A month into our relationship, and while on our way to a date, we walked into a church of Scientology.
Neither of us identifies with a particular religion, and we were ushered to answer a questionnaire.
My partner was in and out in minutes, but they asked me questions for over two hours.
Dating is a wonderful and wacky thing. You have good ones, you have bad ones, and you have truly wild ones. But what happens, though, when the weirdest of dates becomes one of the best you ever had?
That’s what happened to me when my partner of one month and I walked into the church of Scientology and, oddly, left more connected than before.
We walked into the church to get cover from the rain
This date began much like any other; my partner and I had plans to go into town, see a movie, and maybe grab drinks. We had been together a month or so and were still in that lovely stage where we were getting to know one another without things being too serious.
To get to the cinema, we would have to walk down the main high street, which at night was illuminated by shop windows, bars, and, most intriguingly, the local branch of the Church of Scientology. Being in the middle of the city center, it was always something of a discussion point.
On this particular evening, it was pouring, and the cinema was a half-hour walk away. What initially was a passing suggestion from my partner about seeking refuge from the rain quickly turned into us curiously walking up the spiral staircase into the lobby, and before we could change our minds, we were ushered in.
We were asked to take a test
Neither of us identifies with any particular religion, but both appreciate some level of spirituality and faith. Scientology had long been something that fascinated me; its celebrity connotations, its seemingly futuristic sci-fi beliefs, and its elusive and exclusive congregation.
The mystery and charm continued as we were welcomed by two patrons who invited us to complete an Oxford Capacity Analysis test, a huge document asking questions on everything from marital status and employment to thoughts about death and the nature of existence.
All were answered either “yes,” “no,” or “maybe,” which felt impossible for such grand and existential questioning; we were encouraged to analyze aspects from the deepest parts of our personalities. This alone could have turned off many a hesitant and new couple, but we were in this deep and were having a good albeit thought-provoking evening so far, so decided to continue down the rabbit hole.
We were then interviewed separately
Our tests were processed through some kind of supercomputer, and we were taken for interviews. Separately. It was as though I was on a new date with someone else.
My partner, who is painfully objective and rational, was in and out in under 10 minutes. Whether it was his abrasive logic or his stubbornness not to hear what they had to say, he was kicked out to the waiting area, and his interviewer joined in with my interrogations. Being a very emotional person who is easily drawn in, I was grilled on my faith, belief systems, morals, and general attitude toward life for almost two hours.
Pacing back and forth nervously in the lobby, my partner was growing more concerned that following his suggestion to go in the first place, I would leave a convert. In an incense-filled haze and feeling deeply existential, we eventually left after promising to research further in our own time.
It actually brought us closer together
Many would jump to categorize this date as being one of the nightmarish proportions, and in some ways, it was. That being said, from the moment we were released back into the world, something in our relationship shifted.
Never before that day were my partner and I truly comfortable with getting into the more uncomfortable aspects of life; the conversations we had in the church enabled a real openness between us, and nothing was exempt from discussion. We could now talk about what we believed in, what we wanted from the relationship, and be entirely vulnerable with one another.
It’s a date I’m not ever going to forget, but I remember it not for the maddening and bizarre experience of being there but rather for how it empowered us both to be unapologetic and authentic in our relationship.
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