Friday, March 16, 2012

A Letter on Commitment

My good readers,

Our first email has hit our inbox.

Hey, guys!

I have a dilemma, and I was hoping for your help.

I've been dating a number of different, wonderful men, but my pool of dates has been shrinking almost systematically. Some guys simply drifted out of the picture. Others I forced away. And even more I lost despite my best attempts to convince them to stay.

All in all, I'm a little lost, and I'm having trouble seeing this objectively.

Of the guys I pushed away, most of them said flat out that they wanted to date exclusively. One even said he was in love with me! But something was always missing. I found myself struggling to commit to any of these men. Maybe I just wasn't ready, because things did move quickly, or maybe we really weren't right for one another. At any rate, when they wanted to commit and I didn't, things naturally fell apart.

You know that compelling feeling you get when you know you want to be with someone? There's no doubt in your heart. It's an almost desperate need. But of the men I wanted to stay, none of them was willing to commit to me. I asked where we were going and was greeted with a figurative door in my face. Crap.

What is my problem? What am I waiting for? Why is it that, of the men who wanted a relationship with me, I couldn't commit to a single one? But of the men I wanted, no one could commit to me? I guess we love what we sacrifice for, and we reject what comes too easily. I'm not sure what to do.

I assume that there's nothing in particular about my behavior that is scaring these men away, because there were those that were ready to commit. But I realize that when someone isn't ready, it's more likely that they really aren't ready to commit to you, specifically.

What do you, as men, look for in a potential mate? What makes it difficult to enter into an exclusive relationship? What makes it easy? How long does it normally take before you're sure that special someone is the someone you want to make your girlfriend? How would you recommend I approach a situation where I'm ready to commit, and the other party is not? I would love to meet the right person and make a commitment, but darn it all if that hasn't been working out!


Much love,

A girl

Dear A+ Girl,

I must admit: when I first read your letter, I wondered if I was even qualified to answer it. I'm dealing with some of the same things and I often find myself pondering many of the very same questions that you have asked me. As you’ve probably gleaned, I’m a thinker. I spend a decent amount of time pondering circumstances, actions, and the motives and meanings behind them.

Dating, relationships, and commitment are tricky things. In my last post I compared dating to marketing, the idea being that you’re looking to appeal to your target market. Now I’m going to tell you how dating is NOT like marketing. When you go to a store and pick something out, the product doesn’t turn around and size you up as well. As an inanimate object, it could care less who you are or what you do with it. But when it comes to dating, the connection is a two-way street. This is what makes it difficult. In my time, I have been on dates with wonderful women. Some of those resulted in relationships. Others, well…didn’t. There was nothing wrong with them. Our personalities simply didn’t mesh. There was some sort of block there. Different styles of humor. Being at different points in our lives. That sort of thing.

You’re right when you say that we love what we sacrifice for and we reject what comes too easily. When we put ourselves into something, when we invest in a relationship, we feel that it should work out. After all, work brings reward, right? So, once we start investing, we keep investing and it can be hard to break that cycle. Sometimes we put so much extra effort into something that we miss out on other opportunities by not being there or by failing to see them for what they are.

When something comes to us easily, when we don’t have to put much effort into it, sometimes we don’t feel invested. Other times we’re too focused on the people we’ve invested in to give these other opportunities the attention they deserve. It could be because we enjoy the chase. Maybe it’s because we feel that, if things don’t work out, we can always call upon that which came so easily. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame that we sometimes reject these potentially good opportunities simply because we didn’t have to fight as hard for them.

The trick here is to realistically look at each opportunity for what it could be, setting aside any previous investment.

What I look for in a potential mate is, in a nutshell, a person who I feel comfortable around and attracted to. A lot of things go into that. Shared religious beliefs are a must, as is a love of family and children. I’m a very family-oriented guy and I’m looking forward to being a father, so I’m looking for someone who is looking forward to being a mother. If a girl can make me smile, she has found an opening to my heart. I love to laugh and if I’m going to have someone around me for eternity, I want her to be able to make me laugh. Equally important to me is that I feel that I can talk with her about anything – that we can have conversations of all types and depths. And countless other things. I could talk your ears off about this. Perhaps one day I will. Ultimately, if I feel comfortable with this person and I feel that we would be a good influence upon each other, I’m willing to give it a try.

When I have met one of these girls, it’s taken me anywhere from a day to a couple months before I was sure that I wanted to make that special someone my girlfriend. That doesn’t mean it has always happened, but still. Some people just click on you and you feel that connection almost instantly, while others sneak up on you as you slowly begin to realize that you want to take that next step.

If you find yourself in a situation where the other person isn’t ready to commit and you are, step back and take a look at the situation. Why isn’t he ready to commit? Is it a matter of ill-meshing personalities or a failure to recognize an opportunity because it came too easily? Maybe it’s something else entirely. Maybe, like me, he's a bit of a shy fella. It’s okay to talk to him about it, but I don’t recommend pushing it.

I hope that I’ve been able to shed some insight on your predicament. I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with you – it’s just a matter of recognizing a good person with whom you mesh and going for it.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Dating, Marketing...Tomato, Potato

Welcome to the Triple D! I am Featherstone McGee, one of two writers here. You likely know me from the Anti-Austen. I was a guest writer there before they phased out their male authors. My most important pieces on the Anti-Austen were The Perfect Man and The Post Where Featherstone McGee Gets a Little Blasphemous. In lieu of a long introduction, I will let my articles draw you a picture of who Featherstone McGee really is. What I write will tell you more about me than any blurb ever could, so let us begin!

There’s a tool we use quite often in marketing (I’m a marketing student) called a SWOT analysis. It involves analyzing two internal factors, Strengths and Weaknesses, and two external factors, Opportunities and Threats. It looks a little something like this:









As I was in my Place of Contemplation (the shower), I had an epiphany. I was pondering how important it is to truly know who you are when I suddenly realized that this marketing tool could prove quite useful in dating. You see, dating is essentially marketing yourself. Relationships are about meeting the needs of others through the unique attributes that you possess. In order to be successful, you need to know your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Once you know where you stand, you can build your strengths, reduce your weaknesses, take advantage of your opportunities, and minimize your threats. Let me show you what I mean by showing you a shortened version of my own Dating SWOT Analysis.





-Family oriented





-Worthy Priesthood Holder

-Nerdy (I consider this a strength)

-Good listener

-Hard worker

-Reasonably handsome


-Often busy with school


-The blog




-The Friend Zone

Most likely, your SWOT will not look like mine. It will be as unique as you are. Just to be clear, here’s what goes in each box:

Strengths: These are the good things about who you are. Give this section a lot of thought – you’re better than you think you are and once you have identified your strengths, you will know what to advertise most about yourself.

Weaknesses: These are the things about yourself that you can, and should, improve. Everyone has them. I tend to be shy when first meeting new people.

Opportunities: In the Dating SWOT, these are the methods or places you have a good chance of meeting people to date.

Threats: These are the factors that you do not have control over that are not helpful to your dating life. For example, I often end up in the Friend Zone. If you’re the quintessential nice guy, you likely spend a lot of time there.

I hope that you find this to be useful. In dating, it’s important to know who you are and what you have to offer. My own dating life had been in the dumps (and my self-esteem along with it) until a few very special people helped me realize just how much I had to give. Once again, welcome to the Triple D – dating from the guy’s perspective. We’re still working out the details (design, posting schedule, etc.) so things may be unorganized for a bit. I really like to interact with the readers, so if you have any questions you’d like answered or topics you’d like to one of us to write about, email us at Your anonymity is guaranteed.

~Featherstone McGee

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mystery from the History: Best of Col Paisley #3

Note: the original can be found here.
Hello, my Provo dating friends!

This week's Paisley Post is brought to you by the letter G, in tribute to Art Garfunkel, who is awesome.

When you think about it, dating is kind of like running.

The above constitutes a "tender moment." Now excuse me, I am gagging.

I ran a 10K this summer, and the song I used to start off the playlist was Simon and Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song. The beginning lyrics are "Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the moment last..."

Those words serve me as a reminder to not go too fast at the beginning of the race and wear myself out. Chances are, I haven't prepared much for this race, and I've only stretched minimally before we begin. [It's a miracle I've yet to injure myself... knock on wood.]

"Whoa now, Colonel Paisley, I'm not gonna let you begin judgin' me! A lot of people think my relationship/engagement/marriage moved too fast! You have no right to pass judgment!"

Of course I don't. I'm not speaking to you tonight. You're part of the lucky 1% who are awesome at running and finish a 10K in 23 minutes. There are always people for whom things just "work out." They click, they find the people they are supposed to be with for eternity. Good for them. I'm glad the dating game suddenly got easy for them.

But most of us? Not so much. It's hard being the 99%. [#occupydating anyone?] And tonight I'm not going to provide some hard-and-fast rule about dating speed, but merely some insights and guidance.

In my experience and in the experiences I've witnessed, overall it is beneficial to all parties if relationships move relatively slow.

You never realized there was wisdom in that old Aesop's fable, didja?! 
Good ol' childhood, it was actually useful! Weird.

"Slow and steady wins the race," Aesop instructed us. Try not to take things too fast. I've seen people rush into relationships that eventually fall apart and become awkward for everyone involved. One of my really good friends started dating a girl at the beginning of the semester, but it ended quickly. Now he finds it quite difficult to have a conversation with her or her roommates.

It's never a bad thing to have time to get to know a person's emotional, intellectual, and spiritual sides before flying on into a physical relationship. If you are even mildly interested in finding your eternal companion at a certain point in life, what better way to truly know your compatibility with someone?

One of my friends, whom I consider to be somewhat of a little sister that I don't have, just started dating someone. It seems from the outside that their relationship started really quickly [within a week's span between first date and DTR]. However, they have known each other for at least a year, having developed a friendship at first that, hey cool, later blossomed into a relationship.

I myself started developing a relationship with a certain ladyfriend. We've spent plenty of time together in a variety of activities, but we are not officially dating. We haven't kissed. But things are going well, and I'm not desperately wanting to begin a physical relationship.

...I find I'm not very organized, my friends. I feel like this post could be a lot more cohesive, clear, and coherent (+3). Instead I have a lot of random examples thrown together with semi-related segues and pictures.
Two for one prizes, friends! A picture OF a Segway!

Lame puns [redundant?] aside, let me summarize:

You can be happy if things move quickly. Look at the Charming Directorship. They happened relatively fast, but they're happy with their chocolate milk lunches and chin tickling. Good for them.

Look at my friend Constable Richelieu. He met a girl at a devotional, and they were engaged three weeks later. I'm really happy for them.

And on the flip side, we have people who have spent a long period of time getting to know their significant other.

And how are all these people connected?
They are happy.

That is what it's all about. Can we look at our paths that took us to where we are and say, "Yeah, Paul and Art, you're right, I AM feelin' groovy!"

I basically want to say, don't feel pressure. Be happy with where you are in your life right now. If the winds of change tickle your ear and sweep you up with a person who ends up being the love of your life, enjoy it! If you invest a great deal of time in one person and you feel like the relationship is progressing, savor it! If you sacrifice incense and dead man's toes to the Brigham Young statue at a full moon and confess that you're okay with graduating college single, relish it!

You're living your lives, people! Don't feel the need to rush into something, but don't take it as slow as possible either. Find that happy pace that you and your significant other are supposed to move at, and then "make the moment last."

And listen to Simon and Garfunkel. They make everything better.

Pip pip,

Colonel Paisley

P.S. [I just realized that the correct lyrics are "make the morning last," but I don't really care.]

Blast from the Past: Best of Featherstone McGee #2

Note: the original can be found here.

The post where Featherstone McGee gets a little bit blasphemous...

Dear Readers,

God is a sneaky, sneaky fellow. Now, before you assemble a lynch mob and have me tried for blasphemy, let me say that I make that statement with the utmost respect. Let me also say that I have a habit of using the word sneaky for a variety of things. In this case the meaning I wish to convey is clever. After all, God works in mysterious ways.

Now, at this point I’m guessing that some of you are saying to yourselves Featherstone, what in the world does this have to do with dating? Well, let me tell you.

By now you’ve probably learned that dating at BYU (and within the Mormon culture) is different. It’s unique. I’m guessing that many of you grew up in the same dating culture that I did, or at the very least one that was quite similar. Dates as we know them did not exist or were very rare. The common practice was as follows:

1. We start off with a large group of friends who hang out together quite frequently. Within this group there are many individuals. One is named Jack. Another is named Jill.

2. After getting to know everybody, Jack and Jill begin to realize that they have a slightly elevated interest in one another relative to their interest in the other members of the group. This begins the strange phenomenon known as feelings.

3. Upon contemplation of this interest Jack and Jill begin to spend more time together and feelings develop further.

4. Jack and Jill begin dating (which in this context is defined as the act of being in a romantic relationship) despite having only gone on few, if any, dates.

Does this sound familiar to you? A friend of mine from work grew up in the same dating environment in a completely different state. So I know I’m not the only one. There are at least two of us.

Now here we are at BYU. The dating scene is quite different. Dates are still dates, but dating has taken on two meanings, specifically 1) the act of going on several dates and 2) the act of being in a romantic relationship. Dates and the first meaning of dating play a significantly more important role in the overall process as the dating pool expands to, well, pretty much anybody without a ring on their finger. More options, more possibilities, with people you DON’T EVEN KNOW! It’s enough to make your head spin.

Now, if you’ve ever baked a marble and thrown it in ice cold water, you would know that such a drastic change can be enough to make the insides crack. Indeed, the pressures of dating can be difficult and can indeed cause us to crack. I’m sure that, at one point or another, most of you out there have felt the pressures weigh on you in the form of doubt, despair, hopelessness, sadness, frustration, or some other sad, negative emotion that can come as the result of an unsuccessful dating life. I know that I have. Such was the state I was in when I first discovered this blog.

Now let us shift gears as I begin to relate everything I have said back to the first paragraph (just in case you were wondering when/if that would even happen). I hate cats (no judging). Yet it was a video of a woman blubbering on about cats that brought me to the Anti-Austen. Why did I click the link found on Overheard @ BYU? I don’t know. I just did. Many of the actions that I have performed at the subtle inspiration of the Spirit have been things I have just done that I normally wouldn’t do. Before I knew it, I was writing on the Anti-Austen. A broken boy with too little experience and too much insight writing on a dating blog. Seriously?

As you likely know, a challenge was issued by the Charmer, a contest was held, and a date was procured. The Charmer has admitted in a previous post that her November challenge was indeed inspired. The rest of the details of this story are very personal to me – I hold them very dear to my heart and they are mine to keep. I will tell you that this broken boy is healing quite nicely.

Now, if you’ve ever baked a marble and thrown it in ice cold water, you would know that such a drastic change can be enough to make the insides crack. If you’ve ever seen one of these cracked marbles, you would also know that the cracks inside add a unique character to each and every one of them. Thus, each one is special. God is a sneaky, sneaky fellow. The challenges in our lives shape who we are as individuals and the solutions that help us overcome them are often not what we expect. Never would I have guessed that I could find what I have been searching for through a dating blog.

My dear readers, this message is for those of you who currently face challenges in dating. This message is for those of you whose hopes are dashed. This message is for those of you who find yourselves in need of brighter days. There is indeed hope out there and it will likely come in ways that you don’t expect, even in ways that you have yet to consider. Brighter days are in your future, so keep careful watch for them. I urge you to keep your eyes, your mind, and your heart open, because God may introduce them to you in the cleverest of ways – after all, He is a sneaky, sneaky fellow.

~Featherstone McGee