Moving to Utah has been one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I grew up in the Church, but I never lived around members, and therefore I was very much a stranger to Church culture. I’ll admit that I was a little naïve when I pulled up to BYU for the first time. I was a recent RM, and I thought that by virtue of being a good, faithful person and having served a rewarding and honorable mission, success would just fall into my lap. I expected to pick up my studies were I left them two years previous. More than anything else, I believed the stories that an RM at BYU only had a matter of time before he was married to an amazing, faithful girl. Well, reality caught up with me. Don’t get me wrong; I love Utah. Even more, I love BYU. There is not another place on Earth that I would rather be at this time of my life. That being said, there are some things that I wish would change regarding dating.
For one, I’m frankly ashamed of how fast young members of the Church write one another off. Now don’t jump to conclusions, I am completely against pity dates and pretended affection. What irks me is pretending to know someone after spending a few hours with them. I get that some people just aren’t compatible, that sometimes two people’s goals just don’t line up, or that frankly there are rotten people in the world that a good Latter-Day Saint shouldn’t marry. That being said, I’m not so sure that a conversation over dinner can give that kind of insight on a consistent basis. Maybe everyone else is just blessed with a gift of discernment that I can’t fathom, but it seems to me that being able to definitively say that a person could never be my best friend, the mother of my children, or walk past the judgement bar at my side into the Celestial Kingdom would take a lot more knowledge than I can glean in a date or two. Now, 99% of relationships won’t work. Thank goodness we only need to win once in this emotional bloodbath that we call dating. However, I wonder if there would be so many broken hearts and discontent singles if we would suck it up and admit that we don’t know what’s in a person’s soul.
There are really really good reasons not to date someone, or to discontinue. Testimony issues for someone who wants a righteous family is a valid reason. It has huge implications. However, there’s probably some things that shouldn’t be complete deal breakers. Do they text back too quickly or take too long? Do they text too much? Do they use snapchat? Tinder? Do they have strong political beliefs? Are they too passive? Too quiet? Are they less eloquent than Abraham Lincoln? Do they have an interest or two that you don’t care for? Do they choose to study for the big test tomorrow instead of shooting the breeze with you in your apartment? Do they not hit it off immediately with your family/roommates? Did they come home from a mission for medical reasons? Dating deals with people. Here, they’re mostly good people. Should a romantic element to the relationship really justify throwing forgiveness, tolerance, and charity out the window? Are we any less obligated to be our brother’s (or sister’s) keeper because we’ve dated them? Maybe this is too idealistic, but I wonder what it will be like at the Great and Last Day when we can look back and see how glorious these people were when they came into this life and how breathtakingly beautiful they will be going into the next one.
I cringe when I hear all of the backbiting that goes on in the dating world. I hate hearing priesthood holders judging solely on appearance or talking about girls like they’re meat. I can’t stand when girls feel like their looks give them the right to belittle good men who are trying to find happiness. Dating culture in Utah, or the Church, or whichever it is, is so different. I just wish that the people would be different too.
Like I said, this is Zion. I love it. I don’t wish that dating was easier because the best things are always hard; I just think that we can be better people in how we go about it. I believe that we can give people the benefit of the doubt, and then be kind if it just isn’t going to work. In the dating world, pain maybe inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be intentional or meaningless. I know that young LDS people want everything in a spouse. I say go for it! Just don’t go looking for the deepest of relationships with the shallowest of means.