Falling in love is amazing and finding someone you want to date is an exciting experience but you need to be ready for a relationship to avoid ruining it. This begs the question, what age should you start dating?
Most teenagers start dating between the ages of 13 – 18 years old because this is when they begin to gain cognitive maturity. In other words, their ability to weigh their options and make informed decisions is adequate enough for dating.
If I’m being honest, I started liking girls from a relatively young age and the very first girlfriend I had was when I turned 12 years old.
At that age, I can say for certainty that I was absolutely not mature enough to be dating anyone or calling someone my girlfriend.
Obviously, that didn’t last for long and by the time I landed up in high school, I was falling for girls left, right and center.
Personally, I would say that the ideal age for someone to start dating would be at least when they are 16 years of age or older.
I’m sure that a lot of parents will be reading this article in contrast to teenagers so I’ll address them in particular.
It is of paramount importance that you prepare your child for love and romance from an early age.
The last thing you want to do is ignore the reality that teenagers tend to fall in love relatively easily and struggle with impulse control.
They are still developing as individuals and this phase is more of a transition into adulthood than anything else.
Their identity will not be determined by their teenage selves but it will be heavily influenced.
If you can prepare your child for the reality of dating, it would serve them well for the rest of their lives.
Far too many youngsters get wrapped up in the idea of love in their teens at the cost of their future.
What most adults know is that the majority of relationships we have in our lives will end at some point or the other.
It will hurt like hell but you’ll grow to appreciate the chapters in your life as you experience more of what life and dating has to offer.
Looking back now, I don’t regret dating from a young age but I wish that I was more patient with myself.
Constantly chasing love influenced my identity in such a way that it became a key feature in my life.
Rather than discovering my own identity and purpose in life, I substituted that for the pursuit of romance.
In other words, I valued my love life more than anything else and this led me down a sad path.
Here’s what I wish someone had told me – the best time to start dating is when you are completely happy with being single.
If we were to all adopt this principle, age would not be so much of a factor.
I would still advise most people to not date anyone until they were in their mid-teens.
Be that as it may, let’s discuss some of the most essential factors to consider when determining what age someone should be to start dating.
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Given that teenagers tend to act mostly on emotions and hormones, it’s safe to say that they need a certain degree of mental maturity to measure their actions against possible outcomes and consequences.
Part of this maturity comes from being educated by parents and teachers whereas the other part comes via life experiences.
We can talk to our children until we’re blue in the face but they have a mind of their own.
We can’t oversee every decision they make, especially when you’re dealing with a kid that’s quite rebellious.
Start by educating your children on what a relationship means, the responsibilities of dating someone, the fundamental principles of consent and how to judge whether they’re in love or not.
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Developing the ability to weigh the pros and cons of a decision is one factor in determining maturity in respect to the eligibility of dating but another is emotional maturity.
Let’s start by answering the following questions, what is emotional maturity?
Emotional maturity is the ability to identify how one feels and to manage such feelings in a manner that is acceptable, righteous and fair.
Someone who is emotionally mature does not evade feelings, they understand how these emotions feel and what causes them and they take responsibility for it too.
If we are being quite honest with ourselves, most teens can’t even differentiate between feelings of infatuation from feelings of love.
Boys, in particular, have a greater tendency of mistaking lust for love.
The last thing we want for our kids is for them to make a mistake and not understand the ramifications of their actions.
For this reason, I think it is imperative that we educate children on the importance of empathy and responsibility.
Rather than acting on emotions blindly, we can equip them with the knowledge that allows them to attain a certain degree of emotional maturity that prevents them from breaking someone’s heart.
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Sex education is more important now than it’s ever been.
Sometimes, I find myself appalled by the kind of content exposed to young children on platforms like Tiktok and Instagram.
Kids that haven’t even hit puberty are more aware of sex than even previous generations.
I think it’s our responsibility to educate them about their bodies, boundaries and the impact physical intimacy can have on them.
We absolutely cannot rely on the content they are exposed to so it’s better for us to get ahead of it.
Personally, I feel fear for young girls who are very impressionable and innocent in their way of thinking.
They can easily be influenced to have sex or do things they’re not even physically ready for, let alone emotionally or mentally.
We have to protect them as much as we can and in this case, knowledge is power.
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Be involved in their dating life
If you decide that your child is ready for dating or is going to do so with or without your consent, perhaps it would be a good idea to involve yourself in it.
You don’t have to be overbearing but take the approach of a ‘friendly’ parent who just wants to be supportive and help out.
In doing so, keep an eye out on what’s happening in your child’s dating life as well as offering some advice when they seem conflicted or when they want to open up to you.
You’d be surprised at how effective this can be at helping your child to mature and make smart decisions.
Also, if they happen to get hurt emotionally, they will be more inclined to reach out to you for support than to allow that heartbreak to destroy their well-being and overall happiness.
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Being in your child’s good books is helpful and advisable but not at the expense of your authority as a parent.
Don’t allow him or her to take advantage of your support and understanding nature.
Part of being involved in your children’s dating life is drawing up boundaries that will keep your child in line while also preventing them from making choices that are detrimental to their well-being as well as those whom they date.
Boundaries are healthy as long as they are reasonable and logical.
To summarize, at what age should you start dating? Ordinarily, the average person experiences development of maturity in these areas from between the ages of 13 – 18 years. It depends on mental, emotional and physical maturity.
Don’t rush the process. When you’re ready to start dating, you’ll know based on the way you think and feel.
To parents, the best thing you can do is prepare your kids for dating by educating them on the responsibilities of being in a relationship as well as the fundamental concepts of one such as commitment, honesty and respect.
With that being said, I hope you enjoyed this article on what age you should start dating. Feel free to leave your thoughts and questions in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to respond.
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