Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

“How can I follow the counsel in For the Strength of Youth to ‘avoid going on frequent dates with the same person’? It’s hard for me to ignore my feelings for one person and date others. What should I do?”

New Era

  • Your parents, teachers, and bishop are all there to talk to if you have questions or problems.

  • As a teen you should be meeting and spending time with a variety of people.

  • Dating a variety of people will help you develop social skills and figure out what qualities you value in others.

  • Spending too much time with one person can lead to serious moral sins.

  • Through prayer you can share your burdens with Heavenly Father.

Doing what is right isn’t always easy. Luckily, you aren’t alone. There are people who want to help you.

Your parents, teachers, and bishop are all there to talk to if you have problems. They have experienced many of the same emotions you are feeling.

It may help you to know some of the reasons Church leaders say you should “avoid going on frequent dates with the same person” (For the Strength of Youth, 25) while you are a teenager. As a teen you should be meeting and spending time with a variety of people. It’s a time to develop social skills and figure out what qualities you value in other people. If you spend all your time with one person, you could miss out on important friendships.

Not long ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley said relationships you have with peers of the opposite sex are “the most common and most difficult of all problems for young men and young women to handle. … You are dealing with the most powerful of human instincts. Only the will to live possibly exceeds it” (New Era, Jan. 2001, 12–13).

Because your relationships with others can create such powerful emotions, President Hinckley gives powerful advice for how to stay safe when faced with these feelings.

“Steady dating at an early age leads so often to tragedy. Studies have shown that the longer a boy and girl date one another, the more likely they are to get into trouble.

“It is better, my friends, to date a variety of companions until you are ready to marry. Have a wonderful time, but stay away from familiarity. Keep your hands to yourself. It may not be easy, but it is possible” (New Era, Jan. 2001, 13).

This counsel is not new. It may surprise you to learn that your parents probably received the same counsel when they were dating. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said, “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” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, 96).

Another reason for not dating the same person is that there are sexual dangers. Spending too much time together can lead to serious moral sins.

If you have a firm testimony that the Church is true and that Church leaders are called by God, it is easier to do what they say. If you have that basic testimony, you don’t have to wonder about every bit of counsel you receive from Church leaders.

A major part of growing up is learning to control your feelings. If it is difficult for you to follow this counsel, and you truly want to do what is right, ask for help. Through prayer you can share your burdens with Heavenly Father.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“The Lord has made us attractive to one another for a great purpose. But this very attraction becomes as a powder keg unless it is kept under control. … It is for this reason that the Church counsels against early dating. This rule is not designed to hurt you in any way. It is designed to help you, and it will do so if you will observe it” (New Era, Jan. 2001, 13). —President Gordon B. Hinckley

Readers

We are always going to have feelings for other people. It is normal. But Alma 38:12 tells us to control our passions, not ignore them. When we begin to pair off we are submitting our will to our passions, and our feelings begin to control us.

Kristine Smith, 18 Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada

Pray for help to do what is right. Avoid situations that can lead you to compromise your standards as a member of the Church. Satan uses many ways to deprive us of eternal happiness with our Heavenly Father.

Njoku Mathew Ugochukwu Accra, Ghana

Before you make any decisions, ask yourself if you are following the prophet’s counsel, which will lead to eternal, true happiness. Or are you following Satan’s counsel, which will lead to temporary, so-called happiness.

Aspen Paige Owen, 16 Ogden, Utah

One of the important aspects of dating is social—being with friends, learning to get along with different personalities, and developing conversation and other social skills. Later, the time will come for choosing just one.

Sister Afaha Udeme Tames, 21 Ghana Accra Mission

The counsel we are given on dating does serve a purpose. High school tends to bring on feelings and emotions that have never before been experienced. I justified that the feelings I felt were stronger than the rules. Little did I know that is exactly why I should have heeded the counsel given.

Name Withheld Arco, Idaho

[photo] Photography by Robert Casey. Posed by models