Dating and the Teenage Girl


For years, I have subscribed to the idea that young girls shouldn’t date. Most people disagree with me and see nothing wrong with 14, 15, or 16 year old girls having a boyfriend. I believe when a teenage girl dates, it changes who she is and who she could become.  I also believe the difference between how girls and boys view relationships, makes it difficult to have a lasting relationship as a teenager.

Young girls between the ages of 14 and 16 are in a period of their life I call the ‘information years’. These are the years when they are beginning to understand concepts of the world, figuring out what they like and don’t like and figuring out who they want to become. This gathering of information is happening, while their bodies are changing, their sexuality is being discovered (if it hasn’t been discovered already) and determining what it means to be a woman. When a teenage girl dates, the information years are interrupted. She is no longer gathering information about herself and trying to understand who she is. Her focus has shifted from herself to her boyfriend and that could mean anything from focusing a little less on her wants to dropping everyone in her life. No matter the depth, it is impossible for a young girl to figure out who she is supposed to be while half or more than half of her attention is focused on another person who wants her time, her mind and her body. Furthermore, the perspective a teenage girl has about herself and her view of the world, will be shaped by a boyfriend with his impressions and ideas; good or bad.

When considering to allow a teenage girl to date, how girls and a boys view relationships is important to think about.  I have made this argument in the past and again, people disagreed with me.  Then in 2009, I saw an episode of Oprah that has allowed me to demonstrate this argument.  Courtney and Pierce were on a show titled ‘They Say They’re Ready to Have Sex’. They were both 14. Dr. Laura Berman was also on the show and one of the first questions she asked both of them was ‘How long do you plan to stay together?’ Pierce’s answer: ‘I hope a long time.’ When pressed for specifics, Pierce said six months to a year. I wish you could’ve seen how fast Courtney’s head whipped around to look at him. Dr. Berman asked her, ‘You didn’t know that did you?’ Courtney said no. When asked if she still wanted Pierce to be her first, Courtney said no, ‘I thought a long time was not having an expiration date.’ It dawned on me after watching the show that people don’t understand teenage girls have long term plans in their minds when they are in love, feel close to someone and especially if sex is involved.  Also, teenage girls think teenage boys are thinking long term.  Teenage boys think in the short term even if they feel love, closeness and not especially if sex is involved.  Many times, sex is just sex and not a significant part of the relationship for a boy.  Most young girls do not have the aptitude to navigate through the complexities of these differences.  Courtney didn’t even know what questions she was supposed to ask and there’s no reason she should.  There are grown women and men who can’t understand all the complexities of how the opposite sex views relationships, so why would we allow teenagers to try.

During conversations I’ve had about this subject, people have regaled me with stories of family members or friends,who have been together since they were teenagers. My response to every one of them: your cousin or best friend’s mother, is not the norm. Most teenage girls do not stay with the person they begin dating when they are 14, 15 or 16. And even if they do, many of the couples have issues in their relationships because they realize, 10 or even 20 years later, they never understood what they needed and wanted.  There is nothing in the world anyone would give someone that was unfinished or partly done unless they just didn’t care.  But we freely give our daughters, who don’t fully understand who they are, to someone who may decide that for them.  We are doing a disservice to our young girls by not allowing them to continue their growth and development as young women.  A teenage girl who doesn’t date is not guaranteed to understand herself, her wants or who she could become, but she has a better chance of accomplishing all of it if she doesn’t date.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kristin Schill
    Oct 28, 2016 @ 02:07:53

    I agree entirely!! And I know that not many others do. The culture I love in ecourages kids to not date until they’re 16, and then, if they do date, to only go in groups and not date exclusively. But we also think that sex should wait until marriage, and the longer i’ve been married, the more I agree with that.

    One of the most interesting conversations my husband and I had in our first few years of marriage was how men and women see and get different things from sex. We’re just not the same, even our very physiology, and the way our homones manipulate our brains is different between men and women. It’s astounding. Kids shouldn’t be dating exclusively, let alone having sex, until they’re old enough and mature enough to handle life changing commitments such as marriage and babies. 14 year old girls are not. There is so much more to life than worrying about sex.

    As for the people sho say it works out, I have known several people who had sex as teens and not a single one is still with that partner. In fact, of all the ‘high school sweetheart’ couples I know, who got married as a teen, a full 50% have been divorced.

    Lol, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a post that is my take on ‘how to have great sex in a marriage for 12+ years’ and it would start with Step 1: ‘dont have sex as a teen.’

    Reply

  2. Cynt
    Oct 28, 2016 @ 14:24:02

    I wish the culture I live in encouraged kids to wait until later for dating and sex. I think it is so important. I just want people to think about what it means for teenagers to be involved in a relationship and how having sex could change everything for them. I love your idea for a post! I think there are a lot that could benefit from reading it.

    Reply

  3. iwillnotliveinvain
    Feb 13, 2017 @ 17:58:49

    it probably won’t be much of a surprise but I disagree… to an extent. I think it is a good idea for teens to date with the intent of practicing relationships and learning what they want/don’t want – I think I learned a lot about myself through relationships I had as a teen. The issue is when too much pressure is put on them by others or themselves to have a perfect teen romance that will eventually lead to marriage. I’m not impressed when people tell me they’ve been together since they were teens either…

    Reply

    • Cynt
      Feb 13, 2017 @ 21:19:15

      I know this will sound strange, but thank you for disagreeing with me. I think learning about yourself from a teenage relationship is possible with the right teenage girl. I suspect you had a similar experience to my own where relationships are concerned, whether they were good or bad, the relationships helped to shape you into the awesome woman you are; that does not happen for the majority of young girls in relationships. They tend not to learn about themselves, but focus on others. Maybe it doesn’t have to be absolute and it depends on the girl…but don’t think there will be many teenagers that can do it.

      Reply

      • iwillnotliveinvain
        Feb 13, 2017 @ 21:29:27

        It’s not strange! It’s always good to have a healthy disagreement/exchange of viewpoints 🙂 I definitely feel both the bad and the good helped to shape me and helped me realise not only different things about myself, but also about relationships in general. I think one of the things we must do, as adults, is instill the “practice” idea in their heads – not rail against them dating at all (like several people in the evangelical community I know) nor should we make them think that dating should be taken seriously (ie only date with intent to get married)… When I was in Australia I worked with youth and I would always say it’s about practice and learning about yourself and how to handle relationships maturely… etc etc That they need to find a balance of not taking things too seriously, while at the same time practicing and realising other people’s feelings are at stake as well. I supported if they thought they didn’t want to date, but if they did I wanted them to recognise it for what it really is at their age – not that serious!

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