To the girl I'm dating: If you read this (or one of your girlfriends hears about the conversation, reads the post, and puts two and two together... which would not be ideal in any way)... please don't share it with the world. Please don't let it ruin your life. Hopefully it helps you understand. Either way, I hope you can support me in trying to do what's right.

I just left a heartfelt conversation with the girl I'm dating and feel like... I can't even find a metaphor.

No. Wait. I can find one. But it may not be a metaphor.

I feel like a jerk.

Dating, for me, is hard. I push myself to date because I feel like the Lord wants me to, because it helps me to have faith that someday I'll fall in love and get married, and because I honestly care about people and want to help them feel loved and appreciated... And in the Church, dating is currently the only acceptable way to make friends with girls I don't really know... since hanging out has gotten a bad rap. But I find that dating women, at least in my case, often causes more grief than I could ever imagine.

There are lots of casualties. Some of them I can explain upfront, at the beginning of a relationship, and that at least puts things in perspective. But there's one that rips me apart more than any other, and has probably been the biggest reason I've broken up with girls in the past... and it happens when my lack of physical attraction begins to show through.

I date amazing women. They are smart, beautiful (I'd guess so at least - I'm definitely not a judge in that world), confident, accomplished, caring, and they love the gospel. I have the desire to help them feel loved, and to never do anything to betray their trust. But sometimes those conflict... so there are divergent camps in my mind on how to deal with the physical aspect of dating. One side says to use dating to try new things, and give women the affection they need. Kiss girls I'm not attracted to, and see if I can get anything to work, reverse frog-prince style. I'm not comfortable with that and don't think it matches who I am. Instead, I'm completely honest in my relationships. I try to send clear signals that accurately relate where I stand, and I don't express physical attraction unless it's there. Which means I don't express physical attraction at all. And that's painful.

Today I had a DTR (defining the relationship) talk with the girl I've been dating. It didn't start out as a DTR, but it steadily went in that direction. I could tell that something was on her mind... something important enough that it was keeping her up at night and distracting her from the rest of life... and so I waited for her to ask whatever question she wanted to ask. I think the only question I wouldn't have answered would be about same-sex attraction. We were in a public place, with lots of people... and that's not something I share with anyone anyway... unless the Lord asks me to.

She asked half a dozen questions, and I felt like the questions answers were benign... but there was one at the end... the one that was pressing on her mind:

"Will you kiss me, Mormon Guy?"

Imagine yourself in my shoes. Kissing her would be enough to assuage whatever concerns she had about how much I cared. It would be enough to help her feel okay walking down an incredibly confusing, frustrating path. It would be enough to help her sleep at night and focus on life during the day.

But kissing her, even just once, would betray her trust and make everything far more painful, because of the implication of that kiss.

I'm the kind of guy that feels that kisses shouldn't be given away like pretzels. It has to mean something. That said, I've changed from my pre-mission thoughts that I'd never kiss a girl until she knelt across from me at the altar. As soon as I fall in love, it will definitely happen. But not before.

So I looked at her, felt like a jerk, and told her no. I wouldn't kiss her... at least not at that point in our relationship. It wasn't a shut-down, but it definitely wasn't a kiss. It was a "that's not where I am right now... but if I get there, then it will happen."

As I went home after dropping her off, I found myself wondering. There are few things I hate worse than causing emotional pain through relationships... and dating me does exactly that. So do I just cut off the relationship because I know it will probably not work anyway, to lessen the eventual pain? Do I let her make the decision of how long to keep dating, without showing physical affection beyond courtesy, even though she doesn't really have all the information (like the fact that I live with same-sex attraction)? Do I just keep going until I personally get a feeling that marriage isn't an option and this isn't going to work? Do I try to move the relationship to a "let's be friends?" And if I keep dating her, what are the terms? How often do I ask her out so that I'm not taking all her time or attention...

...and the questions went on and on and on.

The answer I've chosen is a mix of the above. When I feel like asking her out, I'll ask her out. If not, then I won't. And it'll stay that way until I feel strongly about the relationship one way or another.

And as far as her frustration and confusion... there's not a lot I can do right now. If I fall in love, I'll tell her everything I face and let her choose. But that hasn't happened, and, until it does, I care about her too much to betray her with a kiss.
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