As a professional matchmaker, I have been privileged to hear thousands of heartbreaking, beautiful, and amazing dating stories from singles in the 31–45 age range, otherwise known as mid-singles. Some are divorced, others widowed, and many have not yet been married.
As I compare and contrast the various situations of the individuals involved and the struggles they endure, there are many common themes. I have boiled them down to five tips that have been immensely helpful to my clients and I would recommend to singles as well as those who want to help them find a real, sustainable, loving relationship:
1. Be willing to be vulnerable.
To be vulnerable takes courage, and as we open up to someone we trust, it leads to true connection, which is a huge part of romantic chemistry. In fact, most people agree that no matter how physically attracted they are initially to someone, it either increases or decreases based on the level of emotional connection they feel as the relationship builds.
To accomplish both connection and vulnerability, it’s important to learn how to share what you think, feel, and need in a way that matches the stage of the relationship. It’s not about sharing all your secrets or baring your soul on the first date. It’s important to learn the art of what to share, when, and with whom in order to create the kind of connection that will deepen a relationship.
Dr. John Van Epp uses the Relationship Attachment Model (RAM) to teach how to pace vulnerability based on five areas of bonding in relationships, which are: 1. Know 2. Trust 3. Rely 4. Commit 5. Touch. One area of the RAM should not become more deeply developed than the area preceding it. For example, a couple should not form strong bonds of trust beyond what they have established in their level of knowing each other.
To get to know someone new you must be curious about them, ask good questions, be a good listener, ask follow up questions, relate to what they are saying, empathize, and share about yourself. It is important to use emotion words so that they can get to know how you think and feel and you can empathize together about life.
It is also important to not overshare before they know you well enough to understand context of the situation and trust your character.
2. Be honest with yourself.
While many mid-singles have a list of the qualities and characteristics they are looking for in a spouse, not all are focused on being those qualities themselves. While it would be nice if everyone was attracted to us, the reality of this mortal world is that attraction does matter to most people when it comes to dating and marriage. Given this truth, it is wise to determine through analysis and feedback whether you are a good physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual match for the kind of person you are focused on finding. If not, are there changes you can and want to make or can you adjust your expectations to find a more realistic match instead? If you are willing to receive feedback, there are many possible ways to approach this. Friends, family, members of the opposite sex, or unbiased third parties such as a dating coach are all options, as long as you approach them with honest intentions to hear and receive their input and advice.
3. Take action.
Many mid-singles feel frustrated with their dating options yet rule out most of the viable ways to find good candidates–stating they don’t enjoy singles activities, are unimpressed by mid-singles wards, feel hesitant about online dating, and cringe at the idea of a setup. So that leaves meeting someone to chance, fate, or as we often hear “God’s timing.” But the reality is the Lord expects us to do our part in dating and marriage, even if the process isn’t always comfortable. So take action, join new social groups, attend mid-singles events, and become more comfortable with getting outside your comfort zone. Just like building relationships, “faith without works is dead.”
4. Recognize the Spirit and the adversary.
Faithful Latter-day Saint singles may not be as likely to break covenants that keep them from eternal marriage, so the adversary focuses instead on creating fear, doubt, and confusion to steer you away from achieving your righteous desires. When the mist of darkness appears, recognize it for what it is and know that there are brighter days ahead. Make a plan for how you will handle the down times and pull yourself up again. Reach outward to those who can help and upward to heaven for guidance.
Negative feelings are often misidentified as the Spirit warning us to break up or not to date someone who could actually be a really great person. While there are circumstances when we receive warnings, most often when the Spirit is speaking to us, we will feel peace in our heart.
The process of receiving personal revelation for ourselves is to study it out in our mind, make a decision that is based on the information we have, and ask the Lord if our decision is right (D&C 9:8). It is through this process that we can learn to trust Him and ourselves in making the most important decisions of our lives, including eternal marriage.
5. Give the spark a chance.
Many mid-singles expect to feel amazing chemistry on a first date or before they will even go out with someone. It is very common for men and women not to feel incredibly excited on the first (or more) dates. I have encouraged countless couples to keep going on dates unless they know the other person lacks their must-have qualities or has dealbreakers they can’t live with long term. Many of these same couples have ended up dating long term or married and have wonderful chemistry. The spark we think we should feel is often an unrealistic expectation. True connection and chemistry is built over time through effort and sacrifice.
Whether you’ve been doing this dating thing for a while or are just re-entering after a breakup, divorce, or death of a spouse, there so many reasons to feel hopeful and optimistic. There are many wonderful people to meet and amazing events and activities designed with you in mind.
For a chance to take action and meet new singles, look into the Salt Lake Mid-Singles Conference on August 2nd through the 5th. This conference includes everything from firesides, temple nights, and spiritual workshops to movies, games, brunches, and hikes! Click here for more details.
Amy Stevens Seal is the founder and CEO of The LDS Matchmaker®. She has assisted hundreds of singles in achieving their relationship goals and hosts a weekly Friday Night Love show on Facebook with thousands of viewers. Amy’s team of matchmakers can usually be found at social events like the upcoming conference, meeting new people on behalf of their paying clients, who are busy, working professionals.
Her own personal experiences being divorced and remarried after 11 years of being a “mid-single” created the passion behind her private coaching and date set up service. In addition to training with world-renowned industry experts, Amy has over 15 years of corporate recruiting experience and an MBA from Brigham Young University. Her vast network, unique perspective from being single and conquering debilitating trials herself, have all given Amy incredible empathy to work with people from different backgrounds and situations. Amy’s clients are eternally grateful for the services she provides.