Zelophehad’s Daughters

Being a 30-something Single in the Church: Advice Needed

Posted by Seraphine

So, my series isn’t over, but until I have a chance to finish another post in the series, I need some advice.

Like I mentioned in an early post, I have re-entered the world of dating, and I’m currently signed up for a couple of on-line dating sites. I just recently signed up for match.com, and I’m currently facing a small dilemma.

Match.com gives you the option of sharing your religious background in your online profile, and I’m not sure what to do. I’m a big fan of being honest, and I have no intention of hiding my religious beliefs from anyone I start to date. I intend to tell anyone I date about my religious background. But I’m not sure what to do about my profile. When people are looking at on-line profiles, they often look for reasons to narrow down their options, and I’m afraid that men I might be compatible with will not consider going on an initial date with me because of preconceived notions/stereotypes, etc. (Mormonism is still not a mainstream religion.)

At the same time, my religious beliefs will definitely come up if I start dating someone, and I don’t want to seem dishonest by not disclosing my religious background in my profile. Any thoughts on what I should do?

Note: Post edited for clarity.

37 Responses to “Being a 30-something Single in the Church: Advice Needed”

  1. 1.

    I would tell him/them. You will find a few who don’t, but most adult males expect a more physical relationship than an avowed Mormon is willing to enter. Even as a new former-Mormon (and I listed myself that way on my online dating site), things were often awkward between prospective partners because they rightly assumed I was less experienced than other 35-45 year old women.

  2. 2.

    “people are looking for reasons to narrow down their options”. Do you? (especially in the religion department?)

    Perhaps your entry might be the type (religious) person you would consider marrying: If you would marry an atheist leave it blank (and if the subject comes up say “I’m open dating men of any (or no) religion, so I left it blank”. ). If you will only marry a theist put down theist; if only a Christian, put down Christian; if only a Mormon; put down Mormon (and use the same reasoning if the subject comes up).

  3. 3.

    Ann Non, point taken. So you would suggest putting the information in my profile as opposed to just telling them in person on one of our initial dates?

    ed42, I’ve definitely left open my own search/dating options when it comes to men and their religious beliefs. But there’s a place where you’re supposed to put your own background (and the options are all specific–you can’t just put down theist or Christian).

    For what it’s worth, including the info is the direction I’ve been leaning towards. I just thought I’d get some additional input.

  4. 4.

    I would include it, if it’s going to come up anyway. However, one of my best friends did eharmony.com, and she ended up being mostly paired with people who also listed ‘alternative’ religions. Which led to some interesting dates…

    I’m sure you’re aware of this, but FWIW, the men that would pass you over for your religion are probably not worth your time, anyway. ;-) I can attest that there are men who are happy to date women that keep the law of chastity. Perhaps not in droves, but they exist. Best wishes!

  5. 5.

    i recently used match.com (and it worked!), and decided not to put up the mormon bit on my profile. there’s a lot of tricks to making your profile accessible and interesting. one in particular is to keep it short and simple– save the drama for later. before joining match, i decided that, while my religious convictions, background and culture are important to me, they are also perceived differently by different people, and i’d prefer to define and describe them myself! so while religion wasn’t anywhere on my profile or my match, as it happened, my match’s two best friends were connected with the church! you just never know :) and waiting to talk about mormonism (i even waited until the third date!) actually made it easier to convey how personal it is to me, because i waited until that point where you actually start to get personal. otherwise i think it can sound too political, like, here’s my platform! you know?

    anyway, hope that helps! good luck!! <3

  6. 6.

    I haven’t tried any online dating sites, so I’m not sure that I have an opinion one way or the other. Although I’m usually more in favor of disclosure…

    I hope you post some about your experiences, though. Most people I know have had a difficult time with match.com (meaning, they mostly meet men that are more interested than a hook-up than a relationship) and prefer eharmony… but it’s a small sample size :)

  7. 7.

    I second what isobel said. I saw an article just the other day about how people are more forgiving of “weird” traits, extra pounds, etc. if you wait to tell them until you’re in person. They’re confronted with a person, not a profile, and it makes it harder to dismiss your sincerity and real-personness as apposed to viewing you as a stereotype. I would strongly suggest not putting it, and when it does come up, say it like it’s not a big deal to you that your religions don’t match. If you treat it and yourself as normal you’re much more likely to be seen that way. Plus, I think withholding the information just says that either you have no religion or you don’t think it should matter what religion you are, and since you’re trying to convey the second, I think it works. It’s not lying or misleading in my opinion. It’s just an omission that can be filled in at a better time.

    Also, I’m surprised Christian isn’t an option. I know quite a few people who consider that to be their denomination.

    Good luck!

  8. 8.

    Martine, I’m trying eharmony as well (I’m going to see whether I like match or eharmony better), and I’m getting paired with a lot of Muslims, Hindus, etc. Also, thanks for the reminder that men who have a negative reaction to my religion aren’t men I want to date.

    isobel, I’m glad it worked for you! And I can empathize about your “personal” comment. If I did put up info about my religion, I’d also want to indicate that I have a complicated relationship with my religious tradition, and all of this is information that is personal and that I’d prefer to share in person as I get to know someone.

    Enna, when I accumulate enough experiences to actually have some interesting things to post, I definitely will make one. Right now, I’ve just been on a small handful of first dates.

    I tend to be a fan of disclosure, but Melynna, I think you’re right that it’s easier to deal with potential stereotypes in person.

    Hmmm… you all are raising good points, but you’re giving me conflicting advice. :)

  9. 9.

    And Melynna, “Christian” is an option, but you have to choose between “Christian/Protestant,” “Christian/Catholic,” “Christian/Other,” and “Christian/LDS.” So you can’t just choose “Christian.”

  10. 10.

    I’ve done match.com and eharmony.com and I liked neither of them all that well. I got a few more dates with match.com and enjoyed them more. I really like the *idea* of eharmony.com, but the reality fell far short of the idea. Have you tried okcupid.com? I think it handles the religion question better than anyone else because it allows you not only to designate a denomination/tradition but also a seriousness level. I find that seeing how serious someone says they are about their religious beliefs is as important (if not more important) than knowing the denomination/tradition they identify with. I also think OkCupid has a much better device for matching people up than either match.com or eharmony.com (plus it’s free).

    As for whether to identify religious tradition: I’ve done it all. I’ve identified as Christian/LDS; as just Christian; as other; as agnostic. I don’t know what works the best. Not given OKCupid’s option of combining the tradition/denomination with a level of seriousness, I think I actually prefer not self-identifying on my profile and instead letting it come up in person. I’ve just encountered far too much ill-founded prejudice against Mormonism to want to ID it straight off. I know the argument about “well you wouldn’t want to be with them anyway,” but often I *do* want to be with them and they want to be with me. There just needs to be a space to get to know each other so that personal knowledge balances their ill/pre-conceived notions about Mormonism.

    But it’s late and now I’m kind of blathering on and I’m not sure all of what I’ve said makes sense. But I’m letting it stand. And I’m recommending that you check out OkCupid.

  11. 11.

    Well, why do you want to date someone who isn’t LDS? Maybe I’m missing some backstory here, but I assume you are dating to find a marriageable mate? Why waste your time (and theirs) and risk ‘falling in love’ with someone that doesn’t share your same faith?

    I would put it on there. If someone is prejudiced about it, then you wouldn’t want to date them anyway. It’ll weed out the idiots quite nicely. :)

    Also, please remember that men can be deceiving on these profiles. I know someone who recently married someone she met on an LDS dating website and he turned out to be mentally ill. She had the marriage annulled. There are predators on these things. They read your profile, copy your interests, feign beliefs to match yours, etc. Don’t put too much information about yourself on your profile, let it come up during your date. Don’t carry on long online relationships with someone. Its NEVER the same as real life.

    That being said, my husband and I were initially introduced on an LDS dating website (our relationship was all in person though). So it can work, you just need to be very careful.

  12. 12.

    amelia, what you say makes complete sense. You’ve clearly articulated the reason I’m considering not putting the information in my profile (even though I generally tend to be a fan of disclosure):

    I’ve just encountered far too much ill-founded prejudice against Mormonism to want to ID it straight off. I know the argument about “well you wouldn’t want to be with them anyway,” but often I *do* want to be with them and they want to be with me. There just needs to be a space to get to know each other so that personal knowledge balances their ill/pre-conceived notions about Mormonism.

    And I’ve heard of okcupid, but didn’t know anyone who had experiences about it to share –if you recommend it, I’ll definitely check it out. For what it’s worth, although I haven’t been doing either for super long, I agree with your assessment of match and eharmony–I like the idea of eharmony, but it’s not living up to the idea, and I’m finding myself with more potential options on match.

  13. 13.

    Olive, you are missing some backstory. See this post for why I’m dating non-LDS men.

    Also, I have no intention of pursuing a relationship with someone without getting to know them in person. I met my ex on an online site, and I have a good sense of how to proceed in a careful way. For what it’s worth, many people on online dating sites like match.com are using it as a tool to meet people nearby (because they don’t like the bar scene, they just moved to the area, etc.), and then those people pursue dating/relationships in person.

  14. 14.

    The last two weddings I went to were both couples who met on match.com. I’ve never used it, but it does seem to work! They are both good couples, and people who have so much in common you’d have thought they’d have met through work or school or mutual acquaintances. Sometimes the internet furnishes that extra nudge.

    Don’t put it in your profile. I’ve enjoyed your series. Yur relationship to your religion is highly nuanced, and putting it in the profile foregrounds LDS-ness in a way that is likely to exclude the kinds of men who would like you. I’m a non-member, for what it’s worth, and if I saw LDS in someone’s profile i would assume that they are ideally interested in a LDS partner, even if they claimed to be open on that point. I would not respond to their ad because I’d feel like their ad was framed in part to exclude people like me — who wants to be the less-than-optimal boyfriend?

  15. 15.

    I found it just as important to list myself as gaming a Mormon bacground (but post-Mormon) as it was to list my race and place a photo on my profile. I am not from the majority ethicity, and I wanted potential partners to know about both up front.

    PS–it worked for me: we have been together 8 years…

  16. 16.

    That is really a great question, Seraphine, and I think a cogent case can be made either way, which is why you’re getting conflicting advice. On the one hand, there’s a value in filtering out men who simply wouldn’t consider an LDS woman, are prejudiced against LDS, or just want a one-night stand. If the prospect of disclosing it during a date seems complicated, disclosure on the profile is a way to short circuit that dynamic.

    On the other hand, folks here have raised some excellent points cutting the other way. I too have heard that you want to keep these things short and sweet and deal with any nuanced issues later in person. And if you’re worried about unnecessariiy restricting your pool of potential applicants, it seems as though it may be wise to omit it.

    It will clearly act as a filter, so I guess it comes down to whether you want it to act as a filter or whether you are more concerned about it filtering too much.

    (eHarmony obviously doesn’t understand religion if their metric is pairing you with Hindus and Muslims just because Mormonism is an alternative religion!)

  17. 17.

    Liz, thanks for your insight as a non-LDS onlooker–your input is helpful.

    Ann Non, I’m glad it worked for you! I definitely believe that for dating/relationships to work, you have to be upfront about who you are.

    Kevin, I love the way you’ve framed the issue–I think it’s given me the clarity I need to make my decision. This question was in part prompted by an awkward moment I had on a first date yesterday–my Mormonness came up in the course of the conversation (and I currently don’t disclose my religion in my profile), and things were a bit weird for a moment. We didn’t really click, so I wasn’t too worried about it, but I did think afterwards about how I’m potentially setting myself up for more awkward moments in the future, and I could short-circuit them by including this information in my profile.

    At the same time, my relationship with Mormonism is nothing if not nuanced and complicated, and profiles aren’t really the right place for nuance and complication. And, ultimately, I think I am more afraid of unnecessarily filtering out matches where there would be mutual interest. So, I think I’m going to leave my religious background blank for the time being and then play things by ear.

  18. 18.

    Oops! My previous comment should have read “having a Mormon background”.

    As I think more about my motives, I can see that in addition to weeding people out, I wanted to control who was actively looking at my profile and contemplating more than a one- night stand or a few dates here and there. I was looking for a long term relationship or marriage, not a hookup. I didn’t want the guy to feel I baited him, or I didn’t want to feel pressured to lower my standards because I hadn’t told him I wasn’t into a casual relationship. Citing my Mormon background was my way of telegraphing “nonexperinced, anomalous virgin here– any takers?”.

  19. 19.

    I have no experience with on-line dating, so keep that in mind.

    I am inclined to advise you to include your religion. It seems to me that a profile is a quick way to telegraph some of the most important things about yourself to other site users. Not revealing your religion communicates that it is not important to you. At least, if I were reading a profile with no religion listed, I would assume that religion, or at least organized religion, was not a part of their adult life.

    I think it possible, even likely that would weed you out for some people. I also think it possible it might catch some guys’ attention and keep you in his mix. Some people like quirks like that. It is certainly more interesting than “likes cats.” Frankly, I would be interested in dating an Amish or Mennonite guy–that would catch my attention on their profile. When I met them, if they told me they weren’t that serious about their religion, or explained their “nuanced” relationship with their religion, it seems like that would just be a great discussion for a date, not mis-leading.

    I know it is not exactly the same, but I would feel like I was betraying my children if I left the fact that they existed out of my profile. My religion takes up at least as much time and energy as ansignificant relationship in my life.

    Unless you live in the Bible belt, I just don’t think many people have much of a prejudice against Mormons. I would guess that more people will feel that your religion, and your relationship to it, is like theirs; if someone lists themselves as Catholic, for example, I don’t expect their adherence to be Pope-like. I don’t think that people seeing your religion listed as LDS (if they even know what that is) and think they will be dating a sister missionary.

    How about a kind of compromise: you leave the religion section blank, but in the prose section (I assume there is one), include some tip off such as “I love to get together with my great big Mormon family.” Then, providing they read your paragraph, they have been informed.

  20. 20.

    Just to add another personal anecdote to give some hope of success, I met my husband on match.com. I was one of those that used it to meet people in a setting other than school and bars, and I really liked the way that most of the dates turned out (even though my husband was the only one I gave a second date to).

    So, I just asked my husband how he had viewed the fact that I listed LDS in my profile (even though I wasn’t active at the time), and he said he had to look it up to find out what it meant! :) But he’s a native New Englander and I was in Boston at the time, so I think that had something to do with the absence of any pre-existing prejudice in either way. So, like ESO mentioned, I’m sure it will depend on what part of the country you are living in and trying to date in. Out of about a dozen first dates before meeting my husband, I never once dated a member (which was what I preferred, but didn’t consciously make happen).

  21. 21.

    Utterly randomly, Seraphine, I am impressed with the quantitative and analytical approach of the OKcupid people. Check out this post on their blog, for example.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who has actually used them.

  22. 22.

    I don’t have any advice, just commiseration. Dating is difficult, no matter what you are looking for.

    I find very little response on my profile, and those men I do strike up a conversation with have no follow-through. It sounds like you’re already doing far better than I am.

    I have no desire to do all the work, I’m afraid.

  23. 23.

    Cater your profile to who you want to end up with.

    If you can see yourself only marrying a Mormon, then why waste your time with people who don’t fit that mold? The same goes for Christian, etc. — and for all the other boxes.

    yes, it is going to be a deterrant to some, but you might be deterred in the end anyway if they don’t fit what you want.

  24. 24.

    Ziff, I read that article and it made a lot of sense to me. Thanks for the interesting link.

  25. 25.

    I recommend OkCupid too. I met my husband there. And it’s a fun site to poke around on, too–lots of smart articles and quizzes and such.

    I’m a liberal/conflicted Catholic but was willing to date anyone who would be respectful of my beliefs and would be willing to allow our children to be raised Catholic. I didn’t put my religion on my profile at all. Maybe that prevented some people from messaging me, but I doubt it. My guess is that most guys think that if you don’t put something there, it’s just something you’d prefer to talk about in person.

    I did, however, decide not to pursue contact with people whose professed religious views looked pretty incompatible with what I wanted (e.g., people who put “Atheist and very serious about it” as their religion or who talked about the importance of their Jewish beliefs). So you could always do that.

    I ended up marrying someone who has absolutely no religious beliefs whatsoever (he also left his religion status blank) but is very supportive of my faith.

    (By the way, I just checked OKCupid, and it looks like LDS isn’t an option–there’s “Christian” and there’s “Other.” If you wanted to discuss your religion, though, you could always do so in your profile.)

  26. 26.

    I actually just quit match.com.

    I got a few matches initially. Then I changed my religious status to reflect my religious background. There is room for commentary to write out how Mormon you might be. I didn’t get any matches after that.

    I think I am a fan of leaving religion blank – letting it come up in discussion so that you can explain it. The theory being if religion were a criteria, you would be using a religion-specific site.

    And so I am back to figuring out how I can find the one …

  27. 27.

    If I were single and open to the possibility of marrying a non-Protestant, I think I would leave it blank. As I think the comments here have extensively covered, there are good reasons for making your religion known, but ultimately I think the cons would outweigh the pros for me–especially when your relationship to your religion is complicated and nuanced.

    Good luck to you, Seraphine.

  28. 28.

    Ann Non, that makes a lot of sense. While that’s not my particular filter, I definitely understand the importance of filters. While I’m afraid putting up my religious background will filter out people I don’t want filtered out, I *have* put up other information on my profile that will act as a filter (my use of the word “feminism” being one of them).

    ESO, I definitely have quirks in my profile. :)

    Corktree, thanks for another story of someone for whom this worked!

  29. 29.

    Ziff, thanks for the link–it definitely looks like okcupid is worth a try!

    SilverRain, dating is tough. Sorry you’re finding it tougher than I am.

    Natalie, I’m not necessarily looking to date Mormons–that’s why I’m findng it a bit tricky to sort out the religion question.

    Anna, thanks for the additional information about okCupid. I already do look at other people’s religious preferences, and if I get a sense that they’re not looking to date anyone who is religious/spiritual, I don’t contact them.

  30. 30.

    Kelly Ann and Ms. Jack, thanks for the additional input! I’ve come down on the side of not revealing it on my profile because the cons also outweigh the pros for me.

  31. 31.

    I didn’t put it on mine profile when I was doing the online thing. It comes up early enough anyway if you talk with people. Let’s assume you were meeting people elsewhere and not online. Would you say “Hi my name is Seraphine and I’m a Momon”.

    Even though I do have an acquaintance who met a Mormon woman who pretty much did that to him. He eventually married here and joined the church. But most of us don’t introduce ourselves that way.

  32. 32.

    Let’s assume you were meeting people elsewhere and not online. Would you say “Hi my name is Seraphine and I’m a Mormon”.

    Maybe in a twelve step group for Mormons who want to stop Mormoning. (tee hee. Just made me think of, “Hello, my name is Ann and I’m an alcoholic.”)

  33. 33.

    I’m 34 and still single. My whole blog is dedicated to the problem of being mormon and single, Celibate in the City. I actually take dating questions. You can email them to me.

    I’ve been dating non-LDS men since high school. DO NOT DISCLOSE Mormon-ness immediately. I’ve done it both ways. WAAAYY better to wait. Because, if they hear the mormon thing, they bail without even getting to know you. But, you go out a couple times, they find out they like you soooo much that then when you tell them, they decide they are willing to put up with it. As my friends told me, you don’t know what you are willing to sacrifice for someone until you know them.

  34. 34.

    My link up there didn’t work. Sorry.

    Here:

  35. 35.

    Hi,
    I keep having this question pop into my mind: How did I feel when my boyfriend refer to me as best friend instead of girlfriend just because he didn’t want others relating me–a disabled woman–to him who is very handsome and well to do? I honestly felt I wasn’t worth very much because of a label. Did Christ label the infirm or even the prostitutes? He said ‘daughter.” Is it a disgrace to be a latter day saint? Most of the times it’s a good conversation and I disclose the heart quicker where his treasures lie, too. Just a thought.

  36. 36.

    I’d leave it off for now. As others have said, you’re open to a non-LDS relationship and the site doesn’t really allow for all the details on how you see that working. So, there’s time to bring that up later when there’s a space to discuss it in a way that can explains the nuance of how you feel.

  37. 37.

    [...] liberal. (I don’t mention being Mormon, which I think is currently the right decision—read this post and the responses to hear my [...]

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