The Plan of Relation: dating in the LDS church

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.

16 thoughts on “The Plan of Relation: dating in the LDS church

  • 9-May-2016 at 15:26
    Permalink

    This reads like my early twenties in reverse. I was trying to pretend to be that girl, and I’m terrible at it. Just barely got married last August, and frankly, I told him exactly what I wanted in a ring while we were dating, before I knew he was planning on proposing. I also told him flat out that if he did propose, I’d say yes. We all need to drop the act, drop the dance, and pick up some of the concepts from honest courtship again. Be open. Be vulnerable. And stop buying into the ideas of hard-to-get and stereotype rom-com relationships that actually never work.

    • 12-May-2016 at 17:10
      Permalink

      Thank you for commenting! I would be shocked by that approach, but it wouldn’t scare me off, I would find it refreshing. Congrats on getting married!

  • 13-May-2016 at 02:22
    Permalink

    I have a similar problem, I guess. I’m a gal that shoots from the hip. Apparently, this confuses men, as they are used to women who play games.
    Me: ‘Oh look how blue the sky is!’
    He: “I wonder what she means by THAT”… Sigh…

  • 13-May-2016 at 17:31
    Permalink

    What do guys really think about children. I have 5 and think that this alone scares most men off. Too much to take on for a second time around?

    • 14-May-2016 at 05:14
      Permalink

      I don’t know what most guys are looking for,but I know it depends on the guy. I think men that love their own children are more likely to not care about the number or being a father to someone else’s. It is a package deal. It seems men, and women, without kids have a harder time accepting the kids of the other, since they feel they didn’t contribute to the state of the kids now, kind of how some people won’t buy a used car – they don’t want other people’s problems. figure it out quick. If they can’t accept the kids, and aren’t showing an interest in trying, then you have your answer. Real men, and women, see children as opportunities to raise citizens, not challenges to their own freedom.

  • 13-May-2016 at 17:33
    Permalink

    Oh, by the way, I was laughing my butt off through most of this article. Yep, we are all scared!

  • 13-May-2016 at 22:48
    Permalink

    Yessss to it all! There are soo many rules in that dumb LDS single dating code. Add in having kiddos and boom! All of a sudden it’s assumed that you are only looking for a baby/sugar daddy and any sign of interest too soon (or at all) will cause them to go running. Regardless of the fact I’m doing okay financially, own my own home, etc. Speaking of…that also causes problems because then there are the ones who just kinda want a free pass and expect you to support them OR on the other end of the guy spectrum trying to be self sufficient is apparently scary and intimidating? Oy! I would give up completely if it weren’t for my kiddos reminding me often how they’d sure appreciate a father figure in the home someday. 🙂 Good luck in your dating adventures!!

  • 14-May-2016 at 00:56
    Permalink

    Thank you, but there are no, let me repeat, NO, dating adventures in Billings, MT. Most of the guys who are mid-aged are the never been married scared ones and the others are the too scarred by life, or looking for younger and cuter ones. One thing I have noticed is the Older(60-70) singles are interested in me because I am younger and they want to be a Grandpa to my kids! The ones my age are looking for younger and the younger ones are looking for younger. Another thing I have noticed is that it is a man’s market and they usually find what they are looking for and not long after their last situation has ended. Most of the single guys in my area that have been divorced within the last 3 years are already married. There is my rant from the women’s side of LDS single-hood! Gotta love it! I hope you find what you are looking for!!

    • 20-June-2016 at 00:21
      Permalink

      I have almost stopped going to single activities..I’m 59 and most men at activities as you say want younger say 30/40.

  • 15-May-2016 at 19:08
    Permalink

    My friend suggested I ask you out after I shared this article. So I’m asking….

    • 16-May-2016 at 02:46
      Permalink

      Well, that’s an intriguing idea for social media development – “will date for shares.” 😉

      • 16-May-2016 at 04:06
        Permalink

        Except I was serious.

      • 19-May-2016 at 01:17
        Permalink

        Except I was serious and have never done anything like this. Why not?

        • 19-May-2016 at 02:35
          Permalink

          Well, D, I am grateful you put yourself out there. Brave and direct, just like I asked for. 🙂

          While I am flattered, my heart belongs to someone already. She is my muse, my biggest fan, and I am hers. We have been dating for over a year and I am very hopeful for our future. I adore her with everything I have and, since I believe in honesty, I wanted you to know specifically why I must decline your sweet request.

          That being said, I appreciate the guts it took to pose this to me. It made my day and I felt special. Thank you!

Comments are closed.