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  1. #1
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    Why Don't Teens Date Anymore?

    Why Don't Teens Date Anymore?

    November 19, 2011
    by Dr. Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D. , Psychology Today

    Dear Dr. G,

    Call me old-fashioned if you must. I just don't understand why my teenage children ages 17 and 18 just don't seem to go on dates. When I ask them about this, they look at me like I have two-heads, roll their eyes, and tell me that dating is not what teens do anymore. It seems like the word dating is foreign to them. I don't even know what the new vocabulary is for teens spending time together. I do hear about hook-ups and break-ups but am unfamiliar with what "hook-ups" refer to and if they are healthy for our kids.

    Please explain what is happening with teen relationships these days.

    An Old -Fashioned Mom


    Dear Old-Fashioned Mom,

    Take heart in knowing that you are not alone in wondering what is going on with teens and relationships these days. The answer may or may not make you feel any better depending on how you look at things but at least you'll be in the know.

    The current generation of teens has, as you are aware, moved away from dating and is often referred to as the "hook-up" generation. Hook-ups, I am told by the teens, refer to no-strings attached physical meetings of the body ranging from kissing to intercourse. They tend to be most likely to occur when teens are at parties and under the influence of alcohol.

    These "hook-ups" also seem to be replacing dating. It seems that males and females are equally aggressive these days and have embraced a culture of "friends with benefits" the benefits being physical encounters without the strings of relationships attached.

    It is both possible and likely that since many teen girls are making themselves available in two roles-that of the "aggressor" and "available" there is less motivation for the boys to ask them to date. The old expression 'Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?' seems to apply here. And, believe me I am not a fan of either referring to females as cows or of this expression. It simply seems to apply to the current teen scene.

    My concern is that there has been a move away from relationship-based sex to recreational sex. I am concerned as well that disconnnected sex may be too much for our teens to handle emotionally. Sexual intimacy often leaves teens emotionally vulnerable and at risk for disappointment, embarrassment, and sadness. Perhaps, we have failed to teach our children about the relationship between the heart, the body, and the mind when it comes to physical intimacy. The sorry state of affairs (no pun intended) is that teens are more distressed than they let on to when their Saturday night "hook-up" doesn't remember their name or even the "hook-up" itself on Monday morning in English class.

    With the hope of reversing this trend perhaps we should teach our kids about not only what sex is, about contraception, safe sex, and stds, but also about the strong connection between sex and their tender feelings.

    Good luck and I hope that I have answered your question without confusing the issue further.

    Good luck.
    Dr. G.

    For more info. on this topic and similar ones-check out my website:

    Talking Teenage - Home

  2. #2
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    Re: Why Don't Teens Date Anymore?

    Perhaps it is another sign of the increasing divorce rate. Children see the turmoil their parents go through trying to make an emotional connection, and how painful it appears to be when they fail and want nothing of it. But they see sexual intimacy on TV, the internet, in movies and in books so they have disconnected the two. In my opinion this comes from failing to see and meet the emotional needs of children. When they see and experience parental empathy, love, support and acceptance it seems to me they would be more likely to see that out in a long term relationship. When they see pain and anger that never gets resolved between adults it is probably never resolved in them.

    I also don't see this merely as a "teen problem." It is becoming a problem in young and middle aged adults who find themselves single or divorced. My experience as a single man is that women my age don't seem to want to build a relationship over time. In fact, I have found myself feeling this way too ... but I keep trying.

    Love is a verb, an adjective and a noun. It is something we do, it describes a feeling, and it is something we are ...

  3. #3
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    Re: Why Don't Teens Date Anymore?

    I think we have simply become so focused on "ourselves" as a society that the idea of sharing "everything" with someone else seems scary, relationships have become like "I"pods, it's all me, I,

    I am not particularly religious but there is something in what the church does here in that young couples have to attend sessions with the minister before marrying in a church to prepare them for the rigors of married life.

    Again the church here also offers couple counseling for free or on a what you can pay basis for people who are having relationship issues.

    Ive never been married because I see it as the ultimate commitment, I am not against marriage but to stand in front of my friends etc and pledge myself to someone for the rest of my life is something I see as a very serious commitment and that is what has been lost I think.

    Relationships are seen as a thing to service "us" and meet our needs rather than about two people building a life together.

    And unfortunately children like I was are the byproduct of these dalliances and then are made to feel as if they have trapped and ruined their parent lives and all too frequently become pawns in games between the parents as the relationship breaks down.

    I am not sure about what framework makes the best relationship, but I do see common themes in successful ones which are mutual respect, care, support, love these things don't appear overnight so it's lost on the ADHD generation.

    My partner comes from a household with a mother and father who have an immensely stable relationship and it is evident in him, again most of my friends who have successful marriages come from stable and loving homes and there is increasing research to back up that this is where we glean most of our ideas on relationships from, like everything else in life.... it's our parents faults! =/

    However I don't think it is that simple there is also evidence that my parents generation suffered as a result of fathers coming back from war leading to high levels of domestic abuse and so on and so on...

    All I know is I have tried to instill in my kids that a relationship needs worked at and that a healthy relationship involves both people within the relationships needs being met and communication and respect is a massive part of it.

  4. #4
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    Re: Why Don't Teens Date Anymore?

    Well said!!

    Adults need to model this ...

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