When Barbie Berg moved to Salt Lake City, she expected a different dating scene than she was used to as a Colorado Mormon. What the 35-year-old didn’t was how different: “The first week I moved here, I remember thinking I had stumbled into the land of models who happened to be LDS,” recalls Berg. “The women were tall, strikingly beautiful and incredibly put together.”
And there were so many of them. Berg was assigned to worship at a congregation of more than 800 members—all of them single. Her ward, made up exclusively of unmarried men and women ages 31 to 35, reflects the demographics of Utah Mormons: a ratio of two women to every man, according to a Trinity College study.
This can create a “kid in a candy store” mentality for the men of Mormonism, as Brock, a divorced LDS male in his 30’s (who asked for a pseudonym), described it. With so many single women in the faith, Brock says each potential mate he meets seems better than the last. When asked what “better” meant—Prettier? Younger? More spiritual?—Brock answers: “Sure.”
It’s a phenomenon. Berg has experienced firsthand: “Men I met couldn’t concentrate on making a connection with one woman because everywhere he looked there were different options. I’ve had multiple experiences where a guy would approach me to chat, and within 30 seconds, he was breaking eye contact and looking over my shoulder every time someone new came in. It was like the entire singles scene had been taken over by FOMO [Fear of Mission Out] syndrome.”
Though some Mormon women cast a net outside of their church’s dating pool, a partner in the faith is still a priority for the majority of Latter-Day Saints. To tip the odds in their favor, some women step up their dating game by calling in reinforcements. LDS Matchmaker, a Salt Lake dating service with a deep Rolodex of vetted, marriage-minded LDS singles, has seen an increase in the number of clients taking advantage of services such as relationship coaching or makeovers from a team of stylists.
“We think of ourselves as a “personal trainer” when it comes to love,” says Kristin Sokol of LDS Matchmaker. “It’s typical for someone to hire a trainer to help them overcome the odds when it comes to health, fitness and weightloss. We think it makes sense to hire an expert to help overcome whatever odds you feel are stacked against you when it comes to dating and finding love.”
But all the coaching and hairspray in the world can’t overcome a woman’s biggest obstacle in securing a dinner invitation: the guy’s cold feet.
“Dating itself is not horribly complicated, but people overthink it. They think a date is more than a date. Men get scared to ask women out because they are worried the girl will assume they are automatically getting married,” Berg says, laughing. “A first date should be just that—a first date!”
Though the two-to-one ratio creates a certain scarcity in the Salt Lake dating scene, Berg says there’s little, if any, hostility between LDS women: “I am not a competitive dater. My goal when I go out is not to get the most men or to look better than other women. Seriously, the majority of single women I have met here are gorgeous, intelligent, have great careers and are well-educated. If guys need more than that to be interested, they might need to get their heads examined.”
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Illustrations by Savvy Jensen