The prospect of your teen starting to date is naturally unnerving. It's easy to fear your child getting hurt, getting in over their head, being manipulated or heartbroken , and especially, growing up and leaving the nest. But as uncomfortable or scary as it may feel to consider your child with a romantic life, remember that this is a normal, healthy, and necessary part of any young adult's emotional development. But what exactly does teen dating even look like these days? The general idea may be the same as it's always been, but the way teens date has changed quite a bit from just a decade or so ago.
Dating vs. Hanging Out
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When my oldest cousin Laura brought her then boyfriend now husband to Christmas Eve dinner for the first time, we sat him down, gathered around the table and each wrote our "yes" or "no" vote down on paper to determine whether or not he was worthy of dating her. We put them all into a hat and read out the answers one by one — to his face. This has since become a Christmas tradition in our family, and as such, has deterred me from ever jumping the gun on introducing a significant other to my family unless I'm absolutely sure he's worth it. But even if your family isn't as intense as mine, figuring out the right time to introduce your love interest to your family and friends is never easy.
Difference Between Dating and Seeing Someone
Sara Svendsen, 25, has asked herself that question when she's been out with guys — and says she's been wrong "on both sides of that. Svendsen, a marketing manager who lives in New Lenox, Ill. Courtship has become casual, with texts, hookups and hangouts.
Generally speaking, "dating" describes a less serious level of commitment before either person is ready to describe the other as a girlfriend or boyfriend. This is not a firm rule because the terms have no strict definition. You can only determine which term is appropriate by discussing it with the person you are seeing.