If your boyfriend/girlfriend is open to it, pray together or go to Mass together. OSV News photo/CNS file, Nellie Williams

Burning to date? Follow these 10 rules

  • April 6, 2023
  1. Know yourself. Know your own strengths and weaknesses in relationships. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t compromise on what’s important just so you won’t be lonely. Don’t settle. It’s not worth it. Dating is supposed to be awkward. It says: I care enough about getting to know you that I’m willing to take the risk of making a fool of myself for a little while. No alcohol/drugs to “relax.” Be your real self.
  2. Unplug! Time with your crush, your main squeeze, your bae, your boo, is not time to be randomly using media devices. Concentrate on “the other.” Remember, this is a person of infinite value to whom you are attracted and desire. They are way more fascinating than pixels. Make sure you agree, at the outset of the relationship, on digital behaviour when you’re together.
  3. Be careful of asking: “How far can we go?” Because that usually means: how far can we go before we’re sinning? Nice. How about: “How far can I lead my girlfriend/boyfriend toward virtue and God?” (With class and fun, of course.)
  4. Holding hands, hugging, cuddling, a moderate kiss goodnight can all be beautiful and appropriate as the relationship grows. Any talk or touching meant to sexually arouse each other belongs to marriage (and is difficult — but not impossible — to stop once it goes too far).
  5. Be totally honest with each other about the relationship. Don’t play games. The surest way to never find true love is to play games and treat love like a game. (Please tattoo this on your forearm.) Most people probably start out being honest in their dating relationships, but find out that many other people are not. So to protect themselves, they put up a wall, start playing games, too. But then things get really confusing. If a boyfriend/girlfriend is being dishonest with you even in little things? Move on. Lying is a serious character flaw. You don’t have to be talking about the relationship or the status of the relationship all the time — that especially drives guys crazy — but do be reasonably clear about where you stand with each other.
  6. Find things you like to do together. You must have some common interests. “Opposites attract, similars stick.” 
  7. Be an interesting person. Read. Have hobbies. Know stuff. Be a good conversationalist. Be a good storyteller. Be a good listener. Deepen your life-experiences by reflecting on them. Become a prayerful person. Be funny. Most of all, be yourself. If you have to be someone else for someone to like you… They don’t really like you. It’s not worth it. It will be way too much work to keep up that front. Move on.
  8. Be a good person. Volunteer. Get so wrapped up in a good cause, in helping others, that you aren’t lonely. You might also find another good person working beside you....
  9. If your boyfriend/girlfriend is open to it, pray together: Sunday Mass, Rosary, Adoration. Study the Bible, study Theology of the Body, and the Catholic faith, together!
  10. If you’re a guy, it can be helpful to have a guy mentor you can run things by (make sure he’s an impeccably awesome man of God who knows what he’s talking about). If you’re a gal, it can be helpful to have a gal mentor you can run things by (make sure she’s an impeccably awesome woman of God who knows what she’s talking about).

The main principle here? If it belongs to marriage: total intimacy of body and soul (e.g., sex, getting in bed together, sexual contact, sexual arousal, taking clothes off, complete revealing of one’s inner self and secrets, etc.), then it belongs to marriage. Also, if you’re not in a position to get married in the near future — like in a couple of years — don’t get too intense. For example, when we’re in high school, we can have seriously intense feelings but we’re not ready to act on them. You need to be free and date a variety of people that you would marry, not just someone you enjoy spending time with. 

(Dating does not include “hooking up,” of course, because the language of sex says “you alone forever.” Also, it’s a sin called “fornication.” Consult your Bible.)

(Sr. Helena Raphael Burns, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA. HellBurns.com  Twitter: @srhelenaburns)

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