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Monday, October 15, 2007

Being Single: The Divorced Ones - Matters of Intimacy

Photo by Chance Agrella
The adversary works fervently at mocking all that is sacred, and at leading as many as possible to utter destruction. Once you have been married, and have experienced physical intimacy, it is extraordinarily challenging to ‘turn off’ that faucet. As human beings, we have natural drives and urges to mate and procreate. Once we have experienced these things, it seems to, in many cases, make that drive stronger.

When you are divorced, you not only have to deal with sleeping alone at night, but also with the deprivation of that physical intimacy, and satisfaction. Add on top of that, being thrust into the dating world, and having the continual temptation to cross boundaries and have once again what was lost . . .if even for a moment.

Feeling ‘lonely’ can be one aspect of our dilemma, but it is by no means all or even most of it. A study in the early to mid 1900’s with newborn babies concluded that as humans we need touch and physical affection in order to thrive.
“Psychologists and physicians agree that human beings need affection and loving touch in their lives. We’ve all heard of the infamous study where infants who didn’t receive affection and touch failed to thrive or even died. Our culture, however, places so much value on independence and a certain rugged individualism that it serves to diminish the value of affection overall.” (1)

We are counseled as single adults that the standards in the For the Strength of Youth booklet also applies to us. Many LDS single adults scoff at that idea, making it difficult to find someone to date with shared values. Also in dating, it can be difficult to find someone to date who honestly presents their standards and lives them. This contributes to the temptation levels those who are earnestly seeking chastity in dating experience.

If you accept a date with someone who presents themselves as living a moral life, and then discover on the date, in the midst of what started as innocent, that they are pushing your boundaries; you now have to have the clarity of mind to end the encounter. For some, this is not an easy task.

It is readily accepted as fact that the number one challenge faced by LDS Singles today is the sin of immorality in all of its forms. We are being targeted in our already-weakened state. The sin second only in seriousness to murder, this is a popular means of destruction the adversary chooses. Many LDS Single Adults indulge in such immoral behaviors as ‘Friends with Benefits’ and 'NCMO’. The justifications run rampant, but church counsel against such behavior is clear:
“If we are single and dating, always treat our date with respect. Those who are dating must never treat their date as an object to be used for lustful desires. They should carefully plan positive and constructive activities so that they are not left alone without anything to do. They should stay in areas of safety where they can easily control themselves. They should not participate in conversations or activities that arouse sexual feelings, such as passionate kissing, lying with or on top of another person, or touching the private, sacred parts of another person's body, with or without clothing.” (2)

We have to decide every time we accept and go on a date where our lines will be. We can decide them in advance; but with every date, we must recommit ourselves to them, and reassess if they are high enough or not. We have to find that balance between craving physical affection and having firm boundaries which maintain our morality.

In some cases, this may mean remaining dateless for extended periods of time as we continue to weed out those who do not share our standards, or with whom we would not feel that our virtue is safe.
“In cultures where dating or courtship is acceptable, dating can help youth develop friendships and eventually find an eternal companion. Youth in the Church are taught to wait until at least age 16 to begin dating and to date only those who have high moral standards. A young man and a young woman on a date are responsible to help each other maintain their standards and to protect each other's honor and virtue.” (3)
This is just one of many challenges we face in the dating world. Things are not how they used to be 15+ years ago. Being divorced only adds to challenges singles face in dating.


1- Raising Children to be Affectionate by Shari Steelsmith October 2, 2004.
(accessed October 15, 2007)

2- Chastity. Additional Information > Keeping the Law of Chastity.
(Accessed October 15, 2007)

3- Dating and Courtship.
(accessed October 15, 2007)

This blog post is one in a series on Being Single. Through the run of this series, please give feedback regarding YOUR experiences with being single and LDS, or ask any questions you may have that I have not addressed.

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