Teen dating advice 101

A fairly high bar stands between this phase and actual “dating,” wherein one member of the couple — usually the boy — officially asks the other out.

Megan*, a senior at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, says only about 20 percent of these relationships result in an official couple.

Kids hook up with people they’ve just met, casual acquaintances and even friends. Jennifer, when asked if hooking up with a guy meant a girl had a crush on him, says dismissively, “Nope.” And Megan concurs: “It would seem very strange to me that a girl would think there’s something there” after a hookup.

What to watch for: It’s time to have the “values and expectations” talk if you haven’t already.

This is a prime opportunity to find out what they find appropriate and desirable in a romantic partner, says Crystal Reardon, director of counseling for Wake County Public School System. You have to respect your children’s feelings but also want to help keep them safe.”What to watch for: Girls usually don’t want to bring someone they’re just talking to home to their parents, say both Megan and Jennifer, so be prepared for some flak if you insist.“You never want the guy to think you’re going, ‘Oh, we’re dating, so I want you to meet them,’” Megan says.

On the other hand, she adds, “if you’re really dating, at some point you absolutely do want your parents to meet him.”Events are a Group Experience Your teen doesn’t have to be dating or talking to anyone to have a date to the prom, winter formal or Sadie Hawkins dance.

The group eats dinner together, poses for pictures together and attends the dance together. ’”What to watch for: Officially, it’s OK for kids who aren’t part of a large friend group to go with just a date or with another couple, and it’s OK for kids to go “stag.” Unofficially, there are unwritten rules that your teen knows might discourage him from attending even if he wants to.

Plug in, watch for signs and remember that regardless of how the rules change, love evokes the same positive and negative emotions it always has, regardless of what decade it is.* In some cases, names were changed to protect identities. Wood is a Raleigh-based freelance writer and mother of three.We’re learning this at the same time our children are navigating through it.”What follows is a teen dating primer to help your child — and you — forge the valley between child and young adult.Dating Starts Earlier It’s not unusual for sixth-graders to say, “I have a boyfriend/girlfriend.” Often these relationships develop through texting.These first relationships usually don’t go beyond chatting, posing for pictures later posted on social media and requests to attend coed group outings.Most experts and parents consulted for this article say group “dates” to the mall, movies or even a friend’s house are fine as long as they’re supervised, even if it means just being in the same shopping center.

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