Dating: What makes us date who we date?


There are many factors that contribute to who we date. From physical attractiveness, to availability, to religious views, to personality, and much more!

Marriage and Family: The Quest for Intimacy by Laurer and Laurer says that “Propinquity, nearness in place, is a major factor in finding intimate possibilities. We tend to like people who live near us or who are close to us in some setting and at least some of them are likely to be candidates for an intimate relationship.”  It makes sense; we date people we are close to.

Along with propinquity, “physical appearance is one of the important factors in interpersonal attraction that social scientists have studied. Similarity is another important factor. This can explain a lot as to why dating and marriage is so common at schools like BYU and BYU-Idaho. When you put a bunch of young adults who are similar in their morals and beliefs in the same area, you have the recipe for relationships.

Dating is such an important step in preparing young people for serious relationships and eventually marriage.

Mindfulness is defined as “a technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.” This is vital. Dating should not be something we take lightly. You are preparing yourself to make one of the single most important choices of your entire life! It will affect everything! Please be there. Be aware. Be attentive. 

I’m going to address the men first. Take charge of your dating life! If you want a relationship that is going to progress towards marriage, it is important that you are mindful. When asked what constitutes as a date, many people say something along the lines of, “A “date” must pass the test of three p’s: (1) planned ahead, (2) paid for, and (3) paired off.” In the LDS church, we are taught that a father’s role also constitutes of three p’s: (1) Preside, (2) Provide, and (3) protect. I want to suggest that these six p’s are connected in the following way:

            Dating   —  Fatherhood

  • Planned  —  Preside
  • Paid For  —  Provide
  • Paired Off — Protect

As we date, men practice presiding by taking initiative and planning dates. Men learn how to provide by paying for dates. As couples are paired off for a night out, men consciously or not, take responsibility for the woman. Doing things like walking her home when it’s dark, making sure she gets into her apartment safely, etc. are preparing a man to be the protector in his future marriage and family. Don’t short change yourself. Now is the time to prepare to be the kind of husband and father you want to be.

Now to the women. It’s not as straightforward as with the fathers, but Planning, Paying for, and Pairing off are all related to your divine role as the nurturer in your future family. You will need to plan activities with a spouse, and most likely for children eventually. You may need to find a way to help the family out financially, and there’s a very good chance you’ll be helping out with the family budgeting. As you take part in planning dates, making sure they are paid for and pairing off, you are preparing to become a wife and mother.

How Do You Know Who to Date and Eventually Marry?

Knowing who you want to marry can be a difficult task! I cannot say how you will “know” but I can suggest three things that contribute to knowing that outlined by John Van Epp PhD, President/Founder of Love Thinks, LLC who is the author of How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk. The “Know-Quo” a La J. Van Epp

  1. Talk (mutual self-disclosure)
  2. Togetherness (sharing a wide range of activities)
  3. Time

These three things are what contribute to knowing who we will date and eventually marry.

Dating is such a wonderful way that we get to learn about others, but more importantly ourselves. It is fun, it is exciting, it can be hard, it can be frustrating, but it is worth it! Preparing is vital! Let me also caution that your priorities will play a huge role in your life, especially in dating and marriage. Put God first ALWAYS and as we put Him first, he will bless us. When you have a common goal in any relationship, it will bring you together and it will bring you eternal happiness.



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