Youth in the Mormon Church are taught to wait until at least the age of 16 to begin dating and to date only those who have high moral standards. On a date, each is responsible to help each other preserve their standards and to protect each other's honor and virtue. Mormon Prophet Spencer W. Kimball stated it this way: "In proper [dating] the partners must recognize that their first responsibilities are to encourage each other in righteous behavior and to sustain and support each other in righteous desires and ambitions. The young man will do anything to protect the young lady’s purity. Each partner will unselfishly seek the best for the other while they learn to know each other well."1
"For the Strength of Youth", a Church publication for young men and women ages 12-18, it states: "Do not date until you are at least 16 years old. Dating before then can lead to immorality, limit the number of other young people you meet and deprive you experiences that will help you choose an eternal partner."
Continuing on with President Kimball's statement: "If young people [date] one another without being sexually involved, they can more objectively determine whether they should proceed further or whether they should part and seek other more compatible companions. Tragically, [dating] is often misused today by those who either live together for sexual privileges or by those who [date] hastily and marry foolishly. In either situation the purposes of [dating] are not realized and the couple’s morality is corrupted. The world may countenance premarital sex experiences, but the Lord and [the Mormon] church condemn in no uncertain terms any and every sex relationship outside of marriage, and even indecent and uncontrolled ones within marriage.” 1
Youth have been counseled that dating should not be without supervision. Sometimes dating can be a barrier between youth and their parents. However, the involvement of parents is vital; in that communication and setting boundaries needs to be understood by both parents and youth. Parents do not come with a parenting handbook, which tells them what to say and how to act in every situation, especially when their children begin dating. It is mainly a do-it-yourself project, which takes communication and understanding from parents and youth alike. Each side requires patience and knowledge that each will make mistakes. Praying as a family before a teen leaves on a date brings the spirit and love, as well as recognition that each other's thoughts and prayers will be with the other while apart.
1 "Faith Precedes the Miracle", Kimball, 1972, pg.175
To open the door? Or not to open the door? That is the question. Should you help a young lady put her coat on, or does she want to put it on herself? Should you call a young man if he said he was going to call but hasn’t?
You’ve probably had questions like these while spending time with members of the opposite sex. What you do can make your date think you are either a first-class lady or gentleman or a first-class jerk.
Here are a few suggestions on what you could do in some of those awkward situations. You might think some of these customs are old-fashioned, but treating other people respectfully is never out-of-date.
For young Men
• The phone call. However you choose to ask a young woman out, remember to plan well the time you spend together. Try not to call too late at night or just before you want to spend time with her. No young woman likes to feel like she was a last-minute detail.
• The door approach. When you pick a young lady up, you should knock on the door or ring the doorbell—honking your horn is not an acceptable substitute. Give her a sincere compliment to start things off right.
• The car. Most young women like to have the car door opened for them. It shows respect.
• The chair. If you go to a restaurant or other place where you will be sitting, pull the young lady’s chair out for her, and gently place it under her as she sits.
• The coat. It is courteous to help a young lady on and off with her coat if she is wearing one.
• The parents. When you meet them, stand when they come into the room, greet them politely, and ask them what time you should bring their daughter home.
• Watch the clock. Be sure to get your date home on time.
• The doorstep. As you say good night, remember to thank her for spending time with you or for taking you on a date, as the case may be. When you say good night, be sure to follow the guidelines in For the Strength of Youth.
• If she asks you. If a girl asks you out, does that mean she’s going to pay for everything? She’s probably planning on it, but it would be a good idea to offer to pay for one of the activities or to drive or help in some way, to make sure she knows you appreciate what she’s doing.
For Young Women
• The outfit. One great way to show respect for whomever you are with is to dress modestly. Your date shouldn’t have to avert his eyes or blush because of what you are wearing. It’s also a good idea to find out what you are doing beforehand so you can dress appropriately. You wouldn’t want to wear a nice dress to go hiking in the mountains.
• Asking out. It’s okay to ask a guy out from time to time, but be sure you are considerate in your asking. If you know he’s interested in you, you might want to let him ask you the first time. A few subtle hints will help him; he needs to know if you’re interested, too.
• The car. Give boys the opportunity to open the door for you. If his door isn’t already unlocked, it’s polite to reach over and unlock it for him once you’re in the car.
• The doorstep scene. If it’s not too late and your parents won’t mind, you can invite your date (and your friends, too, if you’re on a group date) in for a few minutes. This not only diffuses the awkwardness of saying good-bye on the doorstep, it also gives you a chance to thank your date for taking you out.
So, the answer to your question? Open the door! It never hurts to enhance your etiquette and reveal your respect for others.
“How to Be a First-Rate Date,” New Era, Oct 2004, 34