Three General Principles
I. Always Keep Your Courtship on a High Plane. Keep sex in the background! It must not dominate your thoughts and dictate your conduct. The physical must be subordinated to the spiritual because man is a spiritual creature and not mere animal.
Allowing your courtship to degenerate to the physical would mean a loss of honor and respect. An attraction which springs largely from the physical element of sex is an insecure foundation for enduring friendship and conjugal love.
Pure love is the foundation of a happy courtship. The reason why there are so many sinful, saddened hearts in courtship is because too many young men and women fail to distinguish clearly between love and lust; and yet they are as completely different as day is from night.
True love is pure, beautiful, noble, self-sacrificing. It is dominated by mutual respect for each other’s character, not by mere emotion, passion and lust. True love is unselfish, thinking only of the good of the other; it would rather endure any self-restraint than harm the other in any way.
If love-making does not rise above the mere thrill of bodily sensations, it can be no more than indulgence in passion, which is lust. Lust, on the other hand, is ugly, base, selfish, impure; it seeks nothing outside itself. All fine promises and sweet expressions of love are but lies.
A beautiful friendship is marred because the boy and girl permit indecent liberties which are like vicious cancers eating their way into their very hearts and destroying virtue, peace and happiness.
Pure love is the best preparation for marriage; lust draws down God’s curse upon it. If by company-keeping you are encouraged in purity, the true love is the basis of your friendship and enduring affection will be the result.
If through company-keeping you are encouraged to impurity, then lust, not love, is the foundation of the friendship and evil will be the result. There is a natural and necessary relationship between your conduct now and your status later in marriage.
If a young man is selfish, loose, crude, unreasonable now, do not expect that he will be unselfish, high-minded, spiritual and controlled in marriage.
The Sacraments do not change nature; they elevate it if it is disposed to be elevated. A foul love must be driven out by a fair love. In the pure love of a young man for a virtuous girl, he finds a shield against unchastity.
Reverent love will be a protection for both. If a boy wants the girl he goes with now to be the best wife she can be for his children; if he himself wants to be the best husband he can be for her and the best father he can be for his children, he must respect that girl before marriage.
He will do everything he can, in a positive way, and at any price, to retain or regain his personal purity and to protect the modesty and loveliness of the girl he respects, even as St. Joseph kept himself spotless and safeguarded the virginity of the Mother of God. Consequently, you need not resort to lust to enjoy one another. You will find untold happiness in the mere presence of the one you really care for—happiness which arises from the contact of mind with mind, of heart with heart, of personality with personality. This is infinitely more satisfying and enduring than mere contact of bodies.
Wondrous beauty can be found in the character of any good boy or girl if you will only patiently look for it. A young man will surely win the heart of a girl if he always acts as a gentleman and places her upon her rightful pedestal of innocence and queenly modesty. In like manner, a girl will command the respect and win the love of a boy if by words and actions she makes it clear that she will tolerate no Compromise with her ideals of honor and integrity.
Any momentary weakness may be implied as an invitation to dangerous liberties. Direct your friendship so that it may square with Christ’s law of honor and purity in a chaste and noble love.
Elevate your love to Christ that your love may be sweeter and more enduring. Then leaving one another, you can walk to the Communion rail and receive your Eucharistic Lord with reverent minds and chaste hearts. Where chaste love fills your company-keeping, courtship becomes an aid to virtue and an encouragement to holiness.
II. Follow a “Hands-off” Policy
The purpose of courtship is to prepare you for marriage by enabling you to find the boy who will one day be your partner in life; hence it is to be spent in the manner God has intended. Anything that is contrary to God’s holy law in courtship should be avoided, lest the devil, and not God, rule your friendship and lead it most certainly to moral disaster. Too many perfectly decent and innocent girls do not understand a young man’s problem of self control. Many dangers and temptations will be avoided if you remember that the physical element of sex is more highly localized in man and that he is more easily aroused, while the psychical element is more pronounced in woman.
Actions and contact which leaves you undisturbed may greatly arouse the passions of your companion. Consequently, be considerate of him as well as of yourself and discourage any liberty which may be an occasion of sin.
An earnest word, a look of disapproval, a sudden change in the conversation, a quick and determined step away will be a hint that a decent young man will not fail to take. With his senses restored to him, he will appreciate this firm yet sympathetic gesture and will admire you all the more for it because he will see that you really want to keep your courtship clean.
On the other hand, if you yield to his entreaties for certain liberties, he will be ashamed of himself for his humiliating defeat and disgusted with you (though he may not show it) because you occasioned it.
You will equally share in this feeling of shame and disgust, especially if you realize that your womanly modesty should be your greatest treasure. It is therefore wise and even necessary for you to follow a “hands-off” policy.
Respect the person of the friend with whom you are keeping company and make him respect you.
Do not try to set him —and yourself as well—on fire by exciting desires which cannot be satisfied save at the expense of all that you both should hold dear. Love should occasion happiness, not pain; so do not torture your friend by inflicting on him restlessness and a disturbed conscience.
To refrain from the defilement of the good and to allay lust in the hearts of men is the greatest human victory that woman can win over man. She then becomes close to the angel in appeal.
If you have to plan for the prolonged date that is marriage, you are smart if you plan for even the brief date of a day or an evening together. A marriage without interests or things to do is dull and dangerous.
To go off on an unplanned date with nothing in particular to do is also dull and often dangerous. At the end of the date the boy finds that he has spent a lot of money on a lot of things that did not give either of you a great deal of fun.
The girl finds that she is expected to accept or is forced to resist a vigorous effort on his part to fill out a flat, unplanned date with adolescent love-making.
Dates are successful when they are planned. That means that you ought to look around for unusual and interesting things to do, novel places to visit, pleasant things to talk about. But a date is not merely a recreation quest—dancing, the theater, the movies, going places. A date really is anything that two or more people enjoy doing together. Real fun is found not on dates where a lot of things are done for you, but on dates where you are doing things yourself.
Dates lose their charm if you assume that they must be expensive. You can have more fun walking with someone you like than you can dining at a fashionable restaurant, paying a heavy cover charge and checking an expensive menu merely to impress somebody who may not even want to be impressed.
A bank-roll is not the essential factor of a good time. A girl who has to have a lot of money spent on her before she has a good time on a date will make a nagging, money-digging, selfish sort of wife.
A boy who will not ask a girl out unless he has a pocketful of money is a show-off. Worth-while girls do not expect a man to spend a lot of money on them. Be honest about the fact that you have not a lot of money to spend.
Your city is full of places to go and things to do that do not cost much more than a little walk or carfare. You can spend very happy hours wandering with a pleasant companion through a park, an art gallery, a museum, an industrial center, a beautiful church, or listening to a good lecture or a band concert.
Hobbies can enter into the schedule of dates—things you do extremely well, things you are interested in collecting. A girl should be interested in what interests the boy she likes. A boy probably gets more zest out of his hobby if he thinks that some pleasant girl is interested in it, too.
It is often advisable to add another couple to your dates if you find each other a temptation and danger; this is better than giving up dating altogether. This self-chaperoning often eliminates a lot of problems for both the boy and the girl.
Be interested in foursome or six some dates. Talking is simpler and there is more fun. It ceases to be a dialogue, or, worse, a monologue. Double dating need not be expensive if expenses are shared.
Temptation is much less likely when there is a small crowd. Then, too, a foursome or a six some on a date can take part in games, which are often very exciting. All this means more dates at home; more dates where money does not have to be considered; where the radio brings the music of the greatest name orchestras in the nation right into your living room; where a recording machine and a supply of records keep a crowd going for an evening; where a homemade sandwich tastes delicious; where the piano becomes the center of fun, and a crowd put their heads together to sing to their own delight.
Thus dates could be built around that very normal love that both boys and girls have for good youthful talk. This sort of date will cut the occasion for adolescent love-making to a minimum.
Your dates will be happy if they are sinless. The people you go out with should be better because they were with you. Do not permit yourself to be touched by any of the things that make so much modern dating ugly and perilous—too much drink, dirty stories, disgusting dances, questionable taverns and roadhouses, sin and all its ugliness. Foresee and guard against the dangers that might spoil your dates. Always take Jesus and Mary along with you on your dates. They are deeply happy to see you happy.
There is something terrible in the thought that, while sorrow often drives young people to the feet of Christ and Our Lady, good times are often occasions for driving Jesus and Mary from their side, when they hold out their arms to evil.
When you are going out on a date, why don’t the two of you make a call on Christ in the tabernacle? You should make a date to go to benediction, to the novena, to May devotions, to confession, to a special sermon, as naturally as you go to a movie or dance. Make a date to go to Mass and Holy Communion together before you start off on your hike, your picnic, your day in the Country.
You can do nothing better than to make dates that include Jesus and Mary. There is no better company! Nothing could make your date happier!
“We must be content at certain times to do anything that is innocent and lawful; and console ourselves with the reflection that all lawful works are works of grace in him who is in the state of grace.” -My Prayer Book, Fr. Lasance