Contributed by Thomas B. Holman
In the last article we suggested some ways to change dating styles that aren’t working for you. But this can be difficult. Some things we need to change are very ingrained. Changing can make you feel vulnerable. Many times changes are just not that easy to make. So it can seem easier to change not at all, or very little.
But for many of us, major changes need to be made that indeed aren’t easy. If we don’t make them, we simply aren’t going to be very happy—with ourselves or in relationships. I don’t know how else to say it. I’ve seen too many young people drift into bad relationships and marriages, or remain single, when some fundamental changes would make all the difference in finding a mate with whom you can be eternally happy. So let’s get real here.
Ultimately, the only way to change, to really change fundamentally, is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We call this kind of change “repentance.” Many of you know this. But you may never have thought of aspects of your dating attitudes and behaviors as serious deficiencies or even sins needing repentance.
Let’s look back to some of the ways of thinking and behavior of those stuck in the Save Me or Get Away from Me styles of dating. Here are just three from the Save Me dating style:
- Their self-esteem depends on being in a relationship
- Focused on the physical part of a relationship
- Females of this style are often very flirtatious and use jealousy to test interest
And three from the Get Away from Me dating style:
- Don’t allow themselves to get close to people, always keep some distance
- May resent Church leaders, parents, etc. who “pressure” them to get married quickly
- Say they really like singlehood and are in no hurry for marriage
Do you see how these involve a lack of faith, selfishness, and a tendency to use others? Aren’t these things that need to be changed, even repented of?
How then do we make these changes? To begin, you must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. With faith we learn that we can trust Him, that He loves us, and that He has power to keep His promises. Faith in Jesus Christ leads to action on our part. Faith lead to obedience to His commandments and He then blesses us with power to meet our life challenges and change the desires of our hearts. This is a gift of God, this desire to change, and it comes when we “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart.” As stated in one source: “Our faith in Christ and our love for Him lead us to repent, or to change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with His will. Repentance includes forming a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world.” It is not His will, for example, for us to feel so inadequate and unsafe that we avoid dating, disparage those we date, or become obsessively clingy or dependent on another. Again, “Sincere repentance brings several results. We feel God’s forgiveness and His peace in our lives. Our guilt and sorrow are swept away. We feel the influence of the Spirit in greater abundance.” As we allow His Atonement to transform us by keeping His commandments, including the commandment to repent, we have power both to see what needs to be changed and to begin and continue in the process of making the change until it is accomplished.
Neill F. Marriott discussed how we can repent and change: “I have found that after I pray for forgiveness of sins, it is instructive for me to ask Heavenly Father, “Father, is there more?” When we are… still, our minds can be directed to something more we may need to change—something that is limiting our capacity to receive spiritual guidance or even healing and help…. In time and by degrees, we receive His gracious strength and direction—perhaps leading us to study more deeply the Savior’s Atonement or to consult with a friend, a professional counselor, or even a doctor. The healing of our heart begins when we submit to and worship God.”
Larry R. Lawrence suggested we need to be continually learning and improving, in other words, changing. To do this he suggested we ask ourselves and the Lord, “What lack I yet?” or other similar questions. He gives several examples of people doing this, three of them young adults:
A humble young man who couldn’t seem to find the right young woman went to the Lord for help: “What is keeping me from being the right man?” he asked. This answer came into his mind and heart: “Clean up your language.” At that moment, he realized that several crude expressions had become part of his vocabulary, and he committed to change.
A single woman bravely asked the question: “What do I need to change?” and the Spirit whispered to her, “Don’t interrupt people when they are talking.” The Holy Ghost really does give customized counsel. He is a completely honest companion and will tell us things that no one else knows or has the courage to say.
One man found himself stressed with a very heavy schedule. He was trying to find time for work, studies, family, and church responsibilities. He asked the Lord for counsel: “How can I feel at peace with all that I need to do?” The answer was not what he expected; he received the impression that he should more carefully observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy. He decided to dedicate Sunday to God’s service—to lay aside his school courses on that day and study the gospel instead. This small adjustment brought the peace and balance that he was seeking.
As you make these changes, a change of heart and of behavior, you will be more successful in getting dates and building relationships, and ultimately of building a relationship which will culminate in an eternal marriage.
This article is one of a series. For others in the series, see: