Thursday, February 14, 2008

Searching for a UU Partner

St. Valentine's Day honors a martyred holy man named Valentine who defied the power of the Roman Empire and paid with his life. His crime: he secretly performed marriage ceremonies for people whom the Emperor denied the right to marry.

In the third century, the Roman Emperor Claudius II had decreed that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young prospective warriors for the Empire. Believing this unjust, Valentine defied the decree and was put to death in AD 270.

This Valentine's Day, I'm thinking of the single, committed Unitarian Universalists I know, both gay and straight. Many are young adults full of UU faith, wanting to keep our religious movement a large part of their lives. Do they dare search for a Unitarian Universalist partner/spouse? Would it be possible for a "spiritual, but not religious" potential date to become a UU? How about the unchurched, the formerly churched, the devout atheist? Let's face it, the UU pool of potential soulmates is quite small.

A friend of mine, eager to be married and have children, began to date a dogged anti-religionist. He referred to her small UU congregation as "that cult you go to every Sunday." I'm sure you've guessed the result: she left our faith. Some UUs partner with those who aren't hostile to organized religion, but would never become Unitarian Universalists themselves. A woman at district Leadership School said that she tried to find a UU, but ended up with a Catholic partner. Surprise!

My advice for UU singles is to introduce all your dates to a UU worship service, then spring for lunch at a locally-owned restaurant afterwards. I introduced four people to Unitarian Universalism this way! I'm proud to say that one of them is now a member of a large UU church in a state south of mine. Some people assume that seeing a dating couple at a morning worship service means they must have slept together the night before, but I believe that attending church together should be an early test -- date number three, perhaps?

It takes resolve to decide not to hook up with people practicing a faith that is quite different than ours. Even I had to refrain from telephoning a very sweet Italian Catholic! Knowing that it's risky to narrow the field, those who envision a UU wedding/commitment ceremony, taking adult ed classes together, dedicating children, singing UU hymns around the piano, or simply attending worship together ought to keep that dream for while. It's not impossible.

Some of my work colleagues thought I was way too picky to ever find a mate. More than one refused to fix me up with anyone after I made the mistake of sharing my criteria, which included not just UUism, but being a good cook, having liberal politics, an understanding of feminism, being comfortable with LGBT folks, not being too tall, being curious about life, willing to dance....Okay, it was a lengthy list. I've heard that you'll know you've found the right person because you tear up your list of criteria!

For me, a small miracle occurred: I fell in love with a Unitarian Universalist friend. We were such good friends, see, that we decided to share an apartment as roommates. Many complex situations and emotions ensued, but eventually led to our wedding. Believe me, I'm not recommending this as a strategy, but being in close contact with someone reveals character in a profound way.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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