When it comes to dating, different people have different questions. How would you answer them?
At the New Era we hear a lot of questions from young people about all kinds of topics. One of the most common areas of confusion (or aggravation—we can’t always tell which) is dating.
The questions about dating seem to come from three basic types of questioners: daters, waiters, and loophole creators. These three groups have different backgrounds and motivations for their questions, but all of them deserve answers so that they can find peace and guidance. And you can help.
Here are some examples of questions from these three groups, as well as a copy of the “Dating” section of For the Strength of Youth. See if you can match up the questions to the statements in that section that give an answer. Or, if you know other answers from the scriptures or general conference, add those. It’s a good exercise to see how well you know the guidelines and how well you can answer questions for yourself or others.
When these people turned 16, they decided to try out this dating thing. (Read “What about Dating?”) They’ve had some experiences, and as a result, they have some questions. Here are a few of them:
Is it OK to date someone who’s not LDS?
When you’re on a date, how can you keep the conversation and fun going smoothly without it getting awkward?
Basic Principles for Answering Questions
• Have an attitude of faith.
• Try to see things from an eternal perspective.
• Go to the right sources—the scriptures, prophets, parents, and leaders, as well as asking Heavenly Father for the guidance of the Spirit.
• Be kind—a part of the answer to any question regarding how to deal with others.
How can I avoid steady dating? Everybody else does it. And they think dating different people is like “cheating.”
I recently took someone out for fun, but now she wants a relationship. What should I do?
How can I hold to our dating standards when most people I know don’t adhere to them—even the LDS ones?
At what age can we start going on dates one-on-one instead of in groups?
For questions like these, you can sometimes find the answers right in For the Strength of Youth. But you may also need to talk to some people with a little experience who can offer some ideas for how to deal with people and situations both faithfully and a tactfully.
No, these are not servers at restaurants. They’re people who have turned 16 and are either (a) choosing to wait a while before dating or (b) waiting for someone to finally ask them out on a date. Here are their questions:
I’m old enough, but I don’t really feel like dating yet. Is that OK? (Read “Is it wrong not to want to date at all right now?”)
Why date as a teenager? What’s the point?
The LDS young men in my area are my friends, but they aren’t asking me on dates. Why? (Read “What’s the Deal with Boys? ... What’s the Deal with Girls?”)
I’m almost 18 and I’ve never been asked out on a date. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with guys?
I’ve been rejected by girls, and I don’t want to ask anyone on a date anymore. Is that OK?
Some of these questions are a little harder to answer by quoting For the Strength of Youth. You’ll need compassion, understanding, and sensitivity. Those choosing not to date aren’t breaking any commandments, and those not being asked out don’t have anything wrong them. But people are still feeling anxious and hurt. You may want to talk to parents, older siblings, leaders, and others who can lend a sympathetic ear and offer good advice and perspective. (Read “Not Dating? You’re Not Alone.”)
People in this group can be anywhere from 12 to 18 years old, and their questions are all over the map. They’re definitely sincere and deserve answers. But basically, they seem to be trying to carve out an exception to the rules so that they can feel good about doing what they want to do. Here’s just a sampling of their many questions:
Is it OK to have a boyfriend or girlfriend as long as you’re not dating?
If I’m not 16 yet, can I spend most of my free time with a person as long as we’re not dating? (Read “What Can We Do If We Like Each Other?”)
What’s the definition of a “date”?
Is it OK to kiss before you’re 16 as long as you’re not dating?
If I’m 16 and the person I want to go on a date with is 15, is it OK to go out with them as long as they’re not LDS so they won’t be breaking their standards?
How many dates with other people do I need to go on in between dates with the person I really like?
What if you date someone and you truly feel that you’re supposed to be together? Is it OK to steady date then?
What if you prayed about steady dating someone and you both got the answer that it’s OK?
Even if your initial reaction to some of these questions is some variation of “No,” “No way,” or “What are you thinking?” try to have understanding. These are sincere questions from people who really want an answer, so we don’t want to be brusque or dismissive. Look at For the Strength of Youth and see how you might begin to form an answer. The key is not to just repeat the standard but to focus on the why behind the standard. Why no frequent dates with the same person? Why wait until 16 to date?