Teenage dating might be a necessary part of accumulating experience, gaining knowledge that can be built upon in the future, and getting a taste of romance that will engender the confidence to continue seeking relationships in the future. Without it, many adults would fall behind in the dating world. This does not, however, do much to mask the simple fact that almost all examples of teenage dating are fairly silly and stupid – if sometimes endearingly so.
What most teenage relationships are built on is attraction, and potentially, infatuation. We develop the tendency to be attracted to others from a very early age – often well before we can even hit puberty! – and the teenage years are usually the first ones in which we find ourselves with the opportunity and perhaps even the expectation to do something about it.
And so at the start of high school (and perhaps even the very end of middle school), awkward and oftentimes clueless flirtation and teasing turns into equally awkward and clueless teenage dating, differentiated mostly by the out-of-school contact between the two teens. Hand holding turns into reaching “second base”, and kissing turns into more intense hooking up or even sexual intercourse.
So why is teenage dating so silly and/or stupid? The main reason is that for dating and relationships to not be stupid, silly, ridiculous, annoying, etc, one or both members of the couple have to have at least a fair amount of emotional maturity and communication skills that most teenagers simply do not possess. For most teens, their relationships are much less about the connections they have with others, but rather about their own identity, status, and idea of themselves.
Their friends tend to be friends of convenience (they live close by), friends of comfort (those who they have known since early childhood, or those whose parents are good friends with their own), friends with common interests (self-explanatory), or friends for benefits (those who help them accumulate status and a good reputation). Their girlfriends or boyfriends, similarly, seem to be those that they like the idea of being with.
Is the silliness of teenage dating the fault of teens? Not really. It cannot be expected of them to have the level of emotional maturity required for very intimate, effective relationships. However, the greatest problem is that they make their relationships seem incredibly important – much more than they actually are. Teenage relationships are viewed by their participants not as valuable opportunities for experience and to have fun, but rather as something that makes them incredibly important, special, and misunderstood.
Fighting their first interactions with infatuation, they often mistake it for true love, and anyone who doubts them is an enemy who simply “doesn’t know what it’s like.” While this can simply be part of the natural development of teens, it can also lead to dramatic actions that can affect the rest of their future, making the stupidity of teenage dating a potential detrimental force towards their future development into adults.