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Teens/casual dating vs. long-term relationships ?


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Question: do you feel it is better for older (17, 18, 19) year-old teens to date casually or to be in a stable, exclusive relationship?

 

I know that years and years ago teens dated casually and nothing was thought of it. Nowadays, however, it seems that dating more than one person at the same time is a big no-no--especially for a girl.

 

My daughter is a mature 17 1/2. She has never, ever been one to be in an exclusive relationship: she loves meeting new people (males) and has a pretty short attention span when it comes to the opposite sex (3 weeks is about the maximum!). In early July she ended her first "long-term" relationship (a whopping 6 months) and she has indicated pretty clearly that she has no desire to go beyond anything more than casual dating. Her definition is a movie, two or three nice dinners, a trip to Starbucks, a day at the beach, and that's it. When the boy wants to take it further--become boyfriend and girlfriend--she says "no thank you". The rejected young man drops all contact with D and moves on to another, more promising young lady. [D is baffled by all these boys who want steady girlfriends!]

 

Other than the 6 month-relationship, that has been D's way of operating since age 15. Unfortunately, for a young woman today, it can have a negative connotation.

 

I am NOT one to encourage long-term relationships. However, there are some advantages--a stable, loyal friend (if the partner is such) and the ability to focus more on one's life (read: education and interests) versus all that expenditure of energy in constantly trying to impress yet another new person...

 

Is there anything I can say to encourage D to have a more open mind? For 2 weeks now D has been dating a really nice young man who she gets on with fantastically; he's a couple of years older but they go to the same college. Anyway, it's nearing the 3-week mark and D is backing off from him because--get this--"he was in a relationship with a girl for 2 years, mom, and that's creepy! Anybody who stays with a girl that long has something wrong with him!"

Edited by distancia
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How about a different option? What about her just hanging out with a GROUP of friends---guys and gals just having fun together without the pressure of dating or relationships.

 

I am more of the holding off on relationships until they are closer to being ready for marriage and before that just enjoying life with a group of friends.

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I don't have a definite opinion, but from my experience, a lot of this depends on the geography and culture of the area.

 

Where I live (in the North Midwest), casual dating really is not done. You either date someone exclusively and if you wanted to go out with someone else, you would have to break up with that person.

 

The college I went to attracted people from all across the country, and I was dumbfounded when all my southern friends were "talking" with multiple guys at the same time--a concept I had never heard of or experienced. It seemed normal to them to have a different date every Friday night.

 

I only ever had "steady" boyfriends, but that also meant that breaking up caused a lot of heartache, so I don't know what the best method is?

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:lol: She definitely doesn't sound ready to be in a long-term relationship ATM. But I don't know if you can do much to change that. She has to change her own perspective and goals on that front.

 

And I have zero advice there, because I got married at 19. Almost done with college already & all that, but still. :tongue_smilie:

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This is a hard one. When I was her age I was exclusive - to the point of denial when things were bad. To the point I would be willing to put up with characteristics that were negative just to avoid the break up and explaining to friends why J was great for 2 years but not now. Then I went thru a spell in my 20s where I did a lot of casual dating and I loved it. The no commitment meant I could just have fun and relax, be friends. It also meant that I was able to be around lots of men and really get to know what characteristics I wanted in a long term relationship such as marriage.

 

She is also at the age where there is a lot of social pressure in some groups to get married. The guys may be moving on because they want to get married and she doesn't. They don't want another girl hanging around that might upset the new possible long term relationship. Unless she is actually getting a bad reputation, I would not worry about it. When the right guy comes along, she will be ready and know it. In the meantime, just remind her to enjoy school.

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The young people that age that I know either stay away from dating if they aren't ready (and just hang out in groups) or they are looking for that someone special. She may be breaking the hearts of some really special guys without meaning to at all. I vote for just hanging out in groups or going to the movies with friends that are girls. Maybe have a discussion with her about why she enjoys doing things this way. It could be a great feeling to have others fall for you all the time while you hold back, but it's kind of a negative overall in "do unto others" realm.

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It doesn't really sound reasonable for her to be dating at all. She's not interested in any sort of relationship other than being friends but isn't making that clear to these young men. Dd says she sounds like she's breaking hearts. I agree with the group activity approach for a while.

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I don't think she should be "dating" at all because its meaning is to check each other out for possible girlfriend/boyfriend status. Since she's not interested in that right now, I would encourage her to just tell guys up front that she's interested right now in some guy friendships, but not dating. She should pay her own way when they go out to dinner, etc. That way, she is saying nonverbally what she is saying verbally.

 

Personally, after a whole lot of "dating" I finally told new guys I wasn't interested in dating but friendship. This worked really well. There weren't revolving door guys and I was friends with dh for a year, and by the time we decided to move to dating, we were pretty much ready to marry. (4 months later) The friendship phase of my young adulthood was by far the healthiest.

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I had some young (14,15) relationships like this. After about 3 wks I just couldn't stand the guy anymore. I also rejected the intensity (emotionally and physically) that comes from a longer, building relationship. Granted, I was much younger than your dd. It is embarrassing to admit, but I also liked the 'thrill of the hunt.' It was like a 'catch and release' philosophy. But, this is how I realized that I loved my dh. It was like I blinked and 3 months had gone by and then 6 and so on. My mother actually exclaimed "wow, you're not sick of him yet?" And I wasn't! We started as friends, though, and evolved into a relationship. We've been married 13 yrs and I'm still not sick of him :D.

 

If she has that high of a turnover rate, then she just isn't ready or he is just not the right one. Either way, she shouldn't stay in a relationship just to please someone else (not saying that you would try to make her.)

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Why does she have to drop all contact with these young men? Can't she remain friends with them?

I think it is the boys who drop all contact, if I'm reading it right.

 

I don't think she should be "dating" at all because its meaning is to check each other out for possible girlfriend/boyfriend status. Since she's not interested in that right now, I would encourage her to just tell guys up front that she's interested right now in some guy friendships, but not dating. She should pay her own way when they go out to dinner, etc. That way, she is saying nonverbally what she is saying verbally.

 

Personally, after a whole lot of "dating" I finally told new guys I wasn't interested in dating but friendship. This worked really well. There weren't revolving door guys and I was friends with dh for a year, and by the time we decided to move to dating, we were pretty much ready to marry. (4 months later) The friendship phase of my young adulthood was by far the healthiest.

This sounds like great advice, esp. bolded.

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Generally, I don't believe most young people are ready for dating at those ages. They want to be and have hormones going crazy; but they just aren't ready, for the most part, for anything of real substance even if they think they are. To me, your daughter is ahead of the game in that she's aware that she's not ready for a deep committed relationship. I wouldn't encourage serial dating though either, though it seems a lot safer than what most young people do.

 

Really, things will change when THAT guy comes along. I think it shows maturity that your daughter isn't trying to force each relationship to try to look like it will be THAT one.

 

I'm not sure I'm stating myself well. Honestly, your daughter seems more self-aware than the great majority of young people her age. And her way of handling it is much more mature and responsible, imo. *I* would discourage 1-on-1 dating at this age, but think she has the right idea generally.

 

My daughter (18 next month) has no interest in guys at all. Like the situation with your daughter, I believe the right one will come along and change her mind. But even if that doesn't happen, her choice is safe and responsible rather than then craziness most young people are involved in.

 

JMO

 

ETA: I guess I didn't read it as "breaking hearts" because it's such a short term situation. Unless she's REALLY leading them on during that 2-3 weeks, they generally won't be THAT invested, especially if she's keeping her distance emotionally somewhat.....again, assuming she's not actively sending messages that contradict what she's saying she wants at this time.

Edited by 2J5M9K
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Generally, I don't believe most young people are ready for dating at those ages.

 

:confused:

 

the OP said "(17, 18, 19)" -- I would consider that quite old enough to 'date'. For that matter, I would consider that old enough for a person to decide for themselves how/when/with whom/what sort of relationships/etc he or she wishes to pursue. :)

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ETA: I guess I didn't read it as "breaking hearts" because it's such a short term situation. Unless she's REALLY leading them on during that 2-3 weeks, they generally won't be THAT invested, especially if she's keeping her distance emotionally somewhat.....again, assuming she's not actively sending messages that contradict what she's saying she wants at this time.

 

 

Different areas have different rules, I guess. I have no idea where I learned this, but I always thought one was supposed to know whether or not one wanted to pursue a relationship by the third date. I don't have much dating experience behind me, but that seemed to be the expectation. The sort of casual the OP described, a few dinners, a trip to Starbucks etc would have been considered bad form.

 

Rosie

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I wonder if there is really anything you can do about it anyway? I have a dd16 who was in a relationship for 5 months when she was 15, and the guy was WAY more serious than she wanted to be. They were "going together" but he was so intense that if they went somewhere together with a group and she even tried to have a conversation with another guy- many of whom were realyl her friends- her boyfriend would literally come over and start kissing her or drag her away- no subtelty at all! And when she got mad with him he just couldnt understand her at all. So...it was too much too young and she hasnt had a boyfriend for 6 months, which is just fine by us but we are also not stopping her. She really likes her freedom...she has many male friends and I imagine she will eventually find someone who is pretty mature and can handle her need to be a social butterfly, and who isnt so insecure in himself that if she talks to another guy, he needs to freak out. Perhaps your dd is the same...she might be someone who needs a lot of space and freedom in relationship. I am like that myself. Dont suffocate me! :)

But to keep it clean...perhaps she could just say to the guy on the first date...I am just looking for companionship and a date...I am not looking for a long term thing at all. That way...apart from tehe men who find that irresistably attractiveand a challenge :) - at least she is being clear from the outset. Waiting till several dates have passed does seem a little unclear and sending a mixed message. Perhaps she needs to learn to see if from the guys perspective a bit more.

Eventually...she will probably fall for someone who is like her...keeps her at a distance. Or, she will just mature and be ready for something more serious.

I wouldnt make a problem out of it. She may have some issue there, but she is going to have to work it out for herself. She is pretty much an adult.

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the OP said "(17, 18, 19)" -- I would consider that quite old enough to 'date'. For that matter, I would consider that old enough for a person to decide for themselves how/when/with whom/what sort of relationships/etc he or she wishes to pursue.

 

What makes you believe that?

 

I guess I'm thinking that generally we think of older teens dating and choosing their relationships because they are pretty much "grown." They are at an age when we're generally not controlling them much and we are expecting them to make their own decisions. They are at an age when they DO date and choose their relationships most of the time. Many of us were MARRIED at those ages! Maybe people SHOULD be ready to do those things at those ages?

 

But I think we can look at society (I'm speaking of the US) and see that they are NOT ready despite the fact that they do it. They make poor choices. They are often very immature. They are either too serious too soon or too casual within the relationship--worse, within the relationship, you have one of each.

 

If all dating was about the experience and friendship like the OP's daughter is doing, I think it could be fine. When Mr. Right comes along whether at 17 or 27, fine. But in the meantime, if they aren't making life altering choices, breaking hearts and getting broken, etc? I think that is a good thing. And they can get to know different people, the opposite sex as a group to some extent, learn more about themselves, figure out more what they are looking for in someone, etc. Again, all a good thing.

 

And again, it's up to the adult child at some point; but we encourage young adult activities to be done within a group, often a mixed aged grouping. I like how it has looked/worked for the young people we've been around (note: the ones pursuing relationships are not teens though; all activities are pretty much done in groups, often mixed aged groupings).

 

I'm not sure I'm making my point well. And really, it could be that you just disagree. But what *I* see in public, in schools, etc makes me really believe that whether or not older teens SHOULD be ready or not, they don't seem ready for serious relationships. And sure, they will make their own choices, but I think it's a mistake to encourage them to do it "normally" when normally seems negative in their case (in general, not counting individual situations).

 

If I were the OP's mom, I would discourage the dating altogether; but I would suggest that if she's going to date, she is CLEAR from the get-go that she's just interested in friendship, not a relationship.

Edited by 2J5M9K
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but I always thought one was supposed to know whether or not one wanted to pursue a relationship by the third date.

 

Rosie,

 

*I* wouldn't have a clue. I was one of those teens who tried to make forever out of every single relationship. This started at 11. And I'm still with the one I was with when I was 18 for better or worse.

 

I'm struggling with the rest of this post.

 

I think it depends on what dating is. IF dating is a means of deciding whether to pursue a relationship with someone with the possibility that that will end up in marriage AND you're dating a person you know from other circumstances (congregation, friends of the family, work, etc), then MAYBE you could know within 3 dates whether you want to pursue it.

 

I'm thinking myself here. If I were to have to date now, could I know in 3 dates? MAYBE because I'm an adult who knows myself well, knows exactly what I want and don't want, and knows to communicate well in those first 3 days (and the phone calls in that time) to do so. I also would choose to date people within a certain community of people with access to at least some of his friends and family. At 18, had I not been trying to force every relationship to be THE one, could I have done the same responsibly? No. It takes time and from what I see, teenagers, myself included at that time, are generally not ready.

 

Honestly, I think that if there IS a three date rule, it needs to be changed. I think that such a thing is part of the problem, especially for young adults. No wonder we have some of the issues of young people being too serious too soon or being too casual overall. What choice do they have if they feel they have to choose within several days?

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While I'm a firm believer in never dating more than one person at a time (influenced, I'm sure, by the social rules in my area while growing up), I don't see anything wrong with ending a dating relationship when it doesn't feel right, regardless of the time line.

 

For the record, my dating one boy for 2.5 years (15.5-18) absolutely TERRIFIED my mother. She was worried I'd wind up marrying him by default. Not that she didn't love him like a son, but she wanted me to experience more in life before making any permanent decisions.

 

I had to come to that conclusion on my own, though.

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OP here. To clarify:

 

D has paid on some of her "dates" and drives her own car to meet up but the guys still insist on paying the majority of the costs. D thought this current young man had no interest in her (she actually thought he was gay!) because he didn't act hot, heavy, and hormonal like all the previous Romeos have. We explained to D that he is actually acting like a real person and trying to get to know D better, which has proven to be the case. He is considering their present relationship as dating, whereas D does not consider him her date.

 

Some of you made a really good point of looking at it from the other person's (male) point of view. And I think, how would D feel if the tables were turned on her? So I think that I'll be making that gentle point to her next time she brings the dating subject up.

 

BTW, she would hangout in groups but all her friends are now at away colleges and she's having a hard time meeting "friends".

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I mostly did not date growing up. My dad taught me that you should not date if you were not ready to get married -- and that dating was a means to an end. If at any point with a fellow you determined that you would not marry him, you cut off the relationship. You do not have to marry every guy you date (obviously) but you DO need to be only dating guys you would potentially marry, to see if they are a good fit.

 

I spent a lot of time doing things with guys as "just friends"

 

In fact, my first "date" with my now husband started out that way. I needed someone to go see Jonah with because I hate seeing movies on my own. He needed someone too. We hooked up. And realized we were a better fit than we'd thought.

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If she's not interested in really dating long term, I second the suggestion about hanging out in groups. That way everyone can keep it casual.

 

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:I third this!!! And there is nothing wrong with this!!! Does she want the romance without the intimacy? She may need a little reality check, that romancing a girl isn't just "fun, " for a guy. Most, want it to go somewhere...either in a noble way, or shallow/physical way. Hope that made sense!

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:confused:

 

the OP said "(17, 18, 19)" -- I would consider that quite old enough to 'date'. For that matter, I would consider that old enough for a person to decide for themselves how/when/with whom/what sort of relationships/etc he or she wishes to pursue. :)

 

Eeeek! I was married at 19!!! and dh was just 21!!! and there was no pre-marital sex or pregnancy, so just get that thought out of your head :D!!!

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Well - actually, by that age, they are probably pushing her for a lot more than a more serious relationship. Perhaps you should be happy she is turning them down.....

I started dating my DH at 16, and we married when I was 18 - and it worked out wonderful for us. Perhaps she will run into that person, but not if she stays dating someone just to stay with them.

She's old enough to figure it out.

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Well - actually, by that age, they are probably pushing her for a lot more than a more serious relationship. Perhaps you should be happy she is turning them down.....

:iagree:

 

I dated like her when I was in my early 20's I generally had a few men on the go, spending time with all of them individually. To me exclusivity comes later, part of dating is meeting a variety of people and through that, understanding more of what appeals.

Honestly, I don't see anything wrong with what your DD is doing, as long as both parties are clear that it's unlikely to lead to a longer relationship. If the boys are taking your DD out on the expectation that it will lead to something longer term then she needs to rethink how she approaches these things. It might be best for her to state her expectations up front "I'm not ready for a relationship yet, so this will not lead to anything long term, but I'd have fun hanging out with you if that is OK with you" or similar.

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I mostly did not date growing up. My dad taught me that you should not date if you were not ready to get married -- and that dating was a means to an end. If at any point with a fellow you determined that you would not marry him, you cut off the relationship. You do not have to marry every guy you date (obviously) but you DO need to be only dating guys you would potentially marry, to see if they are a good fit.

 

Yeah, something like this. Except I don't think it is necessary to be ready to marry today. But you should be looking with a view to be marrying in a couple of years time.

 

 

I'm so glad I'm not dating. *Phew*

I hope society has figured out some regular dating rules by the time my kids are dating, which thankfully isn't for a long time.

 

Rosie

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I'm thinking myself here. If I were to have to date now, could I know in 3 dates?

 

Honestly, I think that if there IS a three date rule, it needs to be changed. I think that such a thing is part of the problem, especially for young adults. No wonder we have some of the issues of young people being too serious too soon or being too casual overall. What choice do they have if they feel they have to choose within several days?

 

 

I wasn't saying you ought to know by the third date whether you're going to marry someone or not, but after three dates you would know if you didn't want to pursue a relationship with them. You'd know whether they interested you enough that you were open to the possibility. But where I come from, if you know you aren't looking for a relationship, you don't date.

 

It goes (or went, I'm probably out of date ;) )

 

First date- if you have a good time, you think you might go for another if they suggest it.

Second date- if you have a good time, you hope they suggest a third.

 

Third date- if you have a good time, you should be trying to decide whether it's "I like this person, but I don't want to date them" in which case you make a polite and conclusive comment when they drop you home, or you make a tentative comment about a fourth date.

 

Date four is not your engagement party.

 

It is when you decide if you are going to move to the next step, which is exclusive dating, or not. And, as I assume we all agree, you then date exclusively until you stop, whether that is after date five or after 28 years of marriage.

 

If you think three dates is too early to decide whether to date exclusively, how long would you date someone knowing they are dating other people?

 

If people think exclusive dating is either nothing or an unofficial engagement, no wonder people have problems.

 

(Maybe I read this in the Mars and Venus on a Date book by John Gray? That's quite probable since my parents gave me no dating advice at all! Anyway, I discussed this with dh last night, and he thought the same as me and I know he hasn't read that book.:lol:)

 

Rosie

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I think casual dating is the way to go unless you are ready to consider a long-term relationship/marriage.

 

ETA:

I wasn't saying you ought to know by the third date whether you're going to marry someone or not, but after three dates you would know if you didn't want to pursue a relationship with them. You'd know whether they interested you enough that you were open to the possibility. But where I come from, if you know you aren't looking for a relationship, you don't date.

 

 

:iagree: I usually knew after one or two dates if I was interested in anything long-term or exclusive, but sometimes it took until date 3 for me to decide to say "Thanks, but no thanks." Dh and I were actually buddies for awhile before we started dating, so once we did start dating things progressed rather quickly. We were engaged after 6 months of exclusively dating each other. :)

Edited by Veritaserum
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I think casual dating is the way to go unless you are ready to consider a long-term relationship/marriage.

 

Ok, so when do you tell the chap you won't want a relationship with him and this is only for fun?

 

(According to my younger brother, anyone who isn't an old fogey like us is sleeping together on first dates and considers an STD a rite of passage.)

 

 

 

Rosie

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Exactly! "Casual dating" usually means that there's going to be some casual kissing and maybe some casual hand-holding, etc. and maybe not with you exclusively, dude. Not the best impression to give, IMO. So why not call it what it probably is--friendship--and be done with it until she's ready to find someone she will want to be with long-term? Being honest and upfront is generous to the guys, too, so that those who do want something long-term won't waste their time or hers because their goals are different.

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Ok, so when do you tell the chap you won't want a relationship with him and this is only for fun?

 

(According to my younger brother, anyone who isn't an old fogey like us is sleeping together on first dates and considers an STD a rite of passage.)

 

Rosie

 

A right of passage? No thanks! :tongue_smilie: I didn't accept a date from anyone I thought might give me trouble, so that's how I handled it. I only ever dated guys who shared my expectation that we'd try a date or two and see where it led, but there was no commitment involved.

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  • 1 year later...
It doesn't really sound reasonable for her to be dating at all. She's not interested in any sort of relationship other than being friends but isn't making that clear to these young men. Dd says she sounds like she's breaking hearts. I agree with the group activity approach for a while.

 

:iagree: and the teens I have worked with for years would call that "using" someone or "leading them on". Casually dating one person after another gets you a very negative reputation where I come from.

 

I am sure she does not intend for it to come across like that but if she is not ready for a relationship then I agree with the hanging out as friends in a group idea.

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:iagree::iagree::iagree:I third this!!! And there is nothing wrong with this!!! Does she want the romance without the intimacy? She may need a little reality check, that romancing a girl isn't just "fun, " for a guy. Most, want it to go somewhere...either in a noble way, or shallow/physical way. Hope that made sense!

 

Dating around when I was in high school meant you were loose. There was no casual dating - although you could go out in groups. But if a guy was taking you out, he wanted something like Simka said - either a longer relationship or something physical.

 

My stepmom would always try to encourage me to "date around" back then, and I just couldn't get her to understand that wasn't really a good option. . .

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Well. This may be horribly off topic. But, it got me to thinking about an article I read recently, I think it was on HuffPost. In it, a woman who was recently divorced talked about how depressing it was that men all seem to want sex on the first date. (or soon thereafter) Whereas she would prefer to get to know someone first, but no one seems to want to give her that opportunity. I guess sex has evolved into the new goodnight kiss? Yeah, this really is a whole different topic.

 

But, I'm just thinking the same sort of pressures probably apply to the highschool dating world. Hopefully not so much in the younger grades, but certainly by age 17 jr./sr. year. I would imagine it would be easier avoiding that issue (if you care to avoid it) by dating casually.

 

So maybe that instinctively plays a part in what's going on here?

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