When I was on my mission I received a “Dear John” letter from my girlfriend. We were not engaged by any manner, and had only been dating 3-4 months before I left on my mission. But as only teenagers can do, we fell madly in love in those short months. We were pretty sure we were meant for each other, and would marry when I got back, but there was no formal commitment.

Soon after I left, she started going out with one of my best friends, who was not active and was not going on a mission. This was all kept a secret from me, as her letters revealed nothing, until that fateful day four months into my mission. (yup, she lasted four months!). I wish I had kept the letter, but it got burned in a missionary ritual. I don’t remember much of what was in it, except the part that said ” I still love you, but now there is Phil……”. I do remember the zone leader were visiting, and one of them grabbed my letter and read it out loud to all the other elders in the apartment, creating lots of laughter and backslapping at my expense.

They ended up getting married in the Oakland Temple about a year into my mission. So I guess the one good thing about it was that Phil became active in the church, though he never served a mission. Also they were at my homecoming talk in Sacrament meeting. I didn’t have the guts to say in my talk: “It’s so good to be back and see everybody, especially my girlfriend and her husband”. I was married within the year, and the four of use got together several times for dinner.

One of my companions later in my mission got a dear John of the worst kind. He was about three months from the end of his mission when he got a letter from his parents telling him that his girlfriend had been disfellowshipped for fornication. They had planned on getting married, in fact my companion told me the only reason he came on his mission was that she would not marry him if he was not an RM. He pretty much had a complete breakdown, and I and the mission president kept him sane for about 6 weeks, and then the mission president let him go home early.

I wonder with the lowering of the missionary age to 18 for the men if there are fewer attached missionaries going out today. It seems that year between 18 and 19 was a prime time for young men to start dating as an adult. Now they are leaving right out of high school. So maybe there are less Dear John letters written today. What do you think?