Dating when you are a teenager is an exciting time in your life. It is also a very difficult time for many reasons. The pressure to have sex at a young age is very hard for many teenagers. The access to drugs and alcohol add to the peer pressure and can cause you to make bad decisions when it comes to knowing when you should have sex and when not to.
“Intelligent dating is dating successfully, being selective about who you date, hanging out and having fun, remaining steady through the natural highs and lows of romance, and keeping your own standards. Brainless dating is dating ineffectively, dating anyone who has a pulse, becoming centered on your girlfriend or boyfriend, having your heart broken repeatedly, and doing what everyone else seems to be doing.”
Studies indicate that many of today’s teens are taking dating far too seriously. One out of three teenage girls report experiencing physical violence from a dating partner, yet many of them stay in the relationship stating, “But I love him,” or “A bad relationship is better than no relationship at all.” Instead of understanding that teen dating is about meeting many different people and that breaking up is not a sign of failure, they get caught up in believing they will find Mr. or Mrs. Right in high school. Truth be known, very few people actually marry their high school sweetheart.
Covey gives teens and parents six guidelines for intelligent dating, which would be great jumping off points for discussion:
Don’t date too young – Dating too young can lead to all kinds of problems including getting taken advantage of, getting physical too soon, or not knowing how to end a relationship.
Date people your own age – Dating guys several years older than you isn’t healthy.
Get to know lots of people – By getting too serious too soon you cut yourself off from other relationships. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. Date a lot of different people and have fun.
Date in groups – It is often more fun and there is safety in numbers.
Set boundaries – Decide BEFORE you start dating what kind of people you will date. Decide what is off limits and don’t let anyone change your mind.
Have a plan – before you go on a date have a plan.
Teaching teens dating basics early on can save then a lot of heartache. In addition to parental discussions, adolescents can also benefit from healthy dating relationship skills classes that teach the fundamental components of establishing healthy and stable interpersonal relationships with family, friends, dating partners, and eventually, husbands and wives. These classes teach adolescents to recognize important factors in healthy relationships and, hopefully, make thoughtful decisions about their relationships before entering into marriage.