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He's Amazing and Still Single - WHY?

Alisa Snell - Dating Coach - February 06, 2012

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We probably all know one or two men who are attractive and desirable; yet, for some reason they struggle with the decision to marry and remain single into their 30's or 40's. Truth is, there is a combination of factors that cause this delay - and all of them can be overcome.

Every ward has one or two single men who are simply amazing, and yet, year after year, they remain single. 

These are men who have fulfilled honorable missions. They have a degree or two and a good job. They attend church regularly, fulfill their callings, go to the temple regularly, and do their home teaching. They stay fit, are socially skilled, and date good women. Yet these men remain single often stating they just haven’t found the one. 

Are these men too picky? Are they afraid of commitment? Are they attracted to the wrong kind of women? Do they have some unknown mental health issue or pain from their past that is getting in the way? Or are they just so comfortable with being alone that they feel no motivation to get married?

As a counselor and dating coach who has worked with many men that fit this profile, I know that they do want to get married; they would prefer not to be alone. They also care deeply about doing the right thing and following the counsel of the prophet. And they, too, are concerned about what they're doing wrong. 

Most of the time they don’t know if the problem is them or just that they haven’t met that one woman who will fix everything, but they are committed to doing what it takes to fix the problem. All they know for certain is that in spite of the fact that they date great women, they just don’t feel an emotional attachment and they don’t know why. Without this strong emotional connection they can’t feel confident about moving forward with marriage. 

I have discovered several common patterns that point to an explanation of what is going wrong and how to fix it.

First, these men often suffer from excessive pressure caused by a common form of anxiety.
Because these men are high functioning in most areas of their lives, they often don’t recognize that the feelings of pressure and distress they feel prior to and in-between dates is due to a form of anxiety called anticipatory anxiety. 

Part of what makes these men great is that they think of others’ feelings and don’t act impulsively; however, in this case they are often so concerned about hurting others that they feel anxious about disappointing the women they date. This causes additional pressure that makes them anticipate what their date may be thinking, feeling, or expecting. This creates even more anxiety and causes them to analyze what they are feeling (or not feeling) and take action quickly so as to not disappoint or hurt their date. 

What they don’t realize is that this very concern actually inhibits their ability to have fun, relax, and feel a deeper connection. They analyze their emotions so closely that is is difficult for them to feel positive and spontaneous emotions. As time goes on, the added pressure makes it more difficult for them to believe that they will ever get out of the trap. Instead of realizing that their lack of emotional attachment is actually a result of their anxiety, they assume that something must be wrong with the girl they are dating: “If only she didn’t have _____ issue or behavior, perhaps I would feel more of a connection.” They then leave the relationship, hoping for that one woman with whom they will feel a connection.

Second, many of the women they date inadvertently add even more pressure.
Another common pattern in this problem is that the women these men date tend to become excessively available, accommodating, and committed too early in the process. These women will often call or text the men more frequently than the men call them. They will express a desire to see the men frequently and before the men have an opportunity to ask when they can get together. These women are often very understanding and supportive, which further adds pressure to the men to not hurt them. Although these qualities can be good qualities, in this circumstance, they end up actually turning the tables on the men. 

These men do best when they are in the pursuit role. They need to be the hunters, not the hunted. It’s not that they want these women to play games or reject them, but they do want these women to be happily living their own lives, expressing their opinions, and pursuing other options. When that happens, these men can relax without worrying about what the women they date are feeling or expecting. When women are not anxious for commitment, these men feel less anxiety, and as a result their positive emotions come more easily. Only after investing in the women (without pressure) over a period of months (while also having a lot of fun), they feel a deeper emotional connection. 

Third, when it comes to dating, these men feel spiritually disconnected from God.
These men have strong testimonies and many powerful spiritual experiences; however, when it comes to dating, mate selection, and the decision to marry, often these men feel that God is silent, which only adds to their fears and doubts. 

One explanation for this silence is that most people who suffer from depression and anxiety feel spiritually disconnected from God. Without realizing the true source of the problem (their anxiety), these men often assume that the lack of answers means that the relationship is not the right one or the decision is simply theirs. 

Without feeling a strong emotional attachment, these men just stalemate or break up. If only they had an undeniable answer to marry the person, then they could move forward with confidence. Of course, in most cases, God probably wants them to decide for themselves, but the different possibilities (and fear of making the wrong decision) only add to their doubt and confusion. 

This anxiety and doubt can be lessened when others express faith and trust in them and in the many blessings that marriage will give them. In many ways, these men need an abundance of positive and faith-filled messages to combat their anxiety and strengthen their faith and confidence––rather than receiving criticism or lectures on why they aren’t progressing to marriage.

To learn about the additional complicating factors that contribute to this pattern, and to listen to a one-hour audio in which I discuss this pattern with three men who struggle with it, visit ItsYourTechnique.com. I also have a series of audios that walk men through the steps they can take to overcome this pattern and progress to marriage. 

To avoid hundreds of other dating mistakes or issues like these, visit itsyourtechnique.com, where you will get instant access to FREE dating advice, articles, audios, and videos from Alisa Goodwin Snell. Her love-changing theories and techniques will make dating easy and fun.  

Alisa Goodwin Snell is a licensed marriage and family therapist and dating coach with 17 years of experience. Alisa is the author of the "It’s Not You—It’s Your Technique" dating system.

© LDS Living, 2012.
Comments 34 comments

spin2219 said...

12:01 PM
on Feb 06, 2012

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I'm interested in knowing if these same struggles are experienced by women since I know plenty more women in the "single after 30" situation than men.

dcharrison said...

10:48 AM
on Feb 07, 2012

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Or he's gay. 5–7% of all men born are born gay. That's 1 in 20. Maybe he's not all that in to you because he's NOT all that in to you.

leilaniblue said...

11:26 AM
on Feb 07, 2012

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I know that women experience these same struggles because I am one of those "single after 30" women and this pattern describes me almost perfectly. It has probably been one the greatest trials of my faith over the last 10-12 years.

leilaniblue said...

11:39 AM
on Feb 07, 2012

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I want to add that what Alisa says about having people you care about sharing positive messages, and expressing trust in you is soooo important. Veiled criticisms and lectures NEVER help. We all need encouragement.

fran_patterson said...

12:05 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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Oh my! Yes, yes...men need to be the "hunters" or else things will go sour. Seriously though, I agree with the comment suggesting that maybe they're gay. Or maybe the biggest help would be to just LET THEM BE, and not put on all that endless pressure of how they should be married, wondering why they're not married, and writing articles on how you can get married. I think some of the pressure is only present because we Mormons cannot give it a rest, and let people do their thing. Heaven forbid that a "nice guy" turns 30something and isn't married yet. And yeah, what about all those lovely women who're well into their 30s or 40s who just don't seem to get married. Same issues? Or does it not matter, because only guys fail at getting married? Alisa, your advice seems dated and cliche.

profman2000 said...

12:19 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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LOL! It's impossible to take this article seriously. Pure sexism at its worst! Based on my experience counseling unmarried LDS men, many if not most are actually struggling with issues related to sexual orientation and are trying to reconcile their faith with who they actually are. Pushing these men into marriage as a cure for homosexuality is not just unkind, it's ultimately immoral. Articles like this do not help them or the women who think they'd like to marry them. Articles like this perpetuate myths that ultimately cause heartache and tragedy. Shame, shame, shame!

davidbaker said...

12:47 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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I think it is highly interesting that each of the points re-enforces dcharrison's comment that he is Gay. *1 "Because these men are high functioning in most areas of their lives, they often don’t recognize that the feelings of pressure and distress they feel prior to and in-between dates is due to a form of anxiety called anticipatory anxiety." ** Gay Men are often high functioning, particularly Gay LDS Males trying to live in the gospel. That single High Priest in your stake ... probably gay. *2 Second, many of the women they date inadvertently add even more pressure. ** Largely because they are Women and not the object of their true affection *3 "These men have strong testimonies and many powerful spiritual experiences; however, when it comes to dating, mate selection, and the decision to marry, often these men feel that God is silent, which only adds to their fears and doubts." ** Perhaps God is telling them not to date and lead on a woman when they are in fact, Gay. I have seen countless mixed-orientation marriages fail simply because one spouse loves the other more than they can return the feelings.

dcharrison said...

01:07 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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Worse than sexism, it's priestcraft. How nice that the author is shilling for her dating coach services in her bio.

potsan1 said...

02:25 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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to profman2000: I think that it may be you who has the limited experience. As a single man who is a part of the group being talked about in this article, I see a lot of truth in it. I am not gay. I have been in many relationships as described. I feel that I may have gained a new perspective on myself. All concerned about "sexism" here need to take a hard look in the mirror.

ndempsey said...

03:59 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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Just because older males Elders and High Priests are single doesn't by any means signify they are a homosexual.

derblitz said...

04:34 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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The gay theme in these comments are disrespectful to the author and totally off topic. @profman2000 - if most of the single men you are working with are struggling with their sexuality, you don't live in the real world. @dcharrison - It hasn't been proven that anyone is born gay, so your statistic doesn't hold weight. I think the author made a nice attempt to explain why high quality men remain single and I appreciated the insights even though I don't agree with her theory.

dcharrison said...

04:51 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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@derblitz: actually, there are mountains of evidence corroborating the theory that orientation has a biological basis — and that this basis is very likely in utero and/or genetic. So it's should not strain one's imagination to state that some are "born gay" — just as many are born straight. @ndempsey: you are absolutely right. Just because older men are single doesn't mean they're gay — or that they're disconnected from God. The reasons behind anyone's choice to remain single are necessarily complex and inscrutable. That said, with all the pop-psychology answers swirling around in this article, it was a glaring omission to leave off gay as one of the reasons.

lovelylady said...

05:32 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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Not all guys that are good looking, successful and not married in their 30's and 40's are gay. I've dated many of them and there are a ton of them that are definitely not gay!!!! I also have a gay brother and some gay LDS guys friends. This article is good for those that really do have these issues... and perhaps a few more but this is a great start. :)

derblitz said...

08:56 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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@dcharrison - By your choice of words of "theory" and "likely" proves my point that the scientific evidence is not conclusive on the matter. As such, making definitive statements of being "born gay" don't hold much value.

fran_patterson said...

09:25 PM
on Feb 07, 2012

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Derblitz - it doesn't matter what the actual proof on the nature of homosexuality is. Regardless of any "proof", there is still a certain percentage of the population that identifies as homosexual, and with that in mind, there is a chance that some of those unmarried, "nice" Mormon guys are part of this percentage. I know a few guys who fit the bill of mid-30s, nice, successful, good-looking, faithful in the Church and what not, dating girls - who are, in fact, gay. They try to do everything right, hoping things will somehow come together. And they don't. If people find this article helpful, then that's great. I'd personally be bothered by it and neverever share it. The last thing people who want to get married is more pressure about how to get married, and how they're probably just doing things wrong etc. And lastly, I am awfully bothered by the author's assumption that depressed people are usually disconnected from God. Really? Wow. Does she have any proof for that? (Since we're all about proof here). That's quite the assumption to make, and a very shaming/blaming one at that (because now when you don't feel connected to God you'll have to wonder if you're depressed or whatever else is wrong with you...I mean, depressed people can't have a relationship with God, or something. Argh!). I'm sure the author has a point regarding the anxiety a lot of men experience. However, I'm sure they wouldn't be so anxious if we could just let them be. One step in that direction would be not writing articles that suggest that something is somehow wrong with you if haven't married by a certain age.

bigrex said...

05:12 PM
on Feb 09, 2012

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I'm not sure where the author is coming from with some of the statements made here, but by the time I was done reading I knew it was not a man writing the article. I have never once experienced a women being "too committed" in fact I wish I had; it would be nice if women were pursuant once you showed an interest in them, but I have never experienced that with any woman, period. I do not seek for a sign from the Lord to know if the person I'm dating is 'the one' so much as I pay attention when and if the Lord reveals that she is not the one. I think we all know that God is more vocal when we inadvertently go towards a direction that needs his corrective advice. It is the men who are able to be emotionally connected with a woman at very first glance. They may not yet be spiritually and intellectually connected to her, but that comes later if she indeed is the right person. It is the women who seem slow to connect with young men emotionally, especially if they do not find him to be humorous or appreciate his personality. Everyone knows that women very often prefer that young men take things comparatively slowly with them. To be honest, young men today are probably too picky when it comes to selecting a mate, but many young women I find are much pickier. The opportunities afforded to women today to start a career and the pressures of society that downplays the importance of the role of motherhood are a significant factors that affect men’s search for an acceptable mate. For the record, I’m a 35 year old, single LDS male residing in Utah.

jaytch said...

03:13 AM
on Feb 10, 2012

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I disagree with most, if not all, of the observations made in this article. In some cases these assertions may apply, but in general I believe the analysis is inaccurate. 1. Observation 1 - The Premise - The so-called amazingness (apparently this word doesn’t exist – but I’ll use it anyway) of the writing subjects. Problem one – the singling out of one or two in a ward. Problem two - the categorization of "amazing". What makes these one or two so amazing? Employment? Church calling? Looks? Money? And maybe it’s a problem that everyone is telling them how amazing they are all the time. I believe that most LDS men and women strive to do their best, do quite well, and can be classified as amazing - whatever their chosen employment, church calling, looks, finances, etc. One of the problems is the separating out of a few among the many as the desirable dating options. This mindset self-limits the pool of available prospects and stifles romantic opportunity. It also tends to constantly be the same group of men and women that are grouped as such. Most women tend to want to date the same small group of men and vice versa. We shut ourselves out from good opportunities before we even start. 2. Observation 2 – Anticipatory anxiety. Again, this can happen with either party once there is a relationship, but it only partly comes out of “concern for others”. If someone uses that phrase or logic in their hesitancy to end a relationship, it is really about them not wanting to “be the bad guy”. What ends up happening is that relationships are strung out longer than is healthy because of (1) The inability to accurately recognize a true/instant/core connection with a dating prospect and (2) the indecisiveness to move forward whichever the case. Basically the lack of courage to “go with your gut.” 3. Observation 3 – Women inadvertently adding pressure. It is true that most men want to be the hunters as opposed to the hunted. But it’s not about how much women do or don’t call. Men don’t want women to sit and wonder if they should call, or not, or text, or not. Just be who you are. As much as women appreciate attention, men like some attention too. A good back-and-forth is ideal. Men want the sense that a person they’re dating has “their own life” as is doing something with it. So that when they’re married both parties can feel confident about building a life together and that neither is overly-dependent of the other. 4. Observation 4 – Feeling spiritually disconnected. I’m always surprised when I hear people say that this is why they choose to not marry a certain person. Is this really still a problem? I hope not. I hope that we’ve learned by now to take responsibility for our own lives and the decisions we make. As far as how women (and men) should deal with this kind of reasoning – case by case obviously, but in general – he or she probably doesn’t deserve you if they can’t make a decision. Be good and be nice, but live your life and explore other options. Conclusion: I ended up writing way more than I should have – pretty much a response article. I kind of apologize, but if you found it helpful then I don’t apologize. The takeaway – same as always – don’t think too much, live your life, go with your gut, try to make good decisions.

dcharrison said...

08:48 PM
on Feb 10, 2012

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@derblitz: your failure to understand that scientific "theory" is statistical fact is unfortunate. Remember: gravity is still just a "theory".

derblitz said...

11:07 AM
on Feb 11, 2012

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@dcharrison - Any glance at the history of science will show that it has evolved over the centuries and that scientific "theories" once widely accepted as "fact" have been later refuted. A scientific theory does NOT rise to the level of fact no matter how much you want it to be true to justify your position.

vasper said...

02:00 PM
on Feb 11, 2012

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Why Is It That Many Of The Commentaries Indicate That The Male/Female Is Gay/Lesbian Or Displays Gay/Lesbian Characteristics.--Being A Behaviorial Interventionist,Couldn't The Reason For Not Being Married Is Because In Many Cases Both Sexes Have To Too Much Emotional, Financial, And Spiritual Baggage!!--Having Been There In My 40's,This Was The Biggest Issue I Observed.

karenchallis said...

07:30 PM
on Feb 11, 2012

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This old lady married 44 years agrees with jaytch & thinks that the dating coach is perhaps shallow & out to lunch!

ozoned said...

11:01 AM
on Feb 15, 2012

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25% of the women were sexually abused as a child. 16% of the men were sexually abused as a child. Why will no one talk about this?

melosch2009 said...

03:43 PM
on Feb 17, 2012

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Are you serious with this article?! Thanks for another way for guys to excuse why they won't be a man and ask a girl out. This whole article says "yeah we know you are a pansy and just want to date/flirt/makeout with/lead on a bunch of girls that's ok honey, we'll continue to baby you and make excuses for you." Ridiculous.

timmyturner said...

05:46 PM
on Mar 07, 2012

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I'm still single because I haven't been attracted enough - to any available Mormon girls. When you add; Mormon, single, late 20's to mid 30's, mutual attraction, & no kids, to the top of the must-haves, that list gets short really fast! This article and reasons are so funny to me. If guys don't date you, they are not attracted to you, it's really simple. The same goes for girls. Mutual attraction that leads quickly to romantic love... that's so hard to find, even for people without religious & cultural hang-ups. I guess, if we as Mormons are so concerned about eternity and marriage, we could start arranging marriages. I've read that 2/3 of the world still practices arranged unions. If a dowry is included, I might consider it.

jill17 said...

05:26 PM
on Mar 14, 2012

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I'd call this article spot on! Well done. As a 30 something year-old single woman, I have dealt with the same feelings, and have seen superb men I've dated deal with these exact things. And as a sister to a brother who is also a 30-something single, and who is so frustrated at women assuming he's gay, stop it with the "you just must be gay" comments. That's being close-minded at it's best. To the ladies who are blaming it all on the men--come on. These men have a desire to be married, too. We all do. Let's humbly take some advice from this column, shall we? A new perspective is always good. I've had an Ah-ha moment.

campsoup said...

01:54 PM
on Mar 19, 2012

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The article makes a few interesting points, but I think that it is so hard to pin point what the problems are with dating when dating is so individual. Timing and attraction are everything. It could be simply that these "amazing" single men just haven't found the right woman yet. Let's stop over thinking everything.

kaileo said...

09:15 PM
on Apr 13, 2012

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OR... perhaps they're gay and firmly in the closet thanks to the doctrine of the church. Take it from a gay guy... that's why I didn't get married when I was in the single wards...

penka12 said...

05:00 PM
on Aug 13, 2012

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I dated one of those guys. Derblitz sounds like my ex-boyfriend. I don't think that these guys are necessarily gay, but they’re definitely not typical guys. So if you happen to meet someone with similar characteristics, I suggest that you keep things casual and definitely don't put your heart early on. The guy I dated consumed all my free time and I fell in love. We even agreed that we’re dating exclusively and yet, there was always something missing in the relationship and he was always keeping me at an arm length. Looking back, I regret for making myself way too accommodating and pursuing a relationship, as just like the article says, I was the one who asked for it. Pointless to say, things didn’t work out between us. Ladies, date that type of guys casually, stay independent and date other guys. It’s very difficult for those guys to connect emotionally. It’s possible that the emotional unavailability may be due to confused sexual orientation, but it can be also a sign of a narcissistic behavior and in that case hardly any girl will be good enough for them. Girls should never let a guy know that they like them more. And there are certainly shy guys, who are worth pursuing but the type of guys mentioned in the article are definitely not shy. They’re usually good looking and smart and they know how to seduce a girl, so don’t give your heart before they turn the world around for you, because you may just end up heartbroken just like me.

penka12 said...

05:19 PM
on Aug 13, 2012

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I agree with campsoup, but still ladies don't waste time with guys who are simply not that unto you.

adam411 said...

11:31 PM
on Jan 08, 2013

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It is a travesty that this article refers to being single as a "problem" that needs to be "fixed" because they are doing something wrong. It even goes so far to suggest a possible mental illness or pain from their past that causes this "problem!" I feel so sorry for kids who have to deal with this. Being single is not a disease! It is so important to love yourself and know who you truly are before you make the gigantic commitment/decision to start a serious relationship. The created connotations between marriage/happiness and unmarried/problem force so many kids into marrying before they are ready.

kfmcneil said...

09:19 AM
on Mar 08, 2013

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This article is about men who have the desire to be married and what some of their issues could be. Relax people. Write an article about the men who are struggling about their sexual orientation and that can be respected too. Not allowing this article voice legitimate concerns for "some" single men discredits the gay objection in my mind. Cramming it down my throat so arrogantly does not win support. I

apache said...

12:03 PM
on Mar 11, 2013

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One other glaring omission from this article; Pornography addiction, which is becoming a more and more common evil within the church, destroys capacity and desire for real love and a lasting relationship. It is a very serious problem, regardless of how the world says otherwise. I also think it is unfair to judge single older women. While there are some who do have commitment fears, the prophet and apostles have said many times some women will not have an opportunity to marry in this life, despite all of their righteous efforts.

tokyofive said...

03:38 PM
on Nov 08, 2013

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This article pegged me perfectly. Newsflash for some here... I'm not gay, or anywhere near gay. (But I know that is a factor for the few, not all)

shmitty-the-loverboy said...

10:13 PM
on Nov 26, 2013

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Maybe they aren't married because the lds women felt they never met their unrealistic expectations of what they deserve and are entitled too so they passed on them to wait for what they falsely assumed were better options out there? Maybe they are still single because the age limits on YSA wards effectively cut off them off from being able to meet and date lds women?
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