While dating is part of life it should, like marriage, not be your only social outlet. Even marriages require that the spouses keep their outside friendships to prevent the spouses becoming stale and narrow, and while friendships must never dis-empower a marriage, dating should not dis-empower friendships.
1. Be sure your life is based firmly on prayer, reception of the Sacraments and scripture reading so that you have the spiritual strength to fight temptation.
2. Never be alone together or sit alone together in a car: such seclusion only gives space to say or do something you wouldn’t say or do in front of your parents or your priest, which probably means they shouldn’t be said or done at all. Instead, spend time with one another’s family: get to know your date in a family context; go out as part of a group; get to know what your date is like socially. Seclusion, remember, is a precursor to what is intimate and sensual.
3. Watch your conversations: they can be used to convince one another that you are not doing wrong; while innuendo’s introduce talk of sex in a hidden (occult) way.
4. Make your time together active times: go to a dance, to a walking day, to a fairground etc. and always have a back-up plan so that you are not left with an unexpected space to fill. The devil finds work for idle hands…
5. Make sure your activities are wholesome: sensual activities or watching erotic films even in a group can arouse the passions.
6. Dress appropriately and modestly; dress to look good, but not in order to make your body a focus of attraction: that would be to arouse lust and to use lust as a magnet.
7. Avoid actions that cause arousal: if you don’t want to get burned, don’t arouse smouldering embers. Passions are powerful and lead us astray: don’t be ruled by your feelings but by your head. Inflamed emotions are hard to extinguish.
8. Be honest about yourself: do not ‘act’ as you think a man or woman should act; that is to deceive: be truly who you are. If you try to impress by ‘acting’, you will have to maintain that act throughout life to keep them happy. If you aren’t genuinely devout, don’t act as though you are; if you are genuinely devout, don’t act as though you aren’t.
9. Be honest with yourself: we are all weak and broken, and we endanger our own soul and that of our date if we think we are strong enough to go ‘this far but no further’.
10. Keep any kisses to a quick peck; keep mouths closed, and don’t let a quick hug become a cuddle.
11. End it as soon as you realise this is not the person for you.The purpose of dating is to find your lifetime spouse, so as soon as you are aware that you cannot live with your date’s attitudes, values, habits, dynamic etc., end the relationship -first of all, it cannot go where you need your life to go, and second of all, it is unjust to lead your date any further on.
12. Don’t be secretive about your dating: let your family and friends share in your joy; after all, what has to be kept hidden is not of God. Also, secrecy provides an intensity between you that is not actually about you but about the dating; the secrecy becomes the bond but can be misread by you both as being about you, when it is not.