You have your group of friends. You’ve probably got friends of both genders and you probably all hang out together. So why date at all? If Mormons don’t encourage steady dates or one on one dates for high schoolers, what’s really the point in dating in a group?
A group date is different than doing something in a group. First off, a date should have some planning involved. “Let’s all go out to Wendy’s” is not a date. And, second, even a group date involves a little pairing off. This isn’t to say that you should split up into couples and avoid each other. Rather, you do need to have a specific person in the group that is your date. You can talk to your other friends, but just define who’s actually your date for the night. It can change the next time, even, and maybe it should.
So what’s the advantage? You do understand that hanging out with friends isn’t a date, but you might wonder what the difference really is. What does it really matter if you don’t have a date, specifically?
Here are some advantages.
For young men, dates can help them practice for a number of important things. In the Mormon Church, the men are encouraged to take initiative in dates. This is hard, especially the first few times. It’s one thing to just spend time with a girl and another to ask her on a date. If you’re just in a big group that she happens to be in, there’s no real risk. On the other hand, if you ask her on a date, she might say no, and that can seem a huge risk. No one likes rejection.
Why risk it? Believe it or not, even rejections can build confidence if you don’t let them get you down. It’s experience. It’s leadership experience, even. The more practice you get asking people to do something, the easier it becomes (as long as you’re asking reasonable things, of course). And if she accepts, you both plan the date together and that’s more experience. Not just for future dating, but for life.
And, yes, if you’re the girl, you’re not passive. Just because the guy should maybe take the initiative doesn’t mean that you don’t get to do anything. What do you want to do? Help plan. And you’re both responsible to tend to the other. Don’t ignore your date when you’re both in a group. Be concerned about each other’s safety and that you get home on time. This is also great experience for later. These are social skills that will always serve you well—it’s great to be able to see beyond your own needs, even in crowded situations. Mormonism sees looking beyond your needs as essential for a great deal.
|And you do learn to look beyond yourself. It’s ridiculously easy to have yourself be the topic of conversation. Look at me and look what I did! We all do this. We all know ourselves very well and we’d like other people to know us, too—we’d like people to know things that wouldn’t be obvious by looking at us. But we’re a better date or friend when we’re talking about the other person or about common interests. This creates a real conversation, instead of just going back and forth describing ourselves. The things that make you special will come out, and be the more interesting for not being the first few things you say.Both of you should be respectful of each other, even in rejection, even when things get awkward or someone makes a mistake.|
Part of dating is preparing for marriage and you wouldn’t want your spouse to get endlessly annoyed by a mistake. You wouldn’t want to do that to them, either.
Mormons believe that dating also gives us opportunities to see what qualities we’d like in the person we marry. There are many things we are that might not be appealing to everyone. These aren’t necessarily flaws. Me, I’m kind of a “type B” personality. I’m sort of laid back and take things at my own pace. There are some people I’d just clash with. There are going to be people you just clash with—where the way you approach life kind of drives them crazy or vice versa. Dating helps you tell—and dating helps you know that you’re looking for more than a good person. You’re looking for someone that you’ll do well with.