How to develop a healthy dating relationship

A healthy dating relationship begins with two emotionally and spiritually healthy people. This doesn't mean "perfectly" healthy, but hopefully both are striving for strong spiritual and emotional well-being.

They should be trying their very best to live by the Spirit. That is, to be humble and teachable enough to not be afraid to go to our Heavenly Father, no matter when, and ask for His guidance, direction and support in their lives.If both are trying to live by the Spirit, they will treat each other in the following positive ways:

  • They will listen to each other in loving and caring ways. They will also listen with the intent to understand, and not just the intent to reply.
  • They will be kind and courteous toward one another. And they will always treat each other with respect.
  • They will not be judgmental of each other's good intentions.
  • They will treat each other like they treat their best friends. And remember that the strongest foundation for any relationship is in developing a friendship, because only a strong friendship has a chance of becoming a lasting marriage. – Darlene B. Bordeaux, Torrance, Calif.

What we did:

Date a friend

Before my mission, I dated a wonderful young lady named Jennifer. I would like to share what made our relationship a healthy one:

  • Talk to each other. We've all heard it said, "Honesty is the best policy." Honesty is vital in a relationship. Often, we would just talk, letting each other know how we felt about things. That created an essential atmosphere of trust between the two of us.
  • Date a friend. One thing that also helped was that we had already known each other for two years prior to dating. Therefore, we already had a friendship that continued to grow while we dated.
  • Support each other in the Church. Since we are both Church members there was no problem in this area. She was one of my biggest supports in serving a mission. Still is. – Elder Buck R. Patton, Portugal Porto Mission

Inner confidence

From trial and error, I have come to the conclusion that in order to develop a healthy dating relationship with someone, both people individually must develop and possess a healthy relationship with God. This takes time, patience, prayer, scripture study (especially of the Atonement), repentance and living the commandments. The outcome of this effort is a healing peace and a deep inner confidence in Christ.

If you cannot find a person who has developed this kind of relationship, then be friends with everyone and join me in following this counsel from President Gordon B. Hinckley, given during the April 1997 general conference:

"Do not give up hope. And do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it. The chances are that if you forget about it and become anxiously engaged in other activities, the prospects will brighten immeasurably." – Catherine Porter, Bountiful, Utah

Things in common

As teenagers and sisters, we suggest the following:

  • Make sure the boy or girl you are dating has the same standards as you do and you both stick to them. It would also be good if you were friends and liked being around each other before you started dating. Make sure you have a couple of things in common.
  • Be old enough. Keep dating in the proper perspective. Dating in high school should not be serious because it's not the time for marriage. When you go on dates, we think it's best to be with friends and not have boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, unless you're of age. – Mary and Rebecca Owen, Elfrida, Ariz.

Glad for advice

Someone once told me that when dating, keep your relationship on such a basis that if the young man were called to be your home teacher you would feel comfortable enough around him so he could fulfill that calling. Keeping the relationship on such a basis helps you avoid inappropriate physical contact and unkindness.

After I was married, a young man I had dated earlier in my life moved into a house right across the street from ours. He very well could have been our home teacher, and I was very glad for the advice I had received. – Ranee Berg, O'Fallon, Mo.

Spend time with family

The mother of the young woman my son dates has a great practice. She waits up for her daughter and my son and then offers something to eat or drink while they chit-chat about how the night went. She does it in such a way as to make my son and her daughter feel comfortable without being the least bit invasive. My son comments that he is appreciative for her concern and has thanked her for it.

In addition, I encourage my son and that young woman to spend time with us as a family. They are free to express "appropriate" affection while around us as they are engaged in worthwhile activities. The way to help avoid temptation is to nearly eliminate idle time while they are alone. – Phil Lammi, Bakersfield, Calif.

Based upon principles

After receiving my mission call, I went on a date with Lisa. We went ice skating, to dinner and watched a movie. It was the first time in my life I had felt the Spirit on a date. As I got to know her, I could tell she loved her Heavenly Father. Although I was intrigued by her testimony, my primary concern was that I had a date with the Lord on Aug. 20 – the day I entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

We had a healthy dating relationship. Why? We had the same morals and values. We are both members of the Church. We both love our Heavenly Father.

To have a healthy dating relationship, you must have the Savior as your friend and the Holy Ghost as your companion. Say prayers before you go on dates. Read the scriptures together and share your feelings about them.

Lisa strengthened my testimony. She helped me grow close to my Heavenly Father. We helped each other prepare each day for that day we all long for – the day we return to live with our Heavenly Father. I feel a healthy dating relationship must be based upon these principles. – Elder G. Robert Moore, Chile Santiago West Mission

How to checklist:

  1. Develop healthy relationship with God; support each other in the Church
  1. Date those with same standards, values; date a friend.
  1. Have respect, consideration for each other; talk, listen; be kind and courteous.
  1. Read scriptures together; have things in common.

Write to us:

Nov. 8 "How to help your marriage grow while you're in college."

Nov. 15 "How to encourage children and young people to be physically active."

Nov. 22 "How to diminish sibling rivalry."

Nov. 29 "How to enlarge your social circle, make new friends as a single member of the Church."

Dec. 6 "How to feel, spread the spirit of Christmas when you live alone."

Dec. 13 "How to find strength and be positive influence when you're only member in family."

  • Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to get out of a rut in your career," "How to help yourself or loved one overcome an abusive nature," "How to be prepared to share the gospel and answer questions," "How to fortify your homes against evil."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: [email protected]. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.