How to Be a Virtuous Date

Virtue is one of those words that sounds a bit lame and unromantic.  Dating tends to make us think of words like: passion, excitement, love and connection … Date with virtue (wha-wha-wha). Buzz kill.

Growing up my dad always told me love was a decision, which always sounded too mechanical and cold to be true. But as I grew in maturity, I learned that my dad was right. Love is more than a feeling. In fact, St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that “love is willing (or shall I say “choosing”) the good for the other.”

Choice is the center piece for love, and this is where virtue comes in.

Unlike the Theological Virtues (faith, hope, and love), which are given through the gift of God’s grace, the cardinal virtues are developed and perfected through habit, an action done over and over again. It is the key component to growing in holiness, but it is vital for dating.

Have you ever said to yourself, “What was I thinking!? How could I have gone out with him/her in the first place? I can’t believe I put myself in that situation… epic fail!”

It most likely is because you were not practicing prudence.

Called “the charioteer of the virtues”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1806), prudence directs all the other virtues, pointing them to their proper end. In fact, St. Aquinas ranks prudence the highest of all cardinal virtues.

Prudence is the perfection of the intellect (“reason applied to practice”). Essentially it is practical wisdom which enables us to discern the right decision in every circumstance, specifically as it applies to how to date chastely.

Prudence is all about watching for the pitfalls. For example, watching a movie while laying under a blanket with your boo, in the dark basements when your parents are out of town is a BAD idea. Spending the night at your boyfriend’s dorm room or apartment when you have been drinking (or not) is a recipe for disaster.

In my college days I used to put myself in tempting situations (generally with alcohol) because it was an excuse to blur the lines. I sometimes wanted to stay at my boyfriend’s dorm room too late, or watch a rated R movie that would stir me. But as I grew closer to Christ, I saw that he was calling me to grow-up in Him.

St.Paul tells us: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11).  This is why prudence/wisdom is so important. It makes us spiritually mature.

If you really want to love with true freedom you have to choose it.

This means that we have to apply prudence by avoiding the near occasion of sin, and any situation which leads us to poor judgment:

Some simple suggestions are:

  • Avoid movies, books, late internet use, and/or sexting or promiscuous talk.
  • Avoid drinking and (if you are of age) limit alcohol use on your dates. (As a good rule, one of the two should abstain from alcohol use).
  • Avoid late nights in tempting locations.
  • Do not spend the night at your date’s apartment or dorm room (it’s always a bad choice).
  • Avoid dressing in a way that might provoke lust in the other person… simply put, dress modestly.

We are all weak, and prone to sin. Knowing the areas you are most vulnerable in is the first step for wise, chaste living. If you feel like wisdom is lacking in your chastity efforts, St. Paul reminds us to ask for it:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:5, 6)

Let the Lord guide us in prudence, wisdom and faith to live chastity, one date at a time!


Mary-BielskiInvolved in ministry for more than 15 years, Mary Bielski has spoken to over 100,000 teens, young adults around the nation at high school and college retreats and conferences, including Steubenville Youth Conferences, Life Teen Inspiration, LA Congress, NCCC, and parish and diocesan rallies. Using funny stories and engaging analogies, Mary draws her audience to the beauty of our Catholic faith, a deeper love for Christ, the Eucharist, and the call to holiness. For more information about Mary and her ministry go to


  1. Sorry, hate to be this guy, but uhm… *St. James tells us to ask for it*

    By Bradley | 6 years ago Reply
  2. This is ridiculous, you’re basically telling them to have almost no fun. How do you expect people to learn if they never make mistakes. If you follow this you will end up with somebody who bores you and only shares your views in Christ. You need to talk about all those things or else your just hiding your true self. People that follow what you’re saying will regret not living life to the fullest. Have fun in your younger years or you’ll regret it and you’ll end up with a man or woman who has no motives other than to find another person to be bored with. This lady is giving the wrong ideas about dating, it should be fun and risky not boring and safe. You’re only young once, learn from it and have fun.

    By Roger | 6 years ago Reply
    • Hey you. This is splendid advice. There is no such thing as fun if it is without Christ and outside christ teachings. What you actually call fun is a temporary excitement with hidden thorns. Imagine on your first date and you break your virginity will you get it back? Or make someone pregnant when you are not ready will advise abortion? Our Bodies are made for only one person our marital spouse it takes virtuous mind to patiently find them. Tell me how all that is possible with such attitude of your.

      By Marie Owachgiu | 6 years ago Reply
    • Have fun and be risky to what end? String of broken relationships with ppl who want your body, STDs, unwanted pregancies which to lead to abortions, loss of self respect etc Erm I think not.

      By Ella | 6 years ago Reply
    • Hi Roger,
      Something that needs to be pointed out is that dating can be fun AND virtuous. Mary Bielski isn’t saying not to have fun, she is simply saying that there are other ways to have fun without promiscuity. While it is natural to want to be with the other and our culture makes it seem that jumping in bed on a first date is spontaneous and romantic, it actually isn’t. Often times the aftermath of such a move will result in the pain of you, the other person, and maybe a future spouse. An act such as that is not love-it’s lust. It takes a lot more self-control and creativity to be pure than it does to be promiscuous. Mary provided us with a list of things to NOT do during a date, so here’s a list of stuff to do INSTEAD:
      -go to a public movie during the day
      -go out to eat, or pack a picnic and go for a walk in a public park (during the day)
      -volunteer at a homeless shelter
      -go skiing, ice-skating, or snow-tubing
      -meet the others parents
      -pray together (it’s actually very powerful and intimate)
      -go for a bike ride
      -go laser tagging
      -start a new hobby together such as getting friends together for a board game night (may I recommend Munchkin) or archery or something
      That’s a pretty long list and hopefully something on there interests you. As you can see there’s a lot people can do on a date that is pure and fun. These activities allow you to get to know the other person for who they truly are, not just for their body. Your girlfriend, Roger, will be much more impressed with you for showing her respect and true love in being pure and virtuous (and if not, than maybe she’s not the girl for you).

      By Olivia | 6 years ago Reply
      • Yes I agree with what Olivia said… there is no such thing as old fashioned, there is always a way to have clean fun or should I say authentic fun 🙂

        By JP | 6 years ago Reply
  3. Great article! Really helpful tips. Delayed gratification is definitely the way to go!

    By Ella | 6 years ago Reply
  4. Thank you for this article. I have been struggling with keeping my promise to chastity. This has opened me up to the meaning of prudence.

    By Catherine J | 6 years ago Reply
  5. Hi, I’m Catholic and my boyfriend is atheist. How can I convince him to be pure and virtuous?

    By Angeli | 6 years ago Reply
  6. Thank you for writing this article. It has changed my perspective on my personal feelings of guilt over past mistakes and sometimes this overwhelming fear of loneliness. It is an immeasurable comfort to be reminded that even though we are prone to sin, God is there to guide us in wisdom and all we need to do is ask and let him in our lives everyday.

    By Viola | 6 years ago Reply

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