Monday, November 16, 2015

malise love story part four

On Saturday morning, I had plans to go to my favorite breakfast/brunch restaurant with my sister and cousins - but I made sure they knew that I had to be back in time for my shooting date with Matt. (Read: at least an hour before my date because obviously I had to perfect my hair and makeup before going up the canyon to shoot.) I remember being really excited for the date and spending an unhealthy amount of time deciding which hoodie I'd look the cutest in. 

Matt picked me up in his red truck (He'd driven his car on our previous date.) which I have to admit I found pretty attractive. I've never been all that interested in trucks, but it made him seem "rugged" or something - a side of him I hadn't experienced through Tinder chats or our first date. We headed to his apartment to meet up with his friends and then we all drove up the canyon to where we were going to shoot. 

As we were shooting, I was feeling fairly uncomfortable and awkward. With my perpetually clogged ear and the earplugs we both had in for shooting, it was a bit difficult to hear each other and that made conversation harder. Add that to the fact that I was a little gun shy (pun totally intended... or does it count as a pun if it's used in correct context?) about the whole shooting thing because I'd only been a few times and wasn't super familiar with how to use a gun. And add that to the fact that I could tell that his friends (though very kind and friendly) were observing me and trying to gauge my interest in Matt which made me uncomfortable. So, I had fun, but with all of that going on I was feeling pretty awkward by the end of the date and was definitely less talkative on the drive home. 

One of his friends had mentioned everyone getting together to play games. I had assumed they meant right after we were done shooting. So, when we came out of the canyon and Matt drove me back to my apartment, I figured that meant he was done spending time with me. I felt pretty disappointed because I had been looking forward to playing the games and had hoped that I'd be able to flirt and get to know Matt a little more when we were doing something more in my comfort zone. 

As he walked me up to my doorstep, Matt said "so, we're going to play games later tonight, do you want to come?" and I felt so silly for being disappointed before. I told him I would love to and waited awkwardly for him to hug me. He didn't move forward at all and I couldn't tell if I should make the move or if he didn't want a hug. Finally, we said goodbye without a hug and I went inside. I sat down on my couch and wondered why he didn't hug me. I felt like I had been awkward on the date and figured he was probably feeling like I wasn't interested. I decided to send him a text and said "I definitely want to come to games tonight. What is your address?" He quickly texted back and asked if he could pick me up for the game night. I was impressed that he wanted to pick me up and thought maybe there was hope after all and I hadn't ruined everything with my awkwardness earlier that day.

I won't go into the details of the game night, I don't even remember which games we played. I do remember being much more comfortable and having a great time. And at the end of the night, Matt drove me home, walked me up to my doorstep again, and this time he hugged me for a little bit longer than your average second (and a half?) date hug. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep with a huge smile on my face that night.

After a little Facebook stalking, I realized that he had the same last name as one of my new friends in my ward. So, the next day at church I asked her if they were related. She said "Yep, he's my cousin!" She asked how I knew him, got excited that we'd been on a few dates, and asked me if I liked him. "Yes, I think so?" I said, but I'm pretty sure the look on my face said a lot more about how much I liked him than I was willing to vocally admit at that point. She commented on another guy I had told her I was interested in a while back and mentioned that she wasn't sure he had been 'good enough' for me. "But my cousin," she said "my cousin, you can date."

Something about her "endorsement" made me even more excited about the potential. When I got home from church, I texted him to tell him that I'd figured out that I knew his cousin. He responded and said "Oh! Jennifer? Yeah, she's great, isn't she?" I responded quickly to agree and hoped he'd continue the conversation since we hadn't talked yet that day. But he never responded again that night. 

Here's what I wrote in my journal before I went to bed:
"I like this guy named Matt. He's just a really, really good guy. We've been talking for a few weeks, went on a date on Wednesday that went really well, went shooting yesterday, and then played games last night. There's just something about him that I really like. He's kind and funny and mature. He always keeps conversation going and is making more plans/promising we;ll talk soon. Today, I really kind of decided that I could see this going somewhere, that I like the idea of dating him. So, now I feel vulnerable and unsure about what he's thinking and we haven't really talked today. So, now I feel like it's back to the same pattern I always seem to go through. I know it's going to be fine... and maybe something will still happen with Matt."
I closed my journal and cried myself to sleep that night. The tears were probably enhanced by hormones (because, admittedly, they often are) but I also was just so sad that I'd started to admit that I could really like him and then he stopped responding - something he had never done before in the month or so that we had been talking.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


This is my favorite quote from the women's session of conference.
You can download the free printable here.

This weekend, I will be watching the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It's genuinely my most favorite time of the year. (And it happens twice!) I love hearing from modern prophets who speak the word of God. I watch conference because it makes me feel good. Sometimes I don't understand everything that is said, sometimes it's hard to stay awake for all 8-10 hours of conference, but without a doubt, I always finish up conference weekend feeling amazing about life. If you'd like to join me, you can watch online at

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

how to wear leggings and still be a good mormon

Before I start, I'd like to note that what I'm about to tell you also applies to drinking coke (or any caffeinated soda), wearing a bikini, or even getting a tattoo.

I'm really excited to let you know that you can wear leggings and be a good Mormon. Even if you want to wear them in public, you're not going to jeopardize your Mormon status. Do you want to know how to do this? Just do it.

What I really want you to know is that what you wear, drink, etc. etc. etc. has nothing to do with whether or not you're a "good Mormon". What even makes someone a "good Mormon" anyway?

A couple of years ago, I came to a realization that somewhere along the lines I'd started believing that I had to meet someone's checklist of all the 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts' that good Mormons do and do not do. And that's what I thought gave me value in life. When I finally recognized that I was living by that arbitrary checklist, I started to wonder why.

Why was I dressing 'modestly'? (And where did I get my definition of modest?)
Why was I bragging about having sworn less times than I could count on my two hands?
Why was I going to church on Sunday?

Because I was "supposed to". Because those things made me a good Mormon and a good Mormon was what I had aspired to be.

As I thought about this, I realized that I wasn't only doing these things because I was "supposed" to. Somewhere along the lines of living my generic "choosing the right" life, I did gain some convictions and beliefs about who I wanted to be. So, I'm actually not saying there's something wrong with doing what you think is "supposed" to make you a good person.

I think the most important point of this all is that at some point, we all have to move on from what we're "supposed" to do and make our own choices. Agency is one of the most incredible gifts that we have been given. Do you want to know how to wear leggings and still be a "good Mormon"? Make your own personal choice about whether or not you want to wear leggings and then realize that you're still the same person you were before, you either happen to wear leggings or you don't. It's actually pretty simple.

It's important to remember that our choices do have an effect on us. (None of that YOLO business, you know?) For me, carbonation (caffeinated or not) gives me a stomach ache. So, I choose not to drink soda most of the time for that reason. I also think that what you wear can definitely have an effect on how you feel and act. So, I've made personal choices about how I want to dress based on how I know those things effect me and those around me. I'm not going to tell you the specifics of my choices because the whole point of the article is that you don't need someone to tell you how to choose.

I don't think life was ever about meeting a checklist to be a "good Mormon" or a "good Christian" or even a "good human". I think life is a lot more about recognizing that we have our own desires AND the ability to receive our own personal spiritual guidance to help us actively use our agency. Trust yourself and those abilities enough to guide your own life - not meet a checklist.

Oh, and YOLO. (You only leggings once. Or never. You decide, remember?)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

malise love story part three: a tale of two tinder dates

After letting our Tinder conversation fizzle back in December, I didn't really think much about Matt for a while. Then, sometime around Valentine's Day, I saw him in my Tinder feed again. I realized that that meant either he had deleted Tinder and come back, or he'd unmatched us after I let conversation fizzle. "Well, I have to know if he swiped right on me again." I thought. "It's a Match!" popped up on my screen and I smiled. I decided to send him a message, I wanted to make sure he remembered who I was, so I mentioned things we had talked about before.

From that point on, we talked on Tinder pretty consistently. At night, he'd say "I'll talk to you tomorrow!" and I loved knowing that I'd hear from him again. Eventually, we exchanged phone numbers and started texting frequently.

At the end of February, my friend Steph and I took a spontaneous weekend trip to California. During that trip, I was texting two guys from Tinder; Matt and one other. (We're going to call him Kevin.) One blissful California night as Steph and I were walking around the LA temple, Matt asked me on a date for when I got back the next week. Steph and I talked about how excited I was and how I also hoped that Kevin would ask me on a date too.

When we got back from California, Kevin called and asked me on a date for that weekend. Which meant I had a date with Matt on Wednesday night and date with Kevin on Friday night. My friend, Dustin, asked me which date I was more excited for and I remember telling him that I liked talking to both guys and thought they were great, but that I was pretty sure Kevin would be the one I was interested in.

Wednesday night came and Matt showed up on my doorstep right on time. (He knew two of my best friends and they assured me it would be safe to tell him where I lived, so I did. #tindersafety) I'd had a cold that left me with an awful plugged ear and I found out pretty quickly that Matt is a pretty soft speaker. I was worried I wouldn't be able to hear him for the entire date and got really nervous that it would be awkward.

We got to Kneaders and ordered our cheesecake and picked a table for two right by the window. He and I talked for three hours with me leaning in the entire time in order to hear him. (Hey-a, Luce! This guy bothering you? looks like he's leaning. Okay, sorry for the distraction. back to the story.) We kept asking each other questions and at some point, I remember thinking "he just keeps talking... I'm pretty sure it's because he doesn't want this date to end..." and I thought that was pretty cute. As we walked up to my doorstep, he asked if I wanted to go shooting with him and some friends that Saturday. "Ooh, second date and we haven't even said good night yet, this is good!" I thought, and told him I would love to.

We hugged and said good bye. I walked inside and realized that I didn't know if I wanted to marry him yet. Okay, I understand how silly that sounds, but lets be honest - I was the kind of girl who would 'decide' either "yep, I could marry him some day" or "nope, let's never talk again, please" after one date. But this time I didn't know. All I knew was that I had had a great time and I wanted to see him again. And I felt like he genuinely wanted to see me again. And that felt good.

We texted pretty consistently the next couple of days minus the time we were sleeping and the time on Friday night when I went on the date with Kevin. I sent Matt one last response before Kevin picked me up and wondered if Matt would notice if I stopped responding for a while.

Kevin and I went bowling. He was just as handsome as he looked on Tinder, kind, charming, and a good date. I was definitely enjoying myself, but somewhere around frame 4 or 5 I thought, "This is fun, but I kind of wish I was with that Matt kid..." The thought kind of surprised me, but I put it in the back of my mind and tried to focus on the rest of the date with Kevin. After bowling, we got ice cream and talked. I enjoyed our conversation, but I still had Matt in the back of my mind and I was anxious to text him again.

After a while, Kevin took me home and walked me to my door. I thanked him and went inside and texted Matt. And then I sent Kevin an after-date text to thank him and let him know I'd had a good time. And then I kept texting Matt. The next day, when my friend Dustin asked me how my date with Kevin had gone, I said "Well, it was good... but I think I actually like Matt more."

more love story here

Monday, July 13, 2015

malise love story part two: a little bit of heartbreak and a little hope

As I'm sure you could have guessed, things didn't work out with the other Tinder guy. I went on another date or two, developed a new crush, got pretty bold one night and let that new crush know I was interested and he kindly told me that he didn't see us being anything more than friends. This had been one of the first times that I'd just been up front at the start of a crush and it was kind of refreshing to have just been honest and know how he felt before I had gotten all emotionally invested in the idea.

BUT. I still felt pretty heartbroken that night. It really just felt like the final straw. It seemed like I was giving everything to try to have a chance with all of these wonderful guys and experiencing rejection after rejection after rejection. I was so frustrated. I was on Tinder, digging through "dumpsters", putting myself out there, and I still wasn't making it past a third date with anyone. And I didn't know what I was doing wrong.

That night, I called my dad in tears.

We had a similar conversation to all the late night, Elise-in-tears phone chats we'd had before. He told me I was amazing and reminded me of promised blessings. He let me cry and complain and talk about how much it hurt. And he also told me that I had every reason to be gun-shy - he'd helped me through some of the pretty tough breakups and rocky relationships I'd had before. He told me he was pretty impressed by the way I kept trying despite the heartaches I'd been through. And then he said something that he hadn't ever said before. He told me, "Don't settle for unrealistic. Believe in the absolute impossible." Then he said, "It is going to happen." 

I hung up and knelt on top of my bed to pray. Through sobs, I told Heavenly Father that I couldn't do it anymore, that I was turning my dating life over to Him. I told Him that I knew of the blessings He had promised me. My patriarchal blessing talks about me being guided to someone and I'd had other blessings that promised that someone was being prepared for me. So, I told Heavenly Father that it was up to Him now. I promised that I would listen for guidance and do anything He needed me to do to help the process along, but that the rest was all up to Him. And then I said that I knew that would be hard for me to trust Him and asked for help to let go of the "I'll do it myself" control I'd been trying to have over my own dating life.

Not long after that prayer, my best friend Heather and I went for a drive to our favorite place, Magic Park. It was freezing outside, so we stayed in her car to chat this time. She'd just gotten back from a trip to Oregon where she visited the guy she was long-distance dating. She told me all about how perfect it was and then she told me that they'd decided they were going to get married. First, I felt really excited for her and then I started to feel some self-pity. I thought, "Really? Again??" I've had a lot of my best friends get married over the years. I'm always quite happy for them, but it can be tough when you have that go-to friend who is always ready to get ice cream or fries with you, and wants to hear all the pointless details of your life and the boys you've been texting, and they find a husband. It's not that you stop being friends with them, but it kind of feels like a breakup because you have to find a new go-to best friend.

When my best friend Nichelle got married, I promised myself that I was going to get a male best friend to "replace" her. That seemed like the best plan. (And if everything worked out right, I'd keep that one around for forever.) But Heather wasn't a boy (which is fine, because she was exactly the best friend I needed at that time). So as I sat in Heather's car feeling like I'd never find a forever go-to best friend, let alone just another go-to best friend, a quiet voice cut me off and said "It's okay. I will take care of you." and my concerns instantly went away.

Two days later, Matt and I went on our first date.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

malise love story part one: right swipe

When I downloaded Tinder again a week or so before Christmas, I set up some ground rules for myself that I thought would make it a better experience. 1 - No Tinder-ing when I was feeling lonely/desperate, 2 - I would try initiating some of the conversations this time, and 3 - I wasn't allowed to keep talking to someone just to be nice if I'd decided I didn't want to go on a date with them.

These rules made Tinder a much more pleasant experience for me. Also, it seemed that I managed to catch some "golden window" of Tinder opportunity. Perhaps the holiday season brought more options to Tinder because of family dating pressure? Who knows. But within the first month of 2015, I went on quite a few great dates with really, really good guys. 

I clearly remember swiping right on Matt. He didn't even have a bio posted, just a picture of him holding a fish he'd caught. I guess I decided he was attractive enough that I could give him a chance without the bio. Plus, he just looked genuinely good. We matched, he initiated conversation, and we chatted off and on for maybe a week or so. 

There was also another Tinder guy who I was particularly interested in at the time. We had become friends on Facebook, which meant that I could see through Tinder that he also knew Matt. I started to pay more attention to this other guy and less attention to Tinder. I also intentionally let my conversation with Matt fizzle because I wanted to date his friend and I didn't want them to end up at a party together and talk about me and assume I was on some mission to date all the boys from their high school who were on Tinder. 

So, Matt and I stopped talking and he deleted Tinder shortly after.

missed the prologue? 

Friday, July 3, 2015

malise love story: the rest of the prologue

I had had the "let's get married" talk twice before Matt. At least one of those guys even had the ring and I know both had a plan for the proposal. Both of those guys were wonderful guys, each with their own reasons for not choosing to marry me in the end. Which, in retrospect, has worked out just fine. However, in the moment, those were some very serious heartbreaks for me. Those, plus a few other, smaller dating heartbreaks left me fairly gun-shy when it came to dating, but I also knew that finding a companion and starting a family was the one thing I wanted most in life. So, despite my fears, I worked pretty hard to find dating opportunities that could lead me to what I wanted.

After my "dumpster experience", I tried to be more open minded about who I showed interest in dating. I went on dates with some awesome short guys, younger guys, and one particularly great guy whose style was... well, he really needed new jeans. Being more open minded helped me to have more dating opportunities. For a few years before I met Matt, I had some really great and some really tough dating experiences. After a particularly great first date with a guy in my ward, I remember standing just inside my front door and thinking "This is what it's supposed to feel like. This is how it feels when you're genuinely interested and he's genuinely returning that interest." Not that that hadn't happened before, but never that easy. Things faded with that guy, and faded with other guys, and faded with more guys. But I kept a little bit of hope that maybe I could find more of "this is what it's supposed to feel like."

At some point in all of this, a friend introduced me to Tinder. I played around with it for a day or two, decided it wasn't really for me and forgot about it for a while. Then, in the midst of a particularly rocky relationship, the guy I was dating said he felt like we should date other people. So, because I didn't agree, I decided to download Tinder and date other people I met online as if that would hurt his feelings or something. I went on one Tinder "spite date" and gave up on that idea for a while again.

Months later, I was feeling particularly single and I decided to give Tinder another shot because at least it felt remotely "productive". I bounced on and off of Tinder, occasionally deleting it because it was just providing all kinds of awkward moments for me and I seemed to be only talking to guys who were nice, but not really who I wanted to date. Finally, I reached a point where I didn't want to date any of the 20 some odd guys I'd matched with that go-around, decided Tinder wasn't for me and I erased my bio, deleted my picture, and removed the app from my phone.

I kind of forgot about Tinder for a while until one Sunday when I had a conversation about online dating with my friend, Desiree. She told me that she'd met some incredible guys, that she found a lot of success in initiating the conversation, and just some other general things about online dating that gave me a lot more happy feelings than I had previously had. I hadn't heard many people speak so positively about online dating - in fact, I had somewhat of an idea that online dating meant you were desperate. And even though Tinder was a bit more "mainstream", I still wasn't sure that that was how I wanted to meet my future eternal companion. (Cough, dumpster, cough.)

Shortly after that conversation with Desiree, I had the opportunity to watch this TED Talk: How I Hacked Online Dating. I watched it twice, actually. I was fascinated by the way she worked to present herself to really seek out the kind of person she was interested in. But ultimately, the way she talked about finding some who really matched what she was looking for and was also interested in her gave me hope. She was so confident about who she found. It didn't matter where she found him or how, she was led to exactly what she wanted.

After a month of conversations like that and thoughts about that TED Talk, I got the feeling that maybe it was time to download Tinder again. So, three months after swearing off of Tinder forever, this happened:


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