A Teen Dating Abuse Victim

There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg effect when it comes to Tinder and the disentanglement of dating from the rest of social life. It’s possible, certainly, that dating apps have erected walls between the search for potential partners and the normal routines of work and community. But it’s also possible that dating apps thrive in this particular moment in history because people have stopped looking for potential partners while they go about their work and community routines.

Establish the expectation that you’ll be introduced before a date, whatever you want that to look like. You can always start by meeting their date at your home a few times for dinner before allowing your teen to go out on a date alone. Talk openly with your child about sex, how to know what they’re ready for, and safe sex. Your parenting values, your teen’s maturity level, and the specific situation will help you determine how much chaperoning your teen needs. Having an eyes-on policy might be necessary and healthy in some circumstances but teens also need a growing amount of independence and the ability to make their own choices. This is their time to experiment and figure out what and who they are interested in.

Real-life dating doesn’t mimic a teen Netflix or Disney movie—or porn. Instead, first dates may be awkward or they may not end in romance. Dates may be in a group setting or even via Snapchat—but the feelings are just as real.

Understand that early dating is your teen’s chance to work on these life skills. They may make mistakes and/or get hurt but ideally, they will also learn from those experiences. Just like starting any new phase of life, entering the world of dating is both exciting and scary—for kids and their parents alike. Kids will need to put themselves out there by expressing romantic interest in someone else, risking rejection, figuring out how to be a dating partner, and what exactly that means. Clearly, the explosion of social media and ever-present cellphones are two of the biggest influences on the changing world of teen dating—kids don’t even need to leave their bedrooms to “hang out.”

Another study suggested that people who use the same function words(maybe you both say “quite” and “tons” a lot) are more likely to couple up and stay together. Sure, you might meet the love of your life while sipping gin and tonics, but wouldn’t it be so much cooler to say you met at a mud run? You never know where you’re going to meet the next person you date, so if you’re only looking in one spot (like that bar where you’re a regular) then you’re missing out on tons of possible partners. We know plenty of couples who have met while standing in line at the grocery store, a Target parking lot, even a naked reality show.

While some teens will start dating earlier than others, romantic interests are normal and healthy during adolescence. Some kids are more overt or vocal about their interest in dating but most are paying attention and intrigued by the prospect of a romantic life, even if they keep it to themselves. For the first date or two, avoid going somewhere private with your date. Instead, meet at a public place where there are plenty of people around, like a restaurant, cafe, skating rink, or another place where there’s typically a good crowd. In the event that you feel uncomfortable, there will be other people around who can help.

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