"It's not spiders I dislike, just people." -Petra
Question #91848 posted on 12/01/2018 11:33 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

How come I was promised I would be infinitely more attractive if I kept my heart locked on my mission, and yet after the two years of faithful service no women have even noticed my infinite attractiveness?

Sincerely
This Fella

A:

Dear fella,

You are a human person, so I know for a fact there is more to you than just your physical attractiveness. Sometimes it takes a while for people to get to know those parts of you, but that doesn't mean it'll never happen. Focus on being the best person you can be... practice being more loving, chivalrous, kind, etc. Because ultimately, those things are a lot more important in a relationship than what you look like. 

Also, blessings aren't fulfilled immediately. Someday your own special lady will come around... but you should care more that she likes you for who you are as a person rather than your "infinite attractiveness." If you're too busy admiring your own reflection, you may not notice the girls who are interested in your personality.   

I'm sure you're mostly kidding, but another thing is that talking about yourself and how attractive you are isn't something women like to listen to... so just keep that in mind. 

Cheers,

Guesthouse

A:

Dear you,

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard similar promises. One I heard a lot on my mission was that for every drop of rain that fell on your name tag, your future spouse got more attractive. Many missionaries would use this as motivation for those tough rainy days and think about how beautiful their spouse was going to be. Meanwhile, I thought about how my poor future spouse must be serving in the Sahara Desert.

All joking aside, I have a lot of thoughts about your question. Dating is certainly a complicated subject, and I have mixed emotions about your question. I've thought a lot about your question and I believe that there quite a few different ways to view how that promise is being fulfilled. Please bear with me, this might get a bit long, but writing this answer has been valuable to me, so hopefully it will be valuable to you. 

So, I looked through the famous "Lock your Heart" and here's the direct quote I found:

"When you have done this perfectly for two years and then you go home, you are infinitely more attractive, more able, more dignified, more mature to make those important decisions for your life in the matter of personages to enjoy eternity with you."

The first thing that stands out to me is that it promises that your are more attractive, but it doesn't promise a spouse, or that people will fall in love with you, or that you will have success dating. There's a subtle difference between being attractive, and people being attracted to you and falling in love with you. It's subtle but it's important.

Here's why it's important: regardless of how attractive a person is, you can't force anyone to love you. The genie in Aladdin can't do it, and God doesn't do it. This is because women aren't objects to be given or blessings to be bestowed. They are children of God and they have agency. You will be blessed for your obedience as a missionary, but you will not be blessed with a girlfriend or spouse because that isn't isn't how things work.

It's similar to finding investigators in the mission field. Missionaries are promised that as we obey mission rules and follow Preach My Gospel that we will be able to find the people that are prepared to hear, but we aren't blessed with investigators or with baptisms. If you are measuring "success" only by lessons taught or by baptisms, then much of what leads to "success" didn't really have anything to do with obedience or focus. I know plenty of missionaries that didn't follow mission rules and didn't lock their hearts but were able to find, teach, and baptize more people than I was. It's important that we don't compare ourselves to other, or feel like we are being abandoned just because we aren't seeing that "success". We hope to help as many people as we can, and we know that obedience does play a part in that, but ultimately we must recognize that we obey because God asks us and we trust the He will take care of the rest.

It's also important to realize that "success in baptizing" isn't really a blessing for missionaries, it's a blessing for their investigators that accept the Gospel. Missionaries just happen to love their investigators and are happy when they accept the Gospel, but to quote a favorite EFY song "It's not about you". Now dating has a lot to do with you, but it's important we keep healthy perspectives that empower women, respect agency, and realize that much of dating doesn't have anything to do with your level of righteousness.

*Steps off of soap box

I hope you don't feel like I'm attacking you, it's just that it's important to me that you know that. I think having a good perspective in dating is really important both for you, and for the people you date. I don't know what your personal beliefs are, you might already agree with everything I said, but I just want to make sure that our readership in general has positive perspectives on dating that are respectful toward women and recognize that "dating success" isn't something that can magically happen.

That being said, I think that returned missionaries are definitely infinitely more attractive. Have you talked to 18 year old boys that haven't been on missions? I think that there's definitely a difference. If you look closely at the quote from Spencer W. Kimball he says "more attractive, more able, more dignified, more mature". I think that the blessing of being more attractive comes as a natural consequence of being a good missionary. Here's a list of just several of the possible ways you can return from a mission more attractive:

  • You've learned how to dress and groom yourself well
  • You've learned at least a little how to cook, clean, and sew
  • You've learned how to talk to people
  • Even better--you've learned how to listen to people
  • You've learned how to think about others needs. You've learned how to serve and have charity
  • You have learned patience. You probably learned it from that one companion (You know who you are Elder So-&-So)
  • You've learned how to get along with other people and deal with differences (Again, Elder So-&-So)
  • You can appreciate other cultures and have learned to try new things
  • You can find fun things to do (If you can plan a fun district p-day activity, you can plan a date)
  • You have a testimony and you find joy in sharing the Gospel
  • You are loyal and can lock your heart. Locking your heart is very important because when you get married, you have to be fully committed

Look at all the amazing, attractive, qualities you know (at least theoretically had). By serving an honorable mission, you have been blessed with these traits, but now it is up to you to maintain these traits and display them to others. This might not be how you were expecting your blessings, but they are real and they are powerful. If you don't believe me, compare a 17 year old kid to a recently returned missionary. I think you'll see the difference.

And finally, I'm sorry if dating isn't going well. I know a lot of people that are intelligent, attractive, spiritual, and hard working that just haven't had a lot of luck dating. My suggestion would be to get creative in finding people to date. You could try dating apps, be open to people setting you up, go to more activities where you could meet someone, or you could try hosting game nights or something (I think this is probably the best option). As any returned missionary knows, finding people is hard. But, try not to get discouraged, it only takes 1 person. (Actually, it takes 2. You need to be the right person, and then you need to find 1 other right person. But saying it only takes 2 right people just sounds weird. I should stop talking...)

Hope this helps!

Peace,

Tipperary

A:

Dear Fella,

They're all too busy noticing MY infinite attractiveness. Sorry, brah.

-Provo Bros

A:

Fella,

One is infinitely more than zero. So maybe now you're a 1?

Babalugats

A:

Dear friend,

Writing makes it difficult to infer tone, and with the single sentence you've given us it appears we've all taken different stances on what your attitude was when you wrote this. I feel some of the other writers have been, in my opinion, a bit rude, assuming you to be either facetious or shallow. I'm taking your attitude as more of an "I just absolutely sacrificed two years of romantic eligibility/my life when I could've been doing other things to serve the Lord, and despite promises of blessings I've got nothing to show for it."

Hey, man, it's rough. It's hard to work so much for something, hope for something, and then not have that thing materialize, particularly if we're talking about dating and rejection. It hurts when that rejection feels so deeply personal. "It's not personal," they say, but of course you know it is. People seem to respond to these types of messages about rejection and romance in some idealistic terms, always asserting things will change, be 'better,' whatever that means. I won't promise you that, because I don't know, and personally I prefer people to level with me rather than just promise me some vague thing in the future for the sake of "optimism."

As for the "Lock Your Heart," talk, the actual portion where it discusses your theoretically boosted spiritual attractiveness is slim compared to the rest, which is apparently a document (of nebulous origins, but hold that thought) whose primary purpose appears to be to encourage people to prioritize the safety and reputation of missionaries and the Church organization over the short-term romantic goals of the self. Gossip travels fast, savvy? It's already difficult as a missionary to convince people you're there voluntarily, let alone if you're flirting it up, or whatever.

In any case, I enjoyed reading an opinion article from Third Hour that discusses this article in... greater detail than I care to currently,  who argues various positions in favor of if relationships that emerge as a result of missionary service are okay. The author points out different general authorities have said different things, with an account of President Monson low-key encouraging missionaries to get to know each other and date each other subsequent to their release. 

That article did lead me to one particularly salient Mormon Newsroom article, which bears repeating:

Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.

So do you deserve maxed-out spiritual attractiveness stats as a result of your missionary service? Maybe, maybe not. 

Is dating frustrating and difficult? Absolutely. If it's something you'd ever like to talk about, my email inbox is open at ardilla.feroz@theboard.byu.edu.

Thanks for stopping by, and please visit us again some time. Good luck out there.

Suerte,

--Ardilla Feroz