How Old Should Your Teen Be To Date? 7 Surprising Answers To Your Questions About Teen Dating

Every parent remembers the first time their child reported having a girlfriend or boyfriend.

lovely happy teenage couple hugging outdoors

Learning that your teenager has reached this stage can be scary and you may have many questions. You may realize that it will be hard to dissuade your teenager into waiting to date once they have decided to start. Here are 7 answers to your questions about teen dating.


  1. How old should your teen be to date?

While there is no set answer to this question, most parents agree that around 15 is a good time to start dating. However, different parents and teens have different definitions of what it means to “date.” Before your child starts driving, it may be hard to have an unsupervised date anyway, and if your 13-year-old comes home saying she has a “boyfriend,” it may just mean she holds hands with a boy at lunchtime. Before panicking about your child’s declaration that they are dating, find out what that means to them.


  1. When should I talk to my teen about sex?

Talk to them before you suspect they are dating, and definitely once they start dating if you haven’t already. It’s worth the risk to make you both uncomfortable to let them know your expectations and the importance of safe sex if they are going to have it – before they start having it. Teens are often very discreet about sex and you may not know for sure when they start, so it is important to have the talk far ahead of time.


  1. Should I talk to other parents about teen dating?

Absolutely. Parents who have been through this stage before you can have incredible insight into what to expect and answer questions you haven’t thought to ask yet.


  1. How will I know when my child starts dating and having sex?

If your teenager hasn’t talked to you about it specifically, you may not know. Maintaining open communication with your son or daughter and not making them feel ashamed or embarrassed about it will help them open up to you. If you don’t know if they are dating but suspect they might be, talk to them about healthy relationships and safe sex anyway.


  1. Is my teenager in an abusive relationship?

If your son or daughter has lost interest in hanging out with other friends, seems anxious when their significant other is not around, and constantly has to check in with their girlfriend or boyfriend or needs to check up on them, they may be in an obsessive or emotionally abusive relationship. If your daughter seems ashamed, embarrassed, or avoids talking about her boyfriend, she may be in a sexually abusive relationship. Talk to your child about healthy relationships and what constitutes as abuse.


  1. Is my teenager “sexting?”

Sending sexual words and pictures through text message is a common past time among dating teens, and it can put your child at risk, especially girls, who are judged more critically when it comes to sex. Instead of snooping in your teen’s phone to find out, talk to them about how easily words and images are spread once sent and the dangers of bullying and humiliation.


  1. What if my teen asks what my “rules” are?

Use your instincts to come up with boundaries you think are reasonable. Set curfews, check in rules, or limits on how much time your teen can spend with their new fling. If they are asking what is okay, that’s a great sign. It means they care about how you feel about their relationship and are willing to compromise with you, and hopefully communicate.


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