When I tell my non-member friends about my "Mormon Dating" experiences, they often look at me with a mix of digest and slight disbelief. The thing is... I ALWAYS TELL THE TRUTH! Real life is much stranger than fiction when it comes to Mormon dating. I know, because at 26 years of age and an active member of a singles ward, dating is something I have to deal with more often than I would care to.
When my now six year old niece was four, she spent the night at my house and then attended my singles ward with me. During Sacrament meeting she looked around and then whispered in my ear, "Auntie, how come no body here is married?" "Well," I responded. "They are trying to get us to marry each other." She looked around again and the said, "It's not working out really well, huh?" I kid you not, my girl is observant.
For me dating is one horror story after another. My list of good dates is short. Actually, there are two. One with a boy I didn't know and never saw again ever, and another with a boy who then never spoke to me again. See, even my good dates haven't been so good. But for the sake of this blog, I will share with you my best and my worst Mormon dates.THE WORST
Honestly, it was hard to choose which among all the horrifying dates I've been on was to be called "the WORST", but really, after chatting with my friends and family about it, the hands down winner was a date I had last fall.
In October my roommate Jilly, and her then boyfriend came into my room and stood at the foot of my bed. Jill was at the time the Relief Society president, and her boyfriend the Elder's quorum President. A truly frightening combination if you ask me. So, there they stood, at the foot of my bed with smiles on their faces that let me know there was trouble a'brewing. I looked at them with suspicion and asked them what they wanted. "Well," Jill began. "There is a boy in the ward who wants to go on a date with you." I looked at them long and hard, had my bed suddenly turned into a time machine and I was back in the 6th grade? I looked around my cluttered room. Nope, still 2004, still 26 years old, roommate still telling me Johnny wants to be my secret boyfriend. I took in a deep breath and asked, "Which boy?" Their smiles widened and a cold chill went down my back. EQ Pres. says, "We'll tell you after you agree to go." Now, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking SARAH DO NOT AGREE TO ANYTHING! But, the idea of a free dinner has a big effect on me people. I was weakened by this prospect. I agreed to go on a date with some random boy in my ward without knowing who it was because they promised me I could pick the restraint. I AM AN IDIOT! It was after this deal with the devil was made that the name of the boy was revealed to me and the blood curdling scream had to be held in my chest because I am too polite to damage other people's hearing. The boy that I had agreed to spend an evening with was Aaron*.
Aaron is a nice enough guy, don't get me wrong. He's tall and skinny, going to school, etc. etc. BUT Aaron is 22 years old, lives with his mother, doesn't own a car, is unemployed and also has ADD, OCD and Turret's Syndrome. Now, we all know how mentally unstable I am, so I am never one to judge a person by their diagnosis. I will however, judge a person on their behavior. Aaron's behavior is a bit on the frightening side sometimes... okay... ALL the time. These are the kind of men that are attracted to me. Men with diminished mental capacity who live with their mothers. I'm serious... you should meet my ex-boyfriends. Anyway, I had made a promise to go, and Jill and the boyfriend promised to double so, the date was set and my blood ran chill. I KNEW this would not go well, but I tried to have an open mind... really... I did.
The night of the big date came. We were going to go to Macaroni Grille for dinner and then with any luck, HOME. I was scheduled to have my gall bladder surgery four days later, so I wasn't feeling too hot what with my infected gall bladder and all. But I was going to get as hot as I possibly could in such poor health. Jilly was helping me curl my hair and I was applying the beginnings of my makeup when the doorbell rang. We were sure it was Jill's boyfriend, just being early and helpful. But no, thirty minutes before the date was scheduled to begin, Aaron had shown up on my doorstep. I was half dressed, half make-uped, half curled. This was not a good way to start things. Jill let him in, he sat in the living room while we finished getting ready. The official starting time of the date came and went, and Jill's boyfriend had yet to arrive. Jill and I made our way to the living room, and sat and had awkward conversation about science fiction novels with Aaron. Boyfriend was almost 20 minutes late. Boyfriend got a rather nasty glare from two very good looking women.
So, Aaron announces that he is going to drive us to dinner even though he has no idea where the establishment is located. I throw a worried look at Jill, but she just smiles and scoots me out the front door. I climb into the car, silently praying that he is a good driver. It was a prayer that would go unanswered. I was supposed to be navigating, but for anyone who has ever been in a car with me, you know that I'm a much better driver than navigator. I just know how to get places and I'm not especially good at telling others how to get there. Nonetheless, that was my duty for the night, direct the directionless. I failed at my duty when I missed the street we were supposed to make a right hand turn onto. I said to Aaron, "Well, if you just go up to that stoplight, you can make a u-turn and we can come back to the street we need to turn on." Did Aaron listen to me and go up to the light? No, no he did not. Did Aaron make a u-turn INTO ON COMING TRAFFIC? Yes, yes he did. When the car he nearly hit head on honked at him, Aaron raised his fist in the air, began shaking it mightily and yelled out, "I WILL DESTROY YOU!" all in the middle of a rather busy street. I almost started to cry.
By some miracle of faith, we made it to Macaroni Grille with no harm or accident befalling us. There, of course, was a wait to be seated. Aaron looked at me and said pointing to Jill and Boyfriend, "I'm not much of a conversationalist, so if you want to talk... you're gonna have to talk to them." I shook my head in disbelief, and then looked over at the bar. I would have taken a shot of rubbing alcohol at that point. We were finally seated, and ordered our food. Jilly, Boyfriend and I were coloring on the paper table cloth with the provided crayons but Aaron was hunched over, furiously scribbling something down. He remained that way for most of the night, hardly joining in the conversation other than to complain that the food was too spicy, mostly he sat writing with a blue crayon on the paper table cloth. Then, suddenly he sat up, looked around the table and announced that he had written a poem and would like to read it to all of us. I KID YOU NOT! He then read aloud his poem that was about a panther (yes, a panther... the jungle cat). The poem rhymed and was generally the worst thing ever in the history of bad poetry. To this day I kick myself for not taking it with us when we left.
After dinner we walked over to a nearby bookstore so I could buy a book before my surgery. Aaron walked in, grabbed two graphic novels and then plopped himself down in a corner and read for the hour we were there. I started to feel rather yucky due to the whole infected gall bladder thing, so we were ready to leave but couldn't find Aaron. Finally Boyfriend tracked him down. I asked that we go, Aaron looked at me and said, "Can I finish reading these first?" CAN HE FINISH THE NOVELS
THAT HE'S READING???? That would be no. He was rather disappointed. But I was on the verge of vomiting. I just wanted to go home.
So, we made it back to the house sans any traffic accidents or threats of distraction. I jumped from the car before it came to a complete stop and ran into the house trying my best not to vomit in front of the group. When I emerged from the bathroom, Aaron was standing in the kitchen. I stood in the living room, leaning against a wall, pale and sweating I was in so much pain. Aaron just stood there and looked at me, stared at me really. I had NO IDEA what to do. Finally Boyfriend said, "Aaron, it's time for you to go." He left. I cried for an hour and told Jill and Boyfriend I never wanted to speak to them again.
That was the worst. I'm sure, there will be worse someday. How sad is that?THE BEST
The best date I ever went on was right before I moved back to California from Provo. Aubrey had a massive crush on a boy in her psychology class all semester. On the day of the final, he raced from the testing center to ask her out. She gleefully agreed. The boy had a roommate who would like a date as well, could she invite one of her roommates along? SURE SHE COULD! She came screaming up to my door minutes later, screeching about Cute Boy asking her out, and how I needed to be ready in a hour because I was going on a date with his roommate.
I don't even remember the guys name, couldn't tell you what he looked like if you paid me. But I had the most wonderful date ever. We went to Frontier Pies and ate free pie (they had coupons) and drank hot chocolate. We talked about movies and books, things that had shaped us. We went for a drive through the Provo hills to look at Christmas lights and then ended up back at Aubrey's watching the last 5 minutes of "Anne of Avonlea" so the boys could properly understand why most women were looking for their very own Gilbert Blythe. There was no kissing, no hand holding, a hug goodnight was enough. But I wasn't uncomfortable once that night. I never worried about how I looked or what he thought of me. We laughed, we had a good time, it ended well. If all dates could be like that, I would go on a date every weekend.
Sadly though, Mormon dating seems to carry a level of intensity that can overwhelm and squash any level of fun that might have been there. There seems to me that there is more pressure in Mormon dating, more pressure to find out if this is someone you could marry - and this is just the first date! I think the best thing anyone who is single and LDS and actively dating can do is to RELAX. Don't worry about this person and the possibility of your eternal companionship, just have fun! I mean, you gotta enjoy this single thing while you can.