Dating, especially during the teenage years, is thought to be an important way for young people to build self-identity, develop social skills, learn about other people, and grow emotionally.
Yet new research from the University of Georgia has found that not dating can be an equally beneficial choice for teens. And in some ways, these teens fared even better.
The study, published online in The Journal of School Health, found that adolescents who were not in romantic relationships during middle and high school had good social skills and low depression, and fared better or equal to peers who dated.
To do this, Douglas and study co-author Pamela Orpinas examined whether 10th grade students who reported no or very infrequent dating over a seven-year period differed on emotional and social skills from their more frequently dating peers.
For the study, published in The Journal of School Health, the team surveyed nearly 600 students in northeast Georgia and tracked them from sixth through 12th grade. Every year, the teenagers answered questions about whether they had dated, the relationships with the family and friends and if they experienced symptoms of depression.
Dating was broadly defined as spending time with or going out with someone for more than a month.
The teens’ teachers were also asked to fill out questionnaires about the students’ social and leadership skills.
Non-dating students had similar or better interpersonal skills than their more frequently dating peers. While the scores of self-reported positive relationships with friends, at home, and at school did not differ between dating and non-dating peers, teachers rated the non-dating students significantly higher for social skills and leadership skills than their dating peers.
“In the end, school health educators, mental health professionals, and teachers should affirm social norms that support adolescents’ individual freedom to decide whether to date or not, indicating that both are acceptable and healthy options.” Lead author Brooke Douglas, of the University of Georgia, said in a statement.
Researchers focused on 10th graders who rarely or never dated compared to their peers who dated more frequently and found that that groups reported positive relationships.
But the students who didn’t date were rated higher in social skills and leadership skills by their teachers than teens who date. They also less often self-reported being sad or feeling hopeless compared to their peers in romantic relationships.
Teenagers who hold off on dating have better social skills and are less depressed than their peers. They were also less likely to report symptoms of depression or feeling sad and hopeless than teens in relationships.
Having a life partner is a psychological need, but waiting for the right time is what makes everything perfect. In addition, opting to date instead of studies will mislead one from the journey of life. Student’s first priority ought to be their studies, not romance. This doesn’t mean students mustn’t enjoy but it should be done at the right time.
There is more to love and romance. Relationship is not easy and one can experience emotional turmoil forcing him/her to commit suicide sometimes. So, one should not take a hasty step to start a relationship. Of course teens get curious about romance because they watch romantic movies, read romantic novels so on. So, the best way to handle teen romance is by keeping them engaged. In a nutshell, studies come first over such a relationship.