And while people don’t wear “I’m a loser” signs, you can look for clues to the kind of people they really are. Consider the following telltale situations:
Good Choices/Bad Choices
1. You’re talking about movies with friends. Garth, a guy you’ve been thinking you’d like to go out with, says, “My brother saw this movie and said it was awesome. Let’s go see it.”
Wow! He just asked you out! Your heart begins a bongo beat. Then you remember something.. Taking a deep breath, you say, “I think it’s rated R.”
“No big deal,” Garth counters. “My brother said there’re only a few bad scenes. Let’s go, okay?”
2. Nicole has a smile that makes you want to smile right back. You’re attracted to her and wonder what she’s really like. A crucial test is coming up at school, and Gil, a member of your study group, has a clever idea for cheating.
“No one will know,” he says. “We’ve got to pass this one, so we’ll do whatever it takes.” Nicole looks straight at Gil and says, “No way! We study hard, then we pass or fail—but no cheating!”
3. You’ve been wanting to go out with Kevin, but you don’t know him well. He’s a little shy, but sooo good looking. Everyone cheers when he’s on the football field. He’s every girl’s dream guy.
During a library conversation, your friends start talking about the photos on their driver’s licenses. Kevin pulls his wallet out to show his picture. You get a good look, but something else catches your eye—a picture of a temple.
“Hey, Kev,” his buddy says, “What’s that?”
“It’s a picture of a special place,” he replies. “I carry it as a reminder.”
4. You and several friends—including Amy, the girl you want to ask to homecoming—are on your way to a basketball game. Someone tells a joke and everyone laughs. Then someone else tells one and it gets contagious. Everyone’s laughing and having a great time. Then Kyle tells a joke he’d never tell if the bishop were present. Everyone laughs, except you and Amy. Kyle notes her lack of response and asks, “What’s the matter, Amy? Too young for a little adult humor?”
“No,” she responds. “I’m just sad to hear one of my friends tell a story like that.”
5. You’re at a school party where everyone’s dancing and having a great time. A cute guy you’ve noticed in social studies makes his way to you and asks for a dance. You happily accept. It’s a slow dance and he moves in close. Then you smell it on his breath. He’s been drinking!
6. Friends are talking about an upcoming party at Shara’s house. You’re not sure about going, but it would be fun to be with everyone—especially Shara. She joins in and says, “C’mon. It’s going to be fun. My parents are gone for the weekend and the house will be ours.”
That’s a red flag. She sees you hesitating and adds, “You need to lighten up and live a little. We’ll have some stuff there to help you out. C’mon.”
Only A Date?
We could describe other scenarios, but you get the idea. The clues are usually obvious.
“But it’s only a date,” you’re thinking. “I’m not going to marry that guy/girl.”
Do you know anyone who married someone he or she never dated? You marry who you date. You never know when a dating relationship may develop into more than just a friendship. Be extremely cautious about who you hang out with and who you accept dates from. President Hinckley said, “Choose your friends carefully. It is they who will lead you in one direction or the other . . . never lose sight of [this] fact.”
Saying “No” Politely
You control who you choose to be with. Never accept a date from anyone you don’t feel good about. If a polite refusal isn’t sufficient, be firm enough that the person won’t ask you again.
What would you say to Shara in situation #6? How about, “Thanks, but that’s not my kind of party.”
If she replies, “Loosen up! You’re missing a lot of fun,” just smile and say, “That’s the kind of fun I choose to miss!” Then change the subject or walk away. This leaves no question about your values. Give an excuse like, “Sorry, I’ve already made other plans,” she’ll try again later.
What could you say to the guy in situation #5 if he asks you to ride home with him? If you’re smart, you’ll keep your distance during that slow dance. He may take the hint and not ask you out. It’s not necessary to say, “No way, loser. I don’t go with drunks.” A simple “No thanks” should be enough. If he asks for another dance, offer the same response. There’s always a polite way to let someone know you’re not interested.
You Always Have a Choice
What if you live in an area where there are no Latter-day Saints your age to date? Don’t say, “I have no choice—there’s nobody else to date.” You always have a choice. When we were on a speaking assignment in Rhode Island, we asked a 17-year-old boy if he had a girlfriend. He said, “No, I’ve never had a date, let alone a girlfriend.”
This was a good looking, likable guy, so we were surprised and asked why. He told us it was his family’s standard to date only faithful Latter-day Saints. “There are no LDS girls my age, so I don’t date,” he said. “And it isn’t easy.” His sister had been in the same boat and didn’t date until she went to a college where there were other LDS students.
These teens hang out with friends of other faiths with high standards, but they don’t pair off and date. They don’t want to risk falling in love with someone they couldn’t marry in the temple. We were impressed with the faith and obedience of these young people. They understood the counsel of President Spencer W. Kimball, who said, “Right marriage begins with right dating . . . Do not take the chance of dating nonmembers, or members who are untrained and faithless. [You] cannot afford to take a chance on falling in love with someone who may never accept the gospel.”
We are convinced that the Lord will bless these faithful young people in wonderful ways. To the faithful He promises, “Thou shalt observe all these things, and great shall be thy reward” (D&C 42:65). There is no question that the reward will be worth the wait.
Use Moroni’s Measuring Rod
Just because a person shows up at church doesn’t mean he or she is living the standards of the Church. We don’t judge or condemn people—that’s the Lord’s job. But you must make judgments when deciding who to associate with.
Commenting on righteous judgment, Moroni said, “I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ . . . ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil.” (Moroni 7:16-17).
Are people you meet in Internet chat stations likely to be good dating material? This kind of relationship can be extremely dangerous. Make it a rule not to chat on line with anyone you don’t already know. It’s even less safe than striking up a conversation with a stranger coming out of a bar. A person met on the Internet could be a forty-year-old pervert with evil intentions, pretending to be a terrific young guy or girl. People with serious personality defects and a horrible lifestyle may lead you to believe almost anything.
Never Count on Changing the Other Person
Sometimes people date those less worthy, hoping to bring them to a higher standard of gospel living. They think, “I’m sure he/she will like me enough to change.” This seldom happens. If you date people who lack high standards, you may end up marrying someone who will pull you down to his or her level. When you’re with someone who is already following Satan, you can easily fall. Protect yourself by refusing to date those who don’t live up to the Savior’s standards.
When people spiritually lose their way, it doesn’t mean they cannot change—but this may not happen. Invite them to listen to the missionary discussions or to atttend church functions. If they’re already members, encourage them to visit their bishop. Be kind, but don’t date people until they’ve repented. The risk is just too great.
What About You?
What kind of person are you? Someone a faithful Latter-day Saint girl or guy would want to date? Look carefully at your own values. Try to honestly determine whether or not you’re striving to live them.
When Margie said to her cousin, “I don’t know why such scummy guys always ask me out,” he was honest and said, “You attract these guys by the way you dress.” Margie didn’t get the message. She said “the good guys,” just weren’t asking her out. If you want to date decent people, you must be a decent person yourself.
Dating is always more enjoyable when both you and your date strive to keep the commandments. You have less to worry about and more to enjoy together as you seek wholesome activities.
Dating in groups can be especially enjoyable. Counsel from the First Presidency in For the Strength of Youth is clear on the subject: “When you begin dating, go in groups or on double dates. Avoid frequently dating the same person.” Choose well those you date and you’ll take a giant step toward protecting your sexual purity. You’ll be qualifying yourself for all the blessings the Lord has in store for you. He has said, “be thou faithful . . . and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelations 2:10).