Sunday, April 17, 2011

Busting The Myth That LDS Guys Don't Want To Get Married

Dallin H. Oaks, in his talk "Desire," given during the April 2011 General Conference, read a letter from a single sister who claimed that LDS men have no desire to make any kind of commitment to a woman:
"Single men, please consider the challenge in this letter written by a single sister. She pleaded for “the righteous daughters of God that are sincerely searching for a worthy helpmeet, yet the men seem to be blinded and confused as to whether or not it is their responsibility to seek out these wonderful, choice daughters of our Heavenly Father and court them and be willing to make and keep sacred covenants in the Lord’s house.” She concluded, “There are many single LDS men here that are happy to go out and have fun, and date and hang out, but have absolutely no desire to ever make any kind of commitment to a woman."
The sister's claim that men have no desire to make a commitment to a woman is not true
"But according to what may be the biggest study of single people ever, that image is, like the enthusiasm for the chocolate, quite false.
Single men are, on the whole, as likely to want to get married as single women, the survey found. They are more likely than women to be open to dating people of a different race or religion, more prone to falling in love at first sight, more eager to combine bank accounts sooner and more likely to want children. (That distant choking sound you hear is thousands of women finding this news hard to swallow.)
The study — of 5,200 people ages 21 to over 65 who weren't married, engaged or in a serious relationship — was funded by, which has a vested interest in understanding the partnerless. But it was carried out by an independent company in conjunction with Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher, social historian Stephanie Coontz and the evolutionary-studies program at Binghamton University. (Evolutionists are all over mate selection, which is the academic term for dating, because those who successfully pair up and procreate send their DNA into the next generation. Think of it as survival of the flirtiest.)
Their findings put the lie to the impression that all guys are Seth Rogen–esque commitmentphobes who regard the dating scene as a kind of all-you-can-meet buffet for their enjoyment. "This study confirms what my research on the brain shows," says Fisher. "The mechanisms for attachment for men and women are exactly the same. Just as many men want to get married as women do."
But the figures need to be parsed carefully. While overall, as many men as women wanted to marry, age played a big role in their preferences. Younger (ages 21 to 24) and older men (50 and up) were more favorably disposed to legal lifetime unions than their female peers. In the between years — the decades when women must pay heed to a uterine deadline — the ratios shift the other way."
The conclusion of the study is this: 
"From the get-go, women are fussier about whom they'll consider for a partner. More men (80%) than women (71%) don't care about the race of a love interest, and many more men (83%) than women (62%) are flexible on their date's religious beliefs. It's not simply, the figures suggest, that guys are more pro-marriage than has been believed; it's that women are less so than the stereotypes would have it."
One of the authors of the study is Dr. Hellen E. Fisher who is a professor of anthropology and a researcher of human behaviour at Rutgers University. She is one of the leading highly qualified "expert" on the biology of love and attraction given that she has studied romantic interpersonal attraction for over 30 years. Dr. Fischer says that her study destroys the myth that men are don't want to commit to a woman:
"But I have long wanted to bust myriad myths about the other half of the human race–men. Single in America does it in spades. This national survey clearly shows that men are just as eager to marry as women are; 33% of both sexes want to say “I do.”  Moreover, men in every age group are more eager than women to have children.  Even young men.  Among those between ages 21 and 34, 51% of men want kids, while 46% of women yearn for young.  Men are less picky too.  Fewer men say it is  important to find a partner of their own ethnic background (20% of men vs 29%  of women said this is a “must have” or “very important”); and fewer say they want someone of their own religion (17% of men vs 28% of women said this is a “must have” or “very important”).   Men are also more likely to have experienced love at first sight, as well as open to introducing a date to their parents sooner.
Perhaps most impressive:  In a committed relationship, men are less likely to say they need personal space (58% vs 77% of women); less likely to want nights out with friends (23% vs 35% of women); less eager to own their own bank account (47% vs 66% of women); and less likely to want to take a vacation on their own (8% vs 12%).  Remarkably, men under age 45 are also more willing  than older men and women to enter a committed relationship with someone who has everything they were looking for in a partner, but whom they do not find sexually attractive.  And just as many men under 35 believe you can stay married to the same person forever (84%).
I study the brain in love.   My colleagues and I have put over 60 men and women ages 18-57 into a brain scanner to study the brain circuitry of romantic passion.  We found no gender differences.  This Single in America study supports what I have long suspected: that men are just as eager to find a partner, fall in love, commit long term and raise a family.   It’s an illuminating, indeed myth-shattering, new set of scientific data.  And the sooner we embrace these findings, and fling off our outmoded and unproductive beliefs about both sexes, the faster we will find--and keep--the love we want." 
I think if this study was conducted among LDS people, you would get the same results or close to it. However, the idea that LDS men are refusing to commit to marriage is bogus. If non-LDS men are more pro-marriage than their non-LDS female counter parts, I would think that LDS men would be even more pro-marriage than is asserted by the single sisters of the Church. 
Which brings me to a point that Elder Oaks makes after reading the letter from the sister:
"I am sure that some anxiously seeking young men would want me to add that there are some young women whose desires for a worthy marriage and children rank far below their desires for a career or other mortal distinctions. Both men and women need righteous desires that will lead them to eternal life."
And Elder Oaks is right. Both the single LDS men and women need to have the righteous desires to get married. There are many wonderful men and women who are doing all that they can to be married in the temple. There are also many men and women in the church who are putting off marriage.
At some point, both the LDS Church and members of the Church need to stop perpetuating this myth that men are dragging their feet to the Temple because its simply not true. The truth is that there are many men and women who are dragging their feet to the temple.
There has been a great debate raging among single LDS women and men in the church on the subject of dating and marriage. Too many people are blaming the opposite sex for why there has been a decline in dating. Both men and women in the Church have been pointing the finger at the opposite sex and blaming them for their single status.
The blame game ends now. Today. 
The only person who is responsible for finding a eternal companion is YOU. You are accountable and responsible for that. No else is responsible for your dating life. You have the agency to choose to ask that girl out or not. You have the agency to choose to say yes or no to that date. If you choose not to ask that person out or say yes to a request for a date, the only consequence is that you missed an opportunity for a date.
I'd like leave you with a question for my readers to ponder: 
Does He really have a preference for one dating approach over another?  In other words, does Heavenly Father care, in the eternal scheme of things, whether the boy asked the girl out or the girl asked the boy out so long as the couple got married worthily in the Temple?

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