Two years ago, I reached out to Amy Stevens Seal, a Mormon dating coach and founder of The LDS Matchmaker, to see if she would agree to be interviewed about the gender imbalance in Mormon dating. According to a Trinity College study, above-average apostasy rates among Mormon men have left the LDS church with a 3:2 ratio of marriage-age women to men within the state of Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that at one Salt Lake City singles ward (singles wards are churches for LDS singles), the membership rolls had 429 women versus only 264 men. Mormon blogs are filled with pained discussions about the unfair dating numbers. And a marriage survey published by LDS-oriented Meridian Magazine included this comment: “I think that there will be a fast growing number of unmarried Mormon women, due to the huge imbalanced gender ratio. Most YSA wards are 2:1 or even 3:1 women.”
Seal declined to speak with me—her prerogative, of course—but her publicist did connect me with Tristen Ure Hunt, another Mormon matchmaker. Hunt was forthcoming, honest and eloquent when discussing the lopsided gender ratios and how they were wreaking havoc in the Mormon dating world.
Now, two years later, Seal is suddenly eager to talk about Mormon gender ratios herself—and about DATE-ONOMICS. In her blog on the LDS Matchmaker website, Seal writes—incorrectly—that my career “revolves around writing books that will sell.” A smidgen of research on her part would have revealed that DATE-ONOMICS is my first book and that my actual career revolves writing about the stock market, real estate, and energy for Fortune and other magazines. Then again, as Seal herself points out, some experts can’t help but gin up false information in order to bolster their arguments.
Seal goes on to imply that my interest in this topic was “negatively slanted towards the [LDS] Church.” She bemoaned that that I found “other sources willing to validate his data and ‘prove’ his points.” Here’s the rub. For all of Seal’s outrage, she failed to muster a single statistic contradicting the gender-ratio data in the book. In fact, she conceded the demographic reality: “At social events and wards for LDS singles, the gender ratio is noticed and lamented by many women seeking to find an eternal companion.” Indeed, Seal doesn’t deny the gender-ratio-related challenges faced by single Mormon women—she just thinks women can overcome them (if they hire the right matchmaker, presumably). “Since when did anything good come with an ‘even’ playing field?” Seal asks. “Honestly, what worthy goal or pursuit in life has come easy?”
Look, I may be a statistics geek, but I can still embrace serendipity and romance and the possibility of fate intervening and bringing two people together against tough odds. Nevertheless, it seems self-serving for Seal dismiss those tough odds as irrelevant. Giving people hope is appropriate. But false hope? That strikes me as cruel.