Dating in a small Southern town isn’t always easy, especially when you are also queer and Jewish. Last October, I started dating this great girl named Mandie*. We were both attending the same university, though in different programs, and we instantly bonded on our first date over similar struggles of identifying as queer in the South as well as other deep topics such as mental illness stemming from our past sexual traumas.
Mandie was easy going, funny, smart, and was on a mission to dismantle the patriarchy, so naturally, I quickly fell for her. Within our first week of meeting, I had already introduced Mandie to my friends and we had regular sleepovers at each other’s places. We joked that we had fallen into the “U-Haul Lesbian” stereotype. Even though she wasn’t Jewish, Mandie also became my rock as I dealt with the fallout after the Pittsburgh shooting. Right after I heard the news about what was happening in Pittsburgh and reached out to her for support, Mandie was at my door with scones from my favorite bakery and plenty of snuggles. Although she couldn’t quite understand what I was grappling with, her heart was open to comfort me.
I did notice some red flags, though, like how she kept referring to my Judaism as merely my “faith” and didn’t seem open to a deeper understanding of the rich culture that I was immersed in. Looking through my rainbow-colored glasses, I assumed that she would be more open to learning and maybe even attending Shabbat services with me the longer we were together — even though she time-and-again refused to attend services with me (even when I was the one leading them).
A few months into our relationship, we were sitting in a Waffle House and somehow the topic of Mandie’s Southern Baptist faith came up. She talked about how proud she was of the fact that when she was in middle school, she had “converted” a couple of her peers who identified as atheist; she felt that she had “saved” them. They were even practicing Christians to this day, she bragged. My alarm bells went screaming and I felt so uncomfortable due to my past experiences with Christians trying to “save” me from my Judaism.
Mandie eventually noticed my discomfort and asked what was wrong. I told her the truth — that my past experiences with Christian missionaries and her words about converting people made me feel incredibly morally icky. She assured me that I had nothing to worry about since I had a “faith” (there’s that word again!!) and she only tried to “help” those who needed to find their way to a faith of their own.
Immediately when I got home, I wrote in for advice during the Unorthodox podcast/Savage Lovecast mash-up so that I could get some clarity (my clip starts at 38:27). Though I didn’t hear Dan’s advice until well over a month later, frantically writing out my situation with my heart in my throat told me that I couldn’t possibly continue to date Mandie. It trudged up too many of my traumatic past experiences, and even though she assured me that I was “safe” from being asked to convert to Christianity, I just couldn’t shake the possibility that she was lying.
Yet, despite this revelation, I continued to date Mandie for several weeks after the fact. I was so afraid of being alone again that I couldn’t bring myself to end something that had become toxic for me.
Later on, the issue of monogamy versus non-monogamy came boiling to the surface, and she ended up treating me incredibly poorly because of it. Between that and the missionary issue, the relationship was stressing me out so much that my chronic illness flared up. It was at that point that I knew we were done.
I haven’t spoken to her since I ended things in front of her apartment building, and honestly, thank God. Although there were some lonely, cold nights immediately following the break-up, I can confidently say that ending that relationship was one of the best decisions I have made for myself this year.
I wish her all the happiness in the world and hope she finds the perfect missionary partner to join her in her endeavor to create more Christians. I just hope she leaves Jews out of it.
What a fucking schmuck.
*Name has been changed.