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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When the Girl at Home Gets Asked Out

Dear Bro Jo,

k so here is what is going on.

I have a boyfriend who is on a mission. He has been gone for a little over a year and before he left we discussed it and decided I wouldn't date. So far I have held true to that. We write and I email him about once a week (just a paragraph pretty much just saying what I was up to doing the week) and a letter once a month. He writes me a letter once a month.

I hadn't had very many issues and didn't really feel I had to go on dates or pressured until recently because I had moved to a city for a while and the boys who asked me out while I was there were never LDS and so I didn't really ever even consider going on dates or accepting and most didn't know me very well and so I could just say I had a boyfriend and they would drop it. I have recently moved back home though and live in an LDS community.

Anyways, the issue I am having now is that there is currently an RM who seems to be very interested in me and is way more persistent than the other guys have been. I know him cause I was in his family's ward while I was in High school. He was a lot older though so I didn't ever really talk to him until I moved back(I'm now just barely 19 and he is almost 27) and he hung out with me and a group of my friends one night and that was like the first time he talked to me.

Ever since then he always talks to me. He knows about my boyfriend and every time he sees me he asks a ton of questions about him. I would consider this guy my friend and I am nice to him but I try to make it clear I have a boyfriend though and he just won't give up. He always hints about going on a date and yesterday he asked me if I would like to go on one I explained about my bf and told him I still really loved my boyfriend and he still wants to go on a date though and he told me he thinks my boyfriend doesn't write me enough or show enough interest.

He is fine as a friend but I feel like it would be so weird I am friends with his sister and him and I just don't have very much in common and he comes on so strong. This guy is a nice guy he just comes on so strong though and I have a boyfriend and I am not interested in him like that. Sorry for my rambling I just feel like for him he thinks I don't have any excuse not to go out with him so he keeps pushing. I'm sorry I am just confused and not sure what to do? I really love my boyfriend and I I'm pretty sure if we go on one date he's going to keep going out with him and I just don't see all this ending very well.

Also I'm not interested in this guy that way and if I were to go on a date with him too I don't know how I would tell my boyfriend. UGG!

- Taken

Dear Available,


First things first: you don't have a "boyfriend".

There's this guy you used to date whom you made a foolish promise to that you never should have made (and the coward never should have asked you to make) that you can't go out with right now because he's too far away AND A MISSIONARY. Oh, and while I'm at it, you two write and email each other too much. If his mission president knows I'm sure he's hoping you both knock it off. (If I were his mission president I'd revoke his computer privileges for emailing you at all, let alone Every Week!)

You're 19 and a nice guy who's an active 26-year old RM asks you out? You go out.

This is going to sound harsh (as if I haven't been already), but I don't think you "love" your boyfriend. I think you "love the idea" of your boyfriend. See here's something that MGs don't get: when a guy is gone for two years, doing all the spiritual stuff a missionary is supposed to do, it's the stuff that he's NOT doing that keeps her attracted to him, and it's that very same stuff that makes it NOT a relationship.

You're not dating. You never see each other. You have nothing to fight over. You never catch him talking to or checking out other girls (which, even though he's a missionary, I promise you he's doing; he's still a guy after all). There's no relationship pressure; to move forward, to commit, to slow down, to see each other . . . or call . . . or not . . .

And there's no commitment there at all, either. You know when he comes home that he can chose to never see you again, let alone ever take you out on a date, right?

And what if he does take you out a few times and you both realize "Holy heck! This is not who I want to spend eternity with!"

He could be a perfectly decent guy and you a wonderful woman, but when the magic and mystery of him being gone wears off you might find, like thousands and thousands and thousands of couple before you, that it just isn't meant to be.

Sure, sometimes it works out. But most of the time it doesn't. Everyone thinks they're the exception. And again, some are. But most are not.

By pretending to be in this (as the oldest Jo Daughter says, using air-quotes) "relationship" look at what you're risking and missing out on!

How dare he ask you to wait!

Very selfish.

What if 26-year old RM Man is a great choice for you? What if it's some other guy? What if you sit around during your prime dating years only to have Current Missionary come home and not be a good match?

Go on the date.

Go on lots of dates.

You don't owe the guy in the field any explanations at all.

When he comes home in under a year, if you're not engaged or married (and you probably won't be), then absolutely by all means date him! It could turn out great!

But, I'll tell you now, if you don't go out with the guys that ask you while you're sitting around home and single, even if you two end up together, you may always wonder "what if" . . . and that's not good.

For every couple that "waited and worked out" in the Church, I believe there are many, many more "Single and over 25 Sisters" who wish they'd dated more when they were younger. And except for the MGs, I think my readers world-wide will back me up.

Go out. Have a good time.

- Bro Jo


Peter & Molly said...

This one of your world-wide readers backs you up 100%. I knew a girl who wore an engagement ring, her "Missionary" didn't give it to her, but he was her boyfriend, and she didn't want other guys to bother. We became friends and I teased her about it, but she would cry and insist that this was different. By the end of that very same semester she was wearing an engagement ring, of the recently returned missionary who had made her forget all about that other guy.

In this particular case though, Available seems to be having a very strong negative reaction to going out with this guy. I'm usually in the give everyone two chances theory, and I guess he's not so creepy, because they are friends, but 27 is old for 19, that's a lot of life experience between them, so maybe her gut reaction on this specific guy may be telling her something she should listen to.

Anonymous said...

I back you up! I'm writing a missionary, once a month. We were friends, but not super good ones. He has written back so far, but he'll be leaving the MTC in another month, and I really don't want to distract him once he gets to the field. So Bro Jo, is the fact that I'm writing distracting even though I'm being very pro-mission, upbeat and casual? Is once a month too often? Thank you thank you. :)

Anonymous said...

I disagree with that a girl should go out with every guy that asks her I think sometimes a guy can seem just fine but if a girl isn't feeling good about going out with the guy than that may be the holy ghost telling her its not a good idea. I know a lot of girls who have felt this and have ended up in situations that aren't good.

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess all the girls who are waiting for missionaries, dating or not, are in good company with the wives of people like Elder Holland and Elder Scott. Elder Featherstone. To each his own, I guess.

Dave Johnston said...

@ Peter & Molly -
The letter writer's problem with the guy is that he "comes on so strong" which he shouldn't do, in her opinion, because she "has a boyfriend" . . .
I do agree with the age issue, though.

@ Annon #1 -
In my opinion:
a) once a month is not too often
b) it sounds like your letters are the perfect kind, and
c) he's lucky to have a friend like you

@ Anon #2 -
There's a difference, I think, between not "feeling good" and "the holy ghost telling her its not a good idea". We should always follow the promptings of the Spirit; we should never use uncertainty or lack of initial attraction as excuses for not going out with a good person (so long as the date is appropriate).

I appreciate the comments!

- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been in this situation, I wholeheartedly agree with Bro Jo. He is absolutely, 100% correct about everything here.

I waited for a missionary for the two years. He got home, we spent all of two times together, and then he never talked to me again. No phone calls, emails, nothing - zip, zero, zilch. And to make it wonderfully awkward, this guy happens to be one of my brother's best friends, so on the one random occasion he was at my house, he completely ignored me (didn't even look at me). He now avoids the house because he's (and I'm supposing this) embarrassed and a coward. And he should be embarrassed. Heck, I'M embarrassed that I spent two years of my life waiting on a guy when I could have been going out with other decent men. Talk about STUPID.

So "Taken," you are not "taken" at all. I'm not saying your "boyfriend" (and those quotations are intentional) isn't a good guy, but there is no promise of ANYTHING happening. And if we want to talk statistically, NOTHING will happen when this guy gets home. Darn, huh?

So do yourself a favor and give this other young man a chance. There are girls who would kill to have a persistent RM after them. It's not like you have to wonder if he likes you, right? So go for it! Don't waste your time on a relationship that isn't a relationship (as Bro Jo wonderfully put it). You don't want to live in regret. =)

~ A Single Experienced Sister

LovelyLauren said...

I agree that it's silly to waste two prime dating years on a missionary. I was writing a missionary while I met my husband because I was willing to date. So that's that....but I am a little irked by the age issue.

It seems like a lot of older RMs go for 18 and 19 year old girls when there are plenty of older single sisters who never get asked out. Many of them are highly educated and successful. I sometimes wonder if RMs are intimidated and go for younger girls who have a lot less life experience than they do.

Dave Johnston said...


You and I are in total agreement!

(Note the date and time!)


- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Bro Jo,

BYU LEGEND professor Bro. Bott told us today that it is neither good nor bad to wait for a missionary. The outcome is what we make of it. If our heart is still in love with that missionary, we should not be forced to date others. There is nothing wrong with being committed to the one you love. However, if one is crazy and makes the missionary homesick or distracted, THAT is when it becomes a problem. So I see your point there.

There are several general authorities who had wives that waited for them. The Hinckleys, the Scotts, the Hollands, the Bensons.

If it's right, it's right.. and you can't fight that.

You should be more careful of how you come onto your posts. Christ wouldn't be so harsh and judgmental. :)


Dave Johnston said...


I know Marjorie Pay did not "wait" for Gordon Hinckley. The didn't even date until he came home. You may want to check those other names as well.

And I've never said that it can't work; what I've said is that I would never advise it. (Neither would any mission president, by the way.)

Can't change who I am. I'm opinionated and I love my readers enough to give it to them straight.

AND . . . just to clarify, while I've certainly got a LONG, LONG way to go (but I'm trying) to be more like Christ, He IS the ultimate Judge; and while I wouldn't say that He's harsh, I'd say that "harshness" has a lot to do with whether or not we agree with what's being said.

Back at ya,

- Bro Jo

Anon #1 said...

Thank you Bro Jo. I will write to him. I will also date :)

Niamh said...

I back you up. I have so many friends who were waiting for their "boyfriends" but then were dating or engaged within weeks. Just recently, a friend of mine who had already planned her wedding and family with her now-missionary boyfriend started dating a 24-year-old RM. Poor missionary. I don't know whether to hope he finds out or not.

I think it's just so sad. Why would you make a promise that you couldn't be sure you could keep? It would hurt the poor boy so much less if you broke it off clean at the start rather than breaking a commitment in the middle of his mission.

Although I understand why a girl would be afraid to lose her boyfriend if he is truly wonderful, I think it's so much fairer to the both of you if you call off the relationship, remain casual pen pals, and see what happens in 2 years. Unless you recieve specific and unmistakable revelation otherwise - it really is the kinder thing to do.

SamR said...

I'll tell a bit of my story in support. From the time I was 16, there was no question in my mind who the girl for me was. We did our best to keep "rules" in place to protect ourselves. We dated other people in-between dates with each other. We didn't "make out". We really tried to avoid the words "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" all together. But, with all that, it was obvious that there was no one I enjoyed being with, talking to, sharing with more that this girl. I considered it then, and still consider it now to be a truly "special" and unique relationship for 2 people to have before a mission.

That being said, when I left as a missionary, I knew that there was no way I could righteously ask her to wait for me. So, we switched into "friend" mode. She dated a lot of guys. Some came on pretty strong. She wrote fun friendly letters to me and sent me brownies. She never used "I've got a missionary" as an excuse to not go on a date. She did, however, when guys started getting serious, say to herself "this doesn't feel the same, so I think I'll pass." I didn't ask her to say this, nor did she tell me at the time.

When I was finishing my mission, my Mission President asked me about any relationships that I had and I told him about this girl. He said that there was obviously no question that I loved this girl, but that I needed to go home and find out if I was still "in love with her". It was great advice.

It turns out that I was. We are now happily married for over 12 years. However, the love we feel wouldn't have been the same if we hadn't been able to switch to a "friendship" type of love during a time when "romantic" love was not appropriate.

No relationship is so "special" that it requires some strange nun-like devotion on the part of the girl while the boy is on a mission. It isn't healthy or righteous and will not enhance the love for later.