What have we become, midsingles? I know that what my friend was describing is not the norm, and yet I hear over and over again from people who are so tired of "the scene." They are exhausted from the game, from trying to keep up with the Joneses, from trying to stand out in the crowd, from putting themselves out there and trying to "figure it all out" only to realize that none of us have this all figured out. They crave interaction, and yet they feel that so many of the dances, parties, trips and so forth are chock-full of "empty calories" when it comes to deep meaningful connection. Instead of bonding moments, we have created a world of where the quick buzz of an experiential social Twinkie has become the norm.
Let's be honest: somewhere along the way "midsingles" (at least in Utah) translated to "how in the world do I stand out in the crowd of hundreds, no, thousands?" Hence all the spray on tans, shaved chests, perfect hairs, bleached smiles, etc. The media/world tells us that to stand out it comes down to our clothes and our looks. If you don't have either of those, well... good luck out there, soldier. You're going to need it.
And so we stress about our looks, about our outfits, about our incomes or house size or how many toys are in the garage or what brand our shoes are, etc. And when we nail those things, I can't help but wonder if there isn't a bit of pride that sneaks in, the same pride my friend had such a tough experience with? In full disclaimer, my friend is not overweight by any means, but she is not the "blonde-haired, big-boobed Barbies" (her words, not mine) that seemed to get all the Powell attention. I'm not judging any girl who looks like that (or doesn't), but I am saying that this amazingly-talented, beautiful, bright daughter of God should not have been demoted in the social circle just because she did not meet certain physical requirements.
I know that I may upset some readers, but in my opinion there are three main groups of midsingles out there (socially speaking, not spiritually):
1. Those Who Are Sincerely Looking
This is the group that truly wants to find someone to be with, to build a connection and then a relationship and then a marriage with. Sometimes they enjoy the social scene, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they thrive on getting out there and sometimes it is a truly painful experience for them, but they do it anyway in faith. All in all, I'd say this group values physical attraction (because yes, it really does matter), but their main focus is on the heart, the spirit and the mind. They look at who the person is on the inside and appreciate the outside as a bonus.
2. Those Who Just Want the Social...for Healthy Reasons
I totally understand this group. Sometimes you just want to be around good people, to make new friends or just have a mental break from all the demands of life. These midsingles need some time to be social and be uplifted and strengthened and have a laugh or two or ten. They may need support or healing or just love and they come to these events to find it and I pray that they truly do because I've been in that situation. We all have. Surrounding ourselves with good friends in good environments is truly a precious opportunity.
The big difference between this group and the next is that they are inclusive and respectful towards all. Their hearts are truly open and they are so often giving of themselves, even while they seek to get their own feet back on the ground. They don't judge, they don't worry about ego or appearances or anything of the sort. They are there to move forward and help others along the way.
3. Those Who Are Social...for Unhealthy Reasons
This is going to sound judgmental, but I worry a little about this group. These are the people who are so focused on their egos and their appearance and hanging with the "in crowd" that they cause some heartache along the way, if not pain and sorrow, and that includes pain and sorrows for themselves. When you base your value on your looks or paycheck or the amount of dates you get (or don't) then you automatically debase yourself and therefore ignore the inherent worth you have as a child of God. Group 3 tends to judge the book by its cover and "playtime" is their inner motivator. They love the attention and thrive on being at the center of it, but mostly because it is a drug they used to self-medicate from their own secret wounds. They are date-aholics or simply egocentric narcissists who may even say to themselves, "I want to find someone!" but at the end of the day, it is just too hard to give up the party/dance/trip/dating life for the sake of responsibility and commitment. They would rather have the attention of one hundred friends and acquaintances instead of the deep connection of one lover. The first feeds the body through adrenaline and hormones while the seconds feeds the soul.
Now, I'm not a psychiatrist or a specialist or even a dating coach. In fact, I'd be the first to say that I've been in all three groups at various stages of life! Dating is tough, and I don't blame anyone who wants to take a break from it for awhile or has a weekend where they throw their hands up and shout, "I'm so sick of it!" Plus when you add in all the baggage that we carry and blend in the fears of being hurt again, no wonder the party and play lifestyle seems so attractive right now!
But here's the bottom line: I can't help but worry that "the world is too much with us." That is from a poem by the same name written by William Wadsworth. The phrase in LDS-speak has been used to imply that our habits or thought-patterns or general behaviors and motivations have become just a bit too worldly. Could it be that we have adopted a little too much of the "great and spacious building" into our social lives? I mean, wasn't that place all about the fun, the parties, the social status, all while avoiding the work of moving forward and progressing and all the inherent risks involved therein?
"Oh, that Jeremy, he's so boring and old-fashioned and no fun", some may be thinking. And I'm not trying to come across that way. All I'm trying to do is ask the question, "Is the world too much with us, fellow midsingles?" Has the fashion-driven and appearance-focused (or money or success or title or house-size or car year, etc) ways of the world created much of the troubles and difficulties that we all face in dating nowadays? Are we so focused on having fun that we have actually put the brakes on our forward movement? Could it be that in our mad craze to plan and attend more activities or events that we are actually missing the whole point of it all?
As I look at my own dating experiences (the good, the bad, and the ugly) I can't help but agree with another line from Wadsworth's poem that says, "For this, for everything, we are out of tune..."
Despite being a writer and a journalist, this whole scenario has been so hard to put my finger on, yet in my gut I feel like something is off and it is up to us to fix it. We can keep planning activity after activity and dance after dance, ad naseum, but I don't think that that is the solution. I know that we have a LOT of options as midsingles to be social, and yet I think the vast majority of us would agree that something is wrong. And if you are in the first two groups that I mentioned above, you want more (the third group just wants more play).
Which led me to a decision awhile ago: to quit the dating game. What? Who? When? How? Is that event possible?!
You'll notice that I said quit the dating game, not dating itself. In my opinion it is the game that is killing dating. Brutally murdering it, really, and turning it into some awful version of the Walking (Social) Dead. It is keeping up with all the stupid rules and social worldly expectations that exhausts us. It is putting on the "game-face" as I call it, or trying to be what you're expected to be so that you'll get a date or get that person's attention. That's why dating is so tough: we are afraid to admit we had a crappy day or that we are lonely or that the Facebook-driven version of our life doesn't show us facing insecurity or fears or don't always look like we stepped out of a magazine photo shoot (done those; overrated).
Midsingles, we need to get real and to be real. We need to admit we are struggling, that we don't always know what we want, that we are human beings with very human brains and hearts. We need to stop thinking that implants will cover a broken heart or that a nice job will hide a terrible attitude. We need to stop blaming each other (girls, it is NOT all the guys' fault and vice versa) and we need to stop, for the love of Heaven, stop thinking that a busy social life equals success. It does not.
Maybe there is a comparison to be found in Amos 8:12 which if we edit slightly says, "And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to (attend every social event they can)..., and shall not find (what they truly want)." Meaning, as long as we are dating in the fashion of the world, we won't find the deep lasting love that we honestly crave.
Perhaps, just a simple mind-shift that we can all participate in, one that I feel is strongly in line with Gospel principles is that of namaste. If you are unfamiliar with this Hindu word, it is spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called Añjali Mudrā or Pranamasana. In Hinduism it means "I bow to the divine in you". Or in other words, "I recognize the greatness of your soul." It isn't about looks or status or money or anything of the sort. It is a sign of genuine respect for the spark of Heaven found within that person's divine potential.
So when at a party or a dance or a church or any other midsingle-based event, open your heart before your mouth. Namaste.
What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear them! Just don't show up at my place like an angry mob for all this!