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.

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15 Responses

  1. JC says:

    Oh, man. I’ve been where you are in regards to these LDS dating sites. My heart goes out to you and what you’ve dealt with. I, too have seen a lot of despicable behavior from men on these websites, and this is from men who have the gospel, who’ve made covenants, and who should know better.

    I’ve come across men who are older than my father (many of whom want a young nurse with a purse), overweight/obese men who don’t take care of themselves holding out for a wife who looks like a Victoria’s Secret model (I came across one man who said he didn’t date “chubby” women when his man b**bs were clearly visible through his shirt, his double chin was rather prominent, and his neck fat was spilling out over his shirt collar), men who insist that the women do all the heavy lifting in terms of conversation/initiating/making plans/etc., men who insist that you stay by your phone 24/7 so you can respond to them right away (and who cry down the house when you don’t, heaven forbid that you have a life outside of online dating sites and apps), one man who tried to solicit money from me so he could buy video games, and another who called me his “wife” after only two months of chatting online (when initially he checked most of my boxes and it felt like this could actually work out).

    I hate to say that it’s a cesspool out there, but it is. I’m glad you’ve come to recognize your worth and have realized that it’s better to be alone than to settle for far less than what you deserve. It’s far better to be alone, maintain your independence, and know what your standards and deal breakers are, and refuse to break from them than it is to have your life – and eternal salvation – tied to someone else you aren’t happy or compatible with.

    I just wish we taught that in YW and in YSA/single adult ward Relief Society more than we emphasized marriage to just **any** guy.

    • Genevieve says:

      Hi, I consider the exponent to be a place of inclusion, so please consider the fatphobia in your comment.

      • JC says:

        Hi Genevieve,

        Apologies for the insensitivity in my prior post. My intent was not to be fatphobic, but to point out the hypocritical behavior of men I’ve come across on LDS dating apps. I used this particular example of a man I came across on Mutual who fit the physical description of my prior post yet made belittling, rude, and snide remarks about how women should look despite not holding himself to the same standards.

        I realize now that I could’ve – and should’ve worded this better and will be more considerate of how I discuss this particular subject in the future. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  2. Searcher says:

    This blows my mind. Do you think this is a case of a few guys who are serial scumbags giving the rest of us makes a bad name, or is this a majority of guys on these sites?

    • JC says:

      Good question. I’ve met some good guys on dating websites, both LDS and non-LDS. The majority of the better guys I’ve come across weren’t members of the church, but actually knew how to treat a woman with respect. It’s truly baffling and troubling to me how non-LDS men get this better than most LDS men do. With that said, there are good LDS men online, but they seem to be very elusive and harder to find/match with.

      The issue I’ve stumbled across with a lot (not all) guys on LDS dating sites is that they either freak out over a simple greeting (talk about ironic, since they insist on the woman initiating the conversation most of the time; who knew that a simple, “Hi! How are you?” could be interpreted as a marriage proposal!?) or they immediately want to rush into marriage. I had an experience on Mutual where I matched with a guy who seemed like a good catch. We were compatible, he had his life together, he initiated all conversations, and then after a period of speaking online and exchanging phone numbers and communicating that way, he said out of nowhere that he wasn’t ready for a relationship.

      I was baffled and wondered why this guy wasted my time as well as his. But the real kicker is that the guy was 35. 35! His biological clock was ticking so loud, I could hear the ticking! It feels like the majority of men I’ve come across on LDS dating websites are under the impression that they don’t EVER age and that they can postpone eternity. Not so. They may think they’re the experienced, suave, older gentlemen, but men in the 31+ range pursing 18-21 year old girls? It’s not cute. It’s creepy.

      The problem starts in YM/YW. The youth are told that it’s all or nothing: look at each person as a potential marriage partner, or nothing. There’s no room for friendship or room for something to naturally develop. I wish that instead of marriage being pushed so heavily onto the YM/YW, that they were instead encouraged to become friends with members of the opposite sex and develop meaningful friendships that way. Tell them that dating is about getting to know people, as well as yourself, and that it’s important to get to know a lot of people. Save the serious dating/marriage talks for when they’re older and after the mission. The current system isn’t working and just leads to dangerous extremes.

      And for what it’s worth, Searcher, the fact that you’re asking this question shows that you’re one of the good guys. 🙂

  3. Caroline says:

    Ugh, this is disturbing. I’m so sorry you went through that, Ramona. It’s shocking how immature and superficial some people are. This man had the chance to get to know a smart, interesting person and he just blew up that opportunity by totally focusing on the physical.

  4. Chiaroscuro says:

    I’m so sorry this is happening. it is not okay.

  5. Sarah says:

    I’m a single woman, mid 30s, and this has also been my experience with lds dating. It’s bad out there. Several years ago I attempted online dating via LDS dating sites and I’ve never received so much abuse in my life. Between relatives telling me I needed to just put myself out there and then the response to my doing that being men 15 years my senior calling me names and accusing me of lying and all the ways they say “no fatties” I was broken. I didn’t even have any dates! Just a constant stream of abuse. Like Ramona, I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I worry about the women that aren’t like us, that they’re ending up in toxic relationships and receiving this emotional damage in person and in intimate settings.
    After many years of prayer and searching, I received a personal answer that surprised me. I need to look for a spouse outside the church. It’s the hardest answer I’ve ever received, esp since it came right before a pandemic, but my experience communicating with men on dating apps has improved dramatically. There are still bad ones out there, but it’s so much better

  6. Plato's Cave says:

    Better to be alone and wish you were with someone than to be with someone and wish you were alone.

    I have an LDS friend, who, after her divorce married a non member and is by all appearances well and happily married.

  7. Caryatis says:

    Um, say more about how you broke your boyfriend’s arm? Deliberately? Because that sounds pretty damn abusive.

    • ECR says:

      I agree without context, jokes about DV are not cool.

    • Ramona Chiedu Louisa Taylor says:

      So before I got baptized I had awful anger issues. I was always super quiet but I could go from 0-1000 super fast. I never joke about it. It’s not something I am proud of. There was a cheating boyfriend when I was a teenager who lied and cheated on me with my best friend at the time. His explanation was because I wouldn’t put out (have sex with him) and gaslit the hell out of me for months before it all came out. When I found out I legit snapped, beat him up with a hockey stick and broke his hand. A couple of years later we reconnected as friends and I sincerely apologised (WHY was I so stupid?). He ended up dating another friend of mine but we were both in a much more mature place to deal with a pretty good friendship. So even though I was aggressive in that moment, I try to remember those moments. Therapy helped a lot with anger issues. I try not to get mad these days but this encounter really helped me learn to be a nicer, kinder person who wasn’t held hostage by anger.

  8. SisterStacey says:

    I gave up on dating six years ago and I haven’t looked back. It’s funny because two of my coworkers met their now husbands on Mutual and both wanted me to join. I did try LDS Singles (something like that) back when online dating was in its infancy. I met a guy, we hit it off, met a couple times, and then he dumped me via email. I also “met” a guy who obviously had a foot fetish. Then there was the man whose profile listed his age as 90!
    I’ve told the Lord if He wants me to be married in this life, I’m expecting it to be like Rebecca in the Bible. I’ve put the work in, the horse is dead. 😉
    Giving up was the most freeing thing I ever did. I don’t need a man. I don’t need a husband. I love my life. I feel this is where my Heavenly Parents want me to be.

  9. Em says:

    I’m sorry this has been your experience, it sounds so awful. We need to move away from the family-centric vision of salvation. Anything that relies on other peoples’ agency just doesn’t seem right. Our own choices determine our standing with God, not whether other people were up for/a good fit for joining the team.

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