Dear 100 Hour Board and especially Krebscout,
I've been waiting for a missionary who is coming back this summer. I haven't dated really, not just because I was dedicated to the missionary but I also never met anyone who I was very interested in. But I've recently met someone who I AM interested in. Part of me wants to just push that aside and hold out for the rest of the 2 years with the hope that things pan out with the missionary when he's back, but another part of me wants to pursue this and see where it goes so that I'm not left wondering forever. BUT I DON'T WANT TO RUIN MY LIFE! I'm just confused about what to do. At this moment dating the new guy seems like the best idea. But how do I break that to a missionary who is returning home in just a few short months? Besides, this new relationship could be over by the time he gets back. And besides, I still care about the missionary a lot. Krebscout, I know you kinda went through the same thing and I'm wondering how you handled it.
Dear Pumpkin Head,
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO RUIN YOUR LIFE!
You should never, ever, ever put your life on hold for a missionary that you have not seen in almost two years. You have no obligation to not go out with anyone else. And the missionary has no right to hold it over your head or make you feel badly if you do go out with somebody else.
Get to know the new guy and see what happens! Maybe it won't work out! Maybe it will! You won't know until you explore your options. You definitely don't want to be in a position where you passed up getting to know the new guy to wait for the missionary, and when the missionary gets home you discover that you've both enormously changed in the last two years and you're left with regrets of the things you didn't do while waiting for someone you don't have chemistry with anymore.
Seriously, you're not going to ruin your life by exploring a new friendship and possible relationship. Go for it!
You're right, I did have a missionary, and things worked out. We're now happily married with two kids. There are other writers here who have done the same.
However, I did not classically "wait" for my missionary. I dated while he was gone. I didn't date a lot—somewhere between my late-onset awkward phase and my extreme openness about the fact that I had a serious missionary, I didn't get asked out too often. I went on a handful of first dates. I had a fling with a guy where we almost dated exclusively. And I had one boyfriend that I dated exclusively for a...a couple of months maybe? I'm not even sure it was that long. He's here, he's a writer. Maybe he remembers.
Anyway, I say go for the new guy.
The only reasons to wait are because it sounds romantic and because it (falsely) feels disloyal to date in the missionary's absence. Among the many reasons not to do it are these:
- Missionaries change. To be fair, he'll probably have changed for the better. But he may not have changed to be a better fit with you. I think I got extremely lucky in that Sauron and I were able to change and grow in mostly parallel ways. This seems to be rare.
- You have changed. You will have two years' life experience (and dating experience) under your belt. Your taste in men may have changed, and your maturity regarding relationships certainly has. You may find that the relationship you had is not necessarily the one you'll want for eternity.
- Dating is the process by which you sift through potential mates. This process should not be put on ice for two years. There are no soul mates (not until you get sealed together, at least, at which point you have become literal soul mates), so there's no need to feel like you're losing out on "the one" when there are probably, in reality, dozens of "ones" with whom you could live a happy life. Go find them!
- Dating the new guy is win-win. Either you find somebody who fits you better or you don't. Either way, you end up with the best match. I do not believe that the new missionary will be unwilling to date you again if you choose to try out this other guy—he's probably expecting it. And if he ends up finding somebody else while you're still figuring it out, that may hurt, but hey, he'll have found a better match for him, and you'll find someone even better.
Well, in my situation I did date the new guy. Turns out we were a terrible match (and he'll agree). But I'm glad I did it anyway. I didn't have a lot of dating experience, and that period of time helped me see just what it was about Sauron that was so perfect for me, and also what it was about me that was perfect for him. I was more sure that I wanted to marry Sauron after dating the new guy than before. And that's not a slight to the new guy; we were just ill-suited for each other, and I owe it to him for helping to clear my focus and deepen my understanding of relationships.
See? Dated the new guy. Now we're both happily married to other people. Won-won.
Good luck either way, friend, whether you end up with Missionary or New Guy or somebody else entirely. I have full faith that you'll figure it out in the end, but in the meantime...go forth and date.