Being single sucks. Being single in the LDS church sucks even more. Being single in the LDS church and wanting companionship and having to date, well, there is no end to the suckage. So, I am going to embark on a tell all. Hopefully it provides some enlightenment.
First, to get it all out there: we are broken. However, we aren’t really, we just believe we are. We see all of our own scars, damage, fears, and trepidation, but tell everyone else it doesn’t matter: “I can accept you for who you are.” But we won’t accept ourselves for who we are. It is like going into battle with a full kit, but expecting to die because you believe you have no ammo, when actually, you do.
It gets worse. We are krakens. That mythological creature that most of the ward has no idea what to do with, but we sure are scary. They make nice, talk to us, tell us they remember when, and give us those lines like “I can’t believe no man/woman has scooped you up!” Yeah, because I am a dollop of ice cream, I am everyone’s flavor. “I can’t believe it either.” Then, what’s worse, they ask why aren’t you dating the other single people in the ward. That’s like knowing I juggle, so asking why I don’t juggle live hand grenades. With the pins out.
Here’s the reality of it. Because of the culture of our religion, dating is ridiculously hard. Women are told to be old fashioned and don’t show a “boy” interest, so women in the church are ridiculously hard to read. Then, couple that with the now defunct “bruised peach” theory, and our own self-conscious beliefs we aren’t good enough, women are not only fearful of looking like a whoooor, but also fearful of rejection because of their bruisedness.
Men, we are told by the ladies to step up, but we are cowards. We did step up, several times, only to be rejected because, we too, are bruised peaches. Men don’t handle rejection well. And now add the characteristic inability of men to read the signals, and we are fearful apes confused by all the bananas, knowing there is a giant spider in one of them. So we just throw poo instead.
So, you have two sets of terrified people told to do the lambada and barely knowing how to walk. In most cases, still wearing casts. In a wheel chair. With eyes bandaged. And no music. In the dark. Yeah, like that.
I am going to be very open and vulnerable here and illustrate why dating and finding a mate as a mid-single is terrifying. I, Rick Jacobs, am an idiot when it comes to reading intent. I know, I hear all women tell me “All men are!” Well, if you know that, then why do you still play like we will suddenly get it? I am incapable of reading subtlety when a woman likes me. I can read danger, I can tell if you are about to try and kill me, but you want me to kiss you? Huh, you better pull a knife, cause I ain’t gettin’ it.
Then there is the curse of the prophet. You know, the one that says any two people that put Christ first can make a relationship work? That is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it is a simple truth. A curse because people still have that nasty free agency thing, and then, most people don’t read the fine print. Yeah, it is true, but I have to be interested in the person before I can really be certain I want to put Christ first with them. Like ice cream, I have my flavor profile.
I like chocolate. I love chocolate with raspberries and brownie bites. I am not a fan of chocolate covered chicken hearts. I am very certain that a chocolate covered poo is still a poo and no amount of chocolate is going to make me interested. So, I have to find my flavor profile first. Of course, there are the aesthetics of chocolate: I like my chocolate brown, especially dark. I don’t understand red velvet (I didn’t even know it was a chocolate until recently…), and white chocolate is just some weird animal parading around in a chocolate suit. I want chocolate with raspberries and brownie bites, but I am also happy with mint chocolate, or mint with chocolate chips. I also like Rocky Road; the list goes on. But I am not a fan of strawberry, unless it is covered in chocolate. That’s just how I roll.
If I find someone that I think is my flavor profile, I get excited, but I also get fearful “Dang it, I am going to have to call the NSA to figure this out. Again.” However, if a woman fits my flavor profile and she makes it clear that she likes me and hopes I am interested: ohmalordy, I am excited. And focused. I am a planner and one thing that planners do is test feasibility. I show enthusiasm and interest and I compliment and want to make time to get to know each other and….
I become overwhelming. Because, rule 09872-98745-238947 §: 0876-B of LDS single dating code says that if a guy is showing you a lot of attention: he’s moving FAST. BEWARE! HIDE! SLOW DOWN! (This rule applies to men and women and was meant to apply to people that, after the first date, are professing love and a commitment to marry. Like, “I got a ring in my pocket for date two! What’s your last name again….?”)
Ugh. Now, my excitement and interest becomes a hindrance. Men are supposed to show interest, but now, interest being shown, it scares the hades out of the woman. Now I’m left wondering what is going on? And the walls start popping up on both sides. Then the subtlety starts again. Is that distance, is that fear, should I push or back-off, or will my pushing for more scare them off or my backing off be interpreted for disinterest.
We can’t win. Because we FEAR.
I have no answers, I can just report the battlefield. But this is what I do now: I am straightforward and honest. If I like a woman, I flat out tell her. If she rejects me, ok, at least I know I can move on. No harm, no foul. This, even this, scares the hell out of people, because no one is that honest without hiding something. For me, however, I would rather risk vulnerability and hurt and know what is going on, than be guarded and hurt and not know what is going on.
The answer that works for me then? Be YOU. But communicate. Swallow your fear because living in fear is a guaranteed path to hurt and letting the wrong person in. We are all hurt, scared, confused, and think we are broken or damaged goods. We are all afraid to trust and be vulnerable. However, in order to be trusted, we have to trust.
Ultimately I changed my perspective. I decided that I am going to expose my trust and vulnerability for the risk of hurt, because through risk comes reward, and while I am perfectly comfortable being alone, I don’t prefer it. I like touches, kisses, and belonging to someone. I also no longer just date women in the church: I now date women in the Spirit. The Spirit requires honesty, and honesty is something I can have. I will be honest and I’ll let Him sort the rest out in faith. After all, He knows what is going on. There is never a guarantee, but the Spirit makes for a great reference and honesty a great filter.