Hi, I’m 14 from Missouri and I was wondering about something. Its been said plenty of times that you should not date before you are 16, but it doesn’t say anywhere that you can’t “pair off” or have a girlfriend before 16. There is this girl I am interested in that I see at stake dances and I know she is interested in me. I want her to be my girlfriend but I need some direction. What’s your advice?
The blunt answer, wait until you’re 16.
There are several reasons for the standards the Church has held for some time now, and they apply now more than ever. The first thing you must do is listen to the counsel of the Church as well as your parents. I very much hope you discuss this with them. Believe me when I tell you I know how being a teenager is. Trust the counsel for what it is, a line of safety for you.
Once you do reach sixteen, your options will be varied, but you must still remain under careful control and with full communication to parents. For instance, spending time with her in joint youth activities is fine, spending time with her in the presence of her, or your, family is fine. Even group dates with two or more of your common friends can make for a fun evening. What needs to be avoided is solo dating. The teenage years are filled with new urges and desires. These things are placed within us by Heavenly Father to encourage strong and happy families, but when misused and abused, they can all but destroy the soul. Because of this, the General Authorities have always preached caution and care when dealing with romantic feelings in the teenage years. Elder Jeffery R. Holland described these passions as “A river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a thousand restraints.” He’s not exaggerating in any way.
Moral purity and cleanliness before God is a powerful blessing against countless temptations in this life. It is also the most difficult to regain once lost.
I know of many couples that truly married their high school sweethearts. Many of those that followed the standards of the church have strong and healthy marriages that endured many trials and are still strong to this very day. Those that did not follow the standards faced countless challenges to their relationship almost immediately, and many of those ended in bitter divorce. Nothing is guaranteed, but the promises of Heavenly Father are always guaranteed so long as you keep to his word and will.
On a more personal level, from one old teenager to a newer teenager, relax and take your time. Enjoy the activities with your fellow youth according to the standards of the church. You’re very interested in this young woman, and that’s fine, but there is every chance your interests will move to other young women. This is very normal, and you should take it as a chance to learn more about what relationships are for, and how to maintain them. All of this is in preparation for marriage, so don’t get too wound up from the start. As you do so, I can promise you that you will gain not only strength against the temptation of immorality, but you will keep yourself worthy of the greater, and very protective blessings of a temple sealing to your wife for all eternity.