Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Why does the Church say we should not date until we are 16 years old?

New Era

  • Following guidelines gives us security and brings us happiness.

  • Proper dating includes waiting until the appropriate age.

  • There is a higher rate of inappropriate physical relationships when dating begins too early.

  • Waiting to date allows time to mature mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

  • Serious one-on-one relationships limit your opportunities to associate with a variety of people.

Heavenly Father wants each one of us to return to Him. He has given guidelines to help us stay worthy and achieve this goal. Waiting to date may seem to be hard. But remember that the guidelines exist to help us return to our Father in Heaven.

It can be difficult to hold off on dating when the desire and pressure from peers are so strong. But there are many reasons for waiting, and the blessings that come from following this counsel are great.

In For the Strength of Youth we are instructed to “begin to prepare now for a temple marriage. Proper dating is a part of that preparation” (p. 7). Proper dating includes waiting until the appropriate age.

In your early teens you are just beginning a process of emotional, social, mental, and physical development that will go on for years. Dating too early in this maturing process can complicate your life.

For example, it’s not unusual to develop strong romantic feelings during your early teens. With those feelings often come desires that are made even stronger by the fact that you are maturing physically. And all of this happens at a time when you still don’t have the emotional and mental maturity to deal with those feelings. Studies have shown that there is a much higher rate of inappropriate physical relationships when dating starts too early.

Early dating often leads to exclusive relationships at the very time you should be expanding your horizons and associating with a variety of people. Serious one-on-one dating puts up a wall that blocks friendships with anyone but that “one.” This barrier often keeps those dating from developing meaningful relationships with others.

As you approach dating age, remember that life doesn’t begin at 16. Enjoy this time of your life. Get to know, and enjoy associating with, a variety of people. Develop your social skills so that when you are old enough to date, it will be an enjoyable experience.

Turning 16 doesn’t automatically bless you with dating skills, just like being old enough to have a driver’s license doesn’t make you a good driver. Dating may be uncomfortable at first. You might be surprised to find that dating brings new pressures. There are many happy, normal young people over 16 who rarely or never date in the formal sense until marriage age.

After turning 16, it is best to date in groups and avoid pairing off with just one partner. Take it easy. Enjoy your friendships before moving into serious dating relationships. Dating is sort of a “trial run” for selecting a marriage partner, so you should date the kinds of people you would consider marrying.

Have the faith to follow the guidelines of Church leaders. Your dating years will be less stressful and more fun. You’ll receive the blessings that come from obedience. And you’ll be better prepared for temple marriage.

President Spencer W. Kimball

“Dating and especially steady dating in the early teens is most hazardous. It distorts the whole picture of life. It deprives the youth of worthwhile and rich experiences; it limits friendships; it reduces the acquaintance which can be so valuable in selecting a partner for time and eternity” (Spencer W. Kimball, “President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 96).

Readers

Sometimes we don’t have answers to everything. When an angel asked Adam why he offered animal sacrifices, he replied, “I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” Heavenly Father has said, through His servants, that we shouldn’t date before 16. We should follow the example of Adam and have faith that what the Lord tells us is true.

John Wilson, 17 Rancho Cucamonga, California

Remember, our elders and parents know about dating. They’ve been there, too. They know what they are talking about, so why not wait?

Lena Smith, 13 Salem, Oregon

The prophet has told us not to date until we are 16, and even then we should go in groups. We should want to follow his counsel and do what he asks us. It can be hard, but if we do it, it will be worth it.

Jameson Fife, 16 Cedar City, Utah

Just like getting baptized at 8 and preparing when we’re 7, following the counsel of our leaders and waiting to date until 16 will give us time to prepare. We can use the time to set guidelines and make goals so that when we start dating we have a plan to avoid the potential hazards that dating presents.

Elder Michael Bonnici, 19 Utah Salt Lake City South Mission

Waiting until 16 gives us time to grow and mature before taking on another challenge.

Lucero Sumner, 18 Missouri City, Texas

[photo] Photography by Lana Leishman. Posed by models