Queer Mormon Women*: Love Isn’t Everything

Guest post by Megan Howarth

Megan is a Utah native and a current resident of Logan. She is a homebody and an activist, and writes for the Young Mormon Feminists Blog.

This is a post that is a part of the Queer Mormon Women* series.  Click HERE to see all the posts to date.

Growing up in the church female we were always told we needed to be good girls. We were taught that the boys were the ones that wanted and thought about sex; that it was our job to not let them go too far, as if they were the only ones whose minds could become clouded with passion and lust. As a teenager I never had any reason not to believe this; it matched my experience completely and I took these messages to heart.

 

Woman with pink umbrellaIn fact, I took it to extremes. While other kids in my largely Mormon junior high would skirt around the no dating before 16 rule by pairing off and holding hands while avoiding actual “dates”, I decided on no flirting before age 16, no hanging out before age 16, no giving boys the time of day before age 16.   In short, I was the model Young Woman that my leaders pointed to as an example to the other girls, and was quite smug about it. I remember judging the other girls, thinking I was superior to them for following the rules better than they did. Why didn’t they have more self-control? Why were they so boy-crazy?

 

After high school, things began to change. No longer were we discouraged from pairing off; in fact it was suddenly the opposite. I had always been so good at following all the rules, but this was new to me and I wasn’t very comfortable with it. Over the next couple of years, I went on a few dates, but for the most part, I just went about my life and ignored dating. It was easier that way.

 

Cut to age 21 and many of my friends were getting married. My parents had married each other when they were 21 and I was coming to realize that I had always subconsciously assumed I would marry at that age too. I began to feel like a failure, and rather than view the opposite sex with casual indifference I began to analyze each one. I would mentally gauge whether they would be good marriage material and weakly try to figure out how to attract the ones that seemed promising. I created an online dating profile and sent messages to everyone in my city who had a high match percentage in an attempt to meet more men. The problem was that once I got to know more about each “candidate” I would quickly lose interest. Even for those who I did go on dates with I would carefully avoid sitting too close to them, holding their hand, hugging them, or any sort of physical contact, really. I had not done this on purpose; it had all been subconscious. Still, the thought of doing anything intimate with them had, and continues to, repulse me.

 

As I grew more and more desperate, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. At first I thought it was just that no one was interested in me, but once I was able to be truly honest with myself, I realized that it was me that wasn’t interested in them. I began to see my desperation for what it was, realizing that I didn’t enjoy this search at all but was simply searching out of a sense of obligation. I also realized I was going about this in a purely analytical way; I had never felt any physical attraction for any of these guys. I had never put much stock in love at first sight and had scoffed at those who were obsessed with looks, thinking them shallow, but began to realize that maybe they had a point. Maybe there did have to be a physical attraction of some sort. And no matter how I searched, I didn’t seem to be physically attracted to anyone, male or female!

 

I had heard several years prior of a term called asexual, and at this point the term came to the forefront of my mind. I spent a lot of time researching asexuality on the internet, finally coming to the conclusion that that was what I had to be. In the years since then I have become quite comfortable with the term, and have also begun to identify as aromantic.

 

I’m not sure what the future holds for me. It is a lot easier to stay in good standing as an asexual than for the majority of the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, and I remain an active member, but I won’t deny that I feel out of place at times. At this point I have become comfortable with the fact that I will never marry or have a significant other, but no matter how comfortable I am with it, the fact remains that our church pretty much revolves around heterosexual marriage and raising a family, and it is getting harder and harder to reconcile in my brain.

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11 Responses

  1. Just me says:

    It’s hard to go from never, never to you must. And that’s what girls are asked to do. I appreciate the chance to understand where you are coming from and hope that life provides you with lots of non-romantic satisfactions. Society’s over-emphasis on the sexual/romantic side of things leads us to overlook the many other things that can provide us with pride and self-worth.

  2. Alisa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story! And yes, it’s not just the church but the media, all these “happily ever after” stories that make it look like one must be in a relationship to feel whole and complete. It sounds to me like you’re doing just fine as you are.

  3. Jana says:

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing your story. I have several friends whose stories are much like yours. I wish that there was more validation within a Mormon context for those who find singlehood satisfying.

  4. Thank you for your story. ❤️

  5. EmilyCC says:

    Megan, thank you for sharing your story here. I imagine this is a hard road to walk because the Church revolves so very much around the nuclear heterosexual family model. You’ve given me a lot to think about in terms of how we, as members of the Church, can be more sensitive and inclusive of our aromantic and asexual sisters and brothers.

  6. Em says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I think a lot of women experience the sudden shift from never to you must as traumatic and difficult. Your story adds a new dimension to that discussion, so thank you for being open!

  7. MT says:

    I think you’re talking about me. I like men. I’m not attracted to women. But I have zero interest in getting married or having a relationship. I love my career and get great satisfaction from what I do. But as far as the church is concerned I’m a failure.

  8. Kelly Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

  9. Jenny says:

    It was great to hear from your perspective. Your early adult years sounded familiar, and I can only imagine how much harder it has been for you as an asexual woman. Spending those years in the heart of Mormon culture, I felt like I would be a complete failure if I wasn’t married by 21. That is a lot of unnecessary pressure to put on young women. Especially when marriage won’t bring all of them joy or fulfillment. Thank you for sharing your story.

  10. Ziff says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Megan. Like you said, it might be easier for you in the Church than for many others who are LGBTQIA+, but on the other hand, at least gay and lesbian people are on the radar of Church leaders. Like, at least they realize there’s a problem with how to welcome and include lesbian and gay people. I don’t get the feeling that asexual people like you are on their radar at all, though.

  11. Suzette says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It means a lot to me to learn of experiences different from mine. You have made me more empathetic and kind.

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