Dating in the Mormon Culture
“Date only those who have high standards and in whose company you can maintain your standards,” the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet advises adolescent Mormons. “Dating can help you develop lasting friendships and eventually find an eternal companion.” In other words, dating is for the purpose of finding someone to marry. Do not date someone you can't marry. In high school, I didn't date. In college, I didn't want to get married so I dated people I couldn't marry. While the Church says this is not advisable (and I will be the first person to confirm this) I did it any way.
The following is a brief history of my romantic relationships prior to meeting my husband.
High School: My friend from high school whom I mentioned earlier, actually took me to Junior prom before we tried dating in college. We'll call him Marvin. He's the type of guy your mother wants you to marry. He was two years older than me and left on his mission a few months after prom. I had always been extremely traditional and prudish and decided to save my first kiss for love. I thought Marvin was the one I was destined to love (those feelings would come some time, I was sure.) and I didn't kiss anyone the two years he was gone.
In the mean time, I causally dated three boys at one time my Senior year: Sean, Henry and David. They were from different social circles and schools so they never knew about each other. Since I was not kissing any of them, I wasn't cheating. But each had the impression they were “the apple of my eye.” David wasn't Mormon. Henry was kind of Mormon. Sean was Mormon and two years younger than me. I was having fun.
Age Nineteen: I spent the summer at a Boy Scout camp working in the trading post. While there I met Sam, who will from now on be called Agnostic Boy. I tried to, at least, convince him of the existence of any god. He wouldn't budge. But in the mean time, after many deep, intimate conversations about our beliefs, or lack of, and personal experiences that lead us to believe or not believe what we did, I found myself in love. In the context of Boy Scout summer camp, it didn't matter that our lifestyles (his filled with sex, alcohol and late nights and mine filled with books, college classes and scripture study) didn't exactly line up.
He eventually dumped me in an email.
Age Twenty: After six months of counseling and antidepressants and blaming my parents and religion for my failed relationship with Agnostic Boy, I met Jewish Boy through a friend of a friend. I beat him at Wii bowling the first time I ever played and he told me to “F” myself when I gloated a little. A few days later I found him on Facebook and email flirting commenced. I was lonely and upset and my Prozac wasn't quite working right. After only spending a few hours with Jewish Boy in person, we were in a serious, Facebook-official relationship.
I tried to convince Jewish Boy that Mormons were the new Jews and if he would just believe in Jesus all our problems would go away. But he wouldn't convert to Mormonism and I wouldn't convert to Judaism. He wanted to have sex and that wasn't going to happen. Our parents didn't want our relationship to continue. Our religions doomed us to fail.
After two months of dating, in my car outside his dorm, he said he couldn't do the abstinence thing anymore; he was going crazy. He said he loved me too much to be with me. I opened the car door and vomited the pasta I had eaten at dinner. He sobbed. He always cried. He left the car weeping, and then I collapsed.
I blamed my religion once again for my relationship's failure. If only I had been a member of a more lenient church! If only I didn't have such a ridiculously strong belief in Jesus and a loyalty to the Church! If only I could have let that religious part of me go, I could have stayed with Jewish Boy or Agnostic Boy.
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