Don’t Put Stock in Emotions on Dates

emotions lie

My friend and his fiancé were playing tennis.


They were about 2 weeks away from getting married and everything was going well.


But something changed on that court.


Maybe she wasn’t looking as good, maybe he was feeling a bit sick, maybe he just was feeling off. Whatever the reason, he all of a sudden…just didn’t feel it.


As a result, he almost broke off the entire thing.


Luckily, he didn’t, and now, 25 years later, he has a very happy and fulfilling marriage.


As he was telling me this story, I couldn’t help but think of what that means for me and how often I put so much stock in my CURRENT—moment-by-moment—emotions on a date that I don’t give things a chance.


See, if I feel ‘off’ about a date, I don’t ask them out again; if I feel ‘on,’ I do.


But whoa whoa whoa whoa! There are so many factors that go into how I feel at any given moment, only a portion of which have anything to do with the girl. My emotions might be completely out of both her control and mine when I arbitrarily decide to take my emotional temperature.


It isn’t about that moment as much as it is how things are trending over time.


There are plenty of emotional snapshots, or thin slices, that, when taken for what they are, look ‘off’ when they are, in the long run ‘on’ and, quite frankly, visa versa.


It is just likes stocks.

Take a look at these three stocks. Looking at this, would you say they are good or bad investments? (dollars per share is on the right and time is on the bottom in each chart)

google decline
Stock 1
apple decline
Stock 2
fbook decline
Stock 3

They all look pretty bad in these snapshots. Well, do you know who they are?

Here is the whole picture, with the portion above highlighted.

google trend
1 is actually Google.


apple trend
2 is Apple.


fbook trend
And yes, my fellow Millennials, 3 is the opening STINK of our beloved Facebook.


Any stock can have a bad day.


These are all snapshots that make these stocks look like an awful investment, but if you look at the TRENDS, these moments are just bad examples of a positive trend.


Conversely, there are stocks like Enron, where it looks like it is heading up with great days and then crashes and dies (much like my third dates)…but that is perhaps for another time.


So what are you expecting me to do, Zack? Go in with a brazen blindfold over my heart and put on my accounting hat to calculate the positive investment potential of a relationship?!




What I’m saying is that we go in with our minds and hearts open to the potential of love while giving the relationship a chance despite an ‘off’ day and not giving too much credit to an ‘on’ day.


What I’m saying is that we all need to do an honest inventory of how much stock we place in our emotions and I, for one, have realized that I’ve passed a lot of great trends because of a snapshot at the wrong time period.


What I’m saying is that we all need to take a step back and not stress so much just because it is one moment.


The ‘on or off’ calibration of human emotions is a highly inaccurate estimate in the moment, for a moment. From what I hear, even marriages have on days and off days, on weeks and off weeks, and yes, even on months and off months.


Because as my friend proved on that tennis court and as those snapshots of some of the most successful companies in the world metaphorically proves, if there is commitment AND love, chances are, you’ll bounce back.


And yes…this IS a post giving a shout out to the fact that this is my last week of MBA classes.

Give Up Now—You Will NEVER Stay Married to the Same Person

Change in marriage


I have a dear active LDS friend. She married her high school sweetheart after waiting for him on his mission and dating him for two more years. They were married for five years…before he filed for divorce and left the church.


My parents got engaged five days after their first date. They are still married.




How does that happen?


I thought it was so important to know someone before you marry them and then everything works out?


Well…not quite.


See, after a few basic traits of ‘must haves’ and ‘can’t haves’ for the sake of compatibility, the person you marry is of little to no consequence.




Because they aren’t the person you will stay married to.


In a study done by a Harvard psychologist, Dr. Dan Gilbert, he interviewed thousands of individuals about personal change and concluded that “all of us are walking around with an illusion, an illusion that history, our personal history, has just come to an end, that we have just recently become the people that we were always meant to be and will be for the rest of our lives.” (Read the whole TED talk here) That is because it is easier to look back and see the changes that have happened than it is to look into the future and imagine inconceivable circumstances that will surely shape us.


That “illusion” that WE have already done most of our changing in life is as scientifically and rationally ridiculous as the “illusion” that we are marrying someone for the rest of our lives.


I, for one, have spent so much time trying to find ‘this specific type of girl,’ while completely ignoring the fact that she will be different in 5 years, 10 years, 50 years…and guess what…?


So will I.


And if marriage is a commitment, then, in effect, I have to choose to stay committed and married to a new person, as a new person, every day.


That choice is made by work.


Now what does some 29-year old single guy know about this? Not much. But what I do know is that my fear of marrying the wrong person is completely unfounded based on the fact that I will never marry one person.


TIME Magazine’s Theologian of the year in 2001 and longtime Duke professor Stanley Hauerwas said, “We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary problem is…leaning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married” (“Sex and Politics: Bertrand Russell and ‘Human Sexuality'” in the Christian Century, April 19, 1978, 417-22).


So what I’m saying is that my friend is to fault and my parents are to emulate?


Not at all. There are so many circumstances I can’t even pretend to understand about why one couple is together and the other isn’t.


What I’m saying is that we only have one choice…and that is to continually choose to be married to the same new person over and over.


And that, to me, is a lot less scary than I feared. (Actually, it sounds quite nice. Who knows…maybe I’m changing my mind on this whole ‘single for life’ thing; but then again, it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?)


So after looking for compatibility, love and marriage is about finding someone who is committed to change with me as we constantly become new creatures in Christ. For in the seas of change, it is only on a sure foundation that we can anchor our relationships.


3 Realizations Proved I was COMPLETLEY Wrong about the Heart and Brain

fate and faith

Last week I posted (whined) about how hard it is for the heart and the brain to agree. I asserted that this alignment is a capricious occurrence concocted in a clandestine conspiracy between cupid and chance.


With my emotional hands flaking at the heavens I blogged:

‘The lucky get it.

The rest of us stay single.’




I RECANT! I offer this post as my confession and my newfound philosophical ideology as my restitution.



THE TRUTH: After a few fundamentals are fulfilled, the heart and brain CAN be willed into deep, abiding, true love…while not every time, I do believe that it is possible!



REALIZATION ONE: There is SCIENCE in the mystery of love.


In a recent NY Times article, Mandy Len Catron, a professor, cites how she fell in love with her partner: science.


Not like they are nerds and fell in love after meeting on WoW; but that they answered a series of 36 questions developed by a group of scientists to help people fall in love, followed by 4 minutes of uninterrupted eye contact.


(Maybe there is something to this, eh?)





After posting last week about my victimized situation to a fickle mind and a stubborn heart, I had a friend email me an admission that she, too, ran from so many relationships due to a misalignment of emotion and logic—until she chose not to.


She got sick of running, so when she met this guy and it was a typical situation where everything made sense, but nothing felt right, she stood up to fate.


Instead of running, she fought.


She poured her heart out to the Lord she worked and laid it all on the line.


And now…she is married, madly in love and called that fight the “best decision [she’s] ever made.”


And doesn’t that make sense? The more you work for something, often, the more important that thing becomes. And then it becomes



REALIZATION THREE: A Large part of love really is CHOICE.


As it has been said, choose your love, then love your choice.


I never understood that until this week.


We must choose to open our heart.

…choose to be ready for love.

…choose to have faith in marriage.


Then, realizing that there will be problems, heartache, frustrations and unexpected turns—be willing to take responsibility for our choice.


For if I’m constantly waiting for this supernatural inexplicable alignment of the stars, then it isn’t my love, it is a love forced upon me by an outside force.


But, after things make sense, love is a choice.

It is my choice.

It is our choice.



So let’s use faith to fight fate.


Does fate sometime step in and lend a hand?


But I, for one (a long single one), am not waiting around to get lucky. 😉


If you are in love, choose to stay there.

If you aren’t, well…let’s choose to get there.


Heart vs Brain – The Hit by Hit Showdown

heart vs brain dating

UPDATE: After reading this (or before, if you must), please read my new post about how this is completely wrong.


It feels so right, but doesn’t make sense (heart no brain)…and somehow I move forward.

It makes perfect sense, but doesn’t feel right (brain no heart)…and somehow I walk away.




Why can’t it just all work out?!


Well because the heart and the brain are two very different parts of the love machine.


The brain directs as the steering wheel.

The heart moves as the gas pedal.


I have met these girls that were just hot messes. Nothing made sense….but we just had that chemistry. My heart was in it. And I went forward. The brain just had to catch up and try to make sense of things as I fumbled my way around a relationship with them.


When your heart is in it, your brain just has to just figure it out.


I have also met girls that were just perfect. Their families and I got along great, they wanted to save the world, they were independently wealthy, models, spiritual…I mean the only red flag was that they were interested in me. BUT…there just wasn’t that spark. My brain was pointing me in the right direction, but I was moving as fast as a junkyard brick.


When your brain is driving solo, your heart is out to lunch with the keys.


It really is that frustrating.

It really is that simple.


Love is that mercurial mystery that builds the bridge between the largest chasm known to human-kind: the 12 inch gap between the brain and the heart.


When those two line up, so do the stars.


So be patient.


I believe that there will come a time when it will happen. That day where the car will be pointed in the right direction with the pedal to the medal.
I only hope I don’t crash before then.


Did God Dump You?

on mountain alone

You take your significant other on a journey to visit a very wise man—the wisest man in the world. Not only is he wise, but he happens to know both your and your interest.


You traverse the mountain until you arrive at his door and tell your (boy/girl)friend to wait outside. They sit down and begin to anxiously bite their nails.


You go into the wise man and say, “I have come to ask a question.”


“Proceed,” comes his response.


“Well, I was wondering if this person and I should get married. I’ll do whatever you say.”


Now stop…and think.


What do you think this wise man would tell you? If he tells you yes or no, then you can blame him for the answer and everything that is a result of that would be his fault. You are off scot free. Wouldn’t that be nice?


But see, he is a wise man.


So instead he says, “What do you think?”


“Well…” you stammer, “they are nice and kind and super awesome, but I just don’t really want to marry them.”


“H’m. Interesting.” The wise man rubs his long beard. “That sounds about right.”


“Oh thank you so so so much!” You run out with a burst of relief.


Your boo is waiting with bated breath. “And…?!”


“I’m sorry, the wise man said that we can’t get married.”


*          *          *


I posted to Facebook asking your opinions and out of the 230 interactions from comments and likes, 91% of you agree with that story above.


211 interactions made mention that blaming God for a breakup is “bogus” a “copout” or “a crock of crazy Mormon horse [etc]” and “letting God do your dirty work.”


19 interactions said “in rare cases” “it can happen.”


Whatever you feel, I can say that this is a personal topic.


…especially for me.


God has dumped me through three girls.




And frankly, I’m a little tired of it.


I have heard many times the sentiment, ‘It is a big decision, so OF COURSE God cares so He will give revelation.”


That is assuming that if God cares, He will give direct answers.


  • When I wondered if I should go to BYU or not for my undergrad, I got nothing.
  • When I pondered about starting a company, I got nothing.
  • When I prayed about going to get my MBA or PhD, I got nothing.
  • When I plead for an answer about taking one internship or another, I got nothing.


I got nothing because God was trying to give me something more important than an answer—an opportunity to use my agency.


I thought it out, made a decision, prayed and then just went forward. And I made the right decision because I made my decision. Does not God care about the righteous desires of our heart?


So why do so many people blame God for break ups? Because revelation and obedience is engrained in us. And that is wonderful! But, when we focus so much on revelation that we forget about agency, then we are following some one else’s plan entirely.


Now, I do believe that God will intervene in some rare circumstances, but even in those cases, it is cowardly and cheap to blame it on Him. Take responsibility. It is not “God made me do this,” but rather, “I don’t feel good about this.”


I believe that God respects our agency and so should we.


What good does it do to tell someone that God broke up with them?




So yes, date, pray, decide and get an answer, but then, in the end, if the Lord has a contrary opinion, don’t make yourself a martyr and the other a sacrificial lamb. For in the end, aren’t we all commanded to “be wise” ourselves?


Now…a message to all those whom God “dumped”:


Don’t worry.


God is not talking bad about you behind your back.


If you are in good standing with Him, then don’t let another’s “revelation” dictate your relationship with Him.


No matter the excuse, if they don’t want to be with you, they don’t want to be with you and hence, you can do better. Be grateful they made the choice before you eventually had to.



5 Steps to Trick Any Girl into a Second Date

first date ice cream

Once you actually are ready to go on a first date with a girl, how do you make sure it is good enough to score a second? How do you not be a player but still play the game?


Here are five steps for a first date to ensure a second:


STEP 1: Ask her on a date.

Use the word “date” and give her a time you will pick her up. Don’t be late, you idiot.

STEP 2: Plan to keep it under 2 hours–60-90 min is ideal.

A quick dinner OR frozen yogurt OR crepes OR cupcakes (note there was no “and” there). If they aren’t wanting more, you gave them too much. DO NOT ask her ‘what she is doing on Thursday,’ but it is appropriate to gauge her interest by saying, ‘We should do this again sometime.’ A PDT (post date text) is another telltale sign you did step three right.

STEP 3: ONLY talk 20% of the time.

THIS is the biggest biggest biggest mistake guys make. (MORE ON THIS BELOW)

STEP 4: Don’t contact her for at least 1 day.

It shows that you aren’t too eager and have “stuff” going on.

STEP 5: Call her to ask her on a second date.

Yes, call her–(no text/fbook/text/snap/insta tag/group me/linked in/email/pigeon/page/singing telegram…okay, maybe a singing telegram, but call her too) and ask her to do something specific in a call under 5 min. For example, “[small chat]..but hey, I wanted to call to see if I can take you to grab a bite to eat and to the nicklecade this week!”


If you follow these five steps and she says “No,” either she’s a troll or you are. If she is, good riddance (thank you, Google for letting me know it isn’t “good riddens”…that could have been embarrassing if people knew I had no idea how to even pronounce that right, much less spell it #closecall). She would make a terrible mother. If you are a troll…well…don’t know what to tell you, buddy. Shoot lower? But really though, you’re fine. Just keep trying. (The five steps don’t actually work for “any” girl, that was just to get you to click on this article.)


Okay…so why should you only talk 20% of the time?

First, everyone loves talking about themselves, so she will have a great time.

Second, you will appear slightly mysterious.

Third, and most importantly, the only reason you would want to go on a second date with her is because you like her. She doesn’t ask you on a second date; you ask her. And the only way that you are going to find out if you like her is by learning about her…which comes from, class? That’s right! HER talking, not you. So learn about her on the first date and and do talking 50-50 for the next two dates. (You will find that you will ease back into that 20% thing very involuntarily quickly if the relationship progresses.)


So you can charm your way onto a first date, trick a girl to a second date and maybe even convince a girl on a third date…but that’s when the game ends and you are just left with you. The common misunderstanding is that “the game” is meant to fool someone into falling for you–but it isn’t, it is to break down the initial walls to see if love is even there. These five steps help do just that.


So play on, because the game is over when love takes the field.



How do I know I love my Spouse? Part 2: The Answer

work butterflies love.jpg

As a guy who is 28 and single, first of all, I realize that I know nothing about marriage, but I do know a lot of people who do. This post represents an analysis of over 100 interviews, comments, emails and messages. From newlyweds to couples of 60 years, from widows to taxi drivers, from rockstar couples to divorcees…I asked the same question: “How do/did you know you love(d) your spouse?”


Over the last year, I began to see a pattern that surprised me.


All of the answers boiled down to one word:




Work was the answer.






After the butterflies flew away and there was nothing left but barren cocoons of a passionate memory, many people wondered where the love went. Almost every single interview mentioned this moment of feeling like they “lost” the love. Many of these people worked to find it and discovered that love hadn’t flown away, but it moved. (Some who got divorced realized it wasn’t what they wanted after they found it, but that is an entirely new post..or blog.)


It moved from getting love to giving love. It evolved and matured from a fleeting fluttering feeling to a candid concrete commitment. It took work to find it and it took work to keep it.


Those people who still loved their spouse said they knew it because they still worked at it, even though, at times, they didn’t want to.


But what is “work” in marriage?


A little child said, “I know that daddy loves mommy because when she broke her arms, he wiped her butt.”


Gordon B Hinckley shared a (somewhat) similar sentiment, “A happy marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion” (“What God Hath Joined Together,” Ensign, May 1991).


One of the greatest guys I know who has one of the best marriages I’ve seen told me his secret, “As a married couple, we need to keep doing those little special things we did when we were dating…compliments, spontaneous dates, wild make-out sessions, etc.” And while I’m pretty excited for the “etc” part of all that, I can see the “work” aspect takes time, thought and energy.


Those who know they love their spouse still work at it.


If you are wondering if love is there, work to find it.

If you have it, work to keep it.

If you don’t, work on being ready for it.


Do you have a dream to make a wonderful marriage your reality? I am starting to discover, that once the butterflies fly away and realize that the cocoons remain, it comes down to another one of Gordon B Hinckley’s beautiful thoughts:


“Work is the miracle by which…dreams become reality.”
So if you will indulge me to give myself a dose of advice, ‘Don’t worry…things will work out.’

How Do You Know You Still Love Your Spouse?


still love wife

About a year ago, I realized I had been lying to myself…I had been dating to date, dating to cure boredom, dating to spend time with fun people and, occasionally, even dating to blog.


But whatever I was doing, I certainly wasn’t dating to marry, as I had been professing.


An endless procession of tidy first dates would do the trick to keep the facade while hiding the fear.


When I realized this, I asked myself what my big fear was. What was keeping me from opening up?


And the answer was quite simple.


You see, I was afraid of falling out of love.


I was afraid of succumbing to the fate of no many around me. The rough bumps and ends to marriage inundated my social media while the low-lit bits of lasting love were locked in the layers of mild moments and simple smiles for which words seem too inadequate and public proclamations too cheap. I was barraged with the tough and blind to the tender.


So I set out to change my perspective, my heart and my fear.


With so many of my friends that have gone through so much heartache after faltering and failed marriages, I began my quest to find the magic hidden in marriage–understanding that it is never a fairy-tale. I set out to ask married people two simple questions:


“How do you know you still love your spouse?”

“What is the key to a successful marriage?”


I asked newlyweds of a week, widowers who had been married for over 60 years, taxi drivers, grandparents, my parents, friends–everyone who’s ear I could borrow. All in all, I have asked over 100 people during the last year.


To the second question I get the same answer over and over and over: the key to a successful marriage is work. Work to serve the other, work to keep things exciting, work to show appreciation…wonderful work.


The answers to the first have varied and have been fascinating, but before I go into what they said, I am curious to hear what you, here on fathers day especially, have to say.


If you are married, how do you know you still love your spouse?

If you are single, how would you HOPE to answer this question?


I’ll put together a follow-up blog post on all the results.


But I will say this much–after this last year of research, I am no longer afraid of marriage. It seems to me to be like a garden. A veritable heaven on earth that brings joy and happiness and peace…if, and only if, tended after.


Why I Believe in the Toothfairy…and Love

After some recent dating frustrations, I began to feel that true lasting love in marriage is like the toothfairy.


It’s like some big joke that everyone is in on…except me. Like you all think it’s
so cute when I write about believing that love is real…and what’s more that it will happen to me! I was feeling pretty tricked. Truman Burbank’ed, if you will. (If you get that reference without google, give yourself a point. #familyguyvague)


But the more I thought about it, the more I realize that true lasting love really IS like the toothfairy.


See, when I was about 7 years old, I lost another one of my teeth. I was pumped for payday and knew that the tooth fairy was coming that night.


This time, I was determined to stay awake and try to convince her to give me more money, since it was a bigger tooth, after all. It only made sense.


About an hour into my waiting, the door creaked open and I heard the “tooth fairy” start to creep into my room. I burst out of bed and said, “HI!”


Much to my surprise (but more to my father’s) it was…my dad. He jumped and dropped $10 in singles on the floor. Ironically the same amount he thought I might get earlier that night.


Or is it NOT ironic?! My young mind started to race as my innocence hopelessly started to slowly slip between my frail fingers.


My childhood was lost. The tooth fairy wasn’t a magical lady…it was an offensive lineman.


H’m. Not quite what I was expecting.


And that is how I feel about lasting love in marriage. I have always imagined it to be this magical wonderful thing that is a constant Disneyland (minus the kids) experience. But I’ve come to realize that it is different…and that is okay.


I still believe in the tooth fairy and I believe in love.


It might be different than I expected, but the reward will be the same.


I might not meet my wife from this dreadful dating game (albeit, quite fun), but I will meet her and guess what…so will you. (Not my wife, unless you want to…then I can introduce you…after, of course, I get introduced to her.)


You will find love if you haven’t.

You will grow love if it is shrinking.

You will regain love if it is lost.


Just try it with me.


Let’s have a little faith. I think we can at least try.
Maybe not faith in the delivery method…but for sure in the reward.


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Comment from Dealbreaker Post

Great Comment

One of the best parts about blogging is the insight I gain from the comments. Here is a comment from my buddy Bret about my post about dealing with dealbreakers. Here is the comment. Brilliant.


Marriage is settling. That’s literally what you do when you get married, you choose one person and say, “It’s not gonna get any better than this.” You have absolutely no evidence of the truth of that statement when you make it, other than you really really really like being with the person about whom you made it at the time you made it.


It matters not whom you choose or how much you are convinced that it really won’t get any better, there are ALWAYS moments where you will doubt that statement to some degree or another. Marriage is HARD, just like school is h ard or d iets are hard or exercising is hard or life is hard. It takes constant discipline, a butt-load of tenacity, and work work work.

The good thing is that marriage is also like school, diets, exercising, and life in the positive ways. If you put in the right amount of work, it pays off ten fold….until you stop working, and then it just sucks.


Don’t be afraid to settle.


All that being said, this is a great post. I can think of a lot of people that could have saved themselves a lot of stupid, pointless pain if they’d done these things. And even still – I know a lot of people (myself included probably), that could benefit from these things even after marriage. Great post, Zack.