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When Should a Teen Start Dating?

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: At what age do you think a teen should start dating? I'm 14 and my parents let me date. But I was just wondering if dating at such an early age will hurt me in any way.

A: Your question leads me to think that you are not comfortable with dating at 14. I am presuming you are going out by yourself with one other person. Do your parents have rules about the dating? Have you talked with them about the whole idea and how you feel? Maybe you should consider hanging out with a mixed group (boys and girls) of friends and going to movies, swimming, sporting events, bike rides, etc. so that you can develop skills in relating to all kinds of people.

Can dating hurt you? Possibly. If you do not feel comfortable talking with someone you don't know well, you may come to feel inadequate. If you have to deal with situations that are filled with sexual pressure, you could either give in to your partner's wishes -- or feel guilty or withdraw from feeling anything -- and that can be just as bad. At 14, dating activities are pretty limited to movies or riding around in a car (if your date is old enough to drive). For this and a lot of other reasons, I usually encourage teens to wait until at least 16 or older until they feel really comfortable and meet someone they want to know better as a friend and a romantic partner.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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