Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
scotty
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Joined: 09 Mar 2010, 01:28

Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by scotty » 09 Mar 2010, 13:02

Hi everyone, I stumbled across this site quite by accident yesterday and spent the next 6 hours pouring through the essays and forums. I'm so glad I found it. I've been struggling with the LDS faith since adolescence (I'm 23 now) but over the past couple of months I've gotten to the point where I've decided that I can't keep continuing being 100% active and pretending that everything is ok. At first I thought that the only option was to completely cut myself off from the church (an option that scares me to death since nearly all of my friends and family are TBMs). Luckily this site and the New Order Mormon site have given me another option to consider.

So back to the topic at hand. I've been seriously dating a girl for about six months. At the start of our relationship, I knew that I didn't feel quite right about the church. However, I hung on to the hope that if I could find the right girl maybe my love for her would give me a reason to stay active in the church and carry on as if nothing was wrong for the rest of my life. I love this girl more than anything, but after a while I came to the realization that I can't do that for her. In fact, I'm pretty sure now that I'll never be able to do that for anyone.

She's a typical mormon girl: she was born in Utah and hasn't left since, comes from a family (like mine) that has been in the church since the days of Brigham Young, and spent her whole life wanting nothing more than to be married in the temple and have a perfect Mormon family. We have discussed several on-the-edge topics, such as how the church's treatment of homosexuals bothers both of us. However most of her comments are still very Mormon, so I doubt she's a closet doubter like myself.

This brings me to my questions for all of you. Our talks about marriage are starting to get more frequent and while I think that even if we were both TBMs an engagement would still be quite a ways off, I feel that it's time I say something to her. I'm afraid that she sees me the same way everyone else does, as a perfect RM who goes to church every week and will grow up and have a perfect family and be bishop someday. I feel like I'm misleading her, as that's not my goal, even if I ready myself to marry her in the temple. I'm sure that many of you have had the unpleasant experience of explaining your beliefs about the church to a significant other. Here are my questions for you:

1. When should I bring it up? Should I wait until the next time she says something about being married in the temple or makes a 3 Nephites comment or something else I don't agree with, or should I plan a specific time when I'm going to say "I have something I need to tell you" and sit her down and talk about it?

2. How much should I tell her? I want to be completely honest with her, but I'm afraid that if I go into all my problems with the church that it'll be too much to swallow. Should I just tell her that I've been having issues with the Church and see where it goes from there?

3. I'm sure that she's going to want me to go into detail about things that have been bothering me, but I don't want tear down her testimony. How do you recommend talking about such things? I've been involved in plenty of discussions like these on my mission, although most of the time it just ended up with my TBM companion making himself look like an idiot.

4. Any other advice?

Sorry this post was a little long, but I'm sure you all know how nice it is to finally be able to talk to someone about these things. Thanks for the help.
Last edited by scotty on 26 Mar 2010, 14:21, edited 1 time in total.

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Cadence
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by Cadence » 09 Mar 2010, 18:26

You best get all this worked out long before you get married, or even engaged. If you do not you are most likely going to be in for a very rocky marriage that neither of you bargained for. My best advice is tell her soon and tell her as much as you think she can handle without going into details. If she is receptive you can go further. If she is not it may be painful but I would not try and force the issue but walk away. Do not convince yourself that some day she will come around and everything will be alright. This could happen but most likely not. Remember it is always easier to change yourself than change someone else. IF you are unwilling to become the perfect TBM she is less likely to become more agnostic as you put it. Religion can be one of the most divisive issues in any marriage next to maybe money, so do not handicap yourself going in.

Good luck but remember you have your whole life ahead of you. Do your best to make sure you spend it with someone you are compatible with.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Cookie
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by Cookie » 09 Mar 2010, 19:57

From a Girl’s Perspective...

DO NOT start this topic when she brings up temple marriage! If she’s anything like me (which she may not be, but for argument’s sake...) she is trying to fish out your romantic side. Haha. I used to bring up marriage and all those gooey, girly things with my now husband, because I wanted to see if he’d get all doughy eyed when we talked about our future and stuff. I wanted to see the love he had for me, and the dreams he had for us.

I would go with the sit down approach, or maybe when you’re having a serious discussion about doctrine and church activities. I would also kind of lead with questions, one so you aren’t just announcing your opinion randomly, and two so that you can flesh out just how delicately you’re going to need to phrase your opinion when she asks you for yours. I also suggest starting out with more basic doctrinal concerns before you start delving into hot spots like Joseph Smith’s past. There’s a phrase in the church that goes “milk before meat” (which I hate, but that’s another post), and in this situation I think it’s the wisest option.

She may be a TBM, but if she loves you as much as you love her, she’s going to do her darndest to work through this tough time with you. You don’t want to be with her for life, never mind eternity, if the temple wedding is more important than the marriage.

Good luck, hun! Love is a battlefield ;)
"If you want your dreams to come true, don't sleep." ~ Yiddish Proverb

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Orson
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by Orson » 09 Mar 2010, 20:35

Very good advice Cookie!

I would try real hard not to push any agenda of your own. Try to let things flow as naturally as possible. I like to lean on "uncertainty", and "don't know" or "unsure", even "trying to figure out." Remember the saying: "He who thinks he knows - doesn't."

In my opinion I think it's fine, even expected of all good members to be searching for answers. Ideally there shouldn't be a problem with "I have a hard time understanding/grasping..." when it's done sincerely, softly, and without any agenda.

I think she has a right to get a feel for where you actually are. I think you owe it to the both of you to not be more certain than definable truth will allow.

Glad you found us!
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

nightwalden
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by nightwalden » 09 Mar 2010, 21:40

I would do it as a sit down talk.

I would probably begin by stating that you want her to know you and there is an area of your life where you think that she might have the wrong impression. Then like others encouraged, emphasize your uncertainty.

Spend some time thinking about how this is going to affect her. She is going to need someone to talk to about what you say to her. It may be her mother, a friend, sister, roommate or all of the above. So you need to think about who will now know where you stand and what advice the people that she goes to will give her. It will probably shake her up some. Since you've been dating for 6 months and have discussed marriage, she will want to know where you stand on getting married in the temple someday.

I think this is something that you need to do in order to have your relationship move forward. Please, just spend some serious time brainstorming how this is going to affect her and then do it.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 09 Mar 2010, 21:45

One of the most reviled quotes of modern Mormonism on anti-sites and group discussion boards for disaffected members is Elder Packer's about not all truth being useful. (my paraphrase) I understand the angst that causes among those who want everything to be black-and-white, but it is absolutely true and wise in many situations - and what you describe is one of those times.

My take on your questions is going to be a bit different than most, and it is only my take on it. Take it for what it's worth.

You need to ask yourself one question, imo:
Do you love her enough to lay down your life for her?


I don't mean "die for her" - since that actually is relatively easy. I mean take the life you would choose to live in isolation and set it aside for her. I mean commit to remain actively involved in the LDS Church if that is what she needs. I mean sort out your issues and your perspective and focus on changing yourself - perhaps to someone who can come to "believe" in a way, perhaps to someone who can't "believe" but can support and sustain.

Dumping all your concerns on her is wrong - period - unless you know she shares those concerns. You don't, so don't. It will hurt her, and it won't be done out of love. "I love you, so I am going to hurt you" is hogwash, pure and simple. This isn't about her; it's about you - and until you accept that, whatever path you take to discuss it will the wrong one.

I'm NOT saying you have to lie or disguise anything for her; I'm saying you have to commit to finding a way to reconcile activity in the Church with her IF you really do love her with all your heart. It is not going to be easy - not at all, so you have to decide first if she is worth it - if she is worth what the concept of an eternal marriage is all about.

My wife doesn't want to deal with the nuances of most of my heterodoxy. She knows when someone says something with which I strongly disagree, and I know what things I can mention openly and candidly to our children - but I NEVER cross the line and try to convince her or them to see things the way I see them and not how she sees them. I don't want her to do that to me, so I don't do that to her. We have a wonderful marriage, largely because we just don't care about seeing everything the exact same way - as long as we always are hand-in-hand even when we are looking at the same thing differently.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

nightwalden
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by nightwalden » 10 Mar 2010, 00:31

Ray, I think your advice is great for someone who is married and committed. But for someone who is still dating, I think it is too much, or rather the answer to your question would probably be "not yet."

scotty, you say that you love her more than anything. If you are hiding this fairly significant piece of yourself from her, you aren't really allowing her to love the real you in return. Before you ask her to fully commit to you, I think you need to let her fully know you. Good luck. I wish the best for you.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 10 Mar 2010, 00:44

nightwalden, I didn't say hide it all - and the commitment to stay with someone no matter what (almost) and do everything possible to not hurt them is not only for married couples.

What I'm saying is to know (to the best of one's ability) what she needs and provide it - IF scotty truly, madly, deeply loves her. If he doesn't love her enough to be the man she needs, then he shouldn't marry her. He should let her find the man she needs.

I really do believe that this type of commitment (symbolized in a "sealing") means something - and also that 100% openness about everything right from the start would lead to no marriages ever (or maybe only one or two between siblings, and that isn't healthy). :o
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

George
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by George » 10 Mar 2010, 01:52

I had for many decades, a wonderful first cousin, who was a devote Christian. She fell in love with a orthodox Jewish man. He worshipped the ground she walked on and they couldn't stand the idea of being apart. They took the plunge, though the families were not happy. Early in their married life they joined a major Christian/Jewish alliance and gave service to it all of their days. They raised one daughter who was exposed to both traditions. She chose Judaism and is today a full partner in a major Houston law firm, married with two amazing children. Her parents are now deceased in the last decade, after a fairy tale life of achievement, financial success, and strong political activism, especially concerning human rights and dignity. They were examples to me of true love.

The framework of our church is so different, to walk separate paths, for half a century or more. I have a set of dear LDS friends who've had sixty-one years together, but they walk the same religious path. Can you picture you and your girlfriend living in the gospel net, if not on the same spiritual wavelength? The sacrifice could be so painful & love could be erased. Only you can decide in the end.

Talk soon.

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Euhemerus
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Re: Any advice on coming out to girlfriend?

Post by Euhemerus » 10 Mar 2010, 06:41

Perhaps this will come as a surprise to Ray (on such an issue), but in this case I absolutely agree with him.

Here are my thoughts (I'm writing this under the premise that she is TBM):
1. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT get married under the pretense that you are a TBM. This could be the demise of your marriage from the start. In my opinion, Mormons get married for two primary reasons (usually combination of the two). They love someone, and that someone is a strong member of the church. If the latter is even close to as large a contributing factor as the former, you will encounter great heartache (unless you're a TBM). This is what happened to me and it has nearly destroyed my marriage. Get married because you love someone, period. Same goes for her, obviously.
2. In the vein of number 1, DO NOT destroy her faith with your concerns. You absolutely should tell her the truth, but this need not involve a lengthy discussion of all the anti-Mormon talking points. If you really love her, I see that you have two options. Either marry her under the pretense of being TBM and forget about your own personal honesty (or otherwise become comfortable enough with the church to act TBM), or break off the relationship after explaining that you have some views that are not in harmony with the church's teachings, and that you are uncertain about your future in the church. Since the former contradicts number 1, I would suggest the latter. The only caveat would be if you are at a place where you have chosen to remain LDS, can live comfortably in the society as a heretic, and can commit to doing that for life without destroying your wife's faith (basically you better darn well be a very comfortable stage 5 Mormon to go through with the marriage).
3. You are at a volatile place right now. Your outlook on the church will likely not be the same a year from now. You may decide to leave, or you may decide to pursue an inward path and remain in the community. In either case, I would not even broach the subject of marriage under such volatile conditions. Do yourself (and her) a favor and wait.
4. If it were me, I would simply say that you have some concerns about the views, doctrines, and theologies of the church, and that you are uncertain about your long term status therein. Reassure her that you are worthy (if you are) as that will likely be important to her, but that you have other concerns. You then might give her the option of whether or not she wants to continue in the relationship.

Tricky situation. I don't envy you. But trust me, please, I beg of you, it will NOT get better after marriage, and marriage is a HUGE commitment, and the LDS church is a HUGE part of marriage for Mormons.
Don't believe everything you think
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