I am so grateful that I have friends who are willing to share (and let me write about) their dating stories. The latest is from my good friend Lia. If stories are specific to the Mormon community, I write them here; if they are broader dating stories, I write them for Divorced Moms. Since this is the latter, you get the exclusive!
The Date With Ultra Conservative Mormon
I met Tim online. He looked cute enough. I saw him standing outside the restaurant. He looked just like his profile. I said hello, we hugged briefly, and went into the restaurant and sat down. So maybe he was a little heavier than I expected but he was average. We ordered. In my head, I gave him grades:
Initial Impression: B-
What he ordered: B-
He didn't understand what I ordered: F
We started talking about the Civil Rights error. I have three sons. I told him that I took them to the American History Museum in Washington, DC where my sons were shocked that black people had such a hard time trying to go to school, riding a bus in the front seats, or sitting at a soda counter because of their skin color. I told him I was happy that they were growing up without those horrible prejudices. Next, I told him that my sons were also un-rattled by gay people. My cousin is gay and I have many gay and lesbian friends. My sons have grown up knowing that gay people exist and they don't even think about it. We go to dinner with them, sometimes see them holding hands at the mall, whatever, and they don't mention it, flinch... I don't even think they notice.
That started off a firestorm.
Him: "It's unfortunate that your sons are unable to discern the difference between right and wrong."
Me: "I'm not debating right and wrong with you. I'm simply saying that the next generation is very different than ours or the generation before us and so on. My sons are really good boys. I'm proud of them and they do know the difference between right and wrong." ...Says THE ONE who has no children at all, don't even go there!
Him: "So what do you think about Kate Kelly?" [Kate Kelly is the leader of Ordain Women, a Mormon group that is advocating for the ordination of women within the Mormon church. She was excommunicated a few weeks ago for her activism and this has become a very controversial subject.] Oh my here we go. I decided I would answer as diplomatically as possible and if he didn't like it, we should ever date again anyway.
Me: "I don't believe in excommunication with very extremely limited exceptions. If the church is very concerned with its image, like Pepsi, Bank of America or Nike, then yes, image is more important than anything. Coerce and threaten members into silence in order to maintain the image above all else. But this is a church, and Christian principles like forgiveness, inclusion, love, and openness should rule the day. Free speech. You know, all the Constitional concepts that the church professes to love. So you don't kick people out for voicing concerns or advocating for change."
The look on his face!
Him: "How long have you been divorced?"
Me: "Three years. Why?
Him: "Hmmmm.... Maybe that's why."
Me: Stunned silence.
Him: "Were you like this when you were married?"
Me: "Like what?"
Him: "A feminist? Anti Mormon?"
Says the one who was married for TWO YEARS only, is 50 years old, has no children, and has been single for SEVEN YEARS. I could have gone right back at him but what was the point. I was never in a million years going to see this control freak again.
Him: "If you don't like the church, you need to leave."
Me: "Thanks, but that's not your decision. I'm not intimidated by sitting next to people in church who don't agree with me. If the church is true, it can withstand debate. Who cares? Leave them alone, let them doubt, and embrace them at church."
Him: "No, you need to leave."
Me: In my head, I'm thinking "shut the fuck up." I smiled.
And it went on and on and on. While he tried to tell me that Mormon women were equal to men because Mormon women had the Relief Society.
Me: "Yes, which reports up to Priesthood authority. So a Relief Society president with a masters degree, who heads up a corporation, still reports to a man who is a janitor. Call it what you will, but equal isn't accurate."
Him: "That's just semantics."
Me: In my head, I'm thinking if he knows the meaning of the word semantics. Obviously not. "No, it's not semantics. It's factual. Big difference." He looked confused.
Him: "Women hold the priesthood in the temple."
Me: "And what happens to that power when we leave the temple? And why? That is what Kate Kelly was asking."
Him: "She shouldn't have asked the question publicly. She had no right making the church look bad."
Me: "It's not Kate Kelly's job to make the church look anything. She had questions, she organized, she wanted answers. She's not the only one."
And this was the kicker...
Him: "People get kicked out all the time. I have a friend whose brother went on a mission. He was a good missionary until about a year into it, he started telling investigators that he was the prophet of the church. His companion told the mission president. He was told to stop it but he wouldn't. His dad was a Stake President and he flew to Mexico and told him to stop it. He kept saying that he was the prophet and was being given revelations and he wouldn't stop because God was telling him things. He was the new prophet. The sent him home early and ex communicated him. They did the right thing."
Me: "So your story is heartbreaking to me. This kid was probably having a mental breakdown. From what you're telling me, it sounds like a psychotic episode, maybe the beginning signs of schizophrenia, or bipolar, or who knows? He probably needed psychiatric care, not an excommunication and a plane ticket home. Oh dear God."
Him: "He needed to be excommunicated."
Me: "Well the concern you're showing isn't very Christ-like." I was hoping he would walk out of the restaurant. Me? I was wondering how far this whole bizarre conversation could go. I suppose when talking to a Freak Mormon, it could go anywhere. Imagine being married to a man like this.
Ok, since I wanted to walk out but decided I wouldn't, I tried a different tact...
Me: "So what are you favorite restaurants?"
Him: "Olive Garden and Five Guys."
Me: "Oh that's nice."
In my head, I gave him new grades:
Restaurant Choices: F
The bill arrived, thank goodness!
He went to pay the bill. Since I only ordered a small appetizer, mine was $4.99. I handed him $10, and he kept the whole thing. He didn't even give me change. I suppose a feminist should not only pay her half, but several more dollars for his, too.
We walked out.
Me: "Oh my gosh! I had the best time EVER. Thank you very much. So incredibly nice to meet you." I said in my most over-the-top sarcastic voice. I'm not sure he was smart enough to catch on to it. I gave him a Big Huge Hug. "Good luck!"
Him: This time he acted confused. Was I serious? No dumbass. "Oh, yes, ok you too. Stay in touch."
Me: "Absolutely!" As I went home and blocked him.
Now I'm wondering if I send him a quick text before deleting him off my contacts to let him know that there is a reason he is still single. Not that marriage = happiness. I'm divorced. I hated my marriage after about three years. But this guy is offensive. I have never in my entire life been on a date where I was so deeply offended by a total asshole with nothing to offer. And a paralegal that he was who didn't know the meaning of the word "semantics."
Dating in Mormonville is a Freak Show. The men in the Mormon church fall into three categories:
1. Inactive because their guilt over having sex is so terrible. They have stopped going to church and won't go back until they get remarried. Because having sex is the worse thing ever in the church, second only to murder. Men, especially if they've been to the temple, get excommunicated for having sex outside of marriage, even if it's in a committed relationship. As a result, these guys are just "off." In their minds, hey, if they've had sex with one, might as well have sex with anyone they can get into bed with. After all, they're already doomed so it doesn't matter anymore. These guys are Freak-tards.
2. Conservative Mormon: I'll put the guy above into conservative. They believe that, as the Priesthood holder, they call the shots. The woman is the help meet to him. He believes his girl better fall in line. Don't even get me started here. They care about image, putting on a good show of righteousness for the neighbors, make sure they go to all their meetings wearing their suits and white shirt only (colored shirts are a Big Fat No), do their home teaching, pay their 10% tithing plus fast offerings and missionary fund and scout fund, go the temple often, magnify their calling... and forget to be like Christ. They are judgmental, mean, ridged, controlling, and unforgiving. They are assholes. And since they want to have sex Really Bad, they are angry men. Potentially, if they can control their impulses for a few months, they are ready to marry you. Or, if it's like my date, no doubt he masterbates often, which is also totally against church standards. Which makes him angrier, more depressed, more aggressive, and more, you have it, a Freak-tard.
3. Anti Mormon: They've done the Mormon church thing and, usually over doctrinal issues, have left the church. But they also can't stop talking about the church. It is Conversation Point #1. They hate it and they want you to understand that the church is a fraud and you need to leave it too. Getting these men to talk about anything else is one tough sell.
I will keep dating simply because it is entertaining. I'm from Northern California. I dated a lot of men in other cities, having also lived in Chicago and Orlando. Never have I encountered such FREAKS as I have in Utah. Utterly overwhelming nutcases. Is it the church's fault? To an extent. The Mormon culture has created a dating culture that is unhealthy and bizarre. Fabulous.