To Date within or without the Church?

The last time I saw my daughter, she told me that she had decided to be more proactive about meeting people.  She had signed up for a (free) online dating service, and had recently gone out with four different guys.  None of them was a hit, but the evenings were pleasant enough and she felt good about actually trying and putting herself out there.  I was proud of her and told her so.

I called her just a couple of days ago to make Memorial Day plans, and in the course of that conversation I asked her how the online dating experiment was coming.  And she casually mentioned that she’s actually seeing someone now.  The guy is a high school science teacher, which was a major plus in my book.  (As a boy I was a science geek and always close to the science teachers, who were uniformly terrific.)  Also, he’s got a thing for cult films, and I had to laugh out loud, because that is one of my daughter’s passions as well, so in that respect at least they seem well matched.  They just started dating, but still, I was again proud of her for being proactive about it and getting out there and making an effort, which appears to have led to some promising initial traction.

She is no longer in the Church, so religion is not a major consideration for her.  But talking to her about it kind of got me thinking.  If I were in that position, would I want to try to date a Mormon woman or a non-Mormon?

When I was young, there simply was no question, it was Mormon all the way.  I fully expected to marry in the temple, which I in fact did, and I was thoroughly Mormon in every respect, so marrying outside the faith would have created various compatibility problems.

Also, the demographics favor Mormon men so strongly that it almost seems rude for a Mormon man to date a non-Mormon woman.  It’s like something I read once in a newspaper article about the Tall Club of Chicago.  They interviewed one of the women in the club, who commented how they can’t help but view it as such a “waste” (her word) when they see a tall man going out with a short woman.  (And in that respect I”m guilty as charged: I’m 6’5″, and my wife is 5’2″).  The demand for decent, marriageable Mormon men is so strong that I can see how Mormon women might see LDS guys dating outside the fold as a betrayal of sorts.

But now that I’m much older I’m less stereotypically Mormon than I was as that 21-year old RM I was when I got married.  I’m active in Church and I’m a believer, true.  But I’m also quite liberal and intellectual in the way I relate to the Church as an institution these days.  (To name but one example of many, I think nothing of seeing R rated movies, something which would be shocking to many LDS women.)  The mantra of the older Mormon woman looking for someone to date is that she wants someone who “honors his priesthood.”  I hold the priesthood and honor it (I think) in my way, but that mantra I suspect is code for a certain Peter Priesthood type, a mold into which I”m not even close to fitting.

Mormonism is just culturally weird in so many ways that it would be a relief to be with someone who either was one or was familiar with the religious culture of the faith, so that I wouldn’t feel the constant need to explain or defend the many things that would come up requiring such explanation or defense.  That would be a definite plus to dating within the faith.

But in a lot of ways, it almost seems as though it would be easier to date outside the faith, where issues of the nuances of sabbath observance or Word of Wisdom practice or of a hundred other things simply wouldn’t be an issue she would be invested in the way a Mormon woman would be.

Of course, there are liberal Mormon women out there, and that might be the best of both worlds.  But I live in the midwest, and there just aren’t that many Mormons (of any kind) around, so now we would be talking about a small subset of an already small population.  It might be hard to find such a gem in the real world.

A concrete example of an issue that might be hard to negotiate: Say I found a Mormon woman I wanted to marry.  My two children are out of the faith.  There is no way in hell I would get married without them being present, which would of necessity mean a non-temple wedding.  For a lot of Mormon women, that would be a deal-breaker right there.

So I’m curious: Were you in that position (and if you’re not, just treat it as a hypothetical, as I am doing), would you prefer to date within the Church, or would you be open to dating (or even prefer to date) outside of the Church?  And in either case, why?  (I freely acknowledge this is just an off the cuff little thought I had which I haven’t invested a lot of time in thinking all the way through, so please help us vet this question from every perspective as you see it.)

Comments

  1. Kristine says:

    There’s one teeny problem with Mormons dating outside the church–if you’re not willing to have sex before marriage, you’re going to get dumped after the third date most of the time.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    An important consideration, as we saw from Elna Baker’s book.

  3. Girls in DC baptize their boyfriends on a monthly basis.

  4. Natalie says:

    Me at sixteen: “An RM, nothing more nothing less.”

    Me now at 23: “A good man is a good man is a good man. The church has no monopoly over truth, or of good men. I will marry whomever I believe will give me the greatest happiness.”

    (Also considering that I am tall (5’11),buxom, brunette, an outspoken liberal and an unorthodox Mormon, I think if I don’t want to die a virgin, my chances of marriage are better outside the church.)

  5. DeepThink says:

    I’m in that position. And yes, the sex thing is a major barrier. I’ve dated a fair amount outside the church and on that topic, it is brutal. I have even been called mentally ill by an otherwise intelligent, accomplished man. He was nice about it though, to the extent that such an accusation can be nice.

    I am a true spiritual seeker. As such, my deepest joy is to come to know the Divine. Some of my very closest friends are spiritual seekers too, even though they are not religious, and we have deep, intimate connections. But there is something missing for me with them, even as we go to beautiful places together. To speak of God the Father as “the Universe”; to describe our spirit-beings as our “essential self”, to have the power and miracles that are wrought by faith being claimed us each being “powerful manifesters” leaves me feeling slightly bereft. I do speak this way to my friends, because it is a way to include them in my journey in a way that moves them. And as we have deepened, I move closer to language and concepts that feel most authentic to me. But still there is something missing. I am sure that this is me and not them. But there have been times when I tried to explain an insight I received from the scriptures or a fireside…you know, not a doctrinal insight so much as an epiphany where I saw the power of sacrifice, sanctification, consecration or covenants. And with all of their love they stared blankly at me. They were trying, but it didn’t land.

    There is a foundational “getting” that is available inside of a common culture that is hard to replace…as you said, defending and explaining can take the magic from the moment. That said, I am sure there are a fair number of Mormons who would stare blankly too.

    When it comes to partnering, I seek my own tribe. Someone who will plumb the depths of our divine natures and seek to know God. If I found him outside the Church, I would marry him. I have not found him in the Church either. And so, for me, spiritual partnering takes a village. Perhaps it does for all of us.

  6. melodynew says:

    Okay, so here’s the thing. . . I am fifty and have been single for quite some time. I am temple-going, garment-wearing, devout, liberal Mormon woman in Utah. Even here, finding a man who fits the same subset you described is a tough one. Like your daughter, I have just started the on-line dating thing. The man in whom I am most interested is a faithful Christian (son of a protestant minister, but converted to Catholicism as an adult.) I talked with my adult children (all active LDS, temple-going people) about how they would feel if I didn’t marry in the temple. And, to my surprise, they answered, “Mom, you already made those covenants. You’ve kept them.” [I was sealed to their father who I divorced long ago, who also long ago abandoned his temple sealing covenant] “If you find a good man who makes you happy, we’ll be happy for you. No matter how you marry him.”

    Moments before I logged on to BCC I was thinking abou this very issue, so, as random as this post might seem to you, Kevin, it is something of a Godsend for me. I’ll be interested to read the responses. But right now I need to finish the sacrament meeting talk I’m supposed to give tomorrow. Good night, all.

  7. I didn’t really answer your question: I would prefer to find a man who shared my love of the Mormon faith and my concerns regarding the institutional church. This would be the ideal. However, I have come to believe that God honors our righteous, human desires for companionship and will make far greater allowances- than what I imagined in my youth- for the sealing power of one human soul to another human soul with regard to the hereafter, whether or not that bond is solumnized inside or outside the temple. That may sound heretical with regard to the sealing power of priesthood, but those are my honest feelings.

  8. Single girl, LDS, 25, just finished grad school: I don’t despair, because I meet a fair amount of guys my age who are also 1) hoping to marry in the temple, and 2) working on improving their lives. And I believe in what the Lord has promised me. But I’ve seen so many different situations, that I can no longer play the mental game of “He/she/I isn’t/am not married; what’s wrong?” because there are so many possible factors that can affect this. Say you live in an area with few singles but it would be foolish to quit your job and move. Say you’ve been earnestly striving to overcome some sins or bad habits, but in the meantime no “worthy” people want to date you. Say you were not blessed with good looks, or perhaps social rituals are really hard for you. Or maybe even God is making you wait for a very good reason that He has not yet revealed. My siblings and childhood friends all married in their early 20s. I’m happy for them, but it does seem sometimes like those who married early do not fully comprehend the weight of their blessings, how difficult it can be for other equally worthy people to arrive at the opportunity to marry in the temple.

  9. Angela C says:

    Well, I’m with melodynew. For me, another marriage would be a second one with no plans for more kids, and I have a temple marriage now. No need for a second one. I would simply look for someone whose company I enjoy who “gets” me and is respectful of me. That’s probably enough.

  10. My first husband was alcoholic and hated the church (I was baptised three years into our marriage). When we finally divorced after 13 years of marriage I swore I would only date/marry within the church. This was despite living in the UK where there are very few Mormons, let alone single ones in their mid thirties. But I knew I would rather be single forever than a) risk finding myself married to another alcoholic and b) be married to someone who didn’t at least respect, and preferably share, my faith. I was convinced my vow would leave me single forever, and in fact told my children as much. So of course I met a guy (RM) in my ward and was married within two years of my divorce. We’ve been married seven years now, very happily.

    As for marrying in the Temple and the family not being able to attend, we’re lucky in that, being British, Temple marriages aren’t legally recognised so we got married in the chapel and sealed that evening in the London temple. We are both converts and the only members in our families.
    http://mormonmommywriters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/why-british-mormons-will-never-marry-in.html

  11. This is actually my problem (sort of). I do want to date and get married and such (in a few years’ time), but in or out is the big question. On the one hand, like you said, I want someone who gets it, and to whom I don’t have to explain or justify every aspect of my (somewhat complicated) religious life. On the other hand, I’m not exactly orthodox or willing to be “good” anymore, and anyone who was seriously devout wouldn’t want me, or else would see me as some sort of project (shudder). The sex thing is an issue; I went out with a guy a couple of months ago, and once he brought up the Mormon thing I could tell he wasn’t interested anymore. That said, there are (particularly in my age bracket) guys who don’t seem to care as much, especially guys who grew up in similarly conservative religious environments–for instance, dating Muslim boys. I think more than anything, I would want to date someone who also had religious convictions, even if we did not share the particulars. It’s important to me that they care about the same things (or at least agree, even if they aren’t passionate about them)–God, social justice, feminism. Oh, and because my chosen career path involves a lot of moving around, someone who’s at least open to following my job. I think this means I should just get a puppy.

  12. Jacob H. says:

    Fantastic diversity of response! My two cents: I would date whoever the heck I wanted to. I’ve never cared about religious persuasion so long as the person understood something about the effort of belief, and respected (the positive sides of) faith. I lost my faith during my mission (read too much Hugh Nibley, John Sorenson, and church history before I left…) and, maybe paradoxically to some, deepened my commitment to it. I seek peace and betterment (conflicting ideals…) and honestly didn’t know how I could remain active in the church while living with integrity (post-mish) until I witnessed folk like yourself and others on this blog. I can’t force my heart to believe other than it does, but I can be charitable towards the possibilities we create and invest in, and the wonderful experiences of the divine. I think I would have preferred dating outside the church, if for no other reason than the additional diversity of experience that I relish. Maybe someone else who had experienced some kind of faith transition. However, instead I found an LDS girl 4 years ago who caught my heart almost immediately, and changed all my plans. Maybe some other life.

  13. My problem, also, a few years ago. God fixed it and found another ten sigma person to marry. If I had not been “fixed up” I do not know what I would have done. Take all that has been said before and add to that “too old.” My intention, after my wife passed, was to use the internet to find someone. I did, for a few weeks, until I saw that the Mormon prospects were bleak indeed, even on the “net.” If God had not prepared someone for me, and I for her, it would have been very difficult to find a realistic match.

    I am quite aware that God does not do this for everyone. Why we were given this rare chance is not clear. So I did not squander my unique Mormon-ness on an outsider.

  14. MDearest says:

    I can’t fathom how to participate in this one. I dated and married out of the church, so there’s no hypothetical theorizing for me. My theoretical what-ifs are about the handful of Mormon guys that I dated, or would like to have dated. I’ve always been accepting of people with different outlooks and different standards. I like pretty much everybody as long as they don’t be a jerk. Growing up, I didn’t know anyone [at church] like me, and (big surprise) never really fit into the BYU market, so I gave up on that and went where I felt valued. Too bad there wasn’t an internet when I could’ve used it.

    I hesitate to recommend marrying out of the church if you intend to remain active. It’s way, way hard. But who knows, maybe some couples can negotiate this terrain better than I have.

  15. melodynew says:

    Thank you for this, MDearest, RW, and others here too. Lots of good “non-hypothetical” things for folks like me to consider.

  16. Kevin Barney says:

    The comments so far reflect the kind of conflicted, real world experience and thought I was hoping would result from the OP. Fantastic thoughts and insight so far! Thanks so much for participating and sharing, and keep the great comments coming. You are demonstrating very well what I suspected, that this is not at all an easy question.

  17. I’ve Internet dated LDS and non LDS at the same time in Southern California. It must be pretty bleak for Mormon women wanting to date Mormon men because 4 times the number of gorgeous Mormon women show interest in me than gorgeous non Mormons. As great as this sounds if you’re a guy it really isn’t unless you’re just looking for eye candy because they tend to be less mature and far more naive than their non Mormon counterparts and they generally have more kids for you to consider. So from my perspective Mormon post marriage dating is pretty screwed up!

  18. Sharee Hughes says:

    Many years ago, I was married to a non-Mormon. Never again! Those were the worst years of my life.

  19. I go back and forth about this. I was sealed to my ex wife for over 10 years and we divorced recently (none of which had to do with faith- mental illness was the culprit). All of my dating post divorce has been with non-members and my current girlfriend is Protestant.
    What’s been wrong with the LDS women I’ve encountered- not willing to consider interracial relationships (thats where our culture needs to change), I have custody of my two daughters- who wants an insta-family?, I’m a political conservative- but with incredibly liberal Mormon beliefs… A walking dichotomy in North Carolina. Perhaps if I lived in DC I might have found a better fit.

    I’ve digressed….

    At the end of the day none of my relationships have crossed the threshold of “what do we do about your faith?” I stand accountable to God and my two children who will give the quizzical look when/if we attend a Catholic or Methodist meeting. Right now they are bright enough to know that there are good people in all faiths.
    As two grown people- we should be able to attend our own churches and still continue to grow spiritually.

  20. I was 34 when I married an LDS guy. When I found myself still single in my late 20s/early 30s, I gave some serious consideration to the idea of widening my dating circle to include non-members. I ultimately decided that if I married a non-member I would likely become less-active in the church no matter how supportive and open-minded the other person was. I also felt that my experience with the church had shaped me to the point that someone who didn’t share this wouldn’t really get me.

    Then there’s the sex. I wasn’t so much afraid that someone would dump me if I wouldn’t have sex with them. I was more concerned that I would not be able to keep my commitment not to have premarital sex if I were dating someone who didn’t share the same commitment. At least I know myself.

  21. anonforhypothetical says:

    Hypothetical for me, but I suspect I would be a “don’t care” in principle and a “mostly Mormon” in practice. Not using affiliation as a litmus test but finding that it is a better-than-random screen for “fit” and “gets me”.

    I’d probably do even better on “fit” if there were a way to use mothers as a screen. In other words, growing up with a Mormon mother (as I did) is probably more highly correlated with “fit” than is current religious identification. In fact, growing up with a practicing religious mother of any faith might capture all or most of the same correlation.

  22. Shawn H says:

    As someone who married outside the church ( and I say this is even though I’m inactive), everything is easy until the children come. Then she wanted our daughter baptized, Catholic ( no big deal, since I don’t believe it has any effect). The real question is how to teach our daughter to know and love God, and that’s where my wife and I struggle. She hates the Mormon church, as she’s seen the hypocrisy and warped set of priorities that many members have ( thanks my family :(. I’ve seen Catholicism up close first as a missionary and then via the disaster that is the child abuse scandal, and so I don’t want anything to do with her church. I say all this simply as a warning – it is harder when spouses don’t share a vision of how to raise their children, especially when religion is the question.

  23. Suzanne says:

    Interesting question. I’m 43, never married, living in NYC, and I find dating non-Mormons to be ridiculous. Even though few and far between, you *can* find men who are cool and won’t pressure you, but then you only end up leading them on, because eventually the whole thing comes to a screeching halt when you can’t progress past a certain point. The temple marriage thing, for me, IS a dealbreaker. I am not a Molly Mormon type, but I am orthodox when it comes to the actual gospel. If you need non-members or non-temple worthy people to attend, then you have two separate wedding ceremonies… but you find some way to please God and not offend your friends and family. You don’t put God last. … That’s a challenge when dating Mormons too. So many people, especially in Utah (though no offense to the state itself; I like it there), think of Mormonism as some social and cultural “club” rather than as a real, spiritual and dedicated way of life. I think it is more like AA than like a club. A place where sinners come and try to repent and change, and help each other find the way back. … I don’t want some Peter Priesthood who thinks that Mormons are better than other people or who looks down at other races or cultures. But I DO want someone who is humble and faithful enough to realize that God is the way to true happiness, and there isn’t another lasting way.

  24. julianne says:

    I am married to a wonderful man. He’s also Catholic. But the fact that he is a wonderful man comes first, and it should always come first. We dated for 3 years, and as an endowed member, I went to the temple weekly (when my location allowed it), most times asking for guidance because I was getting so much flack from people for dating a “non-member” (awful term!). But between my own conscience, and the promptings I received from Heavenly Father, I knew that my husband was who I should marry. I felt so strongly that Heavenly Father is not looking down and putting us into two categories: mormon/non-mormon. That is absurd. We are all His children. He wants us all to come back to Him. He looks on the heart. I wish we all had a broader view of our own fellow brothers and sisters on this earth. There is no us vs. them, and there are good and bad people on both sides of the baptism line. I cannot say that because my Catholic husband is wonderful for me, then yes ALL Catholic men are wonderful! Just like you cannot blanket that every man born into or converted to the Mormon church would be a perfect husband, while non-members are trash. It’s just absurd. The eternities are much larger than that.

    Also: spouses married to members who are not of the Church do not want to be pigeonholed as non-members. They are are brothers and sisters above all else. My husband and I go to church all together as a family, but we move around a lot and in each new ward/branch, I cringe as my husband is singled out. It only makes him feel worse about himself, and less interested in the Gospel. I can guarantee you this is not how Christ would have us treat each other.

  25. Mellyson says:

    I think I started college (in southern Utah, late 90s) with a vague notion of a temple marriage waaaay down the road, and since I live in Utah, most of the first dates I went on were with RMs. This quickly led to a strict “NO Return Missionaries” dating policy I created in absolute terror. I grew up in a tiny, laid back Utah town where people wore jeans to church and sometimes they forgot to take their cigarettes out of their shirt pockets before they bore their testimony. When I parted ways with the Word of Wisdom, I still felt God’s love for me and at no time ever, did someone break into my house and leave scavenger hunt clues to ask me out. Best ever LDS upbringing. So I was completely unprepared for the bizarre Mormon dating culture I entered in college. Further complicating things for me was my skin color. I am half Hispanic, so I was a little bit more tan than my roomies. Cant even count how many RMs told me they served in Brazil/Domican Republic/Spain/Mexico/Samoa/etc, so now he had a “thing” for girls with dark skin. Even better, my wayward ways represented a chance for these RMs to proselytize AND go on a date at the same time. It was the worst. One date tried to read aloud from The Miracle of Forgiveness and more than a few gave me scripture reading assignments that we could talk about on our next date. So I swore off RMs. But I don’t blame the Church or their missions for their bizarreness. It seems to me that it was a mixture of youthful arrogance/ignorance. But still. The attitudes and acceptance of the non members was more similar to the Mormons I grew up with, so dating outside the Church was a better fit for me at the time. I became a Utah spinster at the age of 26, before meeting my husband, also LDS, but inactive and still in compliance with my NO RM policy.

  26. I married my high school sweetheart six weeks after returning from my mission, and I have no dating experiences to share. I believe the more differences exist in a relationship, the more difficult it is to maintain that relationship, but I also believe practical sealing (truly becoming two-made-one) is more important than symbolic sealing only (two-not-made-one). Thus, I can’t recommend one standard for everyone – even as I know the divorce rate is much higher for marriages with two strong but differing religious affiliations or one strong affiliation and one completely apathetic position.

    Thus, my answer is that I believe in following communal standards but accepting personal revelation that directs exceptions.

    Also, a Stake President once spoke in Stake Conference and mentioned how proud he was of his son who chose not to date girls who weren’t members. On our way home, my teenage daughters laughed and said, “We’re the only Mormons in town and at our high school, and the closest members live at least 30 miles away. I guess he doesn’t want us to date at all. That’s not going to happen.” I love and respect that Stake President, but I disagree about that part of his talk and thought it was inappropriate, especially in that setting, and even more so since it is not in harmony with the Church’s published standard.

  27. One of the most viewed posts on my personal blog is the following from September 2011:

    “Should Mormons Marry Non-Mormons?” (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2011/09/should-mormons-marry-non-mormons.html)

  28. Being gay complicates things: as much as I’d like to date someone who understands my complicated intersection of belief, disbelief, culture, sexuality, and sexual reservations, I don’t know that I would want to date someone who is as conflicted as me about the very idea of dating another man. (I’m suggesting that Mormonism *necessarily* leads to conflicted feelings about being gay, which I don’t 100% believe (only a Sith deals in absolutes), but the evidence seems to be in favor of this proposition.)

    Also in general Mormon men are less likely to have beards, and I like beards, so there’s that.

  29. Another two cents: I am the child of a mixed-religion family. Mom is a member, Dad is not. She had planned to marry in the temple, but Dad treated (and still treats- 33 years of marriage!) her better than any of the Mormon guys she dated. Dad is a faithful Christian, most people call him a “dry Mormon”: he attends Sacrament meeting to support my Mom, never drank or smoke, and has supported me and my brothers in church. We have a pretty great family all in all. Still, I’d like to marry a fellow member because this has always been the greatest source of contention in their marriage. But I can’t honestly say that marrying a non-member is a bad thing because that has not been my experience.

  30. Corrina says:

    One of my closest active LDS friends married a great non-member guy. She knew he was the right guy and absolutely believes God led them to each other (and not because she has a belief that “one day” he’ll get baptized). She freely shares her experience in RS, and I love when she does, b/c it underscores finding the right person for each individual.

    If I were single, I would definitely date outside the church, although Kristine brings up a very good point about the whole pre-marital sex thing. It’s funny how we change. It doesn’t seem that long ago that on my mish in Italy I would “advise” the women we taught to hold-out for someone in the church, despite the very bleak prospects. (Oh, the hopeful naivete of being a missionary!)

  31. Single, male, 30, non-DC Virginia. Finding mutual attraction between me and a liberally religious woman is what I think would be an ideal scenario. I feel stuck in a no-man’s land of sorts where a non-member might have a hard time “getting” me and an orthodox mormon would have expectations that I could no longer comply with.

    That said, I am open to dating non-members if only for the extreme scarcity of members in my area.

  32. JohnnyS says:

    Good comments and a great post. As a single Mormon male, age 47, I have to echo TK’s thoughts above. It’s all well and good to say that the singles ratio heavily favors the men, but I’ve found it very difficult to find educated, professional, liberal women to date in the church. Of course, I’m on the east coast, which makes things a bit difficult. I also, like some other folks early in the thread, think the sex/chastity thing is a deal-breaker for most non-members. And, truth be told, and no offense meant to folks who may hold a different view, I’ve never quite understood, if sex is as important as the church teaches that it is, how on earth one can make such an important decision like marrying someone for eternity without knowing each other on a physical/sexual level as well as on emotional and spiritual terms (I mean, a strict interpretation of the Law of Chastity is that one should do no more than kiss one’s potential spouse before marriage. Really?). This may be one reason why we’re losing our young people.

    Of course, another reason is, as has been discussed, the dearth of folks inside the church with whom we might be compatible. I also wonder, because of how aggressive the church is in teaching its young people that it should be a temple marriage or bust kind of thing, whether a lot of young singles feel that they’ve got to choose between the church and marrying a non-member. I’m sure many of our young people are smarter than that, but nonetheless, I just sort of wonder about the consequences of the church holding really hard to a party line which may be getting less and less tenable. I’d welcome any thoughts.

  33. Such a hard subject.

    I would have gladly (GLADLY!) married an LDS guy in the temple. Shoot, that’s all I wanted. But, none of those prized RMs wanted me. I wasn’t odd, weird, ugly, or fat, but I wasn’t the amazingly striking LDS woman you see walking around Provo (size 0, blond hair, fake breasts, skin tight clothes). I think, in the Mormon church, you have to be all sorts of insanely beautiful, really lucky, or weird and find someone equally weird to get married. Someone who is really pretty, average body-type, and doesn’t bake you cookies doesn’t stand a chance.

    My biggest regret now that I’m 34 and single, is that I didn’t end up marrying one of the non-member or inactive members I dated throughout all my 20′s. They sure liked me, thought I was hot, appreciated that I didn’t make them brownies or Sunday dinner only because we lived in the same complex, and respected my education/ideals. I was ALWAYS holding out for the RM/Mormon. It’s just too competitive if you’re a woman. Oh, and if you aren’t even liberal, but have any liberal tendencies, you’re completely out (unless you have the breasts and blond hair to help someone see past that).

  34. I realize that ‘‘single-straight-man’‘ is low on the list of Mormons you should feel for, but it isn’t a picnic. A lot of judging is pointed in our direction (sorry you’ve found us to be so awful escc). I think I even recall the great Kevin Barney calling us losers, with a capital L. I used to spend a lot of time wondering what was wrong with me.

    I served a mission, have always been active and fulfilled callings, but struggled to find any interested Mormon women (except for the really desperate ones of course). In their defense, I was only sporadically worthy of a temple recommend, which caused the break-up of my most serious Mormon relationship. The other relationships ended (or never really got going in most cases) for various reasons, but for the most part the women I dated seemed to want something better. I decided to try dating non-Mormon women when I was 34.

    I was astonished by the quality of non-Mormon women who wanted to date me. I can’t explain why, and I know it goes against the perceived supply and demand factors favoring Mormon men, but the non-Mormon women who were interested in me were more accomplished and better looking than the Mormon women who wouldn’t give me time of day. I confess to compromising a few of my values while dating nonmembers, but not pre-marital sex.

    I am now engaged to a wonderful Catholic woman and couldn’t be happier. I’ve accepted that my kids will be raised Catholic. If God wants something else for them, I’ll leave it to Him to intervene.

  35. Dale Whiting says:

    Life is a sojourn in which all of us make mistakes. But most of us do not perceive the mistakes we might have made until long afterwards. So Brother Barney, don’t judge you daughter as having made mistakes. Rather let her know that you love her and wish her the very best. If she perceives that you are judging her, she is not likely to come to you for help. And if and when she marries [inside or outside of the church] treat her spouse the same way you treat your daughter, with love unfeigned.

  36. Russ Frandsen says:

    Kevin,
    i do not want to hi-jack this thread, and i am also posing the question to you sincerely. if you would like to answer me, but not in this thread, feel free to contact me privately.
    You wrote:
    “But now that I’m much older I’m less stereotypically Mormon than I was as that 21-year old RM I was when I got married. I’m active in Church and I’m a believer, true. But I’m also quite liberal and intellectual in the way I relate to the Church as an institution these days. (To name but one example of many, I think nothing of seeing R rated movies, something which would be shocking to many LDS women.) The mantra of the older Mormon woman looking for someone to date is that she wants someone who “honors his priesthood.” I hold the priesthood and honor it (I think) in my way, but that mantra I suspect is code for a certain Peter Priesthood type, a mold into which I”m not even close to fitting.”
    You also said that your two children are no longer in the Church. What role did your “less stereotypically Mormon” and “liberal” approach play in your children no longer being in the Church. What would you do differently in retrospect?

    Best regards,
    Russ Frandsen

  37. I turn 40 in a couple of months; never been married despite checking off every to-do item given to me on the “do this and you’re sure to get married” list in YW. I was briefly engaged to (and lived with) a guy who was evangelical. After my mission, I was a serial monogamist with RMs who ended up not wanting me because either I wasn’t blond, wasn’t a size 0, wasn’t content to not get an education, or wasn’t beholden to traditional gender roles. So here I am, almost 40, in the Midwest where there are no LDS options. So just recently (at my quite-traditional LDS) sister’s urging I set up a profile on a regular dating site instead of an LDS one.

    I agree that the issue of sex might be an obstacle in this new venture. It’s hard to explain, but I think that after my time living with a fiance when I was so young, I’d rather wait until marriage to have sex again. And I’d hope that if I do end up dating any non-LDS men, they would respect that. After watching my dad fight cancer at a young age, and my mom deal with her health issues (my parents are disgustingly sweet to each other…still hold hands and everything…), and watching friends’ marriages fall apart over the past 20 years, I feel like there is so much more to any relationship than just sex (don’t get me wrong…sex is still important :D). It’s also companionship and communication and loyalty–all of which I know I could probably find with ANY good man, LDS or not, sleeping with him or not.

    Two people–neither one LDS–told me this weekend they could not understand why I wasn’t married. My hope is that if my non-LDS friends are floored that I’m single, maybe there is a really great non-LDS guy out there who can adore all aspects of me–even my Mormon-ness.

  38. Kevin Barney says:

    RobL, I don’t specifically recall that quip, and I was unable to locate it with a google search. But it does ring a vague bell with me. It sounds like I was making a gross over-generalization for some rhetorical purpose, but in any event I would like to apologize for making such an intemperate comment. Of course there are some quality single LDS guys out there.

    Dale, if I conveyed the impression that I am somehow judging my daughter, then I repent. I came to terms with her leaving the faith a long time ago, and I’m fine with it. I love her unreservedly, and I feel no sense of judgment towards her whatsoever.

    Russ, great question. My liberal world view may have played some role in the path my kids took; I don’t really profess to know. My perception, however, is that the bigger factor was a social one. At the time my kids were teenagers, our ward’s youth program was miniscule (that ward would later be dissolved for that very reason–not enough youth), and so as a result my kids didn’t really have church friends, but their friends were almost entirely from school. As I reflect on my own life, I feel that I am an active and engaged Saint today largely because I had a significant group of great Church friends as a teen, which launched me on a trajectory of future engagement with the Church. So I’m very sensitive to that lack in my kids’ lives as teens. (To be clear, I don’t blame the Church for this at all; it was what it was.)

  39. My friend has 2 daughters who have left the faith. Her husband is a straight arrow guy, through and through. Her daughters have both expressed that they are trying to find someone just like their dad to marry. The only problem is they are trying to find his type in bars.

  40. My experience after divorcing from a 29 yr. temple marriage at the age of 48. Pool of available LDS men is very small in Colorado. I dutifully went to LDS singles activities for my age group, mostly because at the time I believed I wasn’t complete without being married. I no longer feel that way – it was the LDS culture that influenced me. EVERY time, EVERY time, I met an LDS man and the conversation turned to family/children and I mentioned that I had nine, these guys couldn’t RUN away from me fast enough. My conclusion – most older LDS men want a playmate, young, pretty (I/m not bad-looking at all…) no kids, etc. Depressing! I also did LDS online dating and it was similar, altho I enjoyed it, boosted my ego I think. Of course online dating is so far removed from reality but it was fun to have “mail” all the time. I dated a few NOMO’s thru local online but they were interested in SEX and I wasn’t, nor did I drink, smoke, etc. Then I met my now DH, at the library, and we fell in love. He’s a NOMO, LDS brother, never married, no kids – simply perfect for me with my baggage, kids, beliefs, etc. The Spirit was very clear and strong and after ten years I still have no regrets. Initially I thought he would join the church and we would be sealed int he temple – following the LDS script. But he has no desire to join and that’s ok with me. He hs no vices, a wicked sense of humor, no sexist expectations for me, and is just perfect. Looking back, I don;t think an LDS marriage would have been good for me as the man probably would have expected me to jump back into a traditional role. I LIKE my DH and feel that if he dies before me I would probably not remarry. I’ve been ostracized by my ward tho and I did cancel my sealing to X, after he re-married in the temple – I do NOT want to be part of his celestial harem (as he believes.) I also believe that my new DH will not be punished by not being with me eternally, whether he joins the church or not. He has treated me with more respect and love than X ever did so I KNOW we’ll be together, contrary to LDS doctrine. So, my experience has been fantastic with my NOMO DH BUT following the Spirit was the key.

  41. I’m one of those late-20s, educated and career-oriented, liberal and not-orthodox Mormon women that many of the men in this thread have so much trouble finding. I, likewise, have had trouble finding like-minded Mormon men to date but have not yet given up on the idea of it. I suppose it comes down to the fact that, whatever my criticisms of church culture and skepticism over some of the teachings, I still believe in the core doctrines, including temple marriage.The church has also shaped a lot of my worldviews, habits, and values, and it’s hard to imagine a non-Mormon spouse understanding me on the same level as a Mormon spouse.

    I’m fully open to my perspective changing as I age and maybe expand my social circle further beyond the LDS church, but that’s where I’m at right now.

  42. Kevin Barney says:

    Sherry, when I was in law school there was a guy who married a woman who already had five kids. In the sbstract this woman was probably a little bit out of the league of the guy, but he stepped up and became a dad to those kids, which I’m sure evened things out sufficiently in her mind. He was a hero AFAIC. I’m glad you found someone who works well for you.

  43. Early on after I met my now DH, I told him I had nine kids. He just said, “well, they don’t all live with you do they?” I had two teen boys who went to live with their dad and a three yr.old daughter. The best part of my story is that DH LOVES my kids and grandkids and having one of my own left to raise, it gave DH the opportunity to be a dad, without being overwhelmed with more children to raise. After ten years of marriage DH and I have weathered storms with my kids and experienced much sunshine with them. He considers them “his” kids and they are kind and accepting of him. To me the irony is that as LDS people we say we love kids and want to have lots of them, yet my reality was the LDS men running away from me. I can see why it would scare them, really, yet it sure dried up my pool of available LDS men. And in the end, thru listening to the Spirit, I am in exactly the best marriage for me. Before my divorce, I was more narrow-minded but now I believe that the key is to find someone who shares your values and goals in life, LDS or not.

  44. Fascinating points that keep appearing in the comments (though, RobL, I think your one-liner directed at me was ridiculous to say the least). I think a lot of the dating issues within the church comes down to unreasonable expectations. Granted, I’ll be honest, I think that most of the unreasonable expectations come from men, there are certainly some from women. I think all of us either were or know plenty of 18-young 20′s ladies that have their mind made up that they want a worthy RM who is going to medical school. Is that fair? No. There’s plenty of great men that will be working normal, boring jobs that will require the Mrs to work as well. And there’s certainly plenty of men that may be in and out of temple worthy status that shouldn’t be count out of the loop. From a woman’s perspective looking in, I can see that women can be like that. But, I’m not. I don’t care if someone is an RM (I’m an RM, so I’ll carry that myself thank you very much), I don’t care about their line of work, I have my own education and I’m thrilled to work outside of the home. But, I think those kind of things are generally unappealing to the broad, LDS culture and dream. I’ve been told directly that it is off putting that I am a RM and that I have a Master’s degree. I just can’t in good conscience dumb myself down or lie about serving God to appease some man. Maybe back when I was 25, but not now. Shoot, and I’m not even smart — getting my Master’s feels like it was the biggest miracle of my life! But, it’s a sign to a man that I’m aggressive or won’t rely on him (or so I’ve been told)

    I’d also echo what was said upthread about the stereotypical man in the church (and probably out of it) wanting a younger woman. I did some LDS online dating back when I was 27, 28 years old and actually got a lot of attention (I may not be blonde or a size 0, but I’m attractive). I recently joined the LDS dating site again and it’s like a scene in an old western with the tumbleweeds blowing by. I think men (and if you aren’t one of these types, bravo) are uncomfortable with an “older” woman. Sure, all of the men on this site are around my age, but they are on the hunt for something much younger. I also agree that most men aren’t interested in children (I have none) unless you have some serious looks to help them see past it.

  45. Based on strictly anecdotal observation over my 34 years as an adult member, most of those who marry outside the church eventually go inactive. It doesn’t mean they had bad marriages, nor does it mean that eventually things will be different in the next life. After all we do proxy work all the time for couples who weren’t sealed in mortality. But these decisions can affect generations. Know an elderly sister who is faithful but who married a nonmember. They had four kids, then 18 grand kids and now about 8 great grand kids, none of whom are remotely active in church. Although she loved her husband she had expressed heartache over the consequences of a decision made at age 22. There is no right answer.

  46. Jacintha says:

    The logical conclusion to LDS theology on second marriages after a sealing is that it simply doesn’t matter who you marry. After all, once you have the ordinance checked off–alomg with the nebulous belessings that supposedly accompany a sealing–there is no real need to do it again, especially if you’re a man.

    Church practice supports this: they actually encourage marriage outside the temple a second time by placing near-impossible barriers in the way of sealing clearances and cancellations. Very few people expect a second marriage to be in the temple, to an active member, or even a member at all. The church simply doesn’t care.

    The church *does* care that youth look forward to the temple, prepare for a temple marriage, and marry for the first time in the temple. This is IMO for no other reason than to use peer pressure and shame to keep young people “morally clean” before marriage.

    The conceit is that if youth in their prime are forbidden to have sex–even encouraged to abstain from dating at all for two years–they will marry the first person who gets their nethers tingling once they’re off their missions, and will be so grateful to the church for allowing them the privilege of unleashing their sexuality that they will be loyal to the church forever.

    The church couldn’t care less about the dating and marriage practices of its once/twice/thrice or more marrieds. It’s just not important.

  47. JohnnyS says:

    For Sherry,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’m out in the relatively barren LDS mid-single dating world of the East Coast and I can confirm your experiences as well. I’m stunned by the number of women who still have children at home that have told me that most of the LDS men they meet tell them in no uncertain terms that they don’t want to be a step-father or have any hand in raising someone else’s kids. Truly astonishing given, as you point out, our supposed family-centered culture.

    For Jacintha,

    I agree with a lot of what you say. I’ve always thought that vilifying sex and that the law of chastity itself actually inhibits building the kind of relationship that the church supposedly values. And you are correct about the devaluing of any marriage outside the temple. It’s why I’ve never understood the church’s opposition to gay marriage. My marriage to my non-member ex was just as marginalized/useless according to church doctrine/temple sealing practices as my best friend’s marriage to her lesbian partner, so I’m not sure why the church bothers to differentiate between the two when that sealing is all that matters and if you don’t have it, you’re SOL.

  48. You can't blame it all on the men says:

    I think that the most important thing is to follow the spirit. I am currently in a serious relationship with a non-member and I have felt good about it every step of the way. My hardcore Mormon parents are also on board. I am very, very happy. For the record, I am a size-zero blonde, so I don’t know why people feel the need to rail against them to make up for their own insecurities. I went to BYU and almost ALL of my friends were liberal, with advanced degrees and definitely not models. Guess what? Most of them are married. In the temple. Look around your ward. I’m sure that you will see tons of women who are not petite blondes and are married.

    God has a different plan for all of us. That’s ok. I am 32, so I have had my share of the singles scene and what I have noticed is that so many of the girls who claim that they are intimidating, blah, blah and why isn’t anyone dating me, blah, blah, there are so many awesome girls in the ward who don’t go on dates, blah, blah are seriously overweight, entitled, repulsively aggressive or unrealistic in who they are interested in. Sure, there are some superficial guys out there, but I wouldn’t say that that is the norm.

    It really can be a matter of luck or fate or divine will. I don’t have any issues with member guys and I probably didn’t get married young because I didn’t really want to. I made decisions that delayed marriage and I don’t think that it has anything to do with shallow men. Unfortunately, by the time I got interested, the numbers were against me.

  49. Yes. The numbers simply suggest that it is unlikely that I will be able to marry a member. On top of finding someone in a small subest of a small subset, there’s another subset in which there is mutual attraction. What makes the idea of a liberally religious woman so tantalizing is that I know that they exist. But only from reading what they have written on the internet. How many have I unknowingly met and missed the opportunity?

    More disclosure: as a balding introvert prone to logic, my best chance is to maximize the potential pool. My views have changed over the years much due to what of what has been writen on sites like this.

  50. Escc,

    I’m sorry if my remark was too flippant. I am sincerely sorry that Mormon men have been so disappointing.

    Or are you saying my comment was ridiculous for pointing out that single Mormon men feel judged by posts like yours?

  51. I have a cousin who was married to a seminary teacher who eloped with one of his students leaving her with nine young kids. The most amazing bachelor saw her need and married her. She would do anything for him. Also, the comment about the girls who want to marry someone like their dad, but have left the Church and expect to find a quality man in a bar struck a note. I have a friend who left the Church, divorced, had an abortion, did drugs and now laments that she has no quality family life with her two sons. They are unmarried older alcoholics. I don’t judge her, she is a great person, but I just wonder what she expected.

  52. Wow, Rob, you are really condescending. The overwhelming point (or intended point) was that the reason dating in the church fails so much is because of unreasonable expectations … on both sides. I talked of women’s unreasonable expectations and I talked of men’s. Don’t take it personally and don’t turn this into a comment board fight. I have nothing more to say to/about you.

  53. Evolution is true!
    If you aren’t blond or size zero you actually have less chance of mating!
    I suspected this for years! The Church should give up teaching that marriage is a relationship that can bring out the best (and the worst) in people. It should stop teaching that it can bring people closer to God.
    Apparently, it’s just about finding someone to have sex with all the time. Apparently, blond size zero people don’t pass gas or vomit or have bad breath or bad days or pain or family troubles or baggage.
    Phew. Now that’s settled in my mind, I can respond to the question.
    I have dated many LDS people and found a complete lack of compatibility. I imagine that there is someone out there that knows nothing about the faith but could feel as I do about sacred things. Respect for the divine. A desire to rise above the depravity in the world.
    The Church can help me to recognize that in anyone, regardless of the religion they profess. Much depends on how comfortable you are doing things–Church things–on your own. My whole life I have. I guess I could continue and it would seem “normal.” BUT I’d want to discuss my faith with someone willing to respond or search for answers.

  54. Escc,

    I wasn’t trying to fight. I was trying to apologize.

  55. Going inactive was the best thing that I ever did, least of all for my dating life. As an undergraduate and briefly as a graduate stident, I dated devout RMs who always dismissed me on the basis that I was “too smart.” I was surprised to leave active Mormonism and find that I was quite a catch.I have dated a number of good guys that I would have never dated otherwise. I have dated some not so good ones who, like myself, were still early in their journey and trying to figure out what they were looking for. I have no regrets about losing access to the temple. I would have never imagined, as a Laurel or YSA, that I could share a CSA and a dachshund with a Korean 8 years older than me, who went to a school far better than mine, who is completely incredulous about the teachings of Mormonism, who appreciates my feminism, and is totally beloved by my non-LDS family. Come to the dark side, we have all the nice boys.

  56. If my husband daydreamed aloud in a public way whether or not he would date outside the church if he were single again, I’d smack him. Hard.

  57. Divorced, 41, female. I was married for almost 17 years, but not in the temple. I don’t care if someone is LDS or not. I want to be with a good guy who is my best friend. I have dated men outside the church and have actually found them more respectful. I have had LDS men that I’ve never met send me unsolicited naked pictures. :-\ Having someone with ties to the LDS church would be nice because I wouldn’t have to explain so much. Never the less, Being a member isn’t a prerequisite for me.

  58. I’m a Jack Utah Mormon who dates fellow Jack Utah/Arizona Mormons. You get all the perks of family values, low-to-no drinking/smoking/cheating, without all the drawbacks of no sex or crazy sexism.

  59. it's a series of tubes says:

    I believe that Ann Porter just won this thread.

  60. Ann Porter FTW! Can we resurrect the comment of the week award?

  61. Kevin Barney says:

    That was quite funny, Ann!

    (But in my own defense, this is not me moonily dreaming over the prospect of perhaps being able to date again someday, but more in the vein of Marie (Carrie Fisher) and Jess (Bruno Kirby) in When Harry Met Sally expressing how grateful they are for each other and that they don’t have to keep trying to date out there…)

  62. whizzbang says:

    this is my angst, even in the Church!! I live in an area where there aren’t any girls and my PB talks about my picking a wife with the all these qualities, well, I don’t know what God knows but there isn’t anyone around here. Plus I am divorced so I tried before and failed at it. So, do I date outside the Church and hope they have these qualities, and unlike my ex LDS wife hope hey continue to have these qualities or do what I am doing which is nothing and wait for someone to move here?

  63. If my wife daydreamed aloud in a public way whether or not she would date outside the church if she were single again, I’d smack her. Hard.

    Comment of the week indeed.

  64. When I was active, the only two options I considered were temple marriage or lifelong spinsterhood. Since none of the Mormon guys I knew ever seemed the least bit interested, I daydreamed about dating non-Mormons, but my heart would never have been in it.

    In the end, I actually did leave the church. And suddenly, the [online] dating world opened up. It did not take me long to find several great guys to date, nor did it take me long to find the kind of man I’d been dreaming of my entire life – kind, thoughtful, generous, egalitarian, hard-working, devoted, family-loving, fun… He is a perfect match for me, yet I never would have considered him good enough when I was active LDS (because I was a virgin and didn’t drink alcohol??). Interestingly, I think my very-active family has also come love him completely, but they never would have picked him for me in the beginning, because of their ideals.

    I have dear friends (also in their 30′s) whose bishops are starting to encourage the option of dating outside the faith. I wish that were something they could have the heart to do…but the propoganda about temple marriage being the only “guarantee” for happy, committed marriage was strong back in our youth. It’s hard for people to change their minds about that, having been so thoroughly convinced.

  65. MagicalMe says:

    I suppose it comes down to this: Do you intend to marry in the temple? If the answer is “No,” then dating outside the church should be less of an issue. There are many men and women in the world that are wonderful people, have similar standards and values as Mormons, are understanding and even supportive. If you’re struggling to find marital happiness within the church for one reason or another and have found potential without, why not? Many members of the world live in areas where there are very few members of the church to date. There are a lot of pitfalls to dating and marrying outside one’s own religion, and people need to decide whether or not it’s worth those risks, but there is no expectation that members remains single for the rest of their lives simply because they couldn’t find a Mormon spouse.

    But if the answer is “Yes,” then a person should absolutely date within the church. Why? Most members I’ve met usually answer that question by focusing on their own eternity and values. But the prophetic counsel to date within the church is not just about you. It’s about whomever you choose to date as well. No one should ever go into a relationship with the expectation that a person is going to change. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to hold those types of relationship-breakers over someone’s head: “If you don’t convert, our relationship will end.” You might be able to walk away from love for the sake of your eternity, but to have love walk away from you for reasons you don’t totally understand is heartbreaking. There’s a word for that type of behavior–it’s called “selfish.”

    On one hand, if that person converts, how do you know it was genuine? Understanding personal revelation takes practice, and the choice to join the church is so extraordinarily important that a person should make it without interference, pressure, and influential desires. On the other hand, if they choose not to convert and you walk away, it could cause such anger toward the church and its members that it might forever create a barrier between that person and the gospel. In fact, to refrain dating outside the church under such circumstances would qualify as “loving your neighbor.”

    So really, it’s up to the individual and their circumstance. I’m not sure I’d personally find much happiness outside the church. The gospel has so much influence in my life that I don’t think I’d ever be able to be happy with someone who wasn’t similar. But then, I live in an area of the world where the gospel and dating choices are abundant.

  66. I think what matters most is compatability. I am no longer against marrying a nonmember. My parents and family would have a hard time with it but I had such a horrible time being with a member that really, as long as they guy loves my kid and treats me with respect, I’m in. I wish our religion were more open to marrying outside the faith. Then we wouldn’t feel like we have to choose one or the other. Why can’t we have both? Religion and love??

  67. When I was 22, I met a non-member, he converted, our Bishop married us and we were sealed a year and a half later. We had 3 kids, I stayed home and he worked. Fast forward 20 years…he decideds the Mormon thing isn’t for him anymore and leaves me for a women with a good job, her own home and no religious expectations. I live in a large urban area but, at 43, the stock of active, temple-worthy LDS men is shockingly low and, for me, this is the only kind of man I was interested in (I know myself well and marriage to a NOMO is not in my best interest). After attending 3 months of mid-single activites, I went online at LDSPlanet, not really expecting to meet anyone, but hoping that I might. BINGO! His name is Joe, he was a recently divorced Branch President living in Alaska (his wife divorced him after 16 years, during which time she emotionally abused him and refused to have any children. His Stake President did not see any need to release him, as her worthiness, not his, was an issue). 3 months to the day we met, we eloped. We’ve been married 2 years and were recently sealed after I had my first on cancelled. He loves my kids, they love him and, while no one’s life is perfect, we are very, very happy. I think we are lucky…and very blessed. I don’t hear many stories like ours.

  68. My father converted into the Church prior to marrying my mother, and they married in the Temple. Her family has been part of the church since the mid-nineteenth century. They’re still together after nearly 45 years. And both are active in the church.I think they’d both say the marriage has happily worked.

  69. For any relationship compatibility on world-views and lifestyle is important. There are certain world-views a woman (I’m male) might have that are incompatible for me, and I’m sure I have certain qualities that might drive some women up the wall. Everyone on this board knows that there are various world-views that go along with being a Mormon. Would you ask your potential partner to convert in time? If not, how much difference in lifestyle and in world-views would drive you up the wall and be morally/spiritually unacceptable? My dad was able to (and willing to) make changes for the sake of my mother. That’s not always a given.

  70. Lucy – Quick thought specifically for you. No matter what religion we might talk about there are certain precepts, doctrine, and lifestyle and values issues that come into play when dating a non-member of that religion. The example I gave with my parents tells you that I think dating outside the church can work. But ask yourself:

    Do I want my partner to accept that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the church represents the restored gospel? Would I be OK if he didn’t (or pretended to and tried to for my sake but wasn’t quite able to really believe, in all honesty that can happen too)?

    If you date an agnostic or atheist would you be OK if he never believed in God?

    If you date a member of another Christian denomination, what about other beliefs that are pretty fundamental to being LDS that are different from other Christian denominations. Someone who is Methodist or Baptist might get pretty upset with the stance that the living prophet’s words are scripture, and then if you tell him that (as Ezra Taft Benson stated in “14 Reasons to Follow the Prophets,” 1980) the words of the living prophet are more vital than standard scripture, you could have a squabble on your hands. Just fair warning that it’s important to consider that the uniqueness of the Church also can present challenges here beyond merely asking a person not to smoke or drink.

    If he never converts, what do you do about whether to raise the children as Mormons?

    What if his conversion is for you but not a full-blown belief? That’s potentially problematic in time.

    And the difficulties go on and on. If I dated a devout evangelical Baptist woman it would also be problematic for her for similar reasons, this isn’t limited to an LDS issue. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. Just that you should think things through carefully of course.

  71. Jacob H. says:

    writerteacher11, I think your post to Lucy highlights how a person’s approach to religion and religious expectations can drastically affect outcomes and happiness in mixed-faith relationships. I can find fodder within my Mormonism for a variety of approaches, including that ultimately God cares more about the desires of my heart and charitable behavior far more than the theological outlook I espouse (and don’t necessarily have the power to change).

    Finding peace with a conclusion like this and letting go of the need for my spouse or children to believe any particular thing up to even the existence of a personal God (or the rightness of a particular political position or method for raising a child!) is its own challenge and we all probably fall at different places along the spectrum of what we can accept and expect of those we share our lives with. Excellent things not only to carefully examine in ourselves periodically but also to converse with our loved ones about, to get a feel for their own limits as well.

  72. Jacob – First of all I’m very glad to have found this board. It has helped to see the thoughts of others who grapple with many of the issues that have been difficult for me. And it helps to chime in a bit.

    This issue in the current thread is one in which of course I’ve thought about throughout the years. I’ve seen ways in which eventually my mom, who is devoutly Mormon, has struggled to come to grips with my dad’s struggles with the Church though they remain active members. I know his real serious struggles with the church didn’t start to come to the forefront until their third decade of marriage, and it wasn’t easy for either of them to come to grips with this.

    I’ve had my own areas of doctrinal (and political) difficulty and differences, to put it mildly. I know that it has sometimes been a cause for prayer and soul searching for my mom, and it has been a source of a great deal of “guilt” for me. Sometimes in the past I tried to bury those difficulties and not talk of them for her sake. An odd realization struck me in college. While dating a Mormon, and attending church with her, my own difficulties with the church were a source of awkwardness and breakup in a relationship, and I came to soon realize I was an outsider in the very church in which I was raised, which my family on my mom’s side has been part of since the mid-nineteenth century. So over the years I’ve dated other Mormons at times, and non-Mormons (including yes an evangelical Baptist who I fell for some years ago with religious differences being part of the breakup). So I can say that dating outside the church is indeed potentially difficult. It can be done but often with compromise that not everyone would want to make. There are ways in which a person can blend Mormon and non-Mormon in an interfaith marriage but if both are Christian I can quickly think of areas of both common ground and difference.

  73. I was going to write something, but it seems that sbagleysd pretty much got what I would say.

    especially that last line.

  74. Jasmine says:

    I am a 25 year old inactive Mormon female. I do not come from an area with any Mormons at all, and so I fell off the path pretty easily. It is hard when you don’t have any peer support. I envy people who grow up in Utah for that reason. Anyway, I had smoked and drank and been sexually active. Trying to come back to the church now has been so incredibly hard. I don’t think I will ever find a Mormon husband. I am “damaged goods” to everyone. It has been the hardest and most shameful thing to accept about my trying to return to the church. I am never good enough for a Mormon man. It doesn’t matter who I am now, or what repentance process I have been through. All that matters to a lot of these people is my past, which I cannot change. This is a very unfortunate part of LDS culture (note that I say “culture” not a problem with the church itself.)

  75. Jasmine, your comment makes me feel very very sad. You deserve far better.

  76. whizzbang says:

    I really feel for you jasmine, I am somwhat in that boat myself. You feel you aren’t what, in my case, girls look for or dream about-I have no clue why God blesses 18, 19, 20 yr old girls and 21, 22, 23 guys with marriages and not people who are older doing the exact same things-you just figure why even bother anymore, apparently God is more interested in hooking up some young recent high school graduate and not me-wouldn’t mind him telling me don’t date until you get to the next life because of my knowing the end from the beginning it ain’t happening so don’t try

  77. Very sorry Jasmine. I hope my fellow Saints can rise higher than this.

  78. it's a series of tubes says:

    Jasmine, thank you for sharing, and I am also terribly saddened to hear of the unwelcoming reception you have received. Your comments shed light on an important area where we as a church, both collectively and individually, can and should do so much, much better.

  79. MarkinPNW says:

    Jasmine, I married a woman who would be considered “damaged goods” in LDS culture, of course maybe I was also “damaged goods” (never got around to that mission thing and therefore not an RM). So far 33 years since marrying in the temple and still going strong, though there have been a lot of rocky times, some from our own weaknesses, and some from the LDS culture. We are still active in teaching callings in the church though we both struggle with the culture. The problem is that a successful marriage, in or out of the church, requires two people using their agency to come and to stay together.

    Though out of the Mormon corridor for several years, we met, dated, and married in the center of Mormondom, which possibly made it easier for two misfit mormons to find each other

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