Where was your first date? Perhaps you met your love interest at a local ice cream stand, coffee shop, or movie theater. Maybe the two of you met up at a dance at school. Maybe you had your first date well into college or early adulthood, and you decided to meet up at a bar or fancy restaurant. No matter where your first date took place, you probably still remember the nervousness and excitement you felt as you anticipated your very first date; the commencement of your entire dating experience. You also probably remember exactly how old you were when you went on that first date.
When is a person old enough to begin dating?
This is an age-old question that parents and teens everywhere struggle to answer. People are not light switches, and emotional maturity that dating requires is not “magically” developed when one hits a certain age. How, then, does a person know when he or she (or his/her son or daughter) is old and emotionally mature enough to date?
It is essential for teens and parents to define exactly what “dating” constitutes to them. The concept of “dating” is not clearly defined in modern American society. Does dating a person require the pair to physically meet up outside of school or work, or is “dating” simply a title given to two people who show a mutual romantic interest in one another, even if they do not physically go places together?
Some people believe that dating can only truly begin when the two people involved are old enough to provide their own means of transportation, while others believe that dating should be saved until college, when the teens become young adults, have a little more life experience, and are likely more capable of making their own decisions. Still others believe that as long as the two people see each other at school and like each other, even if they never meet outside of school and go on traditional dates, they are dating.
When I was in ninth grade, I went with a boy to my very first Homecoming dance. As I made my way down the stairs in my long black dress, my dad made a remark about how I was going on my first date. "IT'S NOT A DATE!" I vehemently objected. After all, I was almost fourteen years old, and I felt that two people could only be "dating" if they were old enough to drive. My dad apparently had an entirely different opinion on the matter and considered going to a school dance, even at such a young age, as a "date."
How do you define “dating”? In your opinion, what is the “ideal” age to begin dating, and why? What traits are signs that a person is emotionally mature enough to date?