What exactly is middle school dating? And should parents worry about it? Our expert weighs in with ideas for parents about middle school relationships In all seriousness, though, it might be fair to put dating—or “going out” as many middle schoolers say—near the top of the list. Read More: Tweens and Romance? The Surprising Benefits of Middle School Crushes. An interest in being more than friends is one of many signs your tween is entering adolescence. It’s helpful for parents to recognize that being more than friends doesn’t necessarily mean an interest in physical intimacy. A lack of clear terms with these young relationships is part of the problem.
An interest in being more than friends is one of many signs your tween is entering adolescence. It’s helpful for parents to recognize that being more than friends doesn’t necessarily mean an interest in physical intimacy. A lack of clear terms with these young relationships is part of the problem.
When a middle schooler wants to date or go out, we’re left wondering, “What does middle school dating even mean?” Talking About Middle School Dating Begin by asking your tween what it means for her. Is it spending time together at the mall or movies? Or maybe it’s just extra texting and a change in her social-media status. You won’t know unless you ask. This is also an opportunity for you to talk about your own expectations for what you believe is and is not appropriate in middle school.
There is no hard rule for when tweens should be allowed to date. Keep in mind that even if you forbid young relationships and dating, your tween may still spend lots of time with a special someone at school. What’s more, forbidden fruit has a unique appeal. Rather than a flat no, you might consider a more nuanced answer that includes “yes” to some scenarios (Okay, you can say you’re going out), “maybe” to others (I’ll consider whether you can go to a movie together, but if I say yes, I will be in the theater a few rows away), and “no” to others (You are too young to go to the movies without a chaperone and, by the way, you’re too young to kiss).
You should also be talking about the . This is not for the faint of heart, but you can do it. Otherwise, how will your tween know what’s appropriate for a young relationship? For many tweens, dating in middle school simply means texting or Snapchatting excessively. Remember, . They fret about being likeable and accepted. To be dating (whatever that means) can be the ultimate confidence booster. It can also be a nice way to make a personal connection, learn how respectful relationships are built, and develop personal insight.
Plus, remember the thrill of your first crush? It’s just fun. Do keep an eye out for serial relationships, though. A 2013 study from the University of Georgia found that middle schoolers who were in high-frequency or back-to-back relationships tended to be prone to higher-risk behaviors, like drinking or doing drugs, later in adolescence. I would caution against group dating, too. It may seem like a safety net to have more tweens around, but the group mentality can quickly push boundaries.
Two awkward, gawky tweens forced to think of conversation is much better than a group of tweens daring the couple to go into a closet for seven minutes. (I don’t know if that’s still a thing, but it was when I was in middle school.) You get the point. If dating in middle school terrifies you, take stock of your concerns.
Perhaps you’re worried about early physical intimacy, heartbreak, or your tween’s reputation. Don’t overwhelm yourself or your child with fears, but take the top one or two and discuss them calmly and without criticism. Whenever your child wants something, he or she is more open to listening to you.
Use that to your advantage. This is a good opportunity to share your values , perspectives, and hopes. If you react reasonably, with a willingness to learn and be flexible, your child will trust your judgment and continue to seek it as the issues around dating become increasingly complex.
best dating in middle school tips - What Dating In Middle School Taught Me About Relationships
Many adults remember having their first boyfriend or girlfriend in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. Some consider it a normal step for kids entering adolescence — a rite of passage like acne or being embarrassed by your parents — but it may be time to reconsider.
Turns out, puppy love may not be quite as harmless as it seems. According to research, dating in middle school is tied to poor study habits and even dropping out as well as behaviors such as drinking alcohol and doing drugs.
Compared to adolescents who waited or dated early and then reversed their course in high school, early daters reported twice as much drug, tobacco, and alcohol use and dropped out of school at four times the rate. Pamela Orpinas, a child development researcher at the University of Georgia, made this startling discovery over the course of a seven-year longitudinal study where she followed more than 600 kids in Georgia from sixth to twelfth grade. Advertisement Dating’s effect on studies Every year, she’d ask the students a series of questions about everything from homework habits to whether they’d tried pot.
The pivotal question, just a single line in the survey, was whether the child “had a boyfriend or girlfriend (someone that you dated, gone out with, gone steady with)” in the previous three months. In addition to collecting the kids’ survey responses, Orpinas gathered information from the children’s teachers. Every year, teachers rated the children’s study skills — such as completing homework, reading assigned chapters, being organized, and doing extra credit work — from high to low.
Her study, in 2013, is among the first to look at how early dating is related to school work, and the results are pretty clear: “The kids who report little or no dating, their teacher evaluations are consistently higher — and the kids who report dating more, their teacher evaluations are consistently low.” What the study leaves unexplained is whether early dating was associated with broader risk factors for problem behavior — such as low socioeconomic status — or whether early dating was linked to problem behavior irrespective of other risks.
Advertisement While it won’t surprise most parents to hear alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs listed as problem behaviors, it’s likely to raise eyebrows that early dating belongs on that same list. But it does, Orpinas says. “It’s a risk factor,” she says, “and it’s associated with other problem behaviors.” What is “dating” in middle school, anyway?
Over the course of her study, Orpinas left the meanings of “dating,” “going out with,” and “going steady” up to the kids’ interpretations. Partly, she says, because kids at each stage and grade know what these things mean to them — and that’s more useful for self-reporting survey responses than getting bogged down in a definition, she says.
“In the end, it’s some kind of romantic involvement.” The big questions, then, are what really constitutes dating and when should you start letting your child date? For instance, what about so-called relationships that exist solely via text message — a .
Are these situations, where kids text incessantly but barely utter a word to one another, count? It’s a gray area — but if you think kids would report them in response to Orpinas’ survey, they probably do. “It’s definitely an area for further research,” Orpinas says, warning that any relationship-like activity that dominates hours of a middle schooler’s time is a red flag.
“We had one participant who would talk on the phone from 6 pm to 4 am with her boyfriend,” Orpinas recalls, lamenting the lack of balance in the girl’s life. Even when kids are only texting, she says, “parents really need to step in and see how much time they’re spending.” Text-only dating is just one facet of the complex early dating scene, along with “more than friends” and “Facebook official” and everything in between.
The only real way to find out what counts? You’ll have to have that conversation with your child. Just ban dating till they’re 16? From 2003 to 2009, as Orpinas was collecting the survey data and spotting the tie between early dating and poor study skills, she admits she forbade her daughter (now in college) from dating till she turned 16.
“To my surprise, she was very relieved,” Orpinas says. “She didn’t have to deal with the peer pressure.” Orpinas reasons that early dating affects schoolwork negatively because these relationships tend to be short — and when it ends, the kids are still in the same class.
She likens it to the emotional fallout that often comes from adults dating coworkers. Forbidding kids to date until they’re 16 is a popular solution.
Vic, a middle school teacher and father of six, says, “Dating is about learning to establish stable romantic relationships,” but tweens just aren’t capable of that yet. “Middle schoolers need to be learning to establish stable emotional self-awareness,” he says. “Pairing up during early adolescence makes about as much sense as smoking at a gasoline refinery.” Feona Sharhran Huff, mom of a middle school girl, was disturbed when a boy asked her daughter out. “I have seen the emotional effects that dating has on some of my friends’ middle school children,” she says.
“The girls post things [on Facebook] like, ‘I love him but why is he doing me like this?’ and ‘Why doesn’t he call me? I need to talk to him,’” says Huff, adding that these aren’t the types of thoughts or emotions she thinks girls should experience at this age.
To Huff’s delight, her daughter told the boy no. “[I] wanted to shed tears of joy when she said that she told the young man that she was too young and had to focus in her studies,” she says. Or let them be Yet simply banning dating till later may be neither simple nor effective. With girls reaching puberty earlier, is it wrong to force kids to ignore their biological development?
And what about the kids who’ll date anyway, just behind your back? There is a silver lining here: at a certain age, for certain kids, good, strong dating relationships are really positive. “Being in a good relationship as an older adolescent or young adult is a protective factor,” Orpinas says. Specifically, studies show that older kids with good grades tend to seek out partners with similar academic standing — and those students tend to continue to do well.
(Kids with lower grades, however, tend to choose romantic partners for other achievements, such as “good at partying.”) So what’s the age cutoff? “That’s the million dollar question that every mother wants to know,” Orpinas laughs.
After spending years evaluating this research and using it to inform her own parenting, Orpinas offers this advice. Some kids are under so much pressure to get into relationships they don’t really want, they may need their parents to set limits. Encourage them to make friends and get to know each other, she says, rather than date.
“Dating should not be a rite of passage,” she says. Not this early.
No no no, absolutely not. Not now not ever. For starters I don’t mean to offend 6th graders who “are in a relationship”. This is just for shits and gigs. My first argument is a common phrase used in relationships. I love you. I don’t even feel like I have to say anything. YOU DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT LOVE IS! It’s heartbreaking but true. To the middle schoolers out there who are dating I ask you, what is love?
Is it calling each other cute pet names? No, not quite Kissing? Umm not what I’m looking for Hugging? Hmmm, no Oh how about the fact all of school will know we’re ‘dating’ ? Sorry but no, so what if everyone knows your dating. Those above are the meaning of dating in middle school.
The word love has been diminished in recent years. Love is a very close companionship. My fellow middle schoolers, we are not emotionally mature to have actually relationships! Your relationship a word I use loosely, will be broken by something petty. Love is not something that last a week, a month. It’s much more powerful than that. When you are faced with big boy problems you will not be able to handle it!
What are you going to do if your boyfriend/girlfriend is depressed, or feeling as if they may committ suicide? There are just to many problems that were to young to handle. Why do people at this age date? Bu bu bu everyone else is doing it….. Bu bu bu I have to have a girlfriend/boyfriend…. As for the for the first one, even Rome fell one day. The people dating probably have only known each other a week.
Smh The second one. NO you don’t, now through high school GRADES ARE EVERYTHING. Some middle school couples are already talking about marriage, how many kids they are going to have.
But please we all know that even a 3 month dating streak going to end. This is my last and final point, if you are still reading thank you I appreciate it. What I’m about to say will piss a good 50% of you off. BOYS THINK WITH THERE BALLS AT THIS AGE. Everyday I hear it at least once it’s annoying really. “I kind of want to date her she’s hot” So YOU mean to tell ME you are willing to date that fine lady over there, just off the way she looks. You know nothing about her he’ll you ain’t even friends.
Me personally I’m not dating no time soon, and I’m very sure im only going to date someone I’ve gotten to actually know. I don’t need to be a love expert to understand that dating should be meaningful. Not just date one girl for a week and move on to the next.
( I’m in 8th grade which is pretty ironic) Well, I didn’t date in middle school, and not many of my classmates did either. But then, the majority of students in my year were actually smarter than the average middle schooler, since we were a small middle school and had great teachers who were invested in our education.
So we were hardly ordinary middle schoolers. That being said, dating in middle school happens for the same “purpose” as it does in high school or even college: to have fun.
Kids of that age have hormonal emotions that they haven’t really figured out, they just know that Jenny who sits two seats over in class is cute or Alex at their lunch table is fun to be around.
Cooties are a thing of the past, and even kissing and cuddling isn’t so gross, so middle schoolers decide that they want to get to know this person better, much like high schoolers or college students do. That’s not to say I think dating in middle school is a good idea. Quite the opposite in fact. As I’ve written in the past, dating is pretty much garbage when you lack money or transportation. Middle schoolers almost never have either independent of their parents, so unless there’s a nice coffeeshop or mall in the neighborhood, they’re not going to be having dinner dates without their parents being involved (never a pleasant experience).
Not to mention many of their peers will tease them relentlessly out of immaturity or jealousy. In my experience, middle school relationships rarely work out because the kids involved are usually too immature to not be jerks, and have no idea of what is a good date.
Now, some might say that dating is like “practicing” for marriage, and the more one practices, the better they are at the game, so why not start early. I respectfully disagree. Many of my friends were quite adept at the dating game, and they started late in high school or even college. Others began relationships when they were in sixth grade, and were the butt of many jokes because of the shallowness of said relationships. Obviously, there are exceptions, but for the most part, dating in middle school really has no point but for kids motivated by biological upheaval in their bodies to have some fun.
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