Do Teens Even Date Anymore? Apparently So
Question: Hi, what is the appropriate age for teenagers to date?
Answer: You conveniently forgot to state your role here. Are you the parent of a teen who's being badgered into allowing it, or the teen trying to convince mom or dad that you're old enough for it? Omitted too is how old the teen in question is. There's a big difference between 13 and 16. OBVI.
I'm going to go ahead and say that 15 is an appropriate age to start dating.
Why? Because that's how old I was when I went on my first date. I don't recall any resistance when I asked my parents for permission, but that's probably because we were two dweeby kids who attended a Catholic high school run by monks.
He (my date) was also 15 and we went to the movies. The most memorable thing about the evening, besides his mom playing chauffeur, was that we saw the Fifth Element and it blew my teenage mind. There was definitely some arm-around-shoulder action and probably an awkward kissing attempt, but that was about it.
I'm fairly certain that the social awkwardness of having to keep up a conversation one-one-one, no posse to assist, scared me off dating for at least another year or two. So, if you're a parent who's concerned about the dating flood gates being opened, there's always that nugget of hope.
In my experience, the sooner teens are able to test the waters on "grown-up" matters, the less likely they are to sneak around later. And we all know that when teens sneak around, that's when someone gets pregnant, drives drunk or comes home with an unfortunate Tweety bird tattoo.
Bottom line: If you have a teen who's interested in dating and he or she is old enough for Drivers Ed, then let them try whatever it is that teens consider dating these days. You can still set whatever ground rules and curfew you're comfortable with.