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Posted by: Insulted ( )
Date: February 11, 2018 03:58PM

I wonder if Salt Lake is aware of the problem.

One of the problems is that we have many 40-70 year-old people whom have no one to sit with. Either their spouses don't attend, or they are single, widowed, etc. They simply leave after sacrament meetings.

I fall into one of the above categories. I moved into the area in 2015. I have only been asked once by an elderly sister whom only attends 6 months per year. The remaining six months are spent in Florida.

I sit in the back row against the accordion doors with the other single attendees. Today, I was told by a former bp: "You don't need to sit alone here. You could be sitting up with with other people."

I pondered that comment for five minutes, and I left the building.

If he was so concerned as to where I was sitting, he could have offered to have me sit with his family. Nope, didn't happen.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: February 11, 2018 06:10PM

Well, why don't you do the asking? Say, "Do you mind if I sit with you?" Or ask a friend in the back row if he or she would like to move up with you.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: February 11, 2018 06:58PM

I was single too during my Mormon interlude. After I left the ward where my only Mormon friends attended (left not by personal choice; I wasn't "allowed" to keep going there to church as I lived outside their catchment area) I only ever sat with one other convert. (Actually, we used to snicker through the meetings about "the Emperor" being "naked" referring to various strange things through the services; rude, I know, but it was so obvious to us. In retrospect, I don't know why I kept attending for so long and I certainly can't explain why my new friend, the other convert, kept attending after she was disfellowshipped).

The time I felt the most alone was during the ward's annual picnic. When I arrived everybody was sitting outside on the lawn. I didn't know we would be doing that and hadn't brought a blanket to sit on or even any food. I hadn't known it was going to be like a personal picnic, only everybody sitting on the same patch of lawn, unlike church picnics I was used to where there was a central table of food provided. I had brought my brother's children, who were young and shy and didn't know anyone. (Neither did I really!) Many people stared up at us from their blankies on the lawn but nobody, even those I knew at least well enough to say hello to, invited us to join them. I felt very awkward and stupid and alone and unwanted.

The only interaction I had was with one of the young stake missionaries (a recent RM who taught the new member class to me) who approached me and, looking from my little niece to me, said "NIGHTINGALE" in hushed and shocked tones. I knew what he was thinking, as everybody said it - my niece looked exactly like me. The RM thought it was my daughter - that I had had a child even though unmarried. I felt very embarrassed.

Yeah. Mormon picnic. Not the most fun time. Needless to say, I didn't attend any more picnics or even many more Mormon activities. Just. No. Fun. I am allergic to "singles" events so that didn't work for me. I also felt a LOT of pressure to get married (it was Mormonism after all). They didn't seem to care about love or suitability, just frantically trying to get all the singles matched up with anybody at all. The same man kept appearing unexpectedly at any location I went to that was connected with Mormons. I very slowly realized they were trying to match us up. He was the husband of my visiting teacher (they were separated). I was appalled. I knew, as she had told me in painful detail, that she was very much hurting over her unwanted separation from her husband. He and his mother were trying to pair him up with me, while he was still married! I never told my VT. But like I would want to take her husband. And I was decidedly not attracted to him. At all. In any way. Ever. They acted like being single was a complete disaster. I guess to Mormons it is.

But I know what you mean. It can all feel very awkward and lonely. Perhaps summer's suggestion would be worthwhile trying. Just plunk yourself down on a pew where others are already sitting. Or sit closer to the front where the pews will likely get filled up. (Do they actually separate out the singles from the rest and insist they sit at the back?)

I know, though, you can feel lonely even in a crowd. What a difference when people are friendly and inclusive and really care about you as an individual.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: February 11, 2018 07:17PM

Nightingale, when I've attended various churches as a single adult, I've just plonked myself down wherever. I've never had anyone object, nor would I expect anyone to object. I don't know if that would work in a Mormon ward, but it's worth a try.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: February 11, 2018 08:55PM

Yes, I agree, summer. I hope my response indicated that. I was wondering if there was some rule that singles had to sit at the back (at least in the OP's ward). (That wouldn't surprise me, actually. Mormon congregations can be strange that way). Maybe the OP's ward has a thing about singles being apart from the rest of the congregation, in seats further back? (That would be beyond weird). Or maybe it's an unofficial rule that families with small kids sit at the front, or something?

I have just sat down in the midst of the crowd at other churches. As long as you're not disrupting someone's family I can't see how that would be a problem, outside or inside Mormonism.

What can be an issue is a separation of a different sort, apart from being told to sit in a certain location or being expected to do that or who knows what. You can *feel* separated, like I did due to being a convert, not knowing anybody in the new ward they sent me to following baptism, feeling strange inside Mormonism as it was so unfamiliar and I didn't know much about it - silly me for joining - etc. This lack of a welcoming feeling can arise from many factors as well as some that I mentioned. I concluded that rather than the other women leaving me out or not liking me or any other negative reasons we sometimes imagine maybe they just already had overfull plates, with all their kids, their absent husbands, their own callings over and above all their family activities and needs, and they just don't have the time or energy to invest in reaching out to newbies.

My only Mormon friend (apart from the one convert I mentioned) and her husband hosted the missionary "discussions" at their place for me. I had thought that they were my friends and they were including me in their family dinners (and I babysat their kids and their dogs on many occasions for them) just to be nice, friendly, the way friends do, ya know? After my (disastrous) baptism experience that "friend" said to me that they would never do the discussions with anyone again as "it was too much work". Work? That wounded me deeply. I was work? I thought I was a friend. It's hard to trust anyone after something like that.

I think it's worth remembering that the Mormon Church (in my experience) is vastly different from any other church in many diverse ways. (And I've been to a lot of different denominations and groups so I have some basis for comparison). I can totally relate to feeling completely alone in a noisy crowded room. Other people may look like they're having fun but you don't know them and they don't seem to want to know you.

I can also remember, and relate to, that sinking feeling you get when you feel the difference between being the star of the game when they're trying to get you into the font vs being yesterday's news after your baptism. Outsiders don't understand and neither do many exmos, frankly, as many think you've had a lucky escape so what's your problem.

I've been very happy since the day I walked away. It doesn't mean that the negative feelings easily disappear or at least that you don't remember them. I knew a lot of non-Mormons so I didn't have a problem filling up my calendar with social events post-mo. That wasn't the issue. It was just all the negative experiences and thoughts and comments and feelings. It takes some getting over. And it's embarrassing at times, perhaps, to think that one bears responsibility for the decisions that led to all that (choosing to attend and especially to get baptized) as well as knowing/hearing/reading that many others think the same: You're so stupid that you joined, now you're free so what's the problem, etc. and exmos as well as nevermos demonstrate some of this type of attitude.

I know that not all my comments relate to the OP. It's just that for whatever reason, it brought up all these memories. Funny how the feelings can be remembered and even re-experienced. Thankfully though it doesn't hurt like it did while it was happening and immediately following departure.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: February 11, 2018 09:04PM

I get it, Nightingale. There's a certain mindset from which it can be difficult to extricate yourself. My convert friend went through the same thing. She was really put through the wringer.

I'm aware that when I respond as a nevermo, my responses might come off as a bit cavalier. But that is not my intention. It is more simply to say that there can be a different way to think about things -- offering an alternative, as it will.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/11/2018 09:04PM by summer.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: February 11, 2018 10:07PM

I always forget you're a nevermo!

And sure, trying to see different angles to a problem can be very enlightening. Any suggestions are usually most welcome.

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Posted by: Visitors Welcome ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 02:55AM

It probably depends on the part of the globe you are referring to. When my family was active, we were living in a very big city with lots of expats and new members and investigators. At any event from SM to informal church activities, there were fewer people who were part of a family than people who didn't know anyone. And we mixed and mingled freely. The families introduced them to their relatives, especially those with whom they shared things like age, profession, origin or hobbies. And they themselves also introduced themselves to others. It was just part of the athmosphere. You could feel you were welcome to do so.

When I visited mormon wards in the USA, it felt much colder. If I walked up to total strangers, they would be very friendly until their perennial question "so are you a member" was replied with "yes". Then they would wish me a nice day and ignore me. Cold.

But going to another town anywhere in Spain or Portugal, it would always be warm and friendly.

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Posted by: moremany ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 07:53PM

Sit wherever you want.

As much as one desires others to be friendly to them, it is also up to them to be 'themselves' (friendly).


Note: This wasn't supposed to be here but I didn't feel like moving it... even though it took just as much time and effort to add this note.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2018 07:58PM by moremany.

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Posted by: Pooped ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 03:13AM

Glad you brought this up. I had the same problem. I once asked if I could sit next to a man sitting alone. He said, "Okay". Then his wife and five kids showed up late and I felt like an idiot not to mention the nasty looks I got from everyone including his wife!

When I was protestant they had people (ushers) at church whose job it was to find you a place to sit. Then you didn't have to feel uncomfortable asking if it was alright to sit in a particular spot.

Now I don't go to church period. End of problem. I highly recommend it.

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Posted by: Mother Who Knows ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 06:17AM

Nightingale, I could really relate to your posts, as a single divorcee. Also, the "converts" in our ward were treated just like you were. Everyone made a big fuss over them, until they joined, and then they were ignored, as the "member missionary-types" moved on to someone else. Members got a lot of credit and prestige out of converting someone. The "converts" (I hate calling them that, because they are members, just like everyone else) would seek out us singles, because we were friendlier, and weren't part of the clique of married couples climbing the latter-day ladder.

Yes, the singles always sat in the same place, in the back of the chapel. Almost every Sunday, someone would announce from the pulpit that we were supposed to sit with our family. This rule was quite strictly enforced. It was the Mormons' backhanded way of saying that single people were to sit alone.

Mormon wives were always accusing us of flirting with their husbands, so we didn't dare sit by or talk to anyone. Some of the men actually tried to hit on us, and we would compare notes. Thank God for my single friends in the ward! We couldn't have been more repelled by the Mormon husbands--ick!

It got to be a joke to us, though, because the widows thought of themselves as above us divorced people. So, we had a widows' section, and a divorcees' section, on opposite sides, in the back. I got to sit on the stand, because I was the organist--LOL.

Nightingale did a good job of describing the feeling of awkward loneliness at a ward party. My children did not like our new ward in Utah (they never believed the JS story, or that we were inferior because we were not sealed in the temple, and all that other elitist garbage), and they didn't want to go to the ward parties, any more than they wanted to go to church. I did force them to go to a few, but they had closer friends outside the church, and so did I. We were also younger than most of our neighbors, and cliques had been developed years before we arrived. My kids had greater insight than I, and they were friendly, good looking, good students, good athletes, and were kind to others, which made them well-accepted at school. Because we were basically kind, we didn't relate to Mormon gossips and manipulators. We didn't like lies, elitism, sexism, and racism. We had lived in California, with friends of all religions and races. Though we didn't like being marginalized--it did hurt our feelings--we didn't really want to be part of the club, in the first place.

Sitting in the back with the other kids from "broken homes", enabled my kids to ditch out of meeting, unnoticed. Several times, if my boys overslept on Sunday mornings, the priesthood leaders would break into our house and wake them up, and kick and shove them to church--I already told that story.

It was less painful for us to just resign, altogether. Mormons are meaner to each other, than they are to ex-Mormons or other outsiders.

Deanie, the Dreaded Single Adult had some interesting stories to tell. I thought our ward was the only ward with the singles on the back row, until I came to RFM.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 08:47AM

Or you could skip going to church and find a friendly place to have breakfast or a good place to sit in a park and watch the birds.

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Posted by: sonofthelefthand ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 02:23PM


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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 03:03PM

She told me she was shocked how the singles were treated. They all ended up sitting on the back bench together. She never expected that and had married young so didn't know this happened. She was really angry that singles were treated that way. She had been married about 50 years and her husband had once been the bishop of the ward, but just because she became a widow, she no longer had status.

When Nightingale was talking about that picnic she went to, it reminded me of a picnic I went to MARRIED. My husband's workers decided to have a water skiing party at the same time. My husband WANTED ME TO GO as the ward was having a picnic at Hyrum Dam the same day. We hadn't been in the ward very long. I had 2 "babies" that were about 8 months old. My niece was with me. Only a few people knew who I was. They treated me like Nightingale is talking about. It was HORRIBLE. I got really angry at my husband for doing that to me and told him I'd never go to a ward party again if he did it again.

When I got married, having been treated like a second class citizen for SO LONG, I remember staring at my ring all the time thinking, 'I can't believe it." When I knew my marriage was falling apart, I went inactive for many reasons, but one was because there was no way in hell I was going to go through being treated that way again.

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Posted by: baura ( )
Date: February 12, 2018 10:25PM

Let's see. OP comes in and chooses where to sit. OP is invited
to sit with others but refuses. And OP thinks THEY are the ones
being unsociable. What am I missing here?

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Posted by: Chicken N. Backpacks ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 12:39AM

How weird. Growing up in an Episcopal church I always noticed people scooting over and dong a friendly silent "Here's a spot!" motion for single attendees.

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Posted by: GNPE ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 01:02AM

Many churches have a 'Share the Peace' moment when they stand & greet those nearby, all in a casual, friendly manner.

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Posted by: olderelder ( )
Date: February 13, 2018 08:58AM

As an introvert, I can't relate to this at all. Sitting alone? Hallelujah! But I'm truly sorry it's a problem for you.

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