Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Be Honest With Yourself: Going Steady Too Early?

Be Honest With Yourself: Going Steady Too Early?

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 16, 2010

(See here for background)

From 1960  —

Going Steady Too Early?

Jill’s a teenager – about sixteen. She’s pretty and popular. She has girl friends galore and can get “dates” by the dozen. Everybody likes Jill – lucky Jill.

Then along comes Freddy. Freddy’s lucky, too. He has a rich dad, a new sports car, plenty of money. He’s a good talker, a good looker, a good dresser, a good spender. Yes, Freddy seems to have everything – everything, that is, but Jill. He wants Jill, too.

So, Freddy dates Jill. They become good friends. Too bad they can’t keep it that way. But neither Freddy nor Jill wants just to be friends. So they agree to go steady.

From now on Jill must dance all her dances with Freddy. No other boy can take her out. At school, at parties, at church, wherever young people go together, Jill and Freddy are “exclusive” – they’re exclusively for each other. She’s his and he’s hers – while the rest of the world goes by.

Several years pass swiftly. Jill and Freddy are still going steady. For Jill, the friendship of other girls has all but vanished. Other boys no longer ask her out, and she wouldn’t be free to go with them if they did. It’s the same for Freddy; the same monopoly; the same monotony.

Happy ending? Maybe. But even if they marry happily, they’ll somehow know secretly that they’ve both missed a lot in not growing up with the crowd.

Besides, going steady too young holds real hazards for youth: it wastes time and energy at the expense of self-improvement; it often leads to hasty marriages and the quitting of school before one’s education has been completed; and, tragically, step by step it sometimes leads to the giving and taking of liberties which breed contempt – or maybe worse.

So, Jill and Freddy, and Jane and Eddy,
What’s your hurry about going steady?




  1. I know people who say the same thing about marriage. This one’s not the church’s best effort.

    Comment by Proud Daughter of Eve — December 16, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  2. I do love a rhyming couplet to finish off some moralizing; it is much more intense than say, a haiku or acrostic.

    Jill and Freddy date
    Then liberties are taken
    Shotgun marriage. Yikes!


    Comment by oudenos — December 16, 2010 @ 9:09 am

  3. “or maybe worse”?

    Children, perhaps? : )

    (HT: Mark Twain)

    Comment by Mark B. — December 16, 2010 @ 9:22 am

  4. They might breed contempt, or worse, BABIES!! (scary movie music here)

    Comment by Ariel — December 16, 2010 @ 9:23 am

  5. Cross posted with Mark. Sorry, Mark.

    Comment by Ariel — December 16, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  6. Which Mark? Me or Twain? : )

    Not to worry Ariel!

    Comment by Mark B. — December 16, 2010 @ 9:38 am

  7. The fundamental argument hasn’t changed for years. A few years back I had a 15-year old girl ask why she couldn’t date and have a steady boyfriend. If I’d only had that couplet, I expect our conversation would have been even better…

    Comment by Paul — December 16, 2010 @ 9:44 am

  8. What’s with the quotes around “dates”? Was that a colloquialism back in 1960?

    Comment by Left Field — December 16, 2010 @ 9:54 am

  9. This one is less successful than the others in the series — evidenced, I think, by the (perfectly legitimate) snarkier responses. I think that’s because this card violates the cardinal rule of the series, which was to speak positively of the benefits of living the gospel (“live the Word of Wisdom and you merit blessings A, B, and C” rather than “you’ll suffer X, Y and Z if you violate the Word of Wisdom”).

    This card should have talked about all the fun of getting to know a variety of people, the challenge of being exposed to different interests and activities, the reassurance of knowing what you want when you choose a marriage partner, that kind of thing, all of which require delaying exclusive dating until a more appropriate age. I think the message would have been far more successful had they not strayed from the positive message.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 16, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  10. I agree, Ardis. There’s nothing wrong at all with the central concept of not going steady in high school – even though I chose to ignore it and will be celebrating 24 years next week.

    I was struck by the following line:

    it often leads to hasty marriages and the quitting of school before one’s education has been completed

    Interesting. Did that relate to high school only for the girls and college for the boys in 1960, as I suppose? It sounds like great advice for many now, only changed to college for both parties. Maybe we can make it an official slogan at BYU.

    Comment by Ray — December 16, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

  11. I don’t want to laugh at these things from the past — I see them as well-intentioned efforts to help our youth and membership, and I appreciate them. Thanks, Ardis, for sharing these glimpses from the past.

    Comment by ji — December 16, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

  12. I hadn’t noticed the change in negative tone until it was pointed it out. What I noticed was the short words and choppy sentences that make the message seem like a Dick-and-Jane grade school reader.

    I think many of our Church lessons (including the ones I teach) would be much improved if we accentuated the positive.

    Comment by Clark — December 16, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

  13. What’s amusing to me are reflections on how primitive things must have been in 1960 – “high school only for the girls and college for the boys”.

    The party line of the present on the 50’s is that it was a dismal time, unlike the present, liberated as it is supposed to be by the late 60’s version of feminism and the sexual revolution. Like all times,it had its problems and its opportunities.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — December 16, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

  14. That girl don’t look 16 to me…

    Comment by jeans — December 17, 2010 @ 4:00 am

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