Last year, when my son was attending the Y, I was alerted to the existence of a Facebook group at BYU for kids to anonymously post notes about their crushes.  The student submits a comment about their crush to the FB group admins who then re-post it anonymously from the site.  Site admins try to identify crushes to help bring people together.  The comments run the gamut from cutesy to goofy to stalkeresque.

Here is a sampling (with names replaced by initials to protect the stalked):

  • PL, are you the Liahona? Because the workmanship thereof is EXCEEDINGLY fine. [1]
  • To the dude standing shirtless by the window in building 30.. thank you. [2]
  • CW, you are really pulling off that whole ‘hot half-asian’ thang. Please invite me to your next dance party? [3]
  • She’s in my biology class. When we talk about genetics, I can’t help but wonder what dominant or recessive traits our children would display. MW, let’s do the gene pool a favor. [4]
  • All I am saying is if polygamy was still able to be practiced, I’d want both CA and HA to be mine. Those A twins have got it going on. [5]
  • NS is the cat’s meow. And this cat is ready to pounce. [6]
  • I know in Anatomy Open Lab we are supposed to be studying the cadaver’s bodies, but let’s be real, the only body I’m studying is yours JM. [2]
  • SL is a beautiful person, outside and in. [7]
  • MS- from the second I saw your pasty white complexion, I knew that I was going to fall hard. Your psuedo-hipster t-shirts, constantly red eyes, and often shirtless roommates don’t take away from my adoration. Seriously. Those roommates of yours are weird- and I still adore you. [8]
  • Hot Bryce from the Creamery — you are the hottest of all the Bryces. I would date you so hard. [9]
  • KR is the second most attractive man I’ve seen. [10]
  • To the adorable ginger who helped me in the physics TA lab the other day: I hear redheads are going extinct. Let’s do our part to make sure that doesn’t happen. [4]
  • TT, you are the hottest American Heritage TA out there. I never talk in class so you probably think I’m mute. But if you ask me out on a date, I’ll do all the talking (or not talking) you want 🙂 [2]
  • SM who TAs Psych 111, kiss me already. I don’t care if you have no sense of smell. [11]
  • Shout out to the hottest blonde I’ve ever seen from building 9. LR. Dang I would wife that girl so fast. [9]
  • AP, Sing me to sleep with mariachi music. You’re so ethnic. That’s what I love about you. [3]
  • To the girl that farted loudly in class today. Don’t worry, you’re still incredibly cute. [12]
  • E who looks like an Asian in my Psych class. I am in love you. Please stop sitting so far away from me so I can actually ask you out. [3]
  • MR – did you clean your arms with Windex? Because I see myself in them. [1]
  • A the beautiful Mexican at Liberty Square. You are perfection. [3]
  • To CH that Asian stud muffin from New Heritage 53rd ward from Pennsylvania! I want to mother your panda babies! I noticed you have a car, would you mind taking me to Squaw Peak sometime? From, Rice Loving Panda Hugging Future Wife [3]
  • To the cute RMs in my ward who are extremely noncommittal…get your acts together and ask me out!  [13]

The site reminded me of some of my own crushes at BYU.  There was one guy in one of my writing classes who came in every day wearing an ecru cable-knit fishing sweater.  One day there was an empty seat in front of me, and I was excited as his eyes honed in, and he sauntered Abercrombie & Fitch-like toward the open desk.  As he strode up the aisle (it all seemed to be happening in slow motion) and sat down in front of me, he deftly pulled the fishing sweater off over his head with one arm, his brown locks tumbling back down onto his forehead.  Unfortunately, it was just then that I noticed he had the hygiene habits of a Matthew McConnaughey, and I was downwind; I suspect that he had never once washed that sweater.  Crush over.  Not all that glitters is gold.

Looking over the BYU Crushes FB site I also noticed that a few of these “ethnic” crushes crossed a line for me in terms of how racist they sounded.  Is that just generational? Is it OK to say things like “Rice Loving Panda Hugging” now?  (I note that this comment was later taken down on their page, so someone finally objected).

In short, the BYU dating culture is pretty . . . unique.

I was also having a conversation this week at church with a friend who, like me, has teenage children.  We were talking about the fact that, unlike what is represented in the For the Strength of Youth, dating is basically dead.  The guidelines don’t make any sense in light of the social scene our teenage kids report today.  That may be different in Utah, which has its own unique culture that seems to be more impervious to change, but we’re not raising teens in Utah, and things are not like that where we are.

When my oldest was a senior in high school (2 years ago), he did not want to go on a date, go to prom, or have a girlfriend because if you were “dating” someone, it was assumed by everyone, including the one you were dating, that you were sexually active, that it was serious, and that you would probably be living together when you graduated from high school.  Most kids shy away from that kind of exclusive commitment, and Mormon kids in particular are worried about the social perception that they are sexually active or that they are willing to be if they go on a date.  Whereas going stag to a dance when I was growing up was only OK for a very casual dance, nowadays, Mormon kids in particular feel it’s socially much safer to go to dances without a date.  Most kids are just “hanging out,” which is usually done in groups, and almost always without any planned activities.  There is no “boys asking girls out” or even much “girls asking boys out.”  Relationships sometimes form through “hang out” groups.  Within groups, chastity isn’t always the norm either; being “friends with benefits” has taken hold, something that is not really like a rom-com, will they / won’t they, but a low risk way to have sex without dealing with the difficulties and expectations of a relationship.  “Dating” and being in any one-on-one exclusive social relationship is equated with breaking the law of chastity. [14]

The added pressure of social media, sexting, and cyberbullying just adds to the insecurity teens face about relationships.  The FSOY pamphlet does recommend dating in groups, but it also creates a bright line of dating (age 16+) and not dating (younger) that isn’t matched by today’s low-risk “hanging out” culture that pervades.

By contrast, when my son entered BYU, one of his many shocks was the dating culture.  There was a strong expectation for pairing off and also a lot of people who were seeking after exclusive relationships, something that my son said was completely different from where we had lived. [15] He said that girls would offer to bake something for a boy they liked, and if the boy agreed, this usually resulted in a relationship.  Accepting brownies = exclusive commitment. [16]

  • Now that kids are delaying dating anyway, should we allow kids ages 12+ to attend Youth Conference?
  • Should we modify the FSOY to reflect the different social pressures that have emerged and continue to evolve?
  • How do we talk about dating culture when Utah differs so substantially from other areas where church members live?



[1] This is a staple of BYU come ons:  a cheesy, cutesy attempt at humor, sometimes pseudo-religious.  I didn’t even bother to copy in the “Is your name Virtue?  Because you are garnishing my thoughts unceasingly” line.  I’m not sure how seriously to take these.  They just seem like something the nerdy friendzone guy would say in the teenage rom-com, not the guy you want to like you.  Girls are submitting these, too, BTW.

[2] These types of comments (stalking + lust) are the ones that sound like real college crushes to me.

[3] Ethnic minorities are in high demand at BYU!

[4] Several allude to mating with gingers or otherwise making babies with crushes.

[5] Gross.

[6] NS is a girl.  Yes, apparently there is a guy at BYU who is referring to himself as a cat.  Does that strike anyone else as unusual?

[7] This sounds more sexual than I think the author intended.  Also falls into the category of “Things Ted Bundy Might Have Said.”

[8] The heart wants what the heart wants.

[9] This is another trend:  using chaste Mormon terms like “date,” “marry,” or “wife” as if they were sexually aggressive terms.

[10] Ouch.  Maybe if the first is Ryan Gosling.

[11] Aroo?

[12] Good luck chasing this girl down.

[13] The shotgun approach.  Just shoot into a crowd and see if you hit anyone.

[14] At the time I wondered if this was unique to the American school in Singapore, but now that we are back in the US, this is the case in Scottsdale, Arizona also.

[15] This wasn’t just a Mormon in a non-LDS world phenomenon either.  My son’s non-LDS friends were likewise wary of exclusive dating and the sexual expectations that came with it.  They went to prom in a group of 20 kids, and my son was the only LDS one who went.  These weren’t particularly religious kids either.  They came from a variety of religious and most non-religious backgrounds, and they spent a pretty penny on champagne at that dinner (drinking is legal at 18 in Singapore).

[16] Being vegan gave him an excuse to avoid relationships, and continues to do so.  Vegan burn!

**Deja vu!  This is a repost of an article I did in November at By Common Consent.