When you hear the same criticism from two people in one week, it may be a good idea to pay attention. In my depressive cocoon of withdrawal and isolation, I like to think that I am growing, that this time is for healing and self-improvement. So, two different men told me they thought I was unfair to Mormon men. Touche'. Naturally, I responded defensively, sort of 'they deserve it' or 'I have a right to be bitter' reaction. Right or not, I don't want to be bitter.
That's what this comes down to, my choice. Can I set aside my pride in order to get what I ultimately want? Pride will be my damnation before anything else. Even as a child I knew that, when I first heard about the '7 deadly sins', I gulped when someone told me the definition of pride. As far as defense mechanisms go, pride is a beauty. What a wonderful shield to throw up in the face of hurt and rejection. I felt unloved at home, rejected by my family so I turned a proud cheek to them. They weren't rejecting me because I didn't love them either. They wouldn't ignore me anymore because I'd stop talking to them. Stop I did. And no, they didn't notice. Which deepened my adolescent anger and pain.
But all that is behind me now, right? Sigh. A defense learned so early in life really digs itself into one's personality. So, when I again faced repeated rejection, this time by the male Mormon population, my shield automatically went up. They don't want me? Fine, I don't want them either! How mature. And not good for me.
Several factors lead to this result. I started dating non-members from the beginning. In our youth group we had about 12 teenagers. Most of us had grown up together which kills romantic mystique. One boy, who became very popular with the ladies, I remembered playing with him when we were four. Picking noses together as toddlers does not lead to sexual desire. Those of us in the group who dated either went out of the ward or out of the religion. My first boyfriend at age 16 was a nice non-practicing catholic drummer in a speed metal band. (it was 1992!).
Then when I went to college there was a sizeable singles ward full of Utah transplants. I felt like a freak from another planet. I did not understand the culture of that ward at all. I found the cliqueyness disgusting and couldn't get a boy to look at me twice. So I turned my back on that nonsense and stayed in my family ward. Those of us who spurned the singles ward became a pretty tight knit group for a few years. We had dances in town for the whole stake twice a month. That's where I met the recent convert that I dated when I was 21. That didn't work out at all. He just wanted a wife and rejected me for not being good enough. Whatever, he was the redneck who didn't go to college and lived with his mother. (He made her move to the guesthouse because she was living in sin.)
For the 8 years that I lived in the south I stayed on the fringes of the singles LDS life. There were two men I dated but we never became couples. One guy I was never attracted to but really wanted to be. The other had strung me along in a love quadrangle for a few months then dumped me at a Valentine's Day Dance. He told me he was getting back together with his ex, left me to sit by the wall and watch as he danced away with her.
The quadrangle drama was the result of my attempts to get into the singles social scene. I started attending the ward and going to activities, unaware that I was dating the guy that two of the more important females were in love with. So I didn't have a chance with the women, no one liked me. Except my friend April, we were paired as visiting teaching companions and found a real kinship that has lasted to this day. A lot of the other girls didn't like her either. I think they were too jealous because she looks like a prettier version of Britney Spears and was working on an MBA. (She's still single too.) My own behavior towards the other quad-women when I did realize we were in competition frightened and repulsed me more than anything else. And I haven't attended a singles ward since.
Blah, blah, blah. A few more years and boyfriends later, here I am. In no shape whatsoever to date anyone. I am not well. Trying to get into a relationship now could only end in disaster. The only man who would want me in this state would have to be sick himself. Bad, bad, bad. I'm wise enough to see that now. So I'm taking a breather from the drama. I haven't had a real date in almost a year. (The couple almost dates don't count.) I am on sabbatical from romance and the hunt. This isn't just lip service, the thought of going on a date makes me ill.
So now that I've been accused of being unfair to Mormon men, what am I going to do about it? Initially I didn't care. But I have since had an epiphany. This is my choice. The single LDS men my age belong to a social culture and operate by those rules. Up until now I have rejected that culture because it rejected me. Good for me, I'll die a spinster that way. I see now that if I want a nice Mormon boy then I will have to bend. I must set aside my pride and play their game by their rules. I don't like the game and I don't understand it but that's a pill I have to swallow. Unless I want to continue playing worse games with the non-lds dudes. They'll pretend they're ok with my celibacy to gain my trust so they can get into my pants. That's a no-brainer.
If I want a 'good' one, I have to stop waiting for the LDS man who plays by my rules to come and get me. That will never happen. Now I have resolved that if and when the day comes when I feel up to dating again, I will dip my toes into the mo'men pool and leave it there. I will pursue them with kid gloves on, using that magical mix of non-aggressive aggression. How to do that, I don't know. But that's for another day. Today, I'll enjoy my newfound maturity.