The Reciprocity Resolution

One of the significant memes from this past General Conference was a concern that so many of our people are not getting married. As usual, men just aren’t getting with the program and need to shape up and hop to it.

Mormon marriage after the BYU years is going to be a difficult proposition no matter how we slice it. In most areas of the Church the demographics make it challenging. But I would like to make a proposal that I believe has the potential to help matters along somewhat.

An allusion was made in conference to our culture expecting the man to initiate dates, and that was respected and taken at face value. But as much as we love and respect our general leaders, this is the kind of point where they should not be considered the final authority. The last time most of them actually went on a date with a woman not their wives was in the first half of the 20th century. And yes, that was a pretty hard wired cultural expectation at the time.

But we’re now well into the 21st century. And there is no reason that the stereotype of the prim woman sitting patiently by the phone hoping for it to ring has to play out in our dating culture today.

So what I want to suggest is that there ought to be complete reciprocity between men and women in initiating dates, as well as in proposing marriage. Either may take the initiative; it shouldn’t matter in the least either way.

Men intiating dates and proposing marriage is pure culture. Neither of these is a priesthood ordinance. And the culture has moved on since the time our GAs were young. Even if the ambient culture isn’t quite all the way there yet, whatever happened to our countercultural sensibilities of creating a “style of our own?”

I haven’t followed the Mormon Bachelor closely, but I know a Mormon bachelorette just got married as a result of that process. And I saw an interview with one of the contestants asking him what he had learned, and his response was that he had learned that dating is a numbers game, and to succeed at it you need to go on a lot of dates. Of course they aren’t all going to work out, but the more dates you go on, the better your chances for success.

Asking someone out on a date is hard. You’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position. You’re acknowledging you find someone interesting and attractive, and facing the very real prospect that that person will reject you. But if we change things up so that anyone can initiate a date, that will increase the numbers of date requests, which will increase the numbers of dates, which will increase the numbers of eventual relationships stemming from said dates.

Yes, the demographics are hard, but they’re not impossible. I sometimes attend single adult conferences to teach workshops. I was at one maybe six months ago, where there were about 70 mid-singles in attendance. Sure, there were more women than men, but not by a huge margin. And there were men there that seemed decent looking and otherwise normal. But I had the strong impression that there is no dating whatsoever going on in that group of geographically available Mormons, even though there were plenty of normal, attractive people there. Maybe they’re all shell shocked or something. But encouraging women to initiate dates, assuring them that it is by no means unladylike or improper to do so, would help to stir the pot at the very least.

I know some families where the women took the initiative and asked the men out who eventually became their husbands, where it almost certainly would not have happened otherwise. And these are great families. So it can be done, and it can work. We’ve just got to get beyond this silly cultural reluctance we have.

Therefore, in the interests of the Church as expressed by our General Authorities at the April 2011 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I make the following proposal:

RESOLVED, that from this date henceforth brothers and sisters in the Church shall have complete reciprocity in the privilege of initiating both dates and marriage, and there shall be no social stigma whatsoever attached to any relationship that should result therefrom.


  1. My wife asked me over for dinner for our first date — I’m very glad she did!

    Dating, as we understand it in the United States today, is not a gospel principle. No married couple in the Bible or Book of Mormon fell in love through dating. I don’t know that Joseph Smith ever dated.

  2. Hear, hear.

  3. Yep. And I want to hear some GC talks scolding the sisters for their failure to ask men out and propose marriage. ;)

  4. When our instructor was brow beating men into getting dates at Institute I mentioned this concept and almost got hissed out of the room. I used the same language and reasons as you but apparently I was some kind of uncultured Visigoth for doing so. So I agree, but I think church culture has a long way to go.

  5. I’m pretty sure my son would still be single if it weren’t for the persistence of his now-wife in getting him to date her (that and the prodding of both mothers). So I happily endorse your resolution.

  6. Duke of Earl Grey says:


  7. WVS beat me to it. Hear hear.

    I have twin daughters, age 8. I’ll be teaching them that there is no reason why they shouldn’t ask boys or men out on dates, and even initiate marriage proposals if they wish. I strive for full marriage equality with my wife in all decision-making, household responsibilities, child-rearing, and income-generation. I have a feeling that our modeling will help our daughters expect the same sense of shared leadership and decision-making capacity from their future relationships, including the right to initiate romantic relationships and propose significant commitments.

  8. Eric Russell says:

    RESOLVED, that from this date henceforth brothers and sisters in the Church shall have complete reciprocity in the privilege of initiating both dates and marriage, and there shall be no social stigma whatsoever attached to any relationship that should result therefrom.

    Who is preventing this reciprocity and who is enforcing this stigma?

  9. I was the one to formally propose marriage to my wonderful wife 22 years ago, but it was she that first broached the subject of marriage that initiated our unofficial engagement.

  10. In fact, our first date was the result of her jokingly asking, “so when are you going to ask me out?”. And this is right in the LDS Institute building.
    She completely sensed my shyness.

  11. Amen and amen. Nail hath been hit on head.

  12. @Morgan D, don’t you mean Bedlamite?

  13. Absolutely, Kevin – and that message needs to be preached at every level of the Church.

  14. No, I do not agree! Biologically, women should be making the choice, while the men present themselves as viable candidates. “So, when are you going to ask me out” is nudging the man to pursue the woman. Asking the man out more than once, baking treats to give to the man, arranging dates, etc., etc. shows that the woman is much more interested than the man. An interested man does not have to be persuaded – he is hard-wired to pursue with single-minded focus.

    I would rather be single than married to a man who had to be persuaded to be with me.

    Also, lack of initiative in dating will almost surely translate into lack of initiative in marriage (laziness, apathy to church, inability to get or keep a good job, disinterest in helping around the house, etc., etc.). Marriage is serious business for a woman – we risk so much when we choose a mate. Our welfare and the welfare of our children depend so much on the character of our husbands. If a young (20 – 30) man is not interested or motivated to pursue a young woman, then what will he be like in his 40s or 50s?

  15. Mark Brown says:

    Eric, (8)

    I think comment # 14 answers your questions.

  16. Mark Brown says:


    Of course it is only men who lack initiative, and of course no man would ever think that his welfare and the welfare of his children would depend on the character of his wife. Heaven forfend.

    This entire dysfunctional discourse on gender is so frustrating.

  17. Angie’s comments fit my perception of how most Mormon women feel about this. Guys who don’t take the initiative are seen as unattractive doormats.

    I’ve developed an admittedly over-generalized and possibly offensive theory about single Mormon women. I have more success dating nonmembers. I have been amazed at the quality of nonmember women who have shown interest and taken the initiative. The Mormon women I attempt to date, despite being less attractive and less accomplished, aren’t as interested in me. My theory is that single Mormon women still have a teenager-like desire for the alpha male who romantically sweeps them off their feet. I don’t know if it’s the culture they grew up in or just lack of dating/relationship experience, but it’s what I’ve observed. The nonmember women I date have been there done that, and seem to be more open to a quieter/less traditional courtship.

  18. Eric Russell says:

    Angie says exactly what I wanted to say but couldn’t because it would have come off the wrong way coming from a man. Her comment accurately represents the feelings of the vast majority of single women I know. (And for the record, just in case any single women I know are reading this, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling this way.)

    Bottom line here: anyone who thinks that the key to “reciprocity” is removing some “social stigma” is chasing ghosts.

  19. I would love for the social stigma of women asking out men to be removed. I find that women tend to be bigger police of this norm than men. Men don’t seem to mind if I ask them out, but the women act like I’m loose for asking men out.

    And, for what it’s worth, I’ve found the same thing about LDS men that Joseph claims to have found about LDS women. The non-LDS men I date are more interested in me, more respectful of me, and don’t act like arrogant cavemen.

  20. Bro. Jones says:

    Echoing what Joseph said. (Can’t see comment numbers on my phone.) One of the major (and perhaps only) sources of power and control available to Mormon women is acting as the “gatekeepers” to dating and marriage. But at least in my dating experience (mid-90s), rather than using that power in the way suggested by the OP, a lot of orthodox Mormon girls still wait for men to make the first move, then act extra picky.

    Dated and married (and converted) a nonmember, no regrets.

  21. While I agree that General Authorities may be out of touch on many issues regarding singles in our culture, I do not agree that women should begin being pursuers en mass. In general, I agree with Angie. Women do not encourage manhood by pursuing males who are somehow unable to qualify for the term “man” in the first place.

    Our logistics do not assist our males because YSA wards do not encourage manhood. Instead they remove most of the locally available men (i.e. married) from view on Sunday, thus surrounding males in their 20s with mostly each other. The obvious result of removing most of the available role models is an extended adolescence that now handicaps many of our singles long into their 30s.

    Put another way, if you’re 25 and an RM you don’t have to date to be surrounded with nubile women. They are made available at church every week by virtue of the YSA program. With no impetus to pursue, YSA males can pass an entire decade… the most important decade of their young lives… playing Halo and WoW to their hearts content and STILL be part of a viable social scene with little to no effort.

    YSA wards do not serve our young people.

  22. Keri,

    On behalf of Mormon men, I apologize.

  23. Hmmm, I can’t deny that Obolus makes some good points about YSA wards. Perhaps a better approach would be for YSAs to attend regular family wards, while having access to many different kinds of YSA activities.

    I know I’m stating the obvious, but YSA wards are not all the same. I’ve been in wards that had a lot of more mid-to-late twenties members who were normal, responsible adults who had jobs, their own homes, etc., and in those wards there was definitely a good sense of community. There was always someone to call and always something to do.

    In contrast, I was in a ward where most people (including myself) still lived at home with their parents, and that was by far the worst YSA ward I’ve ever been in. Rarely did people get together outside of any official Church activity. There also seemed to be fewer marriages that came out of that ward. So maybe we should do a better job of encouraging our YSAs to move out of mom and dad’s house when it’s financially possible.

  24. People seriously think there’s a problem with **equality** in the ability to initiate dates and marriage proposals – that if a woman really loves a man, for example, and he simply moves slower naturally than she does that she has to wait until he’s ready to propose?

    This post isn’t suggesting any kind of prescription that all should follow. At the heart, it’s saying everyone should be able to act in whatever way makes sense to and for them in the area of initiating dates and proposing marriage.

    I haven’t read a contrary view yet that addresses that central point and makes. Everything so far written as a “rebuttal” acts as if Kevin is advocating a traditional role reversal – and that just isn’t in the post.

  25. Eric Russell says:

    Ray, I think you’re misreading the comments here. No one disagrees that people ought to be able to act how they want to.

  26. Sexual assertiveness does not a “man” make.

    I would much prefer my son grow up to be honest, intelligent, faithful, and happy but a little passive than the inverse. Sure, if he were to be all that and also confident/assertive, I’d be happy with that too.
    But a couple people on this thread seem to be confusing personality with virtue. Some people are born alpha and some people are born beta, it is idiocy to attribute virtue and greatness to something inherent (and possibly biological/genetic) to a person’s personality.
    Point me to the Be-attitude that states that men must be domineering.
    Show me the eleventh commandment that insists a boy must be assertive.
    Expound for me the section of D&C that claims it is sinful for a male to be meek.

    If you can’t do that, then just get over yourselves.

  27. Eric, some of the comments seem very clearly to say that women should NOT initiate anything in these matters – no matter how they personally feel – and that men who aren’t assertive in these areas are wimps not worth considering as a mate. Not a lot of the comments, but some of them.

    In other words, what B.Russ just said.

  28. Eric Russell says:

    You’re missing the point, B.Russ. It’s actually not an argument. It’s not something you can counter.

    Ray, no. No one is saying women shouldn’t. And I don’t personally know anyone who feels that way either.

  29. Gillroy,

    [quote]Perhaps a better approach would be for YSAs to attend regular family wards, while having access to many different kinds of YSA activities.[/quote]

    The funny thing is, this is exactly how most of our older leaders got married. They weren’t shoved together into YSA wards. They attended their family wards and participated in singles activities that were often on the stake & multi-stake level.

    Separating into factions on Sundays is a fragmentation of our culture that works against the wisdom offered in D&C 84 & 1 Corinthians 12. The body of Christ should simply be united.

  30. You’re missing the point, B.Russ. It’s actually not an argument. It’s not something you can counter.

    a) You greatly underestimate my ability to argue.
    b) I was mostly countering what Angie was saying. Particularly garbage like this “Also, lack of initiative in dating will almost surely translate into lack of initiative in marriage” . . . . mostly.

  31. What happened to all our BCC feminists?
    Lots of truth in this post. Not sure where #14 got this from though:

    “Also, lack of initiative in dating will almost surely translate into lack of initiative in marriage…”

    Thats just not true. There are many single men who hold very successful careers, are active in church, etc…

    Marriage is serious business for a woman – we risk so much when we choose a mate.

    And men don’t?
    Part of the problem leads back to said stereotypes mentioned. I love the OP’s comments on getting rid of such stereotype. Granted, there’s no romance if you get rid of said “stereotypes” completely, but I suspect opinions of romance will change with age…

  32. Eric Russell says:

    B.Russ, you can counter what Angie was saying all you like, but you can’t counter what Angie and the many women like her are feeling – and that’s what’s at stake here.

  33. +1 for #32/Eric Russell.

  34. @Angie, if what you said is always true then you are saying I had to be persuaded to ask my wife out. Not true. I was relatively new off my mission and extremely inexperienced and ackward. I dont know if she would have been patient enough for me to finally get the courage to ask her out. I would not trade the last 22 years for anything.

  35. Natalie B. says:

    “Put another way, if you’re 25 and an RM you don’t have to date to be surrounded with nubile women. They are made available at church every week by virtue of the YSA program. With no impetus to pursue, YSA males can pass an entire decade… the most important decade of their young lives… playing Halo and WoW to their hearts content and STILL be part of a viable social scene with little to no effort.”

    I agree entirely with this statement. Many women I know said that they were asked out frequently by non-members who knew they had to ask or not see them again, but never by members. I never had the discussion with a Mormon male, so don’t know if it works the other way.

    As to the proposal in the post, I asked out my husband. To be honest, it kind of bothers me because I would have rather been pursued.

  36. I was shocked, surprised and confused when two different 20-something LDS girls on the east coast told me on separate occasions they couldn’t ask guys out. “It’s just not done!” Huwuh? Really? What decade is this?

    One lives in DC, one in New York. Neither are from Utah, neither come from sheltered or ultra-conservative families. I was at a total loss….

  37. I can call it bull**** when someone feels something, and tries to blame it on someone else. Particularly if they try to blame it on a whole section of the population.

    Hey, she can feel that way all she likes, but its her having those feelings, not the boys giving her those feelings.

    Also, its great for her that she wants to be with an alpha male. More power to her. But her comment essentially demeaned a whole slew of marriages, and strongly implied that those marriages were less than ideal, and those husbands were not good husbands. If you want to pragmatically tell people what they can and “can’t” do, maybe you should tell her that she can’t judge a person’s whole marriage and relationship based solely on how the proposal went down.

    you can counter what Angie was saying all you like, but you can’t counter what Angie and the many women like her are feeling.

    Thanks for being the arbiter of what I can do. Noted.

  38. Mike RM says:

    #32: As long as women feel like Angie when she says “I would rather be single than married to a man who had to be persuaded to be with me,” the result will be more single people. Maximizing the amount of married people is what is at stake here.

    I also don’t understand her problem with being married to someone she had to persuade to be with her. First, I think it is wrong of her to equate the simple act of initiating a relationship to that of “persuading” someone to be with her. Second, what is the alternative to marrying someone who had to be persuaded to be with you? Force? Hypnosis? Isn’t it the goal to persuade someone to want to be with you? Both parties keep this burden regardless of who initiates a relationship.

  39. Josh B. says:

    What if we considered the, “A man is born to be dominant in his domain” line?

  40. Eric Russell says:

    B.Russ, I think we’re actually probably in agreement about everything, yet talking about different things. The feelings that I’m talking about are feelings about what people are attracted to. It’s not a blaming feeling, even if the explanation of those feelings appear to do so.

  41. “Many women I know said that they were asked out frequently by non-members who knew they had to ask or not see them again, but never by members. I never had the discussion with a Mormon male, so don’t know if it works the other way.”

    Natalie B, I’m not surprised at all that nonmember guys ask for more dates, but I’m not sure that YSA wards are to blame. Nonmember guys are at least partially motivated by sex, right? As Kevin noted, dating is hard. Nonmember guys are partially motivated to date, by the fact that it could lead to sex. I base this on the dating strategy sessions I’ve sat in on with my nonmember male coworkers. Where is the similar motivation for Mormon men? If I ask you out, wine you and dine you for several months, commit to be with you for eternity, then I can have sex. Frankly, unless I really like you, just hanging out is easier, cheaper, and funner.

  42. Mike RM says:

    To address a different point than my last post, I don’t know how much different we are from the world on this topic. I’m thinking of the last Office episode where Michael Scott would not let his girlfriend propose. I think society at large still prefers the man to make the move for marriage.

    As for dating, I had a chat with a non-member co-worker last week about a guy she had met at a party. She was somewhat interested in a date with him, but was unwilling to initiate one herself.

    My point is only that the church is not that different from the outside culture on this topic. While we might be moving a little bit slower, this Reciprocity Resolution would also be applicable outside the church.

  43. Josh B. says:

    Here’s another thought:
    Its hard to get yourself out there and ask for a date. But being the gossipy place a YSA branch can be, rejection becomes an even greater risk. Not that half the guys care. But the close-knit community that a ward is supposed to encourage can discourage dating, while at the same time promoting many more opportunities for singles to meet similar people.

  44. 34. Angie could be indicating that you were probably lucky considering the demographics involved.

    Of course it’s not an absolute rule. Women pursue men all the time, in our culture probably as much as any, and sometimes it’s fine. Sometimes it is anti-productive. But what Angie is saying is registered as true whether it’s the truth in all cases or not. Men who communicate assertiveness are seen as potentially assertive husbands. Males who communicate anything else may as well have the potential to be anything else because that is how they are perceived by most of the women who happen to be available.

    If perception carries the day, then where does that leave our singles? Alienated, discouraged, frustrated, angry. In other words, all the ingredients necessary for people to abandon their activity. Which is currently happening amongst the demographic in question on a large scale.

  45. I don’t comment much on BCC, but I’m a newlywed, just out of singles ward life and I think that encouraging women to ask is the best idea ever.

    Single women in the church have this idea that a man worth marrying will pursue them and sometimes that just isn’t the case. My husband now did most of the pursuing when we dated, but other guys I dated, I did the asking and it was great. I’ve found that women balk when you suggest them asking, but most men say that they would love for the woman to ask.

    Placing all the responsibility on men creates both guilt in the young men who, for whatever reason, aren’t interested in being married tomorrow and a sense of entitlement in women who are. I tend to believe that if you want to be married, you should be looking, no matter gender.

    Bringing up YSA wards, I tend to believe that there isn’t a perfect system. In Mesa, where I grew up, they’ve abolished all singles wards that aren’t made up of students (rumors about older men hitting on younger women, whatever) and instead have family wards with a YSA Sunday School class and regular activities. The problem with that is that if you work a lot, or aren’t interested in lame singles activities, you only know the 8 YSA in your ward. Contrast that with student-based, or other singles wards. The sheer amount of activities (you could be doing something there every day of the week if you tried) makes it so that you can always hang out with people of the opposite sex if you’re interested.

    I have yet to see a system that works. I think another factor that comes into play with young singles especially is the RM thing. All the men are 2-3 years older than all the women on average and it creates a situation where they have more responsibility to ask because they’re older and the women won’t ask because it’s more intimidating if you’re 19 or 20 to ask out a 24 year old.

  46. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks all for your comments. I think this is a fascinating discussion, and just what i hoped would result. It’s really interesting to me the different perspectives people have of this issue. Keep ’em comin’!

  47. Left Field says:

    Evidently, for some women, initiating a date is indeed a priesthood ordinance. When I was single, I tried to date a woman who went a step further and even after she had agreed in principle to go out with me, wouldn’t give a clue when she might be available. After multiple vague responses over several weeks, I finally confronted her about it and was informed that it was entirely inappropriate for me to ask her when she was available. Apparently, I was supposed to plan the entire event, pick the day and time, and only then could she give me a yes or no to the complete offer as I presented it. It wasn’t “her place” to suggest an alternate day or give a clue when she would be available. She could only give a thumbs up or down to whatever day and event that I suggested–otherwise, I guess she’d have been overstepping into the priesthood ordinance of scheduling a date. And how could I have expected her to behave in such an unwomanly manner? I suppose she did me a favor by not going out with me. I just wished the process of not going out with me hadn’t been dragged out for quite so many weeks.

  48. “I have yet to see a system that works.”

    “Magnet” wards- I know in a few places, at SP request, all YSA attend one particular family ward whether in or out of that wards boundaries. That way it’s a “normal ward” that lacks the weirdness of a YSA ward, but with a large(r) number of YSA.

  49. It finally happened! I’ve been taking part in the bloggernacle for years, and I finally posted a comment that inspired discussion. It’s a great feeling :-)

    Speaking of feelings, my original comment had nothing to do with feelings and everything to do
    with practical reality. Being a new mother
    holding a helpless infant is an overwhelmingly vulnerable position to be in. Knowing that the child’s security and happiness depends to a great extent on the character of the child’s father can be a source of gratitude or terror.

    OF COURSE men sacrifice and risk for marriage and children. But it cannot compare to the experience of giving your body, health, and life to creating a human being. I almost can’t find words to describe the fundamental reliance that
    women and children have on men. When men do not live up to their potential, women step up to make up the difference. But there is such a price to be paid. Just read anything written by a divorced mother trying to raise her children on her own.

    So what does this have to do with women asking men on dates?

    A woman who asks a man on one date is showing interest. A woman who asks on one date, then another, then another, until she proposes is with a man who either doesn’t want be with her or is with a man with a weak character. And when she’s holding their newborn baby, she will wish that her baby’s father was more reliable.

  50. Josh B. says:

    Angie, I will have to wholly agree with your post. I also agree with the OP, and think there’s a fundamental balance between these two ideas that isn’t well understood by daters today at large.

  51. Left Field says:

    Angie, wouldn’t it be great if both parties could know that the person they’re with has strong character and wants to be with them? Why is it important that that assurance only be granted to women?

  52. “Biologically, women should be making the choice, while the men present themselves as viable candidates.”

    Biologically, women are picky, and men get it on with as many women as possible. Perhaps the biological method isn’t always the best method.

    And, let’s face it–if a man is faithful to one woman, biologically the man needs to be just as picky as the woman does. If he’s sleeping around and getting a lot of women pregnant, or if he has multiple wives, he doesn’t need to be as picky. But if all of his offspring are going to have the genes of one woman, and be raised by that one woman, all of a sudden his need to make a good choice is just as important as the woman’s.

  53. Mike RM says:

    “A woman who asks on one date, then another, then another, until she proposes is with a man who either doesn’t want be with her or is with a man with a weak character.”

    That just isn’t true. If the man continually says “yes,” he clearly wants to be with her.

    Under your logic, why doesn’t it work the other way? If a man continually asks a woman on a date, and then another, then another, and she never takes any initiative, does that mean that she doesn’t want to be with him or has a weak character? How can a man know if the women really wants to be with him?

  54. This is just a slippery slope to getting women to open doors and give up our coats for you.

  55. “The problem with that is that if you work a lot, or aren’t interested in lame singles activities, you only know the 8 YSA in your ward.”

    The reason why singles activities are perceived as “lame” and sparsely attended is because most YSA’s social needs are met in Sacrament meeting. Everything after that is overkill, which is why many singles skip the rest of the block altogether and socialize deep into Sunday School. There are wards here in SLC that attract hundreds of ward-hoppers for just this opportunity.

    If you remove the social club aspect of Sacrament meeting, Jesus returns to the fore as the main purpose of the meeting. Consequently, you also make all the other activities (like FHE) vital to attend. Even a simple stake level potluck and/or fireside for singles every Sunday would meet the same needs.

    It is a myth that YSA wards expose singles to more opportunities to meet the opp. sex. All the same singles (more, in fact) would be accessible at ward and stake and multi-stake activities. Instistute would also become more vital and far better attended. You simply shift critical mass to another venue, and it allows YSAs to be exposed to the rest of their religious community (old folks, children, parents, Etc.) on the ward level.

  56. I think the “lameness” of YSA activities is also contributed to by the elaborateness thereof. I’m a student and still attend the institute, so I know that the last big activity was this huge Peter Pan themed thing with pajamas and a scavenger hunt. It was out of control.

    The once-a-month Fast Sunday potlucks serve that purpose far better and are better attended. They’re also easier to socialize at and less pressure for people on planning committees (which largely still exist in singles wards).

  57. And firesides every Sunday is an awful idea. I was in a ward that did that and the quality of speakers drastically decreased and they were poorly attended because they were so frequent. And when you have church until four, returning three hours later in Sunday clothes again is really unattractive.

  58. I think that the “The Reciprocity Resolution” is not a bad idea. Not all men that would make good husbands and fathers are the pursuing type. Not all women that would make good wives and mothers are the type that would like to be pursued. I think that it would be a good thing to promote this idea in the LDS YSA community. I was pursued by several LDS men that were not right for me, in one instance in the dusty corners of my brain recalls the spirit recoiling more forcefully than I’ve ever since experienced on my first date with a particular guy, I still dated him for three years so go figure. The others I just didn’t like that much. My husband while not LDS is a wonderful man and father. He was also dreadfully shy. Had I not made the first move there would be no us. We are well suited for each other. While all I don’t recommend the course I took to get where I am at to anyone else but me. I there can be many variables twists and turns trying to find the right one that also considers you the right one. Western society has made many strides in gender equity even from the first six to seven decades of the last century that somethings may need to be tweaked a little bit. I would much rather tend in a more egalitarian direction for my daughters as they approach marrying age then regress to bride kidnapping or arranged or bartered marriages (I know I’m being dramatic but it still happens in the world). I hope for both of my sons, when they grow up, one of which is shy sweet engineer like his father and one is a sweet social charmer, to either find or be found by someone wonderful to share their lives with.

  59. Eric, I haven’t read all of the comments yet following your #28, but consider the following and see if there is any “should” involved:

    “Biologically, women should be making the choice, while the men present themselves as viable candidates.”

    “I would rather be single than married to a man who had to be persuaded to be with me.”

    I know you agree with Angie, but claiming she isn’t saying men should do the pursuing and women should not in #14 is just . . . misreading or misrepresentation.

    Now I will catch up on the comments and see if my point is moot yet.

  60. Finished reading all the comments. #53 says it nicely.

  61. Victoria says:

    Having come of age in a time when women have so many more freedoms and options than my mother’s generation did, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good life as a single woman, particularly in regards to my freedom to pursue my educational, professional, and financial goals with relative autonomy. If I am going to sacrifice some of that autonomy to marriage (and as a woman, I cannot but feel that my professional development is put at greater risk than a man), I need to be convinced that I’m getting a better deal from marriage than from remaining single. Personally, I’m not sure if I would be convinced if there was a perception that my partner was somehow dragging his feet, or that I had to do the work of maintaining the relationship. This isn’t to say that women can’t or shouldn’t ask men out; rather, that when a man does the pursuing (at least in the early stages) it does more to convince me of his sincerity and degree of commitment than if I do most of the asking (again, at least in the early stages).

  62. When I was at BYU (abt 10 yrs ago) I really liked this guy and asked him out on a date. It took all my courage to call him on the phone (we were already friends and it was still ridiculously hard). He accepted and asked what we were going to do/what he should wear. I hadn’t thought past the difficulty of asking him (I really liked him!) and sounded like an utter fool. Gave me a LOT more respect for how hard it is to ask someone on a date etc, which is only one of the reasons that I think this burden should be shared equally between the genders. After that, we went on to date for awhile but did not get married. Never made me think that he was ‘weak’ or not that interested.

  63. Mark Brown says:

    The really insulting part of this is that the only reason anybody has yet put forward as to why the man isn’t doing all the pursuing is that he lacks initiative, has no character, and is playing video games all the time. When it is necessary for you to denigrate the character of strangers in order to sustain your mistaken concept of male-hardwiring, it might be time to take a second look. It is the equivalent of thinking that black people steal watermelons because they are lazy.

  64. Fred Flowers says:

    This may not have occurred to some people, but maybe Mormon men are being righteous, by not asking Mormon women on dates?

    If a Mormon man can not financially handle having a wife, what is the use of dating?

    If you are poor, you either have a lot time and no money, or you have a lot of money and not time, because work takes up all of your time… and then expensis take the money that you do have.

    Who wants to marry just so that you later get a divorce because of financial problems? Most Mormon men who are single and are not dating, are simply doing the rational and righteous thing by not asking Mormon women to date them.

    In Isaiah it says that the day will come when a man will be like gold (specifically Temple Gold) and that eight women will beg the average Saintly Man to marry them, to take away their reproach.

    Mormon women are totally into money. They don’t even realize that this is so. But the day will come, according to Isaiah that they will overcome that, though apparently there won’t be too many men around maybe because of some sort of war.

    And the Women will say, I will make my own money, but I would still like to get married.

    I am not saying this is a good scenario, though it is prophecy, and who that relates to todays World, is that there are many Mormon women that are doing well enough that expect the man they marry to five times as rich as them.

    And it never happens, and the Mormon Women are all getting to be forty five and single. Meanwhile, the Mormon men are doing the right thing because they don’t have enough money to get married, so therefor they do the right thing by not dating, simple as that.

  65. I’m curious, how many of the participants in this thread are actually single or were single in the last 5 years? So much advice and insight which as a single person I always found was extremely forthcoming from my married friends. ;-)

    If it takes a resolution to foster change then Kevin, you know I’m totally on board. Women, men, quit treating every date like it’s the Senior Prom or one step from a marriage proposal – it seems to me that’s what’s necessary. We all know what’s at stake when you initiate spending time with a young woman or young man. And maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps people spend too much time thinking about “WHAT THIS MIGHT BECOME” and build it up into so much more than it should be early in a budding, not even yet existent relationship. Talk about pressure. No wonder nonmembers are easier going, they don’t have that pressure hanging over their heads. Mormons seem to have not just a biological clock but an eternal clock as well whose every tick inches closer to doom.

    I can clearly see why Elder Oaks’ CES talk on dating was entirely relevant to this topic. And perhaps why the brethren actually are calling for more “dating” that leads to marriage.,4945,538-1-3100-1,00.html

    Seems from these comments that often people complicate dating way too much.

    These are a few of the examples I can think of that were simple ways to spend a little time with a girl that were non-threatening and inexpensive. Usually it simply folded into activities I enjoyed and thought it might be fun to have someone join me for the conversation and enjoyment.

    “Would you like to go grab a smoothie with me?” “I’m going for a drive down to the city, interested in coming with me?” “I’m going for a hike in the mountains/park/forest preserve, would you like to come?” “Would you be interested in going for a bike ride along the river with me tomorrow?” “I’m going to check out this cool estate sale tomorrow, interested in going with me?” “I’m driving up the coast to go see this art colony, interested?” “Would you be interested in coming with me to photograph the sunrise on the lake this Saturday?” Or even, “I’m baking cookies tonight, interested in coming over to help?”

    I lived in three different singles Wards post university, even helped pull together the critical mass that established the first one in one area. At the time, the whole purpose as I saw it was to find as many interesting girls as possible and then figure out where the right spark might happen by spending time with many of them. And many of these girls were pursuing the same objective. How do you encourage singles to date? Encourage them to go out and just have fun, mingle with many, and make dating a priority. Maybe things have changed so much in the last 15 years but it didn’t seem that difficult when I and my friends were living in those singles wards. And I was several years into my status as a menace to society before I finally the right woman and she found me.

    Every one of those Wards was extremely effective at fostering dating and led to numerous marriages every year. One of them was so effective that Salt Lake sent requests to understand what was being done to create that synergy. All we could tell them was that single men and women were spending time together in service activities and a regular social calendar was maintained – though most of it was fairly spontaneous. We just made sure to extend the invitation to all and those who were interested participated. The pairing off just seemed to happen naturally from that point.

    I will say that my wife is offended if I ever make it sound like she was the one who did the pursuing. She feels it makes it sound like she was aggressive and I wasn’t interested in her. Which wasn’t at all the case. But I can appreciate why Angie is looking for the guy who is intensely interested in her (and not the creepy guy sitting across the aisle) and makes extensive efforts to show that interest. It’s the romantic side of desire.

  66. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for your insights, Alain (Alain and his wife are good friends of mine, and they both came from the LDS singles environment immediately prior to marrying and moving to the midwest).

  67. Some of these comments seem to imply that if one party (whether male or female) initiates the relationship by asking out on a first date, that the same person will be the pursuer the entire relationship thus setting up the pattern for the couples entire life together. Not necessarily true. I would expect at some point, even if you initiated the dating relationship, you would be looking for some reciprocity, and if it wasn’t there you would end the relationship. As a a woman, I have no problem with women being the one to initiate a relationship. That said, it is something I never did because I am too shy by nature. However, I’ve been married just over a year now, and I would probably still be single had I not suggested to my husband that it was probably time we got married or move on.

  68. “And firesides every Sunday is an awful idea.”

    Yes, which is why I said “potluck and/or fireside”. One fireside a month is certainly plenty. But if we’re going to cater to the individuals you indicated who work 80 hours per week, a reliable Sunday potluck (or anything similar) would fulfill the same social needs as a YSA post-Sacrament networking session.

    Mark, I think your point against generalizing is appropriate. But I also think that if you knocked on a sample of doors of male-occupied apartments south of BYU campus on a Friday/Saturaday night you would find a large percentage of the individuals you encountered playing X-Box or Wii. Video games certainly aren’t inherently evil or a definitive signal to a lack of character, but their prevalence in our culture doesn’t necessarily suggest a cadre of individuals who are at war with the natural man, either.

    The kind of mischaracterization you’re talking about here also goes both ways. Earlier in the thread it was suggested that the males that we are talking about are “meek”, but that doesn’t really jive with our notions of Jesus’ version of meekness. The savior was the most meek person on earth and simultaneously the biggest bad-ass in history. He not only turned the other cheek, but he initiated the grandest marriage of all. The timidity/hesitance/adolescence we’re talking about with regards to this demographic also can’t summarily be chalked up as mere “meekness”.

    Morrissey states that it takes strength to be gentle. I couldn’t agree more.

  69. I’m in my 50s, single, never married female and from what I see, women are taking more of the lead and asking men out. I do live in _the mission field _ rather than in _Zion_ so that may be a difference. I think the whole approach to getting to know each other needs a thoughtful approach by both parties. It is much easier today than ever before to ‘ask a man out’. I’ve done it. I’ve also been rejected. And I have learned that a man who feels he is being chased tends to run away. You need to show your interest and be encouraging and give him lots of space to do his man thing. I’d been advocating for a couple of decades now that stakes and branches informally institute the office of matchmaker. Many cultures still use them and their use is often very successful. I’m not suggesting that we promote marriage without love. I just think that many men need some gentle encouragement to notice that some woman is lovely and might be a good match for him. Lastly, I think another cultural issue is that men do not encourage other men to GET MARRIED. Yeah, the the GAs, the bishop, and maybe the SP encourage it but the other guys in Elder’s Quorum. Nah, they’re cool. Hang onto your freedom buddy while you can. Do single men get testimonials on how grateful a man is that he is married? That his wife is in his life? That he is so much happier now than when he could do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted? I think that is a guy thing. That and the ‘leave it alone, it’s his business.” I’d like the men in the LDS culture to be more vocal and encouraging of single men to choose a wife and get married. Thanks Kevin for addressing this and providing a forum for its discussion.

  70. Natalie B. says:

    Is part of the issue the term “date?” An earlier comment referenced the pressure that Mormons feel about dating since dates are supposed to lead to marriage. By contrast, it seems that most non-Mormon couples I know (and many Mormon couples, too) started off as friends and then realized they had a lot in common.

    But it is probably naive to think that we can think outside of the date paradigm with fellow Mormons. I found it very difficult to form friendships with men at church, because it is hard to get over the idea that you are trying to find someone to marry. Plus, all that rhetoric about how men and women can’t be in the same room, etc.

  71. Thomas Parkin says:

    One of the thing I worry about when a woman asks me out – especially if she asks me out more than once – is whether or not she will be sufficiently passive after we are married. Will she try to have to heavy an influence where my decision making is concerned? What if I am “taking the initiative” with my children, will she try to intervene? One must always think of the children, who may be denied my molding “influence.” I think you’d have to agree that my feelings are justified! A man takes a great risk when he gets married – who will be in charge of his life? A woman?

  72. Mark Brown says:

    Thomas, I think your worries are unfounded. According to current LDS belief, ovaries bestow a special spiritual power upon their owners which renders them immune to the spiritual effects of The Fall.

  73. Incredibly late to the discussion but I have to throw in my 2 cents anyway. I am single in my late thirties and amused at the frequency with which I’m told I should just do the asking. As if that is a brand new solution that would fix my single status. This is not new. I’ve done the asking nearly as often as I’ve been asked in my dating life.

    Some men want to be pursued and some want to pursue. In my experience none wear signs to indicate which they prefer. I am convinced that at least one relationship I pursued would have been more successful had I waited until he was comfortable pursuing me.

    Yup, doing the asking is a tool in every woman’s arsenal, whether she uses it or not. But it is no panacea to the so-called ‘marriage problem’ in the church. Dropping some of the offensive generalizations I regularly hear about single Mormon men (lazy, video-game-playing slackers?) and single Mormon women (picky gold-digging princesses?) might start to get us where we need to go.

  74. Thomas Parkin says:


    Yes, they are all such angels. Holy, really.

    Still … I worry they will not be angelic enough for me.

  75. ExMoHoMoDon says:

    What a shame. All of that effort to ‘save’ marriage from the awful gays, and now those who are ‘qualified’ by virtue of their heterosexuality don’t want to participate. Give me the legal civil right to marry and I will do it by October….and I don’t care who asks whom….me or him.

  76. Glenn Smith says:

    In general terms, I agree with Kevins comments. It has always been a two way street. Here’s a quote:
    Spencer W. Kimball, June Conference, 1974
    Pres. Kimball was ragging on men to get married, and then he said….
    “””There are numerous young women who are worthy, attractive, educated, well-groomed, and appear to be most desirable. To them we say, We cannot supply you husbands as you might want. If you have had fewer opportunities, you need to evaluate yourselves carefully. Take a careful inventory of your habits, your speech, your appearance, your weight, and your eccentricities, if you have any. Take each item and analyze it. Can you make some sacrifices to be acceptable? You must be the judge.

    Are you too talkative? Too withdrawn? Too quiet? If so, then school your thoughts and your expressions.

    Are you in the wrong location? Could a move to a new location open up a new world to you?

    Is your dress too old-fashioned, or too revealing, or too extreme? Are you too demanding? Do you have any eccentricities in speech, in tone, in subject matter? Do you laugh too loudly? Are you too demonstrative? Do you overdo? Are you selfish? Are you honorable in all things? Would you want a family? Would you be glad to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a good man every day? Would you keep your former friends close to you at the expense of your husband.””””

    Sorry, Angie #14, but this sure sounds like a call for persuasion of the male of the species.

    Pres. Gordon B Hinckley, “A Conversation with Single Adults”, 22 Sept 1996, SLC Tabernacle
    He quotes …
    I repeat some words from the newspaper column “Dear Abby”:

    “The key to being popular with both sexes is: Be kind. Be honest. Be tactful. If you can’t be beautiful (or handsome), be well-groomed, tastefully attired, conscious of your posture, and keep a smile on your face.

    “Be clean in body and mind. If you’re not a ‘brain,’ try harder. If you’re not a great athlete, be a good sport. Try to be a standout in something. If you can’t dance or sing, learn to play an instrument.

    “Think for yourself, but respect the rules. Be generous with kind words and affectionate gestures, but save the heavy artillery. … You’ll be glad you did” (reprinted in Chicago Tribune, 17 March 1991, 6).

    Both men and women have the responsibility to pursue marriage. Both must participate in the process. I am reminded of an LDS (BYU??) movie , circa 1968, portraying an RM looking to meet a certain girl. When he happened to sit behind her in a lecture hall, she wrote, in very large print, her name and phone number on her note papers, positioning them to be easily read from behind.

  77. I claim that the Church has turned the LDS dating market on its head

  78. Sorry, wrong button:

    I claim that the Church has turned the LDS dating market on its head by making everyone afraid of sex. Women have become the temptress which will keep the noble man from heaven. Therefore the value of a woman has declined, being a little closer to Satan.

    This is because, in a market analogy, women are the supply and men are the demand. If a woman is a valuable commodity she can readily be expected to require special attention, like a date, dinner and a movie. If man A will not, the man B will.

    In the old market, women advertised and men responded. Dating was to prove a man’s ability to be financially independent and to show the woman that he was serious and able.

    If the value of women has declined because they are the source of temptations, then the old model will not work. Advertising is not enough and strong-arming will get the fearful over the hump.

    Or maybe women have caught on that men are not really that good a reward for clean living and modesty of behavior.

  79. In the world in general the value of a woman as a “wife” seems to have declined. It used to be that sex was withheld until a man was committed to supporting the offspring of any union. So to have regular sex marriage was important. Not any more does a woman have to be a wife for sex (except in the Church). Anyway, there is plenty of sex (albeit voyeuristic and second hand) on the web. A real live woman who will have real demands and needs will only make sex more complicated.

    It used to be that a wife looked after her husband’s happiness and comfort. My g-grandfather would come home in his high hat and sit and read the paper while his wife, slaving over a wood-burning stove in the summer would put food on the table. No self-respecting woman would do that today.

    Children in the modern day have become so much harder to rear. Our six were not has hard to rear as most other’s one today. A well-educated man could expect to make enough money to keep his wife at home with the children. This can not easily happen in the modern world. If women mean children and children are viciously hard to raise in the modern environment, then the value of a wife has declined.

    On the other hand, feminism has reduced the value of men, as well as the economic environment. Women can be expected to work and earn money so what is the value of a narcissistic and macho man to complicate a woman’s life.

  80. I do not think that reciprocity is the answer. It does not go far enough…

    Why have we as a culture abandoned the century’s old (and Biblical) practice of parents arranging marriages? As a culture we have gone along with the modern Western world’s trend of young men and women themselves (and only themselves) being responsible for this most important of life’s mortal requirements – selection of an eternal mate.

    I remember a conversation I had with a young man who came into my office one day. He was from a non-Western culture – India, Pakistan, or thereabouts. He was in school and worked part time in our office in the IT department.
    In the course of our conversation, I asked him if he liked being in the United States.

    Him: “Oh, yes, very much!”
    Me: “Do you date much here? “
    Him: “No, not really”.
    Me: “Well, do you plan to marry? “
    Him: “Yes, I do look forward to being married.”
    Me: “So how are you going to marry if you do not date?”
    Him: “I don’t worry about that”.
    Me: (Silly me…) What? Tell me how are you going to marry if you do not date?
    Him: “Well, my parents will make sure that I have a wonderful young woman to marry. In fact they have several in mind even now…”

    Several issues with this…

    (1) Earl, you are nuts. We could never go back to this…

    No, I am not nuts. But, you are right we never could or would go back.
    I am saying that we as a people or culture should never have abandoned this practice, and might be held accountable as a people for the longer term consequences of our actions.
    But, I am not suggesting that it is either exclusively one way or the other. For those who marry early or readily… fine. For those who do not, well, both the young men and women and their parents should understand the on-going role and duty of the parents.

    (2) Arranged marriages take away agency.

    This did not seem to be a hurdle for Abraham.
    A young man or woman should be allowed the veto privilege.

    (3) We should allow our young men and women to act as adults and make their own decisions.

    Great. And by doing so, our young men and women will, as we see now, follow the general drift of society… and Babylon. And now we have President Monson asking the brethren to…date a woman…???

    (4) Arranged marriages would not fit in… we are not ready…

    Huh? Not fit in? You really mean this? You mean that we as a people who:
    A. Ask that we strictly follow the W of W?
    B. Tell parents that the “sin be upon the parents” for those children who are not baptized?
    C. Ask that every young man prepare to serve a two year mission… and postpone education, scholarships, jobs, and ….hold on to your hat…. marriage?
    D. Would forego a national basketball championship if play was on Sunday?
    E. Practiced polygamy for 50 years?

    You mean a people and culture that does all of that is not ready to motivate parents to be involved in the timely marriage of their children?

    (5) Apart from teaching about marriage, we have not been commanded to have parents involved in the actual selection of mates.

    Well. You have a point here. Case closed. We can do nothing… ere we are commanded. Golly, everyone knows that is why we have a living prophet.

    (6) Doesn’t Tina Turner have some sage wisdom on this matter?

    You mean the diva herself? Yes, the diva. Recall her hit song, “What’s Love Got to do With It?”
    Seems she was misinterpreted all along. Her real message was that marriage is so vital to our mission here on earth that the romantic elements, the sailing off into the sunset of bliss, the “well how did he propose to you”, and the “he’s my one and only”… these don’t really matter that much.

    (7) Crack pots like you will next be suggesting that a woman come with a dowry.

    Hmm. Setting aside some assets for the economic stability (not for the show or the boast of the parents) of the early years of marriage (where necessary) does not seem like a bad idea.
    Glad you thought of it…


  81. I’m amazed at the number of comments that imply that the OP’s suggestion of equal responsibility in initiating dating means guys will now do nothing and wait for the gal to do it all. I don’t think that was the intent at all.

    No matter who asks whom first, you’re both going to have to know the other person well and know they really are interested before you consent to marry.

    I’m a big believer in more frequent, casual dates. Not the dreaded hanging out but definitely not prom. Just a bunch of get to know you dates with different people. Less anticipation and hanging all your hopes on that one person and what will become of it.

    I did ask my husband out first, but he shortly afterwards asked me out…technically his date happened first, but we still consider my date the first date. by we I mean me.

  82. I do understand the extreme vulnerability of pregnancy and new motyherhood..I just don’t think the knowledge that the guy had the initiative to ask me out tells me what I need to know about his character to indicate how he will care for me during that vulnerable time. His behavior on a date and his behavior outside of dating are far better indicators than whether he’s a giid asker outer. It doesn’t even predict whether he will ask his wife out once they’re married..totally different risk factirs involved.

  83. new motyherhood is apparently the NAK version of motherhood.


  84. “Why have we as a culture abandoned the century’s old (and Biblical) practice of parents arranging marriages?”

    Because “century’s old (and Biblical)” doesn’t mean “of God”.

    Because we no longer view children (especially daughters) as property to be disposed of by parents (especially fathers).

    Because it worked for some people and was absolutely horrible for others.

    Because it led to MANY marriages where the wife looked the other way when the husband played around with other women he actually found attractive – and vice-versa in some cases.

    Because we really do believe in the ideal of marrying for love.

    Because parents still have a strong voice in many marriages.

    Because we don’t see it as the ideal (and, btw, neither does the Bible, if you read the love stories contained in it.)

    Because we don’t want it anymore.

    I could go on, but that last one pretty much says it sufficiently for me.

  85. #68: It ain’t happening. They’re all in finals.
    I am amazed at the fierce feelings some of our women have for cultural tradition. It seems as if the men here couldn’t really care less about this stuff, while such becomes hot debate to a woman.

  86. Left Field says:

    The dishonesty, misdirection, and game-playing that seemed almost ubiquitous with dating made me think that maybe arranged marriages were not such a bad idea. If arranged marriages aren’t the answer, then surely we can come up with something that doesn’t encourage the deception and duplicity that seems an inherent part of the dating process as now practiced.

  87. Anonymous this time says:

    I’m just wondering to what extent this so-called lack of reciprocity exists. One of my sons not all that long ago started grad school well outside of Utah, and he got asked out frequently — usually merely to hang out in small groups, such as to watch a movie at someone’s home with her roommate, that sort of thing, but sometimes to a regular date, such as two people going out for dinner and a movie.

    This may be a skewed sample — the singles ward was made up mostly of grad students (which means mostly of people who have had some success in life) and had a higher than 2-1 female-male ratio. And my son was in many ways the ideal candidate — intelligent, faithful, not threatened by others’ intelligence, career-minded and a returned missionary.

    I could say it was shyness that kept him from initiating dates, and that’s partly true, but it was probably more like fear of rejection and, frankly, some lack of social skills (academics, not social life, had been his priority).

    In any case, the fact that women in the ward (or at least some of them) felt free to initiate a relationship was probably a good thing — he married one of them, and she’s one I’m proud to have as a daughter-in-law. And they’re happy together and by all appearances appear to have a good marriage.

  88. Jenny in NC says:

    Sorry, I disagree.
    Have none of you read the book “He’s Just Not that Into You”?
    #14 basically describes the premise of the book.

  89. Re: #17 Joseph and Keri – I feel much the same way about Mormon men that Keri does (and that Joseph feels about Mormon women). Nonmembers are more respectful, more open to a possible relationship, less uptight about the date in the first place, and just generally dig me much more than Mormon men do (and I confess I generally find nonmembers much more interesting and kind-hearted than members). Single Mormon men tend to slap stereotypes on me based solely on my job/grad degree and the fact that I haven’t married yet – nonmembers hardly ever do this. Huge stereotypes, yes, but a reality for me.

    That said, I sort of agree with Angie. Men generally know what they want, and if I have to convince some dude to be into me when he never would have asked me out in the first place is, well, blegh. No thanks.

  90. I tried asking guys out when I was single, but I found it an effective way to appear desperate. I came to find out that “The Rules,” had a lot of truth to them. From my experience men are flattered to be asked out by a girl, but not attracted by it. In my single days, I maintained that the best way to get rid of a guy whose attention you didn’t want was to ask him on a date. I am glad that women asking out men has worked for the ones in this post, however.

    This may be a bit of a side note, but I have always been surprised by how nervous men could be when asking out a girl. I and many other women I knew wouldn’t have turned down a man on a first date unless I genuinely had something else to do or if the guy gave me the creeps.

  91. I can confirm #86’s experience and think this is more often the case than not for anyone who does not fall into the “social butterfly” category.

  92. As other people mentioned, there are different implications and different consequences when a woman takes the initiative by asking for the first date. Not only does she risk rejection, she risks being labeled as desperate, or too pushy.

  93. Re #91 jane: “As other people mentioned, there are different implications and different consequences when a woman takes the initiative by asking for the first date. Not only does she risk rejection, she risks being labeled as desperate, or too pushy.”

    This is only true for those who choose to interpret things this way. Change the paradigm, and just let people be themselves and pursue what and whom they’re interested in.

  94. Oh please. Talk of “post BYU marriage prospects” being dismal is so culturally encapsulated. BYU only serves a small percentage of young people in the church, and the vast majority of them live outside of the Mormon culture region. I went elsewhere for education as did my kids and live no where near Utah and we all did just fine, thank you. And yes, if the idea of women doing more initating is taken seriously–which I think it should be–then I would LOVE to hear the GA’s scold them in the next conference like they did the males this time!

  95. If I’m interested in a girl, I’ll ask her out.

    If she’s interested in me, and I’m not asking her out, she should take that as a sign that I’m not interested.

    In most cases, though not all, this is the best way. Why? Because I have more information about our mutual compatibility than she does. Specifically, I know that I’m physically attracted to her. And that means that I’ll probably be physically attracted to her long term.

    You may say, “But she may know that she is/isn’t physically attracted to you.” Yes, but even if she isn’t, women are much more likely to become more attracted as they get to know the man. Their physical preferences are more adaptive. So that really doesn’t count as information on her part.

    When anyone asks anyone else out, they’re shooting blindly. Neither person really knows if their personalities will mesh, if they will inspire each other spiritually, if they can communicate well with each other. But men shoot less blindly than women do: they know almost immediately whether they’ll be attracted long term. And that’s why they should do the asking, most of the time.

  96. Kevin,
    How can married people contribute to this resolution? I want to get involved, but need more info.

  97. Scott, maybe normalizing MORP/sadie hawkins for the youth?

  98. Paul, that completely negates everyone that has had a successful relationship via the internet, which today is approaching quite a bit. Plenty of people have successful relationships without even seeing each other until they know each other very well.

    I would put forward that compatibility is far, far more important than initial attraction and to look at your dating life as you do is simplifying a situation with a lot more to it.

  99. Paul Bohman says:

    Gee, thanks Paul (above) for reinforcing the pitiful stereotype they men look at outer beauty at the expense of inner beauty and are incapable of anything else. Hooray for unyielding gender essentialism.

  100. Quite frankly, five years ago when I was single, there were plenty of women I would not have asked out on a date unless they showed some kind of interest in me (flirting, asking me out, etc.), but who I would have been interested in (and asked out) had I known they were interested in me.

    I guess my point is this–if a woman is interested, there shouldn’t be anything stopping her from openly flirting with a guy, asking him out, etc.

  101. Even though I’m a bit tardy to the party I’ll throw in my $0.02. I only just got married a few months ago, “saving” my husband from his menace-to-society status. ;-) As much as I bristled as a YSA against anyone (usually in the church) telling me I might need to make myself prettier or more interesting in order to snag a husband, there may be a grain of truth to that kind of advice. I’m not suggesting anyone tart themselves up in an effort to find an eternal companion, but if getting married is something you want, you should decide how much you want it and what you’re willing to change about your life (not necessarily about yourself) to get it. And if it’s not something you’re willing to give up certain parts of your life for yet, that’s fine, but in that case, don’t complain when no one stumbles into your life by divine providence and whisks you away like the star of a cheesy movie. And likewise, just because you’ve “done everything right” doesn’t mean that members of the opposite sex will line up round the block to win your heart.

    In this, like many issues, there will simply be no pleasing some people. Though the amount of sexist mudslinging this topic seems to arouse is pretty disturbing…and likely, as was said, a huge part of the problem in the first place.

  102. I’m also late to the party, but will throw in my $0.02. The first thing I thought of when I heard of the “cultural expectations” for men to initiate dating and marriage was the recent conference talk (I admit I can’t recall who’s talk), in which the point was made that we embrace diverse cultures inasmuch as they do not conflict with gospel principles. I was struck that Pres. Monson set forth the “cultural expectations” in western dating relationships, but did not defend or encourage those expectations. It seemed to me that he mentioned the culture not so much as a standard, but as a barrier.

    The next thing I thought of was Eve and how she was the one who led Adam’s progression out of the garden (something we esteem in our church, unlike most). The temple demonstrates it best, but Moses 4:12 is also instructive: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did ceat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”

    To me, this seems to fit with most of the young men and young women I work with. By and large, the women mature and are ready to progess earlier than the men. While I have no problem with a man taking the lead on dating and marriage proposal, the more natural and correct order is for women to lead. In short, our culture has it backward, which shouldn’t be surprising considering how backward our culture’s view of Eve is.

  103. #95: Paul-Paul: I knew my wife for 4 years before asking her out. Looking back, I know we each had an interest in the other, but were too shy to act on it__ we were too good of friends.
    If we are lucky, each pot has it’s lid, and I found mine.

  104. Most would agree that the ideal arrangement is a marriage between two active worthy people in the temple. But if that isn’t happening with as much frequency as needed, then compromises are going to be made. Which ones are better? It may depend on the person.

    One compromise that has been hinted at above but not discussed at length is the possibility of marrying outside of the faith. Not every non-LDS person is a sex-craving maniac. Would a man or a woman be better off getting married to a decent non-LDS companion than being an eternal pillar of righteous saintly singlehood? Is the church up to dealing with large numbers of children and youth growing up in mixed denomination families? I know of a few such couples where conversion united a family denominationally. But it does not happen often.

    I hesitate to offer the next suggestion since it will undermine the credibility of the previous one. And they are entirely separate suggestions. We are heavily influenced by the culture around us. What now seems to lead to marriage is sex. Young people play around with multiple partners with low commitment and eventually mature to the point where they find someone they want stay with for a longer time. They settle down to marriage, children and life in the suburbs.

    This works on one level in that it produces another generation for the Lord to work with. It has this advantage over the default plan we are moving towards where most of the members of the church remain chastely celibate or go inactive. The risks remain high but can be made somewhat less obnoxious with contraception and disease limiting sexual devices and practices.

    If the hoards of perpetually single people started sleeping with each other, some of them might actually get married and have children. Would that end justify the means? Current thinking is NO!!! But when our numbers have dwindled sufficiently and we are looking back and wondering what the heck happened, will this still hold true?

    A final note: It is far better to wish you were married than to wish you were not.

  105. LovelyLauren (98):

    People who meet on the internet can see pictures of the other person. Have you dated online? You may not even care what the guy looks like, but I can assure you that doesn’t go both ways.

    Your insistence on putting compatibility far, far more important than initial attraction jibes with my theory perfectly: you’re a woman. Even if you’re not initially attracted, you can become very attracted. So you’re right; you shouldn’t put much priority on your initial reaction. This is true for some men, too, but not most.

    Judging from the picture on your blog, I’m sure you won’t have to worry about being single for long.

    Paul Bohman (97): Men care a lot about many things besides outer beauty. But they also care about outer beauty. And for most men, that doesn’t change much as they get to know a girl.

  106. “Judging from the picture on your blog, I’m sure you won’t have to worry about being single for long.”


    If you don’t mind some totally unsolicited advice, one foot in the mouth probably is enough for now, Paul.

  107. Especially since I’m married.

  108. And all weirdness aside, I think Paul has a point about attraction. But guys often have blinders when it comes to women. they just don’t pay attention to all of them. There are a lot of pretty girls who don’t get asked out because they aren’t as ostentatious or flirtatious or extraverted as the 10% who are. My husband home taught me for a whole year and pretty much ignored me completely before asking me out. How many guys do this? Probably a lot.

    So why shouldn’t women ask men out? Because the men might not be attracted to them? It’s a date, not a proposal.

  109. After reading this post and it’s comments I’ve concluded that I have a -385% chance of ever being married. Ever.

  110. Dear Angie,
    I am a twenty three year old unmarried male. So this topic affects me directly. I am curious and would like to ask you a few questions. I will start off with saying that I agreed with you for the most part. I think it is good to for us guys to ask girls out etc (Chivalry). But it was something I was taught, by my single parent mother. Women deserve this act of respect. And I will continue to give it, if nothing else my mothers situation has taught me what I will NOT, do to my future children or wife what my father did. Anywho, back to dating. Here are the things, I had a hard time swallowing. :)

    1) “Also, lack of initiative in dating will almost surely translate into lack of initiative in marriage (laziness, apathy to church, inability to get or keep a good job, disinterest in helping around the house, etc., etc.)”

    So are you saying for the most part that the guys that have a lack of initiative, confidence or even the lack of experience, will not be faithful providers? That is what LDS women want, am I right? Honestly that is a very harsh and unfair judgement call in my opinion. It’s hard to say is that the lack of confidence with girls means that they aren’t faithful Latter Day Saints, and will not go on to be able to provide for his family, financially and more importantly, spiritually/emotionally.

    2)”I would rather be single than married to a man who had to be persuaded to be with me.”

    So you would rather exclude yourself from having children and the great joy that comes from that, then to grow with another imperfect person?

    3)”Marriage is serious business for a woman – we risk so much when we choose a mate. Our welfare and the welfare of our children depend so much on the character of our husbands.”

    I think it is just as serious for men, if I remember right is it not the woman who decides in the end, if she will be sealed to her husband or not? So, as men, are we not taking huge risk?

    4) “If a young (20 – 30) man is not interested or motivated to pursue a young woman, then what will he be like in his 40s or 50s?”

    They should have moved on from the pursuit of a young woman by the 40’s or 50’s. I would hope he wouldn’t be looking for young women at that age? I think I might twisted it that a little. haha sorry, but its how I took it. I guess i would hope we all would be married by 40 or 50. So therefore, past the “pursuit of girls stage.”

    This may be just crazy talk on my part but I would love to hear what you think with this.


  111. I’m a single guy and consider this philosophy to be an approach that empowers women by giving them greater control in influencing the creation of something very important to them. On a more direct level, it also could lead to women enjoying dating more if they more often have a direct choice as to what the date includes. But definitely changing the procedural details is not going to change the trends towards delaying marriage if the Latter-Day Saints are generally becoming more selfish.

  112. #95/Paul

    I’ve always said this. I felt like I was reading something I wrote. I also completely believe in reciprocity and equality within a marriage and feel that those things are just as important in dating as in marriage.

    How about this for middle ground:
    I think it makes sense for the guy to take the initiative and ask the girl out first. Most women expect it and I personally don’t like being the one asked out initially. After I go on a date with a girl I and have expressed my interest in her the ball is then in her court to initiate something if she’s interested. If I don’t hear from her I move on, even if she is interested in me. If she wants to be around she’ll let me know, just like I let her know.

    Unfortunately all too many single women, even if they’re interested, just sit idly by waiting for the man to continue initiating.

    I respect myself and women enough to expect equality.

    In a case where one person does all the asking they’re the one taking on all the risk. Clearly not equal.

  113. I am really late into this discussion, but I have some insights. I am a single man, and line in Salt Lake. I would welcome some initiative by girls, because I am somewhat dense and dont always know when a girl is interested in me. I am not a slacker, I have two degrees, a good job, very active in the Church, and regularly ask girls out, but often get rejected for even first dates. I think one of the biggest problems is supply and demand. There are just too many singles, and girls can reject first dates with wonderful guys like me, because there are so many other guys around that they can be picky. Yes, it also happens the other way too. I think what we really need to do is stop stigmatizing people because they are not married by a certain age, etc. I also think that luck plays a huge role in this. My future wife could live within 5 miles of me, and I might never meet her because there are thousands of single people here, and even if I am completely active in church and other activities, we just might miss each other. It is very hard to be a single person, and many people don’t realize it. I am someone who wants to get married, and I don’t spend time playing games, and slacking. I am busy because of work, and Church responsibilities, but I do make time for dating, even if it is just inviting girls over for Sunday dinner.

  114. #85. Finals has no actual bearing on video game playing.

  115. Back to the original post and the idea of how difficult the prospect of post-BYU marriage is: Many of the numerous responses seems to be divided into two categories: those who live within the mormon culture region (or “Latter-day Saint culture region” as I like to say), and those who live in areas where church members are fewer and farther between. And oddly enough, it seems as though many of those living in zion, surrounded by other LDS singles, are not having any easier of a time dating and finding a mate. So toss out the notion that living away from BYU, zion, or whatever make is so much more difficult. And if we throw out the sentimental but non-doctrinal 70s notion of one pre-destinated soul mate (ala “Saturday’s Warrior”), and instead rely on the social psychology research as to what variables lead to relationships, two always top the list: PROXIMITY (who you live or work near) and SIMILARITY (those with whom you have things in common). Oops…I just blew apart my own argument.

  116. Kevin Barney says:

    Here’s a link to a Salt Lake Tribune article that quotes from this post and the comments:

  117. Mark Pickering says:

    The funny thing is that women don’t have to either wait for men to ask them out or ask the men out themselves. All a woman has to do is make eye contact with a man in a certain way and, if he’s interested, he’ll ask her out.

    The real reason behind so many complaints from the women comes from the following facts: (1) there are more single active women than single active men in the church, (2) the single women are pursuing the top 20% of attractive men (wealth, height), (3) the single men are pursuing the top 10% of single women (youth, beauty).

    So we can expect that the prettiest, youngest 10% of the women will marry the tallest, richest 10% of the men. The remaining 10% of the attractive men will wait for the 10% of the women to be replaced by the next birth cohort. But, by then, their relative standing may have diminished. The single women and the single who aren’t in the top 90% are going to have to settle.

    No one wants to, so they wait. And men are willing to wait longer than women.

  118. Mark Pickering says:

    I made a mistake: since there are more single active women than single active men, assuming the same distribution of attractiveness in both sexes, the top 20% of men and the top 10% of women could be the same in number if there are twice as many active single men as active single women.

  119. Corban Russell says:

    “The last time most of them actually went on a date with a woman not their wives was in the first half of the 20th century. And yes, that was a pretty hard wired cultural expectation at the time.”
    Dallin Oaks remarried in 2000, two years after his first wife died. As such, I’m inclined to think he’s very familiar with the current generation’s dating arena.

  120. Two problems: the word “most” (I recommend you look up the definition) and the words “current generation’s dating arena” (not exactly the same for an older member of the 12 as it is for the average 20- or 30-something Joe Mormon).

  121. re #119: “Dallin Oaks remarried in 2000, two years after his first wife died. As such, I’m inclined to think he’s very familiar with the current generation’s dating arena.” Well, he’s got more recent experience than I do for sure, but I think it must be a lot different for a member of the 12 to court than for one of the rest of us. I have my doubts he had any time to hit the singles circuit in Utah, I doubt he used the internet to meet his wife (I could be wrong of course), and all of that. I just don’t see someone in his position and maturity becoming a “playah” so to speak.

  122. #117: ” The single women and the single who aren’t in the top 90% are going to have to settle”.
    Did you mean the top 10%? If so, this is one ugly line.

  123. Interesting article, but it fails to account for the lack of mentoring caused by the logistics of YSA attendance. The demographic that has the most relationship experience… the married population of our culture… is withheld from the demographic that needs to observe and learn the most… the young single adults. Without a wide range of marriages to witness and interact with on a weekly basis, YSAs must rely on experience/observations culled from their own families, which may be substandard, dysfunctional, or non-existent.

    The married population of our culture is perhaps the greatest resource in the Church. They should be made available to YSAs who absolutely need mentors.

  124. Mark Pickering says:

    I meant “The single women and the single men who can’t get what they’re after will have to settle.” Using the assumptions I made, that would be the single women not in the top 10% and the single men not in the top 20%. These percentages are, of course, merely stipulated. If this is “ugly,” so is natural selection. That’s all that’s going on here.

  125. #124: I feel neither my wife or I are in the top 10%. But neither She/I ‘settled’ for anything. We each picked the one we wanted to share our lives.
    Yes, IMO, ” Natural selection” is ugly when talking about Mankind. That was Darwin’s opinion too. That’s why he wrote a second book, showing man’s Culture put man above Natural selection.

  126. Glenn Smith says:

    It’s going to interesting to watch the new YSA wards and stakes, especially those away from BYU campuses.

    See Mormon Times, 15 Apr 2011

  127. Disagree!!! It DOESN’T WORK. Men need to be the ones in pursuit. Women can show interest initially, and they can – and should – reciprocate invitations down the road. However, men need to be doing the asking and initiating. It might sound old-fashioned, but it also sets the scene for the entire relationship.

    I’m an on-the-ball, successful woman – on the assertive side by nature. So, naturally, I had no problem asking guys out in my early dating days. And did it work? NO! Resoundingly no! I’ve done my fair share of reading to figure out why my approach failed, and everything I’ve read says that men need to work for things to value them, including relationships. Women should be receptive but not aggressive, appreciative without giving too much too soon. Period.

    The men of our generation need to MAN UP and ask instead of balking at the Brethren’s over-the-pulpit counsel. They’re not a bunch of old men talking off the tops of their heads, after all. They’re inspired servants of God, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t say this if they weren’t getting those impressions from a higher power. I want a man who can preside in the home, and having the guts to see a good thing and pursue me in the first place is a critical litmus test for that.

    As for me? Well, I’ll do my part to get out there, meet new guys, sign up for online dating if I have to – but I will not be the one to ask first (well, unless I need a date for something – but never initiate a one-on-one date). And guess what? I got asked on a bonafide date a few weeks ago – he called, planned over a week in advance, drove, paid, etc. It was LOVELY. THAT is how it’s supposed to work, and I will happily support men to be men by dating this way!

  128. Angie #14. Congrats on getting quoted in the Tribune:

    “The Tribune article shows an example of this vitriol, quoting a single LDS woman who says, “Lack of initiative in dating will almost surely translate into lack of initiative in marriage.” “

  129. it's a series of tubes says:

    Reading that Tribune article made me smile. Felt like an “insider” to recognize the source of the quote immediately :)

  130. I’m quite convinced the more I listen to whining and arguing and proclamations of sure truth that I most certainly hate all human beings.

  131. according to the Calgary, Alberta Midsingles conf. held this past weekend you are a feminist if you are a girl who asks a guy out

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