Living with large numbers of men in college prepared me for marriage.

Not in the way you may be thinking..

I lived in co-ed dorms all four years of college. It was a great experience, especially the two years when I was lucky enough to live in a dorm that had its own diet coke fountain machine. That rocked.

Living in co-ed dorms was great preparation for dating and marriage. I had the opportunity to become friends with the men I lived with. I sat up late at night talking about politics, religion, and gender issues. I hung out in their rooms getting and giving help with chemistry problems and critiquing papers. I saw them stumble down the common hallways in the morning to brush their teeth and head for a shower.

I learned to live with guys without experiencing any tension that a romantic relationship might develop or that such a relationship ought to develop. After all, there is nothing attractive about a smelly guy walking to the bathroom half asleep in the morning. I learned to be myself around men. It laid a foundation for meeting and later marrying my husband. We started out as friends living in neighboring dorms. Now I’m not saying that people should start out as friends with no romantic interest in each other, but I really appreciated learning how to talk to and relate to guys without the pressure or question of romance developing.

So often in Mormon culture, at least among single people, it seems there is a hope/possibility that any relationship with the opposite sex may have the potential to become something eternal. Certainly eternal marriage is a worthy, wonderful goal, but I worry that we are not very practiced at talking with and working with members of the opposite sex without remnants of that tension remaining.

I wonder if BYU would ever go for co-ed dorms. Sure, there might be some additional chastity issues, but nothing the honor code couldn’t handle.  I wonder if the benefits to LDS culture would outweigh the risks.