Thanks to social media kids these days are able to have entire relationships without ever meeting, or are able to meet up with someone in an instant who they never would have interacted with before. While the amount of romantic relationships seems to be rising, the quality and length of them are diminishing fast.
Let’s start by breaking down what dating looks like to a teenager these days. For some their dating experiences may start at school. Back in the day if you liked someone you would go up and tell them or have your friend tell them; if they liked you back you would ask them to be your boyfriend or girlfriend and bam you were officially dating. These days there are so many more steps before things become “official”. The most confusing part of dating not only for parents watching but for the teens themselves is the “talking” stage that has been created. The talking stage is usually the first stage of an up and coming relationship. This is at the beginning when there is minimal flirting, but it is obvious that the two are interested in each other, however they aren’t ready to brand themselves with the title, so they continue to act like they are dating without explicitly saying they are dating. Realistically, the talking stage can go on for hours, weeks or even months. The talking stage is over when 1. Someone gets ghosted 2. They become an official couple or 3. They simply stop talking. The talking stage can be confusing for some people because they don’t actually know if the other person is just being friendly and occasionally flirty or if they are entering the pre-dating stage. Plus, most young people are too embarrassed to ask, so they continue on without knowing if they are pursuing a relationship or not.
For someone who is dating someone in their close circle or at their school, it is probably unlikely to get ghosted because of the high probability of seeing them around school. However, for those who partake in online dating ghosting is almost guaranteed to happen at least once or twice. Ghosting is when a person you have been talking to or going on dates with suddenly stops talking to you all together, stops messaging you back and blocks you on any social media so there is no way to get a hold of them. Some people do this because they get scared, they feel uncomfortable, or more likely they might just be bored. While this isn’t your typical breakup format, getting ghosted can be very emotionally painful since there is no explanation or closure.
Another reason why some teens or young adults may get stuck in the talking stage is because they aren’t ready to commit. Dating apps have made it very easy for people to have a wide selection at the tip of their fingers. That is why the dating scene has adapted to treating hookup culture as the norm. A lot of people don’t want to get into a committed relationship because they want to have the freedom to still talk with and possibly hookup with other people without the repercussions of cheating. Technically they are still single, because there is no official title of boyfriend or girlfriend, so they feel they shouldn’t be held responsible for hooking up with other people.
The problem with dating today is that not everyone is upfront about their intentions. Two people could be in the “talking stage” and while one of them is expecting to pursue a relationship, the other could just be looking for a casual hookup. Talk to your kids about what different relationships may look like. Get them to talk about what they would want in a relationship to prepare them the best you can for the dating world. Most importantly, emphasize how important communication is in any relationship so they will feel comfortable talking to someone they are planning to be in a relationship with.