Dating: Or How I Screw Up My Life

Being a single returned missionary is not the easiest thing to be, especially in Utah and even more so in Happy Valley. I have always been somewhat…how do you say…inept at the whole dating thing. I’ve never had a steady girlfriend and I’ve never kissed a girl. I am really slow connecting with people on an emotional level. If anyone has ever taken the Color Code test, you will know what I mean when I say that I have almost no blue in me at all. Sometimes I refer to myself as an emotional ninja. It’s just that feelings are something that I have never been open with anyone about. This obviously leads to issues on the whole dating front. I am either too overbearing or too reserved. No grey space here. I seriously need to work on that, I know.
At the beginning of this month during General Conference we (priesthood bearers) were told by more than one general authority (including the Prophet) that we need to get married. One even went so far as to say that not getting married is a sin because you are neglecting your priesthood responsibilities. This is not the place to discuss the veracity of that. Though I do see where they draw that conclusion. Add to that the fact that my family reminds me all the time that they want me to get married and you have the perfect storm of pressure to get hitched.
Now I love girls as much as the next guy. I seriously do. But as stated before I am completely inept at dealing with them. If I meet a girl that I am interested in I immediately clam up and get nervous. Palms start sweating, speaking nonsense, the whole nine yards. And the silent treatment. It gets hard for me to even talk to the girls as I’m afraid of embarrassing myself. I also have no clue how to read girls. Ever. Several years ago I was living at home for the summer between semesters. There were a few girls that I would hang out with, but never dated anyone because I knew I had to come back for school. One girl in particular hung out with me. Now we talked about a lot of things, including dating. She talked to me about other guys. I took this as an indication that she was not interested in dating me, so I never asked her out. I hate competition (I am extremely white on the color code).
Fast forward two years from then. This young lady is now married. I am talking to her father and he tells me “Shawn, you really missed out with my daughter.”
“What do you mean?”
“She really liked you and wanted to go out with you.”
“I had no idea.”
“She dropped hints.”
“I am clueless.”
And this is how most of my dating life goes. I was at EFY one year and one of my girls asked my why I wasn’t married yet. Not wanting to sound like too much of a loser, I asked her what she meant. She replied that I am a catch. I have a great personality, I’m smart, funny, spiritual, and just an all around good person. I was flattered of course, but really didn’t know what to say. I’ve had plenty of time to think on it since then. The issue I think is just that I have too much fear of rejection. Rejection hurts. A lot. I spent two years being rejected every day as a missionary. You’d think I would have developed a thick skin by then, but no. And I have been rejected by a lot of girls.
There’s this show I say once called “Dating in the Dark”. I think it’s a great concept. People sit in a dark room and get to know each other. They decide if they want to actually meet based solely on personality. I am not the most handsome man alive, so I think this is a terrific idea. But people are vain and a bit shallow.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am shallow to a degree. To borrow from J Golden Kimball, you need to marry someone you’re attracted to. If you marry a woman based on her personality alone you’ll find yourself waking up one morning screaming “Quick honey, for the sake of our marriage bear your testimony!” It just doesn’t work that way. But you shouldn’t marry based on looks alone. Looks go away with time, as do most things. I think it would be better to marry someone that you are deeply emotionally attracted to than someone you are deeply physically attracted to. The relationship will be much more meaningful.
So I know what I am looking for and what I am not looking for. I know I need to date more and date often. I’m not getting any younger. I just need a girl with a bit of nerd in her and a whole lot of spirituality and I should be set. Is that too much to ask?

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