Dear LDS Man: I Am Not Your Fetish
By Ramona Morris
One of my favorite stories to tell the missionaries during my early lessons in preparation for baptism was the tale of how I broke my ex-boyfriend’s arm after finding out he cheated on me with my best friend.
I have always considered myself a vocal person. Before joining the church almost four years ago, I had no problem telling people off. I had no fear of senior members at church who abused the missionaries by taking their kindness for weakness. Most importantly, I never hesitated in speaking up for myself in situations where I felt uncomfortable. Since my baptism however, I’ve found that I’ve somehow grown used to being uncomfortable, even at the risk of my own happiness while trapped in a constant
cycle of toxic positivity.
Recently, with growing pressure to find myself an eternal companion from friends and leaders alike, I threw myself into the crazy world of LDS dating. In time, I’ve found myself messaged by men who were old enough to be my father with messages most would find highly inappropriate.
Still, I pressed on. What good was it enduring to the end and putting my shoulder to the wheel if I didn’t expect it to get sore? I scrolled endlessly through profiles each day, comparing photos and picturing fairytale endings, reminding myself of the importance of seeking the one. In my mind, I held kept hope alive that my efforts would be rewarded so that I could free myself of the revolving cycles of engagements, weddings and baby announcements before I threw up from the anxiety these celebrations brought to my life. I didn’t listen to that silent voice that told me to chuck those expectations of LDS women into the trash to improve my mental health. Instead, against my better judgement and betraying the strong feminist within myself who was screaming bloody murder at the stupidity of it all, I logged into these dreaded dating applications, finding myself consumed by images of young men cuddling babies for the sake of proving they could be a viable candidate for fatherhood.
Now, this isn’t my first rodeo with dating. At twenty-eight years old, I was on the quickly reaching the peak of YSA retirement, which meant that if I wanted to find my future husband, I needed to kickstart my journey if I didn’t want to become a “left-over woman”. Still, I was surprised when I matched with someone who seemed to tick most of my boxes. I wish I knew then that this wasn’t some fairytale waiting to happen but instead was simply one of the frogs I needed to run over on my never-ending quest.
Very quickly I began growing closer to this individual. We exchanged numbers and socials. With my self-confidence lower than ever after being rejected by a Utah boy I had no business having feelings for, I somehow fell into a dangerous trap of wanting someone to care for me…even if I didn’t care much for myself.
Soon, I began to see fractures in the foundation. What had gone from introductory photos turned into this individual asking for photos constantly. In the short space of two weeks, our chats had gone from normal conversations and turned into asking for intimate images of myself. At first, I played along. I would send a headshot of myself but soon these demands became more regular. Eventually, the conversation evaporated entirely. I soon came to realize that despite everything that had gone wrong in previous relationships, I deserved so much more than the basic fetishization that I was receiving.
My dating accounts have remained inactive. Things still haven’t worked on the romance front, but I have truly discovered my self-worth. I recognize that no-one deserves to be fetishized, no matter now nice or charming they may seem. Most importantly, I discovered that being alone in good company is better than an eternity of settling for less than what we deserve.