Little children offer pure love. They don't assume you are going to hurt them. In fact, if you do hurt them by scolding them, they will hold their arms up to you wanting to be held and reassured of your love. We see the way our little granddaughter (11 months) smiles at us and it melts our hearts.
As we grow up, however, we experience a fallen world where people don't always have our best interests at heart. We might be picked on and bullied in school. We might be laughed at when we express feelings. We might even become the bully because that feels safer than being bullied. Gradually and imperceptibly, our hearts harden toward other people and even toward God.
As adults, when we are scolded we don't ask for a hug. We fight back. We may post memes on Facebook saying things like, "Don't make someone a priority who only thinks of you as an option." We expect to be used and abused, so we put our guard up to protect ourselves. We pretend things don't really hurt when they do. We insist that we are okay on our own and don't "need" anyone else to make us happy. Sometimes we isolate ourselves because we feel that is better than being hurt.
Dr. Greg Baer teaches about "emotional sunburns" which represent the pain we feel from not being loved enough. When those sunburns are bumped, the pain can be intense so even small insults or criticisms can trigger great pain.
So what about all this? Why should we bother with love when it inevitably comes with the risk of pain? This is, in fact, the conclusion many have come to. Just yesterday, I was communicating with a mid-single friend who says she is worn out with the dating process and she just intends not to do it anymore. She feels she has had too many disappointments and painful experiences. Is she wrong?
Of course, whether to date and when are personal questions that you have to answer for yourself. But, in the end, we come back to the morning of creation when our Heavenly Father said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18). God did not first offer Adam a platonic friendship, a child to raise, or siblings. He offered him a wife and, implicitly, offered Eve a husband. They were offered each other in a holy covenant where they could freely share their minds, bodies, and spirits. Without that kind of companionship, we will always feel alone to some extent. We cannot receive that complete kind of love from our children without exploiting them. We cannot receive it from platonic friends or siblings without draining them. This powerful longing to be the most important person to one other person is why we may keep trying to find that other person, even though the statistics for second and third marriages are not promising.
I believe you will benefit by gathering a circle of platonic friends who love and support each other. No number of these friends, however, will replace a spouse. But it is doing the best you can in less than ideal circumstances. It will provide companionship, connection, and joy. In the end, I believe our deepest longing will continue to be for a loving spouse.
So what about the statistics showing that second and third marriages fail at higher rates than first marriages? What about all of the pain and mistrust you are carrying around from past betrayals?
We believe most of the dysfunction in relationships is caused by erecting walls of protection that isolate us from the person we love most. On the average, those in second and third marriages have experienced greater pain and erected higher walls, so they struggle to connect deeply and, thus, their marriages fail at a higher rate than first marriages.
The answer is to deliberately and intentionally open your heart to other people. That is hard to do after years of conditioning to build walls and protect ourselves. At any given time, mid-singles will tell you all the things they refuse to put up with in another relationship. Remember that we are free "to act for [our]selves and not to be acted upon" (2 Nephi 2:26). You can tear down those walls or at least create a door you can open to that one special person.
We suggest forming that circle of platonic friends and being open and authentic with them. Let them "in." Tell them the unflattering truths about yourself and your history. Tell them your regrets without making excuses or blaming someone else. As you do this and find acceptance, it will be easier to believe that you might find complete acceptance with one that you are romantically interested in.
Remember the words of our Savior: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).
To be "converted" means to be changed. The mighty change of heart is, perhaps, the central message of the Book of Mormon. To become as a little child includes having an open heart and loving freely. We thus encourage you to open your hearts to love. The real love of even one other person is transformative.
Our featured podcast episode this week is Dating Naked (metaphorically, or course!) and our featured video is Are You a Man or Woman Hater? (which is perfect for anyone who is having negative feelings about the opposite sex). We also released a featured presentation Let Your Heart Be Open to Love (from our Las Vegas FHE for Single Adults). Our short of the week is Healing & Dating Confidence. Convenient links to all of these FREE new resources are available below.
FEATURED THIS WEEK
LILY Pod Episode 106: Dating Naked (32min)
LILY Tube Video: Are You a Man or Woman Hater? (10min)
LILY Tube Presentation: Las Vegas FHE: Let Your Heart Be Open to Love (57min)
LILY Tube Short: Healing & Dating Confidence (1min)
Coming up on Thursday, February 23 at 6:30 MST, we are offering a FREE WEBINAR on Life Design After Divorce. Come and learn how to gently allow your heart to be open to love — even after the loss of divorce! Put it on your calendar NOW and we’ll have details on how to signup and join the Zoom call in next week’s LILY Letter. We look forward to seeing your there!
Discover what LILY Coaching can do for you. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a FREE consultation with Jeff or Cathy. We have private and group coaching options available. We look forward to working with you personally!
Get a copy of "Intentional Courtship" on Amazon to heal from relationship loss and create more real love in your life HERE: Intentional Courtship
If you enjoy this letter, forward to a friend. Our goal is to support as many mid-singles and later-married couples as possible!