Singlehood in Mormon culture can be a, well, singular experience. As a young adult approaching her mid-20s in a religion that emphasizes marriage and family (and rightly so), sometimes I feel like I’m in this strange in-between place that people don’t talk about much — that post-graduation, before-marriage limbo where I’m trying to figure out what to do next. Not where I expected to be.
I was one of those people who thought I would be married before I finished college, and then I would go with my husband off to grad school, and we would start our family, and life would be great. I freely admit that I had that expectation, and I don’t really feel bad about it. It wasn’t as if I was sitting on my hope chest waiting for Prince Charming to appear and sweep me off my feet; I was moving forward with my life, working hard for my education, and I just kind of assumed that this next step would happen naturally, just as many of my life milestones had up to that point.
It almost did happen, actually, but when it didn’t work out, I knew my life would end up looking much different than I expected.
Yeah, being single can be hard, especially when you are nearing the age where culturally (NOT doctrinally — there’s a difference) you “should” be out of that stage. It has been difficult sometimes not to wonder if I’m defective somehow because I’m not married — or even dating anyone — when I see my friends (… and younger friends … and the much-younger siblings of friends …) getting married and having families when there’s no prospects of the same in sight for me.
Is it my body shape? My more reserved personality? My at-times-unhealthy obsession with wordplay? I have friends that have more opportunities to date than they know what to do with, and sometimes I feel like I have to bend over backward to get a guy to even look at me. Why doesn’t it seem like people care to get to know me? I’m not saying that’s true, but it’s how I’ve felt sometimes, and I know others have felt the same.
Lead image from Deseret News.
Kristen Oaks, now wife of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, has 53 years of experience being single, experience she's shared in her book A Single Voice. In a Church that is focused on family, singles can feel somewhat discounted and discouraged. Oftentimes the very resources meant to support people can inadvertently cause pain. In A Single Voice, Kristen Oaks addresses how singles can find a happier, more fulfilling life and overcome the unique challenges that come with being single and LDS.