If there is one thing on BYU students’ minds as much as academics, it’s dating. A 2014 study by School of Family Life professor Brian Willoughby found that: “young adults…expect to place a high importance on the marital role in their future…. [They] appear to be actively planning on placing time, energy and resources into an eventual spousal role.” Something young adults regard as paramount should not be taken lightly. Various Family, Home, and Social Sciences resources provide tips to aid them in their quest.
Tip #1: Enjoy Being Single
“Most young adults have a desire to marry and one day have a family of their own,” said student Shelece McAllister in a Forever Families article on dating and being happy while single. “However, the process of dating and seeking a marriage partner can be daunting, and sometimes finding your spouse can seem an impossible task. Don’t give up hope! It is possible to successfully navigate the wilderness of the dating world and make it to the promised land.” Student Josh Sorenson of the College’s Comprehensive Clinic advised others to take time to be grateful and optimistic; optimism is key to good emotional and physical health. “In general those with more positive emotions tend to have better health,” he said. “People who report more positive affect socialize more often and maintain more and higher-quality social ties.” Practicing gratitude and optimism will help people enjoy their lives and form more meaningful relationships.
Tip #2: Learn How to Differentiate Between Promptings and Real Life
We’ve all heard the story about the man who received revelation revealing the woman he was to marry. But is that revelation always right? And, what do you do if it’s not? Professors Michael Goodman and Lauren Barnes discuss how to reconcile revelation with relationships in this article from The Daily Universe. “I believe that a lack of understanding [of] the role and interpretation of revelation leads some well-meaning people to mistaken assumptions about what their feelings mean,” said Dr. Goodman.
Tip #3: Refine Your Search
“I fall in love with at least three girls every passing period. It happens all the time. I would be walking past the Brimhall building on my to the Harris Fine Arts Center and spot and a girl and say ‘Oh, I love her.’ Then 15 seconds later, I would spot another girl and say, ‘Oh, I love her.’ Then eventually, another girl passes and I see her and think, ‘I love her,’ said BYU Econ graduate Alex Doss. There is an economic theory that describes his experience and how he and others can refine their search for true love; it prescribes beginning by establishing one’s own goals and identity.
Tip #4: Learn How to Have a Healthy Relationship
People know how to get into a relationship, but they don’t often know what to do once they’re in it. Sometimes, the relationship can turn abusive or just fizzle; there are so many ways a relationship can dissolve. However, when a person is in a relationship, whether or not it lasts, they need to ensure it is a healthy one. The Relate Institute provides some pointers on understanding what abuse is and how to combat it, and onlearning how to have fun.
Tip #5: Debunk the Myth of Soulmates
“You can certainly see the appeal of a soul mate. Somewhere, someone is out there that is destined to be with you. Someone who will make your happier and more satisfied than anyone else in the world. With our lives full of stress and heartache, this beacon of hope can make us strive forward in relationship after relationship, seeking that one and only true love,” wrote a Relate Institute author. While the idea of a soulmate is enticing, it can lead us to miss out on so many potentially great relationships and opportunities to grow. The Relate Institute advises singles to not have a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality, among other things.
Tip #6: Develop Your Sense of Self-Awareness and Self-Compassion
Dating can cause one to question one’s identity and value. It is important to cultivate self-awareness and self-compassion, since research shows that these practices can help in alleviating depression, and mediating shame, avoidance, self-criticism, or irrational beliefs. Among other strategies for such cultivation, psychology student Olivia Thompson advises practicing informal mindfulness in everyday life. Be a nonjudgmental observer of the present moment. Try to refrain from making quick value judgements. Periodically take a few conscious, deep breaths.
Dating is cardinal, yet very tricky. It can be done successfully, though, with help.