A *MAJOR* Dating Tip

To all the wonderful single people out there, I love you.  This is for you !
(Mothers:  Please share this message with your sons & daughters.  This is for them, too. 🙂 )

I just have to get this out. My other “dating list” is still coming, but this is an important intro that I thought I would share first.  Here goes………..

There are certain kinds of men or women out there that bring very little good energy or kindness to the table in a relationship.

Have you ever experienced this?  It can be subtle or it can be blatant.  For example:

-Someone who has a problem showing physical or verbal love

-Someone who wants you to work around his/her schedule or location all the time instead of the other way around

-Someone who focuses more on their needs instead of yours

-Someone who dwells in negativity & trash talks others or themselves

-Someone who seems to be bothered by your flaws more than they are celebrating & raving about your good qualities

-Someone who poisons an otherwise good relationship because they won’t step it up & commit, out of selfishness or fear

Ick! Why do so many of us actually find ourselves wanting to BE with someone like this?!?! Or actually wanting to be loved by someone like this?!?! Why do so many give and give and GIVE, only to have this person drop them a bone from time to time? Why can’t we believe that we deserve more?

Well, I think we all have this desire to be loved & desired & useful. And we stick it out in these horrible relationships, loving & giving to no end, just HOPING, HOPING, HOPING that one day it will be enough for this person to love us back. All along, to approach a relationship in a healthy way, we should not be basing our wholeness or wellness on feeling loved by others, anyway…. see what I learned about this in this previous post.

Friends, I have been there. It is embarrassing to admit. But oh yes, I have been there. Those times were the greatest energy sucks of my life! Every ounce of me went towards trying to maintain those less than ideal relationships. Dumb. Doesn’t that just sound ridiculous & exhausting? It was.

Luckily, later in life, I smartened up and learned to recognize these types of energy drainers quickly. Heaven help me, there was no way I wanted to be in that type of relationship again. I can’t help but write some of this insight I’ve gained from the refiners fire, in hopes that maybe it will help someone out there!  I want you ALL to have the best relationships possible!!!! If we all had this, we could change the world.  🙂

To be as direct as I can be, do not date a person another day if they are draining your energy and bringing very little kindness and loving nature to the table!

Do NOT keep justifying this kind of behavior & rationalizing a reason to stay. Please trust me that it is not worth it & it very likely will not have a happy ending. You CAN meet someone better if you hold out for it.  And you WON’T be worse off without this person. Trust me, your inner gut and your future children and everyone around you will thank you if you walk away.

Now, it can get confusing because a person like this may actually be a really great person and have many admirable qualities! They could be smart, talented, fun to be around, adored by others & they may have a big heart in other ways. They may even have many of the same overall values as you. And the worst dose of confusion? You may actually feel “loooove” for this person!!! WHAT ON EARTH IS A GIRL TO DO?  It took me a long time to figure this out, but….I will say this now and probably many times on this blog:

Just because you are in love does NOT mean your partner is “marriage quality”!!

In fact, in most cases when people are “in love”  – – – marriage is likely NOT a good idea! “Love” does not indicate AT ALL that someone is ready or capable or mature enough to contribute to a happy relationship.  It does NOT mean that they are bringing good energy to the table, which is essential for a healthy/happy marriage. Think of how many times you’ve been “in love”. Aren’t you glad now that you aren’t married to those people? There are SOOO many other qualities that make a person “marriage quality.” (Future post on this coming…)

And know this very important detail….

You are just as accountable for this dysfunctional relationship, if you allow it to continue. (As was I.)  Ouch.

This is in your hands. Please, please only date & marry someone that FULLY ADDS TO your own good energy & make sure that you are offering the same!! Doesn’t that sound lovely? Do guys/ girls like that really exist? YES, THEY DO! Tell me you’ll hold out for one! (If you want to know a good place to likely find a ton of them, let me know. 🙂

One last very important bit to share…

When two people in a marriage aren’t sucking the life out of each other, you’ll have such an abundance of overflowing energy and love that you can share it with others…

…including your children, neighbors, people in need, even strangers. It’s so dang beautiful how that works!  This is what the best marriages are made of.  I want that for all of you. Each & every one of you deserves it.

Sending you all good wishes in your relationships!

P.S.  These photos are from my single days, during a trip to DUCK BEACH. This is the Mormon spring break in the Outer Banks where THOUSANDS of single Mormons (as far as you can see) converge from all over the country. I have never seen anything like it. But it was an incredible experience. (Most of these photos taken by Jean Baptiste Duprieu.) A documentary about Duck Beach is being made, which I am sure will be entertaining. Here’s a trailer.


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  1. Kate October 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm - Reply

    Hi, I am loving your blog! Thanks for this tip, and I wanted to add that it's a great rule of thumb for FRIENDships, too–anyone who's an energy vampire is not adding to your life. It's so hard to prune relationships though.

  2. Amanda Greer October 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. Does it make sense if I say that I knew this already, but it helps so much to see it in print and hear it from someone else? Sometimes, I need to be reminded.

  3. Natalie Jane October 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Dating is such a big deal. I wrote a letter to my kids about it recently. http://www.nataliessentiments.com/2011/05/happiest-10-years.html

  4. ichimedin October 14, 2011 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    Found your blog via Design Mom, and I'm loving it. Please never stop sharing what you know. I'm so uplifted everytime I read. I'm teaching the dating lesson in YW this weekend, and I want to just stand up and read this post word for word.

  5. Darger Party of 3 October 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    I LOVE THIS POST!!! I read your blog for several reasons. One of which is reading it hoping a close friend I ADORE is reading it too and soaking it in. Love you and thank you for putting this info out there to the world.

  6. Laurie October 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    This is all so true. I had a dysfunctional relationship all through high school. I thought that because we were"in love" it was all right to feel this way, but we were way too young to understand how real relationships function. It's not all about you, it's all about those you love. Giving to others is the most natural way to find happiness. Great Stuff Mara. thanks

  7. Anonymous October 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    ok so what do you do if you married the person (this post is an exact description of my life), had two kids with them and have gone through a lot of pain and still continue to do so. What then? I would love to know…

  8. rubi October 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    I think this could count for relationships in general, especially friendships. It's hard to be able to walk away from a relationship that is dysfunctional especially when it can be a friendship that you are allowing to suck the energy out of you.

  9. danny October 17, 2011 at 2:16 am - Reply

    @ Anonymous – this is a really great question that I don't know if Mara or I could answer in a comment box…nor do I know if we necessarily have an answer.

    The only thing I know to answer is to refer back to some principles we've mentioned elsewhere in this blog so far and will continue to cover. For example, in Mara's "Mother's Day for an Infertile Woman" post, she goes about describing how it was actually in the depths of infertility (and later divorce) that she discovered the power to be her truly greatest self. I discovered the same thing in my own divorce…not after it but during it!

    I'm not suggesting you or anyone else get divorced. What I'm saying is that I know, and Mara knows, that there is a special kind of deliverance and peace that we can learn in the most difficult of life's situations. That deliverance and peace usually come after we learn how that we are in control of our reactions…even if we can't control our circumstance. Read that post again to see how Mara did it…it was the exact same for me too!

    And just as Mara wanted to become her best self for the sake of her unborn (or not-yet-adopted) children, you now have two children who could benefit from their mom's best self. A mother who offers them love even when she isn't receiving it…especially because they might not be receiving it from the other parent.

    We'll keep your dilemma in mind for future posts and hope we can offer some hope and direction from what we've learned. But I happen to know the greatest teacher in this scenario will be you as you develop a stronger connection with whatever you call the Divine.

  10. Anonymous October 18, 2011 at 4:08 am - Reply

    I am married with 3 young children. Our marriage is alright; but my husband does fill several of your bullet points in your post. He's pretty grumpy, and that's exactly how I feel – it takes so much ENERGY to live with him. However, he wasn't like this before we were married, that I remember. I was pretty careful in my selection, I think. But part of being married is seeing through what you need to see through. For a long time I wished that he could be like so-and-so who doesn't get mad at his wife every day. I'm not saying I'm perfect. I'm definitely not. But I don't think I'm critical of him, like he is of me. But somehow, I feel like this is the life experience I am supposed to have. And I have grown to love him more and more. We still have a ways to go. It's definitely not an instant transformation. I'm just saying (in response to anonymous' comment), taking a weak marriage and making it strong is a very deeply growing experience. I am much more tolerant than before I was married. And much more loving.

    There are times for divorce, definitely. But just because someone is an energy-suck doesn't mean you should divorce. As long as they are willing to work to improve your marriage, it has potential. My husband is grumpy, for sure; but he's also not in denial of it. He tries, and is getting (slowly and gradually 🙂 better.

    Don't know if you're LDS, but I think it is so interesting that we make the biggest decision of our entire existence (choosing a mate) when:
    1. We are away from God.
    2. We are 20(ish). (and highly influenced by everything and everyone that doesn't matter).
    3. We are mortal (the most natural man we will probably ever be in our existence).

    To me, that means God wants us to fumble through our relationships. NOT THAT WE SHOULDN'T MAKE THE BEST CHOICE WE POSSIBLY CAN (Love this post for singles). But that somehow He doesn't want us to marry the perfect person (since our spouse is probably as imperfect as they will ever, ever be again), but he wants us to LEARN TO LOVE SOMEONE WHO IS IMPERFECT. We aren't supposed to find our soul mate in life, but together we are supposed to become soul mates. So even if your marriage is struggling, unless there is definite reason to end it, WORK to make it better. You can't change your spouse, but how you love your spouse can make a big difference about if they want to change.

  11. Anonymous October 18, 2011 at 7:35 am - Reply

    It is way past my bedtime and I wasn't going to comment yet, but I must.

    I have been married for 10 years to a man I adore, and with whom I have 4 daughters 9-18 months old. But who, like the previous anonymous commenters described, I have a relationship with that is pretty dysfunctional! He is very critical of me, and I often feel that I will never be enough to meet his expectations. I have let it destroy my self confidence and hold me back. But no more!

    My mother has told me for years "you can, and MUST be happy, independent of what he does that makes your life hard, you can feel peace, and for the sake of your kids, you must try your best to make a happy home".

    I think the best advice, for those of us who are in these marriages where superficially things are fine, or even appear "perfect" is to keep trying, for the sake of our children, and for for sake of our "future best selves" and the potential that is in our spouse(es). I know who my husband *really* is– the potential he has to become because I have been promised it in my patriarchal blessing. I know that is him! I cling to that hope and though our marriage has been hard, a lot of the time, I'm still here because I have 4 kids with him and I love him, and I love "us"!

    I have to clarify that what we struggle with are habits born of pride and indignation, and of having a young family and all that entails.(We are both stubborn!) Oh the curve balls life with young children throws! There are things that warrant divorce, situations where it just isn't safe to stay, and sometimes we have no control over a situation, like a spouse deciding to leave you. What can you do about that when the person has made up their mind? Not much, other than decide how you will respond. My mother once said to me "When and if the time ever comes that it is right for you to leave your marriage, you will know." I have never felt that it was right, as much as I wanted to escape the pain that my marriage was causing me. It is hard to love someone who can hurt you like no other human on earth could.

    That said, I think that so much of what Mara writes about here is applicable to me! I do not have to subject myself to his cruel remarks and demeaning behavior. I can remove myself from the situation by giving love and attention to my daughters and getting busy and productive doing things that will restore my confidence in myself, help me feel closer to God, and not take on what is HIS problem.

    Yes, I have weaknesses, I have things to work on and become better at, but I don't have to let the negative, negative, negative swirl around in my soul until it has drained me like draino. You can't feed that monster! I have so much to work on to master this, but reading this blog has given me the confidence/hope that I can. I can become the woman I once was before the difficult things in my marriage began to take their toll.

    I really like the 3 points the last anon. commenter made about when we choose our ETERNAL companion. That really is amazing food for thought.

    {Mara, I will email you in the next day or two. I'm so glad you are writing this blog. I quit writing my blog so frequently over 3 years ago because the strain of my marriage was so consuming. To try and write a blog about your troubled and stressful marriage when people who know you both are reading it is just not cool! But the experiences that can be shared and learned from could be so beneficial! that's a hard one! Sorry if any of this was incoherent– it's late and I need to go to bed (:}

  12. danny October 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Anons 1 and 2 –

    You've both said it so beautifully! Anon 1 – I loved what you said regarding soul mates. I've been saying that myself for some time. People have asked me if I think Mara is my soul mate…and my answer has been no…at least not in the way most define the term. Had we met 4 or 5 years ago, there probably wouldn't have been much of a connection. We had to become ready for each other by the choices we would make.

    I guess what I mean to say, is that a "soul mate" is something you become…not something that you have! Course that's also what you said Anon 1 – so thank you.

    Anon 2 – Thank you also for sharing your story and your strength! Since this was a post about dating…I'm so glad that both Anons pointed out that marriage/divorce is a very different matter. There is much more at stake, ESPECIALLY when there are children. And just because Mara and I were both married before doesn't mean either of us chose divorce as our first option when facing trouble. Much like Anon 2 describes, it became the inevitable choice of our partners after all our (and in many cases their) best efforts. I did everything I could to avoid it, and so did Mara. We made the best of those difficult days, and we made the best of our lives once the marriage was over.

    But it was the choices we made while things were falling apart that helped us become the people we are now. Choices like patience, non judgment, love, forgiveness, etc. Even in the face of a failing marriage. Use all relationships, good and bad, to learn how to be better. But for those dating…don't keep hanging on to the negative ones hoping it will change. Move on now and find someone who is more committed to a positive course through life. As a wise woman has often said "choose wisely, and treat kindly"!

    To both Anons – thank you for adding your voice and experience to these comments. I definitely agree with you!

  13. Anonymous October 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    I think your response Danny, was in re: to the anon. comment I left yesterday identified as anon. #2 (:(There was a brief anon comment about 8 down… anyway–)

    It is interesting to me, the people we become after being married for several years, and after a few children. For the good, and the not so great. Our power really lies in our response to our situations. Why has it taken me so long to really believe and take hold of that?! My spouse has done things that I never would have foreseen or suspected he would do before we were married (and perhaps I have too ?) How many times have I thought "if i'd know this is how he would be, i never would have married him!" Truly "love" is blind, especially young love.

    Even though this was written with dating in mind, the part I identified with was } "You are just as accountable for this dysfunctional relationship, if you allow it to continue." — and in Danny's last comment} "But it was the choices we made while things were falling apart that helped us become the people we are now."

    The HARD part is, figuring out what to do and how to handle a situation in a marriage where you no longer want to tolerate the bad behavior/dysfunctional relationship. What do you do? It is hard to remove yourself from a situation and not tolerate their lack of sensitivity and myriad of other maladies, when you live under the same roof. I am on a quest to figure out how this can be done. How can I change to invoke lasting and effective change in our relationship? With the intention of feeling the love again that brought us together in the first place.

    That said, I wish I'd had this information 11 years ago. However, nothing during our courtship would have led me to believe that I should run for the hills! I do have 2 unmarried sisters and I will definitely share this with them!

    Thanks for allowing us to ponder on the "still-married-and-trying-to-make-it-work" side of the fence. Your insight is valuable!

    (: ~signed Anonymous #2 (-er 3)

  14. danny October 19, 2011 at 3:57 am - Reply

    Anon 3? 🙂 – Again a great contribution. I've been thinking a lot about what you said, and began drafting a response. But the response turned into a two-pager….way too long for a comment.

    So, I'm going to look it over in the next day or two, polish it up, and we'll turn it into a post.

    Until then, my heart goes out to you and anyone like you who finds themselves in a difficult situation. I also express my complete confidence that there is indeed a way, and that you will find it. If you are truly searching for a better path, it will manifest itself to you, even if it only happens slowly. That has been shown to me time and time again. In the words of Buddha – "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". In the words of Christ – "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear". Life is full of teaching moments and teachers…but only those who seek wisdom and a better path will find it.

  15. CS October 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Mara, I came here via Design Mom. When I read your post on a happy marriage, you seemed a little smug and self-absorbed, especially for someone who hasn't had a marriage with young children in it yet. (A VERY different animal than dating, marriage, or even marriage with one child.) But in this post and others, you have impressed me with your message and ability to articulate some very important truths, painful and otherwise. I love your (and Danny's) positivity and reflection, and am glad I kept reading. Congrats on the positive feedback to your blog, and I hope to continue being inspired by what you have to say.

  16. mara2 October 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    CS – SO happy we won you over! 🙂 We hope to keep doing so. I do agree that some of the trials mothers face are ones that I know nothing about. But I do know that what I have learned has applied to my divorce, death of loved ones, infertility, unfavorable business & work circumstances, and literally every trial big or small that I have faced. And I would like to believe that it could help me as a mother, as well. Surely it will still kick my butt, though I still believe our perspective can definitely affect HOW we experience things. THANK YOU so much for reading. Best, Mara

  17. Anonymous October 21, 2011 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Mara, with these last 2 comments, I just wanted to say, you're going to be a great mom. My oldest sister when growing up would always act like she knew so much more, because she was older and had more experience. Not that she actually didn't, but just that, no matter where we were, she had the one up 🙂 Sure, being a mom you may find yourself terribly sleep deprived, maybe a messy house, etc. But there's no way you'll go from a terrific marriage to a dysfunctional one with children. Just like people who are clean-freaks, even with kids, will find a way to have a clean house 🙂 I shouldn't say, "Well, they don't have kids, so THAT'S why their house is clean." Their house is clean, because they're good at it. Your marriage is good because you are both committed, and you are both good at it. And whatever life throws at you, it'll likely stay that way.

    And I don't think you're self-absorbed. I think, from reading your blog, that you just honestly want everyone to enjoy what you have: a happy marriage. Many of your words have really impacted me. Thanks!

  18. EmT November 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm - Reply

    Mara – Thank you so much for your amazing blog! I've been keeping up with it over the last month and am so appreciative of your advice and am in awe of what an amazing woman you are!
    My sister Heidi and I are both completely in love with your blog and love sharing insights we've gained as a result of reading it. Although my sister and I are at completely different phases in life (she – married with 6 kids and I – 24, single, back from a mission, and seeking direction in life) we are both learning so much from your incredible example. Thank you!

  19. The Harper Family February 20, 2012 at 6:16 am - Reply

    I was nodding my head in agreement for pretty much all of your post. 🙂 My friends and I discussed this when I was in college and we were all part of the dating scene. Thanks for putting into such beautiful words!

  20. myinternaloutbox.com March 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Why is this so difficult to digest? At what point do you look past all their amazing qualities and say, "I love them, but I cannot be with them"?

    Is there a moment of "ah ha!" or is it something that you slowly go through and realize, "There has to be someone better"?

    I find a problem here in Utah is that there is an abundance of the "there is someone better" mentality. No one truly commits to a relationship because we are afraid we are missing out on someone better.

    How do you find the balance? How do you find someone who has it all and get rid of the "someone-out-there-is-better" mentality?

  21. Michele June 20, 2012 at 6:17 am - Reply

    I always loved the saying, "don't make someone a priority when you are just an option"

  22. Anonymous July 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    I want to firstly say that I'm so glad I found your blog. Both of you are an inspiration in so many ways. This post resonated with me so much. I have been with a man for ten years who has most all of these examples but its subtle. He basically treats me very subtly that I'm not good enough for him or marriage.

    Do you have any advice on how best to end a relationship like this?

    I have tried but he ends up blaming it all on me and I feel guilty since we have come a long way in this relationship. He would say he doesn't want to get married because I quit a job or that I am becoming a better person than i use to be (confidence, not blaming etc) which he states makes him want to consider getting married and that he actually has visions sometimes of us getting married and maybe one day he doesn't know as his views on marriage are slowly changing. So I try harder and he tries. But…one day has been many many years and countless wedding invitations from friends getting married. I'll be forty next year, I love him but I can't help to think I might be better off with someone who values marriage and doesn't make me to be less in the subtle ways that he does. Do you think its worth waiting for this man? I feel silly asking but I thank you so much for any advice you can give as I feel so lost about this situation.

  23. Anonymous July 24, 2013 at 9:12 pm - Reply

    Was there ever a response from this comment? I find it very interesting as I've been in a 10 years relationship too. I honestly thought I was the only one who had dated someone for so long! I guess the question for me is the same, how do you end a relationship that you've spend so much time in? Also, when the other person doesn't want to let go how do I? It sounds like your situation Mara, was that your ex left and you didn't hear much from him again. In my situation, when we've broken up he keeps coming back and I can't say do to him. Its heart wrenching and I haven't been able to do it.

    Anoymous, it is a year later, if you read this, what has come of your situation?

  24. Lori Sanders February 27, 2014 at 5:56 pm - Reply

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