Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

I’m not exaggerating when I say that there are no LDS young people to date in my area. Wouldn’t it be all right to date nonmembers?

New Era

  • Ask your parents and Church leaders for guidance.

  • Date only those who share your goals and standards.

  • Try to focus on the social, not the romantic, aspects of dating until you might consider marriage.

  • Consider if dating is really necessary at this time in your life.

  • Temple marriage should be your goal.

  • Pray to know what is right and to have the strength to do it.

First of all, this would be a great topic to discuss with your parents and your bishop or branch president, and we encourage you to do so. Now, having said that, here are some things to consider.

For the Strength of Youth says this about dating: “Because dating is a preparation for marriage, date only those who have high standards, who respect your standards, and in whose company you can maintain the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (p. 7). And President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: “Your chances for a happy and lasting marriage will be far greater if you will date those who are active and faithful in the Church” (Ensign, Nov. 1981, 41).

Our dictionary defines a date as “a social engagement between two persons that often has a romantic character” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed.). We like that definition because it points out two major aspects of dating. One is social—being with friends, learning to get along with different personality types, developing conversation and other social skills. This is the aspect of dating you should focus on until you reach the age where you might consider marriage. Group dating is ideal for this purpose.

The other aspect of dating, the romantic part, can be very appealing, especially when there’s someone you are attracted to. It doesn’t help that the media—and many of your fellow teens—focus on romance and physical attraction. But this is where the real danger is.

Those romantic feelings can become very strong. And once they have developed, they can overrule your own common sense as well as the teachings and advice of your parents and Church leaders. If you don’t place yourself in a position to be influenced in that way, you are much safer. That’s why it’s such a good idea not to date one person exclusively until you are ready to settle down.

President Spencer W. Kimball counseled: “Do not take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless. … One cannot afford to take a chance on falling in love with someone who may never accept the gospel (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 241–42; italics added).

If you don’t have the opportunity to associate with other LDS youth, consider if dating is really necessary at this time in your life. Many people don’t date until they go to college. The fun, social aspect of dating is as easily achieved by participating in wholesome activities with worthwhile friends. And there’s none of the awkwardness and social pressure that often accompany dating.

If you date someone who doesn’t hold high standards, the romantic feelings you may develop for that person could pressure you to compromise your standards. Temple marriage should be your goal. If you avoid dating situations where you may feel pressure to compromise your standards—even if it means postponing dating—the Lord will bless you.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you. They will be your safeguards in situations where you may vacillate between choices, and you in turn may save them” (New Era, Jan. 2001, 11).

—President Gordon B. Hinckley

Readers

Before you consider dating nonmembers, try fellowshipping them to church and see how they feel about it. What you find may be a strong indication of whether you should consider dating them.

Ben Watson, 18 Kimberly, Idaho

Here in England, members in a ward usually live far apart, and it is difficult for the youth and young single adults. But the wait is worth it. You will receive so many blessings and you will realize how wonderful a relationship that includes the Spirit can be. My current boyfriend is the first LDS young man I have ever dated, and the difference between him and all my previous experiences is phenomenal! I urge you to wait and date an LDS boy or girl.

Sarah Wood, 19 Oxford, England

What you really need to do is pray. Though a simple tool, it is most effective. Also, make sure that every person you intend to date knows your standards and won’t try to lower them.

Abby Scott, 16 St. George, Utah

Date only those non-members who have high standards, who respect your standards, and in whose company you can maintain the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Offiong Udoh, 21 Ghana Accra Mission

I think nonmembers are great friends. However, I have personally set a goal not to date them. It has often been said that you marry the people you date. If that’s the case, I might risk the opportunity to get married in the temple and the possibility of returning back to my Father in Heaven. That’s one risk I’m not willing to take.

Shelley Nebeker, 16 Eagle River, Alaska

[photo] Photography by Kelly A. Larsen. Posed by models