Over many decades, previous studies have established that dating is seen as common teen behavior. In most cases, dating for teenagers has been believed to help develop social skills.
However, this new research from the University of Georgia posits that teenagers who do not engage in dating are less likely to get depressed and fare better in comparison to their peers who are dating.
For the study, the team of scientists looked the case of 594 students with recorded data from their sixth to their 12th grade, where the said participants were asked every year whether they have engaged in dating.
The report includes various social and emotional factors such as the status of their relationships with their friends, with their family at home, and with their peers in school.
The record also indicated whether the participants showed any symptoms of depression or if they had any suicidal thoughts. Their professors also completed questionnaires regarding the participants’ social skills, behavior, leadership skills, and their observable levels of depression.
An online publication, The Journal of School Health, published the findings of the research which revealed that during their 10th grade, the students who did not participate in dating received higher ratings and performed better as compared to the students who dated.
Self-reports were also studied for the research and it has revealed that the positive relationships factor did not differ when it comes to those who dated and to those who did not. For those who did not date, however, self-report of depression is significantly lower than for those who date. The same scores were seen on the depression scale scored by the teachers.
According to Brooke Douglas, the lead author of the study, the majority of teenagers nowadays already have had romantic experiences during their middle adolescence stage, or at the age of 15 to 17 years. Because of this, Douglas explains that some researchers have suggested that dating during the teenage years is already normative behavior.
Adolescents who have romantic relationships are considered “on time” when it comes to their psychological development. Pamela Orpinas, a co-author of the study, explained that their research reveals that non-dating students may have a different health trajectory but are also healthy.
Douglas added that their study refutes the notion of non-daters being social misfits. Instead, their research is geared to call for health promotion interventions, especially in schools, so that “not dating” could be included as an option for what people consider to be a normal and healthy development. Douglas later said that either option, dating or not dating, is acceptable and are both considered healthy choices.