Dysfunctional Mormon Dating
One of the young ladies in my ward recently co-authored the following condemnation of the dating practices of some of the brethren. This little piece of amateur sociology is especially interesting to me since I've been in the church for less than a year and am still learning what social practices are acceptable (or prevalent but unacceptable) within the LDS community.
The first few paragraphs give you the gist of it:
It has recently come to the attention of the wardens that there is a troublesome trend spreading across the young, careless, and free LDS singles of society. This intolerable trend must be brought to light and shared with the unprotected and innocent bystanders. This trend is known as “Duty-Free Dating.”
Duty-Free Dating occurs in safe public places, e.g. parties, dances, ward activities, the church foyer. These events and happenstance meetings occur in lieu of “good old fashioned dating,” as some may call it. “Good old fashioned dating,” for those unfamiliar with the concept, is when one person calls a member of the opposite sex directly and communicates that they would like to spend some time alone with them. The first party invites the second party for a set period of time in a ritual called courtship.
....Duty-Free Dating, or “DFD” as it is sometimes known among researchers who study the phenomenon, is the practice of flirting, consorting, investigating, and fraternizing continuously in a public place with a member of the opposite sex with little to no follow up or commitment. The instigator of this device, or the aggressor, or predator, frequently tends to be male, although exceptions in nature have been found. The female is generally more timid and less aggressive in instances of DFD. She tends to be a naïve participant and propagator of DFD. While she may create Duty-Free Dating environments (Sunday night group dinners), she did not invent DFD.
I myself have seen signs of "duty free dating" here and there in my ward, and I think it has served to further remind me that Mormons aren't perfect people, and that Mormon dating practices, on average, aren't as morally superior to the dating practices of the rest of the world as we would all like to think.
For starters, it's certainly not morally upright for brethren to intentionally lead on a number of young ladies at once without committing. And at the same time, I'd like to bring up the question of contibutory offense: it seems that some of the young women in my ward are most attracted to the "duty free daters," and flirt with them extensively while ignoring the rest of the available brethren. I doubt that they intentionally set out to get burned; many of them probably fantasize about "taming a wild beast"... usually, to no avail. Indeed, just as when I hung out with a bunch of cynical agnostics in my college days, it seems that a lot of good women are more attracted to jerks than to decent upright guys.
However in some cases, "duty-free dating" may simply lie in the imagination of the young lady, mistakenly thinking that a guy is hitting on her, even though wishful thinking does not make it so. I suspect that the authors of this article may be attempting to give the reader the sense that "duty-free dating" is more rampant than in actuality, in order to try to lasso the brethren into some state of submission and/or guilt. Which isn't encouraging to me. The last thing we need in the church is a battle between the sexes.
(One personal example: a few months ago, I nearly lost my then-girlfriend [an extremely sweet and moral recently returned missionary] to a guy who usually wore T-shirts with inscriptions such as "It's not my fault you suck" to Institute and had a personality to match. She confessed to me that she couldn't stop thinking about him and thought that he was constantly flirting with her when I could clearly see that he was not. The whole thing still strikes me as weird.)
I personally don't see why brethren would consciously engage in "duty-free dating," either. I mean, sure, at certain times we want to keep our options open before committing to one girlfriend (or none at all), but in the long-term "duty-free dating" sounds about as exciting as playing poker for pennies.
Well, I'd be very interested to hear opinions and anecdotes of everyone else on dysfunctional dating practices you've seen (or been a victim of). If nothing else, do it for me, because I'm still new to the church and hope to become less clueless. :)