BYU often feels like a breeding ground for couples. Everywhere you look there are new engagement rings, hand-holding couples who block the walkways and an endless supply of posters for relationship seminars. The constant focus on dating can be overwhelming for everyone, but especially for single students.
“There is a persistent pressure to become couples because of the value we place on marriage,” said Steve Duncan, a professor in the School of Family Life. “At this campus, probably more than any campus in the world, there’s an emphasis on getting married.”
This emphasis can start to hurt students if they take it too seriously. Marriage is a beautiful relationship Heavenly Father wants His children to experience, and it will come in His timing. Dwelling on one’s lack of a significant other or subscribing to the idea that you need to be in a relationship to move forward in life will not bring you closer to marriage. Rather it will lead you down a path of unhappiness and drive you farther from the people and experiences that will prepare you to make that commitment.
“The important thing is to de-stress about this perception that everyone is getting married, because if you feed into that perception there’s going to be more tension and more discomfort,” Duncan said.
If you are single at BYU, you’re not alone. According to university spokesman Todd Hollingshead, 49 percent of BYU graduates leave Provo unmarried. While many people want to leave BYU with a degree and a spouse, don’t let that desire consume you and keep you from having meaningful experiences right now.
“Dating isn’t everything,” said BYU alum Cameron Kimbal. “You don’t have to have someone in your life to be happy; go do things you enjoy.”
You can be happy when you’re not in a relationship. Singlehood is a necessary stage of life when you get to decide who you are and make meaningful relationships and experiences.
“You always hear that you should learn who you are and learn to be happy with yourself before you get in a relationship and that’s true because when you’re with someone else you want to take care of their needs and may not have time for your own,” said BYU alumn Victoria Whitaker.
While being single is a necessary stage of life, it isn’t always an easy or enjoyable one. If you are struggling, that is completely OK and there are thousands of other people at BYU who share similar feelings. The key is to move forward with faith.
If You’re Lonely
President Gordon B. Hinckley advised those who struggle with loneliness to devote their energies and hearts to service in the name of the Father.
“I believe that for most of us the best medicine for loneliness is work, service in behalf of others,” Hinckley said. “I do not minimize your problems, but I do not hesitate to say that there are many others whose problems are more serious than are yours. Reach out to serve them, to help them, to encourage them.”
Service doesn’t have to mean Y-Serve, though that is an option. Much good can be done simply by listening to what is happening in the lives of people around you and acting how the Savior would. You don’t need a t-shirt or an organization to do service; you just need the desire to serve and if you express that to Heavenly Father, He will show you countless ways to help and love His children.
In addition to doing service, seek out people who lift you up and inspire you to be a better person. This can be friends and family, whose warmth and love will remind you of your worth.
“Guys, enjoy your bromances,” said BYU alum Sean Terry.
Terry’s sentiment is gender neutral, of course; women can also find solace and enjoyment in their friends.
Shifting your focus from yourself to others will fill your mind with thoughts about how to love and support those around you. As you turn your time and efforts outward, your worries and insecurities will slowly but surely fade away.
If You Feel Like Something is Wrong With You
As more and more of your friends get into relationships and become engaged, it can be tempting to compare yourself to where they are in life. You see them moving on to different stages than the ones you are experiencing and you might think there’s something wrong with you for not moving at the same pace.
“I feel like everyone gets the idea that something’s wrong with them if they’re single,” said BYU alum Scott Vaughn. “I don’t think that’s true at all though.”
Not having a significant other is not a negative reflection of who you are. Your worth is not tied to whether there is a ring on your finger or whether you have someone to text goodnight.
“I feel like a lot of (people) think they have to be in a relationship and they start to feel incomplete and they’re not OK with themselves unless they are,” said BYU alum Jazmin Cybukski.
When you start to believe there must be something wrong with you if you’re single, you experience self-doubt. These thoughts cloud your ability to see yourself for who you truly are: a child of God.
If negative, self-defeating thoughts enter your mind, President Thomas S. Monson said to rise above them and to not give the adversary power over you.
“I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith,” President Monson said.
Everyone has weaknesses and aspects of themselves they want to change, and working on those things can be healthy to an extent. Progress is an integral part of this life and there are steps you can take to prepare for a relationship and marriage as a single person.
“Something I’ve learned from my classes is to think about all of things you want in a spouse and to become those yourself, because you can’t expect someone else to have those qualities if you don’t,” Whitaker said.
Whether that means developing patience, learning to better manage your money or mastering the art of active listening, trying to improve now will help you be a better spouse when that time comes.
Just because you aren’t with someone right now does not mean you are going to be alone forever. Don’t let your single status define you or make you doubt your worth. The best thing you can do with your time is to work on improving yourself and enjoying your life for where and who you are.
If You’ve Given Up
Whether it’s been weeks, months or years of being single, you may come to the conclusion that you will never find a significant other. While you may believe having this mentality will protect you from disappointment, you are closing yourself off from experiences and people that could prove to be blessings.
“You don’t know that you won’t get married,” said BYU alum Lauren Johnson. “You might not, but nobody knows the future.”
When things look down and you don’t know where your life is going, your faith is tested. You can give up and turn away from Heavenly Father, or you can follow the counsel of President Gordon B. Hinckley and keep going.
“Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out,” he said.
Remember, you don’t have an expiration date. Love is not something that can be forced to fit into a certain time frame. When it comes, it will be at the right time and with the right person.
In a culture where dating is the standard, not the exception, being single can be difficult. But even though there are trying days, never let your relationship status keep you from becoming the person you want to be and living the life you were meant to live.
“Enjoy the journey, enjoy the process of getting to know fellow sons and daughters of God,” Duncan said. “Let commitments come naturally and not by social norms, whether perceived or not.”
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