We all have different attitudes toward teen dating. Some take the dating game too seriously; others jump from one relationship to another.
The fact is, though, teen relationships can be very intimate and serious. That can be a good thing, because it can help teens prepare for strong relationships throughout their lives. But it can also be a bad thing—because sometimes teen dating can lead to risky behavior or even relationship abuse.
Learning from Relationships
The average relationship among 12- to 14-year-olds lasts five months, and the average relationship among 16-year-olds lasts two years, according to Illinois State University professor Laura E. Berk in her book Infants, Children, and Adolescents. Five months is half a school year, which is a long time for the average middle schooler. And two years is half of high school. These relationships are more than just long. They’re also meaningful, because teens with partners seek companionship, emotional and physical intimacy, affection, and social support.
Often teens in warm and caring relationships tend to end up in healthy, committed relationships later in their lives. The relationships help them learn cooperation skills, socially appropriate behavior, interdependence, compromise, empathy, intimacy, and sensitivity. Some unhealthy teen relationships can have a down side, though. Sometimes they can lead to risky behavior such as delinquency, substance abuse, and sexual activity.
Teen dating experiences can be improved if parents and teens talk about things—what’s normal and OK in relationships, and how television shows can portray teen dating, idealizing relationships or encouraging promiscuous behavior. It may seem uncomfortable to talk about this stuff with your parents. But remember: your parents want what’s best for you. Plus, they’ve actually been through the teen dating experience themselves. They know it can sometimes be difficult or confusing.
Some teen relationships can be great, and they can positively impact future relationships. But sometimes these relationships can be problematic. Best to make sure, if you’re in a relationship, that you’re really happy about it. That’s the most important thing!
Did You Know: According to some studies, one in four teen girls say they have been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.
BodiMojo Quiz: What do you know about safe sex?
This article has been reviewed by BodiMojo expert, Tara Cousineau, Ph.D.