Sharing your life with a committed partner can add joy and richness to each day. To find such a person, you must understand yourself before knowing what you need in a partner. This process of self discovery starts in youth but often continues throughout adulthood. Physical and emotional changes of adolescence frequently alter your perception and understanding. Navigating new kinds of relationships during these changes can be exciting and puzzling.
Dating is the process of discovering someone’s character: their traits, values, and personality. Discovering someone’s character does not have to be done one-on-one. You can often avoid the stress or anxiety of one-on-one dating by learning about someone in a group with friends or community members. In a group, you can more easily see how they treat others, which demonstrates how they might treat you in an eventual relationship. How someone behaves in a group also reveals aspects of their character without you having to be the only focus. You can be more social and learn about many people at once in a group setting.
Wants and Needs
Desiring companionship and physical intimacy are natural and necessary. Like so much of human nature, we must use good judgment to balance our desires. The Bahá’í Faith sets a high standard of behavior that requires no sex before marriage. This ideal is especially difficult to achieve while living in a culture that places so much emphasis on the physical part of relationships. Shoghi Effendi recognized this when he said the following. “When the world becomes more spiritual there will not be such an exaggerated emphasis on sex, as there is today, and consequently it will be easier for young people to be chaste and control their passions.”
A loving relationship is one of the most fulfilling parts of life. The best way to build that relationship is to seek traits that can form a solid foundation of trust—kindness, generosity, fairness, honesty. The Universal House of Justice points out that “The sex act is merely one moment in a long process” and implies that physical intimacy cannot compensate for poor compatibility. Many books, movies, and TV shows depict loving relationships beginning with passionate, physical intimacy. These portrayals exaggerate the importance of sex and minimize the importance of character compatibility to a successful relationship. Intense physical attraction, in fact, can prevent you from seeing someone’s most important attributes clearly.
The Power of Nature
Sexual desires are powerful to ensure the species lives on. However, the risks and consequences associated with sexual activity in the modern world are well known and well documented. They include unplanned pregnancy, contracting sexually transmitted diseases, emotional distress, and even addiction. Ideally, sex should occur within a mature, loving, and committed relationship that is bound by marriage.
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Friendships and Dating
I grew up in Florida with Bahá’ís parents and siblings. I had a close group of friends and was well liked in middle and high school. I found dating very difficult as a teenager…
My family moved to a new area, Colorado, when I was a teenager. I was quite different from most of my classmates and had trouble fitting in. I eventually was able to find and make friends in art class…