She’s Out of My League

After the spiritual high of conference, I think we need something a little more mindless to cleanse the palate.

I saw the movie of the captioned title a couple of weeks ago. It involves a gorgeous, blond bombshell–a “hard” ten, as one character describes her–who inexplicably begins dating a regular joe schlub. His friends say he’s a five; one helpfully gives him extra points for some good qualities he has, trying to raise him to a six, but another friend points out some bad traits, which counteract the good ones and lower him back to a five again. And they enunciate a rule of dating; no one can successfully date someone who’s more than two points above you. It just can’t be done. Even if the other person will condescend to go out with you, the surrounding peanut gallery will be so incredulous that it will be easier to just jettison the relationship than to try to hold it together.

Then Friday night I watched the Kate Beckinsale version of Jane Austen’s Emma. And this “league” business plays a big part in the plot there as well. Emma obliviously tries to set up Miss Smith with men far above her social station in life, and looks down on her farmer-suitor who genuinely wants to marry her. Mr. Knightley is incredulous at this, since the farmer, he informs her, is also far her superior in the social structure of the time. Of course, Emma’s plans backfire in several ways, including when the vicar goes after Emma herself rather than the poor and unconnected Miss Smith, whose only recommendations are being pretty and amiable. The vicar, Mr. Elton, is incredulous that Emma would have paired him with Miss Smith, intoning “Everyone has his level.” Which I take it was the Victorian way of saying “I’m way out of her league–what were you thinking?”

I was also reading about how really gorgeous women have to be careful about how they play their good looks. If they go after the alpha males, the odds are good that the alpha males are going to cheat on them, their beauty notwithstanding–that’s why they’re alpha males, after all. If you go for a less desirable male, he’ll be so grateful and so thrilled to have won the relationship lottery that he’s much more likely to be faithful; but then you’re with, well, a less desirable male. It’s a tricky thing to negotiate.

So how does all of this play out in the Mormon singles context? What about SWK’s famous dictum that any two Saints of the opposite sex ought to be able to be happy together, provided that they are righteous. Do we really believe that?

And how does this work as a practical matter in the singles wards of the Church? My impression is that as the singles get older, the number of women begins to outstrip the number of men, which artificially alters the balance of power, with multiple amazing women competing for a lesser number of very average at best men. And then the men let it go to their heads and develop totally unreasonable standards that they could never hope to enforce in the dating world at large.

What if a perfectly amiable potential partner is interested in you, but you consider yourself out of that person’s league. Is that a righteous stance to take? Is it justifiable? But if you’re simply not attracted to that person, is there anything in the Gospel that suggests you shouldn’t let that be a hindrance?

What I’m trying to get at is that I’m interested in your stories and perspectives on this subject of “leagues” and socially perceived disparities among potential dating partners. How does this play out in practice out in the trenches of Mormon (or any) dating? Your war stories and wisdom, please.


  1. Just to get this out of the way quickly before we go on to more interesting things: the Kate Beckingsdale version of Emma was crap.

  2. John C. talks zombie movies.
    Kevin Barney talks Jane Austen movies.

    My head hurts.

  3. nocuteguys says:

    no cute guys at the singles ward was the reason i started dating non-members and eventually married one of them (he has since gotten baptized and we were sealed in the temple). i say, if there aren’t any desirables you gotta “flirt to convert.”

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Really, Russell? I liked her better than Gwyneth Paltrow.

  5. I was one of 20+ women over age 30 to every guy. And yet I married one, who is way out of my league. I agree, though, that it’s atypical. Most of the available guys were kind of, um, icky. I really didn’t have many criteria, and I don’t think they set a very high bar: doesn’t lie, either has most of his teeth or wears them all the time, doesn’t hurt my eyes to look at him, and can carry on an intelligent conversation. Numbers 3 and 4 in that list seemed like a pretty high hurdle.

  6. I wonder on topics like this how the importance of physical attraction differs for men and women. I don’t think it will be controversial to say (but I could be wrong) that men value physical attraction more than women. Perhaps this is more accurately said a different way: women value other qualities just as highly as physical attraction, whereas physical attraction is often the most important quality for men.

    The way I generally see things work out is that women will compromise slightly on looks to get a man that is good in lots of other areas, whereas men generally won’t compromise as much on looks. Of course, I think part of this is due to the fact that there is such a large supply of attractive LDS women. LDS men don’t have to choose between looks and other qualities.

    Assuming this is true, are most men going to hell because of their shallowness? Or is it okay to give points mostly on looks?

  7. My wife is at least three rungs above me on the scale; she secretly married me for my money.

    For fun my wife and I like to rate various couples in our ward and we usually agree if there is a big discrepancy in the scale–and almost always the man in the couple got lucky.

    I completely disagree with SWK’s thought. If not, I should have married the first girl I ever dated–not to mention several years before I was mature enough to do so. Boy, would that have been tragic.

  8. laurenlou says:

    Wow Kevin, I’m kind of creeped out that you’ve been listening in on every conversation my friends and I have been having for the past six months. Do you have spies in California?

    Seriously, this is our big quandary as single Mormon girls. It seems like if there’s a guy who’s over 25, decent looking, reasonably intelligent, and at least somewhat motivated to do something with his life, he has his pick of about 20 girls who are at least in his league, if not above it. A guy in my sister’s single’s ward honestly asked her, “How are we supposed to pick one?” Classy.

  9. Mike RM says:

    Michael, if you do indeed have money, isn’t that something that would give you points and bump you up on the scale? It sure seems that money (at least to the degree of financial security) is something that women consider important.

  10. I married out of my league.

    To tell the story that usually takes ten hours in one word:


    Thats the key to marrying out of your league.

  11. Melissa says:

    My husband and I have the same pastime as Michael (#7), rating the couples in our ward not just on looks but on amiability, intelligence, etc. In many, many cases the women of our ward are at least 3 steps above their spouses. I definitely attribute this phenomenon to the fact that men have their pick of desirable Mormon women while women have increasingly slim pickings as they age. (I was incredibly lucky to meet and marry a handsome and intelligent Mormon man at the advanced age of 25. I had almost given up on marrying “in the faith.”)

  12. Mike RM says:

    It is interesting that both of the people that rate other couples and find many cases of mis-matches also feel well matched with their own spouse. It reminds me of the disconnect between the approval rating of congress as a whole and people’s approval of their own congressman.

    It is possible that if there is a greater supply of quality LDS women than quality LDS men, then all LDS men get a free point or two just for existing due to their limited supply.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 8 laurenlou, “How are we supposed to pick one?” was hilarious! Thanks for sharing that little tidbit. Sorry the situation in the trenches is so grim.

  14. Ugh. This is so grim. I’m suddenly single, 37 and have three kids- and this is just so depressing.

    The guys in my age-group are likely also divorced (which happens, that’s not a non-starter), but as had been pointed out, have their pick of pretty, bright, wonderful women- women who are younger and maybe aren’t saddled with three kids. The (small number of) men who have expressed interest in me are much older- often grandfathers already, certainly divorced/widowed. I my youngest child is 3, dating someone who’s grandkids are the same age as my kids just isn’t all that appealing.

    Back when I was younger, my cousin told me “If you’re a K-Mart, you don’t get to shop at Macys, and if you’re a Macy’s, you don’t get to shop at Sax.” I thought she was nuts, but evidently, many subscribe to that idea. For me, I care far more about compatibility than looks, but I guess that’s typical to women as well. Basically, I have no clue.

    If anyone wants to go on a date, call me. ;)

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve always sort of thought that the ideal would be for each party to think he or she had won the lottery. Each one would swear he or she was the one who really lucked out. So while each one perceived a disparity working in his or her favor, in objective reality there probably isn’t one and they’re well matched.

    I also have a theory that if there’s some question as to one party being out of the league of the other, the one is putatively out of the other’s league gets to make the call. If she or he doesn’t see it that way, that’s all that matters and the other person should just accept his or her good fortune.

  16. Here’s another vote for Beckensale. I’ve wondered whether the vicar ended up marrying out his league. My sons who have married, have generally married up big time in the looks department. But their wives don’t seem to see that. So maybe that’s key. Marry the blind ones. (grin)

  17. John Mansfield says:

    Since Spencer W. Kimball is being brought into this, here’s a famous quote of his:

    The difficulties and hazards of marriage are greatly increased where backgrounds are different. For a wealthy person to marry a pauper promises difficulties. For an ignoramus to marry one with a doctor’s degree promises difficulties, heartaches, misunderstandings, and broken marriages.

    His words on marriage preceding and following the ones I copied deal with another possible prospective marriage partner imcompatability that many don’t care to have considered as such.

  18. Mike RM says:

    I do have one thought on “SWK’s famous dictum that any two Saints of the opposite sex ought to be able to be happy together, provided that they are righteous.”

    I think this is true, but only with a really high level of righteousness. In fact, it is such a high level that no mortal person can probably reach it. It isn’t good advice to follow then when trying to find a spouse.

  19. #3 nocuteguys– I think your approach is the solution to problems in regards to LDS single marriage prospects and plateauing missionary results.

    I enjoyed (a few years back) when President Hinckley spoke about an enthusiastic recent convert to the church, and mentioned that the church needs more converts like him. The man had been married to a member for many years before joining the church and had been influenced by his wife’s and other members’ examples. How ironic though (and this wasn’t pointed out by Pres. Hinckley) that the now “ideal convert” had at some earlier time just been an “out-of-the-covenant-wrong-person-at-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” marriage tragedy.

    We recently had a Saturday session of Stake Conference where two new members were invited to, and bore, powerful testimonies of their conversion to the church. Both had been married for several years to members (ie. both of their wives had obviously not followed stated marriage counsel.)

    What if singles were encouraged to find and marry good people, with similar standards, who could support the individual’s church membership and participation? An over-thirty single friend said it would sure increase the dating pool… and surely those in the appropriate league.

  20. I had a friend at BYU tell me that Mormon guys are much pickier about looks because they only have one girl to.. umm.. go all the way with. According to her, non-LDS guys get over the whole purely physical thing before they start thinking about marriage, so they are much less picky about their spouses.

  21. (19) So what you’re saying is, you want more of the adult single women in the member-missionary position?

  22. John Mansfield says:

    Here’s something that showed up on Marginal Revolution that Johnny Lingo would have found interesting:

    Physical appearance plays a crucial role in shaping new relationships, but does it continue to affect established relationships, such as marriage? In the current study, the authors examined how observer ratings of each spouse’s facial attractiveness and the difference between those ratings were associated with (a) observations of social support behavior and (b) reports of marital satisfaction. In contrast to the robust and almost universally positive effects of levels of attractiveness on new relationships, the only association between levels of attractiveness and the outcomes of these marriages was that attractive husbands were less satisfied. Further, in contrast to the importance of matched attractiveness to new relationships, similarity in attractiveness was unrelated to spouses’ satisfaction and behavior. Instead, the relative difference between partners’ levels of attractiveness appeared to be most important in predicting marital behavior, such that both spouses behaved more positively in relationships in which wives were more attractive than their husbands, but they behaved more negatively in relationships in which husbands were more attractive than their wives.


  23. (20) That explains the common conception that mormon girls are hot. Its Darwinistic. We are more concerned with looks that the non-Mormon pagans sinners, and therefore breed it into our offspring. My testimony has been strengthened here today. Surely there is a plan in all things.

  24. Heber13 says:

    I’m surprised Mahana and Johnny Lingo were not a part of the original discussion, another fine piece of cinematic work.

    I think looks change over time, and personalities change over time. Good relationships are built on the ability to serve one another and a lot of laughter, IMO.

  25. When a man has obviously ‘married up’ in looks, it is not because of slim-pickings in the singles ward, or evolutionary psychology, or anything like it. It is clearly because that man worked very hard on his mission. I know this to be true.

  26. MikeInWeHo says:

    Yikes, am I glad to be on the outside looking in on this one. Is there really a 20-to-1 ratio of single women to men over thirty in the Church? Where did all the men go?

    Tracy M is the BEST, btw, and gorgeous. Patience my friend. No grandpa-husbands for you!!!

  27. 26 – I believe the prevailing assumption is that single men are much more likely to stop going to church than single women; although 20 to 1 would be hard for me to believe (admittedly I have no firsthand knowledge of this since I’ve never attended a singles ward).

  28. Martine says:

    Re: #20 – Also true in my experience. Non-members still rate looks highly (duh) but as most have had their share of physical experience, it’s less of a concern when considering a potential spouse. Which is one of the many reasons why I prefer to date non-members.

    Case in point – my brother’s friend apparently told him “Dude, I’d totally ask your sister out, but 30 is just so…old.” (Guy in question is 27. 27!!!)

  29. As a 29.5 yearold YSA I gotta say:
    1)Yes, amazing YSA women do out number amazing YSA men. Us older single LDS guys are blessed more than we deserve, IMHO. The Mitt Romney’s and SWK’s of the Church tend to get married young.

    2)Many over 25 year old YSA guys have ridiculously high physical standards. Go to any YSA ward and you’ll see the same 20 guys talking to the same 5 girls, and the less attractive girls notice it too.

    3) IF any two people are rightous they ought to be able to be happy together, but that is a verrryyy big IF. If you have enough faith you can move a mountain too, IF.

    4)I think that if a woman is not attracted to a man, she shouldn’t date him. I don’t care if he’s the next GBH.

  30. I wouldn’t say the ratio is 20 to 1 for single women and single men, but in my experience, it is about 7 to 1 among active members. I often feel like I’m at a disadvantage because I’m a bit introverted. I don’t have the cute, bubbly personality that most of the competition has. That hasn’t really been a problem among non-members, and as much as I would like a temple marriage, at this point, I would prefer a marriage to a non-member over not marrying. (I find I can date much more compatible non-members than members due to the increased size of the dating pool.)

  31. Mike RM says:

    MikeInWeHo: I think that ratio only counted the 30+ year old single guys that (a) have teeth, (b) aren’t painful to look at, and (c) can communicate intelligently. If I wasn’t happily married, I think I would like those odds. It’s one reason I tell my brother that he doesn’t need to be in any hurry to marry, because he will still have plenty of good choices later.

  32. #17 Mansfield reminds me of why we should probably stop batting around Spencer W. Kimball quotes about who should marry whom.

    Sure, this is wise advice:
    “While marriage is difficult, and discordant and frustrated marriages are common, yet real, lasting happiness is possible, and marriage can be, more an exultant ecstasy than the human mind can conceive. This is within the reach of every couple, every person. “Soul mates” are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

    But if we’re going to quote Spencer W. Kimball as an authority on who-to-marry, what will people think when they read this:
    “Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the lines. We hope they will be very happy, but experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages.”
    or this:
    “We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs.”

    That same passage would also reveal to them that marrying someone of a different race is also a selfish decision since it puts one’s own emotional gratification above the ridicule that any children coming from that interracial marriage will face from bigots on the playground. Lovely.

    I’m just saying like we probably shouldn’t be using Bruce R. McConkie quotes to teach people about religious tolerance, we probably should find another general authority to quote when it comes to talking about courtship and picking a spouse.

  33. Kevin Barney says:

    Keri no. 29, I’ve been an advocate of people being open to marrying outside of the church if necessary. I personally think that’s not a bad option to consider.

  34. There is a certain vanity involved when a man says he married up, and probably a certain misogyny, as if the man is saying, “look at the conquest I was able to achieve.”

    That said, I did marry up. Ridiculously, preposterously so. Anyone who has met my spouse knows this. I point this out not out of pride but rather just as a means of highlighting the improbable ridiculousness of my marriage situation, perhaps giving some glimmer of hope to those who, like me, are total losers in despair of ever finding unpaid human companionship.

  35. Starfoxy says:

    What if a perfectly amiable potential partner is interested in you, but you consider yourself out of that person’s league. Is that a righteous stance to take? Is it justifiable? But if you’re simply not attracted to that person, is there anything in the Gospel that suggests you shouldn’t let that be a hindrance?

    Once I went on a date with a young man. I asked him to attend a dance with me, and he accepted. While he was obviously making a good faith attempt to enjoy himself, and be nice and friendly to me, it became obvious that he didn’t want to be at that dance with me. He was a funny, attractive guy, and it would have been great if he had actually liked me back, but he didn’t. I was more interested in reciprocal affection than having the best guy around.
    If a person thinks think they are ‘out of his/her league’ it doesn’t do any one any favors by pretending to like them.

    Think how hurt I would be if that young man had been a better actor, assented to marry me and have several children with me, only for the facade to crack and I find out that the whole thing had been a sham because he didn’t think it would be ‘very christlike’ of him to turn me down just because he thought he could do better.

  36. Starfoxy says:

    I suppose the shortened version of what I was getting at is; Within a marriage relationship, it is better for “I love you” to be the truth, rather than something that would be true if I were a better person.

  37. I didn’t marry above my league. Melissa is every bit as screwed-up and sinful as I am. That our dysfunctions meld together as well as they do is a sign of God’s endless mercy and/or our mutual devotion to the principle of keeping one’s standards low. (Our children, however, are much more spiritual, smarter, and better-looking than all of yours.)

  38. RAF, no offense but I want Melissa’s take.

  39. Unlike Steve in 33, my comment in 10 was very much a comment about “look at my conquest”, I look for every opportunity to tell people how much better I am than they.

  40. Adam Greenwood says:

    “I point this out not out of pride but rather just as a means of highlighting the improbable ridiculousness of my marriage situation, perhaps giving some glimmer of hope to those who, like me, are total losers in despair of ever finding unpaid human companionship.”

    All my men friends, who are losers (but I repeat myself), i tell them to join the church. It worked for me and it worked for Steve E.

  41. My husband and I have the same pastime as Michael (#7), rating the couples in our ward not just on looks but on amiability, intelligence, etc.

    Personally, the idea that people in my ward might be rating my husband and me on such sub-scales to arrive at some sort of general league compatibility score makes me profoundly uncomfortable.

  42. Adam Greenwood says:

    We know, ZD Eve, and taking that into account probably drives your total down at least .3.

  43. To the teeth thing, and the not painful to look at thing, and the intelligent conversation thing, I’d add the “real job” thing. Call me a snob, but as a 30-something woman with advanced degrees and a job that pays well and is interesting, I have a hard time being open to dating someone who drives a delivery truck or is just starting community college. What’s he been doing for the last 12-15 years? Not that I wouldn’t enjoy chatting with such a person at a singles’ activity, but he just wouldn’t seem like an appropriate candidate for my life partner.

    I’m completely open to dating outside the church, and have been for some time. I’ve seen a lot of men join the church after being introduced by a girlfriend/fiancee/wife. But as a practical matter, dating outside the church is often difficult to negotiate. Many men have moral standards I’m not comfortable with. And men with high moral standards often are active in a faith of their own, and would rather not date/marry outside their own faiths. And then there are the guys who mysteriously disappear when they find out I’m LDS…

    My only consolation is that the hundreds of thousands of men who, over the course of human history were killed in wars before they were able to marry, will all be available for dating in the hereafter. ;)

  44. Okay, Russell: next time you tell me how wonderful I am, how you don’t deserve me, I’m going to remind you that you think I’m screwed up and sinful. Just so you know. (Oh, btw, thank Julie for the heads-up; otherwise I’d never have known you wrote that…)

  45. Classic!!

  46. Adam Greenwood says:

    “My only consolation is that the hundreds of thousands of men who, over the course of human history were killed in wars before they were able to marry, will all be available for dating in the hereafter.”

    Don’t settle. If they don’t have an MoH, tell them to look for another ghost chick.

  47. Julie M. Smith says:

    “(Oh, btw, thank Julie for the heads-up; otherwise I’d never have known you wrote that…)”

    My work here is done.

  48. How timely. A couple of days ago I playfully asked my husband “if you could choose between the most beautiful woman – someone fitted to your exact desires for attractiveness, whatever they are – and a woman who was intelligent, both in ways perfectly interesting to you and in ways that you didn’t realize would be interesting to you…who would you choose?” I had to clarify that the intelligent woman wouldn’t be the ugliest woman in the world, just generally unattractive and that the beautiful woman wouldn’t be very smart and would be a very, very slow learner but not wholly incapable. My husband, who is not at all a superficial type, struggled to answer the question. And after twenty minutes of discussion, still could not force an answer.

    He asked me the question and I knew immediately. An intelligent man. I’ve dated beautiful but dumb men and there’s a reason they’re in my past and not my present. I was and am so entertained by the fact that my sweet, sensitive, intelligent husband really couldn’t make the choice. Luckily, neither of us had to make the choice, since each of us has a healthy mix of both qualities. ;)

    I had a social psychology professor at BYU who posted engagement photos of past students as examples during a lecture that dealt with this “league” issue. One of the most memorable (and hilarious) lectures during my time there.

  49. Beauty fades. Stupid is forever.

  50. Adam Greenwood says:

    “Beauty fades. Stupid is forever.”

    Eternally neither is true. Ugliness and stupidity fade, beauty and intelligence are forever.

  51. Both my husband and I think we married up… best marriage EVER. I couldn’t have asked for a better guy.

    That being said I had a co-worker that married (in the temple) young, had 4 kids, husband ended marriage due to midlife crisis. She got remarried (in the temple) had one more kid, husband decided to go back to using drugs and became totally wacked out, she left him. She decided she didn’t want anymore and would just raise her kids and be happy on her own… and low and behold and awesome, AWESOME (did I say awesome… she even did a background check on him before their first date because of her horrid experiences and he came out, get this, AWESOME!!!) man has come along and they are due to be married in July (she even got the kids and first husbands, who btw is still concerned about her and his kids, thumbs up!). I can’t say I know anyone who deserves happiness more than she does.

    So for you single divorced older people out there… it does happen.

  52. Jen (48), that is a “playful” question?

  53. Just some thoughts after reading through the post and comments …

    One could walk away from this with the conclusion that men in the church should wait until they are at least 25 to marry – as that would leverage the dating options to their advantage. I don’t necessarily believe that – but it seems like a possible conclusion. Although I suppose if enough men followed that idea, it would change the dynamic.

    I suspect it would not be possible for a church leader to tell LDS women to date non-members – as a general principle – but I think it would be very possible for the Holy Ghost to okay or inspire such a thing in a specific instance. One only has to consider that without a doubt there are cases of LDS men who are scoundrels and non-LDS men who are wonderful people. I think the Holy Ghost could help a person sort through these kinds of problems and in some cases there might be unique solutions that don’t match up with the general counsel – but that still add up to ideal results.

    Just in regards to the question of interracial marriages (brought up in comment #32) – since SWK no doubt was aware that he was talking to a mostly white church – I have a pet theory (based more on instinct and anecdotal evidence than on any data) that sometimes two white people together in marriage will exacerbate relationship complexes that are unique to white culture. I don’t know exactly how to describe what I’m talking about – but sometimes I think interracial marriages have the potential to create a new and more positive marriage culture than if people follow in their own racial/ethnic patterns or traditions.

    Sometimes differences are a positive rather than a negative thing. I’m not, however, suggesting that people should look for companions who are wildly incongruent to themselves in every way …

  54. “Both my husband and I think we married up”

    One of you is wrong.

  55. re #54 ya, but WE don’t know which is wrong so we are happy :)

  56. Adam Greenwood says:

    Jen, #48,

    obviously your husband couldn’t have been looking for a way to break it to you that he had already decided to sacrifice a little something in the looks department for your brains–because your brains would have already told you this.

  57. Jen, Adam is on to something. That’s really not the kind of question that someone like you needs to worry her pretty little head about.

  58. ZD Eve- I blame this tendency among ya’ll to rate couples as a function of having a THREE HOUR block of church. I believe after three hours the saintliest saints are casting about for some form of entertainment.
    I loathed the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma, I would rather chew glass than see the Kate Beckinsale version and it is with some sadness that I have decided to take the novel Emma out of my semi-yearly rotation of re-reads. I dislike that girl more every time I read it.
    # 15 Kevin: yeah, I think that’s right too. In discussing why we work as well as we do, with my partner, it came to light that we both feel like we won the lottery. There is a closed circuit relationship of feeling honestly overwhelmed with gratitude for the good person that your spouse is that perpetuates the feeling in them. Although I will say, with no small amount of narcissism, that although my partner is by any measure brilliant, hilarious, deeply kind and makes the world’s best grilled cheese; I really did always know that I wouldn’t settle for less than that. And while I’m not generally a humble person, I do find the fact that I managed to find the one person who makes me really happy when so many of my girlfriends who are obviously much, much better people than me have not- mystifying.

  59. It is a running joke within my family that all of the guys (my dad, my five brothers, and I) had to trick our wives (or, in one brother’s case, soon-to-be-wife) to agree to marriage. This is based on the assumption that men are ugly, and women are oh-so-much-better than us in every way.

    My wife gets upset when I say this, but I maintain it is true. Men are not attractive. Magazines for men feature women. Magazines for women feature women. Folks just don’t like looking at men. That’s my theory, at least.

    As far as war stories go, I have a friend who is a stunningly beautiful woman. She married a guy with serious malocclusion and a horrible comb-over. Think hair like Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver” and teeth like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel in “The Simpsons.” They are, as far as I know, still quite happily married. Go figure.

  60. Adam Greenwood says:

    The real answer is probably that when the pheromones are working right you feel more optimistic about the emitter and overrate his qualities. So when the pheromones match up mutually, voila, both parties think they’re getting the good part of the bargain.
    Being a meatbag is less complicated than you might think.

  61. Sorry for double posting, but I just saw more comments after I posted, and I would like to add that my wife says she married up, and I say I married up. While gst says this is not possible, I prefer to say that we have an Escher-esque marriage. It is awesome to behold.

  62. Crazywomancreek,

    There’s another version of Emma that is out there now.

    I haven’t watched it – but my wife loves it. It also got very good reviews, at least the ones that I read.

  63. a grown man told his sons (IN FRONT OF HIS WIFE!) that if you choose an ugly woman to marry she will be indebted to you the rest of her life and serve you like a king to pay you back….

    pardon my complete disgust

    his sons chose not to follow that advice.

    I remember being told premission that because I was graduating early, then going ona mission I would never marry because guys would find me too intimidating-it was a group of about 10 guys who told me this..perhaps the whole step thing in mormon land is different than purely looks

  64. “What if singles were encouraged to find and marry good people, with similar standards, who could support the individual’s church membership and participation? An over-thirty single friend said it would sure increase the dating pool… and surely those in the appropriate league.”

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen the numbers, but the odds of a member spouse going inactive after marrying a non-member are significantly higher than the non-member spouse converting (like 5/1 if I remember right).

    Then again, I could be pulling these numbers out of thin air, so do with them what you will.

  65. Alex, I tend to believe that she just underrated her potential, to your benefit. This is why Warren Zevon sings that he’s lookin’ for a woman with low self-esteem.

  66. re 63 – ooooo ya, my husband would definitely feel it (emotionally and MAYBE physically) if he wear to say such a thing in front of me. Which is fine, because he would never be that insensitive and misogynistic as that. :P

  67. Or rather, he used to sing, before he was dead.

  68. re 64 I hate logic like that. My MIL used it with my husband towards me… “her parents are inactive… so she will most likely end up that way.” I have my own agency, and assigning my agency to someone else is at least mildly offensive.

  69. Let us consult the oracle of Kipling:

    Now, if you must marry, take care she is old —
    A troop-sergeant’s widow’s the nicest I’m told,
    For beauty won’t help if your rations is cold,
    Nor love ain’t enough for a soldier.

  70. Adam Greenwood says:

    “re 63 – ooooo ya, my wife would definitely feel it (emotionally and MAYBE physically) if she were to say such a thing in front of me. Which is fine, because she would never be that insensitive and manhating as that”

    Good job putting that maybe in there, that really salvages it.

  71. re 70… I must admit I would have to restrain myself from slapping him lol

  72. Adam Greenwood says:

    “a grown man told his sons (IN FRONT OF HIS WIFE!) that if you choose an ugly woman to marry she will be indebted to you the rest of her life and serve you like a king to pay you back”

    I guess there are probably less round-about ways of telling your wife that the way she treats you sucks.

  73. the kind of insensitivity (in 63) in a spouse is abhorrent to say the least.

  74. Adam Greenwood says:

    don’t lol when you slap him. Its not mannerly.

  75. re 74 – I have a feeling that if I did he would think he finally pushed me off my rocker… :D

  76. 72-his wife treated him beautifully-her looks were “not on his scale” in an extremely one layer of skin deep king of disgusting way.

  77. When my husband was a ward mission leader, we used to sit down every new companionship and give them a lecture about finding a spouse when they got home.

    It was basically, “Right now you’re on a spiritual high and you love everyone. You need to wait until that fades – because it will. If you pick someone you like when you’re both at your normal level, then you’ll like them on a spiritual high. It doesn’t often work the other way around.”

    I think maybe that SWK statement could hold true if we were able to spend our entire days in service and scripture study. But given many of the missionaries I’ve known, it wouldn’t even work then.

  78. “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife. So from my personal point of view, get an ugly girl to marry you.”

  79. Reese, I didn’t know that was part of the purview of the WML. I guess I would have hated that calling a lot less if I’d known I could lecture the missionaries about their future dating lives.

  80. Danithew- thanks! That actually looks great- esp. the casting, I adore the stylish junkie from Trainspotting. I put it on my Netflix queue than thought to check my library (the 2008 Library of the Year BTW) listing- we own it- hooray! Tell your wife thanks for me.

  81. Well, you know, just magnifying the calling. ;)

  82. Am I the only one humming this, now?
    Thanks, Kevin.

  83. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    I never considered “league” or looks-disparity until I once dated a man so beautiful (and interesting to boot) that it scared me away. There was no way he could possibly be interested in me in the long term. Seeing pictures of him with his family today, and seeing his gorgeous wife, only confirms it for me!

  84. Kevin Barney says:

    Danithew, I very much want to see that new version. PBS played it against the Super Bowl or something like that, so I missed it the first time around. But the longer playing time bodes well for it, I think.

  85. 82

    I remember that date Patricia, it was pretty good, don’t be hard on yourself. It just wasn’t meant to be.

  86. As a 30+ never married man, it’s easy to feel like a complete loser reading this discussion. It’s worse because I don’t have a good excuse. I have most of the qualities that are typically mentioned as desirable: a good education, well-paying job, and I’m frequently described as handsome. I don’t have the most exciting personality in the world, but I am confident and can carry on an intelligent conversation. I’m also an active returned missionary and usually worthy of a temple recommend (let’s just say that it’s really difficult to be totally celibate).

    (True story about feeling like a loser in the Church: after finding out that I was a 30+ single man, my new bishop’s first question was, “Are you excommunicated or disfellowshipped?”. Umm…no, but thanks for getting that out of the way so quickly.)

    The common assumption that amazing women must be throwing themselves at me is simplistic. It’s true that I have plenty of dating options and many ward members try to set me up with granddaughters, sisters, nieces, etc. The problem is that many women think I would be great—for someone else. Most Mormon women won’t settle for a theoretically good guy when it’s time to actually get married (and I wouldn’t want to marry the ones who would settle). Excuses I’ve heard include: I’m not looking for anything serious (from a 28-year-old woman), you don’t make me laugh, you don’t like to travel enough, and you read too much. Of course the truth is that they just didn’t love me. Mutual love is a gift that you married folks should thank God that you found.

    Ironically I feel like the opposite of a loser in the nonmember dating world. I am amazed at the quality of some of the women who express interest. I think the dating scene is almost as grim for them when they get older.

  87. Adam: Eternally neither [“beauty fades” nor “stupid is forever”] is true. Ugliness and stupidity fade, beauty and intelligence are forever.

    I understand why you think this, Adam, because it represents you’re only shot at being smart and nice looking.

    Even so, Christ didn’t die so you could be pretty. His atonement doesn’t cover smarts or looks. The scriptures say that corruption cannot put on incorruption; so ugly here means ugly there, and ugly mortals become ugly resurrected beings. Same goes for the stupid.

  88. re 86 someone like you in the dating world is rare. Maybe those women were trying to figure out why they DIDN’T absolutely adore you… I had a roommates that dated a guy for a while and finally stated to me (and him) “He is perfect, but I’m not attracted to him and I don’t know why…” it was really frustrating for both of them. Chemistry is a requirement, those that don’t wait for it usually end up very very unhappy.

    I always got frustrated as a single adult when people would automatically ask “are you seeing anyone?” I would always respond “Ya, myself, in the mirror…. and I have to say I think I’m pretty great!”… I hated that somehow people seemed to think I wasn’t a “whole” person because I wasn’t married.

    On the opposite side, I now hate it when people only ask about my children… I am MORE than just my ROLE. I’m me, and I happen to think I’m pretty great.

    Don’t let other peoples perceptions get you down (I know it is exceptionally hard). Decide you are just fine the way you are, decide to be happy with it and go do all those things that you want to do with life… don’t wait for someone else to validate you (be that a friend or a spouse… though I admit it’s easier when you have someone to reinforce it).

  89. Eric Russell says:

    “The common assumption that amazing women must be throwing themselves at me is simplistic.”

    If it helps at all, Joseph, after reading that comment, I certainly don’t assume that.

  90. 89 That kills!

  91. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 88 Ouch, harsh.

    My sense is that non-LDS single women over 30 have many of the same problems find appropriate men to date/marry. It’s probably all amplified within Mormon subculture, though. Sounds unpleasant. The return of polygamy would take care of all this (kidding!).

  92. MikeInWeHo says:

    Oops, the numbering got messed up. I was referring to what became comment #89 when I said “harsh.”

  93. This quote from Boyd K. Packer comes to mind:

    “There is a phenomenon involved in courtship that is as strange as anything in human behavior. When a boy and a girl start to relate to one another, if the boy feels a heavy attraction for a girl and pursues her too strongly, surely he will be repulsed. And if a girl is too forward with a boy to whom she is attracted, he will reject her immediately. About all she has to do is telephone him twice and that ends that. While it is absolutely necessary that this deep attraction take place, if one or the other of the partners makes an expression of it too soon, the relationship is destroyed. In the early stages of courtship, if that happens, we say something like this: “I can’t stand anybody who really wants me.” It reminds me of Groucho Marx, who received an invitation to join a prominent San Francisco club. He sent the invitation back with the notation, “Any club that would have me in it isn’t fit to join.”
    This strange phenomenon of human behavior I think [my interjection–this indicated that it is now the opinion of a man, not counsel or revelation of a prophet] maybe has a purpose, and I have wondered if the Lord did not structure it that way, to prevent us from getting together prematurely or too easily, too early.[end opinion] Fortunately there comes a time when they both feel the attraction in about the same intensity and love has blossomed.
    From “Eternal Love,” by Elder Boyd K. Packer, Adapted from an Address given to students at Brigham Young University, Originally published by Deseret Book Company, 1973

  94. re 92- I was going to say… I didn’t think I was harsh in any way…. :D

  95. Josh B. says:

    I feel for those who never got rained on in their missions. The hotness factor increases ten-fold.

  96. Eric Russell says:

    Okay, that was more mean than funny. Sorry. But here’s the thing, Joseph – on a serious note – complaining in public about why chicks don’t dig you doesn’t do anyone any good.

  97. I remember in relation to one guy that we knew, my sister would say: “you don’t date x – you just marry him.”

    Some people are very dependable, solid, good people – they just don’t seem very exciting or charismatic for whatever reason.

    A lot of girls want to be in a romance with a guy who is an artist, guitarist, rebel or whatever … not the returned missionary who does his hometeaching and is majoring in engineering.

  98. re 96 except get them to stop making blanket statements…. maybe? :)

  99. A lot of girls want to be in a romance with a guy who is an artist, guitarist, rebel or whatever … not the returned missionary who does his hometeaching and is majoring in engineering.

    I’ve heard this type of man described as “Joseph Smith on a Harley”

  100. #86 Joseph, I can emphathize a lot with your perspective because it seems very similar to where I was. My mother (and many others) felt I was being somewhat shallow because I highly prioritized physical attraction. I even tried dating less attractive girls, but it’s not something you can force. If the physical (or emotional) chemistry ain’t there, it ain’t there.

    Do make sure you are dating though, and be willing to give girls a chance, as much as it can suck sometimes.

    Fortunately for me, I got married to a wonderful girl at age 27 (she was 25), and it was completely unexpected for both of us. Just keep your head up–you never know what’s coming down the road. But it sounds like you’re living life in the meantime, which is important.

  101. **I just realized my middle paragraph could come across harshly. I meant to suggest that finding motivation to keep dating can be extremely difficult sometimes, and maybe you’ll need to take breaks occasionally, but just don’t call it quits.

  102. Tracy M, I have a secret list of prospective 2nd wives for my DH if I happen to die young. I think he’s a great guy; maybe a little older than you’d like, but our youngest is ten. I’ll be glad to add you to the list.

    I was divorced with two children when I met my DH, who had never married before. Courage, friend!

  103. 99
    Joseph Smith: the original bad-boy rebel Mormon.

    You have no idea how much joy _I_ take in the fact that Emma’s father did not approve of Joseph when they got married.

  104. Thomas Parkin says:

    I feel so happy today. Just wanted to say it. ~

  105. Eric and April,

    Kevin asked for war stories, so I shared mine. I didn’t intend to make blanket statements or sound so much like a complainer. Sorry.

  106. It’s okay Joseph. You’re welcome to harsh our mallow anytime.

  107. nono, I wasn’t saying YOU were making blanket statements Joseph… I was saying you were politely encouraging US not to :)

  108. About both people feeling that they got the better end of the deal — I think it’s possible that both can be right. I’ll use a love languages analogy — Spouse A feels that doing nice things for your spouse is the best way to show love and the best way to be a good person in general. In their view, someone who does good things for others is the best kind of person. So since Spouse B does more nice things for Spouse A than vice versa, Spouse A feels that they got the better deal.

    At the same time Spouse B thinks that saying nice things is the best, so since Spouse A is always saying nice things but Spouse B isn’t as good at it, Spouse B thinks they got the best deal in the marriage.

    Of course in real life all of this is much more complex, but you get the idea. They can both think the other is better and be right according to their own scale of what makes a better spouse/person.

  109. I was backing you up dude! :)

  110. leisurelyviking says:

    Attraction is a mysterious thing. As a woman, I find that friendliness and common interests play at least as large a role in whether I am physically attracted to a guy as his looks do. Also, I find myself looking twice at guys who look like someone I’ve liked or been friends with in the past, even if I wasn’t a fan of the original friend’s looks. I’ve dated guys with a variety of features, and I think the only thing that universally attracts me across all races and body types is long hair and beards. Luckily, my fiance is willing to cater to my preferences.

  111. Wow, Kev throws up this little post, and look at what happens- 110 comments!

    MikeInWeHo, you are a peach, and I love you. Thanks! :)

    RAF- *sincker* that was awesome.

    Ann, why, that’s very sweet.

    I’ve had the bad boys. I’ve had the Harley riders and the drummers in the bad. I WANT a nice, kind, thoughtful, educated, well-read man at this point. Funny how our tastes change in life… Quiet and stable sounds really good.

    One caveat however: As others have pointed out, attraction is a strange thing. Chemistry is a mystery. I have dated men who were very nice, but for whom I just couldn’t get excited over- and committing to a relationship with no fizzle and pop is doing a disservice to all involved.

  112. StillConfused says:

    There is something about someone just below your league — they are much nicer and sweeter.

  113. Reese, I’m so happy to hear that! I know so many good people who ended up unhappily married because the guy was a recently returned RM and the girl paid her tithing and read her scriptures… what could go wrong? Most of them tell me that they were bothered by compatibility issues while they were dating but decided marriage was the “righteous” choice.

    I wish LDS people didn’t marry so young. At 21 most of us don’t know what it is we want in a partner, and by 25 people get so desperate they’re willing to compromise what they want. Perhaps if LDS singles were encouraged to wait until 24 or 25 to get married, the average couple would be more compatible. And we’d all be better educated.

  114. Tracy, I was just messing around. I didn’t mean to be patronizing. I’m sorry if it came across that way.

    I know what it’s like to be in your shoes, and it’s rough.

  115. Stina, I think that last paragraph is so true. I got married really young and, while I would still marry my husband all over again now, I wish I had known what I was giving up by marrying someone who hadn’t (and still hasn’t) gone to college. I made the decision based on what a phenomenally awesome person he is, which turned out to be a great decision based on happiness and parenting and stuff, but we’re struggling to build our small business and I don’t think we’ll ever be well off or even middle class, probably.

    I’d rather have this than money and no awesome husband, but I wish I had realized more about what I was getting into.

  116. Josh B. says:

    #96: Apologies. Didn’t mean to be mean.

    To the original meaning of the post, perhaps something to keep in mind is what we mean by different leagues. It is well known that what one person might find attractive is a complete turn-off to the next person. Establishing a “league hierarchy” (okay, unless we’re only talking about stereotypes) could help to lay some concrete groundwork.

    Further, when you consider how another’s behavior impacts your own life, things can get complicated really fast.

  117. Tracy M says:

    Oh no, Ann. Not at all! I didn’t take it in any way except with good humor. :)

  118. I could write a book on bad advice given me by my bishops. I now pretty much ignore what they have to say and don’t feel the slightest guilt about it. I have gone to my current one for spiritual counselling and that, to me, is where his jurisdiction ends.

    Sorry for the thread derail!

  119. Mommie Dearest says:

    I’ve been watching everyone operate all day under this delusion that we are in control of this, when it’s really a huge crapshoot. Some of us are lucky, some crap out in flames, and some more break even, more or less. The question in my mind is, did God design it to be this way, and if so, why?

  120. I can’t count the number of times someone has told me that I was dating a girl who was “out of my league”. Every time, I have laughed out loud. I thought that was the silliest thing I had ever heard. It’s all in your head. or their head, or something. If I would have given any credence to other people’s silly opinions, I would have missed out on some of my closest friendships, not to mention some of the funnest times of my life. Even since I married, and it’s been almost a decade ago, people have said things like, “how did YOU end up with HER?” I just shrug and say something about what a lucky guy I am. We both find it very amusing. As for the SWK quote, I toss it out. I think that it is vitally important to have some type of shared interest (especially outside of a church setting). But I realize that for some people, the SWK principle works, more power to ya. I got married later than most LDS men, and it worked out fine. I wanted a best friend, not just someone I could manage to get along with. And lets not kid ourselves, none of us are really righteous are we?

  121. #86 I entirely agree. I think we have too many marrieds here with rose-colored glasses. LDS girls are not nearly as ready to settle as most of the posts here suggest.

    #87 Zion must increase in beauty and holiness, so yes, in the long run, the atonement does cover beauty, though I suspect you were being factious.

  122. #119 Exactly – it is a crap shoot, much like trials in life are. Some are lucky and some are not.

    What is funny, is if a girl complains, it is the guys fault, but if a guy complains… he is just a loser. Well, I think it is funny anyway.

  123. Huh, my husband and I were discussing this topic the other day. So, this ‘rating’ thing in more scientific terms refers to assortative mating. Basically, people choose mates who are approximately equal in terms of evolutionary fitness, not because don’t want to marry up, but because everyone else doesn’t want to marry down. Supposedly the risk of infidelity is much higher if one partner is significantly more fit than the other (though the study in 22 suggests there’s some nuance there).

    I was proposing being a religious male must have the potential to add one or two points to a guy’s looks total to make a lot of the couples I know make sense. (My husband’s still unconvinced there’s any evolutionary advantage to religion, that evidence notwithstanding) Sure, most couples are well-matched in terms of looks, but it isn’t uncommon to see guys with hotter wives, which suggests to me that has to be a trait subject to sexual selection. Of course, money (or money making potential) and intelligence factor in strongly, too.

    Anyway, if any of you are still reading this, you can probably tell why I ended up with an atheist scientist for a husband. Oh, who also happens to be very cute :)

  124. MikeInWeHo says:

    That could get you murdered, Ann. Tracy M plays hardball.

  125. I married out of my league in the looks department, that’s for sure. He is/was SO CUTE!!! After 25 years together (21 of them married), he’s still super cute. The trick was that he is an introverted artist who basically is too shy to ask for dates. We’re compatible because I’m super introverted too. I think we ended up together because once we started hanging out together we both figured it would be too much emotional trouble to switch gears. :-)

    The thing that takes off league-points is that he is an agnostic non-practicing lutheran, so I don’t have the spiritual support I need. But it’s all a series of trade-offs, isn’t it? Besides, I don’t think anyone in church would have wanted to go out with me. What RM would’ve understood a non-bubbly and cute avant-garde wanna-be who went to Yoko Ono concerts? Never would’ve happened.

  126. “I understand why you think this, Adam, because it represents you’re only shot at being smart and nice looking”

    Why, no. It represents my only chance of fading.

    Properly faded, I hope to be the Witch King of Angmar and boss around orcs like you.

  127. I married a fairly recent convert when I looked my absolute best at 25 years, 125 lbs, 5’10”, practically anorexic. Now, six years, several pounds, two kids and a divorce later, I’m not really physically “attractive” any more. I’ve worried about it, yes, but then I realized that I’m grateful for it. Maybe this time I can find a man who isn’t so obsessed with looks that he can be a worthy priesthood holder who doesn’t emotionally abuse me.

    And if not, I’d rather stay unmarried. I’m happy, now. I can be me again.

  128. John Mansfield says:

    It’s curious how much these comments are focusing on appearance. The “Out of My League” thing should bring up more thoughts about social class, but perhaps a parity of social class is being assumed, and commenters are focusing on the choices people make seeking others within their class.

    The place I work is an old naval facility that over the decades has become surrounded by an affluent inner suburb. As I drive into it from my outer suburb home, I see the men in their suits and nice cars driving off to their offices in the city and the women jogging through the streets, and I think, how nice that each is doing his or her part to maintain the qualities they brought into the marriage, be it financial or physical attractiveness.

  129. Elouise says:

    Wonderfully interesting discussion! You’ll forgive an old firehorse for pawing at the door to make reference to the Wife of Bath, whose Hag posited a related marriage choice: would the Knight prefer to have her as a wife who was (a) foul and faithful, or (b) fair and faithless? [Some of Chaucer’s sources put the choice thus: Fair by day and foul by night. ]

    Then comes the modern-sounding ending: the Knight tells the Hag to make the choice. Given authority over her own life (and over her husband), the Hag becomes both fair and faithful, by day and by night. The Wife of Bath herself concludes with a plea that Jesus Christ send all women husbands who are young, meek, and fresh in bed, and the grace to outlive their husbands.

  130. Kevin Barney says:

    I love the literary contribution to the discussion, Elouise!

  131. StillConfused says:

    I think the key is not whether they are actually out of your league but whether they think they are. The men who have told me that they were a catch and I was lucky to be with them were the least desirable.

  132. All I can say is that I am glad that I am not dating and knock on wood hope that never changes.

  133. Peter LLC says:

    I see the men in their suits and nice cars driving off to their offices in the city and the women jogging through the streets, and I think, how nice that each is doing his or her part

    What I find frustrating in my relationships is having to be rich and good-looking for us both.

  134. A kid in my husbands ward when he was growing up married a very rich girl. This kid was middle class and when he and she (they were very young) started out on life were dirt poor. The wife couldn’t get her spending habits under control because she didn’t fully understand how money works especially when it is tight. It ended up killing the marriage because she couldn’t grasp that life didn’t work that way (spend what you want) for everyone.

    Class differences can kill a marriage if they are allowed to.

  135. On the opposite side, My parents were very well off while I was growing up, but as soon as I started to not appreciate things they simply stopped letting me have them… while appreciation and money don’t work the same, it did keep me in check as far as thinking the world “owed” me something.

    My husband’s family is solidly middle class and we have never had any problems with the disparity in social classes (though I do think that one set of grandparents may feel outstripped by the other… but my parents try really hard not to do that).

    I think it all depends on how much self control a person has an dhow much they have been taught as a child… not so much social status.

  136. John Mansfield says:

    Self control and proper teaching of children is important and present or absent among upper, middle, and working class families. Social status still exists though and is quite a different thing then whether someone is a good person with good parents. In the U.S. it is mostly, though not entirely, a matter of our income and that of our parents. The daughter of a successful doctor who accepts the hand of an HVAC technician is choosing a different world for her children than the one she is leaving; few would make such a choice.

  137. John Mansfield says:

    ” . . . as I started to not appreciate things they simply stopped letting me have them . . .”

    Did they change the school you were enrolled in? Cut back on family vacations? Cancel music lessons?

  138. OK. I am totally surprised noone has mentioned the great old movie “The Enchanted Cottage” here yet. One of my all-time favs about the transformative power of love. See it if you get a chance.

  139. Stephanie says:

    Social status still exists though and is quite a different thing then whether someone is a good person with good parents.

    I don’t know that this is entirely true within the church. My dad left our family when I was fourteen, and our social status changed considerably. We went from being one of the “good” families to “that” family. It was obvious. I seriously dated a boy from another stake for about a year while I was in HS, and I could tell that his family was leery of me and my family. I think it would have been uncomfortable if I had married him (even though I would say our social standings now, after I’ve completed several degrees and he never completed college, are very different). I could tell with several boys I dated that my family situation (no father in the picture whatsoever) was a liability.

    On another note, I crushed on a guy in college who wore very nice clothes. I noticed one of the major brands he wore the most and went to the store to buy a pair of jeans in that brand. I thought that if I wore them, he might notice me. When I saw the pricetag, I decided that no guy was worth spending that much on jeans. Within a week, I saw another girl within our social circle wearing one of those jeans. It was uncharacteristic of her, and I knew exactly what she was up to. :)

    I ended up marrying someone as cheap as me, and he ended up marrying another girl I knew before I met him (a girl who I thought was kind of a snob – she definitely wore clothes that were expensive enough for him).

    Third thought, there have been two couples that I’ve noticed as they’ve walked into church and remarked to my husband, “Wow, they are mismatched”. The women were beautiful and the men were beyond dorky. In both cases, the men divorced the women soon after (one with a beautiful new baby girl).

    Which leads me to my last thought. My mom always told me to marry a good-looking guy because the ugly ones will stray as soon as someone else pays attention to them (kind of the opposite of conventional wisdom). My husband is pleasant-looking, but he was also a diamond in the rough. If I had met him in my shallower days, I don’t think I would have paid attention at all (as it was, it still took about 5 months for me to notice he existed). But, I was able to look past the hair (cut by his dad) and clothes (purchased by dad) and see the handsome, talented, sweet man underneath. So, I married him and took him to the hair place and told them how to cut it and bought him new clothes. He’s overcome some of his shyness and finished his PhD and has held leadership callings, and now it is apparent to the rest of the world just what a catch he is. The only problem is that he doesn’t quite know how to handle it. I was the first girl he dated and kissed, so he doesn’t have much (any) experience telling girls no. This is a challenge when women come onto him, and I wish he were more skilled at 1. telling when it is happening, and 2. stopping it before it becomes really awkward.

  140. I ended up marrying someone as cheap as me, and he ended up marrying another girl I knew before I met him (a girl who I thought was kind of a snob – she definitely wore clothes that were expensive enough for him).

    It took me three times of reading this paragraph to figure out that you were not claiming to be in a polygamous marriage. Probably a few to many he/shes for this story to be easy to decipher.

  141. Patricia Lahtinen says:

    Is there an official “league” scale?

  142. Tatiana says:

    I reject the very idea of leagues. To me the whole idea is an ugly, even an appalling one. I must be quite different from most other people, since so many normal human ideas seem completely foreign to me and yet seem to feel ordinary and unexceptional to many others.

    Are leagues supposed to be about brains? Righteousness? Looks? Money? Classy behavior? Education? Power? In what league is the Dalai Lama? In what league was Albert Einstein? How about Mohandas Gandhi? Thomas Edison? Dostoyevsky? Thom York? Kurt Cobain? Friedrich Nietzsche? Bill Gates? How about Barack Obama? Malcolm X? Jesus?

    I have no idea what league I’m in, nor that of any guy I ever liked. Every guy I’ve loved was an amazing wonderful individual in his own way, in a league of his own, if you like. I guess that’s the only answer I have. =( I suspect that must make me undateable.

  143. Are leagues supposed to be about brains? Righteousness? Looks? Money? Classy behavior? Education? Power?

    It’s assortative mating–basically, you want a spouse who values roughly the same things you do and is about as evolutionarily “fit” as you are. Looks are typically a good first cut, since traits we consider attractive are typically well correlated with ability to produce lots of healthy kids, which is probably why so many people comment on looks first.

    We also tend to advertise our other good traits (money, righteousness, power, intelligence, creativity, and whatever else you care to think about that’s attractive to the opposite sex) with outward signs–which is a big part of why white shirts, ties, and being clean-shaven for men are so heavily emphasized. Wearing clothing that is dictated by your religion is a way of advertising your righteousness and thus your positive evolutionary fitness. Wearing expensive, attractive (or unattractive but somehow trendy) clothing is a way of advertising your wealth and power. Education and intelligence may be a bit harder to advertise, but there kind of is a way that academics dress that does advertise who you are and your social standing.

    Maybe I’m weird (okay, maybe definitely), but I actually think it’s kind of fun to think about leagues and what traits do work into the ranking. Because you do see people who are “poorly matched” based on outward appearances and it’s always fun to wonder what it is or was that made up the difference. It’s also amazing to me that scientists think about leagues and ratings exactly like everyone else, but applying different terminology (which is just another kind of gate-keeping, and amusing to think about in its own right).

  144. Naismith says:

    “I reject the very idea of leagues. To me the whole idea is an ugly, even an appalling one.”

    I agree in a way. In another, it is helpful to know that such things exist. I kinda wish I had read this before dating my husband, but maybe not. It wouldn’t have changed anything. Just helped me understand his family’s angst at me reaching out of my league to snatch their son.

    He thought we were well matched, but his parents thought he was multiple leagues above me. Not only was I a convert, which was bad enough because it meant I wasn’t from a “good” family. But I also had a child when we married. Let’s just say the tears at the wedding were not tears of joy.

    Never mind that I was a faithful member when we met, and we married in the temple. That wasn’t good enough.

    As it turns out, he was a catch in many ways and not in other ways. Being the wife of a very successful person who travels a lot is hard. Being a bishop’s wife is difficult. We didn’t expect either at the time we were dating, and my strength and flexibility has been a great blessing to him.

  145. Yikes! As a YSA, the thought of dating out of my league makes me nervous because I don’t want people to look at us and wonder about such a mis-matched couple! My parents insist that it doesn’t matter, and that I shouldn’t overlook someone less attractive, or less educated, or more awkward than me, but it’s hard not to wonder if I could do better….

  146. “The daughter of a successful doctor who accepts the hand of an HVAC technician is choosing a different world for her children than the one she is leaving; few would make such a choice.”

    Really? My HVAC guy makes tons of money and goes paragliding every weekend. I don’t know many doctors with his same level of income and free time and lack of student loan debt.

    Let me help you out Tatiana:

    “Are leagues supposed to be about brains? Righteousness? Looks? Money? Classy behavior? Education? Power?”

    It starts with looks and can be adjusted upwards or downwards depending on some of the other factors you mention. Here are the definitive, non-debateable answers to your questions:

    “In what league is the Dalai Lama?”

    Easy 10. Good looking, not rich but comfortable, not a good tipper but great at golf (big hitter the Lama), great personality and a little thing called total consiousness.

    “In what league was Albert Einstein?”

    7. Looks like a crazy homeless person, not a real nice guy, but gets all the smart points.

    ” How about Mohandas Gandhi?”

    7. Small, scrawny, poor, nearsighted, doesn’t like sex, but gets some points for being, you know, The Great One. Before you ask, Wayne Gretsky is a 10.

    “Thomas Edison?”

    9. Not really great looking but racks up the smart points and some extra for just being awesome.


    6. Points deducted for being a depressing Russian.

    “Thom York?”

    8. Looks creepy but gets tons of talent points.

    “Kurt Cobain?”

    7. Good looking guy with extra points for talent but loses points for being insane and a drug addict.

    “Friedrich Nietzsche?”

    4. Points deducted for being German and crazy.

    “Bill Gates?”

    6 on looks but moves up to a 9 because he has all the freaking money.

    “How about Barack Obama?”

    Hard 10. What can you say? The dude has the whole enchilada.

    “Malcolm X?”

    8. Good looking guy but loses points on personality. Too contentious.


    8. Decent looking, nice, articulate guy, with great hair and a lot of friends, but no house or vehicle (except a donkey?) and gave up a good paying job to be an itinerant preacher and rabble rouser. Also, loses points because he has a criminal record. Gains some points for being the Messiah and Savior of the world, but let’s face it, those jobs require a lot of travel.

    Hope all of that helps.

  147. Fletcher says:

    MCQ wins the internet for the day. That was awesome.

    Though Barack Obama does smoke, so that should reduce his points. No one wants to make out with an ashtray.

  148. Kristine says:

    Yeah, that’s a comment to remember come Niblet time. Mark it, Ziff!

  149. MCQ – in regards to one of those personalities, there was no mention of the King of Kings factor.

    Being a divine emperor is a pretty big deal.

  150. MCQ – I challenge two of your conclusions

    Thomas Edison, by all accounts, was a selfish d-bag/megalomaniac – should lose at least 3 points for this.

    Friedrich Nietzsche can stand at a 4 if you don’t believe the syphillis diagnosis, but if the diagnosis stands, he’s a 2 at best.

    Other than that, bravo.

  151. Kevin Barney says:

    Wow, MCQ, now that was enlightening! Definitely Niblet-worthy.

  152. Tatiana says:

    Wow, I’m so proud to have inspired such a great answer! And seriously, that’s exactly what I was getting at. Einstein: weird hair, horrible personal grooming and never wears socks == 3 to 5 at best. So is that how we rate people? Jesus: when his mom came to see him he snubbed her in favor of his groupies. Would treat wife similarly to mom so deduct big points for that. Isn’t this kind of what feminists get all upset at guys for doing to women? Reducing them to some kind of checklist: oh, small boobs and can’t cook, deduct points! I feel like MCQ totally gets what I was trying to say. People are individuals. The whole idea of leagues is revolting.

  153. John Mansfield says:

    “‘The daughter of a successful doctor who accepts the hand of an HVAC technician is choosing a different world for her children than the one she is leaving; few would make such a choice.’

    “Really? My HVAC guy makes tons of money and goes paragliding every weekend. I don’t know many doctors with his same level of income and free time and lack of student loan debt.”

    Yes, really. A doctor with ability can readily bring in a quarter million a year. The only way an HVAC technician will ever make more than half that is by owning the company and having other technicians work for him, and then he’s a small business owner, not a technician. Is there any debate that a large segment of the laboring population is capable of work that brings in a median income, more or less, and a smaller group is able to earn three times as much?

    Free time, enjoyment of life, and even financial stability can be beside the point. In retirement, my father’s income was about $2,000 each month, and he only spent half. His finances were extremely stable since his habits were so inexpensive. Still, no one who visited him at his trailer or met him fishing at the lake would ever have mistaken him for a retired cardiologist.

  154. Have you talked to a cardiologist lately? There are a lot of them out of work around here.

  155. Steve Evans says:

    Because people in Utah have no heart.

  156. John Mansfield says:

    Where is this amazing place where the furnace repairmen are millionaires and the physicians are drawing unemployment?

  157. There is a glut of doctors and lawyers on the Wasatch Front. Ask anyone. Even (or maybe especially?)cardiologists. I know one who is doing nothing but varicose vein operations because he couldn’t get work in cardiology. No problem, really, but I doubt he’s making a quarter mill/yr.

    I didn’t say my furnace guy is a millionaire, but he seems very well off, plus debt and care free, at least compared with a lot of young doctors and lawyers I know. Starting out with no student loans makes a big difference.

  158. Great post. The whole league thing is a great conundrum, even in the church.

    I once read a study that talked about how women in general tend to down-play their beauty, thinking they are uglier than they are, while men in general tend to over-play their looks, thinking they are better looking than they really are. It all makes for a big mess.

    If guys will say to themselves (of physical attractiveness), “Maybe I’m being a little too picky,” and if girls will say, “Maybe I shouldn’t be so intimidated by the better-looking guys,” perhaps people will see that they have a few more opportunities than they think they do.