“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, May 1996, 17
The customs of the culture you live in and the rules established by your family will affect how you think about dating. For example, in some cultures it is not considered proper to date several people at the same time. Or in some countries, you do not date someone unless you have serious intentions of pursuing the idea of marriage. In other societies dating is more open. Families often have rules about curfews and what type of activities are acceptable for dating.
In many English-speaking countries, dating is considered a good way to get to know a variety of people. However, a date can be misunderstood by the two people involved. One may consider it just a casual thing, while the other person may see it as something more serious. You may be able to help make your position clear by talking about your friendship, and mentioning to others that you enjoy each other’s company as friends. In time, good friendships can turn into something more serious, but don’t rush it. Keep things on a friendly basis while you are still in your teens. Don’t do anything that will hurt the feelings of those you date. And don’t do anything that will cause you to look back with regret. If you go out as groups of friends, you can look back at your high school days as being a fun time in your life.
The Church has given some specific advice about dating in the pamphlet For the Strength of Youth, taking into account the different attitudes toward dating. Along with the advice to postpone dating until after the age of 16, young people are advised, “When you begin dating, go in groups or on double dates. Avoid pairing off exclusively with one partner. … Plan positive and constructive activities when you are together. Do things that help you get to know each other. Be careful to go to places where there is a good environment, where you won’t be faced with temptation” (p. 7).
In other words, going places and participating in activities with groups of friends may be the best choice for your teen years. You can learn to be a kind, considerate, and loving friend during this time of your life. And the friendships you form may last a lifetime.
As you become good friends with another person, there is the temptation to spend a lot of time exclusively with that person. You need to be careful that the hours spent talking and getting to know each other are not late at night or while you’re alone. Don’t just “hang out.” Make plans. If your family likes to play games, ask if you can invite your friend. Check out your local paper for events that sound interesting. Take a group to local sites of interest.
Plan some of your dates for the daytime instead of always at night. For example, plan to go hiking with a group on a Saturday afternoon.
Sign up for a class together. Since you’re doing these things with your friends, you’ll have a great time.
Even a simple thing like running errands can be more fun if you invite a friend along. It also keeps things light and fun.
It may happen that an association you form as a teenager will grow into a romance, but as it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 [Eccl. 3:1], “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” While in your teens, it’s time to be friends. It’s time to grow socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Stay worthy, and take comfort in knowing you can look back at your dating years with no regrets.
When you go on a date with someone, the date should be a fun one, not necessarily one that can be looked at as a serious thing. The appearance of things may be the problem. Don’t give people the impression that it is serious.
Derick Turner, 17
Salt Lake City, Utah
Before you plan a date, discuss with each other that you just want to be friends and not have a serious relationship.
Terri E. Hendricks, 16
Don’t let others stop you from having fun. If you date members of the Church who have the same high standards as you do, then you will find it easy to be yourself and be happy. With a positive attitude and a strong spirit, you can help others understand.
Angela K. Brinton, 17
Barnwell, Alberta, Canada
My suggestion is to follow the counsel of the First Presidency and wait until you are 16, and then just go out and have fun. Don’t pair off. A lot of kids have gotten into a lot more trouble just pairing off than by going on a “date.”
Sonya Nelson, 19
Green River, Utah
You should not go out alone on a date, but go on double dates or with groups. Let everyone know that your dating is a friendship thing and not serious, especially the one you’re dating.
Rave Hamilton, 16
You can have lots of fun. Go out with different people, and it will save you a lot of heartache.
Debi Moulton, 18
These are some things you can do:
Avoid going just as a pair.
Have a positive attitude and establish a relationship of trust with those you date.
Let those around you know the type of relationships you have—friends.
Maxwell O. Etete
Port Harcourt, Nigeria