help a dating couple get past that initial awkwardness?

How to Revolutionize the Course of the Universe

talltab1It was a very dull day at at the bookstore as I leaned against the counter, chin in hands, waiting for something to happen.  One of my coworkers stood only a few feet away, bored as I was.
talltab1“So,” I said, trying to break the monotony, “What should I do to revolutionize the course of the world today?”
talltab1He thought a moment.  “Got any bombs?  You could always blow up an important building somewhere.”
talltab1“That’s true.  But I don’t have any bombs.  Besides, that’s a bad thing, and there are plenty of bad things going on all the time.  I need to find something good to do.”
talltab1“That’s true,” he replied.  Then we both fell back into silence.

talltab1I began thinking more about our conversation.  What could one do to revolutionize the course of the world?  What about the universe?  Could one person effect the destiny of the universe?
talltab1There have been many people who have changed the course of life on this planet; Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  George Washington led a revolutionary war that led to the foundation of what might be considered the most powerful nation in world history.  But did those things change the destiny of the universe?
talltab1It occurred to me that the person who best fit that description would have to be Jesus Christ.  Not only did he save the destiny of every person who would ever live, but He provided a way for us to become like His Father.
talltab1Now there’s a new approach to the question.  If I have potential to become like my Father in Heaven, then certainly I have power to effect the destiny of the universe.
So I guess the next question would have to be, what can I do today to best effect that progress?  Of course, a response as broad as “live the gospel” wasn’t really a sufficient, since I had been striving to do that my whole life.
talltab1Then I realized that I was in the process of beginning one of the major aspects of the perfecting process.  I was about to get married in the temple.  I decided that maybe the best thing I could do to work toward that goal would be to strengthen my relationship with Jenni.  How could I do that?  That question is easy.  I could be kind and loving to her.
talltab1I looked around the store.  Everything was quiet, normal, ordinary.  Customers came in and left.  Employees straightened bookshelves or stood patiently waiting for something to happen.  I had a date with Jenni scheduled for that night.  I decided that tonight I would change the course of the universe – I would show love and kindness towards her.

Jenniology – The Meaning Behind the Music

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Jenniology – The Meaning Behind the Music

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Tab 2 It took me awhile to decide what to study in college.  I had a lot of interests, and narrowing it down was difficult.  By the time it was time to sign up for school, I had it down to either music or genealogy.  I loved studying family history, and I thought it would be cool to go into a profession where I could help others with theirs.  But ultimately I knew I was more passionate about music.  Besides, I spent a lot more time practicing and thinking about music than I did genealogy, so I decided on music.
tabIt wasn’t until I had been going to college for a few years that I realized what I really wanted to have as my life study.  With only a few credits needed to get my Associates degree in music, I met Jenni.  She was the sweetest and prettiest girl I had ever met.  After a year of bumpy on and off dating, I asked her to marry me – the best choice I could have made.  It was then that I pledged myself to the study of Jenniology.
tabWe have been married since October 6, 2004, and I love her now more than EVER.  She is AMAZING!!!!  I am now a full time Jenniologist, and I am learning more every day.  Here are a few random Jenniology facts that I have learned already:

Tab 2Jenni loves candy – especially fruity candy, like Sprees and Bottlecaps.
Tab 2Jenni’s hair curls in a water fight.
Tab 2Jenni’s laugh makes any bad day great.
Tab 2Jenni has taught me that full-time motherhood is the best career possible.
Tab 2There’s nothing in the world like cuddling up to a sleepy Jenni.
Tab 2Eternal family is worth any price.  In fact, it’s worth every price.

Tab 2And she’s teaching me more all the time.  I love her, I love her, I love her!!!  Thanks, Jenni, for being who you are and letting me be your most dedicated student!

Read the meaning behind the music for more of Chas’s original pieces

The Chronic Distraction

I was deeply impressed with President Dieter F. Uchtdorf‘s talk this evening in the priesthood session of the Church’s general conference about not getting distracted by less important things.  It got me thinking about how easily I get distracted from quality family time.

Why is that so stinkin’ easy to do?!  Why is it so easy to push my kids away so I can check my Facebook?  I tell myself it will only be for five minutes, but it never works out that way – and it has nothing to do with Facebook itself.  It’s me.  And if the distraction is not Facebook, it’s the piano, or email, or the garden, or even the dishes.  Sure, those are all good things – things that I should take advantage of.  But must I use the most quality family hours to do them?

I suppose everyone struggles with stuff like that.  That’s why I think it’s SO good to get these reminders once in a while.  Usually the things the church leaders encourage us to do are simply things that our conscience has been trying to get us to do for a long time.  The reminder simply brings it back to our immediate attention – oh, yeah, my family really IS more important to me than the computer.  Oh, yeah, my relationship with my Heavenly Father really IS more important to me than preparing a time-consuming meal.

Then I tell Heavenly Father about my mistake, and how I’ll do better, and I expect Him to say something like, “Duh, dude!  Hulllloooo!”  But instead He just smiles and gives me a hug.  If there’s anything that will solidify a re-dedication, it’s that.

He always does know what works best.  Always.

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Click cartoon to see it big

Making Moments: Questionarriage

Questionarriage

I’ve been ignoring all the marriage questionnaires on Facebook for awhile, but then Jenni and I decided it might make a good Valentines podcast, so we collected a few such questionnaires and recorded ourselves answering the questions on them for our family podcast, which is at http://popcornandpodcasting.blogspot.com/

You can also find it on iTunes if you search the podcasts for “Popcorn and Podcasting.”

Blind Date

I have a suspicion that the only reason the blind date still exists is that for some few individuals, they actually work. The rest of us must suffer for the sake of the few. Years ago, Dad had a friend at work with a daughter my age, and somehow he managed to set me up with his daughter. So, he gave me her phone number, and after a couple weeks of putting it off, I finally called her. We talked for a bit, and reluctantly I asked her out. She agreed, and we scheduled a date for Friday night.

I have horrible orientation skills, so when I learned that this girl lived in Layton, I nearly panicked. I’d never been to Layton, I’d never known anyone from Layton, and I couldn’t even guess which direction I’d have to drive to get to Layton. There is a tradition that men do not like to ask directions. I suppose this may be so for those who have some glimmer of confidence in their orientation skills. I had long since given up faith in mine. I would ask directions at a service station, and follow them until I reached another service station. Then I’d repeat the process until I was within a block or so of my destination. Occasionally, however, I would get to a station who didn’t know the location I was looking for. In such circumstances, I’d wander aimlessly through a city until I came across another service station – or if there was no such station around, I might stop at a grocery store, restaurant, or business office to ask if anyone knew the way to my location. My family knew about my disorder, so they were usually quite willing to help. Dad offered to drive with me to the girl’s house the night before the date, so I’d know how to get there.

When Friday night came, I was a bundle of nerves. This would be my first single date. I’d only gone on group dates before. On group dates, you can always count on someone to carry on the conversation. With single dates, I knew I’d have half the talking responsibility. I didn’t even know this girl. What if we sat there in awkward silence for half the date?
Just to make sure I would make it on time, and in case I got lost, I left 45 minutes earlier than I had to. As I left, I became conscious of everything. It was summer, and the air was hot and stuffy. This gave the inside of the truck a kind of muggy smell, and I wanted to be prepared to impress my date. So I stopped at a service station and bought a car freshener. I got in the truck, popped it out of the bag, and hung it on the rear view mirror. I had never bought a car freshener before, and I was pleased with my choice – forest pine scent. That should give the car a nice fresh atmosphere. I also rolled the window down to let the old air out. Soon I realized the wind was scuffing up my hair, so I closed it.

After a time, I found my eyes watering with the intense scent of pine. Were car fresheners usually this powerful? I snatched the thing off the mirror and set it on the floor. That helped a little, but just to be sure, I opened the window a crack.
To my surprise, I arrived in good timing, giving me 45 minutes to kill.

Perhaps if I’d known Layton better, I could have window shopped. But the risk of getting lost was too great, so I found a gas station, pulled around back, parked the truck, set my watch alarm to wake me, and tried to take a nap.
Next thing I knew, I opened my eyes and saw my date’s dad staring down at me through the window. “Getting a little sleep in, are we?”
“Uh, oh… hi! Yeah, I was just… I was a little tired.”

He laughed and returned to his car. I could tell this was going to be a grand evening. After that I couldn’t sleep.
By now, the car freshener was getting worse. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a green pine-scented mist emitting from the little tree. I fumbled through the truck till I found a plastic grocery bag to keep it in and stashed the chunk of aroma under the seat.
I showed up at Dalina’s door at exactly 6:00. I didn’t want to be early, in case her dad had told her about my gas station siesta, and I didn’t want to be late lest she thought I’d overslept the said siesta. We left without going inside first, for which I was grateful. No need to meet her father.

The date started out alright – you know, the typical awkward silences followed by one of us (me, in this case) asking a dumb question like, “So where did you go to high school?” I’ve only found one decent use for that question. You meet a girl, and would like to know her age, so you ask, “Did you go to Cyprus High?”

“No, I went to Highland.”

“Oh,” you reply, “what year did you graduate?”

“1991.”

Then you know she’s too old. Luckily this was not the case with Dalina. But on a first date, you thrive on smalltalk until you can grab onto something interesting to talk about.
Dalina had already mentioned that she was going to school, so I asked, “So what are you studying?”
“Psychology.”
Now I knew I was doomed. Not only was I on a blind single date, but I would be analyzed by an aspiring psychologist.
“What about you?”

“Music.”

“And what would you like to do with your degree?”

“I don’t know – maybe teach.”

“How do you feel about teaching?”

“Uh, okay, I guess. I think it might be fun.”

“And why is that?”

I know now why they call psychiatrists “shrinks.” I felt very small. I felt like I should be laying on a black couch, staring into a pastel light, she at a desk with a clipboard, saying, “Interesting. Very interesting.” I wondered if I should start making up a bunch of horrible things that happened to me as a child that made me what I am today – unfortunately nothing horrible ever happened to me as a kid. Maybe that’s what made me such a dull date. After awhile, I noticed her eyes were starting to moisten. Had I said something to upset her? Had I offended her before our date had really began. “Do you mind if I open the window?” She asked, “Your dad’s air-freshener is burning my eyes.”

I’d been planning on taking her to the Lion House Pantry on temple square, but unfortunately I had not checked their hours ahead of time. The sign on the locked door announced that dinner was served from 5 to 7. It was 7:15. Short of walking over to the mall food court, the only other place to eat nearby was the Garden restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial building. Desperate to not look like a fool, I said, “Well, that’s alright, I figured we could go up to the Garden restaurant if this one was closed. Does that sound okay?”

“Whatever you’d like.”

I was certain she was doing a psychoanalysis on my decision-making skills. I was determined not to fail. “Let’s do it then.”

I wonder if she saw my bug-eyed expression when I looked at the price of the menu items. “Get whatever you want” I assured her, hoping she didn’t notice the crack in my voice.

It was a delicious meal, quite like home cooking – which made me wonder why we eat at such places. If we did make it at home, it would cost a tenth of the price, and might even make for a more interesting date. But I guess that would require a bit of cooking skills. I decided I’d best get some before going on another date.

After dinner, we had a tour of the conference center. Most of my early dates included a tour of the conference center. I probably could have provided the tour myself after a while, though that would have required a good deal more talking, which I wasn’t very good at.

After the tour I asked her if she’d like to go see a laser show at Hansen Planetarium. I hadn’t seen one in years, and I thought a date would be a good excuse to go. “No,” she replied, “I have lots of homework to do.”
So I took her home. I walked her to the door, and after an awkward moment at the step, I turned and headed back for the car. Thus ended my first single date. I guess it could have been worse. I could have fallen off the roof of the conference center or choked to death on a piece of chicken.
Driving home, I stopped at a service station and chucked the air freshener, riding the rest of the way with both windows down.

I took comfort in something someone once told me, and which I found to be very true in my own experience. It is simply this: all first dates go badly. The first time you go on a date with a girl, with very few exceptions, the date will not go well. Supposing that a first date is a forecast to the potential of the relationship is like saying 7th grade is a forecast of your academic future. Just imagine if that were the case. We’d probably have Olympic spit-wad flings, and the Nobel peace prize would probably go to the one who had shut the largest number of annoying kids in their lockers. Likewise, if everyone assumed that a bad first date meant there was no chance for the relationship, most people would never get married.

That was the last I ever saw of Dalina. A couple days later, Dad came to me saying that he was confused. “Greg said Dalina told him my car freshener was too strong. I don’t know what she’s talking about. I don’t have a car freshener.”