Return to About Mormons home

Answers About
Moral Standards and

by Jenny Walsh

I will try to answer all questions according to Church teachings, but these answers are my own and I take responsibility for them.

For more information, read For the Strength of Youth, talk to your leaders, especially your Bishop, or read talks given by the Brethren to the youth about morality and dating.

Though these answers are at The Young Women's Corner, these answers are meant for both young men and young women, so I am using him/her on this page.

What qualities should we be looking for in a date?

Because you marry who you date, look for qualities you would look for in a spouse. Is your date an active and worthy member of the Church? Could this person take you to the temple? Does this person get along with your family? Do your parents like him/her and trust him/her? Do you trust this person? Is this person fun to be with? Does this person want to follow the prophets? Does this person plan on marrying in the temple? Does this person plan on going on a mission (for a young man)? Is this person a friend as well as someone you want to date? Would this person make a good parent to your children? If not, is that person headed in the right direction to become a good parent? Can you talk with each other (or for a first date, is the person approachable)? Do you admire and respect that person? Is this person responsible, polite, and emotionally mature? Then look for qualities that fit with your interests. Does his/her hobbies, interests, sports, etc. fit in with your interests? Could you become interested in his/her interests?

Romantic and physical interest is the easiest to develop and so should not be the primary reason for dating or marrying a person.

How should girls let guys know that they're interested in them and vice-versa?

Friendliness--smiling, doing nice things for him, flirting with him, playfully teasing him, and talking with him are all ways to show a guy that you like him. Always be kind.

Guys, you can do the same thing. Calling her, flowers, carrying her books, opening doors for her, or doing other chivalrous things are additional things you can do to show her that you like her.

How do girls get guys interested in them? How do guys get girls interested in them?

Try doing the same things as you would do to show that you like the person. In addition, do thoughtful things for that person. Really listen and try to understand when that person talks to you. Be respectful towards that person's friends and family. Be a friend, so that person can get to know your good qualities. Be your best self, not only when you are with the person you are trying to impress, but with everyone. Look your best around him or her. Make yourself look like the interesting, fun, good catch you are.

Do guys mind taking girls places?

Not usually, especially if the girls express thanks for the efforts he made in planning, providing, and paying for the activity. If you're pleasant company, he will be glad to take you places, because he will enjoy being with you.

Should girls call guys or ask them out?

It depends. If it is for a Sadie Hawkins event, then yes, ask guys out. If you know the person pretty well, then it is probably fine. However, the old-fashioned "girls wait to be called and asked out to places" still pervades our culture, no matter what the women's movement might have done. So, sound it out with the guys. Shy guys usually like it. Guys who date more frequently don't mind most of the time. And some guys would prefer to do most of the asking. Furthermore, some parents also have strong feelings about it. Talk to your parents and establish what is acceptable and comfortable with them.

What do guys like about girls? What are they looking for in their dream girl?

Guys want someone attractive, fun to be with, pleasant, interesting, feminine, and able to fulfill responsibilities in the home. They want their friends to think that they have a good deal. They want someone who needs them, someone who thinks that they are wonderful, someone who respects them and someone who makes them feel strong and capable. Younger guys generally care more about superficial things like appearance than older or more mature guys. There are many things that individual guys want. That's something to find out as you date and talk with many different guys.

What do girls like about guys? What are they looking for in their dream guy?

Girls want someone attractive, romantic, fun to be with, sensitive to her feelings, loving, respectful, honest, reliable, and capable. They want someone who is polite and chivalrous. They want someone who they can respect--someone who knows who he is, what he wants, and how he's going to get it--but they don't want him to be pushy, bossy, or manipulative. They want their friends to think that they got a wonderful guy. They want some one who makes them feel loved, beautiful, and safe, someone who will listen and talk with them. They want someone who will enable them to fulfill their goals and make them laugh. Girls tend to value more superficial things when they are younger or less mature, too. Girls want many different things, so learn about these things when you date and talk with many girls.

Can a girl get a date if she isn't really pretty?

Let's face it, guys like pretty girls. Guys like being seen with pretty girls. But girls aren't so different. Girls like being seen with handsome guys. However, you don't have to be drop dead gorgeous to get a date. Just work with what you have. What can you do to be your prettiest? Every girl can be pretty in her own way. Face shapes, hair colors, eyes--each has their own way of being pretty. Find out how to enhance your physical characteristics. Get into good shape--take care of your body, inside and out. Choose clothes that make you look your best. Choose colors that enhance your natural coloring. Choose styles that flatter your figure and show your personality. Find a pretty hairstyle that looks good on you. Learn how to use make-up appropriately. Get enough rest. Smile--that always makes you more attractive.

A good and sweet inside can actually make your outsides look better, especially once people get to know you. I'm sure everyone has met a very attractive person who turned out to have an ugly characteristic inside. Suddenly, that person does not seem as attractive as before. Being clean, happy, fun to be with, intelligent, creative, graceful, righteous, and thoughtful can do a lot for a girl who started out with "average" looks. She could gain many friends and become sought-after by young men while a more physically beautiful person who lacks in these other areas could be passed over.

Is it okay to date non-members?

President Kimball taught:

Do not take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless. A girl may say, "Oh, I do not intend to marry this person. It is just a 'fun' date." But one cannot afford to take a chance on falling in love with someone who may never accept the gospel." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.300)

Because we marry who we date, dating non-members is a risky proposition. Eternal marriage is so important and so real. We have much to lose by dating non-members, even if it is "just a 'fun' date." We have been counseled against this because we can fall in love with people we date and then have heartbreak--either from marrying a non-member and hoping that he/she will join the Church, or from breaking it off because we choose not to marry a non-member. It is almost unfair to date a non-member if you only want to marry a member of the Church in the temple, because you are sending mixed signals. That person may fall in love with you and may get very hurt feelings when you tell him/her that you could never marry them and that you can be only friends. It is easier to tell them this in the beginning and not date them at all.

What should you do if you like a non-member?

You can be their friend. You can invite them--not as a date--to Church activities with you. When at activities with them, stay with the group. Do not go off by yourselves. That is a date. Encourage the young men and young women of your ward and stake to fellowship this person. Ask the person if they want to meet the missionaries. Invite them to Church. Please don't date them or get serious with them. Look out for members that you would like to date. In time, perhaps, that person will join the church and you can date them. Until then, play it safe.

What are the most important things to know about someone you're interested in seriously?

When you get start getting serious--sometime after high school for girls, after missions for guys, there are many important things to know about someone you feeling serious about. Learn about their approaches to life, how they feel about children, how they feel about the law, their parents, the Church, going on a mission, temple marriage, serving in the Church, paying tithing, and watching R-rated movies. Find out how they live the Sabbath day. Find out if they have a healthy lifestyle. How do they spend money? How does that fit with how you spend money? Do you know their habits, quirks, foibles? Can you deal with them? Find out about experiences that have affected them greatly. Does this person have a good relationship with Heavenly Father? Does this person have the same goals as you? How does this person feel about his/her family? How does this person feel about your family? Do you feel the same way about your most important things--home, family, the Church, music, children, spending money, etc.?

Do you think you should kiss on a date? What about French kissing? If so, after how long and how often?

Kisses should be kept sacred and special. While it is everyone's choice whether or not they are going to kiss on a date, remember that kisses are not just to say good night or to pay someone back for spending a lot of money. Don't kiss just because you feel your date expects it. It is possible to date without kissing at all. Kissing should never be a major dating activity. Do not have long kissing and hugging sessions. This can easily turn into immoral behavior. I would say never French kiss, but don't just take my word for it.

This is what Spencer W. Kimball said about kissing:

Kissing has been prostituted and has degenerated to develop and express lust instead of affection, honor, and admiration. To kiss in casual dating is asking for trouble. What do kisses mean when given out like pretzels and robbed of sacredness? What is miscalled the "soul kiss" is an abomination and stirs passions to the eventual loss of virtue. Even if timely courtship justifies the kiss it should be a clean, decent, sexless one like the kiss between mother and son, or father and daughter.

If the "soul kiss" [i.e. French kiss or other passionate kisses] with its passion were eliminated from dating there would be an immediate upswing in chastity and honor, with fewer illegitimate babies, fewer unwed mothers, fewer forced marriages, fewer unhappy people. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.281)

So kissing should be infrequent and modest, if at all, during the dating years and French kissing should be totally avoided in dating at all costs!

What is an appropriate level of physical affection on dates?

Part of this is your decision. Just because you are on a date does not mean that any physical affection should be given. If you feel uncomfortable, don't do it. I think that holding hands is appropriate. Hugging, when not too close or for a long period of time, can also be appropriate. Kissing, if done at all, should be pure, decent, and without desire.

What are some safe guidelines so you won't go too far?

Follow the prophets. Group or double date. Don't stay out too late. Tell your parents where you are going. Don't have kissing and hugging sessions. Don't talk in the car after a date or be alone with a member of the opposite sex in any other secluded place. This includes empty houses, bedrooms, empty rooms, dark corners, mountains or canyons, and many other places. Don't steady date. Date lots of different people. See also 10 Commandments for Dating.

What is required to be considered worthy to enter the temple?

You need to be morally clean. You need to pay your tithing. You need to have a testimony of the Gospel and follow the Prophets and other Church leaders. Talk to your Bishop about more specifics.

What does keeping the law of chastity entail?

"The Lord has made it clear that immorality involves more than extramarital sexual intercourse. Some other things that the Lord has clearly told us to refrain from include necking and petting, masturbation, pornography, and homosexuality." (Family Home Evening Resource Book, p. 256) Remember that sexuality is sacred and beautiful if used properly--in marriage--but ugly and degrading if used improperly. Keep you life pure by avoiding sexual thoughts and controlling sexual feelings. If something stirs your passions--whether from reading material, pictures or drawings, music, television or movies, or behaviors with others--change the station, get out of the room, do a different activity, or leave the improper environment. The proper environment for sexuality is marriage and is used for creating children and unifying spouses. For more specifics, talk to a parent, leader, or your Bishop.

What is necking and petting?

Necking is excessive and passionate hugging and kissing. The kissing often wanders to other areas beyond the face.

Petting is touching a person or letting someone touch you in any place that is normally covered by underwear. This is a good definition regardless of whether both people are fully clothed. Either way, it is wrong.

I heard you could marry outside of the temple and then get married in the temple the same day, like if somebody's family couldn't go in the temple. Is this true?

At one time, this was allowed, or at least not totally prohibited, but now we are given specific guidance that if a marriage takes place out of the temple first, then the couple must wait a year and be worthy before they can have their marriage sealed. (In countries where a civil ceremony is required by law, there are allowances)

To marry in the temple and then walk down the aisle or have a church wedding mocks the sacredness of the temple wedding and should not be done. Wedding receptions that keep with the dignity of temple weddings are fine. Make efforts to include family members or friends who cannot enter the temple in the events surrounding the wedding. But do not marry out of the temple just because every family or friend is not temple worthy.

Why is it important to wait until I'm sixteen to date? I think I'm mature now.

You might be mature, but the prophet didn't say, "Don't date until you're 16, unless you're mature." He said, "Don't date until you're 16." Part of the reason to follow that is simply because he is the prophet and that is direction from God to us. Part of the reason to follow that counsel is because it makes sense.

When you start dating, it is like starting a roller coaster ride. First you smile and flirt, then you hold hands, then you hug, then you might kiss, then you might kiss a little more, then you might want to try something else. By the time you want to go beyond kissing, we hope you will be engaged and/or married.

If you flirt with one person, it is easier to flirt again and with others. That's fine. If you hold hands with one person, it is easier to hold hands with the next person. If you hug a person, it is hard to go back to only holding hands, and hugging generally happens faster in your next physical relationship. It is hard to slow down a roller coaster. It seems to follow it's own time table. Therefore, we want you to start the roller coaster when you have the greatest likelihood of reaching the end at an appropriate time.

Though it is hard to slow down this roller coaster, it is easy to speed it up. For example, you can single date before it is suggested. You can steady date before you're ready for courtship. You can have very physical dates. All of these things tend to make the physical relationship progress faster. Be wise. We don't want you to be too serious when you aren't ready for it and we certainly don't want you to do anything that you would regret. Follow the prophet. Have fun, safe dating years. Later, you will be ready in every way--spiritually, physically, emotionally, and intellectually--for marriage.

What happens if you can't find a another couple for a double date?

I guess you have to decide what is more important: a date, or the blessings from following the prophet. Maybe you cancel the date. Maybe both of you ask your parents if they want to accompany you on a double date. Parents are actually fun to double date with. Do you have a sibling who can date who can find a date? Or, do a family activity with your date and always stay with the family. Don't separate yourselves from the group. There are ways of following the prophets' counsel and there are many blessings for following it. If you want the blessings, you'll find a way to do what you should.

Is it okay to marry a non-member?

You won't be punished by the Church or anything like that if you do not marry a member. But, that does not mean that the results of marrying a non-member are the same as marrying a member. You, of course, will not have a temple wedding and the blessings from that if you marry a non-member. Beyond that, there are many blessings from marrying a worthy member which you will miss if you marry a non-member. Baby blessings, baptisms, temple trips, taking out your own endowment, even participation in Church activities can be a source of contention or heartbreak in a part-member home which would not be an issue in an active LDS home. Talk to people who have done one or the other and evaluate. What do you really want? Is marrying a non-member worth it? I have decided that it is not.

What will happen to me if I marry a non-member? Could I go to the temple without my spouse?

You can, if you are worthy, if you will be able to keep the covenants that you will make in the temple, and if your spouse agrees. This is a hard way to go. It is easier to attend the temple frequently if your spouse also attends. It is easier to keep your covenants if your spouse has made those same covenants. In fact, everything is easier if you marry a member of the Church. Plan and prepare to marry a member in the temple.

Return to Answers to Dating Questions

Return to Dates

Return to The Young Women's Corner home page

Return to All About Mormons