“Questions and Answers,” Ensign, Mar. 2006, 20–23
I am a young single adult and would like to get married, but I have never been very successful at dating. I’m doing all I can to improve myself, but sometimes I get discouraged. How can I continue to hope for marriage when I rarely date?
My wife and I were single for many years before we got married. Both of us thought at times that we might not have the opportunity to marry in this life.
Our advice is to keep an eternal perspective and enjoy the fruits of each season of life. Many activities can be pursued more fully while single than while married. Use opportunities to pursue educational and professional goals, develop talents, pursue hobbies, and serve in the Church and community. All these activities will enrich your life and make you a more attractive companion for the kind of spouse you desire. The habit of developing yourself can continue when you marry, and it will enrich your relationship with your spouse.
Focus on drawing closer to the Savior. Let Christ be your hope and your peace in troubled times. Pray for an eternal companion, but be willing to accept the Lord’s plan for your life as it unfolds. Fervent prayer can bring the peace the Savior promised in John 14:26–27. Fasting and temple attendance will also sanctify your soul and bring peace and comfort.
Kevin and Angela Lambert, Goldenrod Ward, Orlando Florida Stake
In some ways, finding a mate is like buying a pair of shoes. The important thing is that you have a proper fit. If one of the first pairs you try on meets your needs, do you still have to try on every other pair in the store? It doesn’t matter how few dates one has as long as one is open to new friendships until the one that fits comes along.
Yvonne Stephenson, Annandale Ward, Annandale Virginia Stake
When I was 30 years old, I felt my chances of meeting the eternal companion promised in my patriarchal blessing had come and gone. It wasn’t until I was 31 and seeking to find what the Lord’s mission for my life was that I met and married my eternal companion. One of the most important things I learned from that experience is that I wasn’t being denied blessings; I was being prepared—as was my eternal companion—for our eventual marriage. When I aligned my will with the Lord’s, He was able to do what He does best: bless us beyond our current understanding.
My bliss was put on hold temporarily, however, when my sweetheart passed away unexpectedly after two years of marriage. As we were not able to have children, I have been left to ponder once more what the Lord has in store for me. Again, I have tried to align my will with the Lord’s, and I can testify that the results have been miraculous.
I have found there are specific things the Lord needs me to accomplish right now that I couldn’t do if my situation were different. From that work have come blessings beyond description, an increase in spiritual gifts, and a rewarding purpose for my life.
Cassandra Dawn Bushman, Evergreen Ward, Tempe Arizona Stake
It is a mistake to think that life begins only upon marriage. You must feel that you have something to offer whether you are single or married. Look at the areas of your life you have control over, such as your appearance, attitude, and treatment of others. Not exercising control over these things can be a problem when dating.
Pray to be more like the Savior and to recognize others as children of God. Continue to do worthwhile activities on your own and with friends, and always meet the standard required to enter the holy temple. Do not give up hope for marriage, but do not become so obsessed with it that you lose sight of your ultimate goal: to return to Heavenly Father.
Alina Riquelme, Chisholm Trail (YSA) Ward, Round Rock Texas Stake
In many ways, my husband is very different from the type of man I always thought I would marry. Had I not been open to all possible candidates, I would not have discovered my true love.
Looking at people to date not just in terms of how they would be as a spouse but how they could be as a friend might help alleviate the pressure and make each dating experience more successful. Some single people seem to place too much importance on each and every date. Enjoyment and friendship may come through relaxing and trying to discover the great qualities about each individual irrespective of that person’s possibilities as a spouse.
Kathryn Latour, Arnhem Ward, Apeldoorn Netherlands Stake
An optimist is always more attractive than a pessimist. Sometimes we are led to believe that if we are single, we can’t be happy. There is no truth to that. We are happiest when we make the most of the opportunities afforded us. And someone who is happy and is making the most of his or her opportunities is an attractive person.
Spencer Larson, Wadsworth Ward, Akron Ohio Stake
One thing that helps me is to keep a journal. I make a special effort to write down spiritual experiences I have, including insights gained from scripture study, priesthood blessings, and heartfelt prayers. When I get discouraged, I like to look back in my journal and remember the ways the Lord has blessed me. This gives me comfort and strengthens my faith that the Lord will bless me with the righteous desires of my heart in His own time.
Michelle Ann Lloyd, Raleigh University (Student Single) Ward, Apex North Carolina Stake
Pray! When I took the time to pray for other things besides getting a date and getting married, it was easier to live my life and helped me to relax. Take time to pray for your family, loved ones, and neighbors who are having trouble. Pray for inspiration; ask if there is someone the Lord needs you to visit, call, write a letter to, or introduce the gospel to. Pray for those you home teach or visit teach. When I was praying for service opportunities, I had less time to feel sorry for myself because I didn’t have a date.
Also, step out of your comfort zone! Invite new members of the ward, single friends, and acquaintances over for potluck dinners, service projects, and games. Ask a friend to help you if you are uncomfortable doing this on your own. It may be easier to get to know others when your group is small—perhaps around six to eight people.
Samantha Licurse, Escalante Ward, Tucson Arizona Rincon Stake
Here are two things I did to combat those faith-challenging moments in my single days:
Set goals. Imagine what you would like to be doing, what you would like to have accomplished, and the person you would like to become in one year, five years, and ten years from now. Be willing to change your path if the Spirit prompts you to do something different.
Travel. If your finances allow, set goals regarding places you would like to visit. I didn’t know it at the time, but my travel experiences helped me prepare for my future. Experiences like these will make you more informed about the world and more interesting to talk to.
Natalie Sparks Johnson, Melville Ward, Perth Australia Rockingham Stake
When I was single, I learned some lessons that may be helpful:
Don’t be your own worst enemy. One year our singles group had a weekend conference, and a sister invited her roommate who was not a member of the Church. On the way home, someone asked this woman what she thought of the conference. Her answer was not what any of us expected: “I really do not understand you people. On Sunday you talked of the importance of finding the right mate and having close, loving families. But on Friday night and Saturday, you set up enough barriers between yourselves to be certain no one could ever get close to you.” Those words hit close to home. If we have had painful experiences, perhaps we do not want to repeat that pain, and so we may inadvertently sabotage ourselves to remain safe. At times we are our own worst enemy. We cannot experience life’s greatest joys if we are unwilling to take some risks.
Get feedback from others. I talked with my bishop, who told me: “You have to learn to let rejection just bounce off. Most men have been rejected a few times before they find their wives.” He suggested that I broaden my dating efforts rather than focusing only on those few women I thought I was interested in. I tried this and then sought feedback from mutual friends. It was painful at times, but I learned important insights about myself and about dating.
Have realistic expectations. Expect someone roughly equal to what you have to offer. A man may think he needs a great beauty. A woman may want a future successful leader. These expectations may serve only to keep you single. The other side is even worse. Some think, “Since I am getting older, I had better take any chance I can get.” The goal is not a life of misery; it is a happy, eternal family.
Joseph E. Robinson, Aliso Creek Ward, Santa Margarita California Stake
Being single while hoping for marriage was an uncertain and difficult time for me. I wondered about priesthood blessings I had received, including my patriarchal blessing, that promised marriage and children. Had I misunderstood certain statements? Did I not have enough faith? I found myself questioning whether I had missed my chance for marriage because I had missed promptings or hadn’t understood them.
Finally, I realized that focusing on all my questions seemed only to accentuate my loneliness and doubt. I found comfort when I stopped focusing on what I didn’t know and started clinging to what I did know. I knew I had a Heavenly Father who was aware of me and loved me. Even though my prayers regarding marriage didn’t seem to be answered, I could see other blessings that were brought into my life, and I knew the Savior’s Atonement could ease my loneliness. Although I felt very small and unimportant at times, I knew Heavenly Father still had a plan—even for me. I learned that if I would trust in “the due time of the Lord,” all would be well. I felt peace, and I was given the strength to get busy with other things in my life while I relied on Heavenly Father’s timing.
Sara Porter, Cannon Seventh Ward, Salt Lake Cannon Stake
“Like other important mortal events that depend on the agency of others or the will and timing of the Lord, marriage cannot be anticipated or planned with certainty. We can and should work for and pray for our righteous desires, but despite this, many will remain single well beyond their desired time for marriage.
“So what should be done in the meantime? Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares us for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares us to deal with life’s opportunities—to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost. …
“Commit yourself to put the Lord first in your life, keep His commandments, and do what the Lord’s servants ask you to do. Then your feet are on the pathway to eternal life. Then it does not matter whether you are … married or single. … Do your best on what is fundamental and personal and then trust in the Lord and His timing.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Timing,” Ensign, Oct. 2003, 15–16.