I had made the commitment to date only members of the Church when I was 12. But when I turned 16, the members I knew didn’t start calling. In fact, no boys started calling. I went through high school wishing for dates and not getting any. I didn’t even get asked to the prom. So when Mark told me he liked me and wanted to go out, I jumped at the chance. But Mark wasn’t a member of the Church. I rationalized breaking my promise, though, because he was the only boy who would ask me out.
Mark seemed perfect in almost every way. He was three years older than me and shared a house with two roommates. He was very cute, fun, and full of ambition. Mark was my dream come true, a singer and dancer working on a music career.
Mark lavished me with compliments, and he introduced me to his friends and family, who were all welcoming and fun. We started to see each other every day. I had explained my standards to Mark, and he said he understood and respected them—at least at first.
But after a while he started to push me to do more with him physically. I resisted but gradually started to give in. I liked him, and the feelings he stirred in me were very strong. We weren’t doing anything too bad, I rationalized.
I started staying out late at his house, and we would always have fun. But then when I would get home, I wouldn’t feel as good. There was something nagging me in the back of my mind, and it kept tugging at my spirit. I was uncomfortable with how physical I was getting with Mark. And though I tried to rationalize, I couldn’t hide from that feeling.
I decided I had to break up with Mark. I talked to him, and he listened to me, telling me I should do whatever I was comfortable with. He did, however, beg me to stay his friend. I agreed.
I thought things were resolved. But they weren’t. After a week hanging out as friends, we started kissing and my problems all started again. I tried to keep myself occupied with other friends, but Mark made me feel wanted and special.
Then Todd asked me to go on a date with him. He was a returned missionary I had met at a student ward. He took me to dinner and then to the local fun center. I have never had so much fun at an amusement park in my life. By the time the place closed, neither of us wanted the date to end, so he took me to get ice cream.
Todd was great. We talked and laughed the entire date. He had me back home by 11:30 and asked if we could go on another date sometime. I felt wonderful. I couldn’t believe how I felt compared to how I felt after a date with Mark. After the date with Todd I felt happy and good about myself. After a date with Mark I felt depressed.
My date with Todd made me realize I hadn’t been feeling the Spirit when I was with Mark. I didn’t expect to have great spiritual experiences while dating, but I had wanted to have the Spirit there to prompt me. I noticed that, because of what we were doing, the Holy Ghost left whenever I would go see Mark. Having a good time with Todd made me realize how much I yearned to feel the Spirit always.
So I again broke up with Mark. It wasn’t easy, but I did immediately feel as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was used to spending lots of time with Mark, and I still liked him. But I knew I had made the right decision. I wanted to have the Holy Ghost’s presence when I dated, and I was willing to do whatever it took to keep that influence in my life.
Even though I was able to feel the Spirit more often, my life wasn’t suddenly perfect, and the dates didn’t start pouring in. I left for college out of state, and Todd and I were not able to go out any more. And the dates haven’t picked up much at college. But I have been able to feel the Holy Ghost more often, and I am no longer fighting my conscience. That is a wonderful feeling worth the sacrifice.
I have found there is an entirely different spirit when you follow the commandments and 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” (For the Strength of Youth, 7). I still have many good friends who are not members of the Church, but I have realized I only want to date people who have the same beliefs and standards that I do. After all, dating is already so complicated. Why add to the confusion?