Returned Missionary refers to a member of the Mormon Church who has served as a Mormon missionary and has now returned home. The phrase is generally abbreviated as RM. For young Mormons, and most especially for young male members, serving a mission is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood. Young men who have not yet served a mission are generally discouraged from dating seriously as this would distract from the goal of serving a mission. Once they return home, RMs are generally encouraged to begin dating seriously and to seek to get married, since marriage is highly esteemed in Mormon culture.
While technically a neutral term referring to any person who has returned from a mission, RM is most often used when referring to men who have returned. This is partly because in Mormonism, all young men are expected to serve a mission, whereas women may, but have no such expectation. In Mormon culture, many stereotypes and jokes abound regarding newly returned missionaries, most dealing with their difficulties in handling the reverse culture shock or learning to speak their native language again if they served a foreign speaking mission. Other stereotypes revolve around the fact that as Mormon missionaries, they lived highly structured, disciplined lives and avoided contact with members of the opposite sex, so many RMs have difficulty readjusting to social life and dating. Other stereotypes include the supposed rush of many RMs to get married as soon as possible. Many families whose daughters are old enough to get married, encourage them to date RMs, since they are judged to be the most "eligible." This perceived eligibility derives from the fact that young men greatly mature on their missions. They have spent all their time serving others and relying on the Lord for guidance. They have honed their talents in public speaking, social interaction, organization, and leadership. They are not only highly desirable as potential husbands but as business leaders. That many have gained fluency in a foreign language, as well as cultural fluency, adds to their "marketability."
As returned missionaries, these young men and women are frequently called to assist in the local missionary effort and are encouraged to stay active within the Church through callings and service. RMs who served in the same mission frequently stay in touch and gather for mission reunions held in Salt Lake City to coincide with the semiannual General Conference.