Dear 100 Hour Board,
I live in an area without Mormon guys, and in my late 20s/almost 30s, have started dating non-members. It's been a good experience. The men I have dated are kind, caring, and I haven't felt like I was lacking in looks or personality or something else that didn't meet a list requirement.
(I don't want to generalize and say Mormon guys are judgmental, because I have great brothers and have had wonderful friends in the church; but I've always felt in dating that I was being interviewed for a job position, and then rejected when a better candidate came along. And I've tried my hardest for years to be the best person I can be, but I don't know as it's ever enough.)
How much does dating/marriage really matter if it's to another member? If it's someone who cares about and respects you, who you get along well with and have similar life goals in most respects?
-10 yrs single and counting, tired of being alone, and probably rationalizing, but asking random internet strangers advice anyway
I mostly agree with Zed below, so feel free to skip this answer if you don't want repetition.
I'm going through something similar right now, in that I recently starting dating a nonmember and it has actually been an incredibly refreshing experience. Living in Utah, I also felt like people were more judgmental than average. I never really felt like I could live up to the picture of the ideal woman that seems common in Mormon culture. I don't think that feeling was the fault of Utah men, but nevertheless it was a rather unhealthy perspective to have when it comes to dating.
In contrast, my boyfriend Yossarian has never made me feel anything less than wonderful. He treats me well, and being with him has done wonders for my confidence, just because he makes me feel like a catch. Regardless of any difference in religious beliefs, we get along well and we make each other happy.
Like Zed says, we can't know for sure what God has planned for you, and we have no idea who you should marry. God wants you to be happy now, and happy for eternity too, and that might involve marrying a nonmember or it might involve something else. I can say that I feel as though God has played a big role in leading me into my current relationship, and I feel as though this is exactly where I need to be at this point in my life. I don't know what he has planned for the future, and I definitely can't say what he has planned for your future, but I see no harm in dating nonmembers. It is completely, 100% possible to date and marry nonmembers and be both happy and compatible. But I agree with Zed and Anathema--think about your eternal goals, then pray and ask what God wants you to do.
Well, if all that you want is a good relationship in this life, it probably doesn't make that much of a difference. One of my aunts married a nonmember, and they are really happy together. As far as religious differences go, my aunt and her daughter just both go to church on Sundays without my uncle. As an outsider, I wouldn't say they're any less happy than other couples I've seen who are both members.
However, if you're looking for an eternal relationship that will lead to exaltation, then nothing less than a temple marriage will cut it. The temple is the only place where you can be sealed for time and all eternity to another person. It is the only place where God is literally a part of your relationship. It is the only place where you're able to make the requisite covenants for eventually entering into the highest order of the Celestial Kingdom. And a temple marriage requires marrying a member of the Church.
So really, whether it matters or not depends on where you want to end up.
Frankly, I think this is an area where you just need to pray about it. Only God knows whether it would be better for you to enjoy the blessings of marriage now or whether it would be better for you to hold out for a temple marriage. Only God knows how either of those courses will affect your ability to eventually be exalted.
I think it's pretty normal to be tired of being alone.