Quick comment before I get started--how have I made it three whole years since getting home from my mission without writing a post about dating? Maybe that has something to do with what I'm writing about today.
Anyway, on to business. Last weekend I started thinking about dating. I realized that Provo dating culture kind of hands you a concept of what being single is like on a silver platter. "Here, you should know that this thing that you are (single) is bad. You should feel shame for what you are, no matter how hard you're trying or how many reassurances you get from God and those who truly love and care about you. You should resent a lot of things, including people who find successful relationships with less effort than you've put in, every girl (or guy) who turns you down, and especially "the system," which is a combination of the expectations of church leaders and other adults, including family members, and the "Provo way" of dating."
Everybody gets handed this paradigm as soon as they seriously enter Provo dating culture. Some freshman escape it, but I've talked to lots of people who have only been home from a mission for a handful of months and already feel this way. And that singleness shame shows up all over the place--it might be why I've never before written a blog post about dating, even though I think about it as much as a lot of things I do write about.
What, I wonder, would a singleness paradigm based entirely on God's love, true doctrine, eternal perspective, and realistic optimism look like? I really can't even imagine it. I think I'm so caught up in the paradigm I described above, which is partially based on true doctrine (marriage is part of God's plan for his children) but carried to unhealthy extremes (you should feel bad about yourself if you're single), that I seriously can't even imagine what the correct paradigm would feel like.
If I had this paradigm, I can guess how I'd change. I think I'd be less afraid to ask girls out and less hurt by rejection. I'd be completely comfortable spending a Friday night with friends, or at home reading a book, if I couldn't get a date. I'd be able to genuinely celebrate every wedding invite that I got in the mail without feeling jealous. But still, these are just the symptoms of the paradigm shift, and I don't know what the shift is yet.
I'd love to hear other people's thoughts about this. What is the correct dating paradigm? And how to I trade out the one I've got now for that one?