Friday, November 20, 2009

Keeping my options open

I have gone out with several non-members in my dating career, especially since I live in an area where members are the minority. Sometimes it was because I was bored and making use of various online dating sites and sometimes it's because I'm heavily involved in the community and just naturally meet these men.

Generally, I prefer the latter, as I've been avoiding the former now for quite a while. Regardless, dating non-members is something I'm open to. Trixie recently explained that for some, dating non-members is giving up. Erin commented, saying that love and compatibility are the important thing.

In my experience, it can be either.

The times I have trolled online dating sites, it really was because I was bored and giving up. No on else was paying attention to me, so maybe I'd find someone in the ether of the interwebs. I even used Craigslist personals. These were not my finer moments. I did get some dates, met some interesting people, but they all ended after a date or two. While online dating may work for some people, it doesn't work for me, and I've gotten it out of my system.

When I met these non-member men the way you should, by working with them on something and/or becoming friends and then maybe something more, I went out with them because they were genuinely good men. Regardless of their religious affiliation, we shared interests and moral values and we wanted to get to know each other better. If I date a non-member now, this is how it started.

It can be argued that dating non-members is better than dating members. They don't always have the same societal pressures to date and marry we do, so they aren't as weird about it. They aren't inundated with the same amount of gorgeous, spiritually minded, good girls that members are, especially those in singles wards, so they are more impressed with us, and act like it.

That's not why I'm willing to do it. I don't do it because I'm giving up. I do it because I'm leaving my options open. It is possible that I'm doing some "conflirting" or "flirt to convert" and hoping that whoever I'm dating will join the Church, but I'm not obstinate about it. I'm clear about how important it is to me, but as long as they respect my beliefs, and their beliefs do not contradict mine, I'll respect theirs. Perhaps their involvement with me will be their introduction to the Church, and I want to be the best example of a loving, inclusive daughter of God that I can be. I won't reject a good, responsible man immediately just because he isn't a member of my Church.

I'm not saying Trixie is wrong (and she knows this) for choosing to not date non-LDS men. I just know that if I had this same attitude, I would have missed out on getting to know some of my best friends. JT isn't LDS. The people I consider my local "family" aren't LDS. Most of my local colleagues aren't either. It's only natural that some of the men I go out with won't be.

I do want and plan to be married in the temple. I intend to continue my activity in the Church and temple attendance. I want my husband to be there with me. I already involve Heavenly Father in my dating life and try to follow the promptings of the Spirit as I make various decisions about who to date. I don't know Heavenly Father's specific plan for me, but I trust Him. If I find myself falling in love with a non-member and I feel His approval, I'll go with it. I've seen those success stories where it works. They have a happy family and sometimes the non-member half of the couple does eventually join the Church. If that's what the Lord has in store for me, who am I to ignore that?

Being sealed in the temple does not guarantee a perfect marriage. There is no such thing. It would be a challenge to date and marry someone who doesn't have my exact same beliefs, but I'd rather be in a good, loving marriage with someone who isn't LDS than a failing, loveless marriage with someone who is.