Saturday, December 17, 2011

True Love (D&C 42:22)

This is a topic I've needed to address, and haven't been sure how. Thankfully, I've been given a fantastic prod by a reader who posed a question in the comments to my last post. Here's part of her comment that I feel brings up really important points I need to address:

"I am not Mormon; I am not gay; I am not male. (I am a 45-year old, straight, heterosexual woman). However, I stumbled upon your blog. I respect people's beliefs. I would like to pose a question to you, and it is based on the experience a friend of mine recently had: when you find the woman you decide to marry, how will you justify living a lie with her (to yourself, to God)? Or, even if you find someone and choose to be honest with, how can you tell her she will never be your true love?"
I am so grateful to this reader for bringing up these issues and in a way forcing me to address them. (By the way, I just have to add the following about the author of this comment: If you read her full comment on my last post you'll further appreciate her respect for other people and other faiths. You can't know how much it touches me to see others compassionate towards my FAITH. Most people not of the Church have a very hard time appreciating or understanding my choice to stick with my faith despite my attractions to men. From this wonderful woman I felt respect for my decisions and I thank her deeply for that.) So, on to the questions raised...
I think the first thing that stands out to me is the last two words: "true love." I don't believe in the concept of a soul-mate, or of a single individual being the only one we can truly be happy with. I love Disney movies that portray a beautiful princess and handsome prince who seem destined for each other and none other, but I don't believe that's how it works in real life. Honestly, this world is filled with 7 Billion fantastic people, and though I know I'm not compatible with all 7 Billion of them, there are certainly many individuals--male and female--who I could connect with emotionally, intellectually, socially, spiritually, and physically and be incredibly happy with in a long-term committed monogamous relationship. My attraction patterns make the demographics of that potential good-match pool predominantly male, but I am certain it is not exclusively so.
I'm sure that a huge portion of my likely audience is familiar with the studies of American Scientist Alfred Kinsey in the 1940's into human sexuality. He is most famous for his studies of homosexuality, and was truly the first pioneer scientist to research the topic in great depth. He is extremely controversial and I don't necessarily agree with everything he said, or with all his methodologies, but I actually think his fundamental thesis on sexual attraction was spot-on and resonates as truth to me. For those of you unfamiliar with his studies, Kinsey developed a scale of homosexual attraction from 0 to 6. A 0 means you are 100% straight--absolutely attracted exclusively to the opposite gender and have never in your life felt an incling of attraction for the same gender. A 6 denotes the opposite end of the spectrum--absolute attraction exclusively to the same gender without any inclings of attraction for the opposite. A 3 can denote either perfectly balanced bisexuality or even asexuality--either way, your levels and frequency of attraction for either gender are equal in strength. What Kinsey ultimately concluded after decades of study is that deep, deep down in our sub-subconscious or whatever, we are all basically bisexual, but a series of factors, whether biological or environmental (the nature vs. nurture discussion) cause most of us to lean to one side or the other. Yet, he believe that a true 0 or 6 was actually very, very hard to find--if it even existed at all. Sure, there are lots of 1's and 5's, and even 0.1's and 5.9's but the enormous majority of those he tested, at least once in their lives, would find some sort of "exception case" to their typical patterns of attraction, because we are deep down all bisexual and the hormones or neural firings related to attraction could potentially be caused in certain cases to fire off unusually for the something out of the norm to our typical patterns. If you are a heterosexual reading this, though you'll probably never say it out loud I'll bet that if you think about it you may think of an instance in your life (often during teenage years) that you felt even kind of attracted to at least one individual of your same gender. This may have even made you very uncomfortable or confused, and you may have fought very hard to repress it, but you're actually quite normal and it doesn't even mean you necessarily have any SSA proclivities at all. It just means you might be a 0.1 instead of a 0.
Anyway, what did that long scientific tangent have to do with the topic at hand? Well, let me return to my thoughts on compatible matches for a happy relationship. Like I said, the majority of people in my pool of possibilities are men. I mentioned that compatability is centered on a variety of dimensions (I'd love to explore that concept more in-depth in a future post). I think Kinsey's studies primarily apply to that physical dimension, and secondarily to the emotional dimension, though certainly with some ties to the others as well. Looking at my life, thinking about my own attraction patterns, I think I'm about a Kinsey 5.8 if we limit the definition primarily to just the physical and emotional dimensions of attraction. I would be absolutely lying to say I've never felt and physical/emotional attraction to a girl, but I'd also be lying if I said that those happen frequently or with the same strength of attraction I feel for men. There are really 3 girls in my life I've felt more than a weak and fleeting attraction for--one in junior high, one in high school, and one actually quite recently in college (once again--lots here for future posts). The fact is, there ARE girls in my pool of potential candidates, but they are outnumbered by 100:1, or maybe even 10000:1 by men.
So far I've not done the best job of answering my anonymous reader's questions. Forgive me, but I felt like all of that was necessary preface material to understanding my response, because they give you insight into my mentality and the lenses through which I view the world (we all wear lenses, by the way). So, there are really two questions posed. Let me take each one idividually:
1. When you find the woman you decide to marry, how will you justify living a lie with her (to yourself, to God)?
I will not, cannot live a lie--to myself, to God, perhaps especially to my future wife. I've done the whole living a lie to myself thing, and have learned (as I've commented in earlier posts) that the truth truly sets us free. I don't have to tell everyone about my feelings and attractions, though I'm done lying about it too. I could NEVER get married without letting her know about being attracted primarily to men. Indeed, much of this blog is perhaps intended for her sake, whoever she is, to be able to read more about who I am. [I just had the most beautiful, forward-pointing deja-vu-like experience imagining my one-day fiancé reading this post. Dear fiancé: I love you, whoever you are!] I also adamantly believe that nobody with SSA should ever marry someone of the opposite gender WITHOUT telling them beforehand. She has a right to know before she agrees to marry you many key fundamental dimensions of your personality, including (but definitely not limited to) your attraction patterns! If she doesn't find out until after the wedding, you are setting up a recipe for feelings of betrayal and deception on her part. If you truly love her, you would never want to do that to her. (As a humorous side note, it seems like having her know could be a lot of fun, because then you could discuss together which actors are hot and which aren't--just kidding... kind of.) In short, I COULDN'T justify living a lie, as your question asks, and hope that nobody ever does. Truth sets us free and honesty will always be the best policy.
 2. Even if you find someone and choose to be honest with [her], how can you tell her she will never be your true love?"
This is where we have to return to what I posed earlier about true love--that it isn't a fairy tale thing between 2 exclusively destined individuals. When we see true love that way, we tend to think of it as a noun phrase--i.e., he or she is my true love. I rather like to think of it as a verb--i.e. I truly love him or her. While romantic love has relation to delicate matters of attraction beyond our control, ultimately the love itself is a verb--something we DO and CHOOSE--not merely a noun describing something that happens to us. To render true love means to offer absolute commitment for an individual. There are many forms of love and not all are romantically founded, and so that definition applies to the relationship we should try to cultivate with all people, but adding a romantic dimension merely magnifies the principle. To truly love, we give ourselves completely to someone else and make their interests the key driving force of our own. We strive to strengthen our ties of attraction in ALL its dimensions. For me, I meet plenty of girls who I connect with intellectually and spiritually. I even connect from time to time on the emotional level, and on rare occasions even the physical dimension. To truly love a girl romantically, I need all of those dimensions to line up. It is okay if some dimensions are a stronger attraction than others (spiritual tends to matter most to me), but I won't marry a girl I have absolutely no physical attraction for. That means I may have to be patient, because I don't meet girls like that very often. However, it has happened, even if relationships didn't work out. I am filled with hope that I'll find one of those girls and both of us will not just "fall" in love (experience those initial pulls of attraction), but rather CHOOSE true, lasting love for each other.
So, my anonymous friend, I hope that makes sense. Your questions were very important. I have seen far too many stories of marriages painfully breaking up because the one experiencing SSA did not consider those factors in advance. I don't want to break any hearts. That may mean patience, but I'm willing to wait. I know that you said you were not a Mormon, but I'd like to introduce you to a scripture from the LDS canon which summarizes my thoughts on the true love of a spouse ever so beautifully. From 42:22 of the Doctrine and Covenants (a collection of inspired writings from modern prophets) we read the following beautiful passage:
"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."
I may be predominantly attracted to men my whole life, but there are girls out there compatible with me, and when I find one, I will give her all my heart, and cleave unto her and none else. Men who are predominantly attracted to other women are able to control and ignore their attractions to other girls to fulfill this command and experience its blessings, so why can't I? I won't lie to her, and I will wait until I find a girl I'm attracted to who loves me also, but when it happens, I am ready to offer her true love.
My best,

P.S. Sorry for the funky formatting issues going on with this post. Blogger won't do what I tell it to. Curse you, blogger! :(


  1. Thanks for your post. I'd actually never heard of the Kinsey scale before, I found that quite interesting. I'm probably a 5.8 as well

  2. Yeah, I'm definitely not a psychology major or anything, and I have a friend who took a gender psychology class who first told me about it over a year ago. (He doesn't know I'm SSA, we just were talking about stuff we were learning in classes.) I looked into it a lot on my own, but there are definitely lots of more in-depth sources out there than me! Kinsey used to be the definitive source for info on homosexuality, but the last 10 years his studies have been heeded less, mainly for political purposes it seems.

  3. I have heard of the Kinsey scale and read a little bit about it. I used to teach health and had to cover a human sexuality freshman in high school lol. I always got a little anxious when it came to the sexual orientation section. We read an article that mentioned the Kinsey scale and some developmental stages for gay youth. The first time I read it I thought 'dang, this is just how I felt!' Anyway, I think you answered the ladies questions very well. It's inspiring to see you hang onto the hope that marriage can happen for you someday.

  4. I have to say that I love this post. On the Kinsey scale, I'm probably a 5.8 or thereabouts. I can count on one or two hands the number of women I remember feeling attracted to, and it was simply an emotional attraction at that.

    On a related note, my therapist stated that attraction tends to fit a Cartesian graph, or a graph where there are two different scales. That system avoids the case where bisexuals and asexuals are assigned a similar 'number'.

    Thank you for sharing! And on another note, I like how you called the Anonymous commenter 'friend'.

  5. That post was just...beautifully written. The best of luck to you in finding your future wife!

  6. Hi Obadiah, your 45-year old straight female friend (call me Chryssa ;), I'm glad I was able to inspire an insightful post and help you address some of the potential challenges you face.

    I have several friends that have been, and are, members of the LDS Church. I have studied many religions on my own life journey, and truly believe that we each travel the path that is right for us. I may not share your beliefs personally (and believe me when I say I have attended services, read much of the Book of Mormon and had in depth discussions with active and lapsed members), but your relationship with God is just that: yours. Not mine, not the Elders, not your parents, not society's at large. We are all God's children and must live our lives as our own consciences dictate.

    When all is said and done, if you truly study most major religions, they all share a similar message: be kind to one another. To me that means respect each other and honor each person's beliefs as long as they are not hurting someone else. I treasure my gay, bi, poly, chaste, and transgendered friends as much as my straight monogamous friends. A good person is a good person is a good person.

    Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and peace in the New Year.


  7. Chryssa,

    Thanks again for your kind words and input. I couldnd't agree more with your comments on respecting others' beliefs and decisions. I have chosen the path I have, but hold nothing against others similar to myself who choose to live a fully homosexual lifestyle. Nor do I hold anything but the best of wishes for people of all faiths or of no faith. Thanks for sharing your testimony and kindness. Hope to see you on the blog again some time!

    And thanks to the rest of you for your kind and insightful comments on this post and this subject. You are all wonderful! :)

    My best,



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