My Mormon Dating Experiment

Image from Flickr user George Eastman House

Here at NextDoorMormon, we talk a lot about marriage and family (because we believe they are essential to God’s Plan of Happiness), but we haven’t really discussed the details of how we get to that point –

Dating.

Admittedly, I’m a newcomer to the world of Mormon dating. I didn’t go to BYU, live in Utah, or ever really find myself surrounded by Mormon men returned from a 2-year mission with a seemingly abundant appetite for romantic attention and companionship.

I’ve dated wonderful men outside my faith – honest, honorable men. I don’t believe religion has a monopoly on good people, but I recently decided to make similar spiritual and religious beliefs a priority in my dating decisions.  I personally know several couples with different religious backgrounds whose families are making it work just beautifully. But, I would like my dating habits to eventually lead to a family with Mormon values, so it only makes sense for the men I date and the person I someday marry to share my religious beliefs.

About 12 months ago, I started an experiment…

I started trying to only date men of my same faith, significantly reducing my dating pool from the city’s huge community of eligible bachelors to the handful of Mormons living in my area. I still feel that I have more in common (religion aside) with men outside my faith than those sitting next to me at church. And not all Mormons view their religion the same way – so finding “similar beliefs” is really difficult even within the Mormon community.

My one-year assessment?

Basically – it’s a lot like dating was before, but in a smaller network. Compatibility still involves a high degree of chemistry, shared values and respect. My girlfriends and I still frequent the bars and clubs where male attention is practically up for grabs, but with minimal potential for a serious relationship. Initial conversations still reek of pretention and generally end in unfulfilled expectations.

But the hope of finding a diamond in the rough is just as motivating as it was before. There may be fewer options overall, but the best ones always stand out and they never creep up behind me in a dance club.

This is where I’m at.

Any advice for making faith or spirituality a priority in dating?

9 thoughts on “My Mormon Dating Experiment

  1. Kam

    When I met my then-future wife I was agnostic. After a few long conversations with her in which I asked more than a few tough questions about her faith, I found myself no longer agnostic. Now I’m the one who makes sure we get to church on Sunday.

    Count me as someone who’s been enriched by dating outside your own spiritual realm. Of course that wouldn’t always happen, but it’s been my experience that listening to God rarely takes us where we expect, but always to where we need to be.

    Disclaimer: I am not Mormon.

    Reply
    1. Melanie

      Thanks for sharing your experience Kam! My most meaningful relationships included similar conversations – and I’m so grateful for the men in my life who’ve cared enough to ask those tough questions. Because at the end of the day, we all see the world differently regardless of religious beliefs and that perspective is intrinsic to who we are. I’m always happy to hear about couples who love and respect those qualities in each other.

      What changed your mind?

      Reply
      1. Kam

        I think it was how genuine she was when speaking of her faith. I’d been raised to think that most organized religions were filled with a bunch of hypocrites, but once I had gone to church a few times and learned more I was convinced. Sure, there are hypocrites (and really we all are to varying degrees), but that hardly is a basis on which an entire faith can be invalidated.

        Reply
        1. Melanie

          Knowing someone is genuine in what they believe – from religion to art to professional interests – is the foundation for trust. We all make mistakes, but we keep working on being better. And I completely agree with you – judging an entire group of people based on human imperfections (which we all have) is hardly fair.

          Reply
  2. Robin

    I am one of those non-Utah Mormons who purposely went to a Church owned school & then later to a Utah state school because I wanted to have more LDS men to date. I had dated many non-members while in high school, and I felt the same way you do that my religious beliefs and standards were of such a high priority that I wanted to find someone else who held those same standards and beliefs as high as I did.

    I, like you, believe that there are good people in the world regardless of their religious beliefs. But for me it was crucial that I marry an LDS man in the temple and raise our children in the LDS faith.

    The thing that I was taught was that in order to find the right person you need to be the right person. I learned that I needed to live my religion the best that I knew how and to be comfortable in who I am. And to figure out those qualities in a potential spouse that were the essential “must-have” and the non-essential “nice-to-have.” I also needed to stop “trying.” Once I gave over the reigns to Heavenly Father everything fell into place.

    Keep your head up. Everything will work out.

    Reply
    1. Melanie

      Thanks for your comments and advice, Robin. I think it just took me a bit longer to want to get married – so going to Utah or a Church-owned college where it might have played a bigger role in my experience scared me. Now that I’m older and [ahem] wiser, I see things differently. I’ve been in relationships where marriage was definitely an option, but my partner didn’t share the same vision of an eternal family and I realized that was a deal breaker for me. So, I’m simply trying to put those “must-haves” in place first before allocating attention on the “nice-to-haves.” Turns out, once the former are in place – I’m actually a lot more flexible with the latter than I initial thought. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Betsy

    Thanks for this post. I thought it was interesting. I always hesitate to give dating advice, because it goes differently for everybody. To answer your question, if you make faith and spirituality a priority in your life in general, it will also become a priority in your dating life. Men that tend to care for this kind of thing will admire you, because like you, they have made it a priority in their life. And perhaps you’ll find a perfect match. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Melanie

      Thanks for your comment Betsy. I completely agree with your point on making faith and spirituality a priority in life overall and allowing it to naturally saturate various facets. As Kam pointed out above, being genuine in our beliefs makes a big difference. How our faith is perceived by others often depends on the sincerity with which we live it.

      Reply
  4. Smita Kothari

    Melanie, mine was an arranged marriage in India, that is my husband was introduced to me as a prospect by my family. My family was looking for a match for me in the same faith/community as it happens usually in arranged marriages in India (I’m sure they have a reason for this). So it was never my prerogative to find a date sharing the same faith. But it’s interesting to know how you made that conscious decision. Thanks!

    Reply

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