“The Do’s and Don’ts of Dating,” New Era, Feb. 2020, 12–13.
Whether you’re a dating all-star or still sitting on the bench, there are a lot of things you can learn about having a fun time or avoiding fundamental errors. Don’t be ashamed if you’re not naturally gifted when it comes to dating. You can always turn it around. Here are a few of the do’s and don’ts of dating.
Don’t: Decide that even though you’re not 16 yet, you’re totally mature for your age and can totally handle dating.
Do: Follow the guidelines from prophets and apostles in For the Strength of Youth.
Don’t: Assume nobody wants to date you, or wait idly for dates to come along, and complain when they don’t.
Do: Always try to develop friendships and meet people. Even if it doesn’t lead to dates, it teaches good lessons and adds richness to life.
Don’t: Look only to popular social media influencers, blogs, or vlogs for tips on how to behave during dates.
Do: Get advice from righteous parents, or worthy older siblings, or trusted Church leaders about dating. They care about you, their experience is more relevant, and their advice is better.
Don’t: Always ask someone out in a complicated, elaborate way.
Do: Just ask. The direct approach is usually best.
Don’t: Pick up your date and say, “So … what do you want to do?”
Do: Have a plan—and a backup plan.1
Don’t: Decide to do something outdoorsy or athletic, but don’t tell your date, who opts to dress nicely.
Do: Communicate ahead of time. Don’t keep your date guessing, and don’t be shy about asking. And parents need to know what’s going on too.
Don’t: Plan activities that may require you to take out a loan to finance them.
Do: Be creative and find ways to interact that aren’t expensive.2
Don’t: Plan a date that lasts most of a day.
Do: Plan a date that’s relatively limited in scope and time. Fun dates don’t need to be epic in terms of either length or effort.
Don’t: Assume that the date means something hugely significant or implies a great commitment.
Do: Relax. Your only commitment is to spend time with someone for an activity in which you’ll get to know one another and the others in the group. Avoid the word date if you think it carries too much baggage in the culture where you live.
Don’t: Always think, “Could this be the one?”
Do: Just have fun. Remember, there is no serious relationship. This is teenage dating, not courtship before marriage. You’re learning the ropes, not tying the knot.
Don’t: Stay glued to your phone throughout the date.
Do: Silence the phone and pay attention to the people you’re with, particularly your date.
Don’t: Flirt with other people while on your date.
Do: Save it for another day. For now, you already have a date.
Don’t: Put on a loud performance for all of the people on your group date.
Do: Have fun with everyone, but don’t try to be the center of everyone’s attention.
Don’t: Throughout the date, check the time, sigh, yawn, and generally act bored.
Do: Practice courtesy, and do what you can to make things fun.
Don’t: Text from the driveway or honk the horn when picking up your date.
Do: Go to the door. And make an appearance before the parents.
Don’t: Blow off curfew—your own or your date’s.
Do: Take your date home and return home yourself at the time you agreed to.
Don’t: Once the group date starts, just hang out with your friends (guys with guys, girls with girls).
Do: Pay attention to your date. One of you was brave enough to ask, and the other said yes, so spend time together.
Don’t: Go straight from your workout or grubby job to your date.
Do: Put in some effort to look (and smell) good and be clean.
Don’t: Drench yourself with body spray, cologne, or perfume beforehand.
Do: Be clean and well-groomed. Add a hint of fancy stuff if you want. Subtle is better. Some people are sensitive to strong smells or could even be allergic.
Don’t: Talk about yourself the whole time.
Do: Ask interesting questions, and listen closely to the responses. Share some interesting things about yourself, but mostly make it about the other person.
Don’t: Say only negative things whenever you open your mouth.
Do: Be pleasant to be around.
Don’t: Have absolutely nothing to talk about.
Do: You might need to practice conversation a little. Get interested and informed.
Don’t: Use sarcastic, biting, or vulgar humor.
Do: Be genuinely funny, or at least cheesy—maybe some “Dad jokes” to get the groans rolling. Real laughter will usually ensue.
Don’t: Ask awkward questions like “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate me as a date?”
Do: Let go of insecurity and try not to put people on the spot.