Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why Don't Teens Date Anymore?

By Guest Blogger, Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D.

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.

BOTTOM LINE: This "Dr.G" highly recommends you check out Dr. Barbara Greenberg & her website: as well as her book:"Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual".

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