Does anyone actually enjoy the dating scene? I doubt it. Dating is an awkward mish mash of empty conversations, high expectations and half-hearted efforts to impress someone. It is a lot of work that is potentially physically and emotionally tiring, especially for those who are “rough around the edges” or “have skeletons in their closets.”

As someone with “a past,” (whatever that actually means), I used to be shy about dating. I would always have hypothetical conversations with myself like, “What if they find out how many medications I’m on? What will they think of me?” or “Will our life experiences be too unrelatable for this to work out?”

After having a conversation with a dear friend of mine who was hesitant to go on a date with someone because of their history, it hit me; people have high expectations for a future partner. I knew that, but what really struck me was that I would probably be categorized as an “undesirable” or a “questionable” choice in a partner solely based on what I’ve been through and not who I am because of it. My goal is to become a wife and a mother. Ideally, a dang good one. It upset me that my dating pool might be limited because others may categorize me based on my past, or even that I might accidentally do that to someone else. That shouldn’t be the case.

This is my charge: Give the broken ones a chance.

We often spend so much time comparing people to our “perfect partner” trait list and crossing them off instead of giving them a chance. Not a second date. Not a first date. Maybe not even a friendship. People aren’t perfect. You aren’t perfect. I am definitely not perfect. It isn’t fair to others or ourselves to place people in categories with labels and leave them there to die. Just because someone may have been “damaged” in the past doesn’t mean that they aren’t still worth more than their weight in gold.

I’ve been raised in an unconventional home. I’ve experienced poverty. I’ve known abuse, hatred and death. I’ve been wronged and bullied and I have wronged and bullied others. But I am not the sum of my experiences.

Because of my experiences, I have learned how to raise children. I have learned how to be a good friend. I’ve learned how to sacrifice, to work and to love. I’ve learned empathy and compassion on an indescribable level.

My experiences will make me a loving mother. I will raise my children with a loving gentle hand, but teach them the value of discipline and hard work. I will be a supportive, committed wife who will value my husband’s priesthood and honor him. I will make my home a safe haven for everyone who enters. Because of my past, I will do everything in my power to anchor family’s future.

If you’re dating with the purpose of finding a spouse, (which is generally how it goes), then broaden your view on who would make a good partner.

Whether they returned home early from a mission, didn’t go, are divorced, sexually abused, struggled with addiction or just struggle in their own way, take the time to get to know someone. Go on a lunch date. Build a friendship first if you’re worried about it.

Give the broken ones a chance. You may come to find the person you need isn’t on your list.