Teenagers and dating rules

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.For high schoolers, it can mean that, too, but usually refers to making out at parties or get-togethers.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.Johnny may still ask Suzy to be his date, but only after the “group” has decided who will go with whom.

To college students, hooking up means having casual sex.Broken hearts after a breakup are real, too, and just as with adults, there’s no timetable for recovery.What to watch for: If your teen experiences signs of depression weeks after a breakup, appears to be arguing or behaving differently with their boyfriend/girlfriend, withdraws from other friends or shows signs of physical abuse such as bruises or scratches, check with your doctor, school counselor or a community psychologist right away, advise both Gurwitch and Reardon.This means a boy and girl who feel an attraction spend time together, whether alone or in groups, then text and/or Snapchat in-between.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.

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