Serious, steady dating and marriage-oriented courtship are expected to be delayed longer, perhaps until after a mission for males and after completing high school for females.
Here, young people participate, usually once a week, in gender-segregated activities designed with an adult adviser for their particular age group. Occasionally, joint activities are planned that include boys and girls together. Missionaries leave romantic relationships behind and are counseled not to worry about or telephone girlfriends or boyfriends. They are restricted from all dating activities during their missionary service. These are structured and well-supervised social and religious activities that bring teenage boys and girls together to help them develop appropriate social relationships.
While the Church sponsors joint social activities, its leaders have strongly discouraged early dating.
Any dating or pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older, and even then there should be much judgment used in the selections and in the seriousness" (Kimball, 1975, p. As a consequence of this teaching, the age of sixteen has become the acceptable age when dating can begin.
Nineteen is an especially pivotal age in the social and religious life of late adolescent LDS youth.
Presumably, the value placed on marriage makes LDS youth less likely to postpone marriage for education and career advancement; they are certainly less likely to cohabit instead of marrying, and the customary pattern is to continue courting until the time of marriage (see Single Adults).
LDS prophets have consistently instructed young Mormon men that it is wrong to delay marriage unnecessarily (Benson; Kimball, 1975).
"Young men and women, not yet ready for marriage, should be friends with many others, but they should not engage in courting .