Romance can make your heart pound and your tummy flip. If you're confused or concerned, we can help! Keep reading for answers to common questions about teen dating.
When do teens start dating?
There is no right age for teens to start dating. Every person is different. Lots of teens enjoy just hanging out in a group. Here are some tips for thinking about when you might start seeing someone:
Do I know what I want in a person I date?
Is this right for me, or do I just want to do what my friends are doing?
Am I doing this because I like someone, or because I like the idea of having someone?
Can I handle tough feelings like jealousy?
Do I know what I'm ready for in terms of physical stuff?
Do I know how I'd say no to sex?
Talk to your parents or guardians about starting to date. They may have rules about things like when you can be alone with a date. If you don't like the rules, ask calmly about changing them. Staying calm shows that you're getting more mature.
What is a healthy dating relationship?
Healthy dating relationships start with the same things that all healthy relationships start with.
Dating relationships also are different from other relationships.
You may have strong feelings of attraction and other intense feelings. You may even want to spend all of your time together. Try to spend some time apart, though. That way you can connect with other people who care about you, too. And you'll have time for goals and activities that matter to you.
Love involves really knowing someone, respecting them, trusting them, and caring about their happiness. It’s great when it happens, but it usually takes time!
What about dating and sexual feelings?
Sexual feelings can be strong, and you may feel confused. Keep in mind that the sex in movies, music, and TV shows often doesn't reflect real or healthy relationships. So how do you know what's right? Trust your instincts and treat yourself with respect and make sure your crush does, too.
Talk with the other person ahead of time about what you will and will not do physically. Waiting until the heat of the moment to try to cool things down doesn't work as well.
The person you're with should always respect your right to say no. If you think someone is not treating you with respect, learn more about safety in relationships.
What about hooking up? Different people mean different things when they say, "hooking up." Usually, though, it means doing something sexual with somebody you're not dating. Have you heard that hooking up could be fun? Well, hooking up can have some serious downsides. These include feeling embarrassed or upset afterward, getting pregnant, and getting a sexually transmitted disease (also known as an STD).
Should I date someone close to my age?
It's best to date someone close to your own age. Here are some reasons why:
- Someone older may be more mature and readier for a different kind of relationship.
- Dating someone older increases the odds that your partner will want to have sex before you're ready.
- Younger girls who date older guys are more likely to face an unwanted pregnancy.
- A guy who is legally an adult could get sent to prison if he has sex with you and you're underage. That could happen even if you are 17 and he is 18, depending on the law in your state.
How can I stay safe when dating?
Dating can be a great way to get to know someone and to get to know what you want from a relationship. Plus, it can be a lot of fun! But it's not fun to feel scared..
You can take steps to stay safe whenever you go out with someone. For example, try getting to know a person by talking at school or on the phone first. You also can go out with a group of friends to a public place. If the two of you go out alone, tell your parents or guardians who you are going with and where. And follow your parents' rules for things like curfew, since those often are set for your safety.
Dealing with conflict
Conflict or disagreement is a part of life. We know facing conflict can be scary. But if you avoid conflict, you may feel sad or frustrated. It can also stop you from being treated well or getting things you need. Check out tips below for handling conflict.
7 tips for handling conflict
Here are some smart steps to help you deal with conflict.
- Cool off.
Yelling, using insults, or being sarcastic will make matters worse. Try these tips to calm down:
- Count down from 10 to 0.
- Close your eyes and take deep breaths.
- Think of a peaceful place or something that makes you happy.
- Slowly say over and over to yourself, "Take it easy."
- Take a short walk.
- Keep it real!
Think about what's really bothering you.
- Did someone say or do something that hurt your feelings?
- Is this a one-time problem or one that keeps happening?
- Are you upset now because of something else that upset you in the past?
- What do you really want in this situation or from this relationship?
- Deal with the issue.
Talk to the other people or person about the conflict. If you don't, they may not know what you're thinking. Plus, your feelings may come out in an unhealthy way. Try these tips:
- Find a time when you can talk in private.
- Try to avoid distractions or interruptions.
- Try to keep your voice calm.
- Talk about how you feel and what you want instead of blaming the other person. (Hint: Try to start your sentences with "I…" instead of "You…".)
- Listen to the other person's side.
One of you may not be totally wrong, and the other person may not be totally right. You may just see the situation differently. Here are some tips for listening well:
- Make eye contact to show you are interested in what the other person is saying.
- Try to see where the other person is coming from.
- Think about how you may have contributed to the problem.
- Work it out.
Here are some ways to resolve conflict:
- Keep an open mind. Be willing to accept that the other person makes a good point.
- Talk about ways to settle the conflict that will meet both of your needs.
- Try to come up with a specific agreement or plan.
- Be willing to say you're sorry if you had a part in creating the conflict.
- Try to forgive and move on.
- Get help if you need it.
Sometimes you need help from someone outside the conflict.
- Ask friends for ideas. Just don't ask them to choose sides.
- Turn to an adult who can help. These include parents or guardians, teachers, school nurses, coaches, and counselors.
- See if your school has a special program (sometimes called mediation (say: mee-dee-ay-shun) programs) that helps students work out problems.
- Walk away.
Sometimes you can't find a way to resolve a conflict.
- If the other person doesn't want to work it out, try taking a break from the relationship.
- If the conflict gets physical or the other person is abusive, get help.
- Dating Dangers -Anyone you date should treat your body and your feelings with respect.
- If you think the person you’re dating is abusive, get help. Talk to your parents, guardians, or another adult you trust.
Remember that sex you don’t agree to is rape. Rape is a crime. It is never your fault no matter the situation. If you have been raped, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline online or call 800-656-HOPE (800-656-4673).