How to set this up? I have a friend "Liz." She is cute, stylish, feminine, and outgoing, and she is a guy magnet. It happened once that I was standing there with Liz, and two guys came up to us.
Let me note here that I had spent a great deal of time on my looks that day and that I Iooked awesome.
Back to the story. Two guys came up to us, and Guy A says "Hey, Liz, how's it going?" and Guy B says "Good to see you, Liz."
And I'm thinking something about chopped suey and how that's not me. What was the deal? Was I invisible? Did I smell? Had a wart suddenly appeared on the end of my nose?
I was relaying this story to a guy friend. I had told him I had rarely felt so small in the company of friends and that this feeling of jealousy was new to me and uncomfortable, and I didn't like being jealous of people, especially people I liked.
My guy friend expressed discomfort at my open admission that I was jealous of Liz, and soon afterward, he left.
It was a day or two after that that I had an epiphany of sorts. The story I told above is just an illustration of it. But here is my epiphany:
For women in the mid-singles Mormon world, jealousy is a fact of life, and it factors into many of their social decisions.
Really, Darcy, are you really that shallow, are Mormon women that shallow? The answer is yes. And no. First off, before we even get to the meat of the discussion, there is the fact that single Mormon women are.....single, and that, from their childhood, they are taught that the single greatest calling in life if to be a wife and mother. I don't argue this. I believe it whole-heartedly. But when your circumstances in life do not meet that expectation, then yes, there will always be that unfulfilled desire. Whether or not it takes the form of jealousy is another question. But rest assured: we want what you have. Not precisely your kids or your husband, but we do want ones of our own.
That is our baseline. Many, if not most of us want to be married and aren't. Then you take the odds of single LDS women to men, and at best they are about 3:1. Jealousy in this situation, whatever form it takes, is a survival factor. An instinct. Built into us by 15+ years of searching for our eternal companions. Jealousy is the tool that will eventually help us reach our goal.
That sounds so calculating and harsh, even reading it now. But consider this: "Mike," the same friend I had the conversation with above, is always mentioning dinners he gets invited to in the ward. "Oh, are you going to Suzy's dinner?" "Oh, you didn't hear about the get together at Jane's house?" And every time Mike mentions these get togethers, I always think "Well, no, I wasn't invited. Does that person not like me? Why didn't they invite me when they invited all my guy friends?"
They invited all my guy friends. They didn't invite my girl friends. The fact is, Mike is one of the awesomest guys in the ward, but at this particular event, even some only marginally awesome guys were invited.
Rule #1 of figuring out jealousy: There are more women than men in the economy of Mormon singleness.
Rule #2 of figuring out jealousy: The men who get invited are not necessarily cooler or smarter or more well-liked than you. They are just men.
In my frustration at repeated non-invites, the conversation in my head went something like this:
Me: Why doesn't Jane invite me to her dinners? She invites Mike all the time, and I'm friends with Mike.
Other Me: And you've invited her to some of your things before, so what's the deal?
Me: (Look of dawning understanding on my face) Oh. It's not that she doesn't like me. I'm just not in her Inner Circle. I have get togethers all the time, and I don't invite women who are not in my Inner Circle.
The Inner Circle, folks. I'm pretty sure that's the official title for it. Except for large social occasions, you only bring a limited number of girl friends into your Inner Circle. Why?
Rule #3 of figuring out jealousy: If you are like a guy/want to get to know a guy/think a guy is cool and want to spend time with him without asking him on a date, you invite him to a get together, but YOU DON'T INVITE WOMEN WHO ARE NOT IN YOUR INNER CIRCLE.
I can understand this. I realized after I had this conversation in my head, that I often do it myself. It's important to note, though, the precise composition of a woman's Inner Circle.
Rule #4 of figuring out jealousy: Your Inner Circle should be made up only of other women you trust implicitly who won't try to steal the guy you like OR of women you like but, for whatever reason, are not a threat to you.
And there we have it, folks. Rule #4 is really the crux of it all. The Sunday after I came to this realization, I watched people at church. Sure enough, women cluster according to their Inner Circles. They socialize with everyone at church, but when it comes to who they sit with or who they have the long conversations with, or who they socialize with outside of church, it's usually the same core group.
A reality of this system is that many single women with similar talents, interests, abilities, and values never have anything more than surface-level conversations with each other because they know that they are each others' competition. And bringing the other person into their Inner Circle would only undermine their goal of finding an eternal companion.
Of course as I read this, I know that it's not universal and that there are exceptions to everything. I'm also open to being wrong, but I think I'm right. But if you think I'm wrong, let me know. I'm interested in hearing other opinions.