The time to build right foundations.
Here are some of the most important perspectives I've observed and experienced over the years and believe will be helpful to you ...
To it I would add:
Treat the person you are dating in a way of which can be you can be proud, especially if you don't marry him or her.
Watch carefully how he or she treats his or her father or mother because that is how he or she is very likely to treat you in 5 or 10 years.
Remember if you marry him or her, you will also be marrying his/her family. Observe family patterns and how members relate to each other. That model will influence the ideas of family he/she will bring into the family he/she will form with you if you marry. Be prepared to choose to love his or her family. No family is perfect - yours won't be either, so give much grace.
- Get engagement preparation counselling months before you decide to be engaged to be married.
"Remember, whatever you do with your boyfriend on Friday night will be talked about on Monday morning in the locker room."
"Why would you buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?"
"Don't make your lips a lunch counter for every boy that passes by."
Well, you get the point...)
Additional reasons for containing sex in marriage are offered in "Singles & Sex" by Dean Sherman here.
What should we teach our children about abstinence or sex before marriage? Charles Colson offers reasons for abstinence-based sex education here.
And what about the current trend to marry later in life? (outside link)
What are some of the benefits of marriage?
Are you dating the "right person?" - a brief, important excerpt on the myth of compatibility and what to do about it from Tim and Kathy Keller's The Meaning of Marriage.